Kingdom Hearts 3 is a beloved franchise, and the sequel in the series people have been waiting over 12 years for. Well, with the game finally set to launch in 2018, we take a look at the history of the long awaited sequel.
Kingdom Hearts 3 has been on everyone’s mind since 2 released WAY back in 2005. Yep, these past 12+ years have been tough for fans, and sure, there have side stories galore. However, a proper sequel is what we have all wanted this whole time and the wait hasn’t been easy. Since originally being announced back at E3 2013, fans have been patiently and eagerly gobbling up any additional data SE feeds us. But as we said above, it’s been 12+ years since 2 released and fans are understandably annoyed at how long it’s taking to finally jump into Sora’s shoes again.
With the recent news of Monsters Inc. getting its own world in the game, it’s the talk of the industry again. You can check out that trailer below if you haven’t seen it yet.
And what a beauty the game is shaping up to be right? The combat looks like everything we remember, but with lots of flashy additions and updates to fit in modern standards. But the game has seen a lot of change since originally being announced, and obviously, it hasn’t been smooth. Let’s take a look:
Square-Enix and game producer Tetsuya Nomura were approached by Disney for a sequel back in 2006. Nomura told Dengeki PlayStation this;
“We’ve already been approached by the Disney side saying that they want us to make it,” said the busy producer regarding the next installment in the series. “What I can say at this time is ‘We have various ideas, but we’re not at the point where we can say that.’ Looking at the development schedule, after KHII FM+, the Kingdom Hearts team has Final Fantasy Versus XIII awaiting, so it’s physically impossible at the present. I feel that it’s not the right time to talk about the future of Kingdom Hearts.”
You’ll notice he mentioned Final Fantasy Versus XIII, which of course ended up turning into a big issue of its own. He was the producer on that project, which ended up taking 10 years as well, going multiplatform, and releasing as Final Fantasy XV. So it was clear that back then, Nomura was focused on getting Final Fantasy XV developed then he would look into Kingdom Hearts III. Even though he had ideas for KH3 and was interested in making it, Final Fantasy XV was demanding all of his attention.
With the announcement finally happening and even looking like a PS4 exclusive for all of 5 minutes, the game was confirmed it was also on the way for Xbox One fans, which was a major shift for the series.
One thing many people aren’t aware of but can see by taking a closer look at the screenshot above, and the more recent trailers and screenshots is that the game actually went through a game engine change. Which caused some extensive delays in and of itself. Sadly for fans, Nomura, and Square-Enix, there were other problems as well that apparently, were not the fault of Nomura or his team. In an interview with Gamespot Nomura said this:
“We had a plan of the period that it’s going to take for us to create the content at the start of the project, and we laid out, after such and such years, we would need to add more personnel resources. We had submitted it to our headquarters and had it approved, but internal personnel is very limited, and there are various different projects that happen within our company, so unfortunately timing did not work out. So we had to make due with the timing that was appropriate for the company…the company makes the decisions, so unfortunately sometimes it is out of my control.”
“I wanted to emphasize that it wasn’t a problem on our development teams. It just happened that way, and there were some decisions that the company had to make, and it just didn’t work out for certain timings that we were hoping to hit.”
Add in the fact the series saw tons of side stories and spin-offs, it would be some time yet until we saw the sequel. Seriously, since Kingdom Hearts 2 the series has seen 6 all new games, and 6 more remakes or enhanced editions. With the likes of a PS2 enhancement of the GBA game Chain of Memories, Coded for Mobile, 358/2 days for DS, Birth By Sleep for PSP, Re:Coded for DS, Dream Drop Distance for the 3DS, 1.5/2.5 Remix’s for PS3 and later PS4 as a bundle, X on mobile which was later brought over to the states as Unchained X, and finally 2.8 on PS4… It’s a lot to follow, and the series has become almost as convoluted as the Metal Gear series, which is an accomplishment if you ask me!
What’s interesting, and something even fewer people know than about the engine switch, is that the game was actually originally in development at a different studio than the original 2. Square Enix’s 1st Production Department was the team working on Kingdom Hearts 3, which is the team that brought us Birth By Sleep, Dream Drop Distance, and helped with 1.5 Remix.
The thing is, the game went pretty dark after the initial announcement. Sure, they showed that trailer back in 2013 but as we stated above, the game went through some developmental issues, even if they weren’t with the game itself per say. We got only a very small trickle of information over the years with a video here, some screenshots there, or a bit of information just to sate our appetite.
Eventually, the information started to come in more frequently even though they have never opened the floodgates. They have been giving us more to get us excited for the release date later this year. There’s still no solid release date (that we know of) just yet, but it has been confirmed more than once for 2018. We do know the game will feature a diverse number of worlds, some returning, and others totally new. Such as the Monsters Inc above, so far we know of the following worlds;
Twilight Town: This is Roxas’ hometown first featured in Kingdom Hearts 2.
Yen Sid’s Tower: This was also first featured in KH2, and is technically only an extension of Twilight Town, but it has become a rather important gathering point in the games. It’s been shown in trailers, and it looks like it will continue to be a playable area.
Mount Olympus: Hercules’ world has been a staple from the beginning, but finally his world will be given more attention. If the 2015 E3 trailer is anything to go by it looks like we will actually be scaling Mount Olympus, fighting titans, and much more.
Kingdom of Corona: Not much is known about this world just yet, but we do know that the surrounding woods and Rapunzel’s tower will be in. So stay tuned for more.
San Fransokyo: Big Hero 6 is one of Disney’s newer franchises, but it has attached itself to the hearts of many. Sadly, nothing other than a confirmation was given back in 2015.
Toy Story: This has been confirmed since July, and it’s looking like it will have a bigger presence the more they show of the game. With the trailer above looking to have a section similar to the ‘Toy Box Mode’ the Toy Story 3 game had.
Monsters Inc.: As the trailer shows above, Toy Story 3 will be getting the world treatment in KH3, and it’s looking fantastic.
Something that may be a bit disappointing for fans, and is honestly pretty abnormal for the gaming industry, is the fact you need to play all of the previous entries to be able to follow Kingdom Hearts 3. I say disappointing only because almost universally in the past if a game had a handheld spinoff title, they were designed in such a way so as to supplement the story rather than be integral to them. That way big fans could play them to get more lore and interaction with the characters and story, but not quite as dedicated ones could feel free to ignore them and still be able to follow along.
This actually goes along with what Nomura told Famitsu (and found on Eurogamer) back in 2010 in that Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance would connect to the story of Kingdom Hearts 3. In fact, Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth By Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage, and KH3D play a necessary role in KH3, and if you don’t play them, you’ll have some trouble. This makes it sound like the story of Kingdom Hearts 3 has been cut in order to make more games, or that KH3 will be smaller in some way due to this, but luckily, this isn’t the case either. Nomura also told Famitsu that the game is exceedingly large;
Nomura: Story-wise, [Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep–A Fragmentary Passage] is situated at rather an important point. The scenarios of KH 3D Dream Drop Distance (hereon KH3D) and KH0.2 can essentially be thought of as the prologue to KH3, you see. […] The story connects from KH3D to KH0.2 to KH3. In my own head, KH3 begins at KH3D. That’s why I put that subtitle on KH2.8.
Famitsu: Does spreading the story from not only KH3D but also KH0.2 mean that KH3 will be smaller in size?
Nomura: It’s not that I’ve spread the story out, perhaps it’s more that I’ve separated the parts that would have ruined KH3’s tempo if they were told then. In fact, KH3 is overwhelmingly big, so it’s not that content has been shaved off, and it’s something I’ve worried over how to handle.
Although, Nomura has said that he is doing his best to make this a playable title for those who have never played any games in the series. Just, expect to miss a lot or to be confused by some a lot of what is said. It’s a staple for developers to make their games as accessible as possible even if they’re deep into the franchise lore. But, as we said above, Kingdom Hearts has become an incredibly convoluted franchise and following it isn’t easy. So we’d suggest those who will be jumping in for the first time to grab the collections on PS4, or to click on those links provided above.
As it stands now, we don’t know every world that will be in the game, but at D23 Japan 2018, Square Enix revealed the game was being developed in three sections, with approximately three worlds in each section. So we can expect there to be about 9 in total. And so far, the game is only in development for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. However, with the fact that Final Fantasy XV is getting a PC release very shortly, I wouldn’t be too surprised to eventually see Kingdom Hearts 3 see on eventually as well. Not to mention that Normua has even said that a Nintendo Switch version of the game is a possibility, but only after the PS4 and XB1 versions are complete.
That, however, is something I don’t have a lot of hope of happening without the game seeing some serious compromises. Be it in graphics, performance, or overall game size. But who knows, maybe he’ll pull off a massive feat and get the game to run on the weaker hardware, AND make it fit on one of those small cartridges. The more people who play the franchise the better!
Kingdom Hearts 3 may be the game that will wrap up the story that’s been in the works since the first, but it’s not the end of the franchise.
It may have been a long time coming, it certainly wasn’t an easy road for the development. But the release year is finally here, and the game is looking better than ever. You still have time to catch up before the game releases, and it’s easier than ever to get up to speed with all the information available online. Nomura has been toiling away for some time now, and we can all get our hands on the game in just a few short months. The wait is finally almost over.