E3 2015 Wishlist: What We Want From Kingdom Hearts III
Kingdom Hearts III has been on fans' wishlists for nearly ten years at this point. In fact, we created a wishlist of our own in March 2012 before many recent developments came into being. As we move toward this year's E3, we update our original wishlist in anticipation of a potential new showing next week. Below, all of the old text is in a standard format while new commentary and additions are in italics.
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance is launching in Japan on March 29 and we’re super excited for it. Even though it won’t hit North America until sometime this summer, we’re already dreaming of the next installment. Series creator Tetsuya Nomura has hinted that the next game will be the final battle, which hopefully means Kingdom Hearts III on high-powered home consoles. Here’s what we’d like to see.
Dream Drop Distance did indeed drop in late July 2012 in the U.S., and it was a solid game. Not only did it move the story forward in many ways, the end credits sequence essentially announced Kingdom Hearts III. We didn't get the official confirmation until E3 2013, when Square Enix promised the new entry on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
HD Re-releases Of The PS2 Games
Okay, so this is a little outside of Kingdom Hearts III itself, but it’s important nonetheless. Most North American gamers haven’t played a console Kingdom Hearts since the second game’s 2006 release. And anyone who’s played these titles knows there’s a lot of story to keep track of. Sure, we could pore over countless wiki pages, but actually playing Kingdom Hearts I and II in glorious HD would be much more fun. Of course, it would be great to include all of the bonus content from the Japan-only Final Mix editions. There are millions of fans just waiting to give you money for this, Square Enix. Make it happen.
I am a psychic. Or maybe Square Enix read this entry and thought, "We should do everything this guy says." We got Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix in 2013 and 2.5 a year later on PlayStation 3, and they both included Final Mix content. Now all we need is for them to be released on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in one giant megapack with the missing Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance added in.
Catch Everyone Up On The Portable Games
Some Kingdom Hearts fans have played absolutely everything out there, but others are only interested in the home console numbered installments. For the latter group, Square Enix needs to have some kind of montage video or other narrative device to bring everyone up to speed on the events of Birth by Sleep, 358/2 Days, Re:coded, and Dream Drop Distance (Chain of Memories is already out of the way since it was between the main games). Heck, even people who played all of those games may not have understood exactly what was going on at the time so this helps everyone.
Using the HD Remix collections, Square Enix has done exactly this. Birth by Sleep got the full gameplay remaster treatment while 358/2 Days and Re:coded were turned into hard-to-watch movies. At least they took a fraction of the time to get through compared to the original portable games. Again, Dream Drop Distance is the only game that hasn't made the jump to home consoles. However, the credits for HD 2.5 Remix show remastered scenes from this title, almost guaranteeing this project's existence. Now the only question is whether it will appear solo or as part of a new PS4/Xbone super bundle of all the perviously released games.
Simplify The Story
There are so many characters that look the same all with heartless and nobody doubles running around. And then there are all those guys with Xs in their names. Did you know there are two different people named Xehanort and Master Xehanort, but they’re also kind of the same person? I’m all for having multiple layers and depth to a story, but it’s almost like the developers are purposely clouding things up to make it possible to stretch out more interstitial installments. If they’re able to pull everything together and make it understandable, that would be Kingdom Hearts III’s greatest achievement.
At this point, I don't see things suddenly making sense for people who haven't seriously dug into Kingdom Hearts' intense lore. If you want to learn more, there are tons of great sites and Youtubers out there trying to explain everything going on in the saga in an understandable way. That said, Kingdom Hearts III is the big finale of everything that's come before so it should be a relatively straightforward epic battle between Master Xehanort's 13 seekers of darkness versus Sora's seven guardians of light as they struggle for control of the true Kingdom Hearts and χ-blade. Simple, right?
Write a New Theme Song
Hikaru Utada’s “Simple and Clean” and "Sanctuary" are great songs. But we’ve heard them a million times now. There’s are fast versions, slow versions, orchestrated versions, and probably samba versions in there somewhere. Round up your posse of Japanese producers and bang out another timeless hit. C’mon guys!
Man, I'd love to hear a new theme song over a new Kingdom Hearts III trailer at E3!
New Characters And Worlds
This one’s a given. Square Enix has done a great job of mining most of the Disney animated backlog so far. Now it’s time to branch out a little more. The number one request on everyone’s list? Pixar, of course. Imagine running through the worlds of Toy Story, The Incredibles, WALL-E, and more. We’d also welcome other non-traditional properties like The Muppets and Marvel comics heroes. Sure many of the latter’s characters are tied up with other gaming companies, but Disney just got back all of the Sega heroes like Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and Incredible Hulk.
All of these suggestions still apply. While Disney Infinity has already mashed many of these worlds together, I'd still prefer to see a Kingdom Hearts take on them. Let's not forget that Disney bought Star Wars later in 2012 so now all of those characters are on the table as well. Again, Disney Infinity is doing this first, but I've got to believe that this is all promising news, showing that Disney is going to try to get as many properties out there as possible.
Many of the offshoot portable games have left behind Donald and Goofy as your primary partners and are much better for it. These guys are fine for a little bit, but they’re extremely one note. There’s not a lot they can do besides be wacky or sad. I’d much prefer a three-person combo of Sora, Riku, and Kairi with other guest characters filing in and out throughout the quest.
A Sora/Riku/Kairi main party would still be amazing, though I wonder if Square Enix considers Donald and Goofy a requirement for the main numbered entries. Please don't do it!
Clean Up The Hud And Battle System
Kingdom Hearts screens keep getting more cluttered with every iteration. There’s health, magic, and a third power build up bar on the right, and a scrolling menu of actions on the left. It’s a total mess and only adds to the confusion on more complicated battles. The next game should really make better use of hotkeys. I’d prefer an option to bring up an action wheel like Mass Effect (which would pause the action) mixed with hotkeys tied to any spare buttons. Throw in teammate commands and we'd be in business. Hopefully, this would cut down on running away from a boss while scrolling through healing spells and listening to that irritating near death siren noise.
While battle and upgrade systems actually change quite a bit between all the games released, I'm skeptical whether Square Enix will ever completely ditch the scrolling spells and abilities in the left corner. Early test footage shows these still in place, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's locked in for the final product.
Kingdom Hearts has experimented with multiplayer with mixed results in the portable games, but it was always held back by the lack of online play. The co-op battle arenas in Birth by Sleep were on the right track, and Square Enix could go even bigger. Players could select from any of the main heroes or Disney characters and take down dungeons with bosses at the end as a team. Characters, weapons, and items could all be unlocked over time and from loot drops. Exclusive, high-end gear could be tied to completing tasks in single-player. The imagination runs wild with possibilities!
I still get beyond excited at the thought of online multiplayer in Kingdom Hearts III. PvP would be tricky to balance, but I'd love to see a fully featured co-op mode that would let you build up a unique multiplayer character while still kicking rewards back to your single-player campaign. It would be a huge investment and risk on Square Enix's part, but if done well it would keep players coming back long after clearing the single-player story.
What would you like to see in Kingdom Hearts III? Write your thoughts in the comments below.