By Madison Martinez
“Kingdom Hearts” is a beloved video game franchise that began with its first released game of the same name in 2002. People fell in love with the unlikely cross-over of Disney and Final Fantasy characters, including original characters Sora, Riku and Kairi, along with the heartwarming story and satisfying real time action gameplay.
In 2005, creator Tetsuya Nomura released the third game. The second numbered game in the series, “Kingdom Hearts II,” which expanded on the gameplay with new forms and reaction commands, built the series’ glory even higher.
Since then, however, no numbered releases were announced, only more games that, while still good, made the story more convoluted and hyping up a finale. Fans were beginning to wonder when would the conclusion, the next numbered title, appear.
Then, at E3 2013, the announcement dropped that “Kingdom Hearts III” was in development. Now, it is finally here, and it is beautiful.
The story follows Sora, a cheerful boy and bearer of the Keyblade, and his two companions, the magician Donald and Captain Goofy, as they start their most important journey yet. Master Xehanort has put his plans at starting another Keyblade War into motion and wants to destroy all worlds by releasing the force that is Kingdom Hearts.
It is up to our heroes to regain their lost strength from Xehanort’s previous schemes and find the Seven Guardians of Light to combat Xehanort’s Thirteen Darknesses in a Keyblade War, in hopes that light will prevail and darkness expires.
The game has Sora explore new Disney worlds from movies such as “Frozen,” “Big Hero 6,” “Monsters Inc,” and “Tangled,” as well as revisiting previous worlds like the original “Twilight Town” and “Olympus” from the movie “Heracles.” All of these have had major upgrades with its presentation.
Once empty worlds are now teeming with non-player characters chattering away. In previous games, each section had to be entered with a loading screen, the transitions not only with crossing sections, but transitioning from cut-scenes are now seamless. This makes the presentation much smoother and helps the player become immersed in the game.
There are also many incentives to explore the worlds such as, collecting ingredients for Remy, aka “Little Chef,” completing missions for the Moogles, Final Fantasy characters that run the item shop, to gain items and recipes, and the all new feature of Lucky Emblems. Sora has a phone in this game and he can take pictures of hidden mickeys all over the worlds known as Lucky Emblems. If the player can get Sora’s selfie with these guys, he can obtain items and maybe a surprise, if you get them all.
The gameplay is also improved, still maintaining the core mechanics of real time action and magic spells, but also adding new options from previous games like the Focus Gauge and Links.
There are also completely new gimmicks including team attacks, attraction flow, and Keyblade transformations. Not only does it add a lot of pizazz into your gameplay, because scattering Heartless with a Pirate ship decked out in lights is awesome, but it also adds a lot of strategy into your gameplay. The Shooting Star Keyblade transforms into dual-pistols would be great for range, but the Toy Story Keyblade can transform into a hammer for massive damage in a large area. The combat can be a little overwhelming in the beginning, but the player will get a grasp of the new moves fairly easily and can then start creating their own combat style.
Overall, “Kingdom Hearts III” is a fun game to play, and will be what all the fans were hoping for. It’s absolutely wonderful to return to a series from your childhood but updated and evolved into something truly epic.
Written February 3, 2019
Photograph by Disney