How Square Enix Is Ruining Kingdom Hearts

By Spencer Pressly on February 19, 2013, 3:19PM EDT

One of the last things SquareSoft did before merging with Enix to become Square Enix was release Kingdom Hearts for the PlayStation 2 back in 2002. Kingdom Hearts mixed together characters from the Final Fantasy series and many different Disney worlds. The two different properties came together to tell the story of a young boy named Sora and his friends who lived with him on Destiny Islands. Over ten years later the Kingdom Heart series has spawned over seven game, but the reputation of the franchise has been sullied by Square Enix over the last decade.

Kingdom Hearts still is one of the most unique and fun original ideas for any video game series even after all this time. However, many mistakes made by the game's creators have kept the series from reaching its potential. The biggest offender is the fact that ever since the release of Kingdom Hearts II in 2005/6 every fan out there has been begging and pleading for Kingdom Hearts III to come out. Instead fans of the series were given spin-offs, remakes, and mobile games to keep them busy until Kingdom Hearts III released.

There are many problems with this plan though. While at first getting games to hold you over in the mean time till a 'true' sequel is released sounds fine. Square Enix has still not even officially announced that Kingdom Hearts III is even happening. This has lead to series director Tetsuya Nomura hinting at the game's existence time after time in almost any interview he does. There's also the fact that the team that made the original two Kingdom Hearts games can not even start on this project as they are already in their own development hell.

The team has been working on Final Fantasy Versus XIII and has been quiet about that project since 2011. Versus XIII has more than enough problems on its own, but this should be a warning sign that we are so much farther off from getting Kingdom Hearts III than most may realize. As we enter a new console generation Nomura's main team has not proven themselves capable of developing a game for next (or even current) generation hardware now.

This seems like if Square Enix wants to appease fans who are not interested in buying a new system just for a spin-off title and release Kingdom Hearts III anytime soon, they will have to reconsider getting a new team to take on this project. Metal Gear Solid: Rising was in a similar situation and Hideo Kojima saw after missed deadline and slow development that sometimes you just have to start again. This meant a whole new team needed to get the job done and Square Enix is not short of developing studios who are more than capable enough to do it.

Even the studios responsible for the spin-off titles such as h.a.n.d. or the Okinawa team have proven that with the proper direction from Nomura they can release a Kingdom Hearts game that rivals the original two. Each team who worked on these titles have more then enough experience with all of the spin-off titles they have made over the years.

The spin-off titles such as Chain of Memories, 358/2 Days, Birth by Sleep, Coded, and Dream Drop Distance were by no means bad games either, but they had one major problem with them from the start. Most of these titles were exclusive to a different platform. This would mean if you wanted to play the newest Kingdom Hearts game while waiting for the next one, you would have to own a Gameboy Advance, Nintendo DS, PSP, and Nintendo 3DS. Which is exactly how you split up a fanbase for any series.

Yes, some platforms are easier to develop for as compared to others, but Square Enix needed to stick with a sole platform such as the PS2 or go multiform. They still have not learned this lesson and Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix will be a PS3 exclusive. There is no reason why a port like this couldn't be put on the Wii U and Xbox 360 as well. This would show that everyone on any platform can hop into the series after all these years of missing out if they never owned the console these games were on. While fans may cry out at first over wanting to keep exclusivity, this would not only make Square Enix more money, but it would also show that the market is larger than ever and ready for Kingdom Hearts III now more than ever.

Instead over the past decade Square Enix has just been releasing more games that the fans never really asked for and keep making the series shrink further. The original Kingdom Hearts has sold over 5 million copies worldwide, but when you get to the latest release things look much more bleak. Kingdom Hearts 3D Dream Drop Distance has yet to sell over a million world wide and the only people to blame are Square Enix. Ever since Kingdom Hearts II released the sales have done nothing besides slowly plummet worldwide.

While some view the series as a joke now, the Kingdom Hearts franchise still has a chance at coming back. This trump card known as Kingdom Hearts III just has to be used in the right way and Square Enix will have the series return to its former glory. They can not just rest on their past ways here either and need to actually show some commitment in resurrecting this beloved franchise from the grave it already has one foot in.

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