Disney Magic Warms Hearts with Long Awaited Sequelcsudhbulletin February 21, 2019 0 COMMENTS
By Alex Graf
Before “The Avengers” took the world by storm, the most ambitious crossover event of all time, was perhaps “Kingdom Hearts.” At the time of its 2002 release, the concept seemed incredible. Imagine exploring the rich, vibrant worlds of all of your favorite Disney films while interacting with all of the best characters from both Disney’s sprawling catalog and the classic game franchise, “Final Fantasy.”
After a successful launch met with critical acclaim that quickly spawned a rabid fan base, developer Square Enix released the franchises’ first spinoff “Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories” in 2004, followed by “Kingdom Hearts II” in 2005, which vastly expanded the lore of the series to the point of near incomprehensibility.
In the 14 years following the release of KHII, fans have eagerly awaited the third numbered entry in the series as Square released nearly a dozen spinoff games in the interim (“358/2 Days”, “Birth By Sleep”, etc.) while KHIII spent over a decade agonizing in development hell. At the end of January, the game finally dropped as the hopes and dreams of many a fan were fulfilled at last.
The good news is, if you’re a longtime fan of the franchise, there’s a lot to love here. Sora, Donald and Goofy are back at it and better than ever. Players will be able to explore the worlds of films like “Toy Story”, “Monsters Inc.”, “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Frozen” among others. The gameplay is the best the franchise has ever been with plenty of fun and powerful abilities at your disposal and a progression system that keeps things fresh by introducing new power-ups in regular intervals throughout the story.
Every new world Sora travels to with Donald and Goofy are the most fully realized and expansive ever featured in a KH and they gleam with Disney’s signature authenticity with fantastic attention to detail and classic music from each film.
Sora also collects new Keyblades throughout his adventure, each with their own abilities. My personal favorite is the “Favorite Deputy” Keyblade from the Toy Story level which can transform into a drill or a Hammer to do serious damage to Sora’s foes. If that’s not enough, Sora can also use magic, do special team attacks with party members, or summon a Disneyland attraction for devastating effect.
While there is much enjoyment to be had in KHIII, there are also a number of pretty glaring flaws. For one thing, any narrative elements that don’t directly tie into Disney are such an absolute, convoluted mess that even the most dedicated fans may struggle to wrap their heads around them; and though the gameplay is absolutely franchise best, it still feels somewhat dated. (Who in their right mind makes B the jump button in 2019?) Furthermore, the cutscenes are filled with cringe-inducing dialogue and next level corniness. It would almost be embarrassing to play this game if it weren’t so darn fun.
With all of that said, these are complaints that have cropped up with virtually every entry in the series. Cutscenes have never been great, controls have always felt a bit off, and the narrative has become increasingly complicated with each new entry. In other words, players should expect these issues going in if they have any inkling of what previous games have been like.
Ultimately, player enjoyment will depend on their investment in this franchise(or Disney films). If “Kingdom Hearts” was never your thing