Fixing Kingdom Hearts - (spoilers for the series inside)


#1

Quick Backstory: I love Kingdom Hearts. I’ve been super hyped for every game they’ve made. It’s been on my favorite games of all time lists for so long. Until recently. I don’t know why happened, I just stopped being excited about it. But after watching some previews of KH3 from E3, I was getting excited again. So I decided to scratch that itch by playing KH2.8. I played a bit of Dream Drop Distance (I already beat it on the 3DS) and I played all of 0.2: A Fragmentary Passage. And when I finished it, I realized why I’ve been growing frustrated with the Kingdom Hearts series. So much of the extra material that has been added through side games doesn’t actually improve the overall story at all. After I finished 0.2 I thought “Well that was cool… but it didn’t do anything. Aqua didn’t need to help Mickey and Riku. This doesn’t close a plot hole or answer a burning question. It’s just extra stuff that now I need to keep track of because it looks like they are bringing this all together for KH3.”

So I’ve been thinking about how I would “fix” the plot of Kingdom Hearts to make it tighter and more digestible. Here are my thoughts, but I want to hear everyone else’s. Please help me be excited for Kingdom Hearts 3!

KH 1 - Everything is solid here in my opinion, I would just tweak the end. I would have Sora become a heartless at the end of the game just after the closing of the Door of Darkness. Sora disappears and no one is quite sure where he went. They assume he is sent back home. Donald and Goofy start looking for him.

KH Chain of Memories - Everything plays out mostly the same. I really like what this does for Riku’s development, but I don’t think the side games should be necessary to understand the plot of the numbered games. In my canon, I would have Sora’s memories getting messed up, but the reveal at the end is he’s a heartless and was kidnapped by Organization XIII. Namine offers to fix him and he goes to sleep at the end. I like this because it gives us fewer incarnations of Sora to keep track of while still allowing for the existence of Roxas.

KH2 - I really like Kingdom Hearts 2. It’s my favorite in the series. I would leave it as is. Begin with Roxas and have him, as Sora’s nobody, fuse with sleeping Sora to make him whole. The proper game then begins with Donald and Goofy finding a newly awakened whole Sora. If you didn’t play chain of memories, this will be weird, but not quite as much as I think it currently is.

KH 358/2 days - Get rid of Xion. She serves no purpose to the story other than complicating it. We don’t need a million versions of Sora.

Birth by Sleep - I would make this a tragedy where all of the characters die or are lost at the end. I like the idea of them having touched the lives of characters in the main game, but I think re-introducing and focusing on them later (DDD and KH3) is a mistake. Just way too many story arcs to keep track of at once. This is a solid origin story for Xehanort, but I feel like it goes off the rails at the end and I’m not a big fan of people’s hearts being nesting dolls of other people.

Dream Drop Distance - Do we even need this game? It feels a bit fluffy if you ask me. Mechanically enjoyable but a bit light on actual development. Same with coded, by the way.

Kingdom Hearts 3 - I would wrap the story up with a now fully reborn Xehanort free to unleash his master plan. I think that the time travel and 13 Xehanort incarnations is way over the top and difficult to alternatively justify. One Xehanort is plenty.

What do all of you think? What changes would you make? If you’re satisfied with things as they are, why is that? I’m legitimately interested since it’s possible I’m missing something.

:slight_smile:


#2

I love Kingdom Hearts as this weird messy thing. I like that all the side games have plot relvent stuff. They dont release those games often enough so when one comes out its cool they do make them matter. But like I love Kingdom Hearts is always 100% on its bullshit.

Of course the mobile game is important to the backdrop of the world. Its so stupid I love it. I think its ok because they have released those movies to catch you up and those collections. I feel like KH3 would be worse if it didnt stay the way it was and made it easy for new fans to come in. Its the final game in this arc. Let the fans who everyday wondered where KH3 was get what they wanted even if newer fans get a little confused.


#3

Here’s how to fix Kingdom Hearts

-Fire Nomura. That man is poison if he is allowed creative control and it takes other creative heads to make his ideas work (see TWEWY). Left to his own devices and it is all just the worst, most base level nothing told in the most complicated ways, usually with entire, completely pointless games thrown out so he can do shit nobody ever asked for like explain a minor plothole nobody remembered. The plot of Kingdom Hearts as a franchise is just stupid when you break it down, especially with the time travel nonsense, but the mythology is even worse, somehow both very simple yet endlessly filled with contractions (THE FUCKING NOBODIES).

-Have the Disney and Square Enix characters actually matter. Kingdom Hearts is a completely garbage crossover franchise because it’s more interested in a bunch of OCs, only half of which are any good, than the major franchises it has to work with. There’s so much cool shit just lying there and the best these games can do in a minor cameo in every case. Also, Nomura still pushing his really bad characterization of Cloud post FFVII. The fact none of these characters except maybe Mickey have any real impact on any of these games is a disgrace. We already had a mythology rich series of Disney shows based on a lot of these films hanging around by this point they could have drawn inspiration from, but no, they just keep retelling all the films. badly.

-GIVE THE DISNEY VILLAINS ACTUAL WEIGHT AND SOMETHING TO DO. I’m not gonna say bring in Kefka or Septhiroth as major villains because we’ve already seen what happens when you have too much Final Fantasy lore around (FUCKING DISSDIA), but the Disney villains, at the very least, have to actually matter. They never do. You could remove all of them and barely anything in the central stories would change. It’s ridiculous.

-Map the game out like an actual action game. The menu system is a relic. Just let players control the game like an actual action game, which the series has been slowly going towards, and take a page from the Devil May Cry series to figure out spells and summons - a cycling system. It’s not that difficult, DMC3 was doing it on the PS2.


#4

That’s fair. I have been trying to enjoy it for what it is.
To a point, I’m probably just a grumpy fan who’s annoyed because they found it really compelling when they were 14 and feels like it doesn’t hold up.

My big issue, is that I actually really like over the top storylines. I just feel like it should be set up for that. I feel like if they were going to give us piles of backstory, it should have answered questioned that we had. So many of the side games don’t feel like they do that. They make and then half answer their own questions. Which is fine on it’s own, but I’ve played and beaten literally all of the Kingdom Hearts games and felt like a hardcore fan at one point, and I’m going into Kingdom Hearts 3 feeling confused and disappointed. So it feels, to me at least, like there is a problem somewhere.


#5

I can definitely get behind your point about the disney villains needing more weight. Actually all of the Disney worlds in general could be fleshed out more. It’s been a while since I played through the main games, but as I was playing DDD this weekend, they definitely just felt like set dressing. There were probably only 20 lines of dialog in each one.


#6

I feel like someone needs to create a Poe’s Law for Kingdom Hearts, where it is impossible for someone to know whether or not a plot point from Kingdom Hearts is a joke or not without having actually played.

Oh, Sora became Heartless after closing the Door of Darkness, right on.


#7

Since the OP suggested towards critiquing and offering alternate paths for past games, I can’t help but pick on Kingdom Hearts 2. I think it’s where the narrative starts to fumble in alot of ways, particularly in the cop-out ending. If they had wanted to end the series with 2, I think that would’ve been a fine ending. But since they were clearly setting up more games anyways with the unlockable bonus cutscenes, It seems to me there was a much more obvious path to go.

Kairi was given a keyblade. Sora was separated from Donald and Goofy, and trapped with Riku in the realm of Darkness. It’s always been clear to me that the next game should’ve been about Kairi teaming up with Donald and Goofy to save Sora and Riku. It really makes no sense how they get back to Destiny Islands, not even within the series’ internal logic.


#8

Definitely agree, KH2 is the first misstep, and then each subsequent game got more convoluted. I played through and had a fun time with Dream Drop Distance, but what the hell was going on with the story in the game I don’t have a clue.


#9

I’d say that you’re spot on with Xion being nothing but added complication to the story. I’m still not even sure on what her deal was. With Birth by Sleep, I found myself rolling my eyes, a little more than I usually do at a KH game, when suddenly Destiny Islands showed up as a major plot-point. I enjoyed seeing the connection, but they just kept piling stuff on to it.

But aside from that, I tend to like media with a really convoluted backstory with interwoven story arcs that all come to a head, even if it’s unsuccessful in execution. Its the main factor in why I continue to watch the Marvel movies at this point. Kingdom Hearts really scratches that itch for me, so if they actually do manage to bring all this stuff together for this game, I’ll be so pleased.

The thing that has me most worried about Kingdom Hearts III is the actual gameplay. Since the earliest trailers, that game has looked like the exact same game that they were making on the PS2, just with prettier graphics. Then the previews that came out recently from the event made it sound like that’s kinda the case. Maybe more streamlined, but largely the same. It’s wild to me that they skipped an entire console generation, making tons of portable games, and then went back to something that so closely resembled the PS2 games.


#10

I’ll give credit for strong character work, like showing how this is all wearing down on Sora, but this is the case for every game. The writing staff gets how to do drama, even if it gets a little sappy at points (particularly Birth by Sleep), but it’s hard to be invested when the larger story and mythology forms a shaky foundation. I kind of get the idea, creating your own villains since there may be rights issues with Disney and can’t always have what villain you want in an ongoing story, but the big bad they ended up creating as such a ridiculous and convoluted story attached that it sucks out all the weight his appearances have.

It’s basically under the assumption that having tightly knit continuity means a work has more impact to the audience, and there is some truth to that. However, fitting the pieces together is where the series smacks into a brick wall, and too much of the games are focused on stories with characters who we have to wait to be further defined later or mythology nonsense that won’t pay off for about a decade on a completely different system.

We’re just lucky the continuity is kept to games and doesn’t branch out into multimedia, or trying to follow this series would be near impossible, about at modern day DC levels (won’t say Marvel because they keep resetting their continuity and norms).