Chandler Kilgore-Parshall ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Writer
It happened. It finally happened! Kingdom Hearts III was finally announced at this year’s E3 (Electronic Expo) conference last week for next-gen consoles: Playstation 4 and Xbox One.
Kingdom Hearts is an action RPG that merges the worlds (and companies) of Disney franchises like The Nightmare Before Christmas or The Lion King alongside Square Enix’s Final Fantasy characters to intermingle with Kingdom Hearts’ original characters and locales. The series spotlights on main character, Sora, who searches for his missing friends in different worlds with the aid of Disney icons, Donald Duck and Goofy. The plot of Kingdom Hearts has gotten convoluted with each main and spin-off title as Sora and his friends encounter numerous organizations that place them into various conflicts. Finally, the continuation to Kingdom Hearts II (2005) has been announced to be in development after eight years of silence on the long awaited title.
The trailer opens up with a montage of cut-scenes from previous Kingdom Hearts games throughout the years with Sora, his friends, and other key characters flying through the screen in Disney magic allure. Sora (voiced by Haley Joel Osment from The Sixth Sense) talks about going on a journey to save the many people who are connected to him and his destined path for greatness. Instantaneously, Sora’s body is splashed with a palette of vibrant colors and realistic details such as his unusual and signature spiky hair flowing in the breeze. Through the graphic capabilities of next-generation consoles, the hero is brought to life. He picks up a legendary weapon, the Keyblade, from the sands of his beach home world and gazes onward into the ocean blue skies. Finally, the youth is seen fighting one of Kingdom Hearts’ traditional enemies, the Heartless, set in a town bathing from an unnatural twilight vista. He jumps from building to building and soars away from his opposition. The Heartless chase after him in swarms, forming an impenetrable wave of darkness. With his Keyblade armed, Sora lunges at his dark foes with a bold strike. Then it cuts to, “Now in Development.”
You may be wondering, “Why is Kingdom Hearts such a respected and cherished commodity amongst the video game community?” The premise sounds very childish from first glance. Seeing wholehearted Disney characters like Mickey Mouse or Peter Pan talk about the magic of friendship and teamwork with the serious and pessimistic icons from Final Fantasy VII would seem very uncanny. However, it is not the collaboration between these two franchises that makes the games so memorable. It is the characters, themes, and universes that originated from Kingdom Hearts that is the real binding agent that make all of the unlikely cameos and pairings work. Sora is an optimistic youth who sees the good in people before the bad, and even when he realizes how bad some characters are, Sora tries to connect to them anyhow. His morals and disposition are very comparable to the whimsical personalities of the Disney characters, while being able to grow up and tackle dire situations. It’s the best of both worlds. Kingdom Hearts contains humor, exhilaration, drama and sophistication through Square Enix’s masterfully crafted story and pacing.
Yet that’s not all. This series has a lot of different meanings and personal connections to many of its players. For me, Kingdom Hearts was childhood. This game taught me the importance of friends, teamwork, and never giving up when things seem bleak, “as there is always light through the darkness.” Interacting with Disney favorites from the movies, and unraveling its compelling tale, made Kingdom Hearts a treasure chest full of childhood memories. Having this sequel is like reopening that treasure chest and filling it with more shiny and pristine memories that are bound to happen with Kingdom Hearts III.