Gaming editor James Law makes his feelings clear about the character Nintendo neglected in their Super Smash Bros. Ultimate announcementWritten by James Law on 15th June 2018
Impressions: Kingdom Hearts 3
Kingdom Hearts adorer Sam Nason tells us of his impressions for the long-awaited sequel to one of the biggest Square Enix franchises, Kingdom Hearts 3
When Kingdom Hearts II was released, I was six years old. Italy won the FIFA World Cup. Freddos cost 10p. Suffice to say, fans have been waiting a very long time for the next numbered entry in the series. Luckily, such a thirst looks to be quenched very soon as Square Enix recently reasserted once again that Kingdom Hearts III was still set for a 2018 release.
Being a huge Kingdom Hearts fan myself, Kingdom Hearts III cannot come soon enough. In a nutshell, the series follows Sora and Disney icons Donald and Goofy, as they help and explore a number of world with fellow Disney, Pixar, Final Fantasy and The World Ends with You characters. Given its lengthy development and the systematic release of new information throughout the years (the first teaser for the game was all the way back in 2013), there is certainly a large amount of hype surrounding the release. Yet as I comb through the trailers, and think about the game in relation to the rest of the series, my extreme excitement is also riddled with a sense of apprehension.
The Kingdom Hearts series is infamously convoluted and difficult to keep track of. With nine unique games spread across seven different platforms, it’s easy to see why the franchise is so daunting to experience. While the recent HD 1.5 and 2.5 ReMIX titles on the PS3 and PS4 have compiled most of these games in two convenient collections (you’ve probably noticed it’s quite difficult to defend the names of some of these games too, particularly 358/2 Days which I still haven’t wrapped my head around yet), it’s undeniable that the series has certainly taken some twists from its humble beginnings on the PS2. A game about friendship, Disney and a simple fight of good vs evil is now about time travel, prophesies and possession.
Thus comes one of my main concerns with Kingdom Hearts III; lots of people playing will be incredibly lost as to what is happening. There have been five titles between II and III which, you can imagine, cover a wide range of story; time will tell whether Square Enix feel it necessary to provide some kind of recap for new adopters (to their credit, they did something similar in Dream Drop Distance, so it’s not completely out of the picture).
With that grievance out of the way, there is a lot to look forward to in Kingdom Hearts III. Since 2013 Square Enix have periodically provided previews as to the game’s progress and the journey has been wild. From the discovery of the Toy Story world to the return of many fan-favourite characters, to the constantly-improving graphics and the beautiful score, Kingdom Hearts III looks to be a spectacle.
Most noticeably is their expansion of the Disney worlds you can visit; in previous games worlds like Aladdin’s Agrabah and The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Halloween Town have become staples and as a result many fans have got tired of them. This seems to be rectified by III, where a wealth of new worlds have been introduced; revealed so far have been worlds based off the Disney films Tangled, Toy Story, Big Hero Six and Monster’s Inc, though more could very well be revealed in the future. These are extremely exciting not only because its their series debut, but also because it is the first time the series has delved in to Pixar properties; the worlds look vibrant, colourful and true to their source material.
The worlds themselves also look to be much more expansive, with lots more to do than previous games; one trailer showed Sora jumping down from a cliff into a whole other section of the world with no loading screen in between. Recently shown off at D23 2018 was how alive the worlds felt, with the market in Corona (Tangled’s world) being filled with lots of NPCs to give the hustle-and-bustle impression, quite major for a series focused around world building.
Graphically the game looks very good and it’s amazing to see characters from the Kingdom Hearts series in HD. The cartoon style of the game is a great fit for the PS4. Notable is that graphical changes have taken place from trailer to trailer, and therefore if something doesn’t look quite right in one trailer, you can usually count on it being adjusted and changed for the next. This kind of adjustability is great to see and gives the impression the fans really do have a voice throughout its development.
Perhaps my biggest worry for the game is in its battle system, that I can only describe to be a mish-mash of all games prior. Trailers have shown Square Enix have added a myriad of new moves and abilities to Sora’s arsenal, some new like the Keyblade Transformations and Attraction Flow, while others are revised versions of past mechanic like Drive Forms and Flowmotion. While these all seem to be very nifty abilities, I can’t help but feel the battle system will become too cluttered with all of these different options.
The developers have commented previously that they are altering the combat from Kingdom Hearts II and the flowmotion system from Dream Drop Distance to create a unique one for III; both games had very satisfying methods of battle so I look forward to hopefully being proved wrong.
All in all, Kingdom Hearts III is one of my most anticipated releases for the year. Not only to finally learn the ending to a story sixteen years in the making but relive that childlike wonder I experienced when playing the first game for the first time. Any apprehensions I have are only there because of how much I really, really want to like the game. While the various side titles before this one have been a blast, III looks to be a huge step for the franchise and provide a totally unique and distinct experience.