Op Ed: Hey KINGDOM HEARTS? We Need to Talk.
Hiya, Kingdom Hearts. It’s nice of you to make time for an old fan. Can you sit down for a while? I just really want to talk to you.
Okay, I’m gonna be honest here. This is an intervention. We are all very worried about you and the status of Kingdom Hearts III. It’s been a whole decade since II, and while that game has aged beautifully, I’m not sure she and I understand each other anymore. I can only spend so long trying to wrap my head around the plot and its twists and speculating on where the story might go in the future.
Not counting the releases of 1.5 and 2.5, the HD upgrades with Final Mix content and ports of spinoff games added, your developers have neglected to develop any new additions to the story for the PS3 and 360 consoles, a generation which is now facing numbered days. Sure, it was nice to finally get my mitts on Final Mix and see all the new cutscenes and get my keister kicked in the Cavern of Remembrance. It brought me some joy to see Sora’s spiky brown locks remastered and updated for today’s graphic standards.
But these were joys that faded once I realized that the .5 games were merely meant to tide me over during the drawn-out wait for III.
We’ve had spinoffs, remakes of spinoffs, cuts of spinoffs with bonus content, and ports of spinoffs to other consoles. But alas, these stories have held a lot more conversation than action. The contributions that Birth by Sleep made to the plot felt questionable, at best. Oh, Xehanort is actually a really old guy who de-aged by possessing another dude who has a magical connection to the main trio from KH 1 and 2! And one of the protagonists looks and sounds exactly like Roxas because of lazy character design– err, I mean, because of MYSTERIES OF THE HEART. And there used to be a bazillion other keyblade wielders in a big giant war! Honestly, so what?
And with the spin-off titles ranging in production from DS to 3DS to PSP, it seems to take a considerable financial investment to keep up with the story. I ain’t saying you’re a gold digger, Kingdom Hearts, but you ain’t messing with broke gamers.
And you, Square Enix. Why are you neglecting your star child? We know that you’re having financial problems right now, and as much as we’d like to help you out, we can’t do it in good conscience as long as you keep churning out oh-so-pretty and oh-so-linear Final Fantasy games over more sought after titles. XIII was the first red flag, a shiny happy game that lived by the words “style over substance”. But then you just had to relapse and give us XIII-2, and go even further down the drain with the unplayable FFXIV. What happened to fantasy? What happened to exploration? Jupiter Ascending was a better Final Fantasy game than the recent, actual Final Fantasy games.
Ever since 2006, Squeenix producer Tetsuya Nomura has been open about placing precedence upon Final Fantasy Versus XIII, now FFXV. There is a lot of anxiety from both fans and developers for the reception of XV – apparently, it could make or break the future of the franchise. But even putting aside mounting hype the longer it takes for a game to come out, there is a very real difference in taking your time to perfect a product, and simply dragging your feet on it.
We had a glimmer of hope recently when Bill Farmer, the voice actor for Goofy, confirmed that he’d finished his recording for Kingdom Hearts III and assumed the game would be seeing a 2015 release date. The sigh of relief didn’t last long, however, as Disney and Squeenix instead announced a 2017 release was more likely, with Nomura citing technical issues with optimizing the game’s engine for PS4 and XBone. “Technical difficulties” so tricky that we’re looking at another 2 years waiting, from one of the most technically solid game developers on the planet? Meanwhile Final Fantasy XV/Versus XIII/Whatever has cited no such problems developing for the same consoles? I was born at night, Squeenix, but it wasn’t last night.
The KHIII website is currently minimalist and cryptic, featuring the gameplay trailer from E3 2013. And while the game does look impressive, with brand new graphics and combat mechanics, Nomura rained on the fandom’s parade with his confession that it was announced too early. So now we’re back to the waiting game.
Kingdom Hearts, darling, you’ve become the new Chrono Trigger: as in, the game everyone wants but has to wait, and wait, and wait for, for no apparent reason other than Squeenix’s indifference for its fans. A word to the wise, Squeenix: you might actually be making money if you focused on releasing the titles that fans world over really wanted to purchase and play.
We might be appeased with the additions of levels based on Star Wars and Marvel Comics. Although depending on which geek you ask, this could be either awesome or cause the downfall of civilization. But for now the fandom’s guesswork is going to have to keep us warm during the extended delay.
We’re not angry, Kingdom Hearts. We’re just disappointed.