I’m sure there are plenty who will agree that the Kingdom Hearts (KH) series was one of great significance growing up (well, at least for the millennial generation). This was a time where the two pinnacles of entertainment, Final Fantasy and Disney, held large spots in our hearts. When the two finally teamed up and created a universe full of action, fantasy, and friendship, it seemed as though the heavens sang just for us. Since then, a significant amount of time has passed. Not only have people grown up, but so have their tastes. With Kingdom Hearts III still in development, one begins to wonder… should we still care?
It has been ten years since Kingdom Hearts II released and we have seen four KH games since then. Although the spin-offs were meant to be separate from the main plot line, it seemed as though Square-Enix tried to satiate KH fans with smaller, less iconic installments. Sure, among these four additions lie some incredible storytelling, but the fact that these games were peripheries to the core, still remains. That being said, has Square-Enix beaten the Kingdom Hearts series to a bloody pulp? And if not, is there simply too much lore for the casual gamer to grasp when they finally dive into Kingdom Hearts III?
Of course, there are dedicated KH fans who would be outraged at the thought of their favorite series being recognized as anything but significant, but you can’t help but question: if Square-Enix didn’t prioritize this game, then why should we still care? We have been promised time and time again that Kingdom Hearts III would be released at “this time” and then to “this date” or the classic, “let’s add another year of production” and once that year has flown by, they hit us with “we’re aiming for XYZ year.”
Aside from the blatant procrastination in regards to the game’s development, just how relevant is Kingdom Hearts III? Those who were once 10-18 years old when Kingdom Hearts II released are now 20-28, going to college, living on their own, or some of them have started their families (you know, typical “adulting”). Are these original fans still part of the fan base? Will they still enjoy Donald’s quacking, Goofy’s dilly dallying, and Sora’s high pitched screams? Although we would hope that we would still enjoy it, it still raises the question of whether or not a new KH game would be as fun to play as it was ten years ago. To put it simply, has our maturity surpassed that of the very light and youthful KH series?
Although Kingdom Hearts III seems to have upgraded many core functions since the second installment, it still utilizes many similar features. We all remember the clunky button mashing KH experience of running up to a giant heartless and tediously pressing your DualShock in a spastic-like fashion on the stationary body until suddenly… CUT SCENE. This all seems to be featured in III as well. Although we haven’t seen much of its gameplay, we still see the same repetitive actions full of hack and slashing, quick time events, spell firing, and funky, wide-legged jumps. After playing so many games in the last ten years which have caused our gaming skills to grow, will it be too easy?
Regardless of the ten year gap, the countless spin-off games, Square-Enix’s procrastination, and the low difficulty level of the series’ predecessors, Kingdom Hearts I and II were both game changers (no pun intended). Who knows, perhaps the release of III will prove to be easily accessible to casual gamers, have better gameplay, and a more mature plot line, but then again… let’s not get our hopes up.