Has the Absence of Kingdom Hearts 3 Hurt the Series?

I’m not willing to wait until we find out what No Hope Left is about, so we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to deal with that. Today it was announced that Japan would get a Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance special edition 3DS, so I decided that I would look at the series and the conspicuous absence of Kingdom Hearts 3. The Kingdom Hearts series began in 2002. From the very beginning it was an odd duck. You see, internet, Kingdom Hearts was made as a collaboration between Square-Enix (Of Final Fantasy fame) and Disney (I don’t need to tell you who Disney is, do I?). The game included cameos from both the Final Fantasy series and Disney characters. The game’s protagonist, a boy named Sora, would travel from one Disney world to the next, interacting with famous Disney characters and progressing the overall, JRPG style, plot. It took me a year to get into the Kingdom Hearts series after it was first released. The reason for this is that I assumed the Disney connection meant that the game was for children. Well, I was wrong, and Kingdom Hearts was a triumph. Since then there have been a slew of Kingdom Hearts games on handhelds, but only one actual console sequel, Kingdom Hearts 2, released in 2006. Fans have been eagerly awaiting the release of Kingdom Hearts 3 ever since. Has the delay in releasing Kingdom Hearts 3 hurt the possible acclaim of the series?

No self respecting gamer wouldn’t stab his own mother for this

The first Kingdom Hearts sequel was Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. It was released in 2004 for the Gameboy Advance. Unlike the original game, which was straightforward action RPG, this game had a unique card-based battle system. This system added in a collection element that is perfect for any portable title. The game also served a narrative purpose. You see, internet, Chain of Memories filled in the blanks between Kingdom Hearts 1 and Kingdom Hearts 2. Most importantly, it introduced the villains of Kingdom Hearts 2, the shadowy Organization XIII. While fans eagerly awaited Kingdom Hearts 2, this game was a welcome entry into the series and only served to build anticipation for the sequel. In 2008, Square-Enix remade this game for the Playstation 2, maintaining it’s fun card-based battle system, but building the game using a 3D game engine.

This is Larxene, she’s sadistic, violent, and cruel. In other words: she’s awesome.

The next Kingdom Hearts game released was Kingdom Hearts 2. It followed a very basic rule of gaming sequels: bigger is better. Kingdom Hearts 2 took everything that made the original good and made it better. Stronger combat, bigger worlds, more cameos, and a bigger story, Kingdom Hearts 2 had it all. The opening of the game introduced a new character named Roxas, who players would be controlling for the lengthy introduction before returning the the old protagonist Sora. Despite the little time spent as him, Roxas was surprisingly well developed and his character remained of interest throughout the rest of the game. Kingdom Hearts 2 was well received, standing tall as the best reviewed of all of the Kingdom Hearts games and rocketed the series to new heights. With the success of the first and now the second, it was apparent that Square-Enix had a hit series on their hands. However, fans didn’t realize that Kingdom Hearts 2 would be the last direct sequel for many, many years (Six so far).

I can only assume that the command highlighted is Japanese for “break its neck”

Since the release of Kingdom Hearts 2 there have been three Kingdom Hearts games, excluding the Chain of Memories remake: 358/2 Days, Birth by Sleep, and Re: coded (Remake of a Japanese exclusive cellphone game). These were all handheld games with 358/2 Days, and Re: coded being released for the Nintendo DS, and Birth by Sleep being released for Sony’s PSP. 358/2 Days (Stupid name) followed the character of Roxas and Organization XIII before the events of Kingdom Hearts 2. Birth by Sleep also does not strongly feature the main cast, but instead served to broaden the Kingdom Hearts universe. The most recently released game, Re: coded, helps to better connect Birth by Sleep with the main series. Unfortunately, Re: coded was also the least successful Kingdom Hearts game. Both 358/2 Days, and Re: coded are accused of being derivative and offering little new to the franchise. However, these games, in particular Birth by Sleep, have kept the series relevant, but that hasn’t stopped fans continuing to clamour for Kingdom Hearts 3.

Axel wants in on that threesome and he won’t take no for an answer.

The question of whether or not the delay of Kingdom Hearts 3 has hurt the series is hard to answer. The series has continued to release games with frequency, including the newest game, Dream Drop Distance,  set for release for the 3DS this year. However, these games have all been handheld games, and none of the games have attracted the same reception of the two main games in the series. The strongest fans continue to pick up the most recent games, but after six years since the last main series game, many fans have dropped off. The biggest reason for the delay of Kingdom Hearts 3 is that the team that will work on it is currently working on releasing Final Fantasy Versus XIII. A game, which, not coincidentally, was announced in 2006 and has remained in limbo ever since. Will the series continue to enjoy success? Most certainly, but it’s hard to deny a missed opportunity in waiting so long for the release of a new console game in the main series.

– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer

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