Kingdom Hearts III: The New but Not Third Installment in the Kingdom Hearts Franchise


Emma Cohen, Staff Writer

Anyone who plays video games knows the beloved Kingdom Hearts series. Now, almost thirteen years after the release of Kingdom Hearts II, it’s been announced that Kingdom Hearts III, the eighth game is the series, will finally be released.

The Kingdom Hearts series is developed by Square Enix, a Japanese company in charge of the development, publishing, and distribution of the games. Other games created by Square Enix include Dragon Quest and the popular Final Fantasy series.

Kingdom Hearts I opens up with three kids—Sora, Riku, and Kairi—at their home, Destiny Islands. The three friends have big dreams of building a raft and sailing away to see other worlds. Right when they are about to make that dream a reality, darkness swallows up their home and separates the three friends. Players explore the worlds as Sora, who is believed to be the chosen one with the power to wield a weapon known as the keyblade, the role of which is to vanquish the darkness. However, the storyline is a lot more complicated than that. “I like the story, and I like the adventures you go on—going from world to world, seeing different Disney characters, interacting with them, seeing your favorites,” said Britney Polanco (’18). Think of Disney meets Final Fantasy combined with original characters and worlds in a light-hearted, action-packed role-playing game that incorporates many complex themes. There are many kinds of characters in this game, but the three primary types are the humans; the heartless, which are the manifestation of the darkness in a person’s heart; and the nobodies, which are the shells of a person that are created when someone loses their heart. The end of the article includes a list of all the games in the series and a brief spoilery synopsis of each title.

Kingdom Hearts III will seemingly be the final installment in the Kingdom Hearts franchise, and although there is no set release date, some details about the new game have been released. For starters, it seems that now that Disney owns Pixar, many Pixar-inspired worlds will be included in the third game. Such worlds include Toy Story, Big Hero 6, and Monsters Inc., as well as new Disney-based worlds such as Tangled. “I think it’s good to add new worlds,” said Polanco. “I don’t mind because I love Pixar and Disney equally, but it would be kind of weird.” It is still unclear whether classic worlds such as The Little Mermaid or Hollow Bastion will be included in the new installment. For those interested, the first thirty minutes of gameplay have been released to the public.

The Kingdom Hearts fanbase has been waiting for this game for years. One of the major reasons for the long wait is that while the game was in development, one of the voice actors passed away, forcing developers to start over. Square Enix recently came out with a public statement saying that they didn’t want to rush to release the game because it was more important that they make a high-quality product. The general public agrees. “I’m waiting to see how much the graphics have improved since the games were released on the old consoles,” said Polanco. She said she’s excited about the new release, of course, but a little nervous. “People will probably get too hyped about it,” she added. “That’s what usually happens, and then they get disappointed. But then, it’s a classic.”

Do not read on if you intend to play the games! This is going to be a brief and simplified summary of each game in the series. It will not go into details or what the overarching storyline is because it is ridiculously complicated unless you have played the games.

Kingdom Hearts (2002) – Originally released on the Playstation 2, remastered in the 1.5 ReMix. In this game, after Sora, Riku, and Kairi are separated and scattered on different worlds, Kairi loses her heart, and Riku is manipulated by Maleficent and ultimately opens his heart to the darkness. In this game you go from world to world, sealing the worlds’ hearts away from the darkness while trying to find Riku, Kairi, and King Mickey with the help of Donald and Goofy.

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (2004) – Originally released on the Playstation 2, remastered in the 1.5 ReMix. It is unique in that it is turn-based. This game takes place immediately after Kingdom Hearts I and before part II in a place called Castle Oblivion. In this story, Sora explores the castle and first begins to encounter members of Organization XIII, which is forcing Namine, Kairi’s nobody who is created in the first game, to alter Sora’s memories so that they can use him as a weapon. In the end, he is put to sleep.

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (2009) – Originally created for the Nintendo DS, is remastered for the 1.5 ReMix as a cutscene compilation. We play as Roxas, Sora’s nobody who is also created in the first game. Roxas is the thirteenth member of the organization, and in this game we carry out organization missions while trying to figure out who Roxas is and how he is connected to Sora and a character named Xion, who we find out at the end of the game is a puppet created by the organization to steal Roxas’s abilities. We learn more about the purpose of the organization and about Axel, an organization member and a character who plays an integral role in the other games.

Kingdom Hearts II (2005) – Originally released on the Playstation 2, remastered in the 2.5 ReMix. In this game, we start by playing as Roxas and later wake up as Sora. You continue traversing worlds as Sora and restore the pathways between them after they were closed off in part one, learning more about what is really going on. In the end, you fight Xemnas, the leader of Organization XIII.

Kingdom Hearts Re: Coded (2008) – Created for the Nintendo DS, included in remastered form on the 2.5 ReMix as a cutscene compilation. This game is designed as a puzzle game that takes place right after Kingdom Hearts II in Mickey’s Castle. Characters delve into the digital world to find missing information about their adventures.

Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep (2010) – Originally released on the Playstation Portable (PSP) and was remastered for the 2.5 ReMix. This game takes place before Kingdom Hearts I when Sora, Riku, and Kairi are children. This game follows three new characters named Aqua, Terra, and Ventus, and goes into the history of the worlds, the keyblade itself, and why everything that happens in the previous games does occur. Basically, once you play this game, everything will make sense.

Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance (2012) – Originally released on the Nintendo 3DS and was remastered for the 2.8 ReMix. This game follows Riku and Sora through new worlds, fighting nightmares and dream eaters as they take on their mark of mastery exam.

Kingdom Hearts III – No final release date; will be released on the Playstation 4 and the Xbox One.

All ReMixes were remastered for the Playstation 3 and Playstation 4.

Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMix (2013) – Includes Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, Re: Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days cutscene compilation.

Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMix (2014)  – Includes Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, Kingdom Hearts Re: Coded cutscene compilation, Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix.

Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 ReMix Final Chapter Prologue – Includes Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance and new two pieces of new content that was originally only released in Japan.