Developers Square Enix are taking their sweet time with this one! By the time Kingdom Hearts 3 finally releases, it will have been over 10 years (and an entire console generation) since the last numbered sequel. There have been a number of portable games in the franchise since, filling in the gaps between the second and upcoming third main instalments, as well as the recent HD Remasters of the first two games, but fans of the series – myself included – have been waiting impatiently since what seems like the dawn of time itself for Kingdom Hearts 3 to arrive.
When Kingdom Hearts released in 2002, with its bizarre blend of classic Disney and Final Fantasy characters, it took a few people by surprise. “What art Square Enix doing with our belov’d Final Fantasy”, the people cried (that’s how people spoke in 2002, right?). But the lead character Sora’s epic journey with Goofy and Donald, as they battled against The Heartless was a real treat. It was a story of friendship, wrapped up in a tight, well executed RPG bow, with both Disney’s and Square Enix’s strongest points shining through. In short, it was amazeballs.
Nearly two years on from the reveal trailer being flaunted at E3 2013, we still don’t have a solid release date sadly – at best it will be late 2015, but more likely than not it will land in 2016. After such a long wait, there is a lot to look forward to, and the game is starting to feel like a real, tangible, almost within touching distance reality. But what does the third instalment of this beloved franchise need to make it worth the wait, I hear you ask? Here is my Kingdom Hearts 3 wish list:
A lot has happened in the world of Kingdom Hearts over the past 10 years, and not all of it makes a great deal of sense unless you’ve played each and every portable entry in the franchise. For a series which so heavily features Disney characters and worlds, this is one dense story, and it’s not the most accessible at this point for newcomers. The deep story and lore of the universe that has been created is a big selling point, however the hook that initially grabbed me personally was a simple tale of friendship, and the series in general works best when focussing on the characters. It’s time to get back to basics and to focus on the core story, and its three main characters, Sora, Riku and Kairi, alongside the two main Disney players Donald and Goofy. Keep it simple, keep it clean, keep it worth investing in emotionally.
Whole new worlds:
One of the best parts of the Kingdom Hearts series is waiting in anticipation to see what Disney and Square Enix worlds you get to explore, and then seeing how the characters of each distinct world interact with Sora, Donald and Goofy. Some of the worlds we’ve seen have been classics – Aladdin’s Agrabah, Tarzan’s Deep Jungle, Hollow Bastion – but then there have been some stinkers (I’m looking at you Little Mermaid’s Atlantica – yeesh). Whilst a return to the classic worlds, expanded and in full HD, next-gen glory would be exciting, it will be even more exciting to venture into new unchartered territories and franchises – Star Wars and Marvel are now under the Disney umbrella for example – the possibilities are endless.
The scope for an increase in the scale of the battles with the new technology being used means that we could (and should) be seeing the biggest battles of the series so far. From the sneak peak we’ve had at the game it looks as though there will be an unprecedented amount of enemies on screen at a time for the series, which will hopefully make for some insane clashes and new battle techniques and tactics. Visually the battles should look incredible in comparison to what we’ve seen before in the series, here’s hoping that Square Enix can utilise the new power to build upon what was already a great battle system to create the most intense skirmishes to date.
Strong RPG elements:
Square Enix – Embrace your heritage! As proud purveyors of the RPG genre I want to see Square delving further into the RPG elements of Kingdom Hearts, with a deeper levelling system, a greater depth of character ability customisation, and larger worlds to explore for loot to sell and upgrade. Whilst these elements already exist within the franchise, a deeper system may ultimately prove to be more rewarding. RPG me up!
Getting Gummi Ships right:
Aaah the Gummi Ships. Some people love them, some people hate them, one thing for sure though is that there is room for improvement with them. Unclear how to upgrade, unwieldy to manoeuvre, and just a bit of a drag, the Gummi ships are your transport between worlds. If they are to make their return, they simply need to be better.
The Gummi Ship missions need to have more purpose, meaning, and to just simply be more fun to incentivise spending time to fathom the system for upgrading/building your ship. There is potential for awesome space battles – but they must try harder!
My knowledge of J-Pop both begins and ends with Utada Hikaru, singer of the main themes for both Kingdom Hearts I and II. But what I do know, is that she nailed it both times, with the now iconic ‘Sanctuary ‘and ‘Simple and Clean’. I wants me some more majestic Hikaru songs!
Share your Kingdom Hearts wish list in the comments below!