At D23 2017, the latest trailer for Kingdom Hearts III revealed a 2018 release date. Assuming that holds true, we will see the latest chapter in Sora’s saga next year.
After D23, series creator Tetsuya Nomura talked with Famitsu, mentioning that the amount of Disney worlds in Kingdom Hearts III will be less than the amount of Disney worlds in Kingdom Hearts II, but will feature more content. Counting Disney Castle and Timeless River as separate worlds, there were 12 worlds in Kingdom Hearts II, so we will see less than that for the new installment.
Already four worlds have been confirmed for KHIII, based on the films Hercules, Tangled, Big Hero 6 and Pixar’s Toy Story. Slots for Disney worlds seem to be quickly running out, but which worlds are going to make the cut? While chances are all the worlds will be revealed before the game releases, I wanted today to look at some Disney worlds, what we might see if they were included in the game, and how likely they would end up as destinations for the gummi ship.
1. Game Central Station (Wreck-it Ralph)
A hub world where’s gaming most famous heroes, and villains, hang out before going to work.
Possible narrative: Sora, Donald and Goofy arrive at Game Central Station to find it abandoned. Due to the Heartless running amok, the various characters are seeking refuge in their specific games, but the Heartless are starting to find their way into the games as well. Sora and the gang run into Ralph and his gang, who are noticing the Heartless are taking a particular interest in both Hero’s Duty and Sugar Rush.
Why it would work: This opens up some meta humor, as Ralph, Felix and the rest simply assume Sora, Donald and Goofy to be heroes from some cool-looking new game (they aren’t that far off.) There’s plenty of potential to break the fourth wall here with jokes about gaming, such as the minute differences between respawning and save points. And who wouldn’t like to see Sora, Donald and Goofy in 8-bit form in Fix-it Felix Jr.?
Why it wouldn’t work: Part of Wreck-it Ralph’s charm dealt with the characters of various video game franchises co-mingling. Obviously, don’t expect to see Mario or Bowser here, especially in a game that so far has no release for a Nintendo console scheduled. That goes the same for arcade classics like Pac-Man or Street Fighter. But since Square-Enix owns Taito, they could get away with references to games like Space Invaders and Bubble Bobble.
Outlook: There’s one thing that has an inclusion for Wreck-it Ralph in the realm of possibility; the fact that the sequel, Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-it Ralph 2, is set for release in November 2018. If I had to guess, Kingdom Hearts III probably won’t see release in 2018 until the holiday season. Being so close together, there are opportunities here for cross-promotion in both forms of media, especially since Director Rich Moore has said he wants the sequel to focus more on console gaming and online gaming this time around. Of course, I’m not expecting to see Sora in Ralph Breaks the Internet, but a nice little reference couldn’t hurt, such as Ralph finding Sora’s keyblade in the lost-and-found at Tapper’s.
Final verdict: Somewhat likely.
2. Beast’s Castle (Beauty and the Beast)
When last we checked, the curse governing Beast’s Castle and its denizens had been broken. But how are Belle and others doing?
Possible narrative: While Belle and Adam (the Beast’s real name, look it up) are getting ready to celebrate their happily-ever-after, there are those that aren’t very happy about the union. One such detractor is Belle’s long-time suitor, Gaston. Gaston will stop at nothing to win the heart of the woman he has pursued for so long, even if it means joining forces with some shady characters.
Why it would work: Through the two main entries, Sora and the gang have developed a friendship with Belle and Beast, as well as the people in the castle. It would be nice for them to see everyone…human again? (See what I did there? Okay, I’ll stop.) Also, we haven’t seen Gaston in a Kingdom Hearts game, and as far as human antagonists go, his unabashed arrogance and ruthless obsession make him one of the better ones. I would like to see Sora and the vain hunter cross blades. Of course, that would only set up a final confrontation in which Sora, Donald and Goofy battle a Heartless-possessed Gaston.
Why it wouldn’t work: With Beast human, chances that he will be a world-specific party member like in the two main games prior drop. Additionally, the charm of Beauty and the Beast’s castle residents may appear diminished when in their human forms. As for the castle, there’s not much more of it left to explore.
Outlook: While some gamers may get a feeling of “been there, done that” from another visit to Beast’s Castle, the Hercules world does show there is some content there to build on. Olympus Coliseum is including Mt. Olympus and Thebes, based on gameplay footage revealed thus far. It would not be hard to believe the developers can do the same with Beast’s Castle, and for Nomura-san (I like to be respectful here) to make good on his promise to have the worlds feature more content, he would most likely add the forest outside the castle, as well as the town nearby. But, given the amount of new Disney properties that have been released since Kingdom Hearts II came out, as well as the properties the House of Mouse has brought on board, the developers may just as likely want to run around in those playgrounds.
Final verdict: Slightly likely to somewhat likely.
3. Arendelle (Frozen)
An exiled queen and a cursed land. It’s the perfect breeding ground for despair, and the Heartless.
Possible narrative: Sora, Donald and Goofy arrive at the castle to find the entire land covered in ice, Queen Elsa’s doing. What’s more, her sister, Princess Anna, has left to find her, leaving the land without a ruler. With the appearance of the Heartless, Sora believes the wayward queen to be involved, and resolves to track both queen and princess down before things get worse.
Why it would work: While it would essentially be a retelling of the movie, the land of Arendelle lends itself well to the fantasy setting of Kingdom Hearts. The winter frontier and Elsa’s ice castle would be quite the world to explore, and memorable characters would make the visit enjoyable. I’m already picturing the comedic ramifications of Donald and Olaf’s first meeting.
Why it wouldn’t work: Frozen has been done to death, and RPG gamers might be considered too outside of the target audience for Frozen to be included. The music is also a big part of Frozen’s success, but making it a big part of Sora’s adventure might turn some gamers off, especially those who not-so-fondly remember the Atlantica segments from Kingdom Hearts II.
Outlook: Let’s face it, Frozen is a cash cow the likes of which Disney has rarely, if ever, seen. They have not missed an opportunity to promote the hell out of it, and I don’t imagine Kingdom Hearts would be any exception. Besides, I don’t feel like the target audiences for both Frozen and Kingdom Hearts are all that mutually exclusive. The amount of players that would welcome the addition of Arendelle would greatly outnumber those who wouldn’t. That said, we don’t need to hear “Let it Go” for the umpteenth time.
Final verdict: Very likely.
4. Prydain (The Black Cauldron)
There exists a mystic relic capable of great power. And the forces of darkness have their sights set squarely on it.
Possible narrative: Sora, Donald and Goofy touch down in the Horned King’s realm, where there are immediately taken prisoner by his soldiers, in league with the Heartless. In the dungeon, they run into fellow captives Taran, Princess Eilonwy and the bard Fflewddur Fflam. After escaping the Horned King’s stronghold, Sora learns of the Black Cauldron, and the immense power it can grant the holder. Sora resolves to join his new friends to keep the cauldron out of the Horned King’s hands, and out of Xehanort’s.
Why it would work: Like with Arendelle, the world of The Black Cauldron fits greatly with Kingdom Hearts’ fantasy adventure setting. The world of Prydain, especially in the Horned King’s realm, would be a darker one, fitting the tone of the movie. And another aspect from the movie that could work is the fact Taran undertakes this quest to fulfill his dream of being a hero, and Sora makes for a good role model for that purpose.
Why it wouldn’t work: The Black Cauldron is considered a black mark on Disney animation’s record. While the film has gained a cult following, the fact remains it did not get a home video release until 13 years after it hit theaters, speaking to Disney’s willingness to forget it ever existed.
Outlook: There would probably be some interest between long-time Disney and Kingdom Hearts fans to see the world of Prydain come to life in Kingdom Hearts III. If that interest is shared by the developers, who knows? Disney is certainly silent on the legacy of The Black Cauldron (or lack thereof), and it’s hard to imagine them pushing hard for its inclusion in the long-running game franchise. Likewise, it’s hard to believe Square-Enix would advocate much for it if Disney does not. Overwhelming fan response would be the most likely reason The Black Cauldron joins some of Disney’s most dearly beloved (sorry, last one) properties in Kingdom Hearts, emphasis on “overwhelming.”
Final verdict: Not all that likely, though I could be surprised.
And there you have it. As somebody playing through a lot of Kingdom Hearts lately (I’m currently playing Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix for the first time, and on Critical Mode no less!), I certainly have more things to say about what we may see in Kingdom Hearts III. I would also like to hear what you have to say. Do you think we’ll see any of these worlds in Kingdom Hearts III, or do you have other ideas about what worlds will make it in? Let us know in the comments, and as always, thanks for reading!