Kingdom Hearts. The game series where everyone has been able to plug-in and connect to a fantasy of our favorite worlds meshed into one universe. It has a great storyline, confusing yes, but exciting. There is a character for everyone. I think we can all agree the first Kingdom Hearts was the start of an adventure that we could never get enough of. But as we’ve come to the end, has our dedication to the series, to our beloved gaming family, and love of the fight between light and dark been a letdown?
I’m not going to say that KH3 wasn’t an amusing game, because it definitely had some fun parts to it. However, overall, I was very disappointed in this ending to a series I’ve been waiting for since I was a kid. With all the years they took to perfect this game, I was expecting a whole lot more.
I remember when I played the first KH. It was such an exciting experience that tested your skills as a videogamer. You had no directions on where to go, the fighting was tough and challenging, the storytelling was puzzling but intriguing, and the worlds you got to visit were so fun to plunge into and explore. KH is well known for all the extra side quests you can do, little tasks you can collect and accomplish. KH3 has taken this into consideration and did not let that falter, which I’m glad about. But there were many parts to this game that I found annoying and very uncreative compared to the other KH games.
1.) The fighting style was great at first but there was no way to really increase your power level to see Sora prevail through the game. He was way too over-powered at the beginning and it stayed that way throughout the game. The challenge of fighting was very little and that made getting into fights on purpose to increase your stats less desirable. It was way too easy to access your multi-power levels connected to your Keyblade. It seemed like you could whack 4 times and then finish everyone off with a special power. The fighting was the same over and over.
2.) When you add more abilities, you’re also supposed to see Sora increase in his fighting techniques. I did not see this. Within the first two worlds, I could see a change with Sora’s fighting. Afterward, he didn’t get any stronger or able to really do anything different. I would read what the ability was and equip it but his power level would stay the same no matter how many I seemed to equip. It actually got a little annoying equipping so many because Sora would automatically do certain moves when I didn’t want him to, so I ended up unequipping a few.
3.) There were WAY TOO many cutscenes. I felt like I was watching a movie rather than playing a video game. Especially towards the end, the cutscenes seemed to increase. I would need to take breaks between play sessions because I would get so upset about the game, and when I would come back to it, I would still only end up playing what seemed like 10 mins of gameplay and what felt like 20 mins of cutscenes. I understand the importance of these cutscenes with this series because there is a lot to catch up on and sew together but it still felt unnecessary. There are many ways to provide information with short effective videos.
4.) Kingdom Hearts is known for its Disney stories and parallel universes with all its characters. I’m sure they had specific contracts with Disney to allow certain stories in the game, what details they could or could not use, voice actors for the parts, etc, etc. However, I felt like I was watching the Disney movies themselves, which I’ve done plenty of, instead of playing through their own creative twist of the KH’s story leaking into the Disney worlds. Instead, I was playing through the entire Disney movie, word for word, scene by scene, song by song (I’m sorry but screw “Let It Go”. It’s overplayed and too popularized). I didn’t play KH to play the movie. I can watch them any day. I wanted to play through the design of the creator’s brains and how they combined the KH story into the Disney worlds. This annoyed me the most and made it very hard for me to want to continue playing or even finish the game for that matter.
I should have been able to get through this game excitedly and quickly. However, it’s taken me almost a year since its release date and I had to convince myself to finish the game. It felt like a chore instead of something I enjoyed doing with chronic desire.
Now, I’m not going to stand in the negative the whole time. KH3 did have some positive aspects to appreciate. KH has had a lot to offer all their fans and because they are so loved, it wasn’t a complete flop.
1.) I did enjoy the Disney worlds they chose to have you explore. However, the worst one for me was San Fransokyo.
2.) I liked the side tasks of finding the treasure chests, lucky emblems, and mini Mickey games.
3.) How you were able to explore the space between worlds was also innovative and fun. Flying and creating your own spaceship is a big part of the KH series, so I was happy to see how they expanded on their interpretation of space travel between worlds. Including completing mini-quests you can only find between worlds.
4.) The game graphics, pictures, and design were absolutely beautiful. With today’s new technology and the ability to make games look almost life-like really makes for a gorgeous setting. They went all out for the scenery. I appreciated the designers being able to keep the same child-like animated look for all the characters but creating an immersive, exquisite environment to interact with. For this aspect of the game, they got it right 100%.
Behind the Scenes Dirt
Now from my understanding, the reason why KH3 was such a bummer was because of a mixture between staff changes and directional preferences. Tetsuya Nomura was the director for Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy XV. He was approached with much desire for KH3 by developers, Disney, and fans alike. His team, however, was working vigilantly on Final Fantasy XV since that was already a promised release for the gaming community in 2006. So to keep us involved in the KH world, a series of DS games were released to keep our interest and building anticipation. But with the many tease releases, it backfired on the production teams and fans became impatient and angry with the continuous long wait.
The production team that worked on KH3 was Square Enix’s 1st Production team, whereas KH 1 and 2 were produced by Square Enix’s Product Development Division 1 team. So there were two different teams working on the main story. KH 3 was overseen by Rie Nishi as the game’s producer. So there were many ways for the game to change from conflicting viewpoints. When the game was released after E3 2013, Nomura said it was released too early but because of the increasing angry fans, they decided to announce the game at the same time as Final Fantasy XV. Not really a great thing to do especially when your gut is telling you no.
I would have rathered them take forever in its production to make it right, then to half-fast it to make the curtain call. We as a community will still go on in our daily lives.
In 2014, Nomura switched from being the director for Final Fantasy XV and left to work on KH3. He originally wanted KH3 to be released in 2018, but his team and other statistics based on release in Japan vs the USA, shopping stats, holidays, etc, they convinced him to push it back to January 2019.
With multiple push back release dates, changes in staff, new perspectives of how the game should run, it was a long wait that left me personally fried and disappointed. I feel the game lost a lot of its original sparkle with Nomura’s “new direction”. I was not as invested in the game as I would have liked to have been and it bored me to death. With every game, there is love and hate. I’m positive there is a portion of the community that was very pleased with the results, but I am not one of them.
I’ll just stick to replaying the classics 🙂 Although, I hate fighting that damn Ice Titan, he gets me every time!