What Kingdom Hearts 3 Can Learn From the Portable Titles

Fans of the Kingdom Hearts series, including me, have had our patience tested since the last numbered entry (Kingdom Hearts 2) was released in 2006. Almost 7 years later, we still have yet to see the next official numbered entry in the series. In its place, Tetsuya Nomura and Square Enix have released side stories and prequels–with Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance and Kingdom Hearts: Re Coded being the only portable titles that actually progress the story. The fanbase is quite frustrated to say the least. Kingdom Hearts 3 has to be on its way soon, at least I hope.

That said, I’ve kept an open mind about the portable titles (at least Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep was teased at the end of Kingdom Hearts 2), which contain concepts that I think Nomura could expand upon in Kingdom Hearts 3. While there are many things I want to see in the next game in general—closure, for one—this list will focus on the concepts from the portable titles that I think could be adapted or expanded in the next game.


Updated Level Design & Smoother FlowMotion

The original Kingdom Hearts was magical if only it inspired a non-Disney fan like me to appreciate the Disney aesthetic. The miniature versions of each world came complete with an abridged story line that allowed me to relive the movies I watched as a child. The levels in Kingdom Hearts were essentially my virtual Disney World.

That said, I’ve noticed since the release of Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance that the level design needs a serious overhaul. The 3DS title introduced the FlowMotion mechanic, which allows for fast travel and Mega Man X-like wall jumps, which being my favorite game should be my favorite thing in the game. Yet, the game’s levels had a mixture of the old ways, and it only managed to while dipping its feet into the water. The game still clinged to the platforming of the older games, and the Flowmotion mechanic suffered because of it.

If the developers could redesign the levels to be more open and accommodating, they could design the Flowmotion mechanic to reach its full potential. They could allow players to actually flow without being hindered by the platforming sections.


The Battle System of Birth By Sleep and Dream Drop Distance

One of the common criticisms of Kingdom Hearts 1 & 2 is that players could easily mash X to win. That’s not to say the magic, summons, or other abilities were useless—in fact, the magic could be downright devastating if used correctly—but I will admit that it was easy to simply rely on mashing the attack command.

Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep and Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance admirably addressed this criticism with their revamped battle systems. Players still have the attack command, but the game wisely ditched the MP system of previous entries in favor for a charge meter. Players had a limited amount of slots for commands, and they could experiment with their combination of choice—some of which made sense depending on a character’s play-style. As such, it was easier to experiment with other abilities besides the attack button.

However, the developers always include some sort of fluff—be it reaction commands or D-Links (too many to name—and I realize that they will probably do the same in Kingdom Hearts 3. I only ask for them to try one thing: keep it simple. Maybe bring the summons back, which will harken back to its Final Fantasy roots. Or maybe something even more simple, like using the shoulder buttons to switch between commands instead of using the directional arrow buttons. After all, there are two should buttons per side of a controller (Xbox or PS3) for a reason.


Characters With Different Playstyles

With the incessant development of Final Fantasy Vs. 13, it’s too early to tell what all Kingdom Hearts 3 will entail. Judging by the ending events of Kingdom Hearts 2 and the design of Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep and Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, I guess that Kingdom Hearts 3 will experiment with Sora, Riku, and Kairi.

Dream Drop Distance disappointed me because I felt no noticeable difference between using Sora and Riku save for a few character exclusive commands. Birth By Sleep, on the other hand, told three different perspectives of the same tale, and allowed for different play styles as well. Ventus was the speedy character, Terra was the power house, and Aqual was the mage.

I expect a similar system would be in place were we to use Sora, Kairi, and Riku (if it were up to me, I’d use my favorite characters: Donald and Goofy); however, I don’t necessarily want to play 3 separate campaigns. The ability to switch between characters, however, would be enticing. I could pick my character of choice during the action bits and let the computer control Sora for a brief moment. And of course, the game could create some scenes that call for a specific character.

If they were to use this system, they could revamp the way players get game overs. If Sora were to die, rather than go immediately go to the game over screen, they could allow you to temporarily switch to the other character; where you could either keep fighting to the end or attempt to revive your previous character.

Finally, they could use the opportunity to implement online co-op into the series. 358/2 Days allowed players to tackle missions locally through AD-Hoc using the Organization XIII characters, and Birth By Sleep attempted something similar. To see this on a home console with a wider audience–with an incentive for better keyblades– I could see tackling missions with my friends to be a far more streamlined experience.


What Would You Like To See

If I had listed everything I wanted to see in the next Kingdom Hearts, I could probably write a novel’s worth of information. As such, I’ve limited myself to writing about what Kingdom Hearts 3 can expand upon from its portable brethren. But what would you like to see in Kingdom Hearts 3?