The first Kingdom Hearts is one of my favourite games of all time. The character movement may be clunky and some of the worlds a bit pants, but it combined Square-Enix's RPG expertise with decades' worth of classic Disney characters, dressed them up in some of the finest visuals ever seen coming from a PS2 and then added the most charming, un-cheesy love story. It was, and still is, a masterpiece.
Since then, it's fallen foul of the usual sequel traits. A shady organisation was added to it. Yawn. A second playable character – Roxas. Yawn. Different combat styles (the cards were alright, to be honest), less-iconic Disney worlds… it's still high quality stuff, but it feels like Square-Enix have been missing the point a little of late.
So, with a new KH game set to be unveiled at E3, this is what we want to see from the next game in the series:
No subtitle in the title
We know there are supposed to be two more KH games before KHIII (one of which is almost certainly Kingdom Hearts: Recoded), but we still secretly hope the big announcement will be Kingdom Hearts III. Any more words than that in its title will detract from its importance. The only other thing we'd plump for would be simply 'Kingdom Hearts' – a revamp for current gen consoles to deliver the breathtaking universe the first game could never have. It's been done with Resident Evil and nobody mistook that for a PSone game.
If the game set to be announced is indeed called 'Recoded', that does suggest a remake of the original. Or... an iPhone port of this old mobile phone game, which would be a big anticlimax:
Above: Kingdom Hearts: Coded. Don't let the announcement be this again!
If this is to be the third game in the trilogy, it should conclude it. Sora and Kairi should be the main characters and by now they're likely to be young adults (especially seeing as they were visibly older in KHII). The fans of the first game are older now too and although the Disney characters will still give it appeal for children, there's plenty of scope for a more mature story at the game's heart. Disney itself has never shied away from mature themes, so there's no reason it has to now.
Above: Sora looks visibly older in KH2 (left) compared to the first game
The original movies' voice talent
Where possible, of course. the series has always had stars in its credits, but to do it properly, we want to hear Robin Williams as the Genie. No soundalikes, please – this should be the real deal.
Above: "Wanna know a secret? I'm not me! Ahahahahaha"
More Square-Enix characters
The DS game only featured a moogle out of Square's entire back catalogue of Final Fantasy characters. We're ready for Sephiroth to return, as well as someone from Final Fantasy XIII… maybe even someone from Chaos Rings on iPhone? Anything will do. Kupo.
There's no need to insult us with the old 'mash X to win' control scheme. A style of combat similar to Bayonetta's with added magic attacks would be superb. And it has to run at 60fps, of course. Imagine slow-motion zoom-ins as Sora delivers the final blow to a heartless, all rendered in stunning, Final Fantasy XIII-quality 3D.
Utada Hikaru on the soundtrack
While the J-pop superstar's theme song 'Sanctuary' for KHII was decent enough, it wasn't a patch on her brilliant 'Simple and Clean' from the first game. Capturing the very essence of the game in a single line, 'simple and clean is the way you're making me feel tonight', there's just something about Hikki's music that fits perfectly. Fingers crossed she's got something special for us.
Go on then. If Move is going to be as amazing as Sony would have us believe, show us how it should be done with 1:1 keyblade control. It would solve the button mashing and put us right in the action from the off. If the three games promised by the game's creator do indeed materialise with KH3 coming at the end, that means there's plenty of opportunity for a Move-based spin-off before we get to the real deal KHIII.
The great thing about Kingdom Hearts is that it can be moulded into any kind of adventure, because the subject matter is so diverse. So long as Square-Enix give it the same visual gloss as FFXIII and concentrate on the feeling that each world should give the player rather than focusing on bewildering KH canon, this is a sure-fire triple-A title. Like Hikaru sung in the original game, 'regardless of warnings / the future doesn't scare me at all / cos nothing's like before'. Amen to that.
What do you want to see in the game? Let us know in the comments
08 Jun, 2010