D23 Japan is underway, and Disney and Square-Enix have treated us to not one, but two trailers for the upcoming Kingdom Hearts III. This blog post will take an in-depth look at the longer of the two trailers, dubbed the Monsters, Inc. trailer. (For a look at the “Don’t Think Twice” trailer, featuring the new theme song from Japanese-American pop sensation Utada Hikaru, stayed tuned for a future post.)
After rumors a couple months ago, the world of Monstropolis has indeed been confirmed for Kingdom Hearts III. But other than the new world reveal, there is a lot to unpack with this recent trailer. So let’s get right to it:
The trailer opens with Sora appearing to taunt Organization XIII, the big bads of Kingdom Hearts II, as has-beens. This causes a familiar face to appear from a familiar dark portal; the antagonist of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, the Graceful Assassin himself, Marluxia.
Marluxia has been getting a little more play lately, especially with the introduction of his human self Lauriam in the mobile title Kingdom Hearts Union X. What role exactly Marluxia will play in Kingdom Hearts III is unknown. Is he one of Master Xehanort’s 13 seekers of darkness? One thing’s for sure, he remembers Sora clearly. But Sora, due to the events of Chain of Memories, does not.
Also, it’s not outright stated what world the gang is in for this encounter, but going off what we know from past footage, this could be the Kingdom of Corona from Tangled. More on this world later.
The trailer then shifts to Andy’s bedroom in Toy Story. Woody, Buzz, Hamm and Rex are surveying the Heartless invasion from Andy’s bed, preparing to initiate a counter attack, when Sora, Donald and Goofy show up. I think it’s worth noting that Woody and the rest are looking very, very good from a graphical standpoint.
The trailer then takes us to just outside the Monsters, Inc. factory, with the slogan “We Scare Because We Care” in full view. We then get our first looks at the gang’s monster forms (GP Mike has stated Sora looks like he got into Jeff Goldblum’s teleporter from The Fly with a Muppet), as well as Sulley, Mike and Boo.
Mike expresses surprise that Sora and crew don’t seem to be afraid of Boo, before introductions take place. And when Boo calls Donald “Mike Wazowski” because of his one eye, I had to smile.
It must also be noted here that Sulley’s character model does not look as good as everyone else’s, due to the copious amounts of fur his model needs. Hopefully this is something that will be cleaned up by release.
We then shift to gameplay footage both inside and outside the factory. After Sora shows off his skydiving mechanic, he shows off another keyblade transformation, the Quick Claws, allowing him to get real up close and personal with foes.
The trailer also shows off footage of the Door Vault, with Sora dodging lightning attacks by hanging onto the doors and covering a lot of ground by grinding on the rails of the door tracks, while targeting Heartless from long range.
It appears that the world of Monstropolis will retell the story of Monsters, Inc. This is a little surprising, as John Lasseter, the director of Toy Story, wanted that world’s inclusion to be more than a rehashing of events from prior movies. I thought that trend would follow with other Pixar properties, but that does not appear to be the case. Granted, many of the Disney worlds featured in Kingdom Hearts games thus far have rehashed the plots of the movies, so it’s not like this revelation is completely surprising.
Gameplay footage then takes us to the aforementioned Kingdom of Corona, where we get our first looks at Rapunzel and Flynn as party members. Rapunzel incorporates her hair into a lot of attacks, as promised by director Tetsuya Nomura, while Flynn uses a frying pan as his weapon. A few seconds later, we see Ariel make her return to Kingdom Hearts as what looks to be a summoned character. For those that hated the Atlantica segments in Kingdom Hearts II, I’m sure this is a welcome change.
We stay in Corona for some flashy attacks, including a shotlock command and what looks to be a limit-type finisher involving Sora summoning a tower and performing a Trinity Limit-type attack. Sora is also using a weapon that looks like a staff, called the Mirage Staff, so it looks like we have another keyblade transformation.
We get more footage of the Toy Story world, this time inside Galaxy Toys. We get another look at the Mad Tea Cups attraction flow technique, as well as a scene in which Sora dodges multiple obstacles, including rockets. Of course, this is before he, Woody and Buzz decide to hitch a ride on one.
The trio take a ride on the rocket, before sending it hurtling towards a large Heartless foe. Falling with style, indeed.
After some more footage in Galaxy Toys, we head back to Monsters, Inc., where we see another keyblade transformation in which Sora channels his inner Mike Jones (it’s from StarTropics, look it up) and summons the Twin Yo-Yo’s. Sora is also able to transform the yo-yo’s into a giant cage/iron maiden-type device before trapping a Large Body Heartless inside. He also goes bowling with Mike. Literally.
During this sequence, we also see a gauge in the top left listed as “Laugh Power,” with Boo’s picture nearby. What role will this play? Is it the charge gauge for a devastating attack, or a mechanic that results in an instant game over if the gauge depletes? As we remember from the movie, children’s laughter is a very potent source of energy for Monstropolis.
The factory also reintroduces the Dream Eaters from Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. Sora summons a Meow Wow Spirit, which seems to get ready for a giant body splash attack before splitting off into a host of helpful Spirits. Speaking of reintroductions, Monstropolis also pits Sora and company against the Unversed, the enemies from Birth by Sleep. It will be interesting to see what kind of role they play, and if their inclusion is limited to Monstropolis or not.
The final scene of the trailer puts Sora face-to-face with Vanitas, the manifestation of darkness in Ventus’ heart, the person from whom the Unversed were created, and Sora’s goth counterpart. He comes sporting his familiar Void Gear keyblade and the black cloak of Organization XIII.
Vanitas makes his intentions known to Sora, claiming to be looking for Ventus. Is Vanitas looking to reforge the X-blade, the ultimate weapon sought by Master Xehanort? My money’s on “Yes. Yes he is.”
And that does it for the Monsters, Inc. trailer. I must say, Kingdom Hearts III is looking better and better, and Sora’s flashy attacks seem to denote his progression into a full-fledged keyblade master. The trailer, much like the one at D23 Anaheim last year, continues to tease the game is coming this year, with no set release date. However, news out of D23 Japan suggests we may get a release date this summer at E3 in Los Angeles.
Additionally, Square-Enix announced that Kingdom Hearts III is being developed in three sections, with approximately three worlds in each section. The addition of Monstropolis marks the fifth confirmed Disney world, so there appear to be a couple more Disney worlds yet to be announced. Perhaps E3 will be the place those worlds are revealed, but what worlds will they be? Wreck-it Ralph? Frozen? Something completely out of left field?
I also like the arranged version of Sora’s theme used for the trailer. Sounds like Yoko Shimomura is crafting another masterpiece of a soundtrack.
Let us know what you think of the latest Kingdom Hearts III trailer. Did it move the meter for you at all, or are you feverishly anticipating this game’s release even more? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!