Kingdom Hearts Missed an Entire Console Generation
And Why that is a Good Thing
By Max Roberts
I am a long time Kingdom Hearts fan. The moment I laid eyes on Kingdom Hearts I at my friend’s house in the first grade I fell in love. Since that fateful moment I have followed the series fervently. I remember my first encounter with every entry; all eight of them. Yes, there are eight Kingdom Hearts games. So why was Kingdom Hearts III JUST announced, over a decade later? Because one of the Kingdom Hearts franchise’s “trademarks” is spin-off games. Due to the six spin-offs, Kingdom Hearts has missed an entire home console generation. Now I am aware that Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMix is coming out to the Americas on September 10, 2013, but those are simply HD remakes of three of the entries (although there was nothing simple about recreating them in HD). Fans of the franchise haven’t seen a brand new, numbered entry eight years! And as a fan, I believe that this is a good thing. Here is why Kingdom Hearts missing an entire console generation is the right call for the franchise.
Number 1: Tetsuya Nomura had a specific story to tell
The franchise’s creator and director for every single entry is none other than Tetsuya Nomura. Now if you aren’t familiar with his name, Mr. Nomura works for Square Enix, specifically on the Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts series. He began as a character designer on the critically acclaimed game Final Fantasy VII. Then Nomura had his directorial debut with, you guessed it, Kingdom Hearts I.
From the very beginning, Tetsuya Nomura had a very specific story to tell with the Kingdom Hearts games. The overarching story for the entire franchise is dubbed the “Xehanort Saga”, Xehanort being the game’s main antagonist. Each of the spin offs has added layers of history and characterization to the Xehanort Saga. These “trademark” spin offs have undoubtably added mountains of confusion to players that may have missed an entry or two. For you to fully grasp Kingdom Hearts‘s story, you would have to play all seven games, which can be overbearing for new players or old fans. In the more recent entries, Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep for the PSP and Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance for the 3DS, Nomura has conveniently added summary sections for games prior. Unlocked at crucial plot points in-game, players can read a summary of the over-arching themes and major events each game held. This is a great feature for those that may have missed a game or serve as a refresher for veterans. Mr. Nomura is aware of the franchise’s large story and how overwhelming it can be for players. He hopes to stream line the process of summaries even further in Kingdom Hearts III.
Number 2: Experimentation with gameplay mechanics
Another unique aspect of the Kingdom Hearts games is that the gameplay mechanics are always changing and evolving. No two games are identical; and more often than not, each game takes bold, diverse steps away from the previous entry. Sometimes these bold steps turn out to be stumbles, frustrating fans and, in the process, creating timeless jokes about the franchise. From the “unique” battle card system in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories to the fast paced Flowmotion system in Dream Drop Distance, the mechanics are always evolving to create a more immersive, unforgettable experience for players.
In Kingdom Hearts III, Mr. Nomura has stated in an interview with KHDestiny and KHisland that the gameplay mechanics in Kingdom Hearts III “will be an improved version of the KINGDOM HEARTS 3D.” As a fan, my favorite mechanics were those in the PSP iteration, Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep. When Dream Drop Distance took the command deck from Birth By Sleep and added the Flowmotion system, I was overjoyed. Flowmotion provided fast-paced action and added a combo system the series had never seen before. Powered by the new “Kingdom Shader” engine, Kingdom Hearts III boasts to be the fastest, most action packed Kingdom Hearts title so far.
Number 3: Patience = A better game
This next point may sound like an excuse to most, but hear me out. While this beloved third main entry has not been in development for all of these long eight years, ideas have been around for it since the beginning. With a solid direction for the main combat and a completely fleshed out (albeit confusing) story, Kingdom Hearts III could very well be the best Kingdom Hearts game to date. Also, if my memory is correct, Disney did just acquire a certain franchise for a couple billion dollars, so could you imagine lightsaber Keyblades?!?! Just sayin’.
Number 4: We want what we cannot have
Number four here is short, but a reasonable point. I am not saying Mr. Nomura and Square Enix planned to keep Kingdom Hearts III away from this generation, but it certainly is building hype and demand for the title. With the game teased at E3 and coming to both PS4 and Xbox One, the demand can grow even more to give this game its best selling potential. And speaking of those next gen systems…
Number 5: Kingdom Hearts III will be able to do more on PS4 and Xbox One
This generation has created some of the most gorgeous games the industry has ever seen. The next generation looks even better. Backed by the raw power of these next generation systems, Kingdom Hearts’s charm and adorable style in each Disney world can truly shine. Just look at the teaser.
The potential is there and I am sure it will go above and beyond our expectations. It will not do any harm to the franchise by creating the best looking game it could possibly be. It only will make it a better game. As a fan, that is all I want: the best possible Kingdom Hearts game that can be made.
There you have it. Those are my thoughts on why Kingdom Hearts III missing an entire home console generation is a good call. All in all, this long, seemingly endless wait can only make the game better. While my inner fan boy is crying out “GIMME NOW!!!!!”, I can’t help but follow this train of logic to the eventual destination that will be Kingdom Hearts III.
Remember, Mr. Nomura was kind enough to throw us a bone with Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMix. Are you picking up your copy on September 10, 2013? I know I am!
What do you think? Is this eternal wait worth it? Am I just making excuses? Who is better; Sora or Roxas? If you have any opinions on the Kingdom Hearts franchise, I want to hear them! Sound off in the comments below. For all the latest news concerning Sora, keys, and eternal darkness, just remember to go left.