Alternative Character Interpretation: Just how much of Braig/Xigbar is Luxu really? Is the whole Surfer Dude shtick just an act or a natural evolution of his original personality? Is Luxu trying to emulate the Master of Masters to cope with loneliness, depression, boredom or whatever? Was there ever an actual person called Braig before he got possessed by Luxu? This last one is assuming Luxu is indeed a Body Surfer, since the game doesn't bother explaining what exactly is this whole "vessel hopping" he's been pulling for centuries. Is it a situation similar to how Xehanort's vessels still retain their personalities despite having his heart? In hindsight, this even extends to some of his actions in previous games, like seeing Ventus' face over Xion's in Days. Was this due to his memory of him at Radiant Garden during Birth by Sleep 10 years ago or was it his memory of him as a Dandelion Union Leader during the events of χ [chi] even further back?
Saïx. Was he so easy due to Roxas being deliberately OP... or was he, by that point, due to Xehanort's mind control, begging for defeat?
Angst? What Angst?: The Hercules world opens with Thebes in flames and fiery meteors raining from the sky as Hades unleashes the Titans to take over Mount Olympus. Then when Sora and company drop in on Herc, they have a calm conversation complete with a couple lighthearted quips, while Thebes continues to burn around them. Hercules' demeanor implies this isn't the first time Hades has done something like this, but you'd think he'd take the attack seriously since there are civilian lives at risk.
The secret boss, Dark Inferno. Previous bonus bosses in the series have demanded players be at a high level to win, and some of them are highly challenging even at Level 99. Dark Inferno, however, can be beaten in the Level 40-50 range if you know what you're doing, and can be crushed with the Ultima Weapon, which can deplete two health bars with one combo. Add to that its generic design—basically an Invisible from the first game, but taller and carrying two swords—and it's considered a huge letdown and nowhere near the challenge players have come to expect from the series' secret bosses. To put it one way, there are a number of players who beat him in their first few attempts (or even the first) without realizing it was meant to be a superboss.
Master Xehanort himself as well. His stage is suitably epic, but the actual Final Boss is pretty easy, with players just needing to block his attacks (which are well-telegraphed) and strike back once he finishes his combo. The final segment of the fight forces players into Rage Form, which is powerful enough to obliterate most of his remaining health before he uses his Desperation Attack, which is easy to avoid by just continously blocking and dodging. Compared to the multi-stage battles of I and II against Ansem and Xemnas, with continuous fights against foes that have massive health bars and an array of powerful attacks, Master Xehanort only has two forms (preceded by a warm-up fight against cloaked shades of the Organization), not much more HP than any other boss, and his attacks are predictable and not very strong.
Critcial Mode averts this for both bosses, as well as some AI changes that have caused them to be much harder then on Proud mode or below.
How exactly certain characters come back have some missing details in their returns; some of them are handwaved, and some are outright ignored. While the narrative is clear on how Roxas got a body once his heart was restored, it doesn't say how he reached the Keyblade Graveyard as quickly as he did, leaving it open to arguing and speculation. How Xion arrived at the Keyblade Graveyard with a body and her memories is explained in Secret Report 10, but we never see Sora return her heart to her even though she presumably has it by the end of the game. Nomura handwaves that Roxas's connection to Sora was allowed him to rush towards the Keyblade Graveyard.
Subject X, the experimental girl. Heartless Ansem just kinda casually brings up their existence in one cutscene, treating the character as an essential part of his already decade-old backstory. Then Lea and Isa suddenly start talking as if this character had always been on their minds all the time, which is simply hard to believe due to neither party ever mentioning the character in any prior game.
The ending attempts to justify and undo Master Xehanort's Motive Decay, by revealing he really was a Well-Intentioned Extremist obsessed with Balance all along, who just resorted to even more extreme methods. He believed that as long as humans who produced too much darkness in their hearts live, the realm of light will never be safe from darkness, and he saw using Kingdom Hearts as the only way to bring about true balance, by wiping out the universe and starting over. However, these revelations conflict with pretty much everything else Xehanort has said and done by his first appearance, because he and his incarnations have championed darkness as a source of power and used it to corrupt and control others since the first game, and he is directly responsible for countless worlds and people being consumed by darkness and the realm of light being invaded by the Heartless. Furthermore, Master Xehanort had written in his reports in Birth By Sleep that he considered too much light to be the problem offsetting the balance and had wanted to "tear down this tyranny of light and reconstruct the World around darkness", so him now claiming that he wanted to suppress darkness from damaging the worlds flies in the face of his previously stated motivations, beliefs and goals. This revelation thus comes off as a weak attempt to redeem Master Xehanort and make him sympathetic and misguided. While some of this is due to a mistranslation (the English version has him describe his new world as "pure and bright" when the Japanese wording is closer to "blank canvas") it's hard to take in the face of every game before it.
Demyx and Luxord being ancient Keyblade wielders, as implied by Xemnas. We already knew Marluxia and Larxene were going by the surprise appearances of their Somebodies in Union (although Elrena only debuted a few months before III's release) and their partnership in Chain of Memories made it believable that they were familiar with each other beforehand, but there was no reason to believe either Demyx or Luxord were involved in that as well, considering how they mostly acted independent from the other Organization members.
The Reveal that Xehanort/Ansem's Guardian was actually harboring Terra's heart doesn't fall here; it was set up fairly well in the previous games. What does fall into Ass Pull however is how Terra manages to regain his body. After over ten years In-Universe of Terra being trapped, he manages to rebel against Terra-Xehanort, and with Sora using his Keyblade, is able to retake his body. The game doesn't explain at all how Terra finally gained the strength to resist and break free, an odd choice when his Lingering Will makes a single appearance in an earlier scene and simply vanishes from the story when it logically could have played a role in Terra's escape. The closest explanation was that seeing Aqua and Ventus about to be killed gave him the strength to resist, but the game doesn't at all hint that was the case since he just manages to break free very quickly.
The game completely glosses over why events replayed at the beginning of the Keyblade Graveyard until the Lingering Will's intervention, as if nobody had any memory of dying. Ven, Aqua, Sora and Terranort's reactions are exactly the same as before. Did they go back in time, and if so, why did nobody — even Sora — remember it? Again, it is handwaved by Word of God that Sora using the Power of Waking to chase after the Lich and rescue his friends hearts rewrote reality causing the above mentioned events to never have happened.
One of the biggest complaints fans have had since II is that the Disney worlds have largely been relegated to watered-down retellings of their source material, devoid of Character Development and lacking any connection to the overarching plot. III still features several film adaptations (like Tangled, Frozen, and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End), but they have have stronger ties to the main plot and better character writing along the lines of Beast's Castle and Space Paranoids from II, while other worlds (like San Fransokyo, Monstropolis and the Toy Box) have completely original plots that transpire after the movies' stories. This was done well enough that some people have called the Disney characters' moments to shine (especially Woody and Sully) some of the best moments in the whole game.
Another example is the lack of NPCs wandering around the worlds (other than Traverse Town in I and Twilight Town in II). This made worlds feel much emptier than they should and created bizarre scenes like cheering coming from empty bleachers (II, BBS) or a raucous festival with no attendees (3D). For III, reasonable numbers of NPCs appear in Olympus, Kingdom of Corona and San Fransokyo, while Toy Box, Monstropolis and Arendelle have narrative and/or environmental justifications for a lack of NPCs that prevent such bizarre scenes from occurring.
With the return of the Pirates of the Caribbean world, the trailer reveals that the graphics have been overhauled to have a more consistent look between the native characters and Sora's party, avoiding the Uncanny Valley effect the clashing aesthetics created in II.
James Arnold Taylor's performance as Jack Sparrow in II was considered one of the weaker examples of The Other Darrin in the series. Here, Jack is performed by Jared Butler, who does a much better job replicating Johnny Depp's performance.
Square hopes to bring in a number of new players with this game, and the majority of the Xbox One audience in particular is most likely unfamiliar with the series. Nomura has announced that he is working on a recap video to summarize the events of previous games. Additionally, III itself contains a number of cutscenes explaining the game's premise. This will hopefully mitigate criticisms of Kudzu Plot and Continuity Lockout and do a better job of catching up newcomers than Dream Drop Distance's text entries.
Many consider Birth by Sleep and Dream Drop Distance clunkynote The common buzzword is "floaty", the definition of which is the subject of debate. Most definitions point to either movement in general, which is clumsier and slower than in Kingdom Hearts II, or how the player character is affected by gravity; they will fall slowly after aerial attacks, which can leave the player defenseless since you typically can't block in midair. and poorly balanced,note Bosses follow highly erratic patterns that often include excessively powerful attacks. encouraging every player to carry the sameoverpowered commands and predict possible events far in advance because a split-second reaction simply isn't enough. The highly lauded Kingdom Hearts II was basically the opposite—it always felt like you were in control of Sora and were capable of responding quickly, and bosses moved in predictable but punishing patterns with multiple strategies being viable—so BBS and 3D felt like steps back. Both games were developed by a side team at the Square Enix Osaka office as opposed to the numbered titles' developers in Tokyo. News of the "Osaka team" heading III's development caused concern for many fans hoping for an experience closer to II. There were signs of Osaka following old habits in 0.2 and the May 2018 Premiere Event demo, but both addressed the issues quickly. The bosses in 0.2 were patched to be easier to read in a matter of days, while the demo showcased at E3 2018 (only a few months after the May 2018 event) features noticeably improved controls. This build was also stated to be out-of-date, so presumably the most current version was even better. Many fans have taken these as signs that the Osaka team is learning and adapting quickly to fan expectations of the gameplay.
The game includes flashbacks and recaps in-game that remind players of the most relevant information of the overall plot of the series to make sure players who hadn't played the spin-offs, and new and Xbox players who weren't familiar with the series, were aware of what's going on and why, which is a more effective and easy way of making sure people are caught up than the text entries in Dream Drop Distance.
Presumably, as a response to Donald infamously refusing to heal in gameplay, they establish him as not only being primarily a Black Mage, but THE Black Mage, by having him finish off Terranort using a ZettaFlare (the second most powerful Flare spell ever, previously only used by Physical Gods, and even then only once, and said god was in its super mode at the time), making him the single most powerful mage in Square Enix's collective canon.
Anti Form has been replaced with the much more useful and optional Rage Form, while the new down side to form changes have a far shorter time limit than Drive Forms did. Many players consider this a far more fair drawback than the random chance of going into Anti-Form, which not only could screw the player over due to pure dumb luck but got multipliers to its chance of happening during boss fights (the Organization XIII ones especially) that could make Drive Forms Awesome, yet Impractical during them.
Attractions are commonly seen as a Scrappy Mechanic; their novelty wears off quickly early in the game and they are criticized for being too overpowered in the early game, too underpowered in the late game, taking up Situation Command slots, and simply breaking the flow of an otherwise strong combat system. Fans subsequently rejoiced when Critical Mode released with a new Ability exclusive to the new mode that allows you to disable Attractions in favor of the much cooler and vastly superior Formchanges.
The same update also significantly toned down the game's infamous Stop Helping Me! concerning ingredients; Goofy and Donald will stop pointing out nearby ingredients after meeting Remy in Twilight Town.
This appears to be a common viewing of Aqua in this game. Previously a badass Keyblade Master, in this game she finally succumbs to darkness and needs to be rescued. What's worse, she is turned into a Jobber who loses to every major opponent she faces (Xehanort's Heartless, Sora, Vanitas, the Demon Tide, and Terra-Xehanort), often in ways that are so contrived as to be absurd. Her loss to Vanitas is especially egregious, since it happens in a cutscene directly after the one time where Aqua is playable, complete with her making a Badass Boast which only makes her subsequent loss and rescue by Ven all the more demeaning - though to be fair, she doesn't lose so much as intentionally put herself directly in the way of an attack that would have put Ven at risk, although even then a common reaction from players is bewilderment as to why she didn't attempt to use her Keyblade or Barrier magic to deflect the attack rather than pull a Piccolo.
In Kingdom Hearts II, Kairi struggled to escape from Axel when he kidnapped her and was able to escape off-screen, and later was bravely willing to fight Saix with her bare hands alongside Naminé. Compare to this game, where she does nothing to resist kidnapping from Xemnas, and earlier doesn't make an attempt to fight back against Terra-Xehanort even when she has a Keyblade. It doesn't help that her personality has devolved from a Plucky Girl into more of a Yamato Nadeshiko.
Most of the entire cast catches Cutscene Incompetence to be Worfed to Terra-Xehanort. Most of them are powerful Keyblade warriors and three are masters, but they just stand and watch as their friends are taken out in one hit. In the rest of the final world, many of them have trouble fighting against the members of the Organization, even though several of them are enemies they've fought and defeated before. The most glaring example is Aqua and Ven against Terra-Xehanort and Vanitas; both of those match-ups have happened before and they individually won, and Aqua has beaten both of them. The only explanation given is that ten years out of the fight means they're a bit rusty, but it's pretty flimsy.
Most of the Organization suffers from Conservation of Ninjutsu combined with this trope, and are taken out much more easily than they were in their original games. Ansem and Xemnas once had power levels that made them world-ending threats, in Birth By Sleep Young Xehanort was considered one of the most brutal bosses in the franchise, and in 3D each one of them was on a level of challenge and story power worthy of a Final Boss thanks to being a a portal for time travel in those games. And while the other Organization members weren't on their level, they were still quite powerful, with abilities like Reality Warping, time control, One-Winged Angel and Turns Red transformations, and more. Here, Ansem doesn't have the Guardian to fight for him, Xemnas lacks many of his signature moves, Young Xehanort's ability to manipulate time is heavily nerfed, and the other members don't have much in the way of the special powers they once did. The group as a whole also has lower HP and are less aggressive compared to their fights in other games, allowing Sora and his allies to beat them again without much trouble.
The end bosses of Olympus. No, they're not Hades... they're the TITANS - only one of which (The ice titan) was required to fight in previous games. The Rock Titan is a multi-phase fight in which you have to Attack Its Weak Point after knocking it over (just like in the first game). Then, the ice and fire titans are fought at once, culminating with the Wind Titan who alternates between stances and keeps the player on their feet as they retreat. What's more, this is still technically the PROLOGUE.
Sköll, the final boss of Arendelle is one of the highest regarded bosses in the game, and it's not hard to see why: it's a wolf Heartless that strikes a balance of being fun to fight while also being challenging thanks to its aggressive fighting style and pack of smaller wolf Heartless backing it up, and at one point will try to crush the party by dropping the sky on them. But what makes the fight especially fun and memorable is the atmosphere: Sora, Donald, Goofy, and Marshmallow fight it in a frosty, shadowy wasteland set to a somber and dramatic orchestrated piece that gives it an almost apocalyptic feel. It helps that it's the Heartless of Prince Hans.
For those that didn't find it to be Ending Fatigue, the final Boss Rush against Real Organization XIII. You fight more than one of them at a time! And you get different party members for each fight! And several of the fights have very satisfying story moments happen during or after them, such as Roxas coming back, or Terra finally fighting off Xehanort's influence! Every one of them you defeat gets their own farewell cutscene mid-battle, too! And it all culminates in fighting Ansem, Xemnas, and Young Xehanort at the same time, with an absolutely incredible medley of their boss themes from previous games! And after all that you still get one final, knock-down, drag-out, multi-stage fight with Xehanort himself!
The Carribean is essentially a mini-Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, giving players a (though small) wide-open world to adventure in, with various islands to explore, a wide-open oceans you can sail around freely engaging in ship-to-ship combat, and said combat is very fun including unique finishers that can wipe out multiple enemy ships at once. The boss of the world lets the Kraken from Dead Man's Chest avert The Unfought, with Sora commanding his own ship to free the Black Pearl from the Kraken, then boarding the Flying Dutchman to face Davy Jones who still has the Kraken to support him.
San Fransokyo is a huge chunk of cityscape that Sora can roam around freely, running up and dashing skyscrapers and grinding along railway tracks and highway ramps. It can be explored either in the daylight or at night, and has plenty of Scenery Porn either way. The boss of the area is once again a highlight: Dark Baymax, the original Baymax that the Organization found and reprogrammed, and Sora and the new Baymax face it in a high-flying aerial battle across the city.
The Toy Box is a huge toy store full of varied enemies and interesting set designs, but it's given a high point for its writing, telling an original story involving the Toy Story characters being separated from Andy so the Organization can investigate how toys grow hearts in this world and how those hearts function compared to the real thing. For combining the lore of Kingdom Hearts and Toy Story seamlessly and expanding on themes and character arcs central to both, it's considered a highlight of writing among the franchise's Disney worlds.
Better Than Canon: Verum Rex was popularly received for being a rather detailed Development Gag of Final Fantasy Versus XIII, the prototype version of Final Fantasy XV before Nomura was taken off of the project by Square-Enix and replaced by Tabata. Versus XIII trailers were well-received for their proposed Darker and Edgier story, while XV was criticized for being released with an incomplete story due to being rushed for release, with all of its issues apparently being a result of a Troubled Production and Executive Meddling. The Secret Movie hints that the world of Verum Rex will become important to the story of Kingdom Hearts, meaning that Nomura will be free to explore what he intended to tell in Versus XIII, which fans of what was shown of Versus XIII don't mind.
The "Let It Go" scene in Arendelle, which is inserted wholesale from the source material, is completely divorced from everything around it in part due to any Character Development for Elsa happening offscreen, going from an Inept Mage to borderline The Archmage of ice offscreen on top of everything else, and taking the attention entirely away from the heroes who are just standing back and watching. Sora's reaction at the end really sells it. Doubles as Narm.
Sora: Wow. I don't know what we just saw, but... wow.
In The Caribbean, after the heroes escape Davy Jones' Locker, Tia Dalma whispers to Sora that if he uses his key to free her, she'll give him all the power of the seas. This attempted bargain is never brought up again, not even as Tia Dalma uses her magic to assist Sora in obtaining a ship and fighting Luxord.
One main moment, bordering into Ass Pull, is in the endgame where the entire hero side gets completely wiped out, and Sora is put on the brink of death. After restoring himself, he then goes around restoring everyone else's hearts, gets a bit of Foreshadowing from Young Xehanort about overusing the Power of Waking, and... the cast wake up at the Keyblade Graveyard and nearly repeat the exact same scene that got them killed previously. Absolutely no context is given for what occurred here, whether it was a time rewind or something else, and the only mention it gets is from Xigbar offhandedly mentioning, "we don't need you to make a second blunder."
One particular moment nested within the above confusion: the first time around, Terra-Xehanort absolutely wrecks the light side on his own and is only fought off thanks to a Heroic Sacrifice on Donald's part. The second time, the Lingering Will appears out of nowhere, fights Terra-Xehanort off, and...just disappears. Afterward, no characters refer back to this incident, which should be remarkable considering what they know about Terra, and the Lingering Will is conspicuously absent when Terra finally breaks free of Xehanort's control in a later scene.
Breather Boss: The battle in the Keyblade Graveyard against Saix and Xion. Saix is more or less the same battle from II and Xion doesn't do much besides copying his moves. The initial difficulty is just moderate at best, but once Roxas joins in and Xion changes sides, it craters into cakewalk territory, due to how hilariously overpowered the former is as a party member. You can easily sit back and let your two party members do all the work in this fight and still win. Case in point.
After multiple games having to deal with Xehanort constantly up staging the heroes and sporting his traditional Smug Snake grin, Sora and his friends begin to give him the wrecking of a life time and finally defeat him, even still after he's proclaimed he's won as he's opened Kingdom Hearts. To say this was cathartic would be an understatement.
When it's revealed that Xigbar is none other than Luxu, who created and gave Master Xehanort his Keyblade, this means that Xigbar, the same character who was kissing up to Xehanort, was playing him like a damn fiddle.
The boss battle with Saix, with Roxas and Xion as your party members. The series completely avoids its usual Artificial Stupidity here, Roxas and Xion are very aggressive and very powerful, especially Roxas, so players can stand back and let the two of them beat the crap out of Saix on their own, and they'll win. For fans of Days who saw how Saix treated the two of them, this is very satisfying to watch, although these feelings are mitigated once you have the information that Saix wanted this outcome and even helped Roxas and Xion return as means of atonement.
Fighting and destroying Mother Gothel's Heartless, with a design and moveset that reflects every despicable quality of her's, outside the tower she imprisoned and abused Rapunzel in for years, is a true joy for fans of the movie.
For fans of Frozen, Hans being a boss, albeit as Sköll, is a great relief, finally able to give him his just deserts for manipulating Anna and trying to murder Elsa for her throne.
Character Rerailment: Sora is more in-line with his previous characterization from the first two main games after Dream Drop Distance dumbed him down into an Idiot Hero rather than his previous characterization as a normal teenager with attitude who knows when to have fun, but can also take things seriously when needed. Dream Drop Distance previously took away these traits for unknown reasons, leaving a pretty bland characterization for Sora than was there previously. Haley Joel Osment's voice for him has also been fixed, being made artificially higher on the level of Kingdom Hearts II when in previous games it has sounded deep to a distracting level.
Many people believe, joking or otherwise, that the game has been in Development Hell since 2007. That's not the case; there was never any evidence of it being in development at all until it was announced in 2013.
Also, many people say that the game has been delayed numerous times. This is also not true, as an actual release window for the game wasn't announced until 2017, and has since only been delayed once by a single month from that original release window.
A small one, but in 2016, it seemed that the port to the Xbox One had been cancelled in Japan, causing some people to believe it had been cancelled everywhere as well. Thankfully, this isn't the case and the listing was put back on the Japanese Xbox site. However, even after this was discovered and the game was edging closer to release on both platforms, some people were still insistent on the port being cancelled.
Wheel of Fate is one of the most popular melee-oriented Keyblades due to the versatility and power of its Formchanges. Wheel of Fate essentially gives Sora a Blade on a Stick armed with extensive strength, range, and speed, able to rack up damage on foes (especially bosses) extremely fast while being safer to use compared to most weapons.
Ever After is also quite popular due to being a Game-Breaker. Its abilities are absurdly strong by the time it's obtained, and it also comes pre-installed with Leaf Bracer, which is very handy.
Favorite Deputy is also a common weapon of choice because it comes equipped with a lucky strike ability to assist in synthesis farming.
The Kingdom Key is a very popular Keyblade in this title due to the ability to upgrade its stats via the Keyblade Forge, thus making it useful throughout the entire game for the first time in a numbered entry, and the fact that the "Second Form" transformation it comes with gives players access to many popular finishing moves from past games such as Sonic Blade and Ars Arcanum.
Gameplay complaints include the low difficulty — even on Proud — and lack of Critical Mode. There are a large number of Game Breakers making things even easier, with Attraction Flow in particular attracting criticism for breaking the flow and tone of certain fights. The game's only postgame content is the Battlegates, a series of relatively easy enemy rushes, with the last one featuring the game's only Bonus Boss, a fairly easy and rather generic Heartless with no ties to series lore or future games.
The writing in general is seen as hit-or-miss, and the pacing of the original plot is extremely uneven: Sora is on a personal quest that has thematic ties to the main plot but otherwise goes nowhere until all the Disney worlds are complete. The previous numbered titles feature mid-game main plot events which make the pacing feel more even, but this game has no such thing. The story's emotional stakes are also hotly debated, as some feel they are appropriately high for a story arc's Grand Finale whereas others feels that they are shockingly hollow and perfunctory, not to mention suffer from the plot's rushed pace.
There are no Final Fantasy characters outside of Moogles running their shops, which some feel violates the original crossover premise of the series. On the Disney side, several of the Disney world plots simply adapt their films (a missed opportunity to fix a longstanding issue), and Davy Jones and the Titans are the only Disney villains fought in non-Heartless forms.
Some people were not too keen with the implementation of Kingdom Hearts χ content in III due to the relative obscurity of the mobile game and its microtransaction-heavy nature, while others don't mind because the series has worked in content from its side titles in since day one. The content itself is often considered to contain the most intriguing parts of the plot, but some dislike that many of the plot points raised are unresolved here, serving to set up future games and/or (presumably) future developments in the story of X.
While this is nothing unusual for the series, it's a particular problem for this game because a lot of plot elements reference Kingdom Hearts χ, a mobile/browser game. It's plausible that someone who is otherwise a fan of the series hasn't played the game and has only a passing knowledge of it thanks to the cinematic movie in Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8: Final Chapter Prologue, and they'll be completely lost on numerous plot points.
Some of the adapted plots of the Disney worlds very much seem to assume the player has seen the corresponding films and expect them to simply fill in the blanks. The Caribbean world is pretty nasty about this, with many crucial plot points from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (a movie that is already somewhat notorious for involving a confusing Gambit Pileup) simply taking place off-screen. Among other things, the crew of the Black Pearl is captured by Jones and Beckett off-screen, Will strikes a deal with Beckett off-screen, Elizabeth is elected Pirate King off-screen, and most bafflingly, Tia Dalma/Calypso is released from her human form off-screen.
Arendelle is just as bad, if not worse, than the Caribbean. Pretty much half of Frozen's plot has been cut from the game. Key backstory events and motivations are simply glossed over—why did Elsa shut Anna out in their childhood? What are they fighting about? Why is Elsa so intent on isolating herself, and why did she run into the wilderness? Hans in particular simply shows up out of nowhere near the end to kidnap Elsa and try to kill her without the game explaining who he is or what his motives are.
The Kingdom of Corona also suffers from this, although a bit less so that the above entries. There are a few different aspects of the movie Tangled that players who haven't seen the film probably won't understand due to not being explained in game. First, is the healing properties of Rapunzel's hair, which isn't mentioned once until the very end of the level when she needs to heal Flynn's stab wound. Second is the reveal of Flynn's real name, which might confuse some players when Rapunzel suddenly starts calling him Eugene out of nowhere.
The Gigas mech suits in Toy Box. They're huge mechanical toys that bombard your party with lasers, bombs, and tackles, and each one is a damage sponge of the first order. The mechs can show up in groups of as many as five, where just surviving is a struggle as the party gets blasted from every angle with heavy-hitting, hard-to-dodge area attacks. The good news is that Sora can commandeer one after it's been defeated to take control of it, which quickly helps turn the tide in your party's favor. The bad news is that, if the game doesn't generously give you an empty one to start a battle, it's going to be a world of hurt before you can take one down.
The Spiked Turtletoads, the octopus Unversed in Monstropolis. If you don't have your guard up, these enemies will shred HP like nothing else in the world as they capture the NPC party members in their swings. Not only do they have a lot of multi-hit attacks, they can't be damaged from the front. This makes a very powerful enemy with great defense, which is a real migraine. While they typically only show up one at a time, one is all it takes to make any fight in Monstropolis much harder.
Anchor Raiders, the pirate Heartless that swing from anchors in the Caribbean. They're nimble, they can take some punishment and they can hit reasonably hard. Magic does run out after a while so you'll have to get close to them at some point.
In lower difficulties, using magic against the various elemental Core Heartless is a polite suggestion but is otherwise not required. In Critical Mode, the Cores' stronger abilities, which tend to render them invulnerable, make the appropriate counter-spell necessary to avoid death.
Ending Fatigue: The finale goes on even longer than II, and even for being a Grand Finale to the Xehanort saga of the series, it can take hours to play through. You reach the Keyblade Graveyard for the final showdown, fight a massive horde of enemies...and then everyone dies. You then have to play through a sequence where Sora reforms his body, and fight a series of minibosses to revive the others. After this, you're back in the Keyblade Graveyard, face another massive horde of enemies, and then you're tossed into a labyrinth where you face a Boss Rush from Organization XIII. But even once they're all dead, you don't get to face Master Xehanort yet; in the final world, Scala ad Caelum, you take on manifestations of the Organization XIII members you just defeated, and then finally you fight Master Xehanort, who has two forms. The long gameplay sequences are not helped by numerous long cutscenes between them, several of which afflict the heroes with Cutscene Incompetence for the purposes of making their fight seem more hopeless and Xehanort look more powerful.
The entirety of Verum Rex has gotten this treatment, with many fans wishing it was actually a real video game due to some not-so-subtle similarities to Final Fantasy Versus XIII, the game that would eventually be relabeled as Final Fantasy XV. The fact that the Secret Ending shows that Verum Rex might be Real After All was another large boost to its popularity.
Out of all the temporary party members, Woody and Sulley have become fan favorites due to their moments of badassery against Organization XIII. Woody verbally flays Young Xehanort alive, and Sulley saves Sora from Vanitas by sneak attacking him and resorting to hilarious levels of overkill to make sure he's banished from Monstropolis by throwing him into one door, then another door, then another door before feeding that door through a woodchipper.
Among the Heartless, Sköll proved to be a fan favorite thanks to his badass design, fun boss fight, and the fact that he's a rare Heartless of a Disney villain. Even people who loathed Arendelle as a world felt that it was worth playing through just to fight him.
This one-second shot of an unidentified person in a black coat in the Big Hero 6 world trailer set the fanbase ablaze trying to guess the member's identity. Most of the fanbase jumped to the conclusion that it was Xion after having been forced into the new Organization XIII, while others thought it was Aqua or Young Xehanort instead. Some have also said it could have been a version of Riku. An extended variant of the trailer reveals that the last of these guesses was the case.
In 2016, Anika Noni Rose posted on her Twitter and Instagram of her in a recording booth, saying that she was reprising her role as Tiana for an upcoming Disney video game. She also clarified that it wasn't for Disney Infinity (which was in the middle of producing the cancelled 4.0 edition at the time). This has led to suspicion that The Princess and the Frog content will be in Kingdom Hearts III. This ended up being jossed, though this raises the question of what she was recording for then. One must wonder if she was being cheeky about Tiana appearing in Ralph Breaks the Internet).
Keith David voicing over for one of the trailers has similarly led to suspicion that Square-Enix got a hold of him because they had already gotten him to reprise his role as Dr. Facilier (or, Goliath, to a lesser extent). Jossed, but that doesn't put it out of the question for future games.
The Winnie the Pooh trailer gives a full shot of the 13 Seekers of Darkness. Fans speculate the female members, minus Larxene who was already revealed, are either Aqua, Xion, Namine, or even the Foretellers. It was Xion.
Young Xehanort having silver eyes instead of the Supernatural Gold Eyes him and his other incarnations usually have and a dark purple light reflecting on his eyes in the opening trailer have started theories about him going through The Corruption either by force or by choice.
Young Xehanort sports the gold eyes in a cutscene in Kingdom Hearts 3D which takes place before he leaves Destiny Islands and chronologically became a Keyblade wielder (him time traveling to the future and back there means he could use a Keyblade prior to him chronologically leaving the Islands and went to Land of Departure.) A render from Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep also shows him with gold eyes.
The identity of Subject X, an amnesiac girl from the Age of Fairy Tales who can't remember anything besides her four friends, a "key", and the phrase, "May your heart be your guiding key.", and was since abducted by an unknown assailant (implied to be Xigbar as a part of his mission as Luxu). The most popular guesses are that she's either Ava or Skuld.
Going hand-in-hand with the above, the identity of the "Nameless Star" Sora speaks to in the Final World. It's implied she knows one of the characters featured in the series, but the audience is never told. The popular theories argue that she is either Subject X or Strelitzia.
The Secret Movie. Sora and Riku end up in Shibuya and Shinjuku, where The World Ends with You and Verum Rex which turns out to be Real All Along with the appearance of Yozora respectively take place. What does that mean for future appearances from Final Fantasy (particularly, Final Fantasy XV), what role will Yozora and Verum Rex play in the story of Kingdom Hearts, why is the mysterious black-hooded figure (who is highly believed to be the Master of Masters) here, and why did Sora and Riku end up here? Having played The World Ends With You: Final Remix brings Shinjuku's presence into an even more ominous light, and raises the specter of possibility that TWEWY's long-awaited sequel and the next instalment of Kingdom Hearts may, in fact, be one and the same.
A developing fan theory is that Demyx is the Master of Masters in the same vein that Xigbar is Luxu. Possible clues include their similar attitudes and mannerisms, Demyx possibly Obfusicating Stupidity, his enigmatic past of being a Keyblade wielder, and Demyx dropping out of the story entirely after helping Ienzo and not appearing in the epilogue.
Of course, there's also the various Xehanort incarnations, many of whom have been culled from the original Organization XIII—itself already the definitive collective example of this trope in Kingdom Hearts. Special note goes to the revived Marluxia and Luxord, both of whom now sport gold eyes like Aqua above.
Would you believe the amount of people smitten with the Parasol Beauty Heartless? It might look like an adorable, curvy miss, but it's still an Eldritch Abomination made of darkness in the end.
Goddamned Bats: Reapers. While Nobodies in general tend to be reasonably tough challenges (compared to the average Heartless), Reapers are just annoying to fight against since they have moves that are just perfectly designed to interrupt the flow of combat. They're always airborne, restricting the combat to magic or aerial strikes, and it's hard to harm them while they're performing either their vine or spinning attacks. They also like to spread those shiny petal things around that, while not very damaging, are a a bit deceptive in how to dodge.
Ariel's wish to see other worlds in the first game can be viewed as coming true thanks to her being a summon in this game.
The opening to 0.2 ended up becoming rather infamous with fans for being a giant Hope Spot due to Aqua remaining trapped in the world of Darkness. It only got exasperated when trailers showed that Aqua would indeed succumb to the darkness. After her boss fight however it gets proven to have been Foreshadow all along, with Sora indeed actually pulling her back.
Many members of the fanbase have agreed that Jason Dohring's performance as Terra has improved vastly since Birth by Sleep, especially as Lingering Will with a cold, venomous, seething with hatred voice acting and when taking control over his own Heartless, and as Terra when he shares an emotional reunion with Aqua and Ventus.
Not only does J.P. Manoux does a decent impression of Steve Buscemi, but his performance as Randall is also genuinely chilling - not bad for somebody whose other claim to fame in regards to Disney is being the understudy for David Spade as Kuzco!
Ever since Disney purchased Marvel, and when this game was first announced it was exposed that one of the worlds explored would be Big Hero 6 (which is a Marvel property, even if highly modified), people have been clamoring like crazy to have more elements of the Marvel Universe appear (even as "secret bosses"). Now, it's been announced that Square Enix and Marvel have negotiated to make games together.
This meme is now past its prime, given the fact that the trailer announcing a Toy Story world also revealed the 2018 release window (though it was later delayed to early 2019).
Mike joking in the epilogue of Monsters, Inc. that he was used as the ball in dodgeball. Sora can use him as a bowling ball while fighting Heartless.
Similar to the "Aquanort" Palette Swap edit mentioned above, certainfans had already taken to "Norting" various other members of Organization XIII following The Reveal of 3D, long before there was any indication it would be happening for real in-canon.
Mandy Moore was part of the celebrity cast in the first game as Aerith, but ended up being replaced by Mena Suvari. Fast forward more than a decade later and with the inclusion of Tangled among the Disney worlds, we have a starring character usually voiced by her. Sadly, she does not reprise her role as Rapunzel.
Many fans were hoping for Sora to be in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. While that has not happened as of the time where the game was released, at one point in the game, all of the main characters ended up dying, and Sora ended up having to rescue them (which is very similar to the World of Light mode).
Rex mistaking Sora for Yozora, since Nomura has stated he thinks of Sora and Noctis as brothers yet opposites. Which might hint at what Sora and Yozora's relationship will be like in future stories.
Game Informer's inaugural Game Infarcer section in 2006 featured an editor who claimed he had played games that hadn't come out yet. He then dropped a "spoiler" that when playing Kingdom Hearts III, Donald dies.He wasn't wrong.
When Sora, Donald, and Goofy first arrive at Scala ad Caelum, Donald remarks that there's no one around. This is ironic when you consider all the empty towns in the previous games, where the cast would act like they were actually packed with people.
Both Marluxia and Vanitas are back in the game — and the latter knows exactly where Ven's heart is...
The May 2018 premiere event (where various people including various Kingdom Hearts-themed YouTubers were invited to play a demo of the game) revealed that Wreck-It Ralph is at least a summon in the game!
Although it was a delay from its original 2018 release, fans finally got a release date of January 29, 2019 after the 2018 Orchestra event. And those who actually got to saw the trailer got a taste of the Twilight Town trio, Xigbar in Olympus, Ienzo trying to help Sora bring back Roxas, a mysterious new Keyblade resembling the Star Seeker, Remy the rat making an appearance, and the final scene of Kairi and Lea sitting next to each other in what many assume to be none other than Daybreak Town. And to top it all off, it's supposed to be a taste of what's to come at E3!
In one of the most extravagant setpieces in possibly the entire series, Sora gets a little help fighting the Heartless twister from Ephemer, who calls in a wave of Keyblades for Sora to ride. Sora then calls upon the power of those sacrificed in the Keyblade War (in the form of Reaction Commands named after real Kingdom Hearts χ players) and launches a full-frontal assault on the twister, firing enormous blasts of Keyblades with every Command. Sora ultimately penetrates the twister's interior, becoming increasingly powerful, until he manages to expose the twister's core. Upon the core's reveal, the Keyblades of the Foretellers join together and Sora unleashes their power in a finishing blow, aptly named "Union X".
Unless you reviewed the Secret Reports beforehand, Xigbar revealing himself as Luxu in the epilogue can end up catching you offguard.
The secret movie. Sora wakes up in what seems to be the Shibuya from The World Ends with You (as signified by the "104" building instead of the usual "109"). Meanwhile, Riku is in another part of Tokyo, specifically Shinjuku. Yozora (the protagonist from the Game Within a GameVerum Rex) and who appears to be the Master of Masters are also there as well.
Hayner is the first and most enthusiastic member of the Twilight Town trio to try and bring back Roxas, saying he seems like a pretty cool guy and thinking ahead for bringing him to the beach. The whole thing comes off as an infatuation.
After Woody saves Buzz from the darkness at the end of the Toy Box, he is shown laying ontop an unconscious Buzz as his pull-string delivers an... interesting line.
Woody:Giddy up, partner! We gotta get this wagon train a-movin'!
Lea/Axel gets both an emotional reunion with Roxas and cradling a dying Saix in his arms while promising to find him once he's recompleted as Isa again. Saix's admission that he fell deeper into darkness because he was jealous of Axel's friendship with Roxas and Xion has some jilted lover undertones.
Eraqus and Xehanort's relationship can be compared to Professor Xavier and Magneto's, as both are old friends ended up on opposite sides of a conflict but still have great respect for each other. Eraqus is the only one who seems to explicitly forgive Xehanort, and the one to finally convince him to stand down in the end.
Informed Wrongness: As a flip on Master Xehanort being Unintentionally Unsympathetic, Master Eraqus falls victim to this. Before he fades away he asks Terra, Aqua, and Ven, to forgive him, and apologizes to them for failing them as a teacher. Despite this, Eraqus' only crime was trying to destroy Ven and then fighting Terra to do it; while certainly a horrible thing to do, his reasons for doing so place him firmly in Knight Templar territory because he did it believing he had to do it to stop Xehanort from destroying the universe. Otherwise, Eraqus was always shown as being a compassionate, caring, and wise mentor figure to the group, and was one of the series' Big Goods. Coupled with the fact that while Eraqus is apologizing to his students, Xehanort is standing only a few feet away and says nothing, and it can leave one questioning why Eraqus feels he needs to be the one to give this speech.
In the week leading up to Cyber Monday 2018, Amazon hyped up new info and "awesome new" DLC for III that would be revealed on a livestream. A misleading splash screen implied this would be during a stream on Black Friday, only for Amazon to clarify that they would be premiered Monday, so fans were already a bit irritated over the weekend. On Monday, less than an hour before the stream, Amazon's Twitter ominously stated their trailer and DLC info had been "consumed by Heartless". When the stream finally began, the trailer ended up being a shorter cut of the Together trailer with the DLC being a "Dawn Till Dusk" Keyblade skin exclusive to Amazon preorders. People were not thrilled.
The treatment of Kairi in the story has gotten many people up in arms as players were looking forward to her having a more proactive role in the story. Kairi causes issues due to becoming a Distressed Damselagain despite being a full-fledged Keyblade wielder and suffering yet another Disney Death, with no chances to play as her and only having her as a partner for only part of one fight towards the end.
The lack of Final Fantasy characters on the game is another thing that didn't sit well with players. While the side games had the excuse of being minor pieces, Kingdom Hearts III is a much bigger game. This also leaves the Radiant Garden arc from II and Birth By Sleep unresolved, further contributing to the feeling that Nomura released half a game rather than a full one.
While the quality of what's in the game has been received with largely positive reviews, this game has a lot less content than previous entries, which is a sore spot to fans considering it's the Grand Finale of its saga. There's only seven worlds to explore, not counting the truncated hub world of Twilight Town or the connected (and also significantly shorter than normal) 100 Acre Wood, and the final world is very light on exploration.note A couple of others worlds are briefly visited in story sequences, but you only get to visit them once and it's usually a small area. For the post-game content, it largely amounts to a bunch of fetch quests, minigames, and Battlegates that open among the worlds after beating the final boss. The end result of all this is that you can play through the game fully in a couple of days, and achieve 100% Completion in under a week if you dedicate your time to it. Compared to the other Kingdom Hearts titles with more worlds and tons of bonus content that could take weeks to complete, III is far shorter by comparison and described as feeling "hollow" by some players.
100 Acre Wood only features one location, Rabbit's house, and three mini-games are really just the same game but with a few minor differences. On top of that, the entire cast isn't even present, with Eeyore, Kanga, and Owl mysteriously absent. It's a far cry from the much more expansive takes on the world in the previous numbered titles, especially after the more serialized Story Arc present in II.
While the game is, on a strictly technical level, a vast improvement over some of the more recent games in the series (especially Birth By Sleep and 3D), it still falls into some of the same pitfalls as the more recent entries, such as specific offensive options being objectively superior to others and the magic systen still being as overpowered as it was in almost every other game in the series. In addition, as a side effect of giving the player a ton of wonderful and unique game mechanics to play around with, it tilts the game balance in the player's favor to such a massive degree that most combat in the game can be trivialized by simply learning said mechanics.
A more localized example comes from the Saix boss fight in the Skein. Due to the aggressive AI and overall strength of Sora's partners in the fight, it's possible to win this battle without doing anything.
The fact that there was no Critical Mode on release was also something of a sourspot. While Critical Mode has never been part of a main series title on release, always being added as part of the Updated Re-release, most players were used to having them already available and found Proud Mode a lacking substitute for players wanting a difficult option. This criticism was allayed when Critical Mode was released as part of an update patch a few months after release, and proved to be the same level of difficulty spike as its predecessors.
Like You Would Really Do It: Players doubted that Donald was going to die after casting Zettaflare given the infamous use of this trope with Goofy in the previous numbered game.
Sulley has become a fan favorite for many people, with some even calling him the next Keyblade wielder, simply for the hilarious and awesome way he defeats Vanitas, the Organization member of that world. Sulley grabs the antagonist, throws them through a door, then throws that door into another door, rinse and repeat a few times, then destroys the last door, all while he and Mike have a very satisfied look on their face at the end of the sequence.
Woody has also gotten this treatment for telling Young Xehanort that nobody has ever loved him in an awesome Shut Up, Hannibal! moment.
Donald has become one after one-shotting Terranort with Zettaflare, a Flare spell normally reserved for Physical Gods. For reference, Zettaflare has only ever been used before once in the Final FantasySpiritual SuccessorBravely Default by a god level entity in its Super Mode; Donald is just mortal and was receiving no magical assistance or powerup. This makes him the single most powerful mage in Square Enix's entire collective canon.
Remy, for his ability to do the one thing Xehanort couldn't; take control of Sora's body. There have also been jokes about Xehanort shaving his head in order to keep Remy from doing the same to him.
Dark Inferno, the game's Bonus Boss, for being very underwhelming and easy to defeat compared to past optional bosses. Jokes have been cracked that Sora is actually its superboss, because just like what the Mysterious Figure and Lingering Will could do to Sora in past games, players here can kill the Dark Inferno with little effort, and if you're using the Ultima Weapon, the fight becomes downright unfair for it.
Kairi was long considered to be an underwhelming fighter in Kingdom Hearts II (though not in its manga adaptation), but somehow she comes off even worse in this game. The fact that she is again only shown defeating basic shadow Heartless onscreen and the fact she gets captured laughably easily by Xemnas after the only time you have her as a party member. People made jokes that her Keyblade training with Lea actually made her weaker, and that she is considered by far the weakest character physically throughout the Kingdom Hearts series, including characters that are completely inept at fighting.
Lea suffers from this due to the game portraying both him and Kairi as equally skilled Keyblade fighters, even though Lea is a much more experienced fighter in general. Many joke that Lea accidentally threw away his competence alongside his dual chakram style, or that Kairi infected him with her uselessness. In either case, one questions the wisdom of both characters undergoing Keyblade training at all given the results.
As Merlin was the one who trained both the above, some fans lump him in this category too.
Aqua doesn't fare as badly as Kairi does, but still gets hit by Badass Decay enough to not escape this. She jobs hard in this game, most of the time thanks to Cutscene Incompetence, leading her to making stupid mistakes and needing to be saved from the likes of Vanitas or Terra-Xehanort, both enemies that she had already overcame previously. Some believe she was better off as Anti-Aqua, because she at least manages to overpower Riku in that form.
The villains aren't immune to this as Vanitas proves. Despite being one of the most notorious antagonists in the series, he gets defeated in an extremely comical way by Sulley in the Monsters Inc. world, so much so that it's very difficult to take him seriously when he shows up again later on. Some people joked that the reason he didn't immediately teleport back to them after being tossed through the doors was because he was too embarrassed to keep fighting after Sully humiliated him so badly.
Terra-Xehanort. In Secret Reports, it's revealed that he took an interest in an amnesiac 15-year-old girl called "Subject X" and is really looking forward to perform experiments on her to unlock her memories. His reports also sound like he's really pissed when he believed that Ansem the Wise released her.
Misblamed: The rumor of the game not seeing a release till 2020 stemmed from a misunderstanding of what was actually said. Square Enix gave the release window of this game (and several others) as being within the next three years and news articles jumped on it, claiming the game (along with Final Fantasy VII Remake) had been delayed. Trailers released since emphasized a 2018 release date, killing those rumors, and they remained dead even when the game was delayed to early 2019.
Moe: Chirithy, who makes a weird cute voice every time it's teleporting in to talk to Sora.
"This looks like a good spot to find some ingredients!" This line and lines like it are repeated ad nauseum throughout the game whenever you're near an ingredient source. Donald's version in particular is rather slow and shrill.
Practically everything said during the mini-game in Arendelle to retrieve all pieces of Olaf can become extremely grating, especially for players having difficulty locating where Olaf's head is, meaning that they'll have to hear Olaf's lines and Donald saying "That sounds like Olaf!" over and over and over again.
Hiro calling you every time you bump into the Invisible Wall surrounding San Fransokyo can get really grating. Better pay close attention to the HUD map if you don't want this to happen all the time.
Most Wonderful Sound: Most of the fights with the True Organization at the end of the game feature recreations of their iconic Boss Banter from past games, like Dark Riku's "You like that?", Xigbar's "R for reload!" and Ansem's "Submit!" It's sure to put a smile on your face if you're a long-time player of the series.
Narm: But of course. You can find III in all its glorious awkwardness in the series' Narm page.
Riku's new Keyblade has been given some flack for resembling a pin tumbler lock key rather than the typical skeleton key template that most other Keyblades follow. "Most", being that the previous Keyblade to use this design template was Fenrir from Kingdom Hearts II.
When several pieces of render art were released, Woody was listed as Woody Pride. There were fans who seemed to think the game gave Woody a last name, when in fact, Lee Unkrich revealed Woodys full name on his Twitter back in 2009. In fact, his name was Woody Pride since the early days of the original movie, it just never had the chance to come up.
This isn't the first Kingdom Hearts game to have the Disney worlds act as sequels to the original movies. II had the Nightmare Before Christmas world act as one on top of being a sequel to the first game's adaptation of the original movie.
People were surprised that there was only one secret boss in III and that it seemingly had no connections to a future game. The truth is that the initial release of each game has been light on postgame content since the first game came out in Japan with the Phantom as its only secret boss, with additional bosses being added in the international and then Final Mix versions.
Padding: While certainly not the first offender in the franchise, the Disney worlds feel like this for many players. Other than bringing up the potential existence of new guardians of light and having some very vaguely-explained benefits to the Organization experimenting within them, they don't really do much to progress the story. Sora is told to unlock the "power of waking", so he goes and explores a Disney world, doesn't get the power, and goes to another world. Rinse and repeat. When the main plot finally does get moving, it's because of things Riku and Mickey have been doing off-screen, and Sora's questing in the Disney worlds immediately halts as he goes to help them.
Play the Game, Skip the Story: Essentially what most reviews came to once the game dropped. Despite being the finale of the "Dark Seeker Saga", the story was felt to be underdeveloped and unfocused as there isn't any sense of urgency in the plot, with many citing there being less of a purpose for Sora in this one (In previous games he was at least locking down worlds, keeping Heartless & Nobodies from destroying worlds and search for his lost friends. Here he just stumbles around trying to unlock the power of waking and bumping into Organization members by coincidence who barely even confront him till the finale) and the villains plans making very little sense to really get invested, with the inclusion of multiple characters who have little to no bearing in the long run. And considering this was the culmination of seven games worth of story, was felt as a serious letdown. All the while though, the gameplay was praised as the best thing about this installment with smooth controls, a new battle systems, powers and summons with most negativity being it was to easy but still an enjoyable enough romp regardless.
Relationship Writing Fumble: Sora and Rapunzel, not unlike the fumble with Sora and Ariel in I and II. Much of the gameplay in Corona boils down to Rapunzel sees a new outside-world thing and Sora shows her how awesome it is. In the game, this is a vehicle for fun minigames, whereas in Tangled, it was a vehicle for romantic development between her and Flynn. Making this either better or worse is that Rapunzels canon romantic partner isn't Adapted Out like Prince Eric was in the first game Flynn is right there in your party as well, watching from the background as Sora takes his place in several bonding moments with Rapunzel.
Port Royal was one of the less popular worlds in Kingdom Hearts II, but there was a lot more enthusiasm for the world (now called The Caribbean) following the E3 announcement that it would return, largely due to the new art style making Sora, Donald and Goofy not clash nearly as much with the aesthetic this time around. It was even better after the game was released, with The Caribbean being frequently named in reviews as quite possibly the best Disney world in the game, playing almost like a miniature version of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag.
The Olympus Coliseum was mostly just a recurring Tournament Arc in previous games, with little of the area outside the coliseum able to be explored; Kingdom Hearts II allowed players to traverse the underworld while Birth by Sleep featured a small town near Thebes, though both locales were rather limited in size, and after appearing in so many games many players were becoming tired of it. In this game, fans get to explore the entirely of Mount Olympus in all its gorgeous detail as well as fend off the Titans storming the home of the Olympians, an event fans of Hercules had been anticipating for years. Also of note is how III includes all four of the Titans, not just Rock and Ice.
Anti-Form from Kingdom Hearts II has been retooled as Rage Form, and its changes have been better received than its previous incarnation. While Anti-Form was an interesting idea (the manifestation of darkness in Sora's heart taking over temporarily), it was used solely as a punishment for overusing the Drive command, turning Sora into a Glass Cannon that was more Glass than Cannon, taking away his party members, severely limiting his defensive options, and disabling healing via magic or items. Rage Form is instead an optional risk/reward Formchange that always has a chance to open up as a command when Sora falls to low HP and fully restores your HP on activation without compromising defense. On top of also keeping your companions, the healing they afford also pairs well with Rage Form's "Risktaker" command, which halves your current HP to increase damage done while in Rage Form, and using it three times allows you to pull off the form's Finish command, which deals heavy area-of-effect damage before reverting you back to normal.
Ron the Death Eater: Mickey has gotten excessive amounts of flack from the fandom, blaming him for Aqua's internment in the Realm of Darkness for as long as it was, that either he neglected or outright forgot her...which is done in the face of the simple matter that he never knew where Aqua disappeared tonote She went off to confront Terranort on her own, and vanished into the darkness without any witnesses and, even if he ever had figured out, he couldn't get there. The only physical passage that exists is in Destiny Island's grotto, and a temporary one that was there in End of the World; he couldn't freely go inbetween realms until he got Kingdom Key D, immediately after which he was saddled with trying to bring down the Organization's machinations, and even afterwards it was suicidal-degree dangerous to try and forge it alone.note He'd only originally went there to get in, find Kingdom Key D, and get the hell out. Only once he had the knowledge, the means, and another Master to back him up was the rescue feasible. There's also the fact that, from Aqua's perspective, she wasn't in the Realm of Darkness for nearly as long as 10 years, since time runs slower there, so it's not as overblown of a wait as people claim. In fact, Mickey's excuses for not go after Aqua for so long was outright explained by Yen Sid himselfin the previous installment.
The enemy lock-on refuses to work if your target isn't onscreen. This makes it unnecessarily difficult to find whatever you're trying to fight, especially if you're being shot at by a mook who's hiding in an elevated position.
For all of the new emphasis and free form exploration the Gummi Ships get, you don't actually have full 3D movement, much less any convenient way to loop or anything outside of a quick button command to reverse direction. Your ascent/descent caps at a certain angle, which is bad for huge spans of space with plenty of verticality. And if you're looking for item or blueprint crystals that happen to be in tight areas, this means you have to clumsily circle a few times and keep reorienting yourself to even shoot them.
If you fail a cooking mini-game, you lose the ingredients used to make them, meaning you will have to search for them again or waste Munny at the shop to get more.
Serial Numbers Filed Off: While the Classic Kingdom minigames' visuals are very heavily inspired by the Game & Watch, the name for said device isn't actually on the handhelds within the game.
Ship-to-Ship Combat: Unsurprisingly the Sora/Riku fans werent too happy when the Sora/Kairi subtext practically became text in this game. Those same fans were even less thrilled when Riku was given a bit of Ship Tease with Naminé.
The "Let It Go" sequence in Arendelle, for recreating the scene from Frozen almost shot-for-shot, down to the way Elsa's body moves and the way the snow swirls.
The battle with Anti-Aqua, due to the trailers depicting the characters FaceHeel Turn and the fans memes hyping it up.
The party's confrontation with Terra-Xehanort at the Keyblade Graveyard, but not for good reasons. The entire heroic cast is suddenly stricken with Cutscene Incompetence and The Worf Effect, and they spend the scene being taken out in one hit, not even attempting to defend themselves or fight back save for Riku, Donald, and Goofy.
Related to the above, Donald defeating Terra-Xehanort with Zettaflare.
The Shadows in the first battle of the Keyblade Graveyard have an extremely low frame-rate that make them look more like stop-motion characters than anything belonging in the fluid animation of the rest of the game.
In this game's recreation of the Let it Go scene, it's apparent that the computer, or a computer that's part of a renderfarm that rendered that scene, either lost its connection to the authentication servers for the Arnold Renderer in Maya, or didn't have a valid license for it in the first place, because the tell-tale for that (an "Arnold" watermark) can be seen in that scene. Strangely, that watermark isnt found in the original Japanese version of that scene, and it is also not the first time this has happened in a Kingdom Hearts game. The opening for Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 also had an instance of the Arnold watermark showing up in a single frame.
Strangled by the Red String: What a certain portion of the fan base claims Rikus Ship Tease with Naminé is. Claiming it came out of nowhere, however, is forgetting that it was Naminé who encouraged Riku to use the darkness and make it his instead of resisting it. Others will argue that it was just Ship Tease and that two werent actually given the Official Couple treatment Sora and Kairi did.
That One Level: The third and final Gummi Ship zone, the Eclipse. You're dropped into a space maze that is rather confusing to navigate until you figure out which way to go, with loads of walls and enemies in every direction. Once you manage to get to The Very Definitely Final Dungeon and find waypoints outside of the maze, it's not too bad, but navigating it is a huge pain in the butt due to how unhelpful the map is. It gets worse with the denial of a full vertical ascent or descent, as the entire maze doesn't cooperate with this problem very well.
Finding all the Lucky Emblems. Many are in plain sight if you just keep an eye out for them, but others are tucked away inside of containers, behind walls, or under world objects, making them easy to miss. Yet others are made from objects in the environment that only align to form the Emblem when viewed at a certain angle from a certain spot, or are made of things so innocuous (stickers on boxes, a pile of firewood) that you can be looking right at them and not realize it's an Emblem. Some are even hidden in the distant background of worldspaces you can't access, making it even easier to just not notice them among the background textures. Finding all the Emblems without a guide requires you to scour each world searching every nook and cranny and surveying the level layout from every angle.
Defeating the strongest Bonus Boss Heartless Ship in The Caribbean. Not only is it a serious challenge even for a max-level Leviathan, it's flanked by two only slightly weaker ships. But the worst offender is that sailing too far away will cause it to de-spawn, which is very easy to do accidentally while dodging its volleys.
They Copied It, So It Sucks!: One of the biggest criticisms towards the Kingdom of Corona and Arendelle worlds are how the plots in those worlds are just retellings of the movies they're based on, with Sora's group only existing to prevent outside interference from the Heartless and Organization XIII. While the franchise has always had issues with this, it is especially noticeable in Arendelle, as Sora's group doesn't have much interaction with the Frozen cast, and the only party member from that world is Marshmallow, who players only get towards the end of the main plot. The Caribbean catches less flak despite also copying the plot of a movie, since there are more noteworthy differences applied to make it feel more fresh, and with Sora's group far more involved in the story's climax.
A lot of characters end up sidelined with little, if anything, of importance to do. Aside from Sora, Donald, and Goofy, only Riku, Mickey, and Aqua get to actually do anything that helps progress the plot in some way, and even then they're often rendered useless. Kairi, Lea, Ven, Roxas, Xion, and Terra, are mostly just here to be party members for the final world's Boss Rush, and to hold up their Keyblades with the rest of the group for a couple of cutscenes. The appearance of Naminé can be missed entirely, since her only appearance outside of the ending is in an optional scene gotten by talking to an NPC you can easily overlook, and the Lingering Will appears for a Big Damn Heroes moment and then vanishes from the plot. Kairi and Lea are a particularly painful example, bordering on Bait-and-Switch: Dream Drop Distance showed Lea getting a Keyblade, and 0.2 said they'd both be training with Merlin to help battle Xehanort. They spend the entire length of this game training off-screen, and when they come to help in the final world they get to take part in one battle before Xemnas breaks Lea's Keyblade and takes Kairi hostage.
Master Xehanort himself is shown in the opening FMV video and talked up as the ultimate Big Bad of the story throughout the game...but he does not appear in person until the very final lap of the game, making him come across like an over-glorified Orcus on His Throne type of villain up until he has to become the Final Boss. Not helping matters is how underwhelming and practically out-of-character his final resolution is for him after almost a full decade of build-up, with him just giving up because Eraqus tells him to.
Many Disney villains that could make for great boss fights end up amounting to nothing (it's the case of Randall, Zurg, and Yokai). This is not counting the likes of Mother Gothel and Hans, who technically are fought, but as Heartless monsters.
No Final Fantasy characters return to this installment (besides the shopkeeper Moogles and some cameos like the Olympus narrator mentioning Cloud and Auron), meaning no resolution to the plotlines involving Cloud and Sephiroth's fight, Leon's letter from Rinoa and whatever happened to Zack in BBS. The fact that Nomura explicitly mentioned in an interview that he feels Final Fantasy is no longer necessary to the series definitely rubbed some salt in the wound before the game's release (though he did acknowledge fan criticism of the lack of Final Fantasy and is open to bringing it back).
Out of all the main characters featured in Arendelle, only Marshmallow is a party member. Many players were disappointed that you don't get to have Elsa or Anna in your party. They don't even have much of a presence in the game as supporting characters, much less being party members, despite them potentially being new Princesses of Hearts.
Toy Box and 100 Acre Wood have gotten some flack for not utilizing more of their core characters; major characters like Jessie, Slinky, and the Potato Heads are completely absent from the former world, and fan-favorite Eeyore is missing from the latter, along with series mainstays Kanga and Owl.
In Birth by Sleep's "Blank Points," it was revealed that Eraqus had secretly "possessed" Terra before Xehanort did, heavily implying that Eraqus would play an important role in saving Terra... Instead, Eraqus doesn't return until after Xehanort's defeat, let alone during Terra's restoration.
Given how songs from Frozen were sung in Arendelle, you'd expect for songs from Tangled to appear in the Kingdom of Corona. However, no songs were sung in that world. The fact that the I See The Light scene was in the game does not help much.
Both of the aforementioned movies are Disney retellings, and it shows: Sora is dumped straight into the movie plots as an outside force that ultimately has no place in them besides keeping outside forces out, and a lot of context is completely glossed over or missed. This isn't anything new for Disney retellings in Kingdom Hearts, but it is especially bad with Arendelle, as Larxene outright does a Lampshade Hanging on the repetition of the New Seven Lights side-plot from Kingdom of Corona and ultimately Sora basically talks with Elsa briefly twice before mostly stumbling along as the story happens entirely in the background. Hans, a bit of a popular villain, doesn't even get a single spoken line and basically appears briefly in two scenes to show "hey there's a non-Organization XIII bad guy", and to some it might feel like the movie was only just barely in there because it's Disney's most popular cashcow.
Adding on to that, Larxene mentions a possible conflict of light and darkness within Elsa's heart and that she's eager to see what shell choose which would have been a great tie in to the scene where Elsa is getting attacked by the guards in her ice palace and starts fighting back and almost kills them before Hans talks her down; they could have easily put Sora in Hanss place as the person who stops Elsa (and then have him get knocked out by the chandelier along with her if they wanted to avoid talking to Hans so much). Instead Sora gets knocked down the mountain a bunch of times and never gets inside the ice palace, and we only see the aftermath of the scene where Hans has captured Elsa and is bringing her back to Arendelle.
Furthermore, given what a sadistic psycho Larxene is, her being on this world opens a lot of potential scenes where Larxene relentlessly taunts Elsa about her own fears, or better yet push her down to the paths of darkness by making her succumb to it. And to put the cherry on top, she could also potentially mock Anna's blind naivety about loving and believing in her sister despite all evidence presented otherwise while also mocking her impromptu marriage with Hans and could make her succumb to a different type of darkness (of anger and hate). But unfortunately, come the game itself, she doesn't do anything but stop Sora from interfering from the plot while also being the only Organization member to not interact with anyone from this worldnote Marluxia at least has brief interactions with Gothel and Rapunzel.
What's more, another complaint is that this world starts on the mountain rather then in the kingdom itself and right when Elsa going into the mountain. Many found it an utter waste of potential not to at least start from before the conflict that causes her to run off which would at least allow the players to explore the city, maybe battle a few Heartless there, have more interaction with Anna, Hans and Sven and add some location variety other then snowy woods. Admittedly though this was likely the result of Disney pretty much telling the production staff that they couldn't interfere too much with the story like they could with others (Notice how the Larxene encounters are away from the plot rather then directly, with her only having an implied off-screen encounter with Hans to do the same thing to him that Marluxia did to Gothel in Corona), so most likely the staff just did what they could with that stipulation.
And lastly, unlike all other Disney characters in the game, they don't even say their goodbyes to Sora before they leave. The world basically ends with the two sisters hugging with Sora, Donald and Goofy just there in the background without them even acknowledging their presence at all. It could be used as a potential for Sora to share one last conversation with Elsa after her Character Development regarding her ice powers but instead, she is only there post-game to offer Sora a course on a Frozen Slider minigame.
The Unversed make an appearance in this game after only being seen in Birth by Sleep. However, they only appear in one level of the game (not counting the battle sequence in the endgame), with only four varieties plus a boss, leaving their inclusion extremely underutilized.
One could consider 100 Acre Wood to be a complete waste, it all takes place in one area, and the plot is just helping Rabbit out with his gardening using three variations on the same minigame. Even worse, it's entirely optional, as you can forget to approach it entirely (there's no reason to return to the Twilight Town Bistro on foot except for 100 Acre Wood at that point) and the game just moves on without it.
The Riku that joins the Organization briefly baits Sora by claiming to be the real Riku, with Donald and Goofy guessing he might be the Riku from the first game, aka, the one possessed by Ansem. However, it turns out right away that no, he was actually a second Replica Riku, and thus is a different character. While the Replica aspect is important, the idea of the Ansem possessed Riku coming back would have been an interesting way of showing how far Riku has developed as a character, and would have made sense given how he technically was a vessel already for Xehanort.
Now that Kairi is a trained Keyblade wielder, one would be forgiven for assuming that she'd get the opportunity to fight in a party with Sora and Riku, especially given all the other fanservice moments during the final battle, but it never happens.
The fact that Roxas looks like Ventus is barely acknowledged in the game. First you have Lea saying it in a cutscene after Sora, Aqua, Donald, and Goofy find Ven, which barely anyone responds to outside of Ventus being surprised for a second. Then, after Roxas' heart is put in a vessel to come back and everyone lines up with Sora, Mickey, and Riku towards the end, the two just give each other a brief look with no look of shock on their faces at all. Then there's the ending cutscene after you beat Xehanort has everyone hanging out but has no interactions between the two. To not get an actual in-universe explanation by someone like Yen Sid on why that is and some actual interactions between the two seems like a wasted opportunity.
Given that the True Organization XIII are all vessels for Xehanort's heart, shouldn't they all be able to wield a Keyblade? Numerous plot details support that they ought to have been able to, but when you fight them, the only ones who wield Keyblades are the ones who could do so originally anyway.
Aqua never retrieves her original Keyblade from the Chamber of Repose in Radiant Garden, continuing to use the Master's Defender as her weapon. Keyblade Armor doesn't factor into the plot at all and isn't even mentioned.
While the build-up since Dream Drop Distance implied the Princesses of Heart would be targets of the True Organization XIII, this is an Aborted Arc: we only meet three of the new ones and they play no part in the story.
With the exclusion of the Final Fantasy characters, we get no resolution to the Cloud/Sepheroith struggle nor any on the Radiant Garden characters. Alot of reviews pointed out that the whole Keyblade War in the climax could've been more amplified with them coming to help in the final battle as a nice callback to the Heartless invasion of Hollow Bastion in II.
Nobodies save the Twilight Town trio and Ansem the Wise from Xehanort's Heartless on orders from Even. Many fans felt it'd have been a much more fitting and interesting twist if it'd been Roxass Nobodies saving the trio out of loyalty to Roxas rather than just being sent by Even, as it'd have paid off that recurring them still addressing Roxas as 'my liege' and having loyalty to him.
Likely because the game was just starting development, but the first full E3 trailer had some awkward looking facial designs. Later confirmed to be the case as the following trailers show off previous scenes again, with more improved facial structures.
While most of the game sticks to established facial designs for most characters, a couple of pre-rendered cutscenes give Sora and a few others noticeably different faces that are reminiscent of the earliest E3 trailers. They are unsettling to say the least.
Some people had this reaction to Sora, Donald and Goofy's designs in the Monsters, Inc. world, especially Goofy's. Sora's face has been completely redesigned to look like a Monsters, Inc. character, Donald is designed with a cyclops eye, and Goofy is designed as a green monster with bugged-out eyes.note Then again, considering that in the original movie the monsters' old job was to, well, scare kids, this might very well be intentional. This even applies In-Universe, because as soon as they arrive in Monstropolis, they immediately admit that they are scared by their monster forms.
As befits a Creepy Doll, the Angelic Amber is very human-looking (with a slight anime touch) and beautiful, but her unchanging unblinking expression and movements are just wrong.
A Toy Story world was one thing, since it was the premier Pixar movie. But Monsters, Inc.? The factory and all, along with both Sulley, Mike, Boo and Randall?
The Unversed return after having not made a significant appearance in the series since their lone appearance in Birth by Sleep.
Most folks thought that any Organization members they beat in previous games were over and done with. Especially with the reveal that the new Organization is mostly made up of Xehanorts gathered from across time. And then the 2018 trailer revealed Marluxia, Larxene, and Luxord are coming back for another round.
At E3 2018, many wholly expected the reveal of such a juggernaut film as Frozen to happen. The confirmation of a Pirates of the Caribbean-themed world with all of its original characters returning? Not so much, especially after Nomura's past comments implied that Hercules would be the only returning world. In fact, some fans initially thought the world was instead going to one based on Treasure Planet because of said comments by Nomura until the trailer soon proved otherwise.
Much like the Unversed, the Bug Blox also make a return appearance, seeming to be the main threat in San Fransokyo, after previously solely appearing in coded.
Most people expected Elsa or Anna to be the party member of the Frozen world. Surprisingly, its neither, but actually Marshmallow who fights with Sora in that world.
Musically, not many people expected Skrillex of all people to have a hand in composing the opening song, "Face My Fears". Or that "Don't Think Twice" won't be the opening song despite being used in all trailers ever since it was first revealed.
While the Hundred Acre Wood and Pooh and company are not too surprising of an appearance in III given their presence in past games, this game marks the first time Lumpy the Heffalump has had any sort of physical presence in a Kingdom Hearts game. Adding to the surprise in his appearance is the fact that he had seen comparatively less use in Pooh media at the time.
Gopher was also a surprise treat, as while he did appear in the previous game, within that thirteen year span, he too had practically disappeared from the Pooh franchise. For that matter, he actually appears right beside Lumpy - the two characters have never appeared before together, Gopher having been replaced by Beaver on My Friends Tigger & Pooh.
The lack of Final Fantasy characters, especially Final Fantasy XV characters... in place of the surprise reveal in the Secret Movie that Yozora from Verum Rex is Real After All. The Secret Movie also reveals that just because Final Fantasy characters are getting downplayed, that doesn't mean other Square Enix properties are off-limits, as Sora finds himself in the world of The World Ends With You.
Organization XIII, to varying degrees. With some of them, like Luxord and Xemnas, it's acceptable that the heroes may show a degree of empathy and sadness about their deaths. But for the likes of Vanitas and Ansem, it's hard to believe that the story even tries to paint their deaths in a tragic light. Vanitas spends his final moments boasting about how he accepts his inhuman nature, and when Ansem dies, Riku remarks that in a way he's "going to miss him", a laughable sentiment after how much Ansem has tormented him through the years.
Master Xehanort. The ending reveals he really was a Knight Templar after all, believing that because human hearts are almost always vulnerable to darkness, they are responsible for the realm of light being too full of darkness, and he thought the only way to restore balance was to use Kingdom Hearts to purge the universe and start it all over, and he will become the worlds' leader to ensure balance. However, this plot development contradicts everything else known about Xehanort: he and his incarnations are directly responsible for the Heartless invading the realm of light and countless worlds and people being swallowed by darkness, and they've been using darkness to fight their enemies since day one, making Xehanort look like a gigantic Hypocrite. The only time the series ever hinted his ultimate goal was not known, including his other incarnations, was Xigbar directly telling this fact to Young Xehanorts face in Recoded's secret ending. That aside, even in his final moments Xehanort shows no real remorse, regret, or guilt over his actions, makes no apologies to any of the heroes whose lives he ruined, and doesn't do anything to show redemption but surrendering to Sora at a point where he's already lost anyway, acting as a Graceful Loser out of nowhere. And Master Eraqus is the one by whom he is Easily Forgiven after having betrayed him, scarred him, exploited his already-offered Forgiveness, murdered him, and ruined the lives of his beloved pupils. A lot of fans find it impossible to fathom how any of the heroes could sympathize with and forgive him.
All of the worlds have exceptional detail in 3D. This is shown especially well in Hercules' world, which was originally a 2D film.
The in-game graphics of Toy Story's world are almost indistinguishable from the movies. They even nailed the design of Andy's room and the entire neighborhood block! To really hammer the point, even Pixar staff members were shocked at how great the graphics looked! That's the power of Unreal Engine 4 for ya!
The Monsters, Inc. world has probably the most ambitious design yet, as not only do they recreate the inside of the factory, but the entire outside of the factory as well!
The Tangled world has realistic water, something that even great 3D animators have trouble animating. And they nailed it.
Also from the Tangled world, Rapunzels hair. The development team apparently spent three years making sure the hair worked in the game's engine, and it really pays off.
The graphics for the Pirates of the Caribbean world are the most phenomenal-looking of all. They deliberately made the graphics look gritty and realistic so it looks like Sora, Donald and Goofy stepped into the live-action movies. A far cry from the attempt that Kingdom Hearts II made. On top of that, apparently, the graphics for that level weren't even completely finished yet!
The "Let it Go" scene is a near frame-by-frame recreation of the scene in the film. Not only did they nail the shots accurately, but they also replicated the dust particles and the mountain design. They even corrected the infamous shot of Elsa undoing her bun.
We're Still Relevant, Dammit!: Instead of the traditional Journal feature, Sora now has a smartphone that logs all that gameplay and story data for him. The load-screens prominently feature screenshots from the series, evidently posted to in-universe social media by the cast, complete with hashtags.
What an Idiot!: Vanitas attempts to merge with Ventuss heart right there in Monstropolis without checking to make sure that Sulley and Mike had actually been driven away first. As it turns out, they were faking their retreat. This results in an utterly awesome yet hilarious defeat at the hands of Mike and Sully.
The Jump Fiesta trailer won over a lot of people in the gameplay department. Flowmotion, Shotlocks, and the Classic Combat System all in one package? Hell. Yes.
To expand on Flowmotion, many fans found it to be an interesting and fun concept, but that Dream Drop Distance took it too far and made it too powerful, negatively impacting combat and level design. The news that Flowmotion would be toned down quite a bit (signified by renaming it "Athletic Flow") stirred up a fair amount of excitement for a more balanced gameplay experience.
With Olympus Coliseum being in almost every Kingdom Hearts game (Dream Drop Distance is the only exception), many fans were very happy to see that the Hercules world of this game will feature all of Mount Olympus and not just the Coliseum.
The Toy Story trailer likewise revealing there will be no trade offs of characters in the worlds. Everyone will be present and accounted for, so both Donald, Goofy and the guest characters will be fighting side by side.
And then came a Monsters, Inc. world. Two Pixar worlds and fandom was through the roof.
The announcement that Utada Hikaru would be returning to the franchise with a new theme song: "Chikai"/"Don't Think Twice".
Yes, it was expected, but the revelation of a Frozen world still excited many people.