These Disney worlds are not wishes your heart makes
The Kingdom Hearts series is known for its wondrous world design and impeccable recreation of Disney classics. However, as Sora strikes down the heartless one by one, the worlds he explores sometimes drag down the whole experience. They make you wish you were just watching the movies that inspired them.
From Sora feeling like the third wheel in the world of Arendelle to playing arduous mini-games in 100 Acre Wood, here are the ten worst Kingdom Hearts worlds.
10. Prankster’s Paradise (Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance)
Pinocchio is one of the most cherished Disney classics, and yet Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance‘s interpretation of it is so forgettable. It’s hard to remember a story element, boss, or landmark to find in this world. What saves it from being further down the list is being able to rail over the rollercoaster track with the Flowmotion mechanic and the gorgeous music by Yoko Shimomura.
9. The Grid (Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance)
While the Rinzler battle at the end of the world is exhilarating, the rest of The Grid is absolutely dull. The environments are unimaginative open spaces with dark lighting and little wonder behind the art design. The Tron world in Kingdom Hearts 2 was colorful, unique, and had intriguing areas to discover; it also has the light cycle mini-game that fits right into the canon of the world that Sora is stepping into. The repetitive electronic music in The Grid also gets irritating after ten minutes, and the storyline matters so little to the overall narrative. To add to all that, the live-action actors like Jeff Bridges look creepy with their low-poly models in this 3DS game.
8. Deep Space (Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep)
Lilo & Stitch is a beloved Disney film, and yet its world in Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep is lackluster. The reason? It’s all set in the spaceship where Stitch is imprisoned. We don’t get to explore the sandy beaches of Hawaii and surf along the waves. No, we have to find our way through a bland white ship, an annoying vertical area that requires plenty of platforming (not one of the series’ strengths), and an awkward pinball-like exterior section that feels out of place. The boss fight with Gantu in Ventus’ playthrough also leaves much to be inspired.
7. San Fransokyo (Kingdom Hearts 3)
San Fransokyo is a bad first impression of what Kingdom Hearts 4’s Quadratum could be like. There is some neat Japanese-inspired architecture spread across the area, but it has so little to do. There aren’t any side quests like cooking in a fast food restaurant or defending citizens from the heartless. It’s also jarring that the world has invisible walls with Hiro calling you via video chat every time to move out of the area.
The original concept art for San Fransokyo in Kingdom Hearts 3 had so much promise. The idea is that the Baymax from the end of the movie, left in an interdimensional rift out of power, turns into a darker version of itself. The storyline in this world went for something way more forgettable, however. One of the few entertaining moments in this world is seeing Sora sitting alongside Hiro and his friends on the film’s Asian interpretation of the Golden Gate Bridge. It had a neat flashback to Roxas hanging out with his friends with sea salt ice cream on the clock tower.
6. Arendelle (Kingdom Hearts 3)
As one of the most successful Disney movies ever, Frozen was inevitably selected as a Kingdom Hearts 3 world, and it failed to impress during Sora’s third adventure. The storyline within Arendelle hardly includes Sora, as the Frozen characters barely interact with him. There’s also a pointless recreation of the scene where Elsa sings “Let It Go.” We could just watch the movie instead. Sora, Donald, and Goofy don’t even team up with the powerful princess and instead are stuck with a buff snowman lacking in personality as a party member.
Square Enix had to pad out the story with a confusing maze out of ice. The strange waymarking and level design within this area leave players scratching their heads before they eventually escape. While the snow does look beautiful in Kingdom Hearts 3 with Sora leaving footprints on the ground, Arendelle felt like it was thrown in because it was mega popular rather than a well-rounded world to experience. At least the music stirs your heart as Sora ventures through this wintry landscape.
5. Monstro (Kingdom Hearts)
Monstro is one of those Kingdom Hearts worlds that hasn’t aged well. The insides of the whale are strung with untextured, alien-like blobs on the walls, and the overall level design makes you want to tear your hair out. The hallway placement is in a random manner as you traverse from chamber to chamber. It’s hard to memorize which doorway goes where. This, mixed with the terrible camera in Kingdom Hearts, makes for an arduous experience.
While there’s a lot of character development within this world for Riku and Sora, this is one part of the original game many fans grimace at the thought of. The boss is also quite annoying as it poisons Sora whenever it touches the ground; thankfully, it’s relatively easy if you use the Aero spell that helps defend the keyblade wielder.
4. 100 Acre Wood (Kingdom Hearts)
While Winnie The Pooh is a childhood favorite for many, the Kingdom Hearts games make his adventures so boring. It’s supposed to be the one area that you feel safe in and take a break from battling the heartless. On the other hand, there are some mini-games that are time-consuming, irritating, or will make your brain go numb.
For example, the mini-game in which you’re protecting Pooh from bees requires you to stand on a branch and strike the bees as they come by. This lasts for minutes, but it feels five times longer while playing it. These mini-games truly test your patience.
Thankfully, this world is completely skippable, but it will give you valuable resources if you complete each chapter within the 100 Acre Wood, like an upgraded Stop spell and the Bambi summon. What makes it worse is that you have to collect torn pages in hidden areas of the game to gain access to each location of the 100 Acre Wood.
3. Atlantica (Kingdom Hearts)
Atlantica is commonly critiqued by the Kingdom Hearts fanbase, and for good reason. The controls feel awkward, your move set is limited due to Sora’s new merman form, and both of Ursula’s boss fights are annoying to deal with. In addition, getting around is awkward, especially towards the latter half of the world, where you have to ride a dolphin to get to Ursula. It’s never explained in any of the cutscenes, and when you do find the dolphin, tons of enemies spawn around it before you can grab its tail.
Getting back to Ursula, she’s the final boss of the Atlantica world, and, my gosh, she’s a nuisance. The only way to attack Ursula is by hitting her head, but she keeps casting spells that cause serious damage. Sometimes, it’s really hard to avoid her incoming spells because of the awkward controls, and it’s difficult to connect moves because of her frantic movement and Sora’s limited move set. Atlantica truly is one of the worst Kingdom Hearts worlds in existence.
2. Disney Town (Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep)
Mini-games are the scourge of the Kingdom Hearts series, and most of your time in this world is spent playing them. From janky volleyball with fruit to the kind of kart racing you’d expect from a cheap Mario Kart clone, Disney Town is a curse on Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep. There’s also a rhythm mini-game with Chip and Dale that feels out of sync. What makes it worse is that this sickly sweet world feels incredibly out of place within one of the darkest stories within the Kingdom Hearts canon. It’s so bright, colorful, and silly that it doesn’t match the tone Birth By Sleep is going for at all.
1. Deep Jungle (Kingdom Hearts)
While Tarzan is a nostalgia blast from the tail-end of the Disney Renaissance era, Square Enix plagues fans’ memories of the film with terrible level design. The game doesn’t clearly tell you where to go to activate the next story element, and even after multiple playthroughs of Kingdom Hearts, you’ll get lost in the manic nature of Deep Jungle.
While the story is rock solid as it builds the relationship between Donald and Sora, Deep Jungle is simply a mess. Swinging around on the vines in this world is also awkward as you have to time your button presses between each jump. You’ll fall many times due to the timing of these swings, the bad camera, and the strange jumps that Sora makes while platforming.