1. Star Wars 2. Frozen 3. Suite Life of Zack and Cody 4. Attack on Titan
...Nah, I'm just kiddin'.
I was in middle school when the first Kingdom Hearts game was announced. It merged Disney with Final Fantasy in a bizarre tag team that not only worked, it blew everybody out of the water. My family got it for Christmas that year and it instantly became one of my favorite games ever. Many years, many spin-offs, and one direct sequel later, Kingdom Hearts is one of the most beloved franchises in video games.
After all this time, the much anticipated third installment is on its way. Square and Disney have been spoon feeding us information since E3. With the recent announcement that Big Hero 6 will factor into the new one, it has my mind abuzz about what other kinds of worlds should be in the series. Don't lie, you do it too. Whenever we think about Super Smash Bros., we think about what characters should be in. With Kingdom Hearts, it's the worlds. So since I've been doing one so much lately, I'll indulge the other. Here are a few worlds that I think we should be able to explore in Kingdom Hearts III.
These are in no particular order, by the way.
Yes, I know, I'm sick of it too. Trust me. I babysit a couple kids and for the better part of a year after this movie came out I heard that stupid snowman song every single day. "Winter's a great time to stay in and cuddle but put me in summer and I'll be a" SHUT UP! Seriously! Just let it go already. No, wait, I mean, NO! ARGH!
Part of the reason that Frozen is so timeless is that it fits perfectly with classic Disney. Drenched in an endless winter, Arendelle is a perfect place for Sora to adventure in. Imagine battling ice-theme Heartless through snow-covered mountains while helping Ana turn her sister back to good. There is the beautiful town to explore, and singing trolls, and a lot of other stuff that makes this a pretty good fit for Kingdom Hearts. Given its smash hit popularity, I think it's actually pretty likely that this one will show up.
Robin Hood is one of those older Disney flicks that seems to have flown under everyone's radar. I've always thought it was a shoo in for Kingdom Hearts. It's full of adventure and has a lot of potential for fun with Sora and co. It's easy to google a list of old forgotten Disney films and pick them out for KH. "Ooh! Black Cauldron should be in there! Atlantis! Treasure Planet!" While those would all be great choices too, Robin Hood has a special place in my heart.
Many don't agree with me. Apparently, behind the scenes, it was a cash grab. It was kind of slapped together and re-used a lot of animation from past films. I didn't know that when I was a kid, and it's been one of my favorites in the Disney canon for as long back as I can remember. It also has all the makings of a great Kingdom Hearts world. A lovable scamp of a protagonist to join the party. Some of the best music Disney has put out. Several set pieces that would translate spectacularly to game format. Imagine an archery contest, or fighting a giant heartless atop a burning castle. Robin Hood should have been an obvious choice from the beginning, and I think it's time it gets included.
I have no idea how this would work from a gameplay or story perspective. Maybe it would be a mini-game of some kind like 100 Acre Wood or Atlantica in KHII. I really just want to know what kind of vehicle each of the characters would be. You know how in the Lion King world they get transformed into animals? (Well, Donald and Goofy are already animals, but whatever) It would be the same way with Cars. Once you land, everyone becomes one.
So what would everybody be? Donald, being a duck, would probably be a float plane. Goofy would be the family truckster, or possibly the shaggin' wagon. As for Sora, maybe a Ferrari? No, that's too mary sue-ish. It would have to be something sleek and cool but not overly so. How about an '86 Monte Carlo?
If you're not familiar with Gravity Falls, it's a cartoon on Disney XD from the makers of Phineas and Ferb. It follows twins Dipper and Mabel as they spend their summer vacation visiting their uncle in the backwoods little town of the same name. It doesn't take long for them to realize that there is something strange afoot: the paranormal and supernatural thrive there. With the help of their friends and an enigmatic old book, the duo spends their days battling the forces of darkness and solving the mysteries of the town. It has plenty of humor, but even better than that is how intriguing and sophisticated the plot it. It joins Adventure Time as one of the best recent cartoons.
The Heartless would fit in flawlessly. I can see them attacking while Dipper and Mabel try to figure out what's going on. Maybe Gideon (their rival) would try to control the Heartless, and Sora and the crew have to show up and help. There is a lot of potential here to fit in the game. It would also be a nice fresh environment compared to the high fantasy settings of other worlds.
Speaking of the people responsible for Phineas and Ferb...
Okay, okay, I'm only half serious with this one. Ol' P&F probably aren't the best fit for Kingdom Hearts. I just think it's funny to think of teaming up with Agent P to save the world from Doofenshmirtz's deheartinator or something. Also, with their wacky plots, maybe the titular duo could lend a hand in sidequests or mini-games or something.
If you haven't caught on by now, a big part of my criteria for what would make a good KH world is it's potential for action sequences. Most Disney films have some kind action sequence. Even Beauty and Beast had the fights with the wolves and Gaston. On the rare occasion where there's not something to draw on for excitement, it isn't that hard to plop a few Heartless in there and let Sora beat them up. When it comes to action-y, adventure-y Disney IP's that would be good in Kingdom Hearts, there are two that instantly come to mind.
I was smitten with The Incredibles the first time I saw it. It was one of the first superhero movies I saw that showed how a society would really function if super-beings were part of our every day lives. It also characterized them as realistic human beings without getting overly melodramatic about it like comic books tend to. The Incredibles created it's own world of superheroes and we only saw one story. I assume it would follow the movie. You would help the Parr family escape from Syndrome. Which one would be your partner? Bob? Helen? Frozone? Would the other characters come and go? If not, how would they work. You can't have a whole cast of superheroes and not get to play with them. Maybe the rest of the family could be summons?
I don't know the answers to these questions, but I would love to find out.
That's not a Disney movie! In all this talk of Disney, it's easy to forget that half of the Disney/Final Fantasy pairing is, you know, Final Fantasy. Thus far, the combination has always been Disney acting as the different worlds while the FF characters are the major NPC's that move the story along. This has worked out pretty well for people like Squall, Cloud, and the Moogles, but then we get some characters who are just thrown in goofiest ways just to make a token appearance. (Anyone remember the Gullwings in KHII?)
I think there's a pretty obvious solution to adding more Square characters without making it too contrived: just give them their own standalone world. I think I remember reading one time, a long time ago, that there are actually contractual reasons why there are no Final Fantasy worlds. Nevermind that crap, throw the players a bone and give us a world based on a Square Enix game. For that, I think one of the best choices is Final Fantasy VI. I've never played it, but it seems to be the fan favorite and I don't think it's gotten any substantial representation so far. So why not make it it's own world?
Unless, of course, you prefer...
I only played this one for a few minutes a long time ago. I've longed to give it another shot, and I know it's a legendary game among fans, so it seems like a given for another Square game in KH. It wouldn't be the first non-FF Square game to make an appearance. A few characters from The World Ends With You dropped into the latest installment on 3DS. So why not let the players join Crono is his fight against Lavos?
The real question here is how the story would work. Chrono Trigger relies pretty heavily on time travel. There has been a little bit of time travel in KH before, but nothing to the scale that accurately reflecting CT's story would require. So how would it work? Would it all be self-contained? Would you have to revisit the world multiple times? How about both?
Let's say the first time you stop in, there is a little bit of time travelling and you can't leave the world during that time. After a boss battle, though, you can go back to the present and continue your journey. Then later, the group has to go back into the past Timeless River-style to revisit some old Disney cartoons. Something happens and they can't get back to the present, so they have to spend a few levels going to different worlds in the past. One of them would be the CT world, where they meet up with Crono again on the same adventure but in the past. Then they go in the future and finish the CT segment, and then use the time machine to get back to the proper time and go home. Or something. I'm thinking too much into this.
I saved the best for last. This show was slightly after my time, though only slightly, but it was still good enough to hold my attention. It's kind of a light-hearted action series that would fit very well with KH for the same reason as The Incredibles. It was about a teenage girl named Kim who made a website claiming she could do anything. So people started contacting to fight crime. So she did, and was actually pretty good at it. Along with her friends Ron, Rufus, and Wade, she battled supervillains to the delight of kids everywhere as one of the few good cartoons of the time.
For all the grandiose, star-power filled IPs that Disney has yet to tap into, there are two obvious ones that have yet to make an appearance. That's because Disney only recently acquired the rights to them. Marvel and Star Wars are two of the most well known properties in modern culture. Seeing them crossover with Kingdom Hearts, or each other, or anything else, is a nerd's dream come true. Sora fighting Darth Vader or teaming up with Spider-Man sounds awesome. Until you start to think about it more seriously.
For starters, there's the fact that these aren't Disney properties. Well, they are, technically. Because Disney bought the rights to them. This does not retroactively give Disney a hand in their creation or mean that Disney had anything to do with their creation. Over time, the big D's influence will be felt more and more. For right now, Marvel is still Marvel and Star Wars is still Star Wars no matter whose name is on the paperwork.
Even more than that is the fact that they just wouldn't fit. Both of these are cultural giants. They have decades of storylines and lore, with their own world-ending threats and galactic villains. There is no way that either of them could be shrunk down and packaged into one little world for the cast to explore like they do with one-off Disney films. Trying to force either of them into that position would be extremely disrespectful to their respective legacies. On the other hand, trying to twist their stories around and weasel them into a larger role in the plot would be equally as disrespectful to Kingdom Hearts itself.
I guess I would be okay with a little shout-out here or there. Maybe Hulk or Doc Ock could be a bonuse boss in Olympus or something. I know it could be done well in the right hands. If they ever decided to include either of these giants, I hope it would turn out great. Until then, though, my opinion is to just leave well enough alone.
These are only a few of the worlds that would shine in Kingdom Hearts. They have so many properties to draw on that this list could be endless. These are only my favorites. I'm sure you have your own. Should Sora get shrunk down to adventure with Woody and Buzz, or Flick and Dot? Wanna get meta with Wreck-It Ralph's game world? If we're going to bring cartoons into the mix, would you prefer Gargoyles? The possibilities are endless. Let me know what you think if you want, and thanks for reading.