Ten Worlds I’d Like to See in a Future Kingdom Hearts Game (Part 1)

This isn’t the first blog to come up with a list of ideal Disney movies to include in Kingdom Hearts, and I doubt it will be the last.  But with Dream Drop Distance coming out next year and Kingdom Hearts III still on the horizon, I wanted to throw in my two cents as well.  So, without further ado…

10. Phineas and Ferb

Picture found on Phineas and Ferb Wiki

I realize that this one will probably never happen because KH has yet to include a world based on a Disney Channel show.  Also, I’m not sure that the simplistic designs of Danville and its characters would translate well with the art design of Kingdom Hearts.  For example, how would Square’s development team make Phineas’ triangular head three-dimensional?

But the spirit of the show would fit very well in the Kingdom Hearts universe, and Phineas and Ferb would love to help Sora, Donald, and Goofy fight Heartless with all the crazy inventions they’ve made over the summer.  And considering that the newest game, Dream Drop Distance, is supposed to be all about the Realm of Sleep and well, dreams, how perfect would it be to show Sora or Riku running amok with Phineas and Ferb’s imaginations?

If nothing else, it would be great to have Agent P as a Summon ally!

9. Toy Story

Picture found on Pixar Wiki

It’s probably only a matter of time before these classic characters make an appearance in a Kingdom Hearts game.  Pixar worlds haven’t been included yet, but now that they’re owned by Disney, this is something that fans have been begging for for years (myself included).  To be honest, Toy Story isn’t the Pixar world that I want to see the most, but it’s a wonderful trilogy, it’s beloved by so many people of all ages, and it has some of the best examples of friendship in cinema.  And isn’t friendship what Kingdom Hearts is all about?

8. Pocahontas

Picture found on Disney Wiki

At first, Pocahontas got added to the list purely for nostalgic reasons.  It was my favorite Disney movie for years, until Mulan was released.  Then I started thinking about whether or not it could really fit with KH thematically and got stuck.  Pocahontas focuses on specific issues about learning to accept other cultures, respect the enviornment, and find nonviolent solutions to conflicts.  That doesn’t really fit well in an action RPG setting, because A) such games always end with a big, long boss fight between the hero and the villain, not a diplomatic meeting with a peaceful resolution, B) hacking and slashing at nature is one of the best ways to get bonus items, and C) Sora has never had a problem with other cultures.  He’ll easily befriend anyone, as long as that person has no evil intentions.

Then I realized that this clash between the morals of Pocahontas and basic action video game mechanics could make for an interesting story.  Sora knows, based on past experiences, that sometimes it’s necessary to take action when dealing with something that’s genuinely evil, like the Heartless.  On the other hand, depending on what’s happened to Terra and Master Xehanort since Birth By Sleep, Sora might have to take an alternative route if he wants to save Terra.  Interaction with Pocahontas could inspire him to try something different.  Likewise, Pocahontas would have to come to terms with helping Sora fight invading Heartless in the New World if she became allies with him.  I think adding Pocahontas’ world could open up some different story possibilities.

And it looks like I’m not the only person who’d like to see a Pocahontas world: there’s a fantastic hypothetical theme for a Pocahontas world on YouTube, created by a talented fan called BlueNctrn.  Check it out if you’re interested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKD5WN47DOU&feature=channel_video_title

7. Darkwing Duck

Picture found on Disney Wiki

Like Phineas and Ferb, Darkwing has a less likely chance of appearing in a game because he’s the star of a Disney television show, not a movie.  But if Square-Enix ever wanted to experiment and include characters outside of the Disney movie canon, Darkwing would be a good candidate because his show is a spinoff of Ducktales, and we’ve already seen some of the characters from that show make an appearance in the games: Scrooge McDuck, Huey, Dewie, and Louie.  Of course, you don’t have to be familiar with Ducktales to know who those four ducks are, but I had never seen Tron or The Nightmare Before Christmas before I started playing the Kingdom Hearts games, and that didn’t stop me from enjoying Halloween Town and Space Paranoids.  Darkwing Duck is a very entertaining character, along with Launchpad, Gosalyn, and the Fearsome Five.  St. Canard could easily be included as another section of the world of Disney Town, like how Timeless River was added as Disney Castle in the past.

So what are you waiting for, Square-Enix?  Let’s get dangerous! 😀

6. Treasure Planet

Picture found on Disney Wiki

To be honest…I don’t have an amazing, well-thought out reason for this, beyond the simple, “Treasure Planet was an awesome movie and I want to see my favorite Keyblade wielders fighting space pirates!!!”  I love everything about that movie, from the jaw-dropping, gorgeous animation, to the sad and complex relationship between Jim and Long John, and the song, “I’m Still Here,” and the awesome action scenes, and it’s just highly underrated and underappreciated, in my humble opinion.  I don’t know how Jim’s emotional coming-of-age journey would fit well with Sora’s story, unless the writers had Riku or Kairi visit that world instead, but I think it would be a lot of fun to fight Long John Silver’s crew and more Heartless pirates.

Tomorrow I’ll post the top 5 worlds I’d like to see in a Kingdom Hearts game, so stay tuned!

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Musical Monday #16: “I Just Can’t Wait to be King”

WOW!

I love The Lion King just as much as anyone else, but I wasn’t expecting it to do so well at the box office!  For those who haven’t seen the commercials or keep tabs on the movie industry, Disney decided to rerelease The Lion King in 3D (and plan to do the same thing with Beauty and the Beast later) for a limited two weeks (only now they’re extending it- and that’s something I did expect), and it’s been a surprising success.  Not only did it become the #1 movie at the box office in the first week, beating all the brand-new releases, but then it went and did the same thing again last weekend!  Well done, denizens of Pride Rock; I’m impressed!

So, even though I’m still going to be spending the rest of the week talking more about Kingdom Hearts, this week’s Musical Monday post will be about my favorite song from The Lion King: “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King!”

Back when I was a little kid, at the time that this movie was first released, “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” was the Disney song that I never wanted to stop listening to.  Looking back on it now, it makes perfect sense, because this song is the embodiment of every kid’s fantasy of what life will be like once they’re FINALLY grown-up.  “I’ll be rich and famous, and I’ll get to drive a car, and I’ll be the president, or a movie star, and best of all: nobody can ever tell me what to do ever again!!!”  And how many times did we say to our parents or guardians, “When I’m grown-up, I’m NEVER going to order MY kids around!  I’m going to be so cool!”

And much like Zazu, our parents would think, “Right.  You keep telling yourself that.”

This is also a very catchy song, much like just about every song from the ’90’s Disney movies, with gloriously colorful animation.  I just can’t wait to see it again on the big screen in 3D!

A Look Back at Kingdom Hearts

I first heard about Kingdom Hearts when I was browsing the Internet and noticed that Orlando Bloom was supposed to be voicing Will Turner in “Kingdom Hearts 2.”  (As it turns out, he didn’t, because he was too busy filming the Pirates sequels.)  I had no idea what a kingdom of hearts had to do with one of my favorite Pirates characters, so I looked up the title, found out it was about a kid that got to explore Disney-themed worlds…and quickly lost interest.  I thought it sounded like a silly game and that Sora was nothing more than a placeholder for little kids to imagine themselves helping their favorite characters fight bad guys.

Jump to about half a year later, after a friend lent me a copy of the game, and you would find me sitting in front of my new PlayStation 2, clutching my controller and crying over Sora unlocking his heart with the Keyblade to save Kairi.  I had the strategy guide with me, so I knew he wasn’t dead, but seeing the distraught expressions of Donald, Goofy, and Kairi really hit me hard.

Nowadays, it feels weird to think that I could’ve ever thought a Disney crossover game would not be completely awesome.  Then, when I stop and think about it, I realize that Kingdom Hearts could’ve easily been what I’d thought it was going to be: just a silly game about a standard, nameless boy moving from one Disney movie to the next, living every kid’s dream (okay, and mine too).

Instead, Square-Enix developed an amazing game that had a surprisingly interesting story and original characters.  Sora, Riku, and Kairi weren’t just placeholders for kids; they actually had personalities and different motivations (though Kairi, unfortunately, spent most of the game in a coma).  Donald and Goofy didn’t spend the entire game praising and worshipping Sora either.  They also had a different agenda, and at the start of the game, it’s clear that they’re only teaming up with Sora so they can complete their quest (and he feels the same way about them).  The trio’s friendship develops at a natural pace- well, considering all the fantastic adventures they get into.

And we get to fight Jafar! Sweet! (Picture found on IGN.com)

Even better, the Disney worlds that our heroes explore all contribute to the overall plot in some way.  Sometimes, they do this in a direct way (i.e. Agrabah and Wonderland being home to two of the Princesses of Heart that Maleficent’s searching for), while others don’t necessarily have anything to do with Maleficent and Riku, but they do provide Sora, Donald, and Goofy with a chance to learn more about themselves (i.e. the worlds based on Tarzan and Hercules).

Everything else about the game is just as enjoyable as the story.  Well, keep in mind, whenever I play a video game, my primary concern is whether or not the story’s any good.  The gameplay style only concerns me if it’s annoying and prevents me from getting immersed in the story (with the possible exclusion of 358/2 Days and Birth by Sleep, but I’ll cover them in other posts).  So as far as I’m concerned, the actual mechanics of the game are good.  The graphics are gorgeous of course, though if you replay it after playing Kingdom Hearts II and Re:Chain of Memories, you’ll find that they’ve aged a bit.  It also has a beautiful soundtrack.

Oh, but wait- it gets even better.  Somehow, Square-Enix managed to get almost all of the original voice actors from classic Disney movies to reprise their roles, or at least got very good imitators.  This really helps draw you into the game if you’re a big Disney fan, and raises the feeling of nostalgia while playing.  And while there were very few original characters in the first game, Square still got some very talented actors to provide voices for them, especially Haley Joel Osment and David Gallagher.

I might be over-gushing about this game, yet Kingdom Hearts will always hold a special place in my…well…heart, because it not only sparked my interest in video games in general, but it also helped reignite my love for all things Disney.  If I hadn’t played it, there’s a good chance I would’ve been blogging about something different.  So, what are you waiting for?  If you’re a big Disney fan and you’ve got access to a Playstation 2, I highly recommend giving this fun game a try!

Musical Monday #15: “The 13th Anthology”

Back in my Blog Updates post, I mentioned that I wanted to devote September to posts about the Disney/Square-Enix crossover series, Kingdom Hearts.  And even though I’ve only written one post so far this month, and we’re about midway through September, I still intend to do that.  So, today’s Musical Monday will focus on “The 13th Anthology,” an orchestral piece that combines the multiple themes based on Organization XIII.

I really love Organization XIII.  They’re not always the most well-written characters I’ve ever seen, or the most well-written villains, but they are an interesting group.  Usually, whether it’s face-paced or grandiose, the music that accompanies a boss battle in a video game will sound dark and menacing.  And pieces such as “13th Struggle,” “13th Dilemma,” and “Lord of the Castle” definitely show a threatening tone as well.  But moreso than the rest of the Kingdom Hearts soundtrack, any music connected to Organization XIII sounds sad and full of longing.

They are, as one character puts it, “a group of incomplete people who wish to be whole,” because they’ve all lost their hearts.  In the KH universe (for those unfamiliar with the series), this is roughly the equivalent of losing your soul.  For the most part, they behave like normal people, but they can’t feel the emotions that would usually go with that behavior.  They have memories of what their lives were like when they did have hearts, but the most that they can do is renact those memories.  Without the ability to feel emotions, they can’t care about anything they once considered important; their lives are basically empty.

Each character in the Organization responds to this dilemma in various ways, with some getting more attention than others.  Some, like Xaldin and Larxene, relished it because it gave them an excuse to be jerks without any messy emotions getting involved.  Demyx was pretty much in denial about it.  Saix was so desperate to go back to being human that he ended up losing sight of what was really important to him and why he wanted that heart back in the first place.  Axel started out with the same motivations, but then he met Roxas and Xion and things got messy.

Of course, it’s important to remember that while they sound sympathetic, their lack of emotions meant that they could be ruthless when they felt like it.  In fact, their whole plan revolved around stealing other people’s hearts, so they could have their own.  I think that’s the essential paradox (and tragedy) of Organization XIII: in their quest to become human, they had to resort to very inhuman methods.  (With the exception of their leader, Xemnas, who was really just trying to become an all-powerful being and take over the universe)

“The 13th Anthology” reflects both the villainous acts of Organization XIII and the melancholy nature of their characters.  It ranges from fast and tense to slow and thoughtful, with each mood flowing smoothly into the next.  But regardless of pace, it never loses its intensity.

Funny how a group of emotionless characters could inspire music that’s so emotional.

Musical Monday #14: “Everything’s Better With Perry”

Sorry for the long delay, guys, but I’m back!  For this week’s Musical Monday, I’d like to talk about the opening song from the very excellent new Disney Channel movie, Phineas and Ferb: Across the Second Dimension in Fabulous 2D:

For the most part, while I liked all of the songs in the movie just fine, they didn’t seem as catchy as the rest of the songs we hear on the show.  But I really love “Everything’s Better With Perry,” not just because it’s a good song, but also because it highlights the relationship between Phineas, Ferb, and their pet platypus.  When you think about it, we don’t see them together very much in the actual show, because the Flynn-Fletchers are almost always doing something that’s only loosely connected to the scheme that Perry is trying to foil when he fights Dr. Doofenschirmtz.  And because Perry has to keep his status as “Agent P” a secret, it limits how much interaction he can actually have with his owners during each episode.

So, while we definitely know that Phineas and Ferb love Perry, and vice versa, we don’t get to see that love very much.  That is, until the movie was released and (SPOILER ALERT) the boys found out that Perry was a secret agent.  Phineas felt hurt and betrayed when he learned the truth, wondering if Perry was ever really their pet or if he only used them as a means to hide his identity.  Meanwhile, Perry had been desperately trying to stay undercover for as long as possible when the boys met Dr. Doofenschirmtz, because revealing the truth would mean having to relocate and leaving the Flynn-Fletchers for good.  The emotional conflict in Across the Second Dimension focuses on Phineas and Ferb’s relationship with their beloved pet, and that’s what makes “Everything’s Better with Perry” so important: it shows how much they love him, and how happy they were before the truth came out and everything got turned upside down.

A lot of other movies use this technique when the plot involves characters trying to regain something.  The Toy Story movies, for example, always start out with Andy playing with Woody and his friends before the toys inevitably get separated from them.  It helps the audience to emphasize with the characters later on, because we understand exactly what they’re missing and why they don’t want their lives to change.

And “Everything’s Better With Perry” also shows us that Ferb is an excellent singer.  But we already knew that! 😀