The Kingdom Hearts franchise has been dearly beloved by fans for almost 20 years. There are many reasons as to why Square Enix’s RPG continues to capture so many hearts. These include exciting combat and emotional, complex storytelling, but perhaps the biggest reason is its crossover with Disney. Players have been able to enjoy spending hours in the company of their favourite Disney and Pixar characters, whether they’re fighting enemies or exploring beautiful worlds taken straight from the movies.
To date, there have been 13 games, with each one featuring different worlds with their respective characters. Yet, there are still many popular properties that haven’t made their debut in the series. Some others have made an appearance, but have unfinished business.
The endings of Kingdom Hearts III and last year’s Melody of Memory confirmed that this is a series with a lot more story left to tell. More games are on the way, and that means more Disney films will be crossing over. There are numerous possibilities for where Sora and the gang could travel to next. A venture back in time to a 1950s classic? Perhaps a world that many have forgotten about? Here are 9 Disney worlds that should appear in Kingdom Hearts.
1. Garden Island – Lilo & Stitch
One of the most mischievous animated duos are no stranger to Kingdom Hearts. Stitch has appeared in multiple games as a Summon power and had his own world in Birth by Sleep. However, this level was presented as a prequel to the events of Lilo & Stitch, meaning players didn’t get to play through the heartfelt story or interact with the likes of Lilo and Pleakley. This certainly leaves the door open though for a second appearance from the erratic experiment.
A virtual version of the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i has the potential of being one of the best looking environments in the series’ history, with its surroundings being full of colour and nature. While this is a film not known for its action, a boss fight during the spaceship chase would be tense. Sora could go on to learn one or two valuable lessons about friendship and family from this experience. This world can occur at a time where he’s recently had a falling out with a friend, for example. A surfing mini-game is something that should be included also, if only for the sight of Donald shredding waves.
2. Ahtohallan – Frozen
Frozen is another franchise that has appeared in the action RPG series. Arendelle was a world in Kingdom Hearts III, loosely based on the events of the first film. Unfortunately, it’s personally one of my least favourite worlds. The gameplay was incredibly repetitive, causing it to feel six hours long, and it was visually dull in terms of its environmental design. Anna and Elsa have provided Disney with two of their best ever performing movies, however, and so they deserve to be given a second chance. Square Enix should create the opportunity to rectify their mistake and Let it Go.
An Ahtohallan world could either follow the events of Frozen II or have its own original story. The former may be the best option, as Elsa discovering more about her powers is something that Sora could relate to. The film’s darker tone should also be reflected in gameplay. For example, the Heartless could take the form of the different types of evil spirits such as fire and water. It’s the kind of fun gameplay variety that was absent in the Arendelle world. Teaming up with Elsa to defeat enemies would also be fresh and enjoyable.
3. The Big Apple – Oliver & Company
This is an entry that is very close to my childhood. Disney’s take on Oliver Twist was one of my favourite movies growing up and it still holds up well today as a hidden gem. The likelihood of Oliver & Company crossing over to Kingdom Hearts is slim, but it’s fun to dream right? With the film featuring dogs and a cat as its primary characters, Sora and company would be transformed into dogs themselves upon entering this world. It’s probably best to not create a mental image of that for now, although I could see Sora taking the form of a goofy breed like a Bulldog.
Since it has been 33 years since the release of the film, it would be ideal for The Big Apple to be presented as a sequel. The story could follow Oliver and Fagin’s gang going sightseeing around New York where they meet Sora, then they all head back to Oliver’s house to discover that Jenny has been kidnapped by either the Heartless or that game’s main antagonist. This world’s unique gameplay element should be musical combat sequences where classic songs such as “Why Should I Worry?” play, with the Melody of Memory system making a return. It would capture the spirit of the film and provide players with a different experience.
4. Sugar Rush – Wreck-It Ralph
The franchise heavily inspired by videogames should absolutely make the jump over to consoles. Ralph did make an appearance in Kingdom Hearts III but only as a Summon, which is a bit baffling really. This is a property that is crying out for its own world. It should be based on the first film, and so the arcade game Sugar Rush would be the world name. Both Ralph and Vanellope would battle together with Sora and friends, as it’s simply impossible to have one without the other.
A Sugar Rush world should present a modernised version of the racing gameplay system previously seen in levels based on Tron. The more variety, the better. Sora could have his own vehicle that players can customise and race in optional tournaments. Obviously, references to other games would be limited unless Square Enix were willing to strike deals with other publishers. Character cameos from their other franchises, such as Lara Croft and Adam Jensen, would be more than welcome though. The lesson that Sora can learn from Wreck-It Ralph is that some villains deep down are not really bad people, which is something that KH III has already touched on.
5. The Jungle – The Jungle Book
Walt Disney’s final film is well overdue for its Kingdom Hearts debut. This is a world that would compliment the series’ graphical technology very well. Journeying through the open jungle side-by-side with Baloo and seeing sunlight beaming through the trees would be a breath-taking moment. The vine swinging from the very first game’s Tarzan level is a gameplay element that can happily stay away though. I have bad memories of the frustration that caused.
The Jungle Book is a 54-year-old film, but its story is as charming as ever to experience and one that everyone should know. It deserves to be relived in videogame form with Sora joining Mowgli in trying to survive life in the jungle. He could be taught about how important it is that he remembers where his real home is, which is Destiny Islands with Kairi and Riku. The film is very musical oriented, so this world could also feature rhythm gameplay sections. However, it could not co-exist with The Big Apple in the same game to avoid repetition. For the big boss fight, a Heartless Shere Khan seems like a pretty good yet terrifying option.
6. Motunui – Moana
Sora and The Rock in a tag team? It’s very much a possibility. Moana is a fantastic film with enough action and charming moments to make it a perfect fit for Kingdom Hearts. The story is even about darkness poisoning Moana’s home island. This movie is already one of Disney’s best looking animated projects, and it’s exciting to think about how the Polynesian islands would look with the power of the Unreal Engine.
A Moana world should be presented as a linear open world that players can freely explore by sailing the seas. Special items can be found in caves and small islands, which will encourage revisiting Motunui to try and find everything. Square Enix are spoiled with action sequences to include. The Kakamora battle is one that should definitely feature as it would be chaotic and exciting. Sora has the opportunity to greatly help Disney characters in this world, as he, Donald and Goofy could convince Moana and Maui to never give up and lose hope based on their own experiences. If you’re reading this article Tetsuya Nomura, You’re Welcome.
7. Metroville – The Incredibles
Like Wreck-It Ralph, Disney’s superhero family’s absence from the action RPG is a surprise. The Incredibles is arguably the studio’s most action-oriented animated franchise and is no stranger to videogames. A Metroville world that presents an original story would be a great opening world to get players reacquainted with the series’ combat, as well as any new gameplay elements. Sora, Donald and Goofy would be expected to wear their own superhero clothing, of course.
Kingdom Hearts games usually limit guest teammates to two maximum. In a future game that features Metroville, this limit should be increased so that the whole Incredible family can appear on-screen at once. There could be an ultimate special team-up attack where the family each inflict their offense on a boss before Sora delivers the final blow. Violet is someone who the Keyblade wielder could connect with. In the movies, she overcomes her shyness to have more confidence in herself and her powers. Sora could relay his experience with Violet to Kairi, someone who currently has little confidence in herself as a Guardian of Light.
8. Medieval Highlands – Brave
Pixar’s first film featuring a female protagonist, Brave has been hailed for breaking the Disney princess stereotype. Merida is a character who only cares about protecting the kingdom where she resides as well as her family. The story of a struggling mother-daughter relationship is a touching one that should be presented in videogame form. This series has lacked female guest characters who are capable in combat, with Mulan in Kingdom Hearts II being the only example, so Merida would be a welcome addition.
The Medieval Highlands’ gameplay element should be archery, with Sora using his own bow and arrow to take out enemies and solve puzzles. The Highland Games event could also act as a combat arena for players to gain more XP and improve their skills. Graphically, this world would present day and night environments with the day showcasing beautiful lighting while the night is more dull and full of misty areas.
9. Kumandra – Raya and the Last Dragon
This last film is the most recent of the entries, having released earlier this year. Raya and the Last Dragon may have disappointed in the story department, but its numerous action sequences mean that it is still entertaining to watch. Kumandra has the potential of being an enjoyable world that rarely lets up on its fast pace. Raya would follow Merida in being a strong female character for Sora to team up with. Sisu will also be a guest character, but in combat she should transform back into her dragon form and possess her own team-up attack.
One of this film’s main messages is trusting the people around you. It’s a message that would encourage Sora to reflect on how far he’s come with Donald and Goofy. The trio’s bond has become so strong that they can trust each other with anything. The Heartless’ role in this world should involve them taking over the Druun. They could also threaten to take over Raya’s heart after she persists in not forgiving Namaari. It would be up to our protagonist and Sisu to prevent that from happening.
What Disney worlds do you think should appear in Kingdom Hearts? Let me know in the comments below!