Despite there being a lack of angsty emos wielding gigantic swords in what is supposed to be a Final Fantasy and Disney crossover, Square Enix’s Kingdom Hearts 3 is a superb game. Sure, it’s convoluted drivel with its melodramatic Shakespeare speeches about the heart and darkness, but it’s also cheesy and superficial fun that lets you batter monsters and depressed “nobodies” with Donald and Goofy. How can anybody not like that?
When Sora isn’t too busy being an egotistical messiah who constantly berates cloaked hunks for not having a heart as big as his, he spends his time ruining the canon of every Disney movie in existence. Kingdom Hearts has always been at its best when it lets players explore the worlds of their favourite Disney movies, and the conclusion to Organization XIII is no different. None of the worlds in Kingdom Hearts 3 are perfect, but thanks to the advancements in the video games industry, Square Enix have done a much better job at mirroring the films and implementing more variety to break away from the combat.
Here are the Disney worlds in Kingdom Hearts 3 ranked
8 - 100 Acre Wood
Okay, starting off as a heartless nobody who is impervious to the charm of the greediest bear in existence, the 100 Acre Wood world is a complete waste of time. It does nothing to improve Sora’s relationship with the likes of Pooh, Piglet, Tigger or Rabbit, and its mini-games are a poor imitation of mobile games that copy Candy Crush.
7 - Monstropolis
Other than Mike Wazowski, none of the characters in Monsters, Inc. are that interesting. Sully is just a good guy who says very little, and Boo is a teeny tiny doll who only says one word when her string is pulled. The factory’s also a dull setting where every stage pretty much looks identical, and Square Enix didn’t take advantage of the fact that each door leads to an entirely new world (a missed opportunity that could have delivered some much needed visual variety, as well as innocent and brief cameos from previous Disney characters who didn’t make the cut). There’s also the issue of it being entirely an escort mission to get the marketing ploy Boo home.
6 - Olympus
Considering it is actually the only world for Kingdom Hearts 2.9 rather than a part of Kingdom Hearts 3, Olympus isn’t bad. Sure, Hercules is again an insufferable tool, and Phil is awkwardly silent, but the landscape is huge and gorgeous. The boss fights against the Titans also do a good job at establishing the attractions and the game’s sheer size, and Zeus FINALLY makes an appearance. Other than Phil not providing any of Danny DeVito’s wit, along with the bizarre absences of Pain and Panic, the biggest disappointment is that there’s no Colosseum.
The Colosseum’s disappearance robs players of being able to fight special guest characters such as Leon and Yuffie, Cloud, and Sephiroth, along with other Final Fantasy combatants like Auron and Tifa.
5 - Toy Box
Toy Story was undoubtedly the world fans were most excited about leading up to Kingdom Hearts 3’s release. Hell, even Tetsuya Nomura said he wouldn’t have concluded Xehanort’s war against the light if Disney didn’t allow him to use Woody and Buzz. However, while the toy store is a fun playground, and Sora’s characterisation as a video game action figure is ingenious, I can’t help but question the portrayals of Buzz and Woody. In the movies, Woody was always the distrustful toy with the greatest obsession with his human owner, so why is Buzz the one who is constantly suspicious of Sora, Donald, and Goofy due to his need to be back with Andy? There’s not even a boss fight with Buzz, so it doesn’t matter that he has more gadgets than a cowboy who can only say “there’s a snake in my boot”.
Still, despite the representations of Woody and Buzz being uncanny, it is good to finally be able to fight Heartless with the cowboy and astronaut. There’s also a heart-breaking Final Fantasy easter egg that steals the spotlight.
4 - Arendelle
Frozen was the world people anticipated with dread rather than excitement. Similar to The Little Mermaid in Kingdom Hearts 2, fans were worried that Tetsuya Nomura was going to make Sora, Donald, and Goofy butcher some of Disney’s most iconic songs. Fortunately, there’s only one song throughout the world, and there’s not a peep from the King’s lackeys. And, although it’s admittedly shameful, Idina Menzel’s Let It Go still kicks ass. In Kingdom Hearts 3, the Let It Go scene is the only one where Square Enix surpassed Disney’s animation.
In addition to the incredible Let It Go CG scene, Arendelle also boasts Olaf, a fun mini-game where you get to slide down the world’s slippery slopes, and it rewards players with a keyblade that has the best transformation.
3 - San Fransokyo
More than any of the other Disney locales, Sora fits perfectly into the Big Hero 6 universe, and it’s a real shame its ending forces us to say goodbye to the game’s funniest character, Fred. Instead of making Sora travel to New York to fight Thanos along with The Avengers, Big Hero 6 was wisely chosen by Square Enix to indulge people’s obsession with pantomime heroes from comic books. The boss fight with Baymax at the end is clunky and awkward, but it’s also different to being on the ground and slashing at the robot’s tippy toes.
There’s a large playground for people to explore in search of treasure chests, although it's a shame Square Enix went the Arkham route of making the city lifeless.
2 - Kingdom Of Corona
Was I excited about the world of Tangled before Kingdom Hearts 3’s release? Hell no. That being said, I had never watched the movie, so I wasn’t prepared for the lovable, fun, and quirky attributes of Flynn Rider and – especially – Rapunzel. Although like Monstropolis the level is essentially an escort mission, Kingdom Of Corona is way more captivating because Rapunzel does a lot more than dribble and shriek “kitty”.
The landscape is breath-taking, the world’s story is genuinely charming and makes sense for the Organization to be involved, and the festival dancing mini-game is an addiction that keeps me coming back. Oh, and it has made Rapunzel and Flynn two of my favourite Disney characters.
1 - The Caribbean
Pirates Of The Caribbean was the world I was most excited about, and it didn’t disappoint. Rather than coming across as another bootleg copy from a car boot sale, The Caribbean is Kingdom Hearts 3’s most ambitious world. The graphics are eerily realistic with Elizabeth looking like Keira Knightley instead of a blow-up doll with fish lips, and there’s a fine balance between sea traversal and ship combat. It plays like the only good Assassin’s Creed game, Black Flag, and it’s just gorgeous to look at when exploring the seas, the islands, and Port Royal.
The Pirates Of The Caribbean fan in me is miffed at not seeing Calypso’s reveal, as well as the tragic nature of Davy Jones’ character not existing in a game all about men being corrupted by the darkness. That being said, I can’t be too mad when there’s an epic boss fight that involves the greatest mythical beasty, the Kraken.