With the recent announcement of the long awaited KINGDOM HEARTS III, along with FINAL FANTASY Versus XIII having now been renamed to FINAL FANTASY XV, we felt that exploring the connection between these games would be prudent, seeing as they have a lot more in common than one might initially think. They are, for one, both being crafted more or less by the same group of people, most noticeably written, designed and directed by Tetsuya Nomura himself. For those not too familiar with him, Nomura is the mastermind behind the KINGDOM HEARTS series, along with being deeply involved with numerous FINAL FANTASY titles, starting as a debugger for its fourth installment back in 1991 and eventually working himself up as the main character designer and writer for the series’ most popular titles.
Although the KINGDOM HEARTS series draws in fans for various reasons, one of the larger ones is definitely because of its potency to mix and mesh various genres together. Placing Donald Duck and Sephiroth in the same world, for instance, was considered as odd and strange as video games could possibly get. Yet people quickly embraced the idea of interacting with characters from such Square Enix franchises as FINAL FANTASY and The World Ends With You, and after eleven years, this mix has become familiar and welcome to every fan. However, even though characters from Disney properties remain relatively similar to their movie counterparts, the Square Enix characters are generally different from their respective FINAL FANTASY titles. For example, main characters from the FINAL FANTASY franchise appear as parallel versions of themselves, who happened to grow up in KINGDOM HEARTS worlds like Radiant Garden, instead of their own original worlds in the FINAL FANTASY series.
Most of these characters hail from games on which Nomura had the most impact, most notably FINAL FANTASY VII, VIII and X. This leads us to Nomura’s latest project, his first directed FINAL FANTASY game which has been described by many as his magnum opus, FINAL FANTASY XV.
FFXV was originally cited as the reason why fans would not see a true HD console iteration of the KINGDOM HEARTS series for a long while, since the team responsible for it is the main development team behind KINGDOM HEARTS, Chain of Memories and KINGDOM HEARTS II. A lot, however, has happened since then and now there’s a new KINGDOM HEARTS development team in town, Production Development Department 5 of Square Enix (PDD5), responsible for Birth by Sleep and Dream Drop Distance, the two huge console-like titles released for the PSP and 3DS. After strong hints about KH3 being the next title in works, and Nomura’s statement that he now considers PDD5, or the “Osaka team” as he likes to put it, as the main KINGDOM HEARTS development team, it was not hard to put one, one, and one together. All that was later confirmed the day after KH3's announcement.
Nomura’s long awaited FINAL FANTASY game should therefore share a lot with KH3, the upcoming last installment in the Dark Seeker Saga. Not only will they share a similar gameplay design (hack n’ slash action JRPG), but they will also in all likelihood be released in a relatively similar timeframe. Since FFXV has been in development longer, it will most likely release first. This could very well mean that characters from FFXV may be featured in KH3, in a similar manner to how previous Square Enix characters have appeared in the series before, as mentioned above.
Under normal circumstances, Noctis, the main character of FFXV, would suffice as a cameo appearance in a KINGDOM HEARTS original world, akin to Radiant Garden or Traverse Town, giving words of advice to Sora, Donald and Goofy about all the various feels related to strength of heart, how light triumphs over darkness or how to show patience and be excited for the final clash with Xehanort. FFXV having its special connection to KH3 might however give it a chance to delve into something deeper.
At this point, we still haven’t received enough information about FFXV’s’ plot or characters, but based on the special connection between Noctis and Stella, the two most prominent characters in FFXV, there’s a good chance of having the character Stella also appear in one way or another in KH3. At the moment, it is however impossible to tell exactly how their relationship will develop in FFXV. It might however prove very interesting to have both her and Noctis portraying their relationship in KH3, as their otherwise friendly relationship in FFXV becomes rather hostile as the plot develops. According to the scraps of information we have collected over the years, Noctis and Stella share a certain power related to Etro, the goddess of Death. This grants them the ability to summon multiple weapons and fight with superhuman strength. Sometime during the game’s beginning, they will apparently meet and appear friendly towards one another until later in the game, when they’re seen fighting each other.
This could project itself over into KH3 with various interesting twists. Either Noctis or Stella might for example side with Master Xehanort’s side of darkness, while the other fights with the protectors of the light. Since we do not truly know which character fights for the better cause in FFXV, we wouldn’t know for sure whether Noctis would necessarily side with Sora or Xehanort in their final clash. For instance, Noctis’ arrogance in the 2011 trailer is apparent when he overestimates his power and places too much emphasis on it, ignoring his friends’ advice. This arrogant move of his calls to mind Riku back in KINGDOM HEARTS when he himself fell to darkness. Since we haven’t been able to play FFXV yet, it’s hard to tell what sort of character development Noctis will receive and how that would appear in KH3, so I would advise every reader to take the above statements with a grain of salt. Nevertheless, having a potential character development for Noctis where he would learn from Riku’s mistakes and turn to the light, would certainly be appreciated by many fans of Riku.
FFXV’s inclusion in KH3 could just as well be minimal. This may range anywhere from having the characters featured in a battle arena, akin to the Olympus Coliseum, where in order to win a special cup, you would have to subdue the cast of FFXV in an epic battle. A character, entity or basically anything at all could also present itself in KH3 as a secret boss fight, similar to what Sephiroth, Xemnas or Vanitas for instance did in previous entries in the series. Then again, it could be just as nominal as having a younger Noctis make a cameo appearance in some world, similar to Tidus, Wakka and other FINAL FANTASY cast members. Destiny Islands and Twilight Town served a certain role as a non-Disney world in their respective games, so if KH3 were to introduce a new world such as those, a young Noctis might just be spotted roaming around, perhaps even as a spoiled little prince befriending Sora or some other main character.
Since both of these titles have so much in common, especially because FFXV is described as a realistic derivation of the KINGDOM HEARTS series, we shouldn’t rule out the possibility of KINGDOM HEARTS cameos in FFXV. They would most likely be much lower profile than the cameos in the KINGDOM HEARTS series. If it were to happen, it would probably be, for example, in the form of graffiti on a city wall, or perhaps even something as atypical as a tombstone for a KINGDOM HEARTS character, similar to how in the original FINAL FANTASY game, one could stumble upon an easter egg in the form of a tombstone where “Here lies Link” is written, referring to the main protagonist in the Legend of Zelda series.
Tying in FFXV and KH3 would ultimately be quite beneficial, and undoubtedly a very smart move on behalf of Square Enix, since it serves to utilize the already existing hype for both titles, along with promoting the later release of KH3. Whatever the outcome will be is of course open to speculation, and I’d love to hear your ideas on it. Which characters from FFXV would you like to see make an appearance in KH3? Do you think it might have a special effect on the game’s plot in any considerable way? What about having KINGDOM HEARTS referenced in FFXV in any way? Or do you feel that KH3 and FFXV should stay away from each other altogether? Comment away!
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