I was the kid who checked for Kingdom Hearts II news, every day for four years after the release of the original Kingdom Hearts. I didn’t even like Disney until I fought alongside Donald and Goofy. So, if I have been so excited about previous installments, why am I not unenthusiastic about the trailer for Kingdom Hearts III that was revealed at the 2013 E3 Sony Press Conference?
There are a couple reasons, but the most obvious one relates to the increasingly confusing story. A good third of the 90-second trailer is recap of not only Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II, but also Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, Kingdom Hearts Re:coded, and Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. This means that I’ll definitely have to play the side-story games that I assumed were optional to the main tale, as they were on handheld consoles rather than the PlayStation 2. Within the first piece of new animation in the Kingdom Hearts III trailer we see Sora picking up the Master Keeper that played a vital role in the immediate prequel, Birth By Sleep.
It was considerably easier to ignore the story in Chain of Memories (the one Kingdom Hearts game on a handheld console between the PlayStation games), especially considering Sora’s memory of Chain of Memories is wiped out at the start of Kingdom Hearts II. But the Master Keeper has too much history revealed in Birth By Sleep and too much import in the Kingdom Hearts timeline. Now, I’ll definitely have to buy a PlayStation Portable in order to play through Birth By Sleep. Hopefully, I won’t have to also buy a Nintendo 3DS to gain any essential information I missed in Dream Drop Distance, 358/2 Days, or, God forbid, Re:coded.
Besides the story, the gameplay in the Kingdom Hearts III trailer looks suspicious. The gameplay of Kingdom Hearts hasn’t exactly been strategy-demanding in the past. It is borderline button-mashing while Sora does cool tricks and airborne flips. In the 2013 E3 trailer, Sora’s fighting style is once again exciting and dramatic as he jumps off walls and rides the wave of Heartless. But are these new tricks we’ll have to learn, like the Flowmotion technique in Dream Drop Distance, or are they merely Reaction Commands that will automatically ensue when we press Triangle, as in Kingdom Hearts II? Or could this be Sora mastering the Heartless and gaining control over them, just like Riku did with the gateways in Kingdom Hearts II? Now that would be an excellent twist on the Kingdom Hearts story that wouldn’t be as confusing as some other Kingdom Hearts plot twists!
There is one thing in the trailer that excites me more than it makes me cautious: the camera. This feature was notoriously awkward in Kingdom Hearts, zooming in too close, getting stuck in corners, refusing to reveal the locked-on target. The camera in Kingdom Hearts II improved but still got stubbornly stuck in the bottom of the screen. From the Kingdom Hearts III trailer, it looks like the camera can still get stuck, but it also moves considerably more freely and automatically than its predecessors. Most importantly, it now automatically zooms when locked onto a target! Maybe, now that the developers have added that technicality with the lock-on, they may have also—finally –installed the ability to toggle between lock-on targets.
Of course, no matter how much I worry about the next installment of the Kingdom Hearts franchise, the series will last as long as it continues to gain support from Disney. Still, I hope Square Enix and director Tetsuya Nomura focus more on the Final Fantasy series than the Kingdom Hearts series. I mean, did you see the Final Fantasy XV trailer at the 2013 E3 Sony press conference? Now there’s something to brag about, in all the fields that seem to be problems in Kingdom Hearts!