There’s no doubt that the biggest Kingdom Hearts III reveal at Tokyo Game Show was the extended Big Hero 6 trailer. But that does not mean that Square-Enix was done releasing nuggets of information regarding one of their biggest projects.
On Square-Enix’s stage at the event, a nearly hour-long panel was dedicated to the game. Host Akira Kawashima was joined by Miyu Irino and Megumi Toyoguchi, the Japanese voices of Sora and Aqua, respectively, and Co-director Tai Yasue. Series creator and Co-director Tetsuya Nomura also joined the panel remotely.
The panel was in Japanese, so I could not understand what the hosts were talking about, but some new gameplay footage was shown that expands upon some stuff we’ve already seen. The theme of the panel seems to have been, “What is Kingdom Hearts?”, and so the footage broke down some of the new elements we will see in this title, such as keyblade transformations, Attraction Flow techniques and Links.
Starting with keyblade transformations, the panel started off by demonstrating the transformations in action, with Toy Story‘s Hyper Hammer, Monsters, Inc. Twin Yo-yo’s (showing that Sora can use them to close the distance between him and his foes) and Quick Claws, Frozen’s Blizzard Blades (which allow Sora to move by skating, regardless if he’s in Arendelle or not), Pirates of the Caribbean‘s High Wind and Storm Flag (which is punctuated by a flowing red flag whenever Sora attacks) and Big Hero 6‘s Nano Arms. The footage also showed one of the game’s new elements; being able to switch keyblades on the fly. Using this mechanic, Sora is able to store up finishers for each transformation and unleash them all in quick succession.
Some of the finishers demonstrated included that of the High Wind, in which Sora jumps in the air and rains down lances on foes, much like Final Fantasy‘s dragoon job, and Nano Arms, in which Sora transforms his weapon into a giant fist and sends it rocketing at enemies, unlike the cannon I thought it was previously. But the most impressive finisher shown had to have been that of the Blizzard Blades, where Sora creates a giant ice crystal by jumping into the air and then sends it down on foes with a kick.
Moving to Attraction Flow, we did not see any new techniques, but we did see the Merry-Go-Round (loosely based on the King Arthur Carrousel in Fantasyland). Sora used this to battle the Ice and Lava titans in Olympus (like he used the Big Magic Mountain to fight the Rock Titan), appearing to use well-timed button presses to create musical shockwaves and make the carousel spin faster. We got another look at the Magic Tea Cup (based on the Mad Tea Party) and the Splash Ride (Grizzly River Run) as well.
The Splash Ride is impressive looking, as the technique creates a watery track that is then ridden on for the finisher, culminating in one last watery drop. It was also used, interestingly so, to put out fires in the Monsters, Inc. Factory.
The panel also showed off the two different kinds of Links, those with party members and those with summons. Teaming up with Baymax, Sora can initiate Intercept Jet, which allows him to freely fly around while on Baymax’s back. We also saw Rodeo Rocket with Woody and Buzz and bowling with Mike Wazowski (didn’t see a name for it, but it seems to be initiated when all five party members in Monstropolis attempt to scare their enemies.)
It was also clarified that Marshmallow is a world-specific party member for Arendelle, and the name of his Link is Avalanche Breath. In it, Sora hops on Marshmallow’s back as he executes large swiping claw attacks.
With the summon Links, we saw Wonder Balloon (where Sora rides a Meow Wow Dream Eater from Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance before it explodes into multiple friendly Dream Eaters), 8-bit Blast (with Wreck-it Ralph) and King’s Flare (with Simba). King’s Flare looks especially impressive, not just due to the fire effects, but in that Simba looks huge, as Sora has to ride on his back.
Gummi ship segments were shown next, but there was really nothing new there. Just more looks at both the on-rails and exploration segments. We also got another look at the Classic Kingdom minigames, but no new ones to speak of, and the cooking with Remy from Ratatouille minigame, although no further insight was shown into how it was played.
The team saved the end of the panel for a couple new reveals. The first of which is the darkness-possessed Aqua in the Realm of Darkness. I assumed she was talking to Riku and King Mickey before assuming a battle stance in the extended Big Hero 6 trailer, but as it turns out she’s actually talking to Sora. That’s because it leads into a boss battle between the two that plays out like the Phantom Aqua fights in Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep.
The second reveal, and one they spent an unusually long amount of time on, was that Kairi and Aqua were revealed to be Tsums in the Disney Tsum Tsum mobile game, a match-3-type puzzle game. Both Irino and Toyoguchi had a chance to try out the new characters in the game.
These characters seem to be only for the Japanese version of the game at the moment, but there could be a possibility for release in the North American version. My wife and I also enjoy playing the Disney Emoji Blitz mobile game, and I’m wondering if we’ll see some Kingdom Hearts emojis before long.
The panel also included a Q&A with those on stage. Aside from Nomura reiterating that Kingdom Hearts III is the end of the Dark Seeker arc, but not necessarily Sora’s story, he also explained that there are no plans currently for a multiplayer online option, as they are focused on finishing the game first off. He said there are plans for a secret movie, but it might be something they consider as part of the game’s DLC.
The Tokyo Game Show also brought news on the game’s music front. Utada Hikaru’s “Face My Fears” was actually announced as the opening theme for the game, while “Don’t Think Twice,” previously revealed at this year’s D23 in Japan, was announced to be the closing theme. “Face My Fears” is also a collaboration between Utada and American record producers Skrillex and Poo Bear.
It’s not the first time Skrillex has worked on music for a Disney property. The well-known DJ also composed the song “Bug Hunt” for 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph.