You’ll regress into a child with this bigger and better game.
Kingdom Hearts 3 (KH3) is the latest instalment of the series that will see Sora, with the help of Donald Duck and Goofy, reach the end of this quest.
Is that it?
Well, there’s also a parallel mission where Riku and Mickey Mouse (for some reason, he’s called King Mickey because monarchy) venture into the Realm of Darkness to search for Aqua.
The band behind ‘Barbie Girl’?
Well, Aqua first appeared in the prequel, Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep (on the PSP platform), along with her cohorts Terra and Ventus. They are keyblade apprentices and they prevented Xehanort and Vanitas from using the χ-blade (pronounced ‘keyblade’ as the Greek letter ‘χ’ is pronounced ‘chi’; #themoreyouknow) to unlock Kingdom Hearts, which will incite a Keyblade War. After the melee, darkness consumed Terra’s heart and Xehanort takes over his body. Fortunately, Terra’s mind remains in his armour, which comes to life and defeats Xehanort. Ventus fuses with Vanitas to create the χ-blade. Aqua and Mickey fight with Ventus/Vanitas to destroy the χ-blade; while at the same time, Ventus wrestles with Vanitas within his own mind but loses his heart.
Wait, what the what?
Fast forward to KH3, and Xehanort’s up to his old tricks as he plots to bring about another Keyblade War. Our heroes seek the seven Guardians of Light, who were formed by King Mickey as a deterrent against the 13 Seekers of Darkness. Kairi, who is the Nobody of Naminé, trains with Lea, the human form of Axel (who is part of Organization XIII) to become Keyblade Masters. Sora needs to discover the Power of Waking before entering the Realm of Darkness. Oh! And he also realises that his heart is still connected with Roxas’ (Soras’ Nobody) and starts searching for him.
Dude, I need a chance to process all of th-
And I haven’t even touched on the Unversed or the Mark of Mastery. Do you know the differences between a Heartless and a Nobody? Has anyone told you about the nature of Dream Eaters or Organization XIII’s roster and their counterparts-
Here be spoilers…
What we like
It’s been 14 years since Kingdom Hearts 2, and during that period, other instalments were released for the handheld consoles. As I don’t owe said handheld consoles, there was quite a lot of catching up to do with KH3. It’s a good thing, there’s a feature in the game that quickly recaps what has transpired thus far.
But a recap does little to stem my indifference. There’s very little I remember of KH2: DiZ is revealed to be Ansem the Wise; Sora and Riku defeated Xemnas; there were characters from Final Fantasy appearing in the game; I think Tron was one of the worlds we played in…
I’ve grown older and with that, my taste has changed somewhat. Hopefully matured but who am I kidding? With that said, it made sense that I was initially frustrated with KH3 when I played it. The fuse shortens with age, thus, every little thing annoys me: why is Donald such a dick to Sora? Why is Rabbit such an asshole? Why are you still a greedy complacent fuck, Pooh? God damn it, Gummi Ship travel is a stupid waste of time.
But slowly, I started enjoying the game. I actually had fun with KH3. And a large part of it has to do with the gameplay. As you progress through the game, you gain experience, but you only gain certain skills when you reach determined points in the storyline. This means that there’s no need to grind to level up; any gameplay advancement is as organic as they come.
You travel to new worlds via a Gummi Ship that you can customise with weapons and engines. I thought it’d be disruptive but it was a welcomed respite, adding an element to an already layered gameplay mechanic. Also, if you’re after rare ingredients to upgrade your weapons, those suckers are found in space, where you pilot the Gummi Ship.
The battle system has improved from the last game. You strike the enemies until your gauge fills up. Once that is filled, you can trigger it to transform your weapon into an elevated battle form. Visually, battle scenes can be discombobulating but you’ll get used to it.
What we didn’t like
Even knowing that this was developed by Square Enix, we weren’t prepared by how stiff the voice acting is. The dialogue in your run-of-the-mill Final Fantasy cutscenes flows naturally in Japanese; when it’s dubbed in English, it’s awkward but nothing that takes you out of the moment.
In KH3, whenever there are scenes between characters from Disney and Square Enix, it feels… off. Like we’re watching a primary school play of Waiting for Godot.
Take Mike and Sulley from Monsters, Inc. We know the interactions between them; this back-and-forth that’s enjoyable to watch.
Then, there’s this scene at the end of the Monstropolis stage in KH3.
It’s weird, right? And there are Disney characters in the game that do not talk at all. Phil from Hercules did not talk, even though you know, he’d get a word in, any chance he gets. Remy from Ratatouille makes an appearance and he doesn’t speak! In fact, he’s referred to as ‘Little Chef’. Was Patton Oswalt busy? Was Danny DeVito too fixated with his troll feet?
What to look out for
The hidden Mickeys or ‘Lucky Emblems’. These are three circles joined to look like Mickey Mouse head. Taking a picture of these Lucky Emblems hidden throughout the many worlds and you can watch the game’s secret ending (you’ll need to update your game to version 1.03 to access it). But that’s not all. Depending on what difficulty you played in, you’ll need a certain amount of Lucky Emblems to unlock the secret ending. If you play at the hardest difficulty (Proud), you’ll only need to collect 30 out of 90 Lucky Emblems; Standard requires a minimum of 60 and Beginner requires all 90 photographed Lucky Emblems.
Kingdom Hearts 3 is now out on PS4.