In response to a few recent games that appear to be lacking in the criteria. This is a short list and thoughts on some stand out game mechanics that developers seem to be ignoring and need to build upon.
5 Small Problems With The Kingdom Hearts Series That I Hope To See Fixed[Disclaimer: This post contains some spoilers from various games in the Kingdom Hearts series.]
The time for fans of the Kingdom Hearts series is upon us, with the upcoming release of Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix, and the E3 2013 announcement of Kingdom Hearts 3 starting development. Because of all the love us Kingdom Hearts fans are getting, I decided to boot up my 3DS and replay the most recent release in the series, Kingdom Hearts 3D. While the game itself is pretty incredible, a few issues that have plagued the series since the first entry are still present. I still consider the Kingdom Hearts series to be one of my favorites, boasting a unforgettable and emotional storyline. However, no game is without its faults, and I have pinpointed five key issues that, while small, often influence my perception of the games.
1. Final Boss Difficulty Spikes
The Kingdom Hearts games are full of lovable characters and memorable boss fights based on classic Disney and Final Fantasy characters, with some originals thrown into the mix. Some of the most memorable characters are the villains of the series, of which there are many. Each game either introduces a new villain or adds an unexpected layer to an existing one. The voice actors for these characters are extremely good, and their writing does a good job of showing off their characteristics and why you should think of them as villains. Unfortunately, for how well they are written and how cool their design is, everyone hates one thing about most of them: they are pains in the butt to fight at the end of the game.
In my opinion, the Kingdom Hearts games (save for a few parts in the first game) are very well-balanced and the there are no real difficulty spikes – until you reach the endgame. Leaving out the optional bosses unlocked at the end of the game, the final bosses (of which there are usually many) are incredibly difficult, requiring you to pull out reflexes you did not even know you had in you. This is a problem to me because I have played through to the end of the first Kingdom Hearts a dozen times, but I have only beaten the game once or twice. However, I will admit that the game offers a significant sense of pride when you do succeed in finishing off the final boss’ final form.
2. Camera Tracking
Although I do not very much remember the camera tracking being an issue in the first couple of Kingdom Hearts games, replaying Kingdom Hearts 3D has definitely made light of it. It is hard enough to keep track of the action in a Kingdom Hearts game, and it does not make it any easier when the camera takes a little too long to snap behind you, or moves at the wrong angle and you lose sight of the enemy. Again, the camera tracking has never been a game-breaker to me, although I do see it as an issue.
It stood out to me the most during the final boss fight of Kingdom Hearts 3D, where I would dodge a hard-hitting attack, and attempt to dodge again, although the camera would not have snapped behind my character in time and I would misjudge my dodge and get struck by the powerful attack. This never led to me losing the fight, although it definitely affected me.
3. Revisiting Worlds
This may seem like an odd complaint considering the entire concept of the series is visiting worlds other than your own, but I feel like Kingdom Hearts 2 especially had too much backtracking involved in its exploration. Now, I understand why Kingdom Hearts 2 involves as much backtracking as it does – the first time you go through the world you face the Heartless, and the second time through you fight Nobodies – but I still think that there may have been an easier way to do what they did, perhaps even using more worlds or changing the existing worlds in a pretty significant way.
4. Very Few Incentives To Change Keyblades
In my experience, even though you are given a new Keyblade at the end of every world, with a few optional ones being available, I really only switch once or twice. There are Keyblades that are focused on strength, ones that are focused on magic, and ones that are balanced in both. I always enjoy using both magic and physical attacks, and so I only switch out my Keyblade when another balanced one comes along. This somewhat disappoints me as all of the Keyblade designs are amazing, and i would love to see my character wield them, there is just no viable use for them in my playthroughs.
What I think the next game would really benefit from is the option to customize and upgrade the original Kingdom Key. You could still collect synthesis materials from enemies and Moogle shops, only instead of using them to make allies or items, you could add them to your Keyblade to give it a fire-element, raise its damage, or lengthen it. I think this would the combat a much more unique feel, and no two people would share the same Keyblade.
5. Lack Of Final Fantasy Worlds
Possibly my biggest complaint with the series is the lack of worlds based on the Final Fantasy franchise. Whenever a character from a Final Fantasy game shows up, it is restricted to either a Disney world or an original world. While I love taking Sora through Agrabah and Olympus, I would just as much enjoy taking him through Midgar and Zanarkand in the next installment. Sephiroth could then be a storyline boss, with Sin joining him. This could fit the third game’s story as the arc begins to shut, as the bosses that Final Fantasy worlds would bring are, in my opinion, much more ferocious than any bosses the Disney worlds could offer.