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Falling in and out of love with Kingdom Hearts in a post-KH3 world



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Laurel

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I think my problem with KH3 is that it doesn't feel...mature if that makes any sense. Sure it's a Disney game, but KH1 was the most atmospheric and mysterious game yet it had the most use of Disney in it. There was always a sense of urgency in KH1 with the threat of Disney villains and the heartless always looming, but there was still a lot of room for light-hearted and silly moments. There was a good balance in that game. With KH3 it felt more silly as the dialogue seemed cheesier and the humor phoned in, not too mention you're always being hand held as you're given a ton of abilities early with ease (the attraction flows should've appeared later in the game. I haven't played critical mode so I dunno if that part's been changed) and Donald and Goofy always telling you where ingredients/hidden mickeys are. It really felt like the game was catered towards newcomers instead of those who have grown up with the series, making it feel like the game hasn't grown with its audience. With that said, I didn't hate the game, I did enjoy the gameplay, the music was great as always, the graphics were gorgeous, and it was nice seeing these characters again. I just wish that the story was handled better and I hope that the DLC fixes some of its issues.
 

Sign

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And if you think about it, the almighty Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix which was released years before Birth By Sleep and Days threw in a TON of stuff that was basically sequel bait... for HANDHELD games. Sometimes I think people didn't get everything on their laundry list of demands for KH3 and default to "it's trash" because the long time between KH2 and KH3 somehow justifies "perfection" in their eyes.

It continues to amaze me how KH2FM, a game we got in the west almost a decade after its Japanese release, managed to wipe clean so many people's memory of vanilla KH2, so that they firmly believe KH2 released as a perfect game and FM only gave them more of that perfection. It's complete bonkers.
 

Launchpad

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It continues to amaze me how KH2FM, a game we got in the west almost a decade after its Japanese release, managed to wipe clean so many people's memory of vanilla KH2, so that they firmly believe KH2 released as a perfect game and FM only gave them more of that perfection. It's complete bonkers.

I'm too tech illiterate to figure out how to 'like' your post so I'll just say here fucking here
 

The Kid

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Idk I liked KH3 (8.5/10 game for me) but I still think base KH2 was better. KH2FM may have made it a 10/10 game but the base still had the coliseum which I prefer to the battle gates as post game material, a middle section that was plot relevant with good FF fanservice, more fluid combat system overall, and IMO a more satisfying ending

KH2FM improved even more on the base which is why people hold it in such regard but I feel like the argument has gone the exact other way recently where people argue KH2 was bad before the final mix when honestly, the reason FM was so good was because it built on an already really solid base
 

Elysium

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Idk I liked KH3 (8.5/10 game for me) but I still think base KH2 was better. KH2FM may have made it a 10/10 game but the base still had the coliseum which I prefer to the battle gates as post game material, a middle section that was plot relevant with good FF fanservice, more fluid combat system overall, and IMO a more satisfying ending
I can see why some prefer KH2 when you put it that way. For me, the bad of KH2 far outweighed the good, but I understand how it having a proper midpoint, Coliseum, FF characters, a large number of worlds, etc. are all points in its favor over KH3. I personally consider KH3 to have better gameplay than KH2 though, and even though there are less worlds, the level design is far superior.

I do think KH3 has one of the weakest soundtracks in the series, even if I love the theme songs for this entry.
 

Alpha Baymax

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It continues to amaze me how KH2FM, a game we got in the west almost a decade after its Japanese release, managed to wipe clean so many people's memory of vanilla KH2, so that they firmly believe KH2 released as a perfect game and FM only gave them more of that perfection. It's complete bonkers.

Honestly, I think the remastering of the Kingdom Hearts franchise to HD has introduced a new generation of fans into the series who haven't played the vanilla versions. And when it comes to pre-existing fans, they can no longer play vanilla Kingdom Hearts or Kingdom Hearts II on HD systems. So ultimately, I can see why that mentality exists.

With all that being said, you're absolutely right. It's not fair to judge a vanilla version of one Kingdom Hearts game compared to the definitive edition of another Kingdom Hearts game.
 

SuperSaiyanSora

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And if you think about it, the almighty Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix which was released years before Birth By Sleep and Days threw in a TON of stuff that was basically sequel bait... for HANDHELD games. Sometimes I think people didn't get everything on their laundry list of demands for KH3 and default to "it's trash" because the long time between KH2 and KH3 somehow justifies "perfection" in their eyes.

Honestly, I think you've nailed it. People didn't get what was on their list of things that must absolutely happen, and think the game is such a terrible addition to the franchise, when it's not. Sure, it sucks that some expectations weren't met, but it's really not all that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. Most characters have a happy ending, and the ones who don't either had it coming OR their story isn't done yet. People had gripes with KH2, BBS, Days... DDD released 7 years ago yesterday, and look how many people wanted to burn that game to the ground. Of course, it'd be great for KH3 to be Nier Automata or Spider-Man PS4 status. But even if it's not, that's fine, cause it still accomplished everything it set out to do. Like I said earlier, people can't use the "But KH2 was conclusive!" argument because there were clearly unanswered questions that had to be addressed, and they certainly weren't just going to leave that up in the air. The only reason KH2 ended the way it did is (my guess) because had KH2's sales tanked or Nomura didn't want to do it anymore, they could just leave it at that.

I actually liked the build for the box. Having Disney characters Maleficent and Pete go after it made me think it was inconsequential, so I was curious but didn't think it would amount to anything more than a Maleficent/Pete boss fight. When discussion about the box faded out and we actually see Luxu with it at the end... that was a nice surprise for me and made me care more and made me think Maleficent will become more relevant in the next game. I mean, if we fought Maleficent in this game and finished her off for good... would this be the right time? The focus was really on the Organization, it would have felt flat beating Maleficent amongst all the other stuff going on. I rather deal with her without the immense weight of The Organization on the story's back.

Exactly, and that's why I didn't worry about it either. The Organization looked for a box, but it was inconsequential in the end when it came down to what was going on at that point in time. Of course I want to know what's in the box, but they've also gotta give Pete and Maleficent something to do as well. Once Maleficent said "the box doesn't exist... yet" and pointed out that a Keyblade War was on the horizon, that should say that she knows a LOT more than we think she does.

Actually this was a KH2 complaint too, because you had Maleficent reviving, but you only had to worry about Organization XIII and maybe Pete a couple times. "Too many antagonists". Plus Maleficent has been looking for the book since Coded, if that's connected with KHUX, why touch on it in KH3? Wouldn't that make it even MORE "sequel bait"? But it is what it is.

Out of all the chaos and hate that KH3 got, the thing that bothered me the most was that there were KH fans who finished playing KH3 and did not enjoy it or did not feel overwhelmed with (good) emotions. I felt really sad about that because as a longtime KH fan I know how much KH3 meant. All I hope for now is that ReMIND can do to KH3 what KH2FM did for the people that hated KH2. I really just want KH fans to find something in KH3 that they like, not for KH3's sake, but for their sake as fans. I can't even imagine how devastated I would feel if I played KH3 and thought it was garbage.

In the end, people will like and dislike whatever that gets released next. Because now, you're going to have fans thinking they actually released an incomplete game and are trying to sell it back to us in DLC format (when they literally sold you THE EXACT SAME GAME in the past, with new additions... At full price). They could have Kairi knocking Xemnas around the Keyblade Graveyard with one hand behind her back, explain Xion's revival, Namine coming in to save the day with a machine gun on some Laguna Loire shit, let us explore Scala in detail and even give us a trailer for Verum Rex... That's still not going to be enough for some. Everybody's entitled to their own opinion in terms of how KH3 wrapped things up. But personally I feel that base KH3 surpasses base KH2, and it's not even close. It is what it is though.

It continues to amaze me how KH2FM, a game we got in the west almost a decade after its Japanese release, managed to wipe clean so many people's memory of vanilla KH2, so that they firmly believe KH2 released as a perfect game and FM only gave them more of that perfection. It's complete bonkers.

It's crazy. I LOVE KH2, but it wasn't this holy grail of a game people make it out to be. It had its flaws, but it was a charming game that introduced us to a LOT more in the universe than simply Sora looking for his friends and going back home.

Most of the reasons people even love KH2 is because of the Final Mix stuff. The Other Promise wasn't even an original KH2 song, and neither was the Roxas fight. Or Limit Form. Or countless other things. You can't even play the original KH2 unless you have a PS2 copy or emulate it, so it'd be interesting to see how fans in 2019 would feel about the vanilla version.
 

Lulcy

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You guys are missing the point, when people compare KH3 to KH2FM and use the later as a benchmark what they are saying (tbh, not quite clearly) is that It has been close to 12 years since 2FM release (march 2007) and close to 13 years from the vanialla release in the west (march 2006), over 13 years of hindsight, feedback and criticism of what fans like and would like to be in the next numbered KH game, the fact after over 13 years of hidsight, feedback, criticism when KH3 releases and delivers only something similar to vanilla KH2 (or worse, less than vanilla KH2) then you can't help but feel the devs were not listening at all.
 

Launchpad

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I mean, KH3 was not as good as I hoped, but it wasn't as bad as I expected. It gave some TLC to mechanics and facets that I had thought were long abandoned/not priority (Gummi, Level Design, Disney Party Members) so even though they fumbled in a lot of key areas (difficulty, character development, original words) it's hard to "fall out of love" with KH. Because with the former mechanics, they got their hooks back into me, and now I want to see how they do in the future.
 

Alpha Baymax

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You guys are missing the point, when people compare KH3 to KH2FM and use the later as a benchmark what they are saying (tbh, not quite clearly) is that It has been close to 12 years since 2FM release (march 2007) and close to 13 years from the vanialla release in the west (march 2006), over 13 years of hindsight, feedback and criticism of what fans like and would like to be in the next numbered KH game, the fact after over 13 years of hidsight, feedback, criticism when KH3 releases and delivers only something similar to vanilla KH2 (or worse, less than vanilla KH2) then you can't help but feel the devs were not listening at all.

"Not listening at all" is an exaggeration. The Osaka team is not the Tokyo team, and it's the fault of the Square Enix executives for poor project management. Sure, you could argue that the Osaka team had the remasters to understand how the Tokyo team coded the battle mechanics, but you have to remember that assets and code were built from scratch, and obviously, not everything could be successfully translated 1:1 from an in-house Square Enix engine to the external Unreal Engine 4.

I personally see the efforts of Kingdom Hearts III as the true building blocks for the future of the franchise. Because Unreal Engine is a popular and ongoing development toolkit, the assets can be easily transferred over to upcoming games which reduces costs and increases quality output for future Kingdom Hearts titles that will use Unreal Engine 4.
 

SuperSaiyanSora

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You guys are missing the point, when people compare KH3 to KH2FM and use the later as a benchmark what they are saying (tbh, not quite clearly) is that It has been close to 12 years since 2FM release (march 2007) and close to 13 years from the vanialla release in the west (march 2006), over 13 years of hindsight, feedback and criticism of what fans like and would like to be in the next numbered KH game, the fact after over 13 years of hidsight, feedback, criticism when KH3 releases and delivers only something similar to vanilla KH2 (or worse, less than vanilla KH2) then you can't help but feel the devs were not listening at all.

I disagree. Because I don't think it's a matter of developers not listening at all. I think it's an issue of, what they're capable of doing and whether adding certain things or not is going to take them off schedule. Keep in mind, this is the next numbered title since BBS (because Nomura says it is), so obviously there's a lot to consider in terms of release date and timing. People were already complaining about not having a release date, and it's only until people got a product that they personally don't feel connected with is when people started saying "You know, they should've delayed it a bit more." Hindsight is always 20/20.

And the whole "KH3 is barren" thing is something that needs to die, because no it isn't. Does it have extra bosses, end-game dungeons and a secret boss? No, but you do have Gummi missions with bosses, Mickey Emblem collections, Game and Watch mini-games to find, the cooking mini-game, the Flan Heartless games, battle gates, and you even have an end-game boss too in the Keyblade Graveyard once you do all the battle gates. That alone is more than vanilla KH2, the only thing KH2 has that KH3 doesn't is a coliseum and a Sephiroth fight. It had tons of content, it's just overlooked because people want fights... Which is guaranteed and promised to come later.

Also it makes absolutely zero sense to put Final Mix stuff in the original release, when that's never been par the course for this franchise. KH Final Mixes always has substantial story additions to the base game, and they toss in more stuff to justify you buying the game again. In 2019, you don't need to do that, you can easily buy the DLC with any patch updates and you're ready to go. You could argue that it's a greedy business practice, but, this has been happening since KH1. It's just that now you can pay only $20 instead of however much a fully-priced game at retail will cost you in whichever location you live.

It hasn't been 13 years of feedback. KH3 was announced in... 2014? 2015? So that's about a 4-5 year wait up to now. And that was also the time when 1.5 and 2.5 came out for PS3. This is part of the reason why people think KH3 is worse than it is, because they're equating the time since KH2, when they should be equating the time since the KH3 announcement.
 

Lulcy

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"Not listening at all" is an exaggeration. The Osaka team is not the Tokyo team, and it's the fault of the Square Enix executives for poor project management.
Yes they are not the same team, that still not an execuse to not do their homework on what fans would want in gameplay and content for KH3 based on their over 13 years of feedback. So executives are now the be all end all justification for any problem? Executives are responsible for KH3 not having FF characters, balanced and deep gameplay?

Sure, you could argue that the Osaka team had the remasters to understand how the Tokyo team coded the battle mechanics, but you have to remember that assets and code were built from scratch, and obviously, not everything could be successfully translated 1:1 from an in-house Square Enix engine to the external Unreal Engine 4.
They never had to make a 1:1 translation of KH2 battle mechaniques, nor should they need the old games to know the concept of balanced gameplay (are you going to tell they needed the source code of KH2 to know that making attractions and situational commands free/zero resource would be a bad idea and make them busted? Because that's a conclusion you can reach by simple testing and reasoning).
 

Face My Fears

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You guys are missing the point, when people compare KH3 to KH2FM and use the later as a benchmark what they are saying (tbh, not quite clearly) is that It has been close to 12 years since 2FM release (march 2007) and close to 13 years from the vanialla release in the west (march 2006), over 13 years of hindsight, feedback and criticism of what fans like and would like to be in the next numbered KH game, the fact after over 13 years of hidsight, feedback, criticism when KH3 releases and delivers only something similar to vanilla KH2 (or worse, less than vanilla KH2) then you can't help but feel the devs were not listening at all.
I think it's unfair to say that they're not listening at all. It's impossible for them to listen to every comment/critique and "fix" it in KH3. I can think of a few things people complained about in past games and they actually made improvements:

  • Worlds feeling empty - They added NPCs
  • Worlds being empty boxes - Each world in KH3 is not only a glorious recreation of the Disney worlds, but also have unique styles of play when you traverse them.
  • Disney worlds don't matter to main story - Say what you will about the final result of this, at the end of the day they listened and had Organization members present in all the Disney worlds and even had them interact with the Disney characters. Even the New 7 Hearts story connected the worlds to the main plot.
  • Magic needs to be improved - They introduced grand magic and made using magic more of an option during combat than the older games that had a lot of players winding up just mashing X to use the keyblade.
  • Wanting to use a specific keyblade throughout the game without it being weak - They introduced the keyblade power-up system so people can upgrade the keyblades they like and not worry about them being too weak later in the game.
  • Gummi Ship is bland - They redid it completely and made it quite fun to explore and fly around. Even if you hated it, you have to hand it to them for going the extra mile and thinking outside the box.
Maybe the developers didn't listen to what you were asking for, but they definitely listened and worked hard at making KH3. The attitude I'm finding a lot of people (not you) have is one where they almost believe that Nomura went out of his way to NOT deliver what they were asking. As if Nomura would purposefully spite fans and not give them the focus on Aqua/Kairi/Roxas/Riku or whatever. The fact is that people shouldn't be dismissing KH3 as trash. People worked hard on this and they didn't have to even make it. You can have constructive criticism about the game, but it really is getting old when "fans" throw the game from the series they're a "fan" of under the bus as if it was intentionally not made to their specifications and that they're so insulted.
 

SuperSaiyanSora

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The attitude I'm finding a lot of people (not you) have is one where they almost believe that Nomura went out of his way to NOT deliver what they were asking. As if Nomura would purposefully spite fans and not give them the focus on Aqua/Kairi/Roxas/Riku or whatever. The fact is that people shouldn't be dismissing KH3 as trash. People worked hard on this and they didn't have to even make it. You can have constructive criticism about the game, but it really is getting old when "fans" throw the game from the series they're a "fan" of under the bus as if it was intentionally not made to their specifications and that they're so insulted.

The whole post is on point, but this part especially.

Say what you want about Nomura's ability to write a good story (which he can, and DOES pretty frequently, because the franchise would be dead if he couldn't...), but it's almost like people thought that Nomura just had no fucks to give and mailed it in the entire process. Even HE admits that he struggled with writing the ending, and that tends to be the part that people have issues. That ALSO tends to be the part where ReMIND is going to focus on. So it's not like he's unaware, that Team Osaka is on La La Land over there, and didn't have any care in the world. I truly think they delivered the best they could. It's the story Nomura wanted to tell, and despite my own disappointments with Kairi, I just have to see where he's going to take it next.

And it's ridiculous to say that the devs don't listen, because even for KH3 Critical Mode, they allowed us to turn off Attractions. I NEVER thought they would've done that, that's a request you would've had to go and look online to see. Or the New Game+.
 

Absent

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Nobody believes that Nomura did the things he did because he’s some trolling contrarian.
Many and I included knew that Kingdom Hearts 3 wasn’t going to satisfy us. It’s a saga finale, those are super hard to do. At best most writers deliver a safe and mediocre product when closing their series.

Let me repeat this and make it clear.
I don’t think Osaka, Square and/or Nomura purposely made Kingdom Hearts 3 the way they did to spite us or make us hate it, that’s foolish. We just think that in 2019, through almost 20 years, countless games(Final Mixes), mechanics, characters, and mobile games, the end result would be differently handled.

When you turn in a paper, you review it more than once, especially if it’s the culmination of decades of research. You know you’re not going to check all the marks but you should aim to hit the main points that feel important to the reader(s). We knew Kingdom Hearts 3 was the finale to the Xehanort saga so comparing it to other titles doesn’t make sense to me because the priorities 3 had were different to the others.

If Kingdom Hearts 3 wasn’t a saga closer I would consider it an amazing game.
 

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Like I said earlier, people can't use the "But KH2 was conclusive!" argument because there were clearly unanswered questions that had to be addressed, and they certainly weren't just going to leave that up in the air.
I'm sorry, but what? I don't want to come across as inflammatory but this is BS.

KH2 can be conclusive as well as having some sequel bait. In this case, the original game's most well known one was the letter in the bottle. Even then, you could *easily* take that as a "The adventure continues on" ending.

It's madness to say KH2 is not conclusive when it paid its service to end the threads from KH1 and COM in a way that was satisfying to *most* people, just because of a letter in a bottle, or a throwaway line from Xigbar. Idk about you but Xigbars line certainly didn't make me hanker for a sequel to find out exactly what he was talking about.

I'm actually speechless that you've genuinely used this line of argument.
 

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This argument that Osaka Team should have paid more attention in order to meet the expectations and demands of fans over the past however many years is so entitled to me. Nobody even knows what they actually want and flip sides at the drop of a hat.
 

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I think what a lot of fans in ANY game series fail to understand that just because technology improves doesn't mean much when you have to factor in the human element and the fact that time itself is a static thing. The reason KH2FM+ had so much content is because KH2 was released barren and then they needed months of additional development time to add everything they cut as well as new stuff they wanted to do. As far as base games go KH3 is one of the least barren, in fact between KH1, KH2, and KH3 it's vastly under appreciate how much content KH3 has in its very first release. It says something when the vast majority of FM content is already in the game at base but at the end of the day 12 years or not stuff still takes time to develop and in a lot of ways has gotten harder not easier.

It's also under appreciated because overseas fans don't realize how spoiled they actually were in terms of KH, they assume because Japan got FM's all the time they were getting the better treatment. In reality overseas fans were always enjoying more content, bosses, music, etc.. than Japanese fans were in their release. Those extra months between vanilla KH games always resulted in the team just adding more and more stuff. So FM's while huge improvements yes the overseas versions were also often huge improvements over Japan's vanilla version.

Like as an example KH1 and KH2 both vanilla versions came out with a single secret boss, KH1 had phantom and KH2 had sephiroth. Overseas got Ice Titan, Kurt Zisa, and Sephiroth added to their vanilla version and no one got anything added to their vanilla KH2. FM KH1 then added Unknown and FM KH2 added the silhouettes, data battles, and LW. Meanwhile KH3 comes out with a single secret boss just like the first two but people crucify it and act as if it's some huge flaw of the game unique to only it. When really it's just overseas fans not understand that in return for non-WW releases they've enjoyed a certain level of privilege and advantages and this is what true vanilla KH games release have always been.

As for Osaka people are so unfair to them it's not even funny. Yes they do have some legit flaws in their battle design but as a whole they have drastically improved with every single game, their progress as a development team is literally astonishing given the speed and hurdles they have to deal with. Osaka has so much stacked against them they've had to deal with much more limited tech in both power and buttons, they never got to work on just one console system and continuously improve on it and in fact the tech jumps between systems are so absurdly large they've basically had to relearn from scratch again and again and that's not even counting the speed at which game engines are switched and have to be relearned within just one console. Then you have to add in Nomura's increasingly bigger vision and demands, the man's fatal flaw is he has amazing ideas and dreams but it absolutely pushes his teams to the limit and they often have to struggle with requests that are damn near impossible. Like Flowmotion/Attraction Flow/Free Flow are the best example Nomura was asking the game to allow Sora to have virtually unlimited movement freedom, to create a sora that never has to touch the ground, and put that in scope of having to design game levels that's a ridiculous task to ask. The team complained more than once that it means they'd have to basically design proof for every conceivable action of the player and kept wanting to limit it but he pushed and pushed them insisting this is the direction he wants to go.

Meanwhile Tokyo was already a very long established development team, they weren't small fishes in a big pond they were the big pond. KH was still relatively new and finding its footing so Nomura's ideas and requests were more reasonable "Make sora fight a bit cooler, add in reaction commands to show his growth, etc..). In addition they had to only ever work on the PS2 which doesn't have nearly the amount of technical hurdles and rapid changes that modern development has, and they started off getting to design for the PS2 controller which means right from the get go they had so much more freedom in control. They got be focused and continuously refine a single combat system on a single game system, that's huge boon right from the get go. Despite all this really the only elements they improved were combat and camera control. As a whole Tokyo's world design, plot pacing, extra content, etc... it all took huge plunges in quality and KH2FM+ was a bandaid fix after the fact for only some of these aspects.

Seriously it's under appreciated that Osaka managed in their FIRST console KH game with their FIRST command menu game they nearly matched KH2FM+ and while their extra content is lacking and their battle system still has balance issues, they've absolutely dwarfed Tokyo's world design, gummi ship design, etc... I mean arguably Tokyo's first world design in terms of environmental interaction was the best in that aspect but it's also one of those early PS2 design things that isn't super feasible or justifiable in modern game development which is why that kind little interaction largely fell out of favor.
 

SuperSaiyanSora

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I'm sorry, but what? I don't want to come across as inflammatory but this is BS.

KH2 can be conclusive as well as having some sequel bait. In this case, the original game's most well known one was the letter in the bottle. Even then, you could *easily* take that as a "The adventure continues on" ending.

It's madness to say KH2 is not conclusive when it paid its service to end the threads from KH1 and COM in a way that was satisfying to *most* people, just because of a letter in a bottle, or a throwaway line from Xigbar. Idk about you but Xigbars line certainly didn't make me hanker for a sequel to find out exactly what he was talking about.

I'm actually speechless that you've genuinely used this line of argument.

Be as speechless and inflammatory as you want, but I'm sticking to my guns on this one. Here's why:

Even if it's conclusive, there's still way too many questions that are left unanswered. For example, sure, you could leave the message as the bottle alone and that would be fine. But, what about the can of worms that was opened with Xehanort? Once it was revealed that not only was Ansem's name stolen from Ansem the Wise, but it also revealed that Xemnas isn't Ansem either, it's Xehanort's Heartless. Once you destroy a Heartless and a Nobody, the body usually becomes Recompleted. If two halves of the original guy were already massive threats, what do you think the original Somebody is going to do? He's not gonna be on Destiny Islands drinking Paopu juice. This is literally the entire point of why we ended up getting BBS next. And like I said, it's not all that conclusive because the Secret Ending shows right then and there that there's more to what meets the eye.

Actually, speaking of the Secret Ending... That plays into what Xigbar says as well. "You're not half the hero the others were". You could argue that this line could never be expanded upon, but this leaves a TON of lore questions up in the air. Namely, how in the hell does XIGBAR, a guy we just met in KH2 (a Nobody, in fact), know about the power of the Keyblade to that degree? Especially when Sora just became a wielder a year ago? How would he have come across other Keyblade wielders? Is it confirmation that there used to be way more than Sora, Riku and Mickey? Where are most of them now, why haven't they been involved in everything going on at this point in time? That line alone opened so many cans of worms, because up to this point, all Sora cared about was finding Riku and going home. That may not have made you desire a sequel, but I remember Xigbar's statements being the basis for a LOT of theories moving forward in a Post-KH2 fandom. Birth By Sleep is a big deal for a reason.

Then you look at the Secret Ending and it gives us even MORE questions. It may have done well in terms of wrapping things up that was established from KH1 and CoM, but the second half/end-game segment of KH2 showed that they're in a much bigger pond than they thought. KH3 did the exact same thing. Because if you wanted, you could have it where Sora saved everyone but himself, and that's the bittersweet ending for the series. It's only the Secret Ending that tells you that Sora's still kicking somewhere, Riku seems to be looking for him, and in a place that looks like Shibuya. But like with KH2, KH3 opens doors to a lot of great questions in my opinion, and I personally can't wait to figure out where we're heading next!
 

Face My Fears

She's not an "it"!
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Nobody believes that Nomura did the things he did because he’s some trolling contrarian.
Many and I included knew that Kingdom Hearts 3 wasn’t going to satisfy us. It’s a saga finale, those are super hard to do. At best most writers deliver a safe and mediocre product when closing their series.

Let me repeat this and make it clear.
I don’t think Osaka, Square and/or Nomura purposely made Kingdom Hearts 3 the way they did to spite us or make us hate it, that’s foolish. We just think that in 2019, through almost 20 years, countless games(Final Mixes), mechanics, characters, and mobile games, the end result would be differently handled.

When you turn in a paper, you review it more than once, especially if it’s the culmination of decades of research. You know you’re not going to check all the marks but you should aim to hit the main points that feel important to the reader(s). We knew Kingdom Hearts 3 was the finale to the Xehanort saga so comparing it to other titles doesn’t make sense to me because the priorities 3 had were different to the others.

If Kingdom Hearts 3 wasn’t a saga closer I would consider it an amazing game.
I get that and agree with you, however I feel that another aspect that the "fans" seem to ignore is the amount of technical issues and unknown demands that Nomura had to work with. The technical issues set them back by at least a year. Disney's demands may have forced him to change the whole story at a point in time where he didn't have a chance to re-think the story.

If KH3 was completely a Nomura project where he didn't have to abide by other people's requests (large or small), then I would be way more critical on KH3's story. But we have to remember that it's been about 7 years since a brand new KH game that actually went to Disney worlds (KH3D, I don't really count 0.2). In those 7 years, Disney grew exponentially into a media giant. I'm sure they were way more cautious (maybe even more possessive) about their properties and KH itself this time around. Not only that, but unlike past numbered games, this game featured Disney worlds that had upcoming and/or recently released projects: Toy Story, Tangled, Monsters Inc., Frozen, and Big Hero 6. You spend about 80% of the entire game in Disney worlds, so Disney's influence WILL have an effect on the main story.

We don't really know the specifics in how Nomura writes the story in accordance to Disney. Nomura should have been focusing on Xehanort and ending it, but what did anyone really expect in a series where every boss has always been MIA (mostly) until the end of the game? If anything KH3 followed the KH1 and KH2 formula. In KH1, we didn't even know about Ansem until the end after we killed who we thought was the villain (Maleficent). In KH2, Xemnas showed himself briefly and never really interacted with Sora until the end; he used The Organization to interact with Sora. The same goes for KH3.
 
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