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Is It Nomura's Fault: The Problem With Kingdom Hearts



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Face My Fears

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I was thinking about the core problem with Kingdom Hearts. No, I'm not referring to gameplay, story, graphics or anything like that, I mean the actual problem with Kingdom Hearts on a whole. Why is it that some games are better than others? Where is the consistency in content that a KH game should include? The revelation that I came to was quite Nomura-esque and that is simply: it's Kingdom Hearts' fault. Kingdom Hearts itself is the core problem.

This series is completely unique - Disney and Square properties combined. It also isn't a game that is all about cute cameos and no real story, it's also loaded with actual story elements. Can we honestly expect a game that juggles so many different properties to generate a consistent, cohesive plot or have elements that were included in previous installments? Granted, the plot itself exists outside of the Disney worlds, but if 90% of the game takes place in Disney worlds, then how can the main plot really be utilized as best as possible? Let alone, world selection to match the main plot's themes or interaction with Disney characters and the main characters?

If we look all the way back at KH1 - the original and widely accepted best entry - the formula was just right. Final Fantasy served as a guide/home base, the Disney worlds were effectively used filler content that helped beef up the main plot/lore of the series, and the original characters clashed in a great climax that delivered an earned ending. Looking at the next entry, KHCoM, you can also see that the formula was followed. KH2 is where the issues arrive - the formula is thrown off. The Disney worlds are filler with barely any useful content for the main plot, the Final Fantasy characters are no longer your guide (will come back to this later), and the original characters outweigh the rest and did not earn the ending that it received. When I really think about it, KH2's ending only feels earned because of the work that KH1 and KHCoM put into it.

Now, I'm not bashing KH2 here, I'm just saying that it was the beginning of the problem. The formula was messed up. Next we're on to Days (which I adore because of Roxas/Xion, but still) which began the trend of focusing on other protagonists and expanding the story beyond the scope of the ESTABLISHED protagonist - Sora. I'm all for genuine side-games that explore other characters and expand upon information we already know, but Days wasn't just exploring Roxas' time in the Organization. It introduced new plot elements (like Xion). Now the Disney is pure filler, Final Fantasy is absent, and the original characters reign supreme in a story that is heart-wrenching, but also hurting the main story that we've come to know.

After Days is BbS, which I think is the true downfall of the series. We have three brand new protagonists that we've never met or heard of before. The Disney worlds are filler. Final Fantasy is again absent. Now, it's understandable why they were absent in Days, but going to Radiant Garden and not seeing them - after the fact that they lived there was hammered into our heads for years - shows why the formula should have been maintained and why KH2 basically caused this. In KH2, the Final Fantasy characters aren't the guide anymore, it's Sora. Sora knows better than them - so what is their purpose? They've been reduced to a cameo because they can't serve their original purpose. So of course they wouldn't show up in Radiant Garden (their home) in BbS because Terra, Aqua, and even Ven know more than they do. Instead we get more original characters. The worst offense that BbS committed was not being a genuine side-game. Days could have gotten away with Xion, but BbS redefined the Kingdom Hearts narrative and formula. Because BbS - though side-game sized - was treated as a main game, the formula introduced there was carried forward into the next real main game - KH3.

Examining all of that and understanding how we got to KH3, I think we should now ask the question: is this Nomura's fault? Most will giddily yell "yes", but I don't think so. The formula worked, but maybe Nomura had to change it because he couldn't use it the same way anymore? After KH2, Disney became much more successful and also more restrictive in their IPs. It also seems like they became much more aware/interested in the KH series after KH3 was announced (they probably saw the reaction and became cognizant to the one thing they care about - money). If Nomura can't use Disney the way that the formula suggests it should, then what? You increase other aspects? Now that Final Fantasy's role has been reduced (thanks to KH2), do they even need to make an appearance? What would they do?

Ultimately, I see the KH series' problem stemming from KH2. After that, change after change has diluted the series. Don't get me wrong, KH2 was a good entry (albeit a little lacking on the usage of Disney), but it set precedents that ended up altering the face of the series: Final Fantasy characters were no longer Sora's guides, original characters were more abundant and more important than plot, Disney worlds being purely filler, a watered down/pointless tournament shoe-horned into Olympus (so unimportant that there are no secret fights there anymore), and the lack of a plot that builds to that game's ending. KH has lost its true core. Sure, there's Disney and Final Fantasy still, but the execution has been poor. Whose fault is it?
 

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It IS Nomura's fault. His, and Disney's.

Disney because of their supid restrictions: no Disney bosses with few exceptions, summons had to be altered so they look like holograms, and most importantly they are excedingly protective with the Disney worlds story; it has to match the plot from the movies with only minor changes to allow KH characters to blend in the Disney worlds story. That prevents Nomura from being able to use most of those worlds and their characters in a meaningful way that would contribute to the main KH plot, effectively making them filler.

Nomura because obviously he is the one in charge of the main story and original characters, as well as being the one who decides the gameplay elements that make it into the game, the worlds, etc.
He decided to reduce the roles of FF characters because he thought they were not necessary anymore although it was obvious that fans would be displeased; he is the one that made KH3 (a game about closure) become a game that provides more questions that answers and he is to blame for the terrible way the lore is presented with almost no explanations and also the way most of the original characters but Sora did nothing relevant, their role being butchered (ReMind was an improvement but not enough to fix it). Original worlds severely lacking in size, amount and story is also his fault. The games don't feel like they're balanced in terms of Disney vs Original content. KH3 didn't even start in an original world that would be revisited once or twice to expand its story like the rest of the games, Olympus serving as the tutorial world instead.

Whose fault it is if it's not Nomura and Disney?
 

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It IS Nomura's fault. His, and Disney's.

Disney because of their supid restrictions: no Disney bosses with few exceptions, summons had to be altered so they look like holograms, and most importantly they are excedingly protective with the Disney worlds story; it has to match the plot from the movies with only minor changes to allow KH characters to blend in the Disney worlds story. That prevents Nomura from being able to use most of those worlds and their characters in a meaningful way that would contribute to the main KH plot, effectively making them filler.

Nomura because obviously he is the one in charge of the main story and original characters, as well as being the one who decides the gameplay elements that make it into the game, the worlds, etc.
He decided to reduce the roles of FF characters because he thought they were not necessary anymore although it was obvious that fans would be displeased; he is the one that made KH3 (a game about closure) become a game that provides more questions that answers and he is to blame for the terrible way the lore is presented with almost no explanations and also the way most of the original characters but Sora did nothing relevant, their role being butchered (ReMind was an improvement but not enough to fix it). Original worlds severely lacking in size, amount and story is also his fault. The games don't feel like they're balanced in terms of Disney vs Original content. KH3 didn't even start in an original world that would be revisited once or twice to expand its story like the rest of the games, Olympus serving as the tutorial world instead.

Whose fault it is if it's not Nomura and Disney?
I would be that one guy that would say it is MY fault, but in the grand scheme of things I don't have a part in this. What was it that Luxord said in the days manga "Whispers don't often reach the bottom rung of the ladder"?

Anyways, It IS Nomura's fault. As Okhi12 said, he's the one who decided that the final fantasy characters have outlived their usefulness and thanos snapped them out of existence (or at least out of the main game). He is the one who wrote himself into a corner and tried so hard to wrap up all the loose ends. He's the one who came up with so many original characters that this is legitimately starting to rival Sega's Sonic OC fanbase (I'm looking at you Yozora!). Whether you want to believe it or not, He is the one who has had his fingers in the metaphorical pie.
 

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Nomura's, Disney's and those at the top. It happens to almost every series in any medium. Sometimes the right people get together at the right time and create something extraordinary and manage to maintain their popularity with minimal ire from fans. Sometimes people get lucky and sometimes they miss a step or two, and unfortunately those who create stories get stuck inside their heads and forget that people don't consume or understand their products the way they do. As a creator one of the hardest things is conveying your intentions and ideas to the consumer, and if people can't grasp or connect to your work that's when the disconnect happens.
I've repeated this like a bunch of times but Nomura is an idea guy, the fact that he's an artist reinforces this. Concepts and scenarios probably come to him easily, but I believe he's struggling to restrain himself and focus on the treasure trove of material he has. Disney is the Invisible Hand so to speak as they hold ownership of many things and can influence decisions but that restriction existed day one as seen with KH1's development. Yes they made a joint venture but the reality is, Nomura is playing with really expensive toys that don't belong to him, so he was already against odds. I can't really fault him for decision made with established Disney IPs, my thing lies with original KH content.

There's too many questionable decisions in this series that many fans can't excuse and from what we've read and seen Nomura is usually at the helm for these games, so else do fans have to blame? For example Kairi's treatment is biggest and most blatant red flag for writing in this series.
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Also can we talk about how Nomura brought back one if not the most controversial trope/idea into the later half of the saga? Ever wonder where the hate for time traveling comes from in fiction? People like Nomura who decide to make Time Traveling a major plot point to excuse or to bend past decisions, i.e bringing past villains. There needs to be consistency and clarity of events and characters and when you lack in one, it affects the other.

Again to repeat what I've said countless times, Nomura is going through his George Lucas/Rowling phase and it looks like it's not ending anytime soon.
 

Gandalf-the-Wise

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It IS Nomura's fault. His, and Disney's.

Disney because of their supid restrictions: no Disney bosses with few exceptions, summons had to be altered so they look like holograms, and most importantly they are excedingly protective with the Disney worlds story; it has to match the plot from the movies with only minor changes to allow KH characters to blend in the Disney worlds story. That prevents Nomura from being able to use most of those worlds and their characters in a meaningful way that would contribute to the main KH plot, effectively making them filler.

Nomura because obviously he is the one in charge of the main story and original characters, as well as being the one who decides the gameplay elements that make it into the game, the worlds, etc.
He decided to reduce the roles of FF characters because he thought they were not necessary anymore although it was obvious that fans would be displeased; he is the one that made KH3 (a game about closure) become a game that provides more questions that answers and he is to blame for the terrible way the lore is presented with almost no explanations and also the way most of the original characters but Sora did nothing relevant, their role being butchered (ReMind was an improvement but not enough to fix it). Original worlds severely lacking in size, amount and story is also his fault. The games don't feel like they're balanced in terms of Disney vs Original content. KH3 didn't even start in an original world that would be revisited once or twice to expand its story like the rest of the games, Olympus serving as the tutorial world instead.

Whose fault it is if it's not Nomura and Disney?
Basically all of this. Nomura AND Disney are to blame for the decline of Kingdom Hearts.

First of all concerning Disney. I still am trying to fathom what exactly changed between KH1, KHCOM, & KH2 and the rest of the series. I mean in the first three games we got to face many Disney bosses including Jafar, Hades, Ursula, Captain Hook, Oogie Boogie, Maleficent, Scar, & Pete. You even got to hit the Queen of Hearts in a boss battle. All of sudden in recent games like KHDDD and KH3 you just get teased a boss fight (Frollo, Mother Gothel, Randall, etc.) and then there is no payoff for it. Instead you battle a generic heartless boss that pops up out of nowhere in the Disney villain's place. (I feel like that will become a meme eventually too) This change alone already makes it feel like a whole different series that we are playing. Why is it suddenly a problem to battle Disney villains now? It's just moronically horrendous, as it defeats one of the main purposes and selling points of this franchise.

As for the other notorious issue, the matter of the storylines in the Disney worlds. We can all agree that the KH1 approach remains the best out of all the games. It's a shame that not even one sequel in the series has even come close to it. It was the perfect blend of telling a portion of the original movie storyline and telling an original story that involves Sora, Donald, and Goofy. SDG had an actual presence and influence on everything that was transpiring in all the Disney worlds they visited. They didn't get sidelined nor treated like they didn't exist like what happened in some parts of KH2 and to a much greater extent in KH3. Worst offenders go to Pridelands in KH2 and Arendelle in KH3. The KH1 Disney worlds followed some parts that were similar to the original films while still being it's own thing allowing more freedom for SDG to interact with the inhabitants of those said worlds, henceforth be more involved in the plot. In doing so it also helped progress the overall main plot of the game as well.

These new restrictions these days ironically killed the magical feeling of being apart of the adventures in the individual worlds, and instead we have SDG follow a sloppy, abridged script of some of the Disney films. The Caribbean plotline in KH3 can be downright funny at times. We have a huge boss fight with Davey Jones, beating him up with all of our weapons and abilities only for us to later transition to a cutscene of him being just fine and continuing to battle Jack Sparrow the same way he did in the movie he was in. Like nothing happened. To make it worse, just as Jones is about to stab Will, Sora pops up to give him the usual "heart speech" and Jones is looking at him the entire time like "Who the hell is this kid with the talking dog and duck?" I feel the boss fight was completely misplaced and should have occurred after that scene, but no we have to stay as close to the movie plotline as possible. As verbatim as you can get. That's just..silly. The current Disney establishment is becoming like a nazi regime at times with the unnecessary extreme restrictions of what directions to take the story in the Disney worlds. It ultimately renders majority of the worlds completely pointless. It also makes Kingdom Hearts at it's core just one tremendous filler story where nothing of any real significance happens until the tail end of every game (except the first one of course).

Now for Nomura, he messed with the story in a similar way how George R. Martin did with A Song of Ice and Fire aka Game of Thrones. Adding way too much fluff in the story. Too many characters to follow and not enough time to either develop or resolve any of their individual stories. One of those cases where less is much more. In my opinion we really didn't need so many extra Keyblade wielders. The focus should have always remained on Sora, Riku, and Kairi. If he really needed an extra protagonist then Aqua would suffice enough I think. Did we really need Aqua plus Roxas, Ven, Terra, Xion, and a revived Axel all there at the same time too? What is even the point of Sora anymore at this stage of the story when there are so many other capable heroes in the mix?

Another thing that screwed the story indefinitely was adding way too many games. KH1, COM, and KH2 could easily be it's own little trilogy as it very least told a more linear, and less convoluted story. With Days, BBS, Coded, Union X, KHDDD, etc. It's way too much to take in. Even hardcore fans of the series think that is ridiculous. You know you did something bad when a game featuring Disney characters is more difficult to understand than the freaking Metal Gear Solid series. All the different versions of Xehanort and Sora reminds me of the headaches I would have with all the different Snakes there are in Metal Gear. After KH2 I would have added only one side game in between Kh2 and Kh3. Which one though, I would have to think about a bit more later. Save all the other side material for future stories instead.

Nomura also reminds me of JJ Abrams for LOST and Akira Toriyama with Dragon Ball Z. It seemed like at a certain point he was just writing the story aimlessly without any real conclusion in sight, almost like he is making it up as he goes. Something like that confirms to me that perhaps Kingdom Hearts isn't the type of series that is suppose to run as long as something like Final Fantasy. At this rate he maybe losing his vision of what he originally intended for the series. Kingdom Hearts was this unique blend of Disney characters and Final Fantasy characters interacting. Now we almost never see any Final Fantasy in this series anymore, and the Disney content is becoming more irrelevant with each passing installment. I feel by the time they reach part 4 or even a part 5, Nomura needs to finally give this series a proper ending and than put it to rest.
 
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I'm not ignoring Kairi's disgusting treatment throughout the series. I just wanted that one moment. THIS ONE MOMENT to see this disgusting knockoff of Princess Peach do something. EVEN PRINCESS PEACH DOES MORE THAN KAIRI. Playable Kairi as well as Re:Mind was the ONLY opportunity to see Kairi fight. Even now whatever potential for Kairi isn't possible anymore. The damsel being in a coma for a year is an indication that Playable Kairi is the only usefulness she'll ever have. SO PLEASE MAN, LET ME HAVE THIS!
 
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The culprits are Disney and Square Enix.

Disney is run by controlling, power-drunk, sociopathic assholes. You know, as most successful businesses are. Google the dark triad.

Nomura is very creative and has a lot of creativity,but he's only allowed to work on KH. He's become disinterested in Disney and would rather write new things.

The results:
1) Disney worlds are self-contained, kid friendly stories. This execution destroys the pacing that good stories require.
2) Nomura forces many ideas that don't fit into KH.... into KH Then he has to tie every inconsistent plot line and theme together. Verum Rex is the latest and most blatant example. Nomura can't and shouldn't treat other people's characters as if they were his own, so he makes his own characters to write what he actually cares about. SE won't give him any other outlet.

The original aspects were, are, and always will be my only selling points. It's most likely because I began with KH2, which shaped my expecations: It's all about the original characters; Disney and FF (only played FF1) are irrelevant. I saw them as eye-candy pretty much. My views have changed since then. Namely, I see the narrative and characterization for the contrived mess it is. Still, even 13 years later they, especially Disney, give me "bad movie relying on celebrity power" vibes (Sharktale, Space Jam, Central Intelligence, Grown Ups, Mall Cop, Open Season etc.)

But who cares what I want. I don't represent the vast majority of consumers: Disney fans and parents who buy "dumb kid's games" for their kids. KH should stay true to its roots, which, mind you, will forever separate Sora, Riku, and Kairi in favor of Sora, Donald, Goofy and the other trios will be reduced to cameos within their own series. It's a catch 22. Regardless, the series should go back to reflect what it advertises. The narrative shouldn't be the poorly stitched Frankenstein monster it is currently.
 
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Face My Fears

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Also, Really @facemyfears? you made a thread with an open ended yes/no question and DIDN'T make it a poll? I'm calling you out!
It was to force discussion, instead of just clicking on the poll then exiting the thread lol.

Anyway, I see that people believe it comes down to Nomura. I mean, technically it does, but Kingdom Hearts is a unique game. Even though he makes the decisions on everything in the story, unlike other people in control of their franchise, he doesn't have the free reign to choose what he wants. He has restrictions from Square and Disney. Can you really blame him for the final product when there are SO many restrictions? For example, Arendelle was confirmed to be exactly how Disney wanted it to be. Is it his fault for choosing to include Arendelle, is it his fault for not thinking outside of the box on how to abide by their intense restrictions and utilize main story elements in the world, or is it Disney's fault for being so restrictive?

One of the greatest things about KH was simply the idea of battling with Disney heroes against Disney villains. Not cutscenes, but actual gameplay. I remember seeing the back of the KH1 box and being SO excited to play it. If you can't remember what's on there:
 

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There is a really good story to be found in KH, but anything a rational person might get out of playing through this series is no doubt lost on the extraordinarily frustrating journey. Each of the major games can run you between 20 - 30 hours if you're watching all the cutscenes and the amount of significant story material in each game was drastically reduced after KH2.

But the pacing is only half of the problem. The other half of it is gameplay. Unfortunately, no game in the series after KH1 truly kept the platforming (or arguably the RPG elements) of KH1. Instead Square Enix has been opting into what basically amounts to games with flashy combat and an interactive story - which might not be so bad if 3/4ths of every KH game wasn't filler material.

I just went through this with FF7R and FFXV - my honest opinion on all of Square Enix's recent games is that they shouldn't be video games. They have a lot of great stories in their library, but in my opinion if all they want to do is tell a story then movies, books, and manga are better story telling mediums because you don't have to ask a company to invest 100 million dollars into a piece of a story that only takes a few hours to tell. And all of the filler material they have to stuff their games with in order to justify the $60 price point actively works against the only redeemable quality of their games - the story - and theres nothing they can do to change that fact.

It's easy to blame this on Nomura because he's acting Director for many of their games now, but this has been an ongoing problem ever since squaresoft became Square Enix. If I were to make a guess I would say someone higher up the chain than Nomura is the one dictating their games go so heavily on story rather than gameplay, but frankly I don't think Nomura is capable of telling a good story or making good games either. Nomura is great when it comes to world building and character design and stringing a story together - but he needs someone to rope him back down to reality. He is basically a Japanese version of Peter Jackson. Nuance and subtlety are simply not a part of his vocabulary.
 

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Damn such topics make me hurt and more and more bring closer the chance to leave this forum. One gets the feeling that people hate almost everything except KH1. It is especially painful to hear comments like the above that the TAV trio should not have existed. ((
And compare KH with the Game of Thrones....😓
People hike forget that KH is primarily a video game, not a book or movie. And the story there can also not be revealed in detail, as in book and cinema works.
Sorry, I try to remain silent and not flattery in such topics, but seriously, almost one in three is devoted to what kind of KH is bad today. And these are perhaps the only topics that get a lot of comments. In contrast to the posts on the plot.
 
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DizneyXBirds95

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It IS Nomura's fault. His, and Disney's.

Disney because of their supid restrictions: no Disney bosses with few exceptions, summons had to be altered so they look like holograms, and most importantly they are excedingly protective with the Disney worlds story; it has to match the plot from the movies with only minor changes to allow KH characters to blend in the Disney worlds story. That prevents Nomura from being able to use most of those worlds and their characters in a meaningful way that would contribute to the main KH plot, effectively making them filler.

Nomura because obviously he is the one in charge of the main story and original characters, as well as being the one who decides the gameplay elements that make it into the game, the worlds, etc.
He decided to reduce the roles of FF characters because he thought they were not necessary anymore although it was obvious that fans would be displeased; he is the one that made KH3 (a game about closure) become a game that provides more questions that answers and he is to blame for the terrible way the lore is presented with almost no explanations and also the way most of the original characters but Sora did nothing relevant, their role being butchered (ReMind was an improvement but not enough to fix it). Original worlds severely lacking in size, amount and story is also his fault. The games don't feel like they're balanced in terms of Disney vs Original content. KH3 didn't even start in an original world that would be revisited once or twice to expand its story like the rest of the games, Olympus serving as the tutorial world instead.

Whose fault it is if it's not Nomura and Disney?
I'd also put in Pixar as well as they were also restrictive with Nomura and his team in KH3 and put guidelines on the worlds based on their movies, especially in the Monster's Inc. word and why we didn't fight Randall as a boss.

I don't think Disney was really restrictive in the previous KH titles prior to KH3 as they didn't put guidelines in the different Disney worlds that appeared in the different KH games such as Halloween Town (Nightmare Before Christmas), Neverland (Peter Pan), Land of Dragons (Mulan), Pride Lands (The Lion King), Agrabah (Aladdin), among others, and the creators who worked on the films weren't involved in the KH games either. It's easily the reason why Olympus (Hercules), 100 Acre Wood (Winnie the Pooh) and The Caribbean (Pirates of the Caribbean) where the ONLY Disney worlds I didn't see ANY restrictions/guidelines put on them by Disney for Kingdom Hearts III, especially the former two. This is given as like I said, most of the people who worked on those films weren't involved in the game and Disney who had no involvement with those movies the world is based on from the previous installments (Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts II, Birth by Sleep, etc.) just allowed Nomura and his team to do what they want with these worlds based on those specific Disney films given that they appeared in previous titles, and the same can be said with the other Disney worlds in previous KH games I mentioned above.

The Caribbean is in the grey area, while it didn't have any of the people involved from the film series nor did it had guidelines like Arendelle, Kingdom of Corona and the Pixar-based worlds: Toy Box and Monstropolis in KH3, they had to trimmed things down due to time constraints, as the original film was nearly 3 hours long (169 minutes) and also a lot of stuff has happened in the film hence why we had SDG spending time with the "Jack Sparrow" made by Tia Dalma and just only going through rescuing Jack Sparrow from Davy Jones' Locker to The Maelstrom Battle at the climax of the world.

San Fransokyo (Big Hero 6) I'd say was the ONLY new Disney world in KH3 that Disney didn't put guidelines in compared to Arendelle, Kingdom of Corona, Toy Box and Monstropolis.


As far goes to whose to blame it's hard to say, but I blame Nomura, Disney, and especially Square Enix for how they are treating the KH franchise.

Nomura, cause he mainly relies on himself when he creates the story, and while he's great when it comes to world-building and character design and stringing a story together - but he needs someone to rope him back down to reality. Not to mention he and Square Enix shoehorned the χ/Union χ stuff way early before the end of the Xehanort Saga and KH3 came out.

Disney (and also Pixar), cause since KH3 they have been very restrictive with the Disney worlds, but literally they were ONLY restrictive on the worlds based on their more recent animated films (Tangled, Frozen) and the Pixar movies, than the ones released before the Revival era films. It's hard to say if Disney will continue being restrictive and put guidelines on the next Disney worlds for the next games especially if any of their more recent films (Wreck-It Ralph, Zootopia, Moana, Raya and the Last Dragon) will get the same treatment as the Frozen and Tangled worlds from KH3.

And Square Enix, while they aren't in the level as EA or Konami during the early-mid 2010's Square have been very wishy-washy with their video game development not to mention being inconsistent with their development slate and announce certain titles VERY EARLY in development resulting in little to no info on those titles for the next 3-5 years on when it's coming out (e.g. KH3, FFVII remake, the Avengers game, etc.) and just want to focus on the ones they want to release (e.g. Dragon Quest, certain Final Fantasy titles, and those from Eidos Interactive (Hitman, Tomb Raider)). Plus, they tend to "shoot themselves in the foot" and resulted in some people leaving the company (e.g. Tabata).

It's a good thing that since last year we finally got new info for the FFVII remake (3 1/2 years later), and the Avengers game (2 years later) along with both titles coming out this year in 2020. Look I get it the development of games takes 2 to 4 years, but seriously having to wait 3-5 years with no info for a title that was announced in development is crazy, I'm hoping that whoever is running Square Enix right now know what he's doing when it comes to their titles coming out, and in development, I just hope that with the 2020's decade moving forward they don't run like how they did it during the early-mid 2010's or when FFXV was under FFversusXIII and pressuring Nomura, plus shoehorning the χ/Union χ Forreteller stuff way early before the end of the Xehanort Saga and KH3 came out.
 
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Fault is pretty much shared. Nomura is a very creative individual, he just needs someone to keep track with him on everything that has happened, is happening and will happen in the series so he doesn't write himself into a corner like he did with KH3.

That game could have benefited from small bursts of original story more frequent than the ones we got.
 

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Fault? I would say it is thanks to Nomura Kingdom Hearys is the way it is and even exists haha

Yes the series has its share fair of problems but I don't think it could be any different from how it is, mainly because it is this guy who created this universes and runs the show. It is his personal piece of art, you know what I mean?

Having disney world and characters mixed to everything does put a lot of restrictions to him and the team, but when I see how much work Nomura puts into the battling system and his characters, I choose to just relevate its flaws and focus on the goods.
When we put things and people into context, Nomura is working in this series non-stop for almost 20 years, so I don't judge the guy for creating a formula and a work rythm that maybe could be considered half-assed, when what is the least tiringsome for him to do as a human being.

He made it clear a lot of times that working with disney takes a lot of traveling and back and forth communication, so I can understand him when he chooses to make a Frozen world that SDG aren't even involved that much - that's the healthier way to deal with everything he has to do and still make a great game dispite its flaws.
Putting things in even greater global context, he is an extremely creative a japanese guy that is workaholic (and considering how Japan works so much,, we need to take workaholic in a whole other level) and not only works in KH but also with Final Fantasy and other projects that Square Enix puts him to do.

If anything...
If you really need to put someone or something to blame, blame everything and everyone involved, don't put the responsability in only one person.
Square Enix works for Disney, just like Nomura works for Square Enix and Kingdom Hearts is made by Nomura and the Osaka Team and other people. Searching for someone or something to shoot on the head is absurd and I think this speaks a lot to one of the worst Americ's issues - maniqueism and our tendency to always search for a problem to solve. You can always make something better, but it won't EVER be perfect. Any piece of art has its flaws just like ay other person have too.
You don't need to put things in a box of good and bad, everything came from the same origin and so again, you can't just split them up and pretend they are not together.

Yes, KH is a really unique series and franchise, and its downs makes its flair just like the ups too. And KH's leader and showrunner is Nomura, so I'd say it is in grand part thanks to him that we have all the flaws and good stuff that KH have.
 

Face My Fears

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There is a really good story to be found in KH, but anything a rational person might get out of playing through this series is no doubt lost on the extraordinarily frustrating journey. Each of the major games can run you between 20 - 30 hours if you're watching all the cutscenes and the amount of significant story material in each game was drastically reduced after KH2.

But the pacing is only half of the problem. The other half of it is gameplay. Unfortunately, no game in the series after KH1 truly kept the platforming (or arguably the RPG elements) of KH1. Instead Square Enix has been opting into what basically amounts to games with flashy combat and an interactive story - which might not be so bad if 3/4ths of every KH game wasn't filler material.

I just went through this with FF7R and FFXV - my honest opinion on all of Square Enix's recent games is that they shouldn't be video games. They have a lot of great stories in their library, but in my opinion if all they want to do is tell a story then movies, books, and manga are better story telling mediums because you don't have to ask a company to invest 100 million dollars into a piece of a story that only takes a few hours to tell. And all of the filler material they have to stuff their games with in order to justify the $60 price point actively works against the only redeemable quality of their games - the story - and theres nothing they can do to change that fact.

It's easy to blame this on Nomura because he's acting Director for many of their games now, but this has been an ongoing problem ever since squaresoft became Square Enix. If I were to make a guess I would say someone higher up the chain than Nomura is the one dictating their games go so heavily on story rather than gameplay, but frankly I don't think Nomura is capable of telling a good story or making good games either. Nomura is great when it comes to world building and character design and stringing a story together - but he needs someone to rope him back down to reality. He is basically a Japanese version of Peter Jackson. Nuance and subtlety are simply not a part of his vocabulary.
Honestly, I think the reason why the RPG elements were lost in games after KH1 was really due to the world designs/number of worlds. KH1 was able to use each world to create a distinct feel while travelling them. KH3 sort of brought that back, where each world feels different as you explore (Monstropolis feels like a cramped office, The Caribbean feels like you're exploring the Caribbean, San Fransokyo feels like an open world superhero game like Arkham Knight). KH3 actually did something that I personally never experienced in prior KH games (except certain parts of KH1) and that's really beefing up the RPG element. Specifically KH3 on Critical mode - I would need to strategize for battles (especially the data battles) and use the food. I would like to see an expansion on this combined with what KH1 did (like Ursula's boss fight focusing more on magic, so you would have to prep for that).
Damn such topics make me hurt and more and more bring closer the chance to leave this forum. One gets the feeling that people hate almost everything except KH1. It is especially painful to hear comments like the above that the TAV trio should not have existed. ((
And compare KH with the Game of Thrones....😓
People hike forget that KH is primarily a video game, not a book or movie. And the story there can also not be revealed in detail, as in book and cinema works.
Sorry, I try to remain silent and not flattery in such topics, but seriously, almost one in three is devoted to what kind of KH is bad today. And these are perhaps the only topics that get a lot of comments. In contrast to the posts on the plot.
Sorry to come off that way, since I'm one of the few people that actually adore KH3. This wasn't a thread to bash Kingdom Hearts as a franchise, I love it, it's my favourite franchise. Even though I love it, I am looking at its faults and just want to discuss it. I've always defended Nomura's choices on here, but I don't see anything problematic with wanting to discuss them in a way that isn't hurtful.

I don't think TAV should have never existed. My point was that BbS the game's execution would start a domino effect on how the franchise proceeded and, in a way, lost its identity.

To your other point about KH not being a book or movie, the series being a game is actually better for storytelling. A film has about 2 hours to tell its story and that's it. A video game allows you to expand on wonderful lore (like the KH series has). The issue recent KH games have is the abundance of characters that -- even with 20+ hours to build up -- are lacking depth and a plot that wasn't executed as best as it could. Also, the pacing of the story is problematic (especially KH3). I've said in other threads that if you step back and look at KH as a whole, it's great, but when you dig in deeper you see the faults.

Anyway, this thread was meant for discussion on whose fault it was for the current state the KH franchise and what the real problem is. At the very core of it all, KH lost its identity and I think that's something that fans can hope for a return or improvement on in future games. Whether it's more platforming, RPG elements, better pacing, more focus on characters, a concise plot, Disney used better, whatever it is -- I'm just curious WHO is behind the change. I guess this is a good moment to mention the complaints about gameplay and apparently the reason was the team that worked on it was different than the KH2 team? Did Nomura tell them to make the game that way or was that the team's decision?
 

cakito123

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There is a really good story to be found in KH, but anything a rational person might get out of playing through this series is no doubt lost on the extraordinarily frustrating journey. Each of the major games can run you between 20 - 30 hours if you're watching all the cutscenes and the amount of significant story material in each game was drastically reduced after KH2.

But the pacing is only half of the problem. The other half of it is gameplay. Unfortunately, no game in the series after KH1 truly kept the platforming (or arguably the RPG elements) of KH1. Instead Square Enix has been opting into what basically amounts to games with flashy combat and an interactive story - which might not be so bad if 3/4ths of every KH game wasn't filler material.
You definetely sounds like you like the story but really don't liketha gameplay, and in that case, I'd answer you that maybe Kingdom Hearts games isn't your cup of tea. Or maybe you are mixing Gameplay and Story too much here.

I played all KH games and this is my favorite game series of all time because of its battling system and gameplay. I never liked KH1's platforming to begin with (and I know a lot of people feel the same).
But even then, platforming was never the point of the series and this is not how you evaluate the gameplay of a game. You need to ask yourself what is the point of the player here? What was the devs trying to accomplish with this experience?

And KH's gameplay is all about battles and bosses and abilities and RPG points - traversing Disney worlds is only the cherry on the top of the cake. And when you start to play the whole series one by one that is obviously the focus here - the battling.

The side games mix things up a notch by adding new rules to your moves and attacks (flowmotion, FOCUS, new keyblades);
New elements and enemies gets added later to the gameplay AND the story (Nobodies, Unversed, Data Cubes) to make everything seems even greater;
New characters and villains are created for you to battle them in a climax to the story (CoM's Characters) and besides Days, all games was 500% fun to me because it was never ever the same, but still was down to its roots.
I got excited every time playing a new KH game because I couldn't wait to see how would they mix up the system a little more this time around. It was never the same, in every game Nomura found a way to make the most fun of this unique battling system - and even with some flaws, it has always been a lot of fun to try those anyways.

I liked the decking system in BBS and DDD a lot, although I prefer KH1/2/3's style of play, but I specially love the variety between all of them.
KH3 level design was the best out of the three main games, but I still prefer KH2 gameplay over KH1 because the battling system is better, although I agree that KH1 level design had a better feel to it. KH2 still evolved in the series main aspect - the battling.

My favorite playthrough probably was Re:Coded for god sake, even though I hate the story - that game was great to play. Leveling up Data Sora was a joy because the leveling up system was amazing and really fun to experiment and see what would happen. I loved playing DDD and getting used to the flowmotion, and hating it later in the game because it tends to get tiresome after sometime using the same flowmotion attacks is part of the experience too haha. But it has always been a lot of fun for me nonetheless.

I just went through this with FF7R and FFXV - my honest opinion on all of Square Enix's recent games is that they shouldn't be video games. They have a lot of great stories in their library, but in my opinion if all they want to do is tell a story then movies, books, and manga are better story telling mediums because you don't have to ask a company to invest 100 million dollars into a piece of a story that only takes a few hours to tell. And all of the filler material they have to stuff their games with in order to justify the $60 price point actively works against the only redeemable quality of their games - the story - and theres nothing they can do to change that fact.
I strongly disagree with you in that aspect. Having a game that focus a lot on story doesn't mean it can't ALSO be a great game to play. Kingdom Hearts is just that, and I only played FFVIIR's demo, but I can see that as an RPG GAME, these two franchises does have A LOT of depth to its gameplay, and this is a good thing. I'm SO GLAD to play Square Enix's Japan games nowadays because I know it won't be just everything about the story how some AAA games tend to be here in america, but it also means they won't just shove a gameplay without any story - every aspect is important. Story and Gameplay.
AAA games this side of the ocean tends to tear down gameplay for the player to focus more on the story (see The Last of Us, God of War, Death Stranding) and make the gameplay a lot simpler then it shoud be imho. I don't want only to get thrills from the climax of the stories - make me think about how to win a boss, how to succeed in the level, as a player that does have some kind of agency, y know? I'm here to play a damn game and watch beautiful cutscenes with a cool audiovisual story,
 

OneDandelion

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Honestly, I think the reason why the RPG elements were lost in games after KH1 was really due to the world designs/number of worlds. KH1 was able to use each world to create a distinct feel while travelling them. KH3 sort of brought that back, where each world feels different as you explore (Monstropolis feels like a cramped office, The Caribbean feels like you're exploring the Caribbean, San Fransokyo feels like an open world superhero game like Arkham Knight). KH3 actually did something that I personally never experienced in prior KH games (except certain parts of KH1) and that's really beefing up the RPG element. Specifically KH3 on Critical mode - I would need to strategize for battles (especially the data battles) and use the food. I would like to see an expansion on this combined with what KH1 did (like Ursula's boss fight focusing more on magic, so you would have to prep for that).
Without repeating the same arguments that have been made a thousand times, KH3 never felt like a JRPG to me. Maybe that would change in critical mode, but I would never go out of my way to play the game again. Even putting the attractions aside the game is so easy that you hardly even need to pay attention to the leveling system or the accessories you're using. You can get to max level in about 10 minutes of farming, you craft the ultima weapon with items you get from minigames, zero exploration, zero need to use food or strategize in the base game. And critical mode is so overwhelmingly punishing it seems to me the strategies you end up using have less to do with "tactics" and more to do with finding ways to poke enemies by abusing magic or memorizing enemy attack patterns and knowing when to counter.

I probably have a stricter standard than most here when it comes to defining an RPG, but imo KH3 was an action game with an irrelevant leveling and equipment system. The data battles exemplify this better than anything, because your equipment and level are almost meaningless in those fights. Your equipment can allow you to take a bit more punishment, but unless you're memorizing the attack patterns to some degree for each fight you're not going to win because of your gear or your level. And its not necessarily a bad thing that the game was designed like this, i liked the data boss battles, but in my opinion it's not enough to simply have leveling and accessories in a game to call it an RPG

But even then, platforming was never the point of the series and this is not how you evaluate the gameplay of a game. You need to ask yourself what is the point of the player here? What was the devs trying to accomplish with this experience?
I know a lot of people that disagree with you, but it's fine. Some people like the way KH has become and I'm happy for them, but I've been playing KH since it launched and I'm a huge fan of oldschool games. Platforming is an aspect of oldschool games that I think did a lot to provide perspective on scale of worlds. To me, it's fun to try to figure out where you can get to and view maps from different angles. It's fun to explore and find rewards that can help you; but it's not fun to roam around giant maps with nothing in them.

The world in KH3 are empty. Even if you find a chest you never expect the reward to be anything special. Flowmotion destroyed the chance to put any kind of platforming or exploration in the game. There are not secret areas with special rewards you might discover in any of the disney worlds. These sort of deficiencies do not make a good game.

I know what the devs were trying to accomplish. They wanted to make a pretty game and tell a short story. I could go on about this forever, but long story short it's overwhelmingly obvious that gameplay was the very last thing on their list of priorities.

I strongly disagree with you in that aspect. Having a game that focus a lot on story doesn't mean it can't ALSO be a great game to play. Kingdom Hearts is just that, and I only played FFVIIR's demo, but I can see that as an RPG GAME, these two franchises does have A LOT of depth to its gameplay, and this is a good thing. I'm SO GLAD to play Square Enix's Japan games nowadays because I know it won't be just everything about the story how some AAA games tend to be here in america, but it also means they won't just shove a gameplay without any story - every aspect is important. Story and Gameplay.
AAA games this side of the ocean tends to tear down gameplay for the player to focus more on the story (see The Last of Us, God of War, Death Stranding) and make the gameplay a lot simpler then it shoud be imho. I don't want only to get thrills from the climax of the stories - make me think about how to win a boss, how to succeed in the level, as a player that does have some kind of agency, y know? I'm here to play a damn game and watch beautiful cutscenes with a cool audiovisual story,
I never said a game with a great story couldn't also be a good game. My point was if all you're going to do with a game is tell a story there are better methods of doing so via movies, manga, and books. The strength of video games are in immersing the player in the story via the gameplay - if the gameplay is removed and all you do is walk from one cutscene to the next then all you have is an interactive movie stifled by annoying obstacles like boss fights.

Some of my favorite stories are video games. But it is utterly ridiculous to say that KH3 is a good game even by the standards of its own predecessors. I'm glad you liked it, but the reason's you're critiquing The Last of Us and God of War apply just as much to KH3. And I haven't played the games you mentioned but based on their reception it sounds like they were better games than KH3
 
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cakito123

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Without repeating the same arguments that have been made a thousand times, KH3 never felt like a JRPG to me. Maybe that would change in critical mode, but I would never go out of my way to play the game again. Even putting the attractions aside the game is so easy that you hardly even need to pay attention to the leveling system or the accessories you're using. You can get to max level in about 10 minutes of farming, you craft the ultima weapon with items you get from minigames, zero exploration, zero need to use food or strategize in the base game. And critical mode is so overwhelmingly punishing it seems to me the strategies you end up using have less to do with "tactics" and more to do with finding ways to poke enemies by abusing magic or memorizing enemy attack patterns and knowing when to counter.

I probably have a stricter standard than most here when it comes to defining an RPG, but imo KH3 was an action game with an irrelevant leveling and equipment system. The data battles exemplify this better than anything, because your equipment and level are almost meaningless in those fights. Your equipment can allow you to take a bit more punishment, but unless you're memorizing the attack patterns to some degree for each fight you're not going to win because of your gear or your level. And its not necessarily a bad thing that the game was designed like this, i liked the data boss battles, but in my opinion it's not enough to simply have leveling and accessories in a game to call it an RPG
1) I agree with you on that one... in 2019 when the game first launched, it was just like that. I played critical and I though the ballancing of KH3 was probably the worst among all other games, because of what you said about being so punishing.
I'd suggest you play the game again. It is a very different experience right now with all the updates, and if you want to have the most fun out of it, play on Critical Mode with EZ codes. My last playthrough was with this setting and I finally found some enjoyment out of the game, so much that maybe it just surpassed KH2's gameplay for me.

I know a lot of people that disagree with you, but it's fine. Some people like the way KH has become and I'm happy for them, but I've been playing KH since it launched and I'm a huge fan of oldschool games. Platforming is an aspect of oldschool games that I think did a lot to provide perspective on scale of worlds. To me, it's fun to try to figure out where you can get to and view maps from different angles. It's fun to explore and find rewards that can help you; but it's not fun to roam around giant maps with nothing in them.

The world in KH3 are empty.
Even if you find a chest you never expect the reward to be anything special. Flowmotion destroyed the chance to put any kind of platforming or exploration in the game. There are not secret areas with special rewards you might discover in any of the disney worlds. These sort of deficiencies do not make a good game.
2) I love platforming games too, that's my favourite genre until today, but I will disagree with you on what you said about KH1's platforming. The game did have some elements of platforming, yes, but all of those elements were just terrible. Exploration, yes, this game had a lot and it was really fun to explore the disney worlds and find chests and rewards. But when you had to depend on platforming to progress? Deep Jungle's vines were a pain to play, for example. It was really painful to jump around and reach new highs in this game.

I also disagree with what you say about the flowmotion. In DDD it was so overpowered that you could jump around in the worlds without much trouble and reach the highest platorms easily.
In KH3, flowmotion got reworked and the level design is much, much better to fit it in. If anything, flowmotion adds to the platforming, since you can make a lot more movements to traverse the worlds and reach new places without being so overpowered like it was in DDD. I love jumping from wall to walls with sora and suddenly jump to a new higher platform.

(You can see how the platforming works better in KH3 in Arendelle, I think.)

You made it clear that you only played the game once (?) and I can see why you think the game doesn't have secrets and rewards in the Disney worlds, and you are wrong; and need to give the game a second chance. Go search for secrets after you have all abilities. You'll find a ton:
I just finished leveling up in all worlds before playing ReMind and the amount of items and hidden enemies and chests in this game is absurd. There is a lot of secrets to find specially in Kingdom of Corona, The Caribbean, Toy Box , San Fransokyo and even Arendelle. The rest of the worlds works more as linear dungeons with more streamlined level design, but they also have some secrets to find.

I know what the devs were trying to accomplish. They wanted to make a pretty game and tell a short story. I could go on about this forever, but long story short it's overwhelmingly obvious that gameplay was the very last thing on their list of priorities.
3) I strongly disagree also with Square Enix not prioritizing gameplay in this one. It is very clear to me how they managed and prioritized recreating kingdom hearts battle system in unreal engine with the most caring they could. Sora's movements flows better between animations, the enemies are smarter and works better as a group too, and Donald and goofy are finally lot more useful. The level design is much brander with different challenges and secrets, and you can now upgrade your keyblades and change them on the go - all of that was built onto the old KH standarts - they realized that they'd have to recreate everything for the new engine and the osaka team really though ahead before making it, and nailed it doing it. Most of the game's flaws are on the ballancing side of things (like managing how much damage a Enemy will give the player) not on the working or the approach of them.

I never said a game with a great story couldn't also be a good game. My point was if all you're going to do with a game is tell a story there are better methods of doing so via movies, manga, and books. The strength of video games are in immersing the player in the story via the gameplay - if the gameplay is removed and all you do is walk from one cutscene to the next then all you have is an interactive movie stifled by annoying obstacles like boss fights.

Some of my favorite stories are video games. But it is utterly ridiculous to say that KH3 is a good game even by the standards of its own predecessors. I'm glad you liked it, but the reason's you're critiquing The Last of Us and God of War apply just as much to KH3. And I haven't played the games you mentioned but based on their reception it sounds like they were better games than KH3
4) The story clearly isn't the main point on KH. It never were. Stories are what drives americans (south americans ones too, like me) the most (liek the games I mentioned). so I can see why you'd think that, in a forum where almost everyone talks only about the story, but I can clearly see how that's not what drives the japanese developers out there. They want to make games. Playable ones, with depth. NiEr Automata, Persona 5, Final Fantas(ies), and Kingdom hearts show you that really, really clearly. The story DOES matter, but that's not what they overlook when trying to make a good experience.

And in my opinion, about Kingdom Hearts, this series would be awful as another audiovisual medium that is not a videogame, and that is because playing it is so good and 'hides' a lot of the flaws the story has. Immersing yourself in the Disney worlds and defeating heartless as you explore the world is why you should choose to play Kingdom Hearts (disclaimer: I'm not saying you can find fun in other aspects of the franchise, but playing this series has always been about that).

When I compared The Last of Us to Kingdom Hearts 3 before I was doing that to point out how different these games are from one another. The last of us is all about walking to different places as you see those characters interact as you go and you press buttons to progress the story bit by bit. You don't "level up" in anyway or option, you just go to the next gameplay part where the story forced you into and then you can watch the next scene.

The whole KH series has a lot of unique and different gameplay, where you are never doing just the obvious like hiding behind trees or talking to characters - you get to choose equipments, level up your characters and allies, backtrack to find different ways of doing the same things, give the allies orders and customize their actions, choose between abilities, temporarily rasie your status, explore worlds with a freaking gummi ship and... well, the point is, there is a lot of depth to KH's system and there is no denying that. Maybe it isn't as complex as some old RPG games out there, but from the JRPGs I played lately from 2016-2020, KH doesn't fall behind in any aspect - it's actually the most complex RPG I can think of right now.
 
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OneDandelion

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I love platforming games too, that's my favourite genre until today, but I will disagree with you on what you said about KH1's platforming. Deep Jungle's vines were a pain to play, for example. It was really painful to jump around and reach new highs in this game.

In KH3, flowmotion got reworked and the level design is much, much better to fit it in. If anything, flowmotion adds to the platforming

I can see why you think the game doesn't have secrets and rewards in the Disney worlds, and you are wrong; and need to give the game a second chance. Go search for secrets after you have all abilities. You'll find a ton:
KH1's platforming was about the norm for its time, what was worse was the camera. I've never really minded a few levels that were a pain to get through because platforming isn't really platforming if you can't fail at it. Failing a jump and having to walk back up to the top of the tree to try again is another way of losing to the game that doesn't involve Sora simply dying in a fight. To me this is an example of gameplay variety and immersion into the world.

The problem with flowmotion is when it's combined with the ability to fly there isn't anywhere you can't get to. There are no secret areas in the game that can't be found simply by jumping up really high and using flowmotion and flight to quickly fly around the map.

The problem with the chests in KH3 is that they don't hold anything that really help you; and as a player you never open a chest hoping to get something good for the very reason that they are all over the place and generally easy to spot with a few exceptions and never give you anything that helps you. The accessories you might have found weren't significant because the game was already easy. I did find all of the chests in KH3, but I didn't need to. I found most of the emblems on my own as well for the ultima weapon, but I didn't need to. Likewise, platforming doesn't matter if there are no secret areas or significant rewards to find. KH1 would let you explore many rooms in agrabah, wonderland, etc, that you didn't need to go through to complete the story. sometimes you'd encounter rooms you couldn't enter right away or trinity symbols that you couldn't use until later. KH3's level design (for the most part) are large empty hallways that may have given the impression that they were complex explorable area's when you enter, but you never get lost because they naturally orientate you towards your destination. However, unfortunately, even the ones that didn't like pirates of the caribbean or san fransokyo are so devoid of meaningful enemies or rewards from the scattered chests that theres no point in even exploring those areas to look for them.


3) I strongly disagree also with Square Enix not prioritizing gameplay in this one.
I don't even want to try to change your mind about this. I'm glad you enjoyed it.


4) The story clearly isn't the main point on KH. It never were. Stories are what drives americans (south americans ones too, like me) the most (liek the games I mentioned). so I can see why you'd think that, in a forum where almost everyone talks only about the story, but I can clearly see how that's not what drives the japanese developers out there. They want to make games. Playable ones, with depth. NiEr Automata, Persona 5, Final Fantas(ies), and Kingdom hearts show you that really, really clearly. The story DOES matter, but that's not what they overlook when trying to make a good experience.

The whole KH series has a lot of unique and different gameplay, where you are never doing just the obvious like hiding behind trees or talking to characters - you get to choose equipments, level up your characters and allies, backtrack to find different ways of doing the same things, give the allies orders and customize their actions, choose between abilities, temporarily rasie your status, explore worlds with a freaking gummi ship and... well, the point is, there is a lot of depth to KH's system and there is no denying that. Maybe it isn't as complex as some old RPG games out there, but from the JRPGs I played lately from 2016-2020, KH doesn't fall behind in any aspect - it's actually the most complex RPG I can think of right now.
I don't understand what KH fans you've talked to that you believe the story isn't the main point of KH. And all of the flaws in the story are only made worse by the abysmal pacing of the game because it's filled with insignificant filler content.

If the main point of you playing the games are the boss battles then I guess you got a kick out of the Remind DLC, but before that DLC came out the game was a button mashing mess. Does it look cool? Sure, but just because you can choose equipment, accessories, and abilities doesn't make it complex - that is basically the standard, but like I said before your equipment/accessories didn't really even matter except for maybe 2 fights in the remind DLC so it's combat system is even more shallow than you realize.
 
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