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KH13's D23 Japan 2018 Kingdom Hearts III trailer analysis
The trailer starts with Sora, Donald and Goofy in the Tangled world calling out an unknown character. Then, we get our first glimpse of Marluxia in Kingdom Hearts 3. We've been given hints to Marluxia's appearance, especially in the Tangled world, thanks to the flower-attack using, scythe-wielding Nobodies seen in the Jump Festa 2016 trailer.
One thing to note about his incredible character model is that his eyes are blue, thus we are led to assume he has not been "norted".
He further confirms this by claiming he is part of the ONLY Organization, the original Organization XIII, not the new 13 seekers of darkness who will take on the 7 guardians of light as is written in the Book of Prophecies.
Speaking of eyes, there has been a lot of concern over Sora's eyes in this opening scene. It seems as though his eyes have a green-ish tint, but it looks like this is a result of the lighting, since Sora has blue eyes in the rest of the trailer. Here, we can clearly see his eyes are mostly blue with a strange green tint on the bottom.
All in all, not a cause for concern!
The trailer then cuts to new Toy Story footage. We can hear the use of Sora's Theme in the background, but it sounds different than other versions used in previous games. Many are saying it is the Orchestra version of the song. Also, it looks like this is the scene directly before or directly after the footage we saw at D23 2017. We see Sora, Donald and Goofy running off toward the same group of heartless we saw them running toward in the previous trailer.
Shortly after, a Monsters Inc. world was confirmed to be true after previously being leaked back in December. Compared to the images in the leak, it seems as though each character model got a re-hash, especially Sora. However, the orange fur seen in the leaks will play a major part further on in the analysis! Sora now has grey fur as the default, and the stripe pattern largely resembles a Chirithy, which may or may not be a coincidence. The characters all make their acquaintances and the trailer cuts to our first bit of gameplay.
The first thing to note is that the command menu looks ... different. Yes, the world-specific designs for the command menu return in Kingdom Hearts III.
The design changes from world to world, and will still change colors depending on whether or not Sora and company are in battle mode. We also see 5 party members used again, with Mike and Sully joining the fray. During this scene we also see the Monsters, Inc. Keyblade.
It looks a lot like a wrench-type weapon wearing a hard hat, a staple in the Monsters, Inc. movie. The keychain is Boo in her handmade monster costume, and a blinking light can be found on the other side of the "teeth" of the blade.
In the next cut, we see Sora and company in battle. They are fighting Unversed, both old (Flood) and new. This will make sense at the end of the trailer! One thing I noted in this section of the trailer is that, for the first time in a recent Kingdom Hearts III trailer, enemies drop Blue orbs upon defeating them. Even in the recent D23 2017 trailer, only a select few enemies dropped orbs, and they were only HP and Focus orbs. The strange thing is that the orbs that drop in this trailer are very obviously blue. This shot shows three different orbs being dropped - Green (HP?), Yellow with a dark spiral (Focus?), and these Blue orbs.
One can assume they are for MP, but this is a change from the MP "bubbles" used in previous games. However, the MP "bubbles" from previous games are not seen in the trailer, so this very well could be their replacement.
Next, we get footage of the Monsters, Inc. Keyblade's transformation. The first stage is called Quick Claws, and uses, as expected, quick slashing attacks. You may have noticed, also, that Sora now has the orange fur seen in the leaked images. It seems as though this is a result of using the Keyblade transformation. I would like to take a minute then to confirm a bit of a theory going around surrounding Sora's clothes during Keyblade transformations. We've seen the yellow Brave Form during the Olympus Keyblade transformation, the red Power Form seen during the Toy Story Keyblade transformation, and a currently unnamed Blue Form during the Starlight Keyblade's transformation. It seems as though these drive forms and the Keyblade transformations are connected. Perhaps each Keyblade (and its corresponding transformation) corresponds to a certain type - Defense (yellow), Magic (blue), or Attack (red). From what we've seen so far, it looks like Defensive forms focus on single-enemy, conservative battles while Magic forms focus on keeping a distance and using projectiles to attack, leaving Attack forms to focus on crowd control and large amounts of enemies. This could potentially add another level of strategy in choosing the appropriate weapon for each individual situation. I am unsure, though, which category the Quick Claws belong too. The yellow fur tells us Defense, but the red stripes and the obviously-offense focus of the Quick Claws say otherwise.
Continuing on with the trailer, we see the return of Reaction Commands, when Sora uses one to climb back onto the railing after avoiding an electric pulse. He then uses the same projectile Flowmotion attack used at the very beginning of the D23 2017 trailer.
The trailer then cuts to the Tangled world again where we see Rapunzel and Flynn Rider for the first time. Rapunzel uses her hair and the environment around her (latching onto trees and swinging around) to attack, while Flynn uses a frying pan and a barrel to fight the heartless. We also get a glimpse of the new Tangled Keyblade.
Unfortunately, it's tough to get a good shot of the Keyblade because this section has a lot of fast-paced combat and combos against the dandelion heartless... yet again... The Keyblade resembles Rapunzel's tower with a design that resembles her hair wrapping around it.
The next cut shows Sora using the Tangled Keyblade's transformation - Mirage Staff. This clip further confirms the theory about Sora's clothes - they are Blue here and his movement, and even the way he "holds" his weapon, strongly resemble Wisdom Form from Kingdom Hearts II. We don't see him attack anything here, but he is seen skating around while an elemental heartless attempts to hurt him.
The next cut shows Sora swimming in order to traverse the terrain, much like he did in Kingdom Hearts. Swimming hasn't been used since then for some reason, but it returns here. Then, we see Sora summoning Ariel from The Little Mermaid to aid in battle. I have seen this taken in two ways: 1. Ariel being a summon means there is no Atlantica world (much like how all summons in Kingdom Hearts II came from Disney worlds not included in the game). 2. Atlantica is in the game, and she is a summon much like how Genie and Tinker Bell were acquired from their respective worlds. In my personal opinion, Atlantica will NOT be in Kingdom Hearts III simply based on the fact that Nomura claims that almost all worlds in the game will be new.
The next shot is of Sora using the Shotlock while using the Mirage Staff transformation. We knew from the Orchestra trailer that each Keyblade transformation has its own use of the Shotlock command, and we see that move for Mirage Staff here, called Spectral Rays. He is using it on the only Nobodies in the trailer - a Dusk and a "Marluxia-themed" enemy.
We then see the Finish command for Mirage Staff, which summons a large tower (similar to Rapunzel's tower) that Sora stands on top of while enemies below are destroyed with magic. The interesting thing here is that Mirage Staff is the only portion of the Keyblade transformation we see in the entire trailer. Is there only one phase? It may be, or there may be an option to finish before changing into the second part of the transformation. In any case, we only see Mirage Staff and no indicators are shown to change to anything else.
We are then brought back to the Toy Story world, where Sora and company are taking on heartless in a ball pit of sorts. Sora activates Hyper Hammer and then quickly uses the Mad Tea Cups attraction flow. It is still unclear how Attraction Flow is activated, seeing as no on-screen indicator appears before Sora summons the Tea Cups. Nomura stated that Attraction Flow is very location-specific, and so far this ball pit and Twilight Town are the only locations we've seen this Attraction Flow used. We do know that the Mad Tea Cups have an attack called "Cup Slide" if that's any compensation.
We then see the gang fighting what looks to be a boss in the Toy Story world. Looking at the background of this fight, I have no idea where it takes place. There are giant toys and dolls floating in the background, and instead of ground or even sky, it's nothing but clouds.
Are we suspended in the air? Are we in some sort of fantasy? No clue but it is a bit outlandish. Aside from that, we see Sora, Buzz and Woody use an attack called Rocket Ruckus, which looks to be either a world-specific or boss-specific attack, meaning it can either only be used in this world or only during this boss. My immediate thought is that it is acting like a Limit Command from Kingdom Hearts II. This could be a Limit with Buzz and Woody, and like the Scream Strike with Mike Wizowski coming up shortly in the trailer. One thing I noticed from the trailer is that, as they are getting ready to launch off, Buzz's lips move as if he's saying something, but there is no dialogue. Perhaps this means there is more voice recording to do, or there is no actual dialogue here. In the next shot of the boss fight, the world has gone dark, much like the second phase of the final boss battle in Kingdom Hearts 0.2 -A Fragmentary Passage-. While Sora is platforming, we also see a square indicator, much like the ones seen in the D23 2017 trailer that let the players know it is a surface that you can use the Shotlock Flowmotion on for travel.
The last bit of gameplay takes us back to Monsters, Inc. where Sora uses a Flowmotion attack on a heartless. We are then shown the second phase of the Quick Claws Keyblade transformation - Twin Yo-Yos. These combos allow for Sora to keep a distance as the Yo-Yos travel to smack into enemies. The finish command turns both Yo-Yos into a cage that then crush any unlucky enemy that ends up between them. All the while, a command for "Scream Strike" hangs out until the Yo-Yo finisher is used, which further confirms my Limit Command theory. It seems as though transformations take precedence over the other moves, seeing as the same button would need to be used in order to activate them, and the finisher is used first. The "Scream Strike" turns out to be a silly move where Sora bowls Mike Wizowski into a group of heartless, who all seem to be standing in perfect formation. How nice of them! Immediately following that attack, a Meow Wow dream eater from Dream Drop Distance appears to aid Sora in battle. The cut of the trailer does not allow us to see just how the Meow Wow is summoned, so for now that remains a mystery. During the Wonder Balloon attack mode, Sora has the option to perform the Balloon Rush or Tornado Jump attacks, or to cancel the mode altogether. It seems as though we don't actually see either of these attacks, as the trailer just shows a rush of different types of Dream Eaters pouring out of the bursting Meow Wow, attacking nearby enemies.
The final seconds of the trailer show Vanitas - a surprise to most. However, the Unversed seen in the Monsters, Inc. world now make sense. Vanitas claims that he needs the other half of himself residing inside Sora. He is of course referring to Ventus. Sora calls out Vanitas by name and shocks himself, as he has never met him before. This is clearly Ventus speaking through him, much like Roxas cried through Sora in Kingdom Hearts II when he left his friends Hayner, Pence, and Olette behind. Vanitas is donning an Organization coat, confirming his place in the 13 Darknesses. The trailer ends with reconfirmation of a 2018 release.
The second trailer has just a few new, notable bits. The first new bit is the shot of Sora dropping into Olympus Coliseum. It is safe to assume that this is the actual shot of Sora entering the world directly after the 2.9 scene in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep 0.2 because he is seen in his Kingdom Hearts II outfit. The lighting in this shot has also been altered slightly since we last saw it in the Orchestra trailer. A treasure chest seen on a floating island in the distance also changed locations for some reason!
We are also shown footage of Sora going through the cinematic transformation into Mirage Staff - still no attacks. Sora also fights the Rock Troll in his Kingdom Hearts II clothes, implying that we get to fight the Rock Troll fairly early in the game. The Rock Troll also starts losing health this time around when Sora attacks him!
Young Master Xehanort also seems to have gotten a graphics enhancement, and his ears are now a bit pointy. A montage of both new and old cinematics are shown, but there's not much to say of them because there is no dialogue heard over the new song by Utada Hikaru - Don't Think Twice. More characters, such as Xemnas, Ansem, and Sora received graphics updates as well.
The final scene of the trailer shows Riku and Mickey for the first time in Kingdom Hearts III. It can be assumed that the contents of the suitcases the duo carries off in 2.9 are their new clothes, shown off here. Riku's keyblade, Way to Dawn, has been broken at the end. How this happened, no one knows, but we can assume the two have an epic battle right before this scene. This also leads me to believe that the second playable character in the game is none other than Riku. I expect to play as Riku alongside Mickey in the Realm of Darkness as they search for Aqua. This could also be where 0.2 was to be included in Kingdom Hearts III. Nomura once mentioned that the entirety of 0.2 was to be in Kingdom Hearts III but was removed due to there being too much content. As for the "other me" Riku makes reference to, much of the fandom expects Riku-Replica from Chain of Memories. My problem with this theory is that Riku should supposedly have no recollection of the events of Chain of Memories. We will just have to wait and see! Mickey seems just as confused as we are.
If I missed anything notable, or if I made a mistake please let me know in the comments below (civilly) and I will make adjustments! I hope you enjoyed this analysis! May your heart be your guiding key.
Watch the new Kingdom Hearts III trailers from D23 Expo Japan 2018 here, and don't forget to catch up with our coverage of the event here!