The dichotomy of total ignorance and unswerving allegiance pervades the games industry. As my GameZone colleague Joe Donato pointed out in a recent piece, more often than not, series, particularly RPG series, with any sort of length to them—i.e. Shin Megami Tensei, Disgaea, Atelier, .Hack, Xenosaga, The Elder Scrolls and the like—are either entirely unknown to gamers or the object of their unbridled admiration. Unsurprisingly, the Kingdom Hearts franchise, a JRPG that combines two of the biggest sources of canon in media history—the never ending, ironically titled RPG titan Final Fantasy, and source of all things nostalgic and fuzzy, Disney—has instilled in its fan base just such a trend.
"What am I supposed to do with this again?"
As a newly recruited member of the latter armada, I was quite excited to hear that the series will be seeing a next-gen installment in the form of Kingdom Hearts 3 and have therefore been picking through the scraps of information that trickle down from Square Enix as desperately as Half Life 3 conspirators do online forums. With Kingdom Hearts 1.5 already on its way to PlayStation 3s everywhere, in an effort that may or may not be dedicated to the sole purpose of lengthening Joe’s already daunting list of reasons to play Kingdom Hearts, we at GameZone have decided to cobble those facts together into a full recap of what we know of Kingdom Hearts 3 thus far.
The plot will conclude, but the series will not
In a landmark departure from the publisher’s habit of beating every dead horse in its IP back stock into a veritable puddle of dead horse, Square Enix will not be making anymore—nope. Admittedly, the above headline may have defeated that joke from the onset, but you get the point.
As expected, although Kingdom Hearts 3 will bring an end to the core games’ 10-years-running storyline revolving around “The Heartless,” the KH name will live on, presumably through its ever growing list of spinoffs. In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, series architect Tetsuya Nomura commented on the details of KH3’s plot, confirming that although “the series will continue,” “the particular enemy [the Kingdom Hearts characters] have been fighting the past 10 years will come to an end.”
"Oh yeah; I'm supposed to hit stuff with it!"
Incidentally, Nomura was also able to offer a glimpse of where the series will be headed with its third core installment. “If you played [Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance],” he said, “you will get some hint of Kingdom Hearts 3.”
Star Wars and Pixar works are on the table for in-game worlds
Disney’s assimilation of Lucasfilm answered one of the countless cries of wanted additions to the Kingdom Hearts universe by making Star Wars realms and characters plausible. Although EA has reserved the rights to release name-brand Star Wars games, a small inclusion in Kingdom Hearts 3 is still remotely possible. Speaking with Finaland, Nomura was once again able to shed some light on the subject: “When I heard the news I was like ‘Wow! Wow!’,” he said, referring to Disney’s galactic purchase. “Yeah, obviously it’s gonna be great if we could add it,” Nomura continued, “but like I said there are a lot of restrictions and rules by Disney so we don’t know what’s gonna happen, but yeah, we’ll see.”
This could be a thing. HYPE HYPE HYPE.
Although Nomura didn’t comment on the subject directly, the same logic is applicable to the inclusion of Pixar universes, as they, too, are now controlled by the house of mouse.
We’ve gotten a peek at the storyline
Series protagonists Riku and Sora will be returning in Kingdom Hearts 3, with a divergent plot in tow. As Siliconera reports, Sora and his partners, Donald and Goofy, are once again hell-bent on scouring the worlds for a mythical force of power—a role played by the “Seven Guardians of Light,” who are currently being hunted by the game’s main antagonist Master Xehanort. Meanwhile, Riku and Mickey will be on a two-man romp seeking previous bearers of the Keyblade, presumably in an effort to bolster their forces. Whether or not these Keyblader wielders will be playable characters or party members remains unseen.
We won’t be seeing it anytime soon—oh, and it’s coming to Xbox One
While the announcement itself is monolithic in its own right, the fact remains that Kingdom Hearts 3, in all its hype and glory, is years away. The game’s E3 content, while representative of an intended level of quality, has been confirmed to have been running on a development bed, suggesting that the current version of the game isn’t yet calibrated for play on its two platforms, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Human encyclopedia Tetsuya Nomura once again detailed the subject, speaking with Famitsu (reported by Siliconera) on KH3’s progress.
“Since the release of Kingdom Hearts 2, I believe that many fans were feeling impatient due to our continuous releases of spin-off titles, so we decided to announce it at the same time as Final Fantasy XV,” he said. “However,” Nomura added, “looking at the current development status, I think we may have announced it a little too early.”
Dev bed or not, this is still pretty cool.
So, despite optimistic (and entirely unfounded) rumors of a 2014 release, fans shouldn’t start throwing their wallets at their monitor until 2015.