Long-awaited “Kingdom Hearts III” lives up to 14 years of hype


Kingdom Hearts 3 characters look on at the horizon. Image from know your meme.

“Kingdom Hearts III” is here, as hard as it is to believe it. The last numbered title was in 2005-the same year Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” was number one on the Billboard charts.

Was the 14-year wait worth it? Yes, yes it was.

The “Kingdom Hearts” series has produced four titles since “Kingdom Hearts II” and released a mobile game and movie in 2017, but a main series title for consoles has been a long time coming for fans. A definitive end to the “Dark Seeker Saga” that has had a combined 11 titles spread across nine gaming devices to make sense of the oftentimes convoluted plotline about friendship, hearts, nothingness, light and darkness. You know, typical Japanese role-playing game stuff.”

The Square Enix series which mixes Disney, Final Fantasy and Pixar characters really shines in the gaming era of 4k resolution. “Kingdom Hearts III” is as visually impressive as any next-generation game realsed for consoles.

Sora, Buzz Lighyear and Woody ride a rocket to fight of the evil “Heartless.” Image from arstechnica.


A parade of colors and seamless combat emerges from the combination of magic powers, summoning Disney characters and rides from their amusement parks, three “Keyblades” with transformations that can be equipped at a time and “flow-motion” to zip across the battlefield. It’s a lot to grasp at first but after a few hours, it becomes second nature.

Enemies are varied and next-gen consoles allow for as many as 20 enemies to be fought at a time. The only downside to combat is if you stay in a world for too long enemies can become repetitive and more of a chore to fight.

Attendees play the Square Enix Holdings Co.’s Kingdom Hearts 3 video game at the company’s booth during the E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, California, U.S., in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. For three days, leading-edge companies, groundbreaking new technologies and never-before-seen products are showcased at E3. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

While the gameplay is gorgeous and fun to look at, the story is what will satisfy hardcore fans of the series. It’s all one could have wanted for an end to this trilogy; one that seeks to fix a lot of the plot-holes that the series is infamous for.

Disney movie favorites like “Tangled,” “Frozen,” “Hercules” and “Monsters Inc.” are all represented and recreated from their old character models. Their individual worlds are vast and overwhelming at times. The cut-scenes are often recreations of famous Disney scenes and are even better than their movie counterparts.

Sora the main protagonist for Kingdom Hearts 3 approaching Olaf the snowman from the movie Frozen.

The writing has been seriously upgraded. It went from cheesy at times to a narrative that drives your emotions to so many different places. When the game wants to be funny it can make you laugh, when it wants to be emotional it makes you tear up and it never fails to hit on the emotion it wants you to feel.

“Kingdom Hearts III” is a joy to play and a fantastic title to kick off the 2019 gaming year. It is not without its minor flaws, but mainly in its repetitive combat.

This is the game fans of the series have been waiting patiently for. It more than lives up to the hype and gives momentum for the future of this series.

[Final Score: 4.5/5]

Ricardo Tovar can be reached at [email protected] or @rtovarg13 on Twitter.