Long ago, I wrote about what I hoped to see from Kingdom Hearts 3, but since several new trailers have been released alongside E3 2018, not to mention the past releases, we’ve learned a lot, so it’s time for me to update, massively. If you’re curious, here’s the old link.
I loved Kingdom Hearts. I enjoyed the crap out of Kingdom Heats 2. I respected Birth by Sleep even if I didn’t quite enjoy it. I groaned at 358/2 Days, and I pulled my hair out at Dream Drop Distance. I laugh-cried at 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue.
But now it’s finally coming: Kingdom Hearts 3. So will it make up for the sagging quality of the series, or will it compile all their worst attributes into a soggy mess found at the bottom of a trash can?
I’m crossing my fingers REALLY hard on this one, but these are the top 10 things I hope to see when Kingdom Hearts 3 launches on 1/29/19.
By the by, MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD! You’ve been warned.
10: Good Use of Final Fantasy
Have you noticed that Final Fantasy has gotten pushed into the background lately? Remember when Cloud appeared in the Coliseum? or Setzer in Twilight Town? Now how often did they show up after Kingdom Hearts 2? And how big a role did they play?
How about seeing them make a difference again? And how about some new characters like Locke, Balthier, Noctis, Yuna, or Ashe?
Not Lightning. Lightning sucks. Fight me.
9: Something for Axel and Kairi to Do
We saw them in the trailer, Axel complimenting Kairi on her new dress and hair. Considering both have only marginally changed, I’m calling creeper.
I’ll be honest, I’m not an Axel fan. Not because I hated him, but because he should be dead, but fans like him, therefore he’s alive, and that’s bad writing in my book. Also, he has a keyblade because why not?
However, Axel is here to stay, so he’d better have a purpose. And Kairi looks like she might not be captured this time, so maybe she could do more than just hang out on the sidelines?
You’ve got a big cast, Square-Enix, so you’d better weave them all together. Remember: we’ve all been spoiled by Avengers Infinity War. Show me you can keep up.
8: Sora and Kairi being Sora and Kairi
Game One: “Kairi, I’ll come back to you!” Game Two: “Kairi, I’ll come back to you!” Okay, they’re back. Now what?
Please tell me these two characters, who have been built up as a couple, aren’t going to stay apart yet again. If there’s no development in their relationship, even a teeny bit, then why bother pushing their faces together in the first place?
OOH! OOH! Pirates of the Caribbean is a thing in this one, so have Barbosa shout at them, “JUST KISS!”
You’d play that game! You know you would!
7: Better Bosses
One on hand, Kingdom Hearts has some pretty good bosses. Maleficent’s Dragon, Ansem in all his forms, the KH2 Sephiroth Fight, Xemnas’s epic finale with lovely music, and more. But when I played 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue (if there is a dumber name for a video game…) I experienced something…dreadful.
At the end of Aqua’s chapter, the final boss went into God mode, becoming savage and nigh-untouchable…for a full minute! And after it revealed itself for a few seconds, you know what it did? The exact same thing. So the better part of the boss fight was spent…running away. We saw bits of this in KH2, like in the Organization fights, but are we actually going to make that worse?
I fear that the Kingdom Hearts staff is starting to think that a boss fight is just something with super-high stats, or that dodging a God mode is fun. Neither of these things is true. Boss fights need to incorporate character and strategy, not just hitting the Dodge Roll button over and over again.
We don’t want to watch bosses be powerful, we want to fight them. Please be creative and fun.
Also, I’m not saying that Thor HAS to use the bifrost to travel between worlds and duel Sora in Olympus Coliseum, I’m just saying Disney owns Marvel now, you know?
I did a whole blog post about this, but do you know the surest sign of a bad writer? A lack of consequences. That writer wants to have something big and shocking happen, but doesn’t want the sacrifice that comes with it, so they unwrite it later on.
Ansem is dead, BUT WAIT! That wasn’t Ansem! The entire Organization is dead, BUT WAIT! They’re all back to life! Sora is one person, BUT WAIT! Now he’s five! Keyblades are rare and special, BUT WAIT! There was a whole army of them. Nobodies don’t have hearts, BUT WAIT! Yes they do! Walls will make inter-world travel possible. BUT WAIT! The keyblade can make new routes for your gummi ship. BUT WAIT! You don’t need a gummi ship, just armor. BUT WAIT!
WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?! The Kingdom Hearts franchise has a HORRID consistency problem. They think of a cool idea and implement it with only the basest explanation, or by just ignoring pre-established rules until you finally ask why they even both making rules, and when the rules don’t matter, there’s no conflict, no tension, no story.
Please, KH3, play by your own rules. Do something big stick with it, even if it forces you to get creative with future games.
Look, I’m gonna be honest, Aqua’s the only real reason I’m excited for this game. She’s my favorite character because she always suffers for doing what’s right, but keeps doing what’s right anyway, and THAT trailer said they’re doing something interesting with her.
So please, please, pleeeaaaasssee let it actually be interesting. Please tell me that Aqua’s transformation has something to do with her character. Like she finally lost her long struggle against the darkness (which would be sad), or that she gave up because she was so tired of the struggle (which would be sadder).
DON’T let it just be, “DUR, ZAYNORT HAS ME BRAYN, LOL!” Don’t take your most interesting character and whittle her down to a plot device. Let her have character development. Don’t snatch away the one straw I’m still clutching!
And if that was only a dream sequence, I swear by the X-Blade…
4: Depth for Disney
One of the reasons the original Kingdom Hearts worked so well was that the Disney aspects went beyond their individual worlds. We saw characters in strange new places, especially the villains, who conspired together outside their worlds. But even starting with Kingdom Hearts 2, Disney has gotten pushed further into the background.
I worry about the Pirates of the Caribbean world. That shot-for-shot scene of the Black Pearl’s arrival from At World’s End was super pretty…but also a shot-for-shot scene that had nothing to do with Kingdom Hearts. Are we just doing to play a truncated version of the story with half the grandeur and no consequences outside the world like last time?
Disney is a story-rich multiverse, and I want to see those stories mixing well with the Kingdom Hearts lore. Don’t force your way through them just to get to your own story, game. Make them part of your world.
3–Fun, Functional Gameplay
Every time I see a gameplay trailer, I think, “Boy, there sure is a lot on the screen.” Multi-form keyblades, Disney-ride attacks, special battle sequences, wild and crazy magic, summons, point-and-shoot abilities, and who knows what else. I worry the gamemakers went for “flashy” over “functional.” Will I will be able to have fun even if my gameplay style doesn’t max out the visual appeal?
Hopefully not. Kingdom Hearts 2 was flashy as heck, but loads of fun, too. And that game’s story gets dumber the more I play it. So if Kingdom Hearts 3 has a terrible story, but the gameplay is awesome, I’ll lay the crap out of it!
I just hope the creators haven’t bitten off more than they can chew.
2–Character Development for Sora
We’ve been with this guy a long time. Let’s see him grow more than physically. Being a linked to Ventus, Vanitas, Roxas, and Xion, not to mention being a target in Xehanort’s plan, Sora is lined up to be little more than a plot device. Drop all that and show us Sora himself.
In KH1, Sora went from starry dreamer on the beach to someone willing and wise enough to sacrifice his heart for his friends. He grew mentally and emotionally, and had his own character-specific moments, like slowly losing trust in Riku. In Chain of Memories, Sora had to decide what was right and wrong despite his memories lying to him, as well as choosing between a hard true and a cozy lie.
But after that, Sora didn’t grow much. Things happened to him, but they didn’t seem to affect him. Remember in Dream Drop Distance where Sora found out he should have never had a keyblade, that he was a target for Xehanort’s evil plans, and that he’d failed the keyblade mastery test, yet didn’t seem affected by any of it? That’s the sign of a trope refusing to cross trope boundaries and become and actual character.
Prove me wrong, Square-Enix. Make Sora breathe.
1: The End
I said this in my old review, but Kingdom Hearts has gotten too big for its britches.
The creative team has a lot of good ideas, but no discipline. They slap anything together, whether it works or not, and it’s only gotten worse as the story’s gone on. I can’t trust that they won’t do so in future installments.
Yet despite this, Kingdom Hearts 3 still looks like it could be a decent or good game. So let’s end on a high note, shall we?
Sadly, I doubt this will happen, but I can hope that Square-Enix will give the Kingdom Hearts series a proper sendoff before it becomes a bloated, incoherent mess, because guys, it’s really, really close.
Wrap it up, tie a bow, and move on. All good things must end, but which ending will you choose?
But what do you think?
Has Kingdom Hearts already gone too far for you? Are you still a raving fanboy? Are you excited, worried, both? What do you hope to see in Kingdom Hearts 3?