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Is Kingdom Hearts poorly written?



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Raz

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While I can certainly see why Days has its detractors, I do not count myself among them.

Days has some of the best intimate character writing in the series. It is also the most atmospheric. I understood the drudgery and depression Roxas felt working for the Organization, just as I understood how ice cream with his friends was his one source of happiness. I also think Xion's final transformation is a really effective scene, especially when the camera pans up to reveal Sora's face.

Re:coded still feels like a fun, inessential mobile game to me. I don't return to it as often.

I even think there's a lot to admire about the interactions between the three storylines in Birth by Sleep.

Dream Drop Distance, on the other hand, was a bridge too far for me. There were no real stakes until the last act. Xehanort appearing at the end of each world to say something mysterious and vanish was just annoying. Listening to Yen Sid plot dump was annoying. There just had to be a better way to bring the Xehanorts back without the nutso time travel. I really think we could have just gone straight from the end of Re:coded right into KHIII.
 

palizinhas

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I think DDD's main problem for me is the lack of characters actually interacting with each other. I'm just not interested in seeing Sora and Riku monologue to themselves world after world, with intermissions where the villains monologue instead. It did at least have the TWEWY gang in Traverse Town, but the only relationship that really stood out to me there was Sora and Neku's.

I know the point of DDD is that Sora and Riku were apart the entire game, but I just found that boring. BBS has the same problem, but at least it felt like TAV formed bonds with the Disney characters.
 

Henryp

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Is it poorly written? Yeah for the most part.

KH as a series has a ton of issues that are carried out and enhanced in every game. As a few examples: Introduction of nonsensical ideas, complex tropes and almost dumb scenarios to give the series a false sense of deep. Poorly and abrupt execution of plot points in order to get from point A to point B without doing the proper work. Characters conviniently forgetting/knowing things for the sake of the plot. Characterization is not that good even. Most characters falls within an archetype and barely showcase true human emotions and thoughts (with small moments as expections).

What Nomura and the other writers do well is in the presentation of the conflict, the atmosphere and the pay-off. As an example: Roxas barely got screen-time in KH2. We only got one scene of him being himself (without the amnesia) before KH2FM. And yet, all the moments (the ending of the prologue, the confrontation with Riku, the battle with Sora) feel extremely organic and resonates with the fans. This is constant in the series. These are the pieces than can be considered good writing, because even if there is nothing there to actually care about X character the way it is actually written, we do connect with the situation he/she is put in and we feel the pay-off.

One thing I do not agree with most fans is the notion that the series went this way post-KH2. KH1 gets a pass because it lands more on the cheesy type of writting, using a fairytale-like narrative and the characterization is pretty on point. CoM does have a really well written scenario and it reflects in the way the characters interacts and evolve. However, CoM-KH2 were where the problems started arising, and I believe it has to do with the change from a "stand-alone, maybe a sequel or two" approach to the "profitable long series" approach. I can go on and point out how KH2 is actually on the lower-end when it comes to writting. It just has so many small and medium issues that makes the game a mess. Many of the things people point out about BbS or KH3 were there, and were even worse in KH2.

I know this is a divisive opinion, but I'm on the side that KH3 writting (and post KH3 for the most part) has been improving over some of the aspects presented before. Sure, it has been very Sora-centric, but both the dialogues, the characterizations and the actual scenarios are way more cohesive or planned-trough than before.

At the end, you'll find people that will hate KH writting and it has its foundation. Others love it because of the wild ride it is. Others only care mostly about the entertaiment and the gameplay. Others will tell you X game was well written because its their favorite to play. In my case, I don't hate the story, but I can see clear flaws in it. I like enjoy the ride even today. And one thing people don't articulate that much that goes beyond how it is written is the atmosphere of it all. Some KH games has a certain feel to it, being collecting puppies on the worlds, finding ingredients for Remy, helping Stitch get away from the spaceship, having the Fairy God Mother help because she knows "dreams",and a long etc... that attracts me the most even with all the cheesy and dumb writting that surrounds them.
 

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I'd say the series has been both well written and poorly written. Clearly they did something right to gain so many fans of the story, but I think the series went from being well written in KH1 and CoM to having really inconsistent writing quality from KH2 onward, with Days and KHX being unexpectedly well written.
 

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I'd stop being interested in Kingdom hearts around DDD so I'd say yes. Granted the KH3 demo is pretty fun to play so one day I'll finish it. I just found it harder to stay invested in the core cast over time which was why I dropped it. "Maybe Kingdom Hearts just stop being for me?" is a good way to frame it.

But being a KH fan led me to discovering Doctor Who and Final Fantasy so it's not in vain. Things come and go, even the stories you love.
 

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I don't really find it poorly written. Nothing ever irked me all that much or made me go "WTF is this" and the few times it did irk me were either misinterpreting leaks or something.

If you really want poorly written, look at Rise of Skywalker. Palpatine's return is literally handwaved with the Episode 3 quote, no one remembers that Stormtroopers had jetpacks before, Rey literally just wins by doing what Mace Windu tried to do but with two lightsabers, the evil Rey is basically a marketing ploy, and nothing happens to Rey dispite Papa Palpatine saying that he'd basically possess her if she killed him, etc.

And as for Days, Nomura really needs to write all the dialogue again in the future entries. His dialogue writing in Days was friggin' awesome.
 

AR829038

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I don't really find it poorly written. Nothing ever irked me all that much or made me go "WTF is this" and the few times it did irk me were either misinterpreting leaks or something.

If you really want poorly written, look at Rise of Skywalker. Palpatine's return is literally handwaved with the Episode 3 quote, no one remembers that Stormtroopers had jetpacks before, Rey literally just wins by doing what Mace Windu tried to do but with two lightsabers, the evil Rey is basically a marketing ploy, and nothing happens to Rey dispite Papa Palpatine saying that he'd basically possess her if she killed him, etc.

And as for Days, Nomura really needs to write all the dialogue again in the future entries. His dialogue writing in Days was friggin' awesome.
This.
For all the series' faults, even in its absolute worst moments, it's closer to Star Wars prequels kind of bad than it is to Star Wars sequels kind of bad. As bad as it gets, it never feels empty or corporate. It always does feel like the unique vision of a video game auteur, even if that vision doesn't always materialize very well.
 

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Speaking of Star Wars, allow me to sound like a broken record: Nomura and George Lucas have a ton in common. They're idea men that struggle with certain fields of writing. Their success came from the work of others and were given too much influence in later projects.
I will say that 1's writing felt more compelling and natural because it used the best writing outline out there: The Hero's Journey. It follows it beat for beat, so every event and revelation has a good flow. I do agree that KH could've not succeeded without the gameplay aspect.

As much as I disliked 3's story, it was leagues better than the travesty that was Rise of Skywalker.
 

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Yes, because it will yet be another year until we have some chance to know what’s in the god damn black box.

Honestly, some parts are good though. Like finding out who Apprentice Xehanort was and who Ansem’s Shadow was were great reveals in the series. It’s definitely a mix of both good and bad as many have suggested.
 
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DraceEmpressa

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Gameplay is literally the most important thing about the game itself lol. What am I even reading here?
Maybe not the most important but.... the irreplacable part? Since this is the era of the internet already, things like the plot, game scenes, game images, osts etc can be found on the internet, but you can't replace the feeling of playing the game yourself . Sure, some ppl will still buy a game for the sake of plot, but some others can not buy the game and just look up stuff in the internet, it's gameplay what is irreplacable and the thing that keep ppl hooked for sure.

Because it makes them relatable. Relatability is the key to telling a good story. Why do you think so many fans fell in love with Roxas, or with Riku, or Xion? People grow attached to characters that they can sympathize with, and the best way to get players to sympathize with characters is to give said characters depth and personal struggles.
I disagree. Relatability is not equal good story or depth, it equals good marketing for the ppl who can relate. You can make a relatable one dimensional character if the key trait is something relatable, like inferiority complex, simping, being the token in universe weeb/nerd or introvert, edgelord, delinquent, etc. that's why so many(not all) harem protagonist or isekai MC doesn't have more than "usual every day guy" ,and while they are not good character, they are relatable so the works they are in sells. And the opposite could also work, you can have someone unrealistic, unrelatable, but deep and compelling. Relatability, depth, compellingness, realisticness are all different things , much as empathy always come with sympathy/endearment/adoration, the three later can be felt towards someone or something without coming in one set with empathy.

I have been into Evillious Chronicles and checked some info about Blazblue and yeah... let me just say it's the similat Japanese Plot Scattered stuff, but as many say before it's not that complicated or that much "wtf is happening here" as I 've seen trippier stuff, but again,as much it's not the worst, it's not a good example of writing either.
 

*TwilightNight*

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Of course it's poorly written. The fanacism, loyalty, and excuses are so bad to justify the mess that I found literally someone saying (a fan) that to enjoy KH, you have to shut your brain off and accept it for what it is. No. What's going to happen is that more people won't stomach the downward spiral of the narrative and they'll seek elsewhere. Why pay $60 for something where you're forced to be ignorant to buy into a stupid story? Unless you stick it out for the gameplay/fun only - at least that makes sense. Now we have pseudo Noctis and pseudo Stella and some city to find the missing Sora with a character who has already peaked but continues to be pushed by Nomura cause favoritism.

And Days is not well written. You legit have the plot cave to fit in retconned character Xion. Where is Xemmas, allowing an important part of his plan run around freely with the enemy for a whole entire year? I don't know. Maybe he fucked off somewhere and is relaxing in the hot springs. Why is Diz not taking action despite saying he will, twice? Heck if I know. Maybe he needs to give Xion the entire year to drag the game out. Characters can speak through Keyblades now because the name has meaning to memories? You don't say. Xion is dying and she had enough time to mutter words as she disappears in pretty, glittering goodness with the sunset but couldn't be bothered to make something as clear as saying "return to Sora"? My oh my. I wonder why the writing didn't allow that. Probably to not only justify her unnecessary addition but to justify her unnecessary addition with how Roxas came back to headquarters and give her existence some forced down your throat use to even be there. She's a Mary Sue played straight, self insert of Tomoco Kanemaki, and I don't care about saying so. It's blatant. And no, I'm not talking about the distorted definition of it over the years about being faultless, but harkening back to its origins. Meanwhile Roxas sits around...and sits. Well, okay. He's the main character? Huh, interesting.

Then you have a group of friends failing each other in every way (which I guess people find relatable, but that toxicity should be cut in real life, what even), who are somehow, considered the "best trio" (because we witnessed it from scratch and that's it) yet are the ones full of independent dumb decisions (like, you know, keeping everything to themselves) as they get involved in some eye rolling melodrama caused by those dumb decisions. The only reason why Days could ever be considered "well written" is due to pulling at the heartstrings, coating it completely in tragedy. CoM is good writing, aside from the repetitive worlds and gameplay. It doesn't depend on drama and sadness to carry it but a solid story line that cohesively works together with no excuses to extend a year for a character that was never there. Naminè is actually a deconstruction of a Mary Sue and was left with nothing. It was so obvious the intention was to make you feel bad for Xion and cry in Days, that it was appalling to know that they found me so predictable enough to fall for it. I didn't but...

And that's how KH gets you. You see all these cool and/or emotional moments that trigger your hearts and all that, it keeps you invested, you ignore its blatant flaws, and they get their money. Oh, look. Kairi gets mistreated. The loyal fans? Let's wait until the next game, maybe they'll get it right this time. Not like it hasn't been 20 years with 10+ games.

It's mind boggling. But I have no desire to control people's tastes and how they spend their money. If you like the series for what it is, great. I personally tapped out and I have not come to regret that decision whatsoever. What I don't respect is that the sound criticism and solid arguments about why it's terrible is labeled as "you had your expectations too high!". It's just ridiculously done. Point blank. Had a friend of mine get KHIII and he spent the entire time laughing at it. Well, laughing at the state of Axel's unfortunate characterization and his cringy lines, but the whole thing was...underwhelming.
 
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Melodrama. Y'know, maybe that's why I have a problem with the series after COM. Especially with trios. I feel like KH went from an adventure game into an overly dramatic soap opera of shoshen anime ocs while Disney characters are....just there....maybe that's why I love 'Kanemeki's fanfiction' too.

This sentence right here, "Then you have a group of friends failing each other in every way (which I guess people find relatable, but that toxicity should be cut in real life), who are somehow, considered the best trio yet are the ones full of independent dumb decisions (like, you know, keeping everything to themselves) as they get involved in some eye rolling melodrama." is what all trios suffer...except y'know SDG.
 

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Yeah, pretty much, but it has its moments.

It's a lot better when the characters are guiding themselves based on exactly what they want. Too many titles are set in motion because some old person (Yen Sid, Ansem the Wise, Eraqus) is telling the protagonist what the threat or task at hand is. Why does the wizard have to tell us who Organization XIII is? Why does he have to tell us to go fight Xehanort?

Sora looking for his friends and a way home in KH1 was compelling. Sora desperately trying to reach Kairi in Re:Mind was compelling. Everything between was kinda mid lmao
 

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Melodrama. Y'know, maybe that's why I have a problem with the series after COM. Especially with trios. I feel like KH went from an adventure game into an overly dramatic soap opera of shoshen anime ocs while Disney characters are....just there....maybe that's why I love 'Kanemeki's fanfiction' too.

This sentence right here, "Then you have a group of friends failing each other in every way (which I guess people find relatable, but that toxicity should be cut in real life), who are somehow, considered the best trio yet are the ones full of independent dumb decisions (like, you know, keeping everything to themselves) as they get involved in some eye rolling melodrama." is what all trios suffer...except y'know SDG.
Kanemaki was lucky with her connections. Feel bad for the other 14th member fanfictions that didn't have the pleasure or the opportunity to make it reality though. Gotta think if one of them ever did an opposite sex Sora clone idea. Maybe Kanemaki can have that creative upper hand.

All trios suffer from that. TAV gets called out on it and shitted on, but somehow RAX is permissible and excused for it because "sad" and "saw how they became friends therefore 'development' ". They're just as bad. Actually, worse. When you express your real feelings on journals more than you do your actual friends, there's a problem. Axel and Xion weren't that well developed either.

SRK are not even a trio. The only melodrama coming out of it is between Sora and Riku or between Sora and Kairi.

SDG continues to be the best, toxic-less trio. They are the best trio. They had their bumps, we see them at least somewhat overcome them, and they are closer than ever. Have you seen RAX apologize or talk to each other about their choices? Nah. They just came back, cue melodrama with sad sad cry like they always do, and that's it. Aw, you, the player, shed tears? Completely acceptable turn out. All good, best reunion evur.

At least Nomura realized how he screwed himself over with these post-KHII side games and his trio obsession nonsense. Will that stick? Probably nah.
 

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I guess I'm at a point where I don't expect the story/writing to improve, so I take what I do like and ignore or rewrite the rest.

Maybe back in 2010, I was frustrated with the creation of Xion and how much they had to switch around and make up to explain her existence. Even now in the long run, I think doing stuff like that harms the story overall. The reason why I think it harmed the story is not necessarily because of Xion herself, but how she was clearly unplanned as of KH2. That has always been my #1 hang up and if we could go back in time, I think they should've saved that character for something else. Or make her a legitimate clone of Roxas ala Repliku style.

Anyway, it's not so much that I'm pleased with the slow downturn of the writing, it's more of a "Wth can I do about it?" I don't buy/play every single game, just the ones I want (which is admittedly most of them). I write a post now and then pondering wth Nomura was thinking and why bother writing things this way (I think the entirety of DDD and KH3 could''ve been written using the replica explanation only, no time travel required)

I do love the series overall. It's still probably my favorite game series. It may always be, not because of the new stuff, but because of the old stuff. It is surprisingly easy for me to just... write off so many nonsensical things this series does sometimes.

Despite its many flaws and criticism, BbS is still my favorite KH game. I hate CoM's battle system but the story is enjoyable for Sora's teenage angst alone. KH1 and KH2 are very special pieces of my childhood. That one scene in DDD where Sora barely missed Tron's hand and that other scene where Ven protects Sora with his armor and that one other scene where Sora gets kidnapped and almost possessed are valuable parts of my library of awesome KH moments.

It's hard to explain what I'm feeling. I don't hate Kingdom Hearts. I'm exhausted by the writing. I think so much stuff could be better and I question why they never do it. But the new stuff cannot tarnish the things I loved in the past. I do wish KH had a writer that was a bit more focused on consistency instead of introducing new plots and developments before the old ones are anywhere near resolved. But.... well. Once again I say, what can we really do to improve it?

We can stop buying the games. But that just means Kingdom Hearts will be axed and/or Square Enix will go under (they always seem to be struggling). Clearly begging doesn't work. How long have people been begging for Kairi stuff?? At this point, nothing will change.

There is still content I want to see even if the writing is often poop. I do enjoy the gameplay sometimes. Some of the melodrama is fun and occasionally it's cool to see their interpretation of the Disney Worlds. It's not a black and white situation.
 

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It's hard to explain what I'm feeling. I don't hate Kingdom Hearts. I'm exhausted by the writing.
This is the perfect way to describe how I feel. And KH isn't the only franchise that's like that either. I feel like a lot of creators of long-form media have a bad habit of doing whatever they want while disregarding the quality of the narrative and viewers' experience. With only little pockets of "I want the audience to have feelz at this dramatic scene/plot twist/whatever".
 

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Yes, I suppose that's part of it. Kingdom Hearts is not the only long running series that runs itself into the ground. There's plenty of shows and anime I can think of that because a complete and irredeemable shitfest that ended in a shitty way.

Despite all of Kingdom Hearts' flaws.... it's not THAT bad. Even at its worse, like the situation with the newest game, it's still not AS bad somehow.

It's just so tiring going through these hoops so to speak. I don't mind a new adventure Nomura, but can you spend a little more time developing the stuff we already have so we can close this chapter and start fresh?

That's what I wanted KH3 to do. I wanted it to close the chapter on all the games so far so that all the games onward can start semi-fresh. But no.... it's just getting more and more tangled up.

We need some detangling shampoo for Nomura's brain.
 
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