This week, Yahtzee reviews Kingdom Hearts III.
I'm not into Disney or Final Fantasy, not being a child or an overweight female cosplayer who has never once in their life been able to cum, so I've steered clear of Kingdom Hearts. But I admit, I was curious about Kingdom Hearts III; the series has a high profile, and some people I would never admit to respecting say they like it. The same people have also said that the plot is completely fucking incomprehensible if you haven't played Kingdom Hearts I, II, Chain of Memories, Birth by Sleep, Dream Drop Distance, and every other side game with a subtitle that reads like a bag of marbles fell on a keyboard with an overzealous autocorrect.
But hey, I like "incomprehensible"; some people called me "incomprehensible" when I clenched a strawberry between my buttocks and went to the costume party as a jam sandwich. Besides, I couldn't quite believe that a company like Disney would let their name be on something incomprehensible; I mean, these are the guys who always pursue the broadest audience possible with psychotic tone-deafness. "Yeah, let's put a happy ending on the fucking Hunchback of Notre Dame, and after that, let's put stiletto heels on a camel." So I gave Kingdom Hearts III a chance, and you know what, viewer? Sometimes, you totally should go with your first instinct.
Things started okay: You are Sora, anime protagonist in a big Disney crossover multiverse with some kind of slightly unclear peacekeeping role; I assume he's the equivalent of a police officer because his job seems to largely entail beating the shit out of black people, ha ha! He's followed around by Goofy and Donald Duck, presumably so that he never forgets even for a moment who's signing the fucking paychecks around here. Something that happened in the previous games has reduced Sora's power, so he needs to set out into the world to start building it back up. Great, reset button! That's all the acknowledgement of the previous games we needed, Kingdom Hearts III! Let's go spend the next twenty hours referencing Disney movies and wallowing in the delicious warmth of our filled nappies!
Sadly, it was not to be, and things soon began to fall apart. Who are all these other characters? Why is Mickey Mouse knocking about a black desert with the Muppet Babies version of Sephiroth? Who are all the dudes in black coats, and why don't any of them know how zip fasteners work? Sora's motive keeps changing: sometimes we're getting his lost power back; sometimes we're looking for three missing warriors; sometimes we're looking for Roxas, who is in Sora's heart, which he already knew, so why the fuck is he looking?; or we're just generally opposing the main bad guys, who are three versions of the same dude, and none of them could figure out how zips work, either.
The story of Kingdom Hearts III made me angry - not "Liam Neeson" angry, more "teaching Facebook to your grandma" angry - but it wasn't so much my lack of story background as the way the story was told. Here is my impression of a Kingdom Hearts character going to the toilet: "Ooh!" "What is it?" "I think I need the toilet!" "Hmm... Hey, look! Isn't that a toilet over there?" "Right! Let's get going!" Break into a sprint, bloke in a black trench coat appears, everyone stops dead. "I wouldn't do that if I were you." "What!? The Organization!? Why shouldn't we go to the toilet!?" "Simply because... I just did a very big poo in that toilet." "Huh!?" "Gawrsh, if he did a very big poo in the toilet, it probably still smells!" "It doesn't matter." "Hm?" "As long as we're together, we can take on the smell of any poo! That's what friendship is all about!"
Imagine this conversation happening several times an hour, and some of it is in a Donald Duck voice. I was prepared for Donald Duck's voice. Everyone knows Donald Duck's voice; it's one of the things we've just accepted about the world, like climate change and the Ebola virus. But it still compounded my irritation! Oh yeah, listening to Donald Duck's voice is like sticking your entire head in a soaking wet condom and then trying to remove it with an orbital sander. So it might have put me in the right mood to want to start twatting some things with sticks, but sadly, there wasn't much catharsis to be found in the combat.
It's yet another modern JRPG combat system that figured there had to be some happy middle ground between real-time and menu-based combat, by the same principle that onion gravy mixed with marmalade would presumably be superior to both. So mostly, it's mashing the one "Attack" button at whichever enemy happens to be nearest, but when you want to cast a spell or use an item, you've got to fiddle your way through the menu options, hoping not to get hit as you stand there in the melee like an erection in a rugby scrum. You can also occasionally do super-moves, in which you pilot particle effect-drenched versions of Disneyland rides that fuck up the enemy, which is one of those trademark Kingdom Hearts moments where you're not sure if you're being advertised at; oh, and by "occasionally", I mean "in every fucking fight", regardless of threat.
So that's the core gameplay experience: you go to a new world themed around a Disney film, you advance from room to room fucking up one batch of dark lads after another, learn once again the same lesson that My Little Pony successfully brought across with three fucking words, watch an incomprehensible cutscene or two, then move on to the next, and when I say "Disney film", I mean "Pixar film". Well, partly. The first level's themed around Hercules - Bit of an odd choice for the opener; who the fuck has spared a thought for Disney's Hercules the last twenty years, besides mythology professors who can't let go of a grudge? - but after that, it's CG movies all the way, those being the fucking moneymaker these days. But Pixar films tend to be a bit too intricate and high-concept for this format; Toy Story and Monsters, Inc. are levels, but aren't both of those tangentially set in the real world? Last I checked, reality isn't a subsidiary of the Disney Corporation. Not yet, anyway; give them a few more years.
Your standard Disney fare, pretty princesses vs. evil witches, fits more comfortably in an "epic" crossover setting, even if the Tangled and Frozen levels are just pointless recreations of the film plots that don't even hold up because several plot elements are missing, and Sora and his mates are there, standing awkwardly in the corner offering running commentary for the mentally disadvantaged. "Gosh, that magical lady with the puppy dog eyes looks like she's sad about something, doesn't she?"
I didn't expect to finish Kingdom Hearts III in the time I had, so I had just set out to play until I knew my opinion wasn't going to change, and that moment came at the Winnie the Pooh section. In-between two of the actual levels, it suddenly becomes important that Sora investigate why he's not on the cover of a Winnie the Pooh book; wasn't sure why he felt he should be, except his general sense of being the center of the fucking universe, but then we go to the Hundred Acre Wood, and it turns out everything's fine and they just wanted to hang out, although they won't let you leave until you've played some insipid color-matching games. Sorry, why was this important? Is the plot seriously being held hostage by Winnie the Fucking Pooh?! Actually, I didn't mind the color-matching games or that Ratatouille cooking side-quest, but I might just have been enjoying taking a break from the rest of the fucking game. In conclusion, Kingdom Hearts III is a fucking baffling experience, equal parts impenetrable and insufferably condescendingly twee with a creepy undercurrent of Disney thought control; kind of like trying to get off with Mary Poppins in a Scientology test center.
- Disnae like Disney: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
- I think the definitive definition of "shithead" is "the kind of person who tries to get people to dance when they don't want to dance"
- Never did figure out that fucking egg-cracking minigame