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The Shrinking Appeal of Kingdom Hearts

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Valigarmander
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The Shrinking Appeal of Kingdom Hearts

Post by Valigarmander » Thu Nov 19, 2009 7:22 pm

1UP's RPG Blog : The Shrinking Appeal of Kingdom Hearts
There's no denying it; Kingdom Hearts is a force of nature. What started close to a decade ago as an experimental amalgam of two popular brands has since transformed into a full-fledged mega-franchise, nearly eclipsing Square's own Final Fantasy in the process. And it's not hard to see what's generating this success; you've got dozens of very recognizable (and marketable) characters, high production values, and an overall sense that the Kingdom Hearts games are A Very Big Deal. But since the franchise has grown far beyond its 2002 roots, Kingdom Hearts has been veering further and further away from its original goal of mass-market appeal, instead concentrating on a very limited audience.

These days, it's hard to shake the feeling that Kingdom Hearts games aren't made for anyone but Kingdom Hearts fans alone.

Image

I'll admit that I was excited for the first Kingdom Hearts; the gimmick was interesting at the time, and, as action RPGs go, you could do a lot worse (plus, the PS2 was hurting for RPGs so early in its life). It looked great, played okay, and had a simple story that justified dipping in and out of various Disney worlds at random. Overall, not a bad experience; and gamers were certainly psyched for the inevitable improvements that would come with Kingdom Hearts II. The complaints about the first Kingdom Hearts were nearly universal, so we all assumed that Tetsuya Nomura and his crew would address the factors necessary for making the sequel a much better game.

And, in many respects, the sequel was much better, primarily in the way that it played; the mindless button mashing of the first game stepped aside for a slightly more complex battle system. And even though the much-maligned Gummi Ship sections from the original Kingdom Hearts didn't get axed, they were at least improved to the point of being tolerable. But for all the flaws addressed and improved upon by Nomura, Kingdom Hearts II suffered in ways that its older brother never did. Instead of treating the sequel like the first game -- a fun romp through Disney worlds -- Square thought that the Kingdom Hearts mythology (kept on the back burner throughout KH1) needed to take center stage. So, instead of throwing you into a colorful fun world full of Disney characters, Kingdom Hearts II instead makes you initially suffer for a few hours with annoying teenagers as they muddle through middle school-level discussions of existentialism.

Gentlemen, we have entered the anime zone.

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What truly baffled me about Kingdom Hearts II was the choice to revisit so much familiar territory from the original Kingdom Hearts so early in the game. With all of the material available in the Disney universe, Kingdom Hearts II inexplicably forces you to trudge through nearly a half-dozen level themes you've already seen in the previous game. This repetition, combined with endless indeciperable cutscenes full of nonsense and neologisms, really put me off the franchise for good back in 2006. By this point, it was more than obvious that Square was really only trying to appeal to the hardcore JRPGer demographic of the Kingdom Hearts fanbase. And I think the sequel's debut of several bishonen (Japanese pretty boys) is more than enough proof that Square didn't mind cutting an entire circle of gamers out of the Venn diagram that made the original Kingdom Hearts so appealing.

Warren Spector may be a bit off about Mickey Mouse's universal appeal, but his Epic Mickey project is at least putting the Disney characters front-and-center where they belong. But as Kingdom Hearts marches on, the series is getting further and further away from this simple idea. I managed to luck into a copy of the recent DS installment of the franchise, and after two hours, I've yet to see a single Disney characters. Instead, I've been treated to a collection of impeccably groomed, angsty metrosexuals who all seem to be in a competition for cattiest human being alive.

Someone, please save Kingdom Hearts.
The anime zone sucks.

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Post by I REALLY HATE POKEMON! » Thu Nov 19, 2009 8:23 pm

Article]Instead of treating the sequel like the first game -- a [b]fun romp through Disney worlds[/b] -- Square thought that the Kingdom Hearts mythology (kept on the back burner throughout KH1) needed to take center stage.[/quote] Here. [quote=Article]Warren Spector may be a bit off about Mickey Mouse's universal appeal wrote:putting the Disney characters front-and-center where they belong.[/b]
And here.
Article]I managed to luck into a copy of the recent DS installment of the franchise wrote:I've yet to see a single Disney characters.[/b]
And again here. This issue lies in these paragraphs. He is obviously under the impression that the game should be a mindless romp through Disney-hell. It isn't just about Disney, and I never heard him complain about the lack of Final Fantasy characters once, even though their characters were butchered, and screen time minimal. All I hear him cry about is the lack of Disney, though there's too much of it.

The game is about Disney, Final Fantasy, and original characters. Though I agree with his gameplay complaints, nothing else he made a river about hit home.
Article]Instead wrote:
Well, except this. They really do need to tone done the bitch-fest. As far as the non-sense, mumbo-jumbo plot goes; well, that IS the plot, and appeal. It is different, and makes you think. It makes for good fan discussion as well.

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Post by PK FIRE! » Thu Nov 19, 2009 9:01 pm

No it does need less original characters, while I enjoy Sora, Roxas, Kari, Namine, and a few others to me the KH games were more of an entertaining romp of Disney and Square's IPs. I liked how we didn't have all the peices of the puzzle or that we don't know what truely brough forth the Heartless. The onlaught of original characters, inexplicible mythos, straying too far from the game's roots, and shot gunning the KH franchise across multipel plat forms has cuased me to give up on following them any further.

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Post by The Amazing Tazy Ten » Thu Nov 19, 2009 9:12 pm

Well, that is the point of the Kingdom Hearts series, to go through the worlds of Disney fighting Disney enemies, all while taking care of a Man behind the scenes (Who for some reason will always be Xehanort).

I watched a playthrough of Chain of Memories, and....well.... the story had an ass-load of plotholes, and Memory crud that was not only silly, but was of little importance later. The only thing it did was give a little edge on the story of Kingdom Hearts 2, and other than that was made unimportant to the characters within.

Kingdom Hearts 365/2 as far as I know does almost the same thing maybe not so much the plotholes, but in the end [spoiler]everyone forgets about the events within[/spoiler] and it will probably only have a little bit of information to do with the next game, and the PSP game will probably do this as well.
Square Enix needs to remember that it was them AND Disney that made Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 (to an extent) popular, and attempting to throw Disney out is one of the things that is making the series lose a bit of luster.

The other is pounding my head full of things that they don't explain too well.

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Post by PK FIRE! » Thu Nov 19, 2009 9:23 pm

Also they need to deep six the majority of the bishonen that KHII spawed I'm not too fond of the Org. XIII granted I like a few because of how fun the boss fights were but did these guys really need game to themselves?

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Post by JaredThaJa888 » Thu Nov 19, 2009 10:15 pm

Now that Disney owns Marvel, I'd like to see Marvel characters thrown into the Kingdom Hearts mix.
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Post by PK FIRE! » Thu Nov 19, 2009 10:40 pm

Nononononono! Much as I'd love to see Spiderman in a KH game I know it wouldn't work partly because the KH continuity is bad enough without thorwing in Marvel's, (One More Day KH style is a BAD IDEA.) Another reason being that we don't know if Marvel would even allow such a thing in the first place.

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Post by JaredThaJa888 » Thu Nov 19, 2009 10:54 pm

Consistent continuity has never concerned me much in Video Game franchises.

Maybe just focus on the most fantasy suited one, Professor Strange, or Thor.
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Post by Metal Man » Thu Nov 19, 2009 11:34 pm

Personally, I hope Epic Mickey KOs KH. People trying to get KH2 stuff into my writing thinking it'd be 'awesome' was annoying enough.
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Post by е и ժ е я » Fri Nov 20, 2009 9:28 am

No offense, but games like KH represent everything that is wrong about modern Squenix to me.
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Post by 1-up Salesman » Wed Nov 25, 2009 11:07 pm

I like Kingdom Hearts and its original story, but I agree with the point that the article is trying to make. But Disney doesn't care, because it means more money for them.

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Post by Galefore » Wed Nov 25, 2009 11:24 pm

Honestly? I will stand by my claim that Kingdom Hearts has one of the most mindlessly fun battle systems I have ever played until the day that I die.

I will also say that I don't mind the story and I won't change that. To me, the games have always been a fun little diversion and an excuse to hack and slash my way through stuff I remember from my childhood. Demanding that we 'save' something that is currently earning Squenix a load of cash and attracting a massive and loyal fanbase is kind of, and I say this not meaning any offense to anyone who thinks otherwise (much like good old AI), stupid.

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Post by Crazyswordsman » Wed Nov 25, 2009 11:30 pm

JaredThaJa888 wrote:Now that Disney owns Marvel, I'd like to see Marvel characters thrown into the Kingdom Hearts mix.
It would be a better idea for the Evil Empire to leave the universes alone. -CSM

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Post by 1-up Salesman » Wed Nov 25, 2009 11:57 pm

THANK YOU.

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