Kingdom Hearts 3 was announced six months ago, but we still have very little information about the continuing collaboration between Square Enix and Disney. One question on the mind of many Kingdom Hearts fans is whether or not Star Wars and Marvel worlds will appear in the game. Disney owns both properties, but that doesn’t guarantee their inclusion. With that in mind, here’s where the discussion currently stands.
There were a few recent interviews that confirm the Star Wars and Marvel properties can be included in Kingdom Hearts 3. While most would assume that’s a guarantee, it’s not quite that simple. Tai Yasue, co-director and game designer for Kingdom Hearts 3, had the following to say about the two properties:
“They’re all under consideration. Nothing’s off-limits, we’re considering all of the worlds. There are so many wonderful concepts. We’re happy about that, but at the same time it’s really tough to choose.”
It’s been previously stated that the game could feature worlds that have already been used in previous Kingdom Hearts titles, so there’s virtually no limit to what could go into Kingdom Hearts 3 aside from the overall size of the game and the looming release date deadline.
One thing to consider is that including Marvel and Star Wars in Kingdom Hearts 3 makes it a bit less of a Disney adventure. Yes, Disney owns both properties, but they stand on their own, separate from Disney’s own ventures. When you think of Disney you think of Mickey Mouse, Donald, Goofy, Cinderella, Snow White and similar fantasy characters. You do not think of Iron Man, the Hulk or Darth Vader.
There are also game design concerns to think about. Continuing with the discussion, Yasue said, “We have to come up with a world that has a lot of originality. We want variety in our new Kingdom Hearts, so we don’t want too many of one sort of world that would look the same. For each world there has to be some meaning for it, in the plot; in Birth By Sleep, for instance, in the Cinderella scene, the characters learn something specific by relating to Cinderella. Also, gameplay-wise, is that world something that would make gameplay fun? There’s a lot I can’t say, but there’s so much to consider.”
The plots of the recent Marvel movies don’t exactly offer the same life lessons as Disney films. What would Sora and company learn from superheroes that wouldn’t require ample back-story to setup? In addition, the developers at Square Enix would need enough time to work through all of the comic book lore behind Marvel and all of the Star Wars films (including the upcoming Episode 7: The Force Awakens) to determine exactly what the best option would be. Development has already seen a few hiccups with the shift to Unreal Engine 4. It’s unlikely Square would be happy with a delay potentially associated with Marvel and Star Wars research.
Yasue made it very clear that the team already has a lot on its plate. “I can’t go into specifics, but there’s a LOT of new Disney stuff and we have our plates full. There’s a lot to consider. We’re looking at all of Disney, the new ones as well, they have a lot of pull and draw.”
Of course Yasue doesn’t have final say in what gets included in Kingdom Hearts 3. That privilege goes to the Kingdom Hearts lead producer, Tetsuya Nomura. Before the announcement of Kingdom Hearts 3, Nomura was very clear on what he’d like to see in future games.
“Whenever I hear of [an acquisition], I always say, ‘woah, they’ve done it again.’ The first thing I do when I find out this news is contact Disney and see if it’s something I can use [in Kingdom Hearts]. Disney’s pretty honest [on the possibility of an inclusion]. If the situation is really difficult, they’ll say, it’s really difficult. If it’s impossible, they’ll say it’s impossible.”
With that in mind, it’s likely that Nomura’s mind is already made up. In fact, in a separate interview he stated, “I would like to include Star Wars characters in Kingdom Hearts 3 if Disney will allow it.” So at the very least we’re likely to see characters from Star Wars (and likely Marvel), but that doesn’t confirm worlds centered on those properties.
At the very least, something is going to be included. It’s too big of an opportunity to pass up completely. What we don’t know is how much involvement Marvel and Star Wars will have. Could it be a full world or just a few cameos? Could Square Enix possibly even have bigger plans for those two properties? We already know that Electronic Arts has an agreement with Disney to make Star Wars games, but that doesn’t mean some collaboration similar to Kingdom Hearts is off the table, especially since we know Star Wars can be included in Kingdom Hearts.
Kingdom Hearts 3 is still a ways off, but don’t be surprised to see some Star Wars or Marvel Kingdom Hearts footage by E3 2015, if not before.