I am the definition of a Kingdom Hearts fan. I have played the games since the beginning and have been through the ups and downs of the series (Re: Coded *cough* mobile spinoff *cough*). After finishing Kingdom Hearts 3 and hearing the announcement of Melody of Memory, I have been reflecting on what the series needs to keep and what outright needs to be thrown away. The following are my thoughts on these matters:
Keep It: The Battle System
There have been many types of battle systems in past games, but all of them revolve around real time combat. Kingdom Hearts 3 melded all of the combat systems together into a cohesive beautiful whole. Many fans and I agree that the different forms Sora took in Kingdom Hearts 2 were missed in 3. All things considered, the battle system is the real meat of the game and it is rather tasty in its current form.
Trash It: Following Disney Storylines Too Closely
I watch Disney movies to enjoy the excellence of the animation, storytelling, and imagination of hundreds of people working on a single film. Recently in the Kingdom Hearts series going from world to world has not been fun because simply, I am not going into a storyline that is interesting. If you have watched the Disney movies they are based on, you know exactly where it is going. This makes the plot of almost every world drag on. Instead of following the Disney movies’ beats, they should focus on making an engaging, original story with these widely beloved fictional characters.
Keep It: Original and Square Enix Backlog Characters
Whenever an original or Final Fantasy character entered the screen I paid attention more extensively and wanted to know what would happen next. More for the original characters than the Final Fantasy characters for me at least. If the story was more constant and focused on the main characters and their development as opposed to the Disney characters in the Disney worlds, I feel like the game would be more engaging. Having depth in Kairi, for example, could help us feel more connected with her because we see her personality. Hopefully with the secret ending of Kingdom Hearts 3, this focus on more original characters will come about.
Trash It: The Huge Amount Of Cut Scenes
Entering a world and watching a cutscene I understand. We need to see the characters looking over a new place and taking it all in. That said, a cutscene every time an enemy is defeated, when the player approaches a building for the first time, when the group stops to talk to a new character is a bit much. I feel a lot of the development of Kingdom Hearts games are making those cutscenes and the animation rigs for them. How much better would it be if that money and energy were put into more thought-provoking storytelling or character development instead of recreating an already great “Let it Go” scene from Frozen? Let’s stop the original story beats from going to multiple different games on multiple different systems. How about telling the whole story on one game? These changes, I believe, would make the game great.
Keep It: The Open World Scale
Not having to load in and out of areas made everything so seamless for the most part in Kingdom Hearts 3. The Pirates of the Caribbean world comes to mind while being able to be in a ship battle and then jumping off your ship to explore a full-fledged island, all without loading, just felt so right. Exploring the verticality of worlds also was extremely fun. Let’s keep Kingdom Hearts open world, I think its for the better when it comes to exploring. That is, only if the world itself is interesting in of itself. For example, I wish the Big Hero 6 world would have been more interactive. What I mean by this is the emptiness of the world, sure there were skyscrapers and people but you could not talk to the people besides a canned message popping up here or there.
Trash It: Uninspiring Worlds
Frozen was a big white snow cone with barely any personality, and please no more Peterman, Aladdin or Hercules or any other worlds that have been used multiple times. Originally, I did not mind these but at this point many of these fictional characters have felt wrung dry…or rather all the life out of their original sources are gone and that the series is just dragging them along and throwing them into scenes in order to meet the worlds requirements. Lets get some more cult classic places like “The Black Cauldron” or the more popular Star Wars and let Sora, Donald and Goofy meet new people. And please, can we cut out the introductions of Sora, Donald, and Goofy to the new characters? It drives me crazy hearing “I’m Sora, this is Donald, and Goofy” over and over again when going to different worlds, sorry a little bit of a tangent there.
Keep It: The Metaphorical Symbolism
One of the reasons I loved Kingdom Hearts so much was the symbolism of it. Making hearts a sort of a tangible presence in the physical world. Taking hearts out of people and seeing how they would act. Making darkness and light injections to the heart that changed the attributes of the characters. It was all very fantastical and lively. An existence where feelings and self were visible. Keep this, it explores the human psyche and the minds of those people.
Do you like the Kingdom Hearts series as it is? If so, why? What do you think needs to be improved? I would love to know in the comments below.