UPDATE 3/8/2014: Square-Enix has posted a survey for Kingdom Hearts, and if there is something you want to see in Kingdom Hearts 3 (Gargoyles!), this is the best way to make your voice heard!
Watching Gargoyles these past few weeks has got me thinking about the upcoming PS4/Xbox One game Kingdom Hearts 3. So far, little information, aside from confirmation the title has been in development, has been released regarding the next entry in the Kingdom Hearts series. For those unaware, the Kingdom Hearts games were initially conceived as a marriage between Disney and Square’s Final Fantasy. Several games have been released in the series and, for the most part, they all follow a pattern of having the main character visit various different worlds based on classic and current Disney films. Gargoyles has got me thinking about how cool it would be to see that world brought to the series as it would seemingly lend itself well to the video game form. There was a game based on the series created for the Sega Genesis. It was a late arrival on the Genesis and while it boasted some rather slick animation it was bogged down by poor gameplay mechanics and a repetitive design. It is my understanding that the only rules for selecting worlds for Kingdom Hearts are that they be from Disney films, but not Disney owned films. This would eliminate the various Marvel films produced by Disney as well as any future Star Wars ones. It also appears to apply to Pixar films as well as so far no worlds from a Pixar film have shown up. It also excludes any worlds from Disney television, but in the case of Gargoyles, this rule could be circumvented by the existence of Gargoyles The Movie: The Heroes Awaken. It’s kind of cheating as the direct-to-video movie is just the first five episodes edited into a 90 minute film but lets not get too technical.
Using my own memory, and with help from Wikipedia, I’ve come up with the below list of Disney films to appear as worlds in the Kingdom Hearts series:
- Sleeping Beauty
- The Little Mermaid
- The Nightmare Before Christmas
- Winnie the Pooh
- Peter Pan
- The Lion King
- Steamboat Willie
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Alice in Wonderland
- Snow White
- Beauty and the Beast
- Lilo & Stitch
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame
- The Three Musketeers
This list may not be exhaustive, and does contain some unusual selections. “Steamboat Willie” stands out as it’s not a feature-length film, but as Mickey’s most recognizable short, it’s not surprising to see it included. It also, like pretty much all of Disney’s classic shorts, was originally released to theaters. The Three Musketeers also stands out as it was a direct-to-video release so it appears their self-inflicted rule does not mean the film needed to be theatrically released. Square has done a good job of hitting most of Disney’s biggest properties. There is also a good balance of old and new, but there’s still plenty of room for more. Below are some thoughts of mine regarding where the franchise could go for its next outing:
Bambi – Bambi the character has already appeared as a summon in the KH series but he’s never had his own world. As one of the few classic pictures to not have a world, it makes sense for Bambi to step into a larger role. His world is not particularly unique considering it’s just a forest, but a world created around the forest fire scene from the film’s climax could have some interesting gameplay mechanics. For one, it would make the world visually interesting and the fire could be the result of one of the film’s antagonists. Bambi could be an assist character and, together with Sora, they would be tasked with extinguishing the blaze. The world could either be full of peril due to the fire, or there could be a time limit in place. Considering Bambi is one of Walt’s greatest achievements, it just makes too much sense to include it eventually.
The Black Cauldron – The Black Cauldron is, unofficially of course, Disney’s black sheep. It differs quite a bit in tone from the works that preceded it in that there’s a distinct absence of humor throughout. A lot of critics disliked the film, and while it appears to have spawned a cult following, it’s still one of the lesser films put out by Disney. It’s inclusion here is not a defense of the film, I haven’t it seen it in so long that I really can’t offer much of an opinion on it, but it’s world would actually appear to fit in quite well with the KH universe. The Horned King would make a natural complement for Maleficent and the Fairfolk could be incorporated as well. The film almost makes too much sense for inclusion, leading me to believe the only reason it has not been is because the film is so obscure. It’s also possible that Disney doesn’t own any of the characters outright and legal issues may not make it worthwhile to include.
Toy Tinkers – I am an unabashed Donald Duck fan so I wanted to include one of his shorts on this list. I initially thought “Trick or Treat” would work well because of the Witch Hazel and her special potion that brings inanimate objects to life, but such a world would have a lot in common with Fantasia and Halloweentown. I settled on “Toy Tinkers” because it would allow the inclusion of a Christmas themed world and a unique gameplay opportunity. I conceive it as a world in which Sora has been shrunk somehow and is caught in between the fire-fight between Donald and Chip and Dale. There would be debris raining down and perhaps Sora would help Chip and Dale thwart Donald somehow. It would be a bit of comedic relief and a fun bit of level design.
The Brave Little Tailor – My thought process for this level is similar to the above for “Toy Tinkers,” so I consider this an either/or arrangement. In the short, “The Brave Little Tailor,” Mickey is tasked with defeating a giant. For KH, the scenario seems obvious and Sora would either replace Mickey or assist him in taking down a giant. It would feel similar to my “Toy Tinkers” scenario because Sora would be taking on a foe much larger than he, so the two would perhaps feel too alike if they both appeared in the same game. Nonetheless, it would be fun to challenge the giant and a tailor themed Mickey could be an interesting assist character. This could also easily be swapped out in favor of a Mickey and the Beanstalk themed level.
Duck Tales – Duck Tales would appear to not be eligible due to the fact that it was a television property, but it sneaks in because it did have a feature-length release, Treasure of the Lost Lamp. If the level had to be based on that film, then no matter, it could be a pseudo Indiana Jones type of deal with cave exploring with Uncle Scrooge, the nephews, and maybe even Launch Pad. Classic Duck Tales villains could still be included as well. Ultimately, I just want to see Scrooge’s giant vault of gold coins included complete with diving board.
Toy Story – Yes, I know and covered it already, it would appear that Pixar films are a no-go when it comes to KH. However, Pixar’s films have become as much a part of the Disney brand as Mickey and Snow White and their presence is felt throughout Walt Disney World and Disney Land. And if there is to be one exception made for Pixar, why it has to be Toy Story, no? It makes too much sense for inclusion as Sora could be transformed into a toy of some kind and have to team-up with Woody and the gang to foil Sid. The level basically designs itself and there are so many action sequences from the three films that the designers could look to for inspiration. Come on Square/Disney, it’s time to invite Pixar to the party. Do it!
Gargoyles – We’ll end this with what started it in the first place, Gargoyles! Gargoyles, as primarily an action-adventure cartoon, makes a lot of sense for a video game. Goliath would be a pretty bad-ass support character and Demona seems like a perfect villain for KH (though MacBeth and Xanatos would work as well). There would be some fun music to source, and most of the voice cast has maintained a relationship with Disney to this day including Keith David (voice of Goliath) who recently voiced the villain for Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. Gargoyles would also allow Square to set a level in New York, specifically the skies above New York. The castle would make for both a great visual and fun setting for an all out battle with Demona or the Steel Clan. Someone send the developers of Kingdom Hearts 3 a copy of the first season (or the movie, but they would need a VCR on hand to watch it) and then try to stop them from making use of it!
There’s actually plenty of other films Square could source for Kingdom Hearts 3 that I didn’t even bring up. The Sword in the Stone or Robin Hood seem like natural fits, or perhaps because they’re too conventional they’ve been ignored. 101 Dalmatians also seems like an easy film to incorporate and Cruella De Vil would be a natural as a villain for the series. And considering it drew inspiration from video games, I feel like I have to mention Wreck-It Ralph. I actually fully expect a Wreck-It Ralph scenario of some kind to appear in KH3, either as the game world Fix-It Felix Jr. or maybe a Sugar Rush style mini game. I consider all of my selections as long shots and I’d be surprised to see most of them. It actually wouldn’t shock me if Disney lifted the embargo on Pixar films and allowed a Toy Story level, just because the property is so popular, and the giant sequence I described (most likely to occur in the form of Mickey and the Beanstalk) also strikes me as a legit possibility for a KH world. The others are merely dreams or wishes, and as much as it would delight me to see Goliath and crew in Kingdom Hearts 3, I also acknowledge it’s mostly a pipe dream. Perhaps if I wish upon a star…