Before you start spamming me with hateful comments, go ahead and read my mission statement. First of all, I am a Kingdom Hearts fan from day one. I have played every game in the series, some more than others, from 2002 and beyond. I even have a replica Keyblade on my wall, not to mention shirts and other memorabilia. I also want to reiterate that while this article is going to focus on the worst aspects of Kingdom hearts III, that doesn't mean I think it's a bad game. On the contrary, I think in my heart of hearts I would give this game a perfect score, with whatever scale you prefer. It is a 5/5, a 10/10, a 100/100, and even an A+ in my book. How then can I name twenty things that are bad then? Easy.
Just because a game gets the highest possible score a site, or person can give, that does not mean the game is without flaws. It just means that even with these blemishes, the overall experience meant something more to the individual, or that it was better than the sum of its parts. There is a lot I wish Kingdom Hearts III did better, but even with the worst categories, they never made me want to scream in frustration. They were more disappointing, or confusing than anything else. Does that make sense? I hope it does and if not, maybe reading on will further cement my thought process in your brain. And yes, there will be SPOILERS!
30 Worst: Keyblade Graveyard
Part of me can't help the feeling that the end of the game was rushed. Here's how these games usually play out. You go through a bunch of Disney worlds and get to a final, original area at the end, which is filled with all kinds of stuff. While the Keyblade Graveyard is indeed original, it's basically a boss rush area with little to no exploring. It also repeats itself with some boss moments. The pacing just goes out the window.
29 Worst: The Map
On the plus side, areas are bigger and less linear corridors. That's all well and good, but finding your way can be tricky. The reason is that you can't enlarge the mini map, which barely helps at all. I can't believe a game can ship in 2019 without some kind of a big map to look at. It made exploring in that game feel like a chore when it should have been the opposite. Thankfully there are walkthrough videos online for those hard-to-find secrets.
28 Best: Keyblade Transformations
I can't explain how Keyblades can suddenly transform into hammers and spears, but I don't want to. Ignoring any kind of logic, this is the best new mechanic in the game. Every single Keyblade Sora acquires is unique. Some may repeat certain design aspects though. For example, the Keyblade you get in Twilight Town can transform into guns and then a cannon.
The Winnie the Pooh Keyblade is also a gun followed by a cannon, but one that shoots honey and bees. It's not the strongest in the game, but it is deliciously ludicrous.
27 Worst: No Final Fantasy
This is the third time I'm harping on this point, but I don't care. I wanted Final Fantasy characters in this game. Where did they all go? It doesn't make sense. It's not like Square Enix lost the rights. It's their series! It's also not solely focused on Disney characters because there are black coats everywhere. Couldn't you have snuck in one character like Noctis from Final Fantasy XV? He would have fit in perfectly. Prompto would too and he would love to get in on that Gummi Phone action.
26 Worst: Slow Start
Kingdom Hearts II launched in 2006 in North America. Disregarding spinoffs, which are all canon, fans have been waiting thirteen years to see the three pop up. When it finally does it's not until four hours in. That's right; Square Enix has the nerve to begin the game by showing Kingdom Hearts 2.9 on screen. It was some master troll work, truly. The beginning was slow and Olympia, while a new takes on Hercules, was not wowing me. Thankfully this cold spell doesn’t last long.
25 Best: Theater Mode
Thank you so much, Square Enix, for including a theater mode to re-watch all of the game's cutscenes. It stinks you can't capture footage natively on the PS4 be it video, or screenshots as they are blocked. Thankfully I have a separate capture device and this shouldn't affect non-press people anyway.
I'm going to start Mystery Kingdom Hearts Science 3000.
My point is more games should add in these modes. Do you want people to keep your games so that they can re-watch stories easily, or do you want them to watch on YouTube? Your choice, game companies.
24 Worst: Aqua And Riku Gameplay
The first time I got to play as Riku in the dark world I was so excited. Finally, a secret they kept out of their trailers. It was only a boss battle, but it gave me hope he would be playable later on in a larger capacity. Nope. You fight Aqua in the same place for a brief period before Sora takes over. After that, you get to fight Vanitas as Aqua, but that also gets interrupted. They were such a wasted opportunity.
23 Worst: Sora, The Chosen One
Going back to the subject of Aqua and Riku, everyone in the game is nerfed compared to Sora. The game built up all of these side characters like those two, Kairi, Lea, and so on, and none of them did anything of importance in the final battle. They were tossed aside like tumbleweeds. Sora was basically Goku, spiked hair and all. It just didn't feel right to me. Everyone should have had their triumphant moment and instead Sora, aka the deus ex machina, had to step in every time.
22 Best: The Caribbean
Every Disney world was different in some gameplay fashion. The most ambitious area was The Caribbean based off of Pirates of the Caribbean, duh. Since it was in the second game, I was initially bummed it was returning, but it turned into my favorite Disney world.
Yo ho ho and a bottle of Paopu Juice.
It's like a mini version of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. You can sail around, dive into the water, loot islands, and more. It’s so big! Donald and Goofy still stick out awkwardly though.
21 Worst: Unresolved Plots
This is basically a chance for me to promote my unresolved plot lines article. I loved the story in Kingdom Hearts III even though it was incredibly congested. There was so much going on and for every thread that ended, another began. Right now it's a complaint, but in the future, it might not be. That is to say, all of the lost stories could be answered in the next game, or DLC. Hopefully, we won't have to wait as long.
20 Worst: The Ending
Unresolved plots aside, I do want to talk about the ending specifically. On one hand, it was great to see everyone have a happy ending. Well, all except for Sora and Kairi. Somehow, off-screen, Sora brings Kairi back, who is devastated. She even imagines him being there. It's so gut-wrenching. Fans, myself included, have waited almost two decades for them to finally settle down and just enjoy some time together, but nope. Sora can't do that because otherwise, the series would stop, or something.
19 Best: Bigger Areas
I've teased it a few times now in other entries, but it bears repeating. I love how much bigger the worlds are! It’s a blast watching Sora fly up walls like he's Spider-Man every time.
If only the map were visible…
I think the first world that really made my jaw drop was Toy Story's. Going from Andy's room to the street was amazing followed by an incredibly detailed store with tons of boxes and giant floors. It's a real evolution for the series.
18 Worst: Cooking
Remy, the rat from Ratatouille, helps run a restaurant for Scrooge McDuck in Twilight Town. Making food is a great way to beef up your party before a big battle, but it's pretty cumbersome. You can visit Remy from any save point, but it has to load in. To do that every time for a mini-game that literally lasts five-seconds at most is such a waste of time. Couldn't they make you do it once and then auto create batches from then on out? You know, like most games.
17 Worst: Classic Kingdom
Another mini-game collection you get introduced to in Twilight Town is the Game and Watch style retro games. They feature Sora and Mickey going through classic cartoons, but in video game form. At first, they were cute, admittedly, but there are so many of them and they get boring fast. That's the thing with Nintendo's Game and Watch series. They were amazing for the time, but they are not fun now even with a Kingdom Hearts skin. Kudos on capturing that look, I guess.
16 Best: Multiple Party Members
Another feature that shocked me was that new party members join your adventure automatically. That means you're no longer limited to just three members. Not only does this cut down on spending time in the menus, but also it creates impressive mini battles happening all around you.
On that note, your team's A.I. is a lot smarter this time around. Just for the fun of it I often sat out bouts to view battles through my Gummi Phone.
15 Worst: Post Game Content
Not only was the ending dissatisfying, but also the post-game content was also severely lacking. There are blue, spiked orbs that pop up on every world, sometimes two, which are mini challenges. They basically have you face off against a boss or a horde of normal enemies. This is a great way to level up and or grind for materials. Here's the downside though. Having to go around every world to find them is not fun. I know it's tired, but couldn't they just bring back the Coliseum in Olympia? It sure would save time.
14 Worst: Monster’s Inc. Linearity
Initially, I wasn't jazzed about Olympia, but that's because it gave the game a cold open. In hindsight, it was a fun world to explore. My least favorite area was actually Monster's Inc. It was pretty much a linear corridor adventure akin to the previous entries albeit with slightly wider hallways. Because of this, it was also incredibly short since everything was go go go from the start! It's not truly terrible, but it was disappointing if that makes sense.
13 Best: Music
I know two Japanese video game composers off the top of my head. The first is Nobuo Uematsu who worked on a good majority of the Final Fantasy series. The second is Yoko Shimomura, the artist behind every Kingdom Hearts game.
And baby, she does not disappoint with the score for this one. I almost put this on a worst entry for one reason: the soundtrack didn't launch with the game. What gives? I need it!
12 Worst: Truncated Twilight Town
Olympia isn't the only retread at the beginning of the game. The second place you visit, albeit much more briefly, is Twilight Town. In this circumstance though, I was pretty enthralled when I returned. Not only did it look prettier, but also seeing NPCs populate the area was incredible. Plus the entirety of that world is connected. There are no loads except when entering the bistro. As cool as all these additions were, they also deleted a lot from the town, which was disappointing.
11 Worst: Saving Issues
One of my favorite things to do in RPGs is to create multiple saves. Since I'm a writer and content creator now, you never know when I might have to go back and replay a segment for a feature, or something and having a save point at, or near, said segment is very crucial to my existence. It saves times, duh. Most of the Kingdom Hearts games have loads of saves, the first and second, for example, have over ninety! What do we have here? There are only nine slots. That is criminal!
10 Best: Enemy Design
One of the best things about the Kingdom Hearts franchise is the enemy design. From the Heartless to the Nobodies, everything is so cool looking. To me, the Heartless Shadows, as just one example, are as iconic to video games as are Goombas to the Mario games.
While enemies do return in other worlds and each environment isn't completely unique, at the very least this game doesn't do the cheap thing of coloring something differently and calling it new. I'm looking at you Dragon Quest XI!
9 Worst: Long Battle Animations
Everything new added to Kingdom Hearts III's battle system can be intimidating, but it makes for a more robust experience. It never got repetitive for me because there were so many options. That said, I do have a bone to pick. The animations are ridiculous. If you go into the menu you can turn some of them down like for Links, but nothing can ever be turned completely off. The worst offender was the team attack in Monster's Inc., which was strong, but boy did it take a long time to get through.
8 Worst: Losing Rapunzel
There have been tons of Disney princesses represented in the Kingdom Hearts series. Do you know how many of them have been playable? Two. That would be Ariel from The Little Mermaid in the first game and Rapunzel from Tangled in this. That's it! That is unless you want to count Mulan, but the point is it was cool to get to fight alongside a princess. That is until you complete the world wherein, just liked Tangled, she loses her hair. She also, because of this, gets knocked out of the party. Flynn is no replacement for Rapunzel!
7 Best: Gummi Ship
Prior to the release of this game, I knew Gummi Ship battles would be returning. I did not, however, know how they would be implemented. I figured they would be very similar to the last game that featured them aka Kingdom Hearts II, but I was wrong.
The galaxy is now three giant open world maps not only filled with Disney planets but tons of side content. These quests will not only be used to beef up your ship, but also your party.
6 Worst: CG Cutscenes
Something I wrote in my first feature regarding Kingdom Hearts III was about how the visuals took some getting used to. After seventeen years of looking at PS2 style visuals, it was a bit jarring, but I got used to them. The thing that really had me baffled was the implementation of CG cutscenes. Yes, in 2019 a video game used CG cutscenes. I had no idea why. I thought we were past that as games generally look really good with in-game assets. It was odd, to say the least.
5 Worst: Too Many Mechanics
More so than the battles, there are just an overwhelming amount of tutorials that not only pop up in the first few hours but throughout your entire adventure. Stuff that can seem important at the moment, but won't come back either ever, or rarely, at which point you may have already forgotten them. For example, once you unlock the food preparation in Twilight Town, I used that for the next couple of worlds. Then, because of the loads, I stopped cooking and thus forgot about it entirely. That is just one instance, but there are many.
4 Best: Attractions
My second favorite part of battles, next to the Keyblade transformations, is the new Disney Attractions. How is Sora able to summon them when there has never been a park in the games of which he has knowledge? I have no idea, but that doesn't matter.
It can be hilariously jarring when, say, summoning the pirate ship in the middle of one of the second to last fights, bringing down both the tension and seriousness of the situation. They are overpowered and goofy, but that's why I love them.
3 Worst: Sora’s New Look
Sora's classic red suit has been overused way too many times. That's why it was great to see the return of the black suit from Kingdom Hearts II if only briefly. And then we get to see his new garb and it's...okay. I like the infusions of plaid on not just Sora, but everyone's new duds, but I was kind of hoping for something not red themed. It's different from that original suit true, but I was hoping for more. I’m no fashionista though.
2 Worst: The Final World
I have myriad complaints with The Final World. First of all, it highlighted "Final" making me think it was Final Fantasy based. Nope, just an empty tease. Secondly, the only thing you do here is chase an endless amount of Soras around. Then, after you re-complete Sora, however that works, you have to chase down a reaper in order to save everyone else's bodies. This whole section of the game is tedious, boring, and felt like unnecessary padding. It is mindless.
1 Best: Gummi Phone
Sora gets a phone near the beginning of this game because of course he does. This is 2019 and every game needs to have some way to capture selfies. That's just the era we live in now. Unlike some games, God of War cough, it fits in perfectly well as this game oozes jolly vibes.
Not only that, but it's also where Jiminy Cricket keeps all of his journal entries. There are also mini-games too. Looks kind of sharp and bulky for pockets though…