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Analysis: Kingdom Hearts III TGS 2018 Trailers
The first trailer we received was a short glimpse into the world of Big Hero 6, finally showing us what was previously confirmed way back in 2015. Although a lot of what we see in this short trailer is expanded upon in the full version, there are still some interesting things to pick out.
In the first scene we see Sora, Donald and Goofy fighting Heartless on the San Fransokyo Bridge, before seeing GoGo being launched into the air. Baymax and Hiro arrive and introduce themselves as Big Hero 6, so this clearly marks the start of the world and the first time that everyone properly meets.
This is also the first time we get to see the Big Hero 6 Keyblade and it’s full of callbacks to the film. The blade is made up of nanobots which played a big role in the film, whilst the handle is that of Hiro’s bot fighter shown at the start of the movie. Rather than a metal chain, this Keyblade is connected with Honey Lemon’s signature chem-balls, with the keychain itself being Baymax’s personality chip made by Tadashi.
Several quick shots of the Big Hero 6 team are then shown to us, with Wasabi and Honey Lemon being attacked by what looks like Bug Blox, the main threat from Kingdom Hearts Re:coded, but more on this later. GoGo is also talking about what it means to be a team and how they need to delegate, presumably talking to Hiro who acts as the team leader.
The scene quickly changes to one from the Monsters Inc world, with Randall telling Sora and the gang to not leave without saying goodbye. The shock from Sora seems to imply that they’ve already met at this point and that Randall is a threat, so this clearly isn’t friendly.
Sora is then seen with Rapunzel and Flynn in the Tangled world, fighting against Marluxia’s Nobodies who seem like they’ve just been introduced. The animation on Flynn is particularly cartoony, which is great to see. A quick shot of Young Xehanort saying he has more to observe in the Toy Story world is then shown before moving on to the first lot of gameplay.
Before any real gameplay details are shown, we also get to see that the partner for this world is none other than Baymax himself. We get our first look at the Keyblade transformation for the Big Hero 6 Keyblade in this first bit of gameplay. This transformation turns Sora’s clothes into a greenish colour, similar to the Frozen world’s transformation, which seems to indicate agility.
This transformation is called Nano Arms and it switches between different forms including a sword and a hammer. Sora also uses a projectile attack with it, where it turns into a large hand and shoots a large ball of energy. The enemy that the gang is fighting here is brand new and has never been seen before, although we do get to see it play a bigger role in the extended trailer. As a side-note, the health and magic bars shown in this trailer clearly show that Big Hero 6 is an end-game world.
New gameplay is then shown of Sora and Baymax on top of the San Fransokyo rooftops, which implies that the whole of the city will be explorable from top to bottom.
We then see Sora running through a night-time area, which is very reminiscent of the docks from the movie. We also get shown the shotlock for the Big Hero 6 Keyblade, which has Sora shooting out a stream of nano-bots at the enemy.
This trailer also gives us a proper look at how Gummi Ships are going to function in the game, with customisation being confirmed. The level of customisation on offer here is pretty impressive, with all of the ships looking very distinct. Some of the notable references here include a ship shaped like a Moogle’s head and a ship based on the racing karts from Wreck It Ralph’s Sugar Rush world.
Gummi Ship gameplay seems to be very similar to Kingdom Hearts II’s version of it, with some sections showing the same score counter as was seen there. However, we also get to see sections of Gummi Ship gameplay that feature a mini-map and full freedom of movement, which seems to tease a focus on space exploration that we’ve never really seen before in Kingdom Hearts. There also seems to be a level counter that changes throughout the trailer, which might indicate that the Gummi Ship has an individual level counter that be increased through exploration.
The rest of the trailer is quick flashes of story scenes that are all expanded upon greatly for the extended trailer, which is where we’ll dive into them more. The one scene that isn’t featured in the extended trailer is the opening scene where Vanitas is shown with Xemnas on the Keyblade graveyard saying “Only when your hopes have been broken by battle upon battle can the key to Kingdom Hearts be claimed”. This clearly shows that Kingdom Hearts III is going to make us all miserable, with Sora being put through his paces like never before.
That’s everything for the short TGS 2018 trailer, so let’s move onto the real meat of this analysis with the recently released extended version!
Before we look at the trailer though, we have to mention that as well as this massive load of gameplay and story information to dissect, we were also finally shown the Kingdom Hearts III box art and it is absolutely gorgeous. This piece, drawn by Nomura himself, has the Destiny Trio, Seasalt Trio, Wayfinder Trio as well as Mickey, Donald, Goofy and Namine all together on one building, facing a clock tower that counts up to thirteen. This art is full of little details that really make it shine, such as the Darkling statue holding what looks like Lux, and a little cat statue that heavily resembles Nomura’s own cat Deshi.
Nomura has previously stated that all of the cover arts from the Remixes all the way to Kingdom Hearts III would have something that ties them all together and we finally know what that is. Across each cover art, the sky has been a different colour, such as having a sunset in 1.5 and nighttime in 2.8. In the Kingdom Hearts III box art, the sky is a mixture of all of these colours, forming one sky. This is a clear reference to the famous quote, “One sky, one destiny”, but it also really makes the cover art stand out.
The new extended trailer for Kingdom Hearts III starts by showing us a scene all too familiar- the chess match between Young Xehanort and Young Eraqus. Both characters have had updated looks, which results in them both looking a little older.
The true focus here is the chess board, which once again features Sora surrounded by enemies. We can’t see who it is, but several of the light side of the board have been taken out, which makes it look like it’s just Sora left in play. This is presumably all symbolism for the final battle, but it’s a scary possibility for Sora to be left on his own. Eraqus doesn’t take Sora being on his own as the end though, as he continues his turn before the scene changes.
We then see Sora, Donald, Goofy and Big Hero 6 about to take on the Heartless that they were previously fighting on the San Fransokyo bridge. Whether this is a repeated boss fight or just a new type of Heartless isn’t clear as they treat this Heartless like a pretty big threat. Sora then affectionately refers to himself, Donald and Goofy as “Keyblade Hero 3”, which is pretty cute.
More Big Hero 6 gameplay is then shown to us, starting off with Sora running up the side of a building. It seems like movement has been tweaked since the E3 demo as Sora now seems like he can angle himself slightly without completely changing directions. The wall shine that was very present in previous gameplay also seems to have calmed down a lot, only appearing at the bottom of the building. Sora is also attacking some sentry Heartless that seem to stick to walls. They were previously shown off in the Toy Story world.
Sora and Baymax are then seen using a link attack, Intercept Jet, which has Sora riding Baymax and attacking alongside him. Sora is also seen using the finisher from the Nano Arms Keyblade Transformation, which has him jumping into a big ball of nanobots and firing them out in several spikes, causing area of effect damage.
We also get to see a first glimpse of the world boss battle against Dark Baymax, who is seen with a lot of bars of health whilst being chased by Sora and Baymax. Dark Baymax is being assisted by Bug Blox, which make several appearances throughout this trailer most notably in the next scene.
Sora is seen facing a massive fist made out of red Bug Blox, whilst also being trapped in a square made out of them. The massive fist attacks him and disperses in a similar way to the Devil’s Wave from 0.2 Birth By Sleep.
A new minigame is also shown in this gameplay section, which features Sora running, grinding and diving through glowing rings across the city. We’ve never seen something like this in previous Kingdom Hearts games, so it’s nice to see some focus on movement for once.
After this slice of gameplay we get back into some story cutscenes. The first shows Sora, Baymax, GoGo and Hiro sitting on top of the San Fransokyo Bridge eating chocolate ice cream. Hiro is talking about Tadashi and his impact on the world and how he lives on in Baymax, which is very reminiscent of how Roxas lives on in Sora even if he’s not present.
This whole section purposefully mirrors scenes with Roxas and the Twilight gang which is made clear when Sora starts to picture them over the Big Hero 6 gang. This is our first true look at Roxas in the new engine and he looks incredible. Sora then looks on in confusion, which presumably means he still hasn’t found a way to return Roxas for good. Perhaps this scene is part of what causes him to try and find a way.
The next scene shows Riku and Mickey in an area that is almost definitely the Realm of Darkness before they meet Aqua. Although their conversation about being stronger doesn’t really reveal much, the fact that Riku’s hair is different from how we’ve previously seen it makes it seem as if this is before he returns from the realm of darkness and presumably gets a haircut. Although nothing is set in stone, it’s getting a bit easier to piece together certain aspects of Kingdom Hearts III’s story.
Poor Ienzo. In the next story cutscene we see Sora, Donald and Goofy in the Gummi Ship getting some sort of video call from Ienzo, although none of them seem very happy about it, instead wanting to talk to Riku. This is a very cute exchange, but it also gives us our first ever Unreal Engine look at Jiminy Cricket, who can be seen besides Sora. Considering he hasn’t been seen or mentioned yet, it’s good to see confirmation that he’s actually in the game. Now we just wait for Pluto!
The next three scenes of this trailer don’t do much more than just showing off the Disney worlds. We get to see the new pollen Heartless in the Tangled world, a conversation between Sora and Anna about saving Elsa and most interestingly of all, the appearance of Davy Jones in the Pirates world. Nothing much to analyse here, but it’s nice that the focus isn’t just on massive story beats.
We also finally get an extended look at Sora finding the Master’s Defender on the shores of Destiny Island. Just like in the original reveal trailer, Sora picks it up with some confusion, but we now also get to see that Goofy sees him with the Keyblade and tells him “May your heart be your guiding key”.
Sora takes this rather literally, but it could be just the thing that he needs to find Ventus and maybe even Aqua, as it was with this Keyblade that Aqua stored him away, especially when we’ve seen him use his Keyblade to guide him over several games now.
Thanks to the E3 2018 trailers, we already knew that Luxord was looking for the Black Box in the Pirates of the Caribbean world, but here he confirms his intentions once more and says that “No one knows what’s in the chest we’re looking for”. We still don’t know why they’re looking in the Pirates world, but some secrets have to be saved for the full game.
A very interesting scene comes from a conversation between Sora and Larxene in the Frozen world, who reveals that Organisation XIII have already found all of their vessels. Whether or not this is a lie is up to the player’s interpretation, but Sora, Donald and Goofy’s reactions seem to imply that it is true. It’s also interesting to note that the world behind them is frozen (heh) in time, although why this is happening isn’t clear.
Hayner, Pence and Olette make another appearance in the trailer, in which they say they’re going to help Sora find Roxas. They stand outside the abandoned mansion, which means that this scene probably takes place just before they find the computer in the basement, which was shown in an E3 trailer. It seems like Sora has two options for restoring Roxas, one following his data self and the other giving into the darkness.
Following all of that story excitement, we get some more Pirates of the Caribbean gameplay, featuring a ship boss fight against the Kraken. This could be the end boss fight of the world, which would make sense considering how this scene is taking place in the middle of a rainstorm at night. Something strange about this gameplay is that a meter appears in the top left for another ship, which probably holds Will, Elizabeth and the other Pirates characters.
Some on-foot gameplay is also shown from the Pirates world, which shows us the finisher for the Storm Flag Keyblade transformation. This stylish finisher summons some Kraken arms from the ground and deals damage to all enemies surrounding Sora, and it’s definitely one of the cooler finishers so far. This clip also shows the return of the Gambler Nobodies, which is a nice reference to Luxord being the Organisation member for this world.
The ‘Goofy Curling’ gameplay we previously saw during the Frozen reveal trailer also makes a return in this extended trailer, but this time in an area from Olympus. The background makes it look like Thebes, but we’ve never seen this specific area in past trailers. Sora, Donald and Goofy seem to be chasing after a specific, pudding-shaped Heartless, who also makes an appearance during the photo mode mini-game. Much like Mushrooms before him, this Heartless is probably used to signify some world mini-games.
We also finally get to see that Kingdom Hearts III will indeed include a photo mode, the staple of this console generation! This looks like a fantastic inclusion, and it’s going to make sure the game has plenty of content for years to come. The same pudding Heartless makes an appearance here, and it seems like he’s even posing for the photo! Looking at the UI for this photo mode shows that Sora can take change between front and back cameras, and even change his expression for the photo.
The final gameplay section for this trailer shows a boss battle against a massive ice wolf Heartless, with Marshmallow giving Sora a hand. We get to see the link attack between them, called Avalanche Breath, and we also see them freeze and shatter a massive ball of darkness. This might even be the final boss battle of the world, especially when considering the amount of health the boss has and the fact that Marshmallow probably joins your party quite late into the world.
Xemnas and Xigbar are then seen having a conversation in Twilight Town about one of the vessels following their path and how they’ll destroy them if they don’t follow it. It’s not very clear who they’re actually talking about here, but the camera pans to Sora which heavily implies that they mean him.
This trailer also finally shows us the return of everyone’s favourite dancing enthusiast- Demyx. He is seen here talking to Vexen about someone’s plan, and the background looks extremely similar to how Radiant Gardens was laid out, which hopefully means that it’ll be making an appearance in the game. The appearance of Vexen here and Ansem later has caused many people to speculate that certain members of the Organisation here are actually undercover and working against Xehanort, with the evidence being that Ansem is shown to be alive and that both Vexen and Ienzo were seen to have good relationships with him. The mention of a ‘plan’ gives this theory some credence, although we’ll have to wait to see if it pans out.
The short trailer that we got earlier this week teased a new character being ‘norted’ and the extended cut finally shows us who- Data Riku. Since there have been so many different versions of Riku, it’s hard to pin down which is which but considering this Riku wears an organisation coat and appears in a world that is rife with Bug Blox (the enemy from Re:coded), it’s undoubtedly him and not Riku Replica. The fact that he says “We’ve always been trying to one-up each other” makes it seem like he’s sees it as a bit of a joke, so this Riku may not be truly malicious- only time will tell.
Easily one of the most interesting scenes in the trailer comes with Vanitas sitting above Ventus’ still comatose body in the Land of Departure. Vanitas asks “What am I going to do with you brother?”, but it’s not really clear when this actually takes place and how Vanitas changed the Land of Departure back from Castle Oblivion. It’s pretty clear that Ventus is in pretty big trouble by this point and isn’t especially safe, but that’s also further explored in another scene in the trailer.
One of Kingdom Hearts III’s biggest mysteries at the moment surrounds Aqua and her seeming transformation into one of Xehanort’s vessels, and this is something we get to see a little of in this trailer. Aqua is pictured in the Realm of Darkness holding Mickey’s new Keyblade and lamenting that she has nothing but despair. This seems to be during her fight with Mickey and Riku, which is one they presumably lose. This also gives us our first good look at her outfit, which has her with tattered clothes and red parts of her body, which is actually similar to Vanitas.
A tease from what looks like the final battle at the Keyblade Graveyard is also shown, with Sora, Donald and Mickey watching on as we get to see our first ever look at Master Xehanort, who looks awesome in this engine. Birth By Sleep had several scenes in the Keyblade Graveyard, which means this might not be the final battle, but the mention of “today we join the other Keyblade wielders and make our mark on fate” by Master Xehanort makes it seem like this is the final scene.
Continuing on with the trailer, we also see what looks like a flashback to Aqua being turned into a vessel, as we see her fighting Ansem and his guardian. She doesn’t seem to be doing so well, so it’s likely this is what defeats her.
The rest of the trailer is mostly made up of quick cuts of the most dramatic scenes, but a lot of them are worth looking at deeper. The first is a cute scene between Lea and Kairi in the training area, with Kairi doing Lea’s signature little catchphrase and using it against him. He doesn’t look too amused.
We then see Demyx carrying a body into the Radiant Garden lab computer room to Ienzo. The figure looks like they’re either wrapped in a blanket, or like they’re wearing a white lab coat, but without more of the scene we can’t really tell. I’m placing my bets on it being one of the previous Organisation members.
The next quick scene also shows Ansem the Wise, alive and well, comforting Ienzo. Considering their close relationship, this is sure to be a touching scene.
Speaking of touching scenes, this trailer also shows Lea and Saix meeting one another on the Twilight Town clock tower. This is definitely Lea and not Axel, as you can see he doesn’t have his teardrops, although the continued wearing of that black coat doesn’t help matters. Lea’s shocked expression possibly means that this is their first meeting, and considering they’re on opposite sides now it’s sure to end badly.
Terra makes his first Kingdom Hearts III appearance in this trailer too, although it’s far too zoomed in to make out any kind of detail. All this tells us is that he’ll be making some kind of appearance in the story, presumably in the final battle.
Presumably continuing on from a scene earlier in the extended trailer, we also see Vanitas seemingly about to take out Aqua for good. The scene takes place in Land of Departure, in the same room where Ventus is laid to rest, which means the possibilities here are pretty open. Vanitas could be about to split Aqua into light and dark, turn her into a vessel, or even use her to try and awaken Ventus. Vanitas is in the exact same pose he was in when he tried to kill Aqua in Birth by Sleep, which could be purposeful as he tries to draw Ventus out of his sleep.
As was previously teased in the opening cinematic for 0.2, the next quick cut shows Sora reaching into the water and grabbing Aqua’s hand. With Sora in his new outfit, does this mean that he’s really going to rescue Aqua? This could possibly support the idea that ‘Aqua-nort’ is actually the darkness from her heart separated from her, or simply that Sora has rescued her from the darkness in her heart.
The scenes of Sora rescuing the Wayfinder trio don’t stop there though, as we then get to see Sora standing above Ventus’ Dive to the Heart. Besides being an amazing shot, it almost looks like Sora is about to unlock the heart, hinting that he’s finally learnt the power of waking that Riku did during Dream Drop Distance.
In Sora’s final scene in the trailer we get a beautiful shot of him and Kairi sat on their tree on Destiny Islands, hopefully sharing a moment before or after the final battle. With a previous trailer showing Riku sat on the beach during sunset, it’s possible that the gang comes back here for a moment of respite before the final battle. Either way, this could finally be when we see the pair share the long awaited paopu fruit.
Lea gets just as emotional as us in the penultimate shot of the trailer, as he is seen crying in the same training area as before. It’s not clear what he could be crying about, but it could be related to his memories of Roxas or even Xion.
Speaking of Roxas, he appears in the final shot of the trailer, wielding Oblivion and Oathkeeper and getting ready for battle. The fact that he’s in his Organisation coat makes it more likely that this is a flashback of some sort, but it’s also possible that he’s collected from data. This leaves his fate pretty open for the full game, but it’s still pretty good to see him.
Whew! That’s everything I spotted in the new trailer for Kingdom Hearts III but let me know if I’ve missed anything. This is easily the best look at the game we’ve had so far, and it’s hard to imagine that Square can top it.
Did you see anything I missed? Let us know in the comments below!