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Putting Identity to Ethnicity; Dark-skinned Heroes and Villains in Gaming

What makes a good character stand out? The struggle of their character as they ascend from the bottom of the barrel to the top of the leaderboards in character development? The development of what kind of character they’ll be throughout the story? While all of these factors, and plenty more, attribute to the development and construction of a character, there has always been a unique connection – a fine line – that’s crossed or maintained when ethnicity is calculated into a character’s bio.

Over the past few years there has been a resurgence in promoting dark-skinned characters through movies, television shows, and comic books (Luke Cage, Black Panther, Black Lightning, Spider-Man, etc.), however, the iconizing of dark-skinned characters has always been prevalent in one form of media or another. In this article, I will display my findings and knowledge towards the establishing growth of dark-skinned characters in video games. I believe this development will garner fruits of representation within the black diaspora and can open the doors towards representing different ethnicities and, from a linguistics point of view, can offer a form of ‘code-switching’ that can be seen from a bigger viewpoint; virtually and culturally outlined with an interactive perspective provided by video games.


  1. Dark-skinned characters to Black/African characters

    Let’s talk about the elephant in the article: Are dark-skinned characters considered to be Black? The answer can be split down the middle, depending on how you view the character and the media it hails from. You could say that dark-skinned characters represent the black diaspora and that each character you find that happens to be darker than most is just another variety of Black/African characters. On the opposite side, you could argue that a dark-skinned character isn’t considered to be black because of their identity within the work of fiction they originate from and could be considered a mixture of different ethnicities – a melting pot – which speaks to the perspectives of different races that aren’t represented in multiple characters BUT is represented in one character. Both answers hold valid points – points that can be made and have been exemplified in various characters over the years within different video games. While some are a bit more obvious in regards to representation with a dark-skinned character, there have been subtler accounts of dark-skinned representation within gaming.


    Suikoden Revival


    A good example of diversity between dark-skinned characters can be found in an old JRPG (Japanese Role-Playing Game) by the name of Suikoden. Suikoden was a notable game for its tactics and implications for war-based strategy, and the turn-based battle system that had players forming a party of six characters rather than the general 4 found in other RPG’s like Final Fantasy. In addition to its unique system of battle, the game gives the opportunity to incorporate 108 special characters into your army that ranges from multiple races and species that inhabit the game. Ever wanted to have flying squirrels, griffons and unicorns as a companion that helps you fight against a tyrannical empire – Suikoden 2 offers that in spades. Ever thought that beavers were capable of dishing out damage and could be a solid foundation for representing third world countries – Suikoden 5 answers that question for you. However, within every entry of Suikoden, there has always been a representation of multiple ethnicities and cultures within the games.



    Starting with the game that introduced the first two dark-skinned characters within the franchise, Suikoden 2, are Hauser (Right) and Bob (Left). At first glance, Bob seems to mirror someone familiar – perhaps iconic – and you would not be wrong in assuming such a thing. Bob’s character is based, in appearance, to that of the legendary musician Bob Marley. From his dreads to the carefree nature that he holds, Bob is a subtle nod to Jamaican heritage within a European fantasy-based war game made by Japanese developers. While he isn’t the main character or a character that’s necessary to the story, the option to recruit him and know more of his history and skills is what makes the goal of finding 108 special characters in each game an intriguing objective. Once you recruit him, you learn that he isn’t actually human but is that of a Lycanthrope (Werewolves) and happens to be the last of his clan. The rune that’s embedded on his right hand, known as the Rabid Fang Rune, doesn’t initiate his lycanic transformation but actually prevents him in being able to transform. His appearance as a dark-skinned male isn’t racially attributed to anything outside of the fact that he appears to have dark skin, however, it’s the subtlety of his history and his lineage that paints a different perspective towards the character. In a description of his village and people, a darker tone is showcased and a word, or two, seems to be relatable to another incident that’s occurred within the bowels of history:


    Once a village of lycanthropes located in the Grassland, Lycanthrope Village was destroyed by Windy in her quest to find powerful runes, leaving only one survivor, a young man named Bob who participated as a soldier in the Dunan Unification War. As a result, Lycanthropes have become extremely rare and little information is known on lycanthropes or the village they once inhabited. The Holy Kingdom of Harmonia has several lycanthropes living within their borders; however, they have been integrated into the non-human class and thus are treated little better than slaves.


    On the other hand, there’s Hauser, another dark-skinned character and one that would paint the argument that his skin and structure would be ideally linked to that of African heritage. Unlike that of Bob, Hauser has importance to the story and is a commander of his own forces before joining that of the hero’s main army. He is a soldier, a knight, and a strong C.O. (Commanding Officer) to the forces he leads. There’s no identifying his race or status, other than being human, but the closest thing he has towards the representation of the black diaspora is that of his facial structure


    Black Male Gaming Characters - Face Structure


    Hauser’s distinct features are linked to a particular art style that’s uniquely attuned to that of Black/African drawings. The structure of the cheekbones, the accentuation of the nose and, most notably, the appearance of the lips. While it’s easy to write off that Bob and Hauser’s ethnical identities are a part of the black diaspora, it’s to be noted that Bob’s appearance, from a visage approach, is ethnically different from that of Hauser’s. Granted that Bob’s appearance isn’t naturally that of a dark-skinned male, and is more of a lycanthropic wolf-man, the two distinct styles in how they were drawn plays against the idea that “all Black people look alike” and that the diaspora of Black/African people can be seen in different views; even as different species.


  2. Implication vs Confirmation

    There’s a lot of trial and error when it comes to making a character, especially a character that is linked, or seems to be linked, to a race, or ethnicity, that’s had its fair share of criticisms. While it’s not impossible to make a good character that can represent the black collective, it’s entirely possible that the implication can overweigh the confirmation in the brainstorming process.

    This process can be called “Implication vs Confirmation“. As a writer and storyteller, there’s always an invisible list to which needs to be filled when creating a story that’s comprised of elements which can enhance the reader’s, or in this case ‘the player’s’, experience. A protagonist to lead the story, an antagonist that makes the events for the protagonist, or the story, more difficult, and many other options can be found on this list. The idea of creating a character that’s ethnically unbiased within a game is plausible. Most games that take place in a fantasy setting require that the characters themselves be unified under one term – Humans. The idea of race and individual ethnicities is turned on its head, subverting expectations, which creates a clearer narrative without the addition of white noise in regards to a person’s race convoluting the storyline. This is the Implication.

    The second part that has to be confirmed is, well, Confirmation. Does the character’s persona appropriate or appreciate the ethnicity? Are certain colloquialisms necessary to convey identity towards a culture? Is it necessary for them to be “too much” of a certain cliché or stereotype in regards to their ethnicity? Every decision to these and other questions is what outlines a character – what makes the character shine as their own individual presence. If the implication of a dark-skinned character has to be showcased through certain actions and provocations, does it create the display of ethnicity that grounds their character OR could it be used to heighten their character’s story in addition to character development? Confirmation plays an important role in structuring and developing a character in regards to their personal narrative. When it comes to race and ethnicity, the outline of character can be based off a figure or even constructed to be similar towards one, however, characters shouldn’t be objectified to a list of demands that MAKE the character.



    Another first in the series of dark-skinned characters comes from Barret Wallace from the Final Fantasy series. Barret stands as the first of the dark-skinned characters introduced within the series and one that can be closely identified to Black/African collectives in regards to representation within video games. While his initial introduction and artwork painted him as a virtual copy to that of Laurence Tureaud (Iconically known by the name “Mr. T”) his character within the game and throughout the game is anything but that. He’s the leader of AVALANCHE, a dutiful father, another main character next to Cloud Strife, and much more. His presence throughout the story is filled with various colloquialisms and vernacular English that’s directed towards, or from, AAVE (African American Vernacular English) which portrays his character.

    The implication that was crafted for Barret was to possibly give the image of a Black/African man with strong leadership skills, a brash/ruff attitude, and a character arc that has gone through strife in more ways than one; in the past and in the present. His conflict in trying to save the planet and to save his daughter, who (SPOILERS) isn’t related to him by blood, develops his character and confirms his identity as a man fighting for what is right; under the circumstances, he endures. He isn’t identified as a Black/African male and outside of his appearance to Mr. T, he isn’t considered to be an icon for the race. He just happens to have dark skin, a hi-top fade, a beard that would make Mr. T proud, a gun-arm, and a mission; both personal and economical.


    Barret Wallace Remake


    With the Final Fantasy 7 Remake, a plethora of design choices and tweaks have been made for the cast. No longer exists the old Mr. T inspired look for the leader of AVALANCHE as he has now adopted a more modern design for the hair on top of his head and on his face. Sporting a nice fade from each side, leaving a short but slicked back layover for the top, a rugged but maintained beard lineup, while outlining various elements to his visage from the initial character design; Barret has evolved. In addition to his pronounced features (outlined in the same account as Hauser’s from the previous number) Barret’s appearance shows a confirmation to the modern era of hairstyles and beard lineups, however, he also showcases how a dark-skinned character can appear within video games. While the industry has access to mocap technology, using the contour of models and other personnel to digitally craft features in real-time, Barret’s design proves that a fundamental choice in perspective from one figure can be transcended with different likenesses. He may have been rough and hard to handle in the beginning, but the development of his character visually can, and has, been improved over time.


  3. Dark-Skinned Villains; Reasons, Motivations, and Script

    With every great hero comes a daunting force of conflict in the form of an antagonist or villain. While villains don’t necessarily need to be dark-skinned to impose themselves against others in a game, there have been some candidates in the last couple of decades that have showcased that their skin color isn’t entirely necessary to convey their story as a villain.



    Rolling back around to the 2nd and 3rd games in the Suikoden series we’re introduced to another dark-skinned character: Lucia. As a villain, Lucia was a unique character right from her introduction in the second game. A young leader of the Karayan Clan, a clan of dark-skinned warriors whose cultural background shares an affinity to Native Americans, she fights to protect her people and collaborates with one of the leading characters in order to ensure protection for her people and the securing of new land. Her role as a villain is further enhanced by the means in which she uses to execute her desired goals. She was merciless in nearly killing the main character, showcasing many of her abilities – which are further fleshed out in the proceeding title, she has ideal strategies in regards to war and tactics, something which is further enhanced in other games due to becoming a leader at a young age after the death of her father (Another interesting point that fuels the flames of her villainy), and was willing to do anything to enact vengeance.

    In comparison to other villains within the game, Lucia’s role is rather minor. She appears near the beginning of the third act with little to no involvement in the main story. She’s propositioned land and safety for her clan, she’s given command of her own forces, made a general within the army (albeit until the end), and fights against the opposition due to personal incidents regarding her clan, family, and how it shaped her life.

    As a character, Lucia has motivations which develop her character and those motivations within Suikoden 2 is what makes her a unique villain. Furthermore, going into Suikoden 3, because of her experience from the previous game, she’s further relentless in believing that no kingdom is worth aligning alongside. The disrespect that is shown to her people, the destruction and theft of their lands, play an important part in the formula that makes Lucia a well-established villain.


    Balrog


    Next on the list is that of another popular figure modeled after, well, a popular boxer: Balrog.  Not to be confused with the mythical beast from Lord of the Rings, this Balrog comes from the highly popular fighting game series “Street Fighter” and has been a prominent member of the cast ever since his inclusion back in Street Fighter II. Identified as an African American he’s modeled after Mike Tyson and is quick to make as much fight money as possible. Balrog’s villainy already shows through his moral compass and decisions in regards to fighting for the main villains, yet his race is never an account for his underhanded tactics and infamous moves throughout the story. His countenance is more towards the sin of greed than it is to villainy, however, given the context of working for Shadaloo, an evil organization infamously known throughout the series, Balrog’s conscious decisions do not promote the inner good of doing the right thing.


    08_rog1


    To his credit as a character, the motivations he carries is undeniably linked to his entire persona. He doesn’t feign ignorance to being better than what he shows to others, as he implies that he’s the best at what he does, and his honesty is enough to make a lie detector look stupid; cause his cold hard truth would make it seem inefficient and useless as a device. Since his appearance, he has been a strong, tough, and rash individual that has been seen as a villain. A rough nature and a smug attitude, Balrog’s street skills paints the scene for a villain pugilist with little concern for others well being; with more selfish and greedy intentions just for himself.


     

    ansem21


    Ansem, preferably the ‘Seeker of Darkness‘, is a fundamentally intriguing villain within the Kingdom Hearts series. In explaining his origins, an account that I will not do in great length, showcases that his existence and connection within the story is, for clarification purposes, fundamentally sound and acknowledgeable to the lore that’s presented within the story. However, if you take out the complications with the lore, this version of Ansem was the first and pressing antagonist that started the Kingdom Hearts series. A shrouded figure in the darkness that did research on hearts (metaphorically and semi-physically speaking) he was the imposing figure that stood in the shadows of Sora and Riku’s adventures within the game. His acts included corrupting Riku’s heart with darkness – a poignant act that would play an important role in the character’s development within later games – and the construction of Kingdom Hearts through the obliteration of multiple worlds.


    ansem smirk


    His appearance on screen is unexpected and the appearance he takes is just as foreboding as the voice that comes from it. He doesn’t pardon his actions and he only parleys for small moments with the main cast of characters. His intentions to find Kingdom Hearts and to use it for his own well being, in addition to filling all of the worlds with darkness, is a straight and simple goal for his agenda. What made his goal and presence unique was the lack of involvement he played within the game itself. The game, Kingdom Hearts, associates most of its story to Sora, Donald, and Goofy as they travel to different Disney worlds and preventing their collapse from the Heartless; which Ansem also happens to be, however, this isn’t prevalent within his appearance as it is more of an epiphany in later games. In future games, an explanation is given as to why he has dark skin and silver hair, however, before those games were even a concept, Ansem’s appearance wasn’t a hot-button topic. His attitude, the role he was given, and how it was implicated within the game is what made Ansem a great stand-alone villain within the series.


  4. Conclusion ~ Representation

    As an African American, I’ve learned that representation within different forms of media is a necessity going forward. Black and African figures in today’s media have been brought into the light for the public through the use of comics, instilling a sense of understanding and acceptance to one’s race that isn’t seen as often. Video games have provided chances for African Americans to be expanded within the media, however, I’ve found that the representation for the race has been used in different contexts; whether it’s from the east or the west gaming franchises.

    I avoided putting any American games in this article for a couple of reasons. One of them was because of how the interpretation of race is seen when compared to the most popular games in America vs the fantasy elements found within most JRPGs. Popular titles like the Assassins Creed series deals with the re-telling of history and the amplification of the past and presents involvement. In Assassins Creed: Black Flag’s DLC “Freedom Cry“, the character Adewale, a former slave with an education that would soon become a pirate and eventually would become an assassin, would embark on his own journey which would lead to many historical bouts against the Templar and freeing captured slaves. I appreciated the bold storytelling, the use of history, and its importance in regards to African heritage, however, I feel that the game is only one example that places the character in an ethnically threatening situation which garners a greater change in their character. Other popular games like the Grand Theft Auto series paints a stereotypical image which, in most cases, presents a toxic representation in regards to cultural appropriation. The games are not bad – technically speaking – but the storytelling for dark-skinned characters like CJ (San Andreas) and Franklin (Los Santos) seem to always have a unique turnabout in regards to their characters.

    In fantasy RPG’s, East or West, the context of the story is vitally important to each character. While there are some tropes that can be filled with throwaway characters, the development of any character should always be seen as a vital component in regards to crafting a great story. While most protagonists can be seen from a Eurocentric viewpoint, the choice to make dark-skinned characters protagonists is just as valid to other perspectives. Square-Enix’sFinal Fantasy” series may have gotten the ball rolling with Barret, but the domino effect of different dark-skinned characters like Fran (XII) and Sazh (XIII) have also been introduced into the fold of dark-skinned representations. There identities as humans, or Viera in Fran’s case, are established as their main identity and the way that they speak are clarified to that of their characters; Fran uses her voice as a means to showcase respect and authority, as her race generally acknowledges is a valuable trait, while Sazh uses comedy and blunt statements, mixed with AAVE, due to a tragic past and coming to terms with the world he now lives within; these developments are paramount to the character’s progression.

    In starting with Suikoden for this article, a game which I have personally favored since playing its second installment back in 1998, it introduced to me, a young, African-American man, that a story can involve many ethnicities and that the concern of “race” shouldn’t affect it. From the second title in the series to its fifth installment on consoles, Suikoden has proven to be a game that uses its diverse cast as a means of storytelling. The third installment showcased the Karaya Clan, previously mentioned with Lucia’s appearance from the second game, which amalgamated Native Americans and Africans as a single clan; pressing the matters of land reservation, cultural racism, and hate crimes – yet their clan isn’t the only one who experiences these events; broadening the subject to others, however, making an impactful statement that alludes throughout the entire game. Further titles would introduce new clans that would further represent Africans, Asians, East Indians, Cubans, Anglo-Americans, and many more. Topics of war would continue to be targeted and even topics of social hiearchy would be challenged in each installment; including issues that pertained to Feminism, Sexism and Gay Rights. To me, Suikoden was like the older brother to Pokémon who preferred World History rather than Zoology. While Pokémon has gone out of its way to make 819 creatures based on actual animals, splashed with some creatures that are more akin to folklore/mythology, Suikoden has created 540 characters that have represented most of the races and ethnicities on our planet.

    In conclusion, this article isn’t a compilation of reasons to make more dark-skinned characters. This article is to bring awareness to how dark-skinned characters can be made and the impact it has on gaming and media. While the progression of Black/African protagonists is few and far between, the acceptance of race and its accumulation in games is slowly developing towards a positive retrospect. From Pokémon’s extending cast of different races (The trainers, not the Pokémon) in their games to the rise of more prominent characters that share in the representation of the black community, I believe that representation will be seen as a positive investment towards the identity of ethnicity in games and media going forward.

     

 

Animated Movies, Character Structure, Concepts and Ideas, Creative Writing, Disney, Disney Worlds, Ducktales, JRPG, Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts 2, Kingdom Hearts 3, Narrative Structure, Plot Structure, PS4, Sequels, Uncategorized, Video Games, Wreck-It Ralph, Xbox One

The Future of Disney Worlds in KH; Predictions and Ideas for KH4

best-worst-kingdom-hearts-worlds.jpg.optimal

Outside of the tremendous fun of gameplay that can be found within a Kingdom Hearts game, another thing that most players can agree on is towards the exploration of new worlds; Disney or original to the story. While KH3 gave us a new standard on the term “worldbuilding” it also introduced the players to bigger and more expansive environments to explore, fight within and to test the boundaries of this new development within the franchise. From searching for Lucky Emblems, photographing people, or enemies, for Moogles, to finding every treasure chest in the newly created space for the worlds. As fans, we can only hope that this trend is continued in future KH games, even at the behest of causing it to slow down development, but with KH3’s surprise ending and the secret ending getting the internet into a fuss over what’s the next adventure (Side or main narrative) there’s speculation as to what sort of worlds could be added for KH4. In this article, I’m going to list six worlds that I believe would work in continuing the story of KH and, if I’m guessing correctly, lines up with Tetsuya Nomura’s algorithm of adding old and new worlds to traverse.

Before we start, a few ground rules for this prediction list:
– No repeated worlds (Olympus/Coliseum, Monstro, The Caribbean/Port Royal)
– No Sleeping Worlds (Dream Drop Distance)
– No Obligatory Worlds (Disney Castle, Yen Sid’s Tower)


  1. Wreck-It Ralph (Power Surge)gcc_interior_revised_web
    Partners: Wreck-It Ralph
    Keyblade: IGWI (I’m Gonna Wreck It)


    Starting off with one of my favorite ideas and one that fits in with the criteria of worlds that can be visited in KH4 is the world of Wreck-It Ralph. This idea holds relevance due to a certain fire-breathing summon in the form of Mushu making his appearance in the first Kingdom Hearts game. He was an absolute blast and necessary summon, in my opinion, so the fact that he reappears in KH2 alongside Mulan, assisting in the Team Attacks, was the ripest cherry one could give to this delicious sundae of an idea. Now, granted that summons like Bambi, Dumbo and Chicken Little haven’t been given the limelight since their introduction as summons, being cut instead for Simba, Mushu and Stich from KH2 to BBS, Ralph’s world could be handled in a variety of ways:

    [1] Beginning/Origin: One thing that was improved with exploring Disney worlds in KH3 was the complete synopsis, more or less, of the worlds that were visited. The Kingdom of Corona was a perfect example of inputting Sora and the others without derailing the initial story of Rapunzel’s day out and her eventual arrival to the kingdom. This same scenario would play seemingly close if this was implemented for Ralph’s world. Players would be introduced to an empty Power Surge Station, Ralph could be fighting against Heartless before reuniting with Sora and the gang, he’ll explain his reasons for leaving his world – leading to two different games(Sections) that have to be visited, Vanellope will be introduced, more talk of “Order” within games and “Going Turbo”, Sora and Ralph will fight Turbo and a conclusion will be reached that ends the story/world on a good note; allowing for “The Internet” world to be formed without continuity issues for future games.

    WR Games

    [2] Hero’s Duty, Sugar Rush and Fix-It Felix Jr: As far as expanding the world with multiple sections and parts that would be relevant to the story, Hero’s Duty and Sugar Rush would be the perfect inclusions to this world; with Fix-It Felix Jr. being an additional sector for a minigame and Ralph’s developing storyline. The Ice Labyrinth in the Frozen world from KH3 could easily be the same, if not better, in Ralph’s world with the challenge of climbing a tower in Hero’s Duty wrought with Heartless, secret paths that will help you ascend the level and possibly a giant Heartless bug that’s waiting for you at the end. On the other side, Sugar Rush would be a sweet treat to the eyes with visually attractive landscapes, fun candy mechanics throughout the level, and a racing mini-game that isn’t as questionable as the one from BBS. Lastly, Fix-It Felix Jr. would serve for playing the game, Fix-It Felix Jr., with the assistance of an 8-bit Sora, for some old school Donkey Kong vibes; possibly adding in some 8-bit scenario battles amongst the fluid 3D battle system; something akin to what was done with the Classic Kingdom in KH2 and mixed with its own unique pixel differentiation for each area within the world(s).

    [3] Visual and Game Mechanics ( In game and in-game): Sora’s array of costumes could be taken up a notch by donning the Hero Duty soldiers outfit while in said game and donning a sweet and stylish mix for Sugar Rush. On top of that – with the inclusion of Ralph’s game – 8-bit graphics sections for Sora could be implemented for Fix-It Felix Jr., first-person shooter segments in Hero’s Duty, and racing viewpoints/options for Sugar Rush.

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  2. Treasure Planet (The Alponian Quadrant)
    treasure-planet-23
    Partners: Jim Hawkins
    Keyblade: Solar Sailor (Based on the board used within the movie)


    After seeing Stitch’s world implemented in Birth by Sleep and the recent developments done in KH3 to The Caribbean world, I feel that we’re at a good point in the series to now expand upon another kind of pirate: The intergalactic kind. Treasure Planet is a hidden gem within the vault of Disney’s films and works as a world that could add to the lore of the Gummi Blocks as well as add to the general idea of how other characters, Disney or Square, travel amongst the stars in this unknown universe. In addition to bringing back a pirating world for Sora and the gang, which can include a new outfit for our pirate-loving protagonist, it can also introduce a few ideas which could be implemented for future games:


    [1] Traverse Town Callbacks: Going back in time – back to KH1 – the beginning to Sora’s journey started from that beginning world, acting as a hub world for other Disney characters and introducing us to even more Final Fantasy characters. While the general world itself doesn’t have to be a hub world for others, it’s not impossible to write in some sort of setup that reveals that Final Fantasy characters have appeared at the ports and maybe even some Disney characters. The world, as a whole, could be treated like Monstro was in the first game; it doesn’t show itself on the map initially and it could spawn different characters to visit it for some unknown requests.

    [2] Treasure Quests: A unique thing that could be introduced to the series is the idea of doing certain quests in order to achieve certain ingredients (Synthesis), un-acquired treasures and maybe even fight a couple of optional bosses (Heartless, Disney, or Square Related). A request board can be set up for these specific quests to which Sora and the gang can fulfill, alluding to future bounties in different worlds, making the world feel much larger in comparison to just another world that needs to be visited; crafting another necessity of being a treasure hunter and, once more, being a pirate that’s searching for the booty.

    Solar Surfing

    [3] Alponian Solar Surfing: Arendelle’s Frozen Slider mini-game was a fun attraction that was made relevant to the story when going through the snowy environment, avoiding an avalanche and building tension when confronted by Heartless. This same involvement could be used for the Solar Surfing in this world and could even be used as a way to transition between different sectors within the world, adding to the fast-paced routes that require sky rising acrobatics that can only be pulled off when used by Sora; adding a purposeful initiative in using the mechanic and something which, in my opinion, could even lead to a fantastic looking keyblade design. In addition to this revelation, the solar surfing board could be used by our good ol’ boy Jim Hawkins and Sora (respectively) within battle for interesting combo potentials.

    [4] Treasure Planet and Portals: The destination of Treasure Planet, the involvement of portals used to get on and off of it, could play a unique role in the management of how to divvy up the world for the developers.

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  3. 101 Dalmatians’ ( The Twilight Bark)
    dalmatians
    Partners: Pongo, Perdita
    Keyblade: The Twilight Bark (A Dalmatian inspired Keyblade)


    Here’s another callback from KH1 that also has a sound reason for being one of many world’s to be properly introduced in the KH series. 101 Dalmatians inclusion in the first game, while questioning who would package puppies in a small box across multiple worlds, was a treat for those who knew of the pups and those who were successful in finding all of them before finishing the game. Now given the fact that this isn’t an origin story for them – in the traditional sense – it could still be implemented in a way that reconnects Sora’s heart with those he hasn’t seen in some time; in addition to shoehorning one of Disney’s biggest and oldest films from the classics vault. From the story to the gameplay, there are a few ways this world could be constructed:

    [1] Puppy Sora: Outside of plenty of merch, Puppy Sora would be another interesting and, dare I say, a “doggone” unique take on animal transformations for Sora. At this point in time, Sora has been a merman (Atlantis), a lion cub (Pride Rock), and a furry monster (Monsters Inc.) in regards to more feral transformations. Whether he’s a Dalmatian, Beagle, or a German Shephard, Sora’s transformation will speak to his character.

    [2] The Environment: One thing that I feel can be combined with Ventus’s appearance within Cinderella’s world in BBS and the Toy Box world in KH3 is the scope of perspective for the player. In Toy Box, the feeling of being so small and having to use so many things to get around was implemented really well for Sora and his toy companions. This same ingenuity can be done when traversing old barnyards, quiet hideouts, empty parks, snow-covered roads, etc.

    101_one_hundred_and_one_dalmatians_12

    [3] The Twilight Bark: This form of communication could be used as a way of getting around the environment, a mechanic that could involve dogs that you see helping the player to get around certain obstacles and even helping Sora to learn new things while in his puppy form; granted Sora knows how to wield a keyblade within his mouth but let’s say he learns a trick or two; after all, an old dog can always learn new tricks.

    [4] The Story: As mentioned, this would be a pseudo-origin story for the Dalmatians as it would introduce a few things that were left out of their story. For starters, the incorporation of the one, the only, Gle— Cruella De Vil making her official KH appearance within this universe. While it can be argued that her involvement in the story wouldn’t have been as impactful as the villains that sided and congregated with Maleficent from the first game, it’s to be understood that her role as a villain, especially if it leads into the realm of giving her a Heartless, would be a great induction to Disney Villains and their Heartless taking an active role in getting what they want. Just imagine: Fighting Cruella De Vil as she’s speeding down the road like a madwoman, in pursuit to get the puppies back, all while having a seemingly dangerous Heartless (Possibly the puppet one from the Toy Box possessing the toys) taking over her car and making it into just as much of a nightmarish force as the mad woman that’s driving it.
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  4. The Princess and The Frog (The Bayou)
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    Partners: Tiana (Frog), Naveen (Frog)
    Keyblade: Southern Spin (A frog-themed keyblade with a splash of color from various characters)


    My prediction for the Dalmatians was more of a guilty pleasure that had relevance to past characters and revisiting old films that, in my opinion, are still considered one of the best films that Disney has created. This choice, however, is more of a story narrative decision and one that would actually affect the mythos of KH; if done correctly. The “New Seven Princesses of Hearts” have already been eluded towards in KH3 and with the start of their ranks being that of Rapunzel, Anna, and Elsa; excluding Kairi from this scenario for story purposes. Another princess, one in the making for quite some time, could be introduced in that of Tiana. In addition to that, a few specific choices to the world would assist in how the narrative would be told – while introducing some crucial plot points for the game’s own narrative:

    [1] Human to Frog ~ Frog to Human: An interesting mechanic which could make for unique traversing in the world, and for accessing parts of the world, would be the ability to transform between a human and a frog. This could be used for when Sora initially meets Tiana and Prince Naveen, as a frog, traversing the bayou levels, while using the human portions to get through more dynamic portions of the level; this could possibly be hidden from Tiana and the others for “Order” reasons; with the exception of Mama Odie and her omnipotence towards Sora’s visit. In addition, given what’s already happened to Sora, whose to say that he won’t learn High Jump, again, from being a frog in this installment.

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    [2] Dr. Facilier: The man of mojo, the myth of the bayou, Dr. Facilier, would be an excellent villain to introduce within the series. While there are various kinds of villains and beings that are aware of the worlds outside of their own (Check out my previous article to get a lock on what I mean), I feel that Dr. Facilier would be aware of this knowledge – if only because of his “friends” – which would further push him in the direction to be involved in Sora’s demise; if Maleficent and Pete would get back into the fray of being villains and not crowd watchers. His control over the Heartless would be undeniable and his boss battle could be a reference to his song “Friends On The Other Side” with multiple phantasms, ghouls and ghosts inspired from his dark magic.

    [3] The Story: Tiana’s story would be a wonderful way to introduce, if ever so slightly, the general concerns of being born poor to being born rich and, to an even greater subtlety, the idea of being black and showing indifference to being white. Sora’s obliviousness could probably hide the racial ambiguity of the message, however, it could be a unique factor that helps to tie the characters together; plus this scene could be addressed while their frogs – making the reveal and presence to Sora that she’s human, without racial tension, a more believable life lesson. Being different and born in different circumstances doesn’t mean that one can’t be happy. This idea, if used in the correct sense, could possibly be seen as one of the most impactful stories and differences found within a Disney world and expressed in a better light through the emotional impact that KH can deliver going forward. Tiana’s story would be told with clarity, Dr. Facilier would have more of a chance to show that “he’s ready” to fight and a lesson of individuality could be shown without ill provocations.
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  5. The Incredibles (Syndrome’s Island or World of Supers)
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    Partners: Mr. Incredible, Mrs. Incredible
    Keyblade: Positively Super (A keyblade with an Incredibles color theme)


    This entry and prediction on the list is not only due to the popularity in which Incredibles has had between its premiering film and its sequel, but this is also because of the structure and narrative shown between the two films – creating a lore of its own to the ideas and identities of Supers within the film; which can be translated for Sora and the gang in future entries within the series. This would be the first and foremost  its most important entry for the world within the series – possibly it’s best and only interpretation of it – that could hit home with a few inclusions from its two films to create the best experience within the game:


    Monologuing
    [1] Syndrome: I think it goes without saying that the main villain of this world and the one that really holds the record of controlling Heartless with a strong will would be our fallen fanboy turned super villain Syndrome. If the world itself is his base, the possibilities for exploration around the island is nearly limitless and his past victories against other supers, ones that had been defeated off screen, could be shown in the various sections that you’re allowed to roam. Syndrome himself could also play commentator for these events since, much like Randall did in Monsters Inc., except his jargon and threats could be backed up by soldiers, robots, and Heartless; in addition to the meta that he already knows for both Heroes and Villains. Include knowledge to other worlds, a fantastic boss battle and a possible return nearing towards the final battle, possible, and you’ve got the perfect Syndrome implementation. (I know it’s a stretch but, come on, if there’s a man that seriously wanted to defy “Order” it would definitely be Syndrome; it’s practically his Modus Operandi)

    [2] The Island: An active volcano, a rising tower filled with soldiers and heartless, lush jungles with scattered caves, water running segments amongst night and day options (Like San Fransokyo but NOT like San Fransokyo). Wall running, Rail Grinding, and Free-Falling portions all on one map? Need I say more?

    [3] Cosmetics: Much like San Fransokyo, the world doesn’t need to make Sora, a superhero within his own right, into a symbol of justice and peace for this world. Hand him an Incredibles Mask, since Donald and Goofy would already be seen as costume wearing crimefighters, and you’ve got yourself a secret identity.
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  6. Ducktales (Old) and Ducktales (New) ~ (Sides of the Same Coin)
    ducktales-duckburg
    Partners: Scrooge (New)
    Keyblade: Number One Dime (A dime handled keyblade with dual colors from the 1987 show and the 2017 reboot)


    This prediction and last entry for this list are under the clause of a “Classic Representation” to which Nomura seemingly has introduced ever since the very first Kingdom Hearts game. You could say that Winnie the Pooh was the first classic interpretation before being replaced with the Classic Kingdom in Disney Castle, and the two sharing a seat within the same hub world of Twilight Town for their beginning adventures; one with games and one with multiple mini-games. I feel that the next best representative for the classic category should go in the way of Donald’s heritage and a founding member to an extension of Disney lore within Kingdom Hearts: Uncle Scrooge and both of his Ducktale adventures. The 1987 and 2017 adaptions of the show would be a perfect fit for the role of a classic meets present mashup; it also gives Nomura another chance at the idea of merging the old with the new that doesn’t involve time traveling. Here are some suggestions to solidify why this feathered frenzy mashup could be possible:


    [1] Alternate Dimensions and Relics: Relics like the Cornerstone of Light could be one of many relics that can assist, or threaten, the realms of worlds that are, or aren’t, presently aware in the KH verse. Since Scrooge, and possibly Donald, are no strangers to the unknown (Donald with magic and Scrooge with adventuring) it’s highly likely that treasures in Scrooge’s possession could possess the power to venture into alternate realms. Playing off the idea that Scrooge wants to expand his business practices to other worlds and realms, even if it’s an alternate version of his own, would be an interesting and likely plot for the wealthy duck. A magic mirror, a reverse clause in the Cornerstone of Light, or even an experiment gone wrong could lead to this development of having the two realities meet.

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    [2] The Duality of Uncle Scrooge: Scrooge, from the show to the KH verse, is driven but seems to lack a sense of authority. Selling sea salt ice cream, popsicles, opening a restaurant and traveling worlds seems like something that Scrooge would do, however, since Scrooge isn’t pivotal to the plot of Kingdom Hearts, it’s understandable that his greedy pursuits for money and his drive to be an absolute businessman, at the behest of forsaking others at times, could be shown with this alternate look at himself from the 2017 reboot. His life as a secret agent, adventures with Donald and Della Duck, the heart-wrenching backstory between him and his family, would all play an important role in making the old and the new relevant to one another; it could also introduce the cruel Scrooge from Ducktales past but in an entirely different way.

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    [3] Magica De Spell (Old and New): If Maleficent is the thorn of darkness towards King Mickey’s light, Magica De Spell (both of them) is the eclipsing moon to Scrooge’s sun. While both interpretations have had it out for Scrooge – some more than others – it goes without saying that the appearance of the sorceress could play a very big part in the case that the two dimensions connected. By aligning themselves with the Heartless, two different kinds to showcase the old and new varieties, the two have more in common to completely destroy Donald and Scrooge (If written well) that the interface of one Duckburg clashing with another could be the essential start of something new; perhaps a conflict between the now and “what if” worlds that Disney has established in its canonical lore.

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    [4] Backstory for Scrooge and Donald’s KH adventuring: An old hand to Disney’s initial comics starring Donald and Uncle Scrooge showcase the two of them, in addition to the triplets, going on adventures and finding treasure in the process. This content is canon to the comics and lore between the two, however, what does that translate to within the KH verse. Donald is the head wizard, Scrooge is a wealthy businessman making investments across worlds, and the triplets are selling Gummi Ship parts. An explanation of their connection would do good in explaining a bit more about Donald’s backstory within this interpretation of his character; unless their going to hide the fact that Donald was once a black belt martial artist in one game, or a member of the navy, or a used car salesman, and was even a robot in one Epic game.

Character Structure, Creative Writing, Disney, JRPG, Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts 2, Kingdom Hearts 3, Narrative Structure, Plot Structure, PS4, Sequels, Square-Enix, Uncategorized, Video Games, Xbox One

Kingdom Hearts: What’s After KH3? ~ Thoughts, Predictions and Theories

KH3 Secret Ending 1

Kingdom Hearts 3: A 14-year long experience that has been crafted for the fans has long since been delivered on its release date of January 29 in 2019; that is until an inevitable final mix comes out – fixing and/or adding things to such a prominent entree for the franchise. In completing the game, collecting most of the lucky emblems and various other misadventures, you’ll be rewarded with a secret ending that has promoted fans to go in the direction of the most simplistic conclusions to absolutely bizarre theories in regards to the future of the series. In this article, I’ll be going over seven thoughts, predictions and/or theories which could influence the future of KH games and the filler titles leading to KH4. And to get this out of the way – THERE WILL BE SPOILERS FOR THE GAME – so if you haven’t finished your experience that is KH3, then I suggest you save this article for a future read.


  1. The World of Broken Dreams and The Afterlife ~ (Verum Rex and Cut Content)KH3 Secret Ending
    One thing that the secret ending does to most, if not all, Kingdom Heart fans is amaze and confuse the player as to what will happen next. Now, while this ending showcases a future adventure for Riku and Sora, effectively bringing an answer to a rather vague – if not wandering – question, where does this take the game and our unsuspecting protagonists towards? My theory is that through the Power of Waking, a power that was explicitly told isn’t supposed to be used for “traversing worlds”, possibly has a price in regards to how it’s being used. Sora had used it in order to retrieve the hearts of his fallen comrades after their first encounter with Terra-Xehanort and an army of Heartless, to which Young Xehanort remarks “There’s no saving you” and leaving the player in confusion – even after his  final defeat, stating that “Your time in this world is…” which otherwise would’ve seemed like smoke, given his disappearance, but with Sora’s disappearance at the end – watched amongst the other hopefuls of the story – it’s entirely possible that the next game could solve that very mystery. The setup for this scene puts both Sora and Riku in two different worlds. In Sora’s case, it’s highly believed that it’s Shibuya from the popular series “The World Ends With You” which has already made a stapled intro as one of Tetsuya Nomura’s creations during Dream Drop Distance, a game which also invokes the power of waking, as both Sora and Riku traverse the sleeping worlds. One particular quote uttered by the cast of TWEWY is “See you in Shibuya” which fans have suspected might’ve lead to the inclusion of a TWEWY world, now shows promise that in Sora’s involvement with the story on a much grander scale.See you in ShibuyaOn the other hand, Riku’s destination seems to be a little bit more of a mystery. It appears that his world is connected to the video game world of Verum Rex from the Toy Box World. Now, if that were the case, it would result in two different methods:1. It’s possible that Riku had visited the Toy Box world, which in itself is already a copy of the world to which Toy Story originates from, entering through the same screen Sora had entered, leading to the events of being within said game world.Or2. Riku, as a Keyblade Master, is taught by Yen Sid in how to properly use the Power of Waking which leads to a world that is sleeping and that’s also awake. Verum Rex’s appearance within that world is an amalgamation of Final Fantasy Versus XIII (A game in which Nomura was the director for before its change in direction with gameplay and story), with the main characters being alternates of other characters (Which would make for a shoe-in for future Final Fantasy references/appearances down the line) and the concept that the world Riku is visiting is a world that also houses other incomplete ideas, good and bad, that were never made into final products.If the second mini-theory within this theory is what made you say “Hmmmm…it’s possible” than the next one will be all the more interesting and, hopefully, a decision that can be reached quickly with Disney’s allowance.
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  2. Oswald’s Return and Epic Mickey’s Representation (Forgotten Classics)Epic Mickey - Epic
    The introduction and reclaiming of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in Disney’s favor, re-introduced for the masses whose only seen his appearance in vintage cartoons and Epic Mickey (A game which went over well with the masses and was a primary source for Oswald’s appreciation as a precursor to Mickey Mouse), would be a great addition and a fantastic concept to follow upon within a world that’s based on incomplete, or forgotten, ideas. Oswald’s appearance would not only be unique and very Disney (Given that he was created by Walt Disney) but his character’s history, in a world that seemingly has forgotten about him, would not only match with his modus operandi from Epic Mickey, but it would also be credited to his comeback as a character. Riku as the protagonist would be the perfect example in showcasing what it means to be in darkness and then to be within the light, walking the road to dawn (Alongside wielding a keyblade named after it) to show that there’s a connection; also given the amount of time Riku and Mickey have spent together, alongside Mickey’s emotional state in being unable to save Aqua – something to which could be shared with the loss of his brother in Oswald – it isn’t impossible to believe that Mickey would’ve talked about an “older brother” at some point; which is just as relevant as Goofy talking about his son, Max, or Donald’s revelation in learning magic when he was apart of The Three Caballeros. Hire me, Square-Enix, I’m a gold mine waiting to happen.Epic Mickey - Height
    The dynamic of introducing Oswald as a living, breathing Disney character, rather than re-introducing him in the Classic Kingdom as a character that Sora, Donald, and Goofy just happened to miss, creates a base for Oswald’s character; in addition to adding lore to the character that Disney created and just seemingly forgot about. While Mickey is the king of Disney Castle, a world in which houses most of the main Disney affiliates around Mickey Mouse cartoons, it’s not impossible to believe that Oswald’s role in Epic Mickey as the leader of “The Wasteland” couldn’t be attributed as a world; maybe even as a phenomenon – if the concept is about “forgotten” or “incomplete” ideas. On the other hand, Oswald’s reception to audiences since 2006 have been received well and fleshing out his character, in addition to Epic Mickey’s conflict which makes Oswald relatable and somewhat sympathetic, would be a perfect metaphor for the possible conflicts that come with forgetting others; instilling the principle of trust and honesty for friendships in addition to the theme of light and darkness.Epic Mickey - Despair
    Overall, Oswald’s addition to the KH crew of Disney characters would be a welcomed addition. With an attitude that’s more gritty than Mickey’s hopeful optimism, a theme that is just dark enough for Nomura to craft around – in addition to the storyline established from the game that re-introduced the character, Oswald could be the potentially epic cross between Nomura’s Final Fantasy Formula and Disney’s Family-Friendly outlines.
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  3. A Keyblade Warrior That’s Not Sora. {A New Light Appears}KH Union-3
    I may be in the minority when I say this but…Kingdom Hearts Union X [Cross] was the most derailing bit of backstory that I’ve ever seen for Kingdom Hearts. Did it give us answers about the Keyblade War and the formation of the Keyblade Graveyard, in addition to multiple backstories for some characters and the most confusing game of “Why is this a thing?!” in morbid detail – yes. It’s because of this long backstory, alongside the confusing notion of kids seemingly inheriting the light to become Keyblade wielders, that the expansion of other Keyblade users in this shared universe can be announced. While the series has already given us older keyblade users in the form of Terra and Aqua, in addition to Mickey and Yen Sid (Don’t let their looks fool you, I’m sure there pretty old by this point), I believe that we are at the perfect moment to introduce a new wielder of light for future chronicles. Whether Tetsuya Nomura continues with our MC Sora or decides to go in a different direction, here are some interesting points to make note of when constructing a new keyblade wielding protagonist.KH World
    1. Heartless: Yes, those things that seem to appear to devour people’s hearts but aren’t, or are, controlled by Disney villains, Organization Members, The Nort Squad or anyone tinkering on the verge of darkness is a continuing incentive for a new protagonist taking up arms against them. While Nobodies could return, I say with reluctance, Heartless are still the main force that seemingly can lead a world to destruction, countless lives being lost and the constant loom that a keyblade wielder can, or is, nearby. In addition, the Heartless’s true origins have yet to be revealed; given the amount of info that’s been divulged, it’s entirely possible that there’s a bigger story to these heartless beings. While Nobodies can be linked to somebody and the Unversed are connected to Vanitas, it’s not as black and yellow for the Heartless; unless they want to bring back Dream Eaters.


    2. Keyblades: Before you scroll past this obvious fact, I want you to take a moment to ask yourself something: How did Riku get his newest keyblade, Braveheart, from Yen Sid? It’s shown that there are multiple types of keyblades – ones linked with prophecies like the Kingdom Key and Kingdom Key D – so whose to say that another Keyblade with properties of light and darkness doesn’t exist in the same way that ‘A Way to the Dawn’ does? Passing the Kingdom Key around like a discount Excalibur seems, in my opinion, lackluster to the importance of other keyblades whose origins have yet to be told. With a new protagonist comes a new direction for Keyblades, a formula that hasn’t been wrong since its introduction.


    3. World Interactions: KH3 introduced a few new things to the expansive world. Gummiphones, Lucky Emblems, Businesses in various hub world (Sea Salt Ice Cream, Bistros, Popsicles, etc.) was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg of innovations for this entree. While Gummi Ships were inherently discovered by Mickey, seemingly used by him and various others, this continued discussion of “exploration” could be seen and shown in a different light for our future protagonist. KH3’s ending emphasizes that Hayner, Pence, and Olette were FINALLY able to go the beach…..except this is on Destiny Islands. “Order” could be ignored for this situation, however, another addition to Gummi Ships could be in the exploration of “Spirit Tracks” (Not be confused with the Zelda title of the same name). In KH2, the group finds themselves at Yen Sid’s tower without a Gummi Ship. Exploration by train, disguised by magic, appearing in Disney worlds of some kind just seems like another unique take on exploration.


    4. Final Fantasy/Square-Enix/Tetsuya Nomura Characters: In this stew of Disney lies another ingredient that fans seemingly have had the pleasure of experiencing since its introduction – Square-Enix Cameos. In Sora’s introduction, we’re surprised to find that a young Selphie (FF8), Wakka, and Tidus (Both from FFX) reside on Destiny Islands, whereas other Final Fantasy characters like Cloud, Squall (Leon), Aerith and others, are seemingly the same counterparts that were featured within their original game appearances. Since it appears that Final Fantasy characters are un-obligated to obey Order (Zack, Cloud, Auron), alongside Nomura’s own creations, the idea of throwing in characters to promote intrigue for exploration, getting stronger and essentially doing what’s right could be an added motivation for our new protagonist


    5. A Better Purpose: Whether the boat in the first game was a metaphor for life, or a really bad joke, a crucial piece to a new characters development is through finding a purpose and fulfilling that role. Sora’s beginning journey alongside Riku and Kairi was filled with child-like wonder in which the three, despite not knowing the outside world-world, would voyage upon. In Roxas’s story for KH2, it was all about getting to the beach, which was never there, as Roxas slowly came to the conclusion that he was apart of Sora and that he, in turn, needed to return to him. If there’s to be a new purpose that isn’t logically flawed, it could be the start of something new and potentially a driving force in which the newest protagonist strives towards.


  4. The Seven Princesses of Hearts and ‘World Order’ (World Representation)HonorableTidyKitten-size_restricted
    Princesses, am I right… that they play a rather big part in the construction of worlds and the conquest of many a diabolical plan? No? Well, if KH3 hasn’t already stated it, the future evolution of princesses could be taking steps in the right direction in the future. Ever since the beginning, rules have been put into place for the game; in-game wise and throughout its development. The Disney worlds had to be shown in a respectable manner that wouldn’t slander the properties involved and that didn’t break the mold in which Disney had formulated their existing characters. This rule by Disney is also the inside joke, or lore, that “World Order” is to be kept when visiting other worlds; so telling Rapunzel that she will find herself in another world – even if its Arendelle – is a big no-no for Sora and the gang. However, through Marluxia and Larxene’s interactions in The Kingdom of Corona and Arendelle, it’s stated that The New Seven Princesses of Hearts would be a fall-back plan to the gathering Warriors of Light. While this plan isn’t fulfilled and the only known princesses are revealed to be Anna, Elsa and Rapunzel (With Kairi as a possible candidate from the 1st game) it does bring interest to an old idea that had been executed in the first Kingdom Hearts game and hasn’t been touched upon since then.original
    Ever since their original appearance, Disney has continued to add princesses from modern fairy tales, created new ones for different minorities (A trend that has subtly been adapted in various forms of Disney media) and instilled them with a sense of identity and opinions that align with feminism; forming a stronger image towards women and how they are portrayed with the times; in turn changing the status quo of a ‘weak princess’. If that’s the case, future princesses that will be introduced/added into the series will have a lot to show in regards to their representing this image of a new princess, however, it also might mean that they, too, will have to take up arms in defense against the next impending foe that hopes to use them. While Rapunzel’s hair is currently not golden and Elsa/Anna haven’t discovered the mysteries of what’s impending in Frozen 2, the steps to bringing about four princesses, three if you’re excluding Kairi, to be socially and competitively ready for darkness, is an exciting venture.


    The Kingdom of DunBroch ( Merida), Sugar Rush (Vanellope von Schweetz) and The Bayou, or Jazz Age (Tiana) are a few worlds that could come to mind for certain princesses, showcasing their resolve and their ability to defend themselves. Merida’s archery would surely give the archer Heartless a run for their money, while Tiana (In frog form) could hop, kick and show her skills in froggy combat, while Vanellope’s control over her glitchy moments would ring her in for a unique combatant. Revisiting old worlds and seeing the progression made by other princesses would be another inspiring venture that only builds the reputation of Disney Princesses and their progression. Visiting Atlantica to see that Ariel is married and with a child would be a surreal experience, however, it would also be another example in showing how much she’s grown from the young woman we saw in KH1 to the woman she’s become in the future; having a child, being a parent, and caring for another life that isn’t your own. Fundamental lessons on life, while still being Disney, is something that can be visualized in KH games. If love can be shown in an intimate setting like it was for Rapunzel and Eugene, familiarized with a family with Anna and Elsa, the same can be said for the rest of the princesses.
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  5. Final Fantasy’s Connection (If it ain’t Disney, then Square it)
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    It’s no secret that Final Fantasy’s appearances within KH3 was incredibly minimal; unless you count the organization and some of our keyblade wielders. While Nomura states that the inclusion of characters from the previous two games wasn’t necessary for the ending to the Seekers of Darkness Saga, a sentiment that brought mixed reviews from multiple players, I for one thought that it was necessary given the “lore” between Xehanort and Keyblade Wielders. Its conclusion with the Warriors of Light and The Seekers of Darkness seemed right in the end; otherwise, it would’ve been an insult to see Leon, Tifa, or even Cloud being outdone by Xehanort – forget the Keyblade War, the Final Fantasy War would start the moment a FF character was knocked out.


    With that tangent out of the way, Final Fantasy characters are, as a whole, an unexplained character in the KH series. For gamers and fans of the series, their appearance within the game was a staple that attracted them to the series. Cloud’s alternate design had fans wanting more and knowing the story behind such a drastic change in his appearance; looking a bit more fit for a final fantasy than his initial Final Fantasy outfit. However, in most cases, the characters of the Final Fantasy games are treated more like cameos to the expanding verse of Kingdom Hearts. Whether it’s because Disney has more of a claim in having most of their ideas being put forth than anything Square-related, or it’s a creative choice by Nomura, it still shows that there’s a lack of evidence for some characters and the conclusion to their stories.


  6. Wreck-It-Ralph’s Meta (A World without ‘Order’)
    ralph-breaks-the-internet-wreck-it-ralph-2-chinese-poster-zm-2880x1800While Ralph made it in as a summon, rather than as a full-blown world and character, there’s a distinct possibility that the reason for his exclusion is due to the ‘lore’ and established meta found within Kingdom Hearts currently. As Ralph is a video game character, established as a character within Disney, set within a world that is seemingly the present-day Earth, there’s a possibility that Nomura might have, or not, seen how meta breaking the game itself would’ve been to the third installment; to imagine that the princesses are aware of Sora’s adventures, alongside the fanbase, might’ve derailed the story and would’ve given Nomura the perfect excuse to confuse the masses and theorists for the franchise going forward.gcc_interior_revised_webWreck-It-Ralph’s world, on its own, adds a unique spin on the order of ‘Order’ in regards to worlds. This element of meta would be seen as a breathtaking reverse of the tropes that have been implemented in most of the Disney Worlds – that the bad guy is always the bad guy and nothing else. A reverse of this trope, alongside the exploration of two or three worlds (Fix-it Felix Jr., Hero’s Duty, and Sugar Rush) would add into the element that there’s a world that has multiple worlds and those worlds, in itself, is a world that can easily be lost by another force that isn’t just that of the Heartless; of course, Heartless are just the natural glitches to the series.HwBt
    But even in a world where ‘Order’ is questionable, the enforcement of some kind can be reminded in Ralph’s actions in becoming something that he isn’t – a hero. Further enforcement could appear in Vanellope’s plight as a supposed glitch, Turbo’s underlining plan as an actual glitch, amongst many other things which adds to this wonderfully intricate meta, of meta, for the world. The playful interpretations that Nomura could execute within this world would be, if nothing else, entertaining to the rules set in place by the game. Future interpretations of the world, such as adding the internet, would further play with the idea that this world isn’t at all like the others; a world without order. However, until it’s eventual creation, the idea for such a concept seems closer to fruition with KH3’s resolve and the beginning trek for KH4.
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  7. Disney’s Lore in Connection To The Nexus’s of Worlds (If it ain’t Square, Dis-ney to happen)
    WorldsTo say that the worlds are fragments of different continuities, memories or even Walt Disney’s manipulation of the characters themselves would be, or could be, the actual state of the Kingdom Hearts Conspiracy Theory Circle at the current moment. In the future, hopefully, I believe it would be beneficial to learn more about the Disney Lore that exists within the KH universe in order to build branching understandings of the worlds that are ‘aware’ and those that aren’t. This popular topic was touched upon briefly from the very first game in the series, Kingdom Hearts, where King Triton reminds our heroes in regards to “meddling with other worlds” and even acknowledges the knowledge of keyblade wielders. While you could argue that this has been tossed under the rug for less development, it’s possible that the idea and the lore that encompasses the rest of the main Disney cast, amongst others, is selectively told and/or known by Disney characters. Here are three categories of lore to which the game could expand upon, reinvigorating the idea that Disney holds a special charge within the games:


    1. House of M (Disney Castle/Known Characters)
    HouseofMouse_RichBIf you remember the popular Disney show “House of Mouse” it was a show that brought the entire continuity of established Disney characters, from their earliest renditions to the most present newcomers, in a 30 minute romp filled with a couple of classic Disney cartoons and in house, quite literally, antics from the main cast. I use this example an example to showcase the cast of characters who have, or will, play future roles in the continuation of Disney and Square’s unique adventure. In BBS, it’s shown that Horace (Fruit Ball), The Triplets, Scrooge McDuck, and even Pete are aware of the worlds and the expansion of the said universe. While Pete and Scrooge expanded their horizons to different worlds in their own way, there’s still a healthy amount of characters that could still be introduced to the KH universe. Mortimer Mouse could be the second antagonistic force to Mickey who could be working in the castle, setting up for his takeover of the magical kingdom, or perhaps Ludwig Von Duck (The Duck-ish version of Merlin but with an emphasis on magic) could pose more interesting theories which may, or may not, have complete validity towards the situation at hand; though his necessity would be a fun way for Nomura to use fan theories and the like.

    CD12N - Male Idea

    Other known characters to this group would include characters that share in the same background with already established characters. For example, characters that have been associated with Donald and Goofy like Max (Goofy’s Son) from the Goofy Movies and The Three Caballeros (Panchito and Jose) would be a welcome addition to the cast alongside adding character moments with the established cast. Max, depending on the version we get, could be proud of his dad and wishes to be something in the world but that doesn’t revolve around being what Goofy is (In servitude to the king, being a goof like his dad, etc.) and could play itself out to the two Goofy Movies that have been released (at the time of this article being written); outlining Goofy’s dedication to Mickey and his lack of acceptance to Max’s ideals. On the other hand, Donald’s journey of magic and how he came to know of it, at the very least, could be outlined by the appearance of the other two Caballeros in that of Panchito and Jose, showcasing where Donald had been before the three of them united together.

    disney_castle_kingdom_hearts_family_and_friends_ii_by_9029561_d7iiyps-fullview

    With the re-appearance of the Three Caballeros, reviving a prominently known trio outside of MDG, it would continually add lore to that of the Disney characters we are already aware of within the game’s universe. This not only would add more content in the use of Disney but would also establish a core group of characters that are privy to the knowledge of other worlds and how that can be managed for future games. Whether this leads to a Ducktales spinoff world or a bigger expansion of Disney Castle, the inclusion of more characters within this grouping would not only establish Disney in a productive way but includes the association of other known characters and giving them a time to shine in their own way.

    2. Villains and Gods (Order’s Guardians and Rebels)
    disneyvillains

    There was a unique initiative that had been introduced in the first Kingdom Hearts and was re-iterated in Birth by Sleep: Conscious awareness of other worlds for Disney Villains; at least a good portion of them. It’s shown that Maleficent gathered the group of villains to execute the “Seven Princesses of Hearts” plan for their own malevolence, however, this category seems to have decreased in recent installments. Kingdom Hearts 3 and their villains’ awareness to other worlds was, in a word, absent. While I agree that, for the given situation, throwing another situation in which villains had gained awareness of other worlds – all while Xehanort is causing mass pandemonium – probably would not have been the smartest decision in regards to the story’s pacing; which is for another article. The importance of having villains that are meta to their own meta adds a sort of tongue and cheek to their goals being stopped by the protagonists of their respective worlds; Hades was the best representation of this rule due to his status as a villain and furthermore, the status of being a god leads him to have more knowledge than your normal villain.

    Speaking of gods, Zeus’s title as “King of the Gods” could be a nice little nod towards the same established title that King Triton has, aware that there are other worlds besides his own and could’ve imparted some sort of knowledge to Sora and the gang after their victory over Hades; given that Final Fantasy characters, Heartless, Nobodies and Titans have just been ignoring this whole ‘Order’ stick; unless you count Zack who, more or less, had some common sense as a kid to disguise himself. Zeus’s testament as a god, while unspoken of in regards to knowing about other worlds, was still established in a photo mission by the moogles; acknowledging his presence and stature could mean that he’s a known figure to the ever universally thrifty moogles. On the other hand, those with power – such as Merlin – exhibits this trait to which he, more or less, is seeming with power and uses it however he pleases. Merlin has popped up in Traverse Town to set up shop in an abandoned building alongside the Fairy Godmother in Kingdom Hearts, assisted the Resistance in regards to the heartless that were taking over Radiant Garden (in addition to keeping “The 100 Acre Wood” safe) and is even capable of summoning Kairi and Lea into a place where “time doesn’t matter” sounds like a unique clause in regards to those who have such power. In addition to this and Yen Sid, two wizards with extraordinary power and knowledge, their essentially The Watchers of the KH universe; Marvel references aside, that is.

    3. Otherworldly Spirits (The World; as itself)
    The Sea
    With the exception of Monstro, which is a whale of a tale in and of itself, the idea of a world being aware of its place in the KH universe has never really been explored in recent games. The 100 Acre Wood is a fair example of a world that’s unaware of its place in the world, however, a great example of a world that’s aware of its own presence would be that of a Moana World. Her world would not only have a representation of a spirit (The Sea) but it would also share in the former group’s involvement with the inclusion of Maui (Demigod) and his rebellion against Te Fiti (A God), Tamatoa (Villain) and the monsters urge in getting the Heart of Te Fiti, and Te Ka (A God but also a villain) who is seemingly cursing the world for Maui’s negligence.

    Te-Ka-moana-41048367-540-220

    While Calypso, a sea goddess, cryptically gave advice to Sora in regards to what he had to do in order to gain her power there was never a moment in time to which the confrontation of doing such a task and the task actually being acknowledged by the keyblade warrior was fulfilled. Moana’s entire goal for this movie is in returning the Heart of Te Fiti, thus the World’s acknowledgment of darkness, while using the lore of a Heartless God that commands the Heartless, could be a unique and interesting concept that could be implemented in the future of world-building other worlds.

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