Note: This article is the opinion of Nantendo and not anyone else on the Source Gaming team. This is his opinion and you have every right to disagree with it and sound off in the comments. Just remember that everyone is entitled to their opinion.
It’s been more than 10 years since Kingdom Hearts II and the highly anticipated third entry into the series is nearly here. Many were hoping that this year’s E3 would reveal a ton of information on the game’s story, a release window, more gameplay mechanics and an insight into what Disney worlds we will be visiting in this title, but nothing was revealed.
Although the Disney worlds only really amount to settings and distractions from the main storyline of Kingdom Hearts, they are undeniably one of the most exciting parts of the series. Being able to walk around your favourite Disney settings and interact with the company’s wide range of characters is a dream for many a Disney fan.
Kingdom Hearts II is currently the game with the most Disney worlds, having 12 of the 19 worlds featured (in Final Mix) based on various Disney IPs, mostly movies but also some very popular IPs like Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh. Every game has added more and more levels so with the power of the PS4, I could easily see 16 Disney worlds included in this game. So far, Kingdom Hearts III has only three Disney worlds confirmed (I am not including The Mysterious Tower as a Disney world): Mt. Olympus from Hercules, The Kingdom of Corona from Tangled and San Fransokyo from Big Hero 6.
A big focus on the worlds in Kingdom Hearts III is the idea of a big open world that you can explore and so I am going to keep that in mind with these 13 worlds that I want to see in Kingdom Hearts III.
Arendelle – Frozen
Let us get the obvious one out of the way first. Frozen is easily one of Disney’s most successful movies in a long time. It has been three years since this film launched and its popularity is still very present. Elsa, Anna and Olaf can still be seen everywhere in popular culture and one of the creators of the Kingdom Hearts series has already expressed interest in adding this world to the game. My big question is who will be your partner? Elsa seems like the most obvious for a party character but the movie’s villain, Prince Hans, would not really make for a good boss. Of course they could just use a big ol’ heartless or a form of Xehanort as the boss. Anyways, I am sure this world is on everyone’s list so let’s move on.
Agrabah Desert / Mt. Sesame – Aladdin
Just like Hercules, Aladdin is another popular 90’s Disney film that has been present in almost every single Kingdom Hearts title, only missing out in Dream Drop Distance and Birth by Sleep. Most games have focused on the first Aladdin movie but Kingdom Hearts II chose to focus on the second movie instead. So this time around, we will finish off the Aladdin trilogy by having a world based on Aladdin and the King of Thieves. Aladdin would still be the partner character but Jafar would no longer be around as the main villain this time is Sa’luk with Aladdin’s father, Cassim, appearing as a new NPC.
Sugar Rush – Wreck-it Ralph
Another obvious and popular pick, Wreck-it Ralph, was Disney’s successful attempt at a movie based on gaming and the main location in that film is the game Sugar Rush, a candy-themed world with a focus on racing. Not only could this be an excuse to bring back Birth by Sleep‘s racing mini-game but a candy world is pretty unique for the Kingdom Hearts series. Obviously Ralph would be the partner character and King Candy would make for a good final boss. Other video game characters like Q*bert would miss out here but Square-Enix does have an arcade Final Fantasy in Final Fantasy Dissidia so they could use that as an excuse to have some new Final Fantasy characters appear in this world.
The Land of Dragons – Mulan
Mulan was a new world introduced in Kingdom Hearts II and was a very popular world at that. While the first game wrapped up the first film quite nicely there is a second movie where Mulan has to go on a journey from her home to Qui Gong. They could use this premise to make a level that is fairly linear, having the party continually head from point A to B in a horizontal manner (contrasting with Mt. Olympus which appears to be the same but vertically). Mulan would come back as the partner character and the world can deal with the themes of unsure hearts, reflecting Mulan and Shang being unsure if they are meant to be together.
Wonderland – Alice (Tim Burton)
Kingdom Hearts has not been afraid to use big live-action movies as a basis for its worlds in past games. Pirates of the Caribbean appeared in Kingdom Hearts II and Tron Legacy appeared in Dream Drop Distance. We are likely to get one again this time around and the perfect one for me would be Tim Burton’s rendition of Alice in Wonderland, specifically the first film. Not only is it still relevant with a sequel about to come out but it is also technically a follow-up to the animated movie which also got a world in the first Kingdom Hearts game. Having Sora and the gang come back to an older Alice and a more messed up version of their previous world would be a cool way of showing how these worlds might degrade due to the darkness.
Hundred Acre Woods – Winnie the Pooh
The realm of Winnie the Pooh has always been a nice and relaxing world which is based around mini-games. The world has been in both numbered Kingdom Hearts titles so I see no reason for it to be cut again. This is especially true as Winnie the Pooh is arguably more relevant than ever with a number of movies coming out since Kingdom Hearts 2 that they could now use to make this world different and add more mini-games to help with the down-time.
The New World – Pocahontas
Pocahontas is one of those classic Disney animated films that has yet to have any references in the Kingdom Hearts series. Kingdom Hearts III is the perfect time to introduce “The New World” as it provides a good location for a large open world. From the mystic woods to the giant waterfall that Sora and Co. could jump off of like in the movie. Pocahontas has a villain and characters that would work well in the Kingdom Hearts series. So I hope this is Pocahontas’s chance as she is the only classic Disney Princess to not yet appear in this series.
Pridelands – Lion King
The Pridelands was an excellent level in Kingdom Hearts II and was already pretty massive there. So a transition from that into a more open-world experience for Kingdom Hearts III would work really well. The Lion King also has some sequels just like Aladdin and so they have the perfect place to start working on a story based on Lion King II: Simba’s Pride. Simba can return once more as a partner character and Zira will be the new villain. It easily sets itself up to work as a Kingdom Hearts world once more.
Sherwood Forest – Robin Hood
Disney’s Robin Hood is a fan-favourite world that, on paper, seems to easily set itself up for the Kingdom Hearts franchise, yet has not had any references to it at all. Now with the build-up and thankful popularity of Zootopia we have a chance to see Robin Hood return. Why not Zootopia instead? I have a theory that the Disney worlds of Kingdom Hearts are chosen to match the story of the game and so are chosen early in advance. This means Zootopia would not be out when these worlds were decided and so including it may have been too much of a risk. Judy Hoops could appear as a summon though. Anyways, back to Robin Hood. Exploring Sherwood Forest would be really cool and Robin Hood himself would make a great partner character so I hope Sherwood Forest gets to appear.
Disney Castle/Disney Town – Mickey Mouse
So of course this world has to appear again. The home of Mickey, Donald and Goofy appeared in Kingdom Hearts I but became fully explorable in Kingdom Hearts II. This time I am thinking it would be nice to combine Disney Town and Disney Castle together for one big world. Both have been established in the series already but combining them would work to flesh out Mickey’s world. We could also see a story point where Xehanort attacks Disney Castle in an attempt to get rid of Mickey Mouse so this would be a key-story location for the game.
Andy’s House – Toy Story
I was not sure if I should include this but I decided to in the end. Pixar is a big part of Disney, constantly making interesting and successful movies. Some of the films such as Brave and The Incredibles would easily fit into the realm of Kingdom Hearts however Toy Story is easily the most popular Pixar franchise so I can understand why it would get chosen over them. Andy’s House would be a unique environment for the game as Sora and friends would be very small and so a simple house would make for a very large and cool level. Toy Story 2 on PS1 did it so Square-Enix has no excuse for this game.
Neverland – Peter Pan
Continuing a trend, Peter Pan did get a sequel movie that even appeared in cinemas and so this film’s story would work for Kingdom Hearts III. While the series has been covered quite extensively with the Pirate Ship and London being a focus in the first Kingdom Hearts and Neverland itself in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, having the whole island be fully open would make it a much better experience, just like with Disney Castle and Disney Town. It has a potential story and a cool world to focus on so Peter Pan could make for a good return for the final part of the Xehanort saga.
Death Star – Star Wars Episode IV
So, this is a weird choice because I actually do not want Star Wars to appear in Kingdom Hearts III. As the final part of the Xehanort saga, I would much rather they focus on original Disney creations that were movies. This is why I don’t want Disney Television worlds just yet. In future Kingdom Hearts games that focus on a completely new story with a new premise can put as many Disney TV, Marvel and Star Wars worlds as they want. However, despite my views, the creators of Kingdom Hearts have gone on record to show how keen they are to include Star Wars and Marvel properties in Kingdom Hearts III and so I cannot help but feel that the iconic Death Star from Episode IV would be an obvious world for this game. Not only is the Death Star recognizable but having Luke as a partner character and Darth Vader as a big world boss would be undeniably epic. So, I am inclined to put Star Wars on this list, but at the end.
As a side note, Big Hero 6 gets a pass from me even though it is a Marvel IP. This is because the movie was made by Disney’s main animation studio who also worked on Frozen and Wreck-it Ralph. The world is based on the movie and not the comics and so it feels more like a Disney world than a Marvel one,to me. In regards to the bigger Marvel properties like Spider-Man and the Avengers, I could see some of them appearing as summons, Spider-Man especially, but not another world.
I want to know what you think of my list. I am sure some of you will disagree with my picks but it is these worlds that I feel would add a diverse set of popular Disney franchises that would help with the franchise’s overall themes and story. I stuck with 16 Disney worlds but that does not mean that there are only 16 worlds as many original areas like Destiny Island, Radiant Gardens and Twilight Town will undoubtedly being included, as well as cameos from other Disney franchises in the form of summons and NPCs. So this is not all it will be for Disney, but these are the worlds I expect to see and hopefully at some point soon we will finally get an update to this highly anticipated title.