IGN put up a respectable article the other day regarding things they’d like to see in SquareEnix’s Kingdom Hearts 3. The article was detailed about the things they would like to see, however I honestly felt that there were more points that could have been touched on.
After a little bit of reminiscing about my past experiences with the Kingdom Hearts franchise my fingers instantly went to my keyboard and I started assembling my thoughts on what would be essential for making Kingdom Hearts 3 an epic threequel, once they finally stop putting far too many resources into Final Fantasy XIII.
Allow me to quickly state my views of the first two Kingdom Hearts titles, so that you guys can grasp my view of things a little bit before continuing on. Most people consider the first Kingdom Hearts game to be the better of the two console titles, while I, however, found Kingdom Hearts 2 to be more fun, but it is a noticeably easier game. The story in the sequel seemed to flow much better than the predecessor, and everything had a slightly more epic feel to it.
In my personal opinion, I think that there were may have been a few less Disney executives breathing down the necks of SquareEnix since Disney knew Kingdom Hearts could be a very profitable franchise, allowing for a little more breathing room to integrate newer characters and not lean heavily on pre-manufactured Disney villains. However, both Kingdom Hearts games still leave room for improvement, which need to be addressed by the third game to avoid the risk of becoming stale.
No More Roxas
While I said I found Kingdom Hearts 2 to be the more fun game of the two, the prologue featuring Roxas and his friends made me nearly quit the game. Roxas’ segments in KH2 were all far too long, and the characters revolving around him, for the most part, were simply annoying; I literally begged to have Donald and Goofy back. If Roxas or his pals return in any sense for a third game, it needs to be strictly a cameo appearance and nothing more then that, please just keep the player in Sora’s shoes.
Fully Integrate Final Fantasy
Squall, Cloud, and the others have been cameo characters in pretty much anything related to Kingdom Hearts since its birth (yes, I called him Squall by the way). While the Final Fantasy cast was utilized a whole lot more in the sequel, I think the half-assing needs to stop with them, and I think it’s about time that Sora gets to explore some actual Final Fantasy worlds. Let’s see, Sora, Donald, and Goofy fight Heartless in the slums of Midgar, and some of FF8’s gardens are taken over by Nobodies. In short, if you’re going to have these characters in your game, then do it right.
They lightly hint at some of the Final Fantasy storylines in the games, (Cloud versus Sephiroth, little tidbits of stuff during the first games, end credits, etc) so why not flesh everything out a little, shine some light on the classic stories, and reinvigorate a little interest in some of the older Final Fantasy worlds at the same time. I’m sick of amalgamation worlds that simply exist as a fan-service melting pot for some rather legendary characters.
More Depth with Combat
Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 weren’t exactly challenging games, combat was pretty much simply “hit X to win and use a spell here and there”. Both games only became challenging when you went out of your way to look for a challenge, like with the two Sephiroth battles and other optional encounters. Running through the game’s storyline is a rather easy experience that makes even Twilight Princess seem like a challenge.
The combat system in the series needs an extra level or two of depth, and enemies that force you to use said combative tactics. Instead of hitting X-X-X-X-X-X-X-X and X to do a combo, how about something like X-Square-Circle-X-Triangle-Up-Up-Down-Down-Left-Right-Left-Right, or something that actually brings in a risk of punishment for making an error?
Add some variant physical attacks to the mix that require the use of more than one face button, and actually let the user build some of their own combos? I think that would be kind of fun; I like not watching the same combo over and over for a full game.
When you strip away the graphical differences of Kingdom Hearts and Devil May Cry the guts of their respective combat systems aren’t all that different. They both require you to upgrade things in order to improve your abilities (spells/abilities in KH and styles in DMC), you have melee, ranged attacks, (spells-KH / guns-DMC) potions, and other miscellaneous items to assist you along the way.
The only differences being that Devil May Cry’s combat is noticeably faster and has a deeper-than-expected combo system. While I’m not saying Sora suddenly needs to become Dante, I’m saying that the combat in the game needs to be cranked up a little, and Kingdom Hearts needs to make the next evolution in its fighting engine in order to keep fans of the series challenged instead of bored, because in all honesty, if I wanted to hit one button for a good portion of the game, then I’d load up Heaven or Hell mode in Devil May Cry 3 and simply mash the gun button.
Why Just Final Fantasy?
As kind of a continuation of the earlier Final Fantasy section, why not integrate further SquareEnix properties into the Kingdom Hearts Universe? Since this universe seems to be one giant amalgamation universe, it would seem to be the next logical step to include more properties. How about the Gummi Ship segments instead become more EinhanderDragon Quest fans might like to see cameos by their favorite characters and see them fight alongside Sora. like?
Share some long deserved love for Secret of Mana. Or why not integrate the Chrono Trigger world into the mix since SquareEnix is so intent on stopping fans from doing anything with the property… not to mention imagine the possible coolness of time-traveling with Crono into the past to recreate epic moments from the first two Kingdom Hearts games. While I absolutely love seeing more of my Final Fantasy VII characters as much as possible, I won’t deny that more love needs to be given out overall.
Allow More Diverse Parties
This one always made me scratch my head in the first two games. If you’re going to allow the player to put a different party member in place for Goofy or Donald, why restrict it to one world? And if you know that you’re going to lose Simba after you’re done with the Pride Rock world, is there even a point to leveling him up? The various characters who can join your party should be able to move with you from world to world on your quest and not be chained to their respective levels. If Aladdin knows the whole universe is at stake, would he really stay behind to take care of Agrabah?
Yes, I’m aware that one of the key story elements revolves around Mickey assigning Donald and Goofy to watch over Sora and the keyblade, but that doesn’t mean others can’t join in on the fun! I think I speak for everyone when I say I’d like to have the option of making my party consist of Sora, Cloud, and The Beast. I again fall back on saying that more variety will keep the franchise fresh. If I have to hear “Gawrsh Sora!” one more time, I swear The Heartless will be the least of Disney’s problems.
Release Final Mix in America or don’t do it at all!
The ultimate thing that pisses me off about the Kingdom Hearts franchise, and SquareEnix and the Japanese game developers in general, is that North America tends to constantly get screwed when it comes to content of Japanese origin, whether it be special edition consoles, like the Final Fantasy 7 PS3, or the substationally deeper amount of classic titles on Japanese PSN Store (although this is thankfully changing).
I’m not sure if it’s because they think post-release special editions won’t sell well overseas, but we just never seem to get many director’s cuts or anything that would be aimed at hardcore fans of the franchise, and don’t think I’m excluding you too Euro pals because I know you guys are getting screwed too. You guys seem to be missing out on a lot of the stuff I mentioned before as well.
Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix and Kingdom Hearts 2: Final Mix were Japan only releases of the games that are viewed as the ‘complete’ versions of each title. There was extra content, keyblades, and all sorts of other little goodies that make me ache when I know I can’t get them in my version of the game.
Hell, the Final Mix of the first game even foreshadows the arrival of Organization XIII and introduces a side boss who is actually the final boss of Kingdom Hearts 2, and even fights in the same style in both games with the near exact same musical score. SquareEnix, if you’re going to pull another one of these special edition re-releases then do it right and let everyone enjoy it or don’t do it at all. And if you’re not going to do it at all, go and finally remake Final Fantasy VII for the love of God.