That Disney charm remains strong in ‘Kingdom Hearts 3’

Gelo Gonzales
That Disney charm remains strong in ‘Kingdom Hearts 3’
The mega-popular Square Enix-Disney mashup is still a charmer

LOS ANGELES, USA – Prior to the opening of Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Square Enix had already announced the release date for Kingdom Hearts 3: January 29, 2019

The date marks the return of the mega-popular mashup franchise between the worlds of Disney and Square Enix, just a little over 13 years since the release of the last full game in the franchise, Kingdom Hearts 2 for the PS2 in 2005. Just 4 years before that, the first entry had been a major reason for PS2 gamers back in the day to pick up a console, as it had been an exclusive for the platform.

Kingdom Hearts 3 is not an exclusive this time around, coming out not just for the PS4 but for the Xbox One as well. Yet the charm remains the same: it still feels like the best way to experience the Disney worlds in videogame form, while piloting a character with obvious videogame roots (see: spiky hair, spunky attitude).

Hardcore fans will surely like to see the continuation of protagonist Sora’s complicated story about the Heartless, the Nobodies and Keyblades and whatnot. However, one doesn’t need to go through all of that to have fun with the game. For most, being able to explore the worlds of Pirates of the Carribean, Toy Story, Monsters Inc, Wreck-it-Ralph, and Frozen, to name some, is an attraction enough. 

At E3, getting a taste of the Toy Story stage, was enough for me to put this game on my list of games I should probably buy. First of all, the characters were spot on. The voices, the characterization, the animation were excellent based on what I’ve been able to play so far, and most likely, Disney and Pixar are working very closely with Square to deliver an authentic Disney experience. 

I also love the moment where the game breaks the fourth wall, where Rex the dinosaur tells Sora that he’s starstruck with him because he has played his game, and it’s his favorite. It’s a bonafide geek moment. And it’s great to see that the game is coming with the kind of attention to detail we’ve come to expect from Square Enix, Disney, and Pixar, while still seeing moments where you feel that the game makers are really having fun making it. 

REX AND SORA. Rex the dinosaur confesses to Sora that he's a big fan of his games. Screen photo by Gelo Gonzales/Rappler

Gameplay-wise, the core mechanics haven’t changed a lot based on what I’ve played. A menu still appears on the lower left corner, letting you attack, use an item, and use magic. Colorful bubbles burst out of defeated enemies or as you whack ’em – and whack ’em enough and you get to see a special, flashy attack.

It’s accessible as it’s always been, with likely, just enough depth to keep things interesting throughout the romp. One bad thing that has remained too though is the camera. It swings wildly in certain situations, and sometimes, you don’t know what it is you’re trying to attack.  

Other than that, we very much welcome seeing the franchise return in classic form with new Disney worlds to explore. The charm certainly remains. –

(Disclosure: The trip to Los Angeles, site of the event, was sponsored by Sony.)

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Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.