Speculation is rife at the minute as fans eagerly await more information on Kingdom Hearts III, with the matter of what Disney worlds are to appear all the more exciting considering the company’s huge acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel and LucasFilms in the last decade. Thus far we’ve only been given a teaser of a Tangled world alongside confirmation that Olympus Coliseum from Hercules is making a comeback. However within the recent wave of information Tetsuya Nomura stated within Dengeki magazine that “apart from Olympus Coliseum, nearly all the worlds are new” (KHinsider). Yet before we all get excited about the prospect of seeing worlds based on Frozen, The Avengers, and Star Wars we have to remember that Kingdom Hearts has never fully abandoned the characters and worlds used in previous entries and there seems little reason to do so in the next instalment either. For instance with KH3D: Dream, Drop, Distance we were told that all the worlds featured would be new but aside from La Cité des Cloches, every one of them had some connection with worlds and characters seen before. Likewise many of the new worlds in KHII and KH: Birth by Sleep seemed to follow up on storylines or characters that had been built upon in their predecessors. Furthermore characters such as Stitch seem to have their own storyline that has been building up over the series and could likely conclude within the next game within a fully realised world. Thus is it fair to take this “almost all new worlds” premise with an air of caution?
Ultimately it largely depends on what we’d consider to be an all-new world, one with a new setting but familiar faces, or one that hasn’t been seen in anyway before? Surely nobody wants to visit Agrabah again but perhaps the Genie, or Aladdin and Jasmine would make welcome returns in one form or another. Olympus Coliseum may be back but Mount Olympus seems to be the main focal point of the world and in that sense does it not also make it a brand new world?
Through this thinking therefore we cannot rule out the appearance of any Disney property past and present and for many this may come as a relief. Stitch seems a likely candidate to return albeit with a new world to explore outside of Deep Space, which we saw in KH: Birth by Sleep. His connection to Terra, Aqua and Ventus alongside his still reckless behaviour seen in KHII at the battle of Hollow Bastion suggests there’s definitely a storyline to finish off here. Like Pinocchio before it Lilo & Stitch will likely have their Prankster’s Paradise to accompany their Monstro. However the loose ended plot lines do not stop there. Tron’s fate in KH3D: Dream, Drop, Distance is still unclear and the great conclusion between Cloud and Sephiroth seems inevitable (alongside the fate of Zack). Can we truly expect these aspects not to return?
Furthermore while Disney has created many new properties in recent years, many of their older ones have received more relevance in recent years. Maleficent received a recent Angelina Jolie facelift and while it’s hard to imagine Square-Enix rendering this change physically, it gives the developers the opportunity to portray a new approach to Enchanted Dominion based on the new film. Wonderland also received the life-action treatment, which judging from Alice being a Princess of Heart can’t rule this place out entirely either. Then there’s Winnie the Pooh which had a new film in 2011 that could herald the return of 100 Acre Wood. But if not the storybook world, what mini-game worlds might be seeing? Remember Tinker Bell has become a rather successful series these days, could we be in store for a different approach to Never Land. Okay, so these last few examples seem more unlikely than the others, but we must remember that Disney has grown dramatically since KHII and no era has necessarily been left untouched in the process.
Ultimately, while we have a promise that almost every world will be new, for those of us who may feel concerned that some of our favourite characters won’t be returning this time around there is a silver lining. Kingdom Hearts is all about the connections people make with one another and this has extended to the Disney and Final Fantasy characters in past entries too. For every new property that can be used, there are just as many loose ends or franchise revivals to utilise to surely make every fan happy.