KH Storytelling After Xehanort Saga



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Face My Fears

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I've been thinking about this for a while now and wanted to get other people's opinions on it.

I don't think there are any long-running game franchises that have one continuous story with the same main character that spans as long as KH (maybe Halo?) I believe that brings up an issue in the storytelling of the series. Back in the day, it would have to be a spinoff game or a numbered title to tell the story you want. Most of the time, it focused on Sora. However, after the length of the series and the vastness of the series grew, there are way too many characters and too many side plots/lore that needs exposure. Now I'm all for streamlining the series and only doing numbered games with Sora as the lead and phasing out other characters for good, but on the flip side I think there is potential in actually strengthening the series as a whole if they follow the Star Wars premise (even though I am completely turned off by Star Wars nowadays):
KH3 -> Side Game that expands on KH lore and sets up for KH4 (Sora is not the lead) -> KH4 -> Side Game... and so forth.

I think that having a side game or DLC that isn't afraid to not feature Sora would be a good way to move the series. Sora is already a character that buys whatever is shoved in his face, so there doesn't need to be lengthy explanation for Sora to roll with some crazy plot. However, the players -- especially nowadays -- are demanding more cohesive and "intelligent" writing. One line explanations won't cut it anymore. Maybe when the fanbase were all kids, but now that we're all grown up and in the 13 years we were waiting for KH3 the game industry evolved so much... I think it's time for the series to actually grow too. KH3 was a nice mixture of nostalgia and growth (maybe not the best way to end the Xehanort saga, but anyway...), the future games are the time for the KH series to grow. I mean even Disney films have evolved in the time span between KH2 and KH3. During KH2 days, Disney was known for the female characters being princesses and needing a man etc. and now they're written better. There are so many Disney films to choose from where it boggles the mind that KH3 had only 1 female party member.

Anyway, I digress. My point is that I feel like this is the perfect time for the series to grow and get a little more mature. Disney films have done it. The fan base is certainly hoping for it (even back during KH2 days). The series also needs to decide whether it is all about Sora or if the side characters can/should have a chance to shine. My personal opinion is that they should, as you can use them to flesh out series lore that would feel awkward for Sora to come across or get an explanation for during his journey (like where Riku got Kairi's keyblade). Instead of forcing Sora to find out these answers or get a one-line explanation, if you build a story around certain characters (Aqua/Riku/Xion) you can explain KH lore and go into KH4 with Sora and not really need Sora to get an explanation because the players got it and Sora accepts any insanity he witnesses.

So thoughts?
 

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I'm all for games focusing on other characters aside from Sora. Would give the series more breathing room

Though assuming the game after KH3 is DDD volume 2 Sora will be co starring along with Riku. So it may be awhile before we get to that point
 

Face My Fears

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I'm all for games focusing on other characters aside from Sora. Would give the series more breathing room

Though assuming the game after KH3 is DDD volume 2 Sora will be co starring along with Riku. So it may be awhile before we get to that point
After rewatching the KH0.2 intro multiple times at work (I love how it looks), I was kind of hoping for a Riku/Aqua/Mickey game. I think a game like that would allow different aspects of the series that needed attention (Riku's side of the story in KH3/TAV). I'm hoping that Nomura doesn't just forget about Aqua now that she's saved. He actually has an organically developed and liked female character who can fight, it would be such a missed opportunity to continue showcasing Aqua. Also, for some reason I feel like Aqua/Riku have (or would have) a strong relationship. Maybe it's just from Aqua seeing Riku run to the door or the fact that Riku related to her being alone or that Mickey spent time with both of them... I dunno. It'd be nice to see Riku interact with a female character that isn't related to Sora.
 

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I have always thought that KH as a franchise is too difficult for newcomers because they have to experience 9 games to fully understand KH3. I thought the best way to continue the series would be to not continue the story this way but rather let every game stand on its own storywise so that newcomers do not have to play like 15 games to play KH4 but only KH4 itself. They could do trilogies but another game like KH3 would be too huge I think.
 

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I'm hoping that Nomura doesn't just forget about Aqua now that she's saved. He actually has an organically developed and liked female character who can fight, it would be such a missed opportunity to continue showcasing Aqua.
Honestly... Looking at his treatment of Aqua in KH3, and it was pretty horrendous tbh, I really don't think he gets WHY Aqua worked as a character in the first place. He botches her (inconsistent) "arc" in the game, and gives her what is easily one of the worst performances out of the main cast in terms of combat ability/battle intelligence (while Sora goes from being weaker than Maleficent and Pete, to at times soloing Master Xehanort over the span of ONE title). Zero wins. Every loss. Power Nerf. Cutscene Incompetence. Poorly implemented storylines. Abandoned plotlines (seriously, what's going on with her armor and Keyblade?!!). Non committal focus ("So, she's gonna be the key to finding all three" -- proceeds to figure out everything about the BBS trio on their own, with no real information they didn't already know).

... Despite all the good that the character offered the series up until this point, the very fact that it still turned out this poorly doesn't give me hope they'll be doing better, let alone more with her, any time soon. And I'm not putting on the kid gloves when I say I'd rather she get ignored outright than disrespected like that EVER again.
 

Face My Fears

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I have always thought that KH as a franchise is too difficult for newcomers because they have to experience 9 games to fully understand KH3. I thought the best way to continue the series would be to not continue the story this way but rather let every game stand on its own storywise so that newcomers do not have to play like 15 games to play KH4 but only KH4 itself. They could do trilogies but another game like KH3 would be too huge I think.
The KH franchise definitely should move towards the numbered titles being an enclosed story that starts and ends in that game. It can include some hints at a sequel, but I think Nomura should go back to KH1 for ideas on how a numbered KH game should be. For the hardcore fans, they can do sidegames or DLC episodes that expand on lore or other characters. I would hope the future KH games can be like The Dark Knight film. You don't need to watch Batman Begins to jump right in -- you just know it's a Batman film. KH should be the Disney/Square game that you can jump in easily. I mean, I do love the lore of KH and how complex the story elements are, but some stuff should stay in the Xehanort saga (nobodies etc).

Honestly... Looking at his treatment of Aqua in KH3, and it was pretty horrendous tbh, I really don't think he gets WHY Aqua worked as a character in the first place. He botches her (inconsistent) "arc" in the game, and gives her what is easily one of the worst performances out of the main cast in terms of combat ability/battle intelligence (while Sora goes from being weaker than Maleficent and Pete, to at times soloing Master Xehanort over the span of ONE title). Zero wins. Every loss. Power Nerf. Cutscene Incompetence. Poorly implemented storylines. Abandoned plotlines (seriously, what's going on with her armor and Keyblade?!!). Non committal focus ("So, she's gonna be the key to finding all three" -- proceeds to figure out everything about the BBS trio on their own, with no real information they didn't already know).

... Despite all the good that the character offered the series up until this point, the very fact that it still turned out this poorly doesn't give me hope they'll be doing better, let alone more with her, any time soon. And I'm not putting on the kid gloves when I say I'd rather she get ignored outright than disrespected like that EVER again.
I think Nomura was just pressed for time on what to do with Aqua. She actually got a pretty good build up from BbS to 0.2, so I didn't really expect her to get tons of focus. What she got wasn't good by any means, but I don't think it ruined her character or disrespected her. She literally took on Ansem SOD with her bare hands and was shown to not even need a keyblade (hence her survival in the Realm of Darkness). She beat Vanitas without resting after being in the Realm of Darkness for 10 years and just coming off being possessed/beaten up by Riku/Sora. She took charge during the heartless battle.

KH3 wasn't about Aqua. I feel like because Master Xehanort was the boss of KH3, people feel that Aqua should have been given way more focus. Yes, I think Aqua (and Terra/Ven) should have had way more moments with Xehanort, but Nomura was written into a hole. It would have been boring/weak to have a 30 minute conversation between TAV/Xehanort at the climax of the game when all we want to do is kill him. Before the end of the game Terra was possessed/Ven was asleep/Aqua was trapped, so I can imagine how difficult it was for Nomura to make things work. A lot of people feel like it's easy to "write something better", but I will say that it was Nomura's mistake for not thinking through the climax (the build to it) however that doesn't mean he disrespected Aqua or any other character on purpose. He made a mess of things, actually admitted to how difficult it was to write the story, and probably has learned from his mistakes.

That's what this thread is really about tbh, how Nomura can genuinely learn and improve on the KH storytelling. The old ways worked in that generation of gaming. But now is his chance to really switch things up and start fresh.
 

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Honestly... Looking at his treatment of Aqua in KH3, and it was pretty horrendous tbh, I really don't think he gets WHY Aqua worked as a character in the first place. He botches her (inconsistent) "arc" in the game, and gives her what is easily one of the worst performances out of the main cast in terms of combat ability/battle intelligence (while Sora goes from being weaker than Maleficent and Pete, to at times soloing Master Xehanort over the span of ONE title). Zero wins. Every loss. Power Nerf. Cutscene Incompetence. Poorly implemented storylines. Abandoned plotlines (seriously, what's going on with her armor and Keyblade?!!). Non committal focus ("So, she's gonna be the key to finding all three" -- proceeds to figure out everything about the BBS trio on their own, with no real information they didn't already know).

... Despite all the good that the character offered the series up until this point, the very fact that it still turned out this poorly doesn't give me hope they'll be doing better, let alone more with her, any time soon. And I'm not putting on the kid gloves when I say I'd rather she get ignored outright than disrespected like that EVER again.
I agree. I think what bothers me most is that she, along with other characters, had less screentime as a genuine character than being a plot device. Her becoming a Darkling served no story purpose and was only included to be a shock in the trailers, keeping Riku / Mickey out of the picture so we don't have to think about how we could involve them along with KDG and stalling the plot. Later, she acted totally out of character by telling SDG to step back so she can fight alone (there really was no need for that and Aqua isn't one for ego trips) so that fight could be an incentive to wake Ventus up. She also didn't really do much for waking Terra. The sad thing is that this doesn't only apply to her, because hardly anyone but Sora contributes anything really worthwhile in the end. Yes, they participate in their respective fights but ultimately Sora has to butt into every single one, so all these capable Keyblade wielders actually don't do much. Nomura once stated that he was surprised about her popularity. He kept her pretty consistent in 0.2 but 3 pretty much blew it out of the window.

Topic: I agree that shifting the focus from Sora to other adventures would help a lot. Standalone stories would be welcome, for example one for the BBS trio. Maybe Master Eraqus had another student before TAV who followed his master's guidance a little too closely and became a light fanatic. Feeling responsible for their master's legacy, TAV needs to step up and stop him and on the way there have to face their own darknesses. Terra has to face his past, Aqua has to face her dark side and inner demons and Ventus has to stay strong so that Vanitas doesn't take over. You could make them a party where you can choose who to control and travel to different worlds, realising that too much light is as harmful as too much darkness. By overcoming their problems together, the three grow as a trio and ultimately the whole thing is - of course - connected to the ancient chi era and Eraqus' pupil is a descendant of the first kids of light. This is actually why he showed up - after the keyblade war he realizes that the people have not learned from their mistakes and feels that the effort sof his ancestors were wasted, so he wants to exterminate the darkness by looking for people with hearts of pure light. He goes after the seven pure hearts who deny him, so he gets desperate and tries to build a society of light to rule the world through the power of light for its own good.

... that got a little too long. Could make a good fanfic though.
 

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Later, she acted totally out of character by telling SDG to step back so she can fight alone (there really was no need for that and Aqua isn't one for ego trips) so that fight could be an incentive to wake Ventus up.
To be fair, Aqua has done that before. In BBS she had the option to fight with Zack against Hades and the Ice Titan clone he summoned, but instead told Zack to stay out of it and that she'd handle it alone. So Aqua is technically in character doing the same with SDG, regardless of how stupid it was. I found it dumb both times.
 

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I agree. I think what bothers me most is that she, along with other characters, had less screentime as a genuine character than being a plot device. Her becoming a Darkling served no story purpose and was only included to be a shock in the trailers, keeping Riku / Mickey out of the picture so we don't have to think about how we could involve them along with KDG and stalling the plot. Later, she acted totally out of character by telling SDG to step back so she can fight alone (there really was no need for that and Aqua isn't one for ego trips) so that fight could be an incentive to wake Ventus up. She also didn't really do much for waking Terra. The sad thing is that this doesn't only apply to her, because hardly anyone but Sora contributes anything really worthwhile in the end. Yes, they participate in their respective fights but ultimately Sora has to butt into every single one, so all these capable Keyblade wielders actually don't do much. Nomura once stated that he was surprised about her popularity. He kept her pretty consistent in 0.2 but 3 pretty much blew it out of the window.

Topic: I agree that shifting the focus from Sora to other adventures would help a lot. Standalone stories would be welcome, for example one for the BBS trio. Maybe Master Eraqus had another student before TAV who followed his master's guidance a little too closely and became a light fanatic. Feeling responsible for their master's legacy, TAV needs to step up and stop him and on the way there have to face their own darknesses. Terra has to face his past, Aqua has to face her dark side and inner demons and Ventus has to stay strong so that Vanitas doesn't take over. You could make them a party where you can choose who to control and travel to different worlds, realising that too much light is as harmful as too much darkness. By overcoming their problems together, the three grow as a trio and ultimately the whole thing is - of course - connected to the ancient chi era and Eraqus' pupil is a descendant of the first kids of light. This is actually why he showed up - after the keyblade war he realizes that the people have not learned from their mistakes and feels that the effort sof his ancestors were wasted, so he wants to exterminate the darkness by looking for people with hearts of pure light. He goes after the seven pure hearts who deny him, so he gets desperate and tries to build a society of light to rule the world through the power of light for its own good.

... that got a little too long. Could make a good fanfic though.
So we're talking a standalone story for all....idk 20-30 main characters. Again, I still say the problem that Kingdom Hearts has is the amount of characters that Nomura can't freaking stop introducing. It all started with Sora, Riku, and Kairi, then Sora, Donald, and Goofy....then shift away from Kairi and we got Sora and Riku, and then Riku and Mickey. Then out of fucking nowhere we got the old Organization, and the NEW Organization. In which Demyx, Luxord, Larxene, and Marluxia will probably play major roles on the series in the future, Xemnas, Ansem, and YX's 'arc' I guess is done, odds are we'll probably get some sort of backstory in regards of Eraques and Xehanort. Oh right, then TAV is here, too.....and Xion....and Maleficent and Pete....and Roxas....and the Foretellers and MoM. AND CHI CHARACTERS THAT I DON'T KNOW. And while we're on the topic, Ansem the Wise and Vexen still lives. Oh right....THEN THERE'S YOZORA.


At that point, it's hard for me to tell which arc's even complete anymore. Or ARE there even any completed arcs. Like...the Xehanort saga's completed, yet at the same time it doesn't feel completed because there's so many main characters to complete it with. I mean, the only thing I'm getting at here is that the norts and Xehanort are done with. But still feels hollow, given that out of all 13, Xehanort, Ansem, Xemnas, YX, and Vanitas' 'arc' are truly finished. AND THE FREAKING 7 PRINCESSES OF HEART'S STILL GOTTA BE A TOPIC AT SOME POINT, TOO! Makes me wonder why people wanted Final Fantasy characters placed in this mess?
 

Twilight Lumiair

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I think Nomura was just pressed for time on what to do with Aqua. She actually got a pretty good build up from BbS to 0.2, so I didn't really expect her to get tons of focus. What she got wasn't good by any means, but I don't think it ruined her character or disrespected her. She literally took on Ansem SOD with her bare hands and was shown to not even need a keyblade (hence her survival in the Realm of Darkness). She beat Vanitas without resting after being in the Realm of Darkness for 10 years and just coming off being possessed/beaten up by Riku/Sora. She took charge during the heartless battle.

KH3 wasn't about Aqua. I feel like because Master Xehanort was the boss of KH3, people feel that Aqua should have been given way more focus. Yes, I think Aqua (and Terra/Ven) should have had way more moments with Xehanort, but Nomura was written into a hole. It would have been boring/weak to have a 30 minute conversation between TAV/Xehanort at the climax of the game when all we want to do is kill him. Before the end of the game Terra was possessed/Ven was asleep/Aqua was trapped, so I can imagine how difficult it was for Nomura to make things work. A lot of people feel like it's easy to "write something better", but I will say that it was Nomura's mistake for not thinking through the climax (the build to it) however that doesn't mean he disrespected Aqua or any other character on purpose. He made a mess of things, actually admitted to how difficult it was to write the story, and probably has learned from his mistakes.

That's what this thread is really about tbh, how Nomura can genuinely learn and improve on the KH storytelling. The old ways worked in that generation of gaming. But now is his chance to really switch things up and start fresh.
See, but that requires giving Nomura the benefit of the doubt. Yes, KH3 wasn't primarily about Aqua. It was about everyone. The very premise of the title was giving satisfying closure and pay off to ALL the main characters and their arcs. Not just Sora. Not just Xehanort. If it were just about them, Nomura wouldn't have had to juggle so much to begin with. Don't get me wrong, I very much appreciated when Nomura admitted that he was genuinely having difficulty writing the game, and I don't think he meant to damage the integrity of any of the characters on purpose. BUT he only ever ended up there because of his own bad habits, which he failed to correct by this point despite the sheer number of games in the series, and that's ultimately on him. Just look at Kairi, lol.

"She actually got a pretty good build up from BbS to 0.2, so I didn't really expect her to get tons of focus."

But that's exactly it! She got a lot of great, even excellent build up at times during BBS and 0.2. But it has to have an equal/sufficient amount of pay-off for it to be justified. By definition, build-up in writing is made to be paid off later in the story. There were several plotlines and ideas intrisically tied to Aqua's return that get completely glossed over or abandoned in KH3. Why set them up if you didn't think you could pay them off? Perhaps Nomura overestimated his own abilities, but even then, he should have better evaluated whether or not to include these plot points if that's the case.

"She literally took on Ansem SOD with her bare hands and was shown to not even need a keyblade (hence her survival in the Realm of Darkness)."

Hm? Ineffective acrobatics aside, her performance was comparable to that of Hayner when he fought SoD in TT (I.e. kicking the Guardian and getting immediately caught afterward with one hand). She literally just stood there while SoD blasted her into oblivion. I understand there wasn't much she could do regardless (especially without her Keyblade), but nothing about the performance was particularly impressive. And as was discussed in another recent thread: CAN she use magic on her own, or not? If so, why didn't she use it then to at least slow SoD down a bit more? If not... Well, that goes into another problem.

"She took charge during the heartless battle."

If you're referring to her saying "form up!", do note that she immediately attempted to go out on her own so the others could have a path, which was stupid, and would've broken up the formation anyway. It even got to the point where she had to be corrected by Lea and Kairi, who are both canonically still green as Keyblade wielders (even if that defeats the purpose of their training, but whatever), of all people. Keep in mind, Aqua's supposed to be a Keyblade Master.

Or did you mean when she said "We stand together"? Because that was immediately followed by her being the very first to give up at the sight of the heartless tornado, which ended up ultimately leaving Riku (who proved she could've fought back) and Sora on their own. Defeating the entire purpose for saying that line in the first place. Keep in mind that when she saw an army of Darkside's w/a giant dark spirit bomb, her first reaction was to smile, say "okay then", followed by her charging in and wiping them all out on her own (the resulting explosion mirrored the one that came when the heartless Tornado was defeated by Sora and the ancient lights). This was nothing new to her. Nor should it be after she spent so long in the RoD.

To be fair, Aqua has done that before. In BBS she had the option to fight with Zack against Hades and the Ice Titan clone he summoned, but instead told Zack to stay out of it and that she'd handle it alone. So Aqua is technically in character doing the same with SDG, regardless of how stupid it was. I found it dumb both times.
Right, but the difference between the two is that it was more than just herself at stake when she was fighting Vanitas. Ventus, who was quite literally her primary motivation for escaping the RoD (she thought Terra was still fighting on his own), was in danger of being destroyed/possessed again. The absolute last thing Aqua should want to risk is his well being. Especially after she spent so much time fighting to honor the promise she made for him. Not to mention she was weaker than usual and KNEW it.

In contrast, the only thing at stake between her and Hades/Ice Colossus was... herself. The stakes simply weren't the same.
She also had a legitimate moral point to prove in regards to Terra, and showing Hades he was wrong about the power of darkness. What did she have to prove against Vanitas beyond her own strength? Something he, of ALL PEOPLE, would've already known after she beat him on three separate occasions (near death in Neverland). It's vain, and kinda petty tbh. And neither of those things ever characterized her prior to KH3. Hence why it is/feels so out of character.
_________________________
Topic: "That's what this thread is really about tbh, how Nomura can genuinely learn and improve on the KH storytelling. The old ways worked in that generation of gaming. But now is his chance to really switch things up and start fresh."

First of all, he can't keep bloating future games with sequel bait the way he did with KH3. He needs to focus on the immediate overarching story at hand and only include what's necessary. Don't waste everyone's time with things that feel extraneous, and then force yourself to cramp all the actual important stuff together the way you did with KH3. We don't need another rushed, underwhelming Keyblade Graveyard sequence on our hands.

Next, he needs to better define what role what characters play in the story, if any at all. Kairi, despite being built up since KH2 to become a proper fighter like Sora and Riku, ultimately became the damsel in distress again. So what is she supposed to be? Aqua was built up to be THE key role in rescuing the whole BBS trio, and this idea is abandoned within the very same game it's introduced. So which is it? Re Coded's secret ending has Mickey and Yen Sid confidently believe they know where Ven's heart is, yet neither they, nor anyone else acts like they know until Vanitas and Ienzo pretty much spell it out for them. So what was the point? Xion was erased and forgotten, yet she appears at the end of the game with little to no warning, and Lea automatically remembers just like that (barely exchanging a word to her). ... What? So was her sacrifice, her being forgotten, not as big of a conflict as it was presented to be? Because otherwise, why have it all happen in the background and give us vague bits of information? Who and what's actually important, who/what isn't? That needs to be more clear going forward. Which also means not abandoning ideas you set up all the time.

More character driven narratives please. The primary draw of KH, besides it's Disney appeal, is it's characters. Even moreso than it's story or music. Focusing more on the characters, and their own personal/internal conflicts, as well as using all the thematically rich symbolism KH has to offer, in order tell compelling, memorable stories is definitely the best route for this series to go in that regard. No more needlessly complicating the lore and nature of the series. That's clearly not doing you as a writer, or your audience as viewers, any real favors.

More original Disney stories; no more rehashing movie plots. If we wanted to watch the films, we'd go watch the films. It's inherently easier to incorporate the world and characters of a certain Disney property if you use them in a more original way, because then you have more freedom to tie that new story into KH's overall theme's, as well as the actual plot of the game. Pretty much all of my favorite worlds tend to tell their own unique stories, and their my favorites specifically because of how fresh and intriguing they feel. KH3 suffered BIG TIME for retelling the same old tired stories over again for certain (highly anticipated) worlds. Despite the Org being there, it hardly did... anything to tie the actual story and characters of the world into the plot, beyond the sudden, arbitrary, and unoriginal "New 7 Hearts" idea. Where did that even come from?

More diversity in terms of who gets focus in the games. KH has a large and mostly wonderful cast of characters, but many of them tend to get the short end of the stick in terms of screentime in favor of giving it to Sora & Riku. While I understand they're the protagonist and deuteragonist, following the same characters over and over again DOES get tiresome, and far more quickly than most people seem to think. I remember when Nomura reacted to one of the recent character polls, he said something along the lines of "Riku placed a little lower than I would've liked. Maybe I should give him more time to shine?" With the collective response being an overwhelming "NO", because Riku already got ample screentime and focus up until that point. Not only do we not need more, but there are plenty of other characters who were mostly absent from the series (in proper form) that also deserve that focus and time dedicated to them. They all have fans too. So more diversity amongst who gets focused on would, in general, help to keep the series and it's appeal fresh.

That's about all I can think of off the top of my head, but I might edit in more as I think of some. Either way, I don't have too much faith that any of these ideas will actually happen, but it's nice to discuss the subject. A bit cathartic.
 

Face My Fears

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See, but that requires giving Nomura the benefit of the doubt. Yes, KH3 wasn't primarily about Aqua. It was about everyone. The very premise of the title was giving satisfying closure and pay off to ALL the main characters and their arcs. Not just Sora. Not just Xehanort. If it were just about them, Nomura wouldn't have had to juggle so much to begin with. Don't get me wrong, I very much appreciated when Nomura admitted that he was genuinely having difficulty writing the game, and I don't think he meant to damage the integrity of any of the characters on purpose. BUT he only ever ended up there because of his own bad habits, which he failed to correct by this point despite the sheer number of games in the series, and that's ultimately on him. Just look at Kairi, lol.

"She actually got a pretty good build up from BbS to 0.2, so I didn't really expect her to get tons of focus."

But that's exactly it! She got a lot of great, even excellent build up at times during BBS and 0.2. But it has to have an equal/sufficient amount of pay-off for it to be justified. By definition, build-up in writing is made to be paid off later in the story. There were several plotlines and ideas intrisically tied to Aqua's return that get completely glossed over or abandoned in KH3. Why set them up if you didn't think you could pay them off? Perhaps Nomura overestimated his own abilities, but even then, he should have better evaluated whether or not to include these plot points if that's the case.

"She literally took on Ansem SOD with her bare hands and was shown to not even need a keyblade (hence her survival in the Realm of Darkness)."

Hm? Ineffective acrobatics aside, her performance was comparable to that of Hayner when he fought SoD in TT (I.e. kicking the Guardian and getting immediately caught afterward with one hand). She literally just stood there while SoD blasted her into oblivion. I understand there wasn't much she could do regardless (especially without her Keyblade), but nothing about the performance was particularly impressive. And as was discussed in another recent thread: CAN she use magic on her own, or not? If so, why didn't she use it then to at least slow SoD down a bit more? If not... Well, that goes into another problem.

"She took charge during the heartless battle."

If you're referring to her saying "form up!", do note that she immediately attempted to go out on her own so the others could have a path, which was stupid, and would've broken up the formation anyway. It even got to the point where she had to be corrected by Lea and Kairi, who are both canonically still green as Keyblade wielders (even if that defeats the purpose of their training, but whatever), of all people. Keep in mind, Aqua's supposed to be a Keyblade Master.

Or did you mean when she said "We stand together"? Because that was immediately followed by her being the very first to give up at the sight of the heartless tornado, which ended up ultimately leaving Riku (who proved she could've fought back) and Sora on their own. Defeating the entire purpose for saying that line in the first place. Keep in mind that when she saw an army of Darkside's w/a giant dark spirit bomb, her first reaction was to smile, say "okay then", followed by her charging in and wiping them all out on her own (the resulting explosion mirrored the one that came when the heartless Tornado was defeated by Sora and the ancient lights). This was nothing new to her. Nor should it be after she spent so long in the RoD.


Right, but the difference between the two is that it was more than just herself at stake when she was fighting Vanitas. Ventus, who was quite literally her primary motivation for escaping the RoD (she thought Terra was still fighting on his own), was in danger of being destroyed/possessed again. The absolute last thing Aqua should want to risk is his well being. Especially after she spent so much time fighting to honor the promise she made for him. Not to mention she was weaker than usual and KNEW it.

In contrast, the only thing at stake between her and Hades/Ice Colossus was... herself. The stakes simply weren't the same.
She also had a legitimate moral point to prove in regards to Terra, and showing Hades he was wrong about the power of darkness. What did she have to prove against Vanitas beyond her own strength? Something he, of ALL PEOPLE, would've already known after she beat him on three separate occasions (near death in Neverland). It's vain, and kinda petty tbh. And neither of those things ever characterized her prior to KH3. Hence why it is/feels so out of character.
_________________________
Topic: "That's what this thread is really about tbh, how Nomura can genuinely learn and improve on the KH storytelling. The old ways worked in that generation of gaming. But now is his chance to really switch things up and start fresh."

First of all, he can't keep bloating future games with sequel bait the way he did with KH3. He needs to focus on the immediate overarching story at hand and only include what's necessary. Don't waste everyone's time with things that feel extraneous, and then force yourself to cramp all the actual important stuff together the way you did with KH3. We don't need another rushed, underwhelming Keyblade Graveyard sequence on our hands.

Next, he needs to better define what role what characters play in the story, if any at all. Kairi, despite being built up since KH2 to become a proper fighter like Sora and Riku, ultimately became the damsel in distress again. So what is she supposed to be? Aqua was built up to be THE key role in rescuing the whole BBS trio, and this idea is abandoned within the very same game it's introduced. So which is it? Re Coded's secret ending has Mickey and Yen Sid confidently believe they know where Ven's heart is, yet neither they, nor anyone else acts like they know until Vanitas and Ienzo pretty much spell it out for them. So what was the point? Xion was erased and forgotten, yet she appears at the end of the game with little to no warning, and Lea automatically remembers just like that (barely exchanging a word to her). ... What? So was her sacrifice, her being forgotten, not as big of a conflict as it was presented to be? Because otherwise, why have it all happen in the background and give us vague bits of information? Who and what's actually important, who/what isn't? That needs to be more clear going forward. Which also means not abandoning ideas you set up all the time.

More character driven narratives please. The primary draw of KH, besides it's Disney appeal, is it's characters. Even moreso than it's story or music. Focusing more on the characters, and their own personal/internal conflicts, as well as using all the thematically rich symbolism KH has to offer, in order tell compelling, memorable stories is definitely the best route for this series to go in that regard. No more needlessly complicating the lore and nature of the series. That's clearly not doing you as a writer, or your audience as viewers, any real favors.

More original Disney stories; no more rehashing movie plots. If we wanted to watch the films, we'd go watch the films. It's inherently easier to incorporate the world and characters of a certain Disney property if you use them in a more original way, because then you have more freedom to tie that new story into KH's overall theme's, as well as the actual plot of the game. Pretty much all of my favorite worlds tend to tell their own unique stories, and their my favorites specifically because of how fresh and intriguing they feel. KH3 suffered BIG TIME for retelling the same old tired stories over again for certain (highly anticipated) worlds. Despite the Org being there, it hardly did... anything to tie the actual story and characters of the world into the plot, beyond the sudden, arbitrary, and unoriginal "New 7 Hearts" idea. Where did that even come from?

More diversity in terms of who gets focus in the games. KH has a large and mostly wonderful cast of characters, but many of them tend to get the short end of the stick in terms of screentime in favor of giving it to Sora & Riku. While I understand they're the protagonist and deuteragonist, following the same characters over and over again DOES get tiresome, and far more quickly than most people seem to think. I remember when Nomura reacted to one of the recent character polls, he said something along the lines of "Riku placed a little lower than I would've liked. Maybe I should give him more time to shine?" With the collective response being an overwhelming "NO", because Riku already got ample screentime and focus up until that point. Not only do we not need more, but there are plenty of other characters who were mostly absent from the series (in proper form) that also deserve that focus and time dedicated to them. They all have fans too. So more diversity amongst who gets focused on would, in general, help to keep the series and it's appeal fresh.

That's about all I can think of off the top of my head, but I might edit in more as I think of some. Either way, I don't have too much faith that any of these ideas will actually happen, but it's nice to discuss the subject. A bit cathartic.
Unfortunately KH3 was ALWAYS going to be messy storywise. Why? Because of the spinoffs and different story elements introduced. Master Xehanort was introduced as a villain against the TAV trio. They have all the history with him. Sora/Riku have their adventure in 3D (and Sora's brief encounter with Master Xehanort). Days built up RAX and their relationship with Saix/Xemnas. But then to maintain some logic in the timeline, TAV and Xion had to be written out. Due to their popularity, they then had to be written back in. Which brings me to Nomura needing to stick with the story he wants to tell and NOT satisfying the fans. As much as I adore Xion, she didn't need to come back. Her sacrifice and story was completed in Days. Some characters don't need to be dragged along. Like Roxas, he would have served his purpose perfectly in KH2 and Days would have been a nice peak into his life in the Organization. As much as I love Roxas, he didn't need to come back. Terra could have been killed during the Keyblade War, maybe in a scene where Aqua kills him believing him to be a Xehanort until he dies and we see Terra return moments before his death in her arms.

You're right that Nomura needs to pick who is important to the story going forward. It seems like saving everyone in KH3 could be a misstep for future titles. Now he has ANY character to choose from, but I'm hoping he puts away Roxas, Xion, and Terra. BUT it's going to be hard to believe that Roxas/Xion will leave Lea to go on a dangerous mission alone or that Terra wouldn't help Aqua/Ven deal with UX stuff. Or even Roxas/Xion/Namine helping to save Sora/Kairi.

I'm hoping that we get a side game that focuses on a core group of characters, then a numbered title, then a side game, then a numbered title, and so forth. The next side game should be focused on Young Xehanort's "world tour" and how the MoM influenced him to initiate the Keyblade War. This game can also be used to look at Xehanort's relationship with Eraqus and even flesh out KHUX lore (something we desperately need). It can examine stuff like the X-Blade's true nature, Kingdom Hearts itself, heartless/nobodies, and keyblades -- all topics that need some actual explanation, and Xehanort is the perfect character to organically ask questions about them and investigate them. You can even have a spin on the Disney worlds and have Xehanort fight the protagonists (or good guys) in those worlds -- IE HE CAN FIGHT YOUNG KING TRITON IN ATLANTICA. The last boss can be Eraqus, then we can have a video that jumps in time and shows how Eraqus recruited Aqua and Terra, and how Xehanort found Ven.
 

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I am going to agree with Twilight here, I don't understand why it took Vanitas to tell Sora alongside Donald and Goofy about Ventus heart. Mickey and Yensid being determined bout Ventus heart whereabouts...went nowhere nor was it brought it up again and it's not only Mickey and Yensid as well as Riku. Riku saw the three hearts inside Sora, as we are presented in DDD. Since Riku definitely knew Roxas presence was inside Sora, I expected Riku would tell Sora about the other hearts within him offscreen but I guess not :/ When Goofy mentioned about Vanitas telling them about Ventus heart to Yensid and Mickey, Jiminy concluded that Ventus being inside of Sora was true (thanks to Ansem’s data) and I was so frustrated. You stupid cricket, if you knew about Ventus heart being inside of Sora, WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY ANYTHING ABOUT IT EARILER ON.




The Anti-Aqua felt so disconnected to me. I was so advertised when the trailer dropped a year ago and seeing Aqua at long last devoured by darkness, made me more HYPED. I thought Aqua being devoured by her own darkness was going to break me emotional in light of the fact that Aqua was walking in the Realm of Darkness for a very long time with no black coat, or anything to shield herself from the darkness. I generally felt that was an indication of her being darkened at some point or another. A sign: Aqua conceded her phantom or how she calls it, her “shadow” was forming through her own emotions. Another sign: Aqua revealed to Mickey that the Darkness was getting to her. Another sign: Aqua suggested that she should fade or become one with the darkness by herself.


No doubt Aqua has a strong heart however the darkness was messing with her mentally, emotionally, and physically. Expansion of her being in a place that is filled with nothing but darkness and dark creatures there, you’d expect someone who’s in a broken state due to the darkness and with no protection either, to be consumed by the darkness


I thought this route would have been great because we got to know her inner thoughts and her feelings in 0.2. Seeing these signs and foreshadowing was a great build up imo and I was expecting it to be executed properly in Kingdom Hearts 3.



Be that as it may, all I/we got was Ansem shooting his own darkness on Aqua, forcing her to wind up dark ...I never in my 20 years of life, I felt so bamboozled and disappointed with such direction.

KH3 storyline disappointed me a lot and I am going to keep my expectations locked for the next saga if I’m interested or if it’s interesting to me. Ever since 3 came out and this is my first time speaking on the game, I kinda lost my interest for the series :/ saddens me because this was my childhood game and all
 

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I think an important step will be giving non-Sora character important tasks and have then actually do it without Sora's help. This was not more evident than when Riku&Mickey spend like 60% of the game looking for Aqua and failed to save her while Sora just decided I am going to save her and then.

It makes Riku and Mickey look like geeks.
 

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I find it baffling how many people excuse KH3's plot with "it HAD to get messy because he HAD to include so much stuff in that game". NO. Just no. Nomura was the one who decided to split everything into a bazillion stories that couldn't exist independently from each other AND to have the guts not only wanting to include all the stories up to this point, but to drag even more stuff into this by involving Ephemera, Unknown Girl, Chirithy, Foretellers ... and not only to put these in, but to actually link them to the present time again, by retrospectively making Isa's motivation some random girl and reducing Xehanort's arc to "a villain behind a villain probably behind a villain". On top of that, he felt EVERYTHING that had been done up to this day in terms of gameplay had to be included: Dream Eaters, Flowmotion, Reaction Commands, Form Changes, Summons ...

KH3 in all parts feels like a jumbled mess of disconnected parts that Nomura tried to piece together in a way you put a Lego piece somewhere it doesn't belong: You just press and press until it gets stuck, then you are happy it finally "fits" and hope it doesn't look too bad from the outside until you later realize that maybe you'd like to replace it, but it's stuck tightly, so you have to go on now.

Nomura is the one who wrote himself into a corner and instead of trying to make the best out of it, he decided KH3 needed even more elements to deal with. He could've easily decided to drop a few things nobody missed anyway (e.g. Repliku) and be more focused. I completely agree with Twilight Lumiair that Nomura obviously doesn't know what to actually do with his characters and the whole premise of KH3 shows that: Every character except for Riku, Mickey, Lea, Kairi and SDG is basically reduced to being a damsel in distress and it even goes so far that every character except for SDG needs to be saved in some way because Riku and Mickey are failing constantly with the Realm of Darkness, Aqua decides to have some strange ego tour and Kairi and Lea are never even seen training and, despite Lea having a lot of combat experience, contribute nothing. Making every character incompetent or only one person even relevant to all the saving that has to be done despite hyping them up in different ways, is just weak. I felt that the characters no longer really felt different in KH3 ... because they all got the same "help me!" treatment, did basically nothing themselves, hardly had interactions, didn't even care about Kairi's death and when they finally had the chance to talk, all we got was one "we are all happy" beach scene where nobody talks.

I don't say KH3 is all bad, but the storytelling really has to go somewhere else. Yes, you can't make 20 separate character stories, but just think about which characters you want to include from this point on, think of some decent way to write the others out, actually intertwine their stories in a compelling way ("I have been another person all along, so now I'm in automatically!" is not good writing), have them interact, give each one purpose and actual screentime other than being a pushover and for once, have a goal not as overblown as a finale that requires 8+ games and is destined to crack under so much pressure.
 

Face My Fears

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I find it baffling how many people excuse KH3's plot with "it HAD to get messy because he HAD to include so much stuff in that game". NO. Just no. Nomura was the one who decided to split everything into a bazillion stories that couldn't exist independently from each other AND to have the guts not only wanting to include all the stories up to this point, but to drag even more stuff into this by involving Ephemera, Unknown Girl, Chirithy, Foretellers ... and not only to put these in, but to actually link them to the present time again, by retrospectively making Isa's motivation some random girl and reducing Xehanort's arc to "a villain behind a villain probably behind a villain". On top of that, he felt EVERYTHING that had been done up to this day in terms of gameplay had to be included: Dream Eaters, Flowmotion, Reaction Commands, Form Changes, Summons ...

KH3 in all parts feels like a jumbled mess of disconnected parts that Nomura tried to piece together in a way you put a Lego piece somewhere it doesn't belong: You just press and press until it gets stuck, then you are happy it finally "fits" and hope it doesn't look too bad from the outside until you later realize that maybe you'd like to replace it, but it's stuck tightly, so you have to go on now.

Nomura is the one who wrote himself into a corner and instead of trying to make the best out of it, he decided KH3 needed even more elements to deal with. He could've easily decided to drop a few things nobody missed anyway (e.g. Repliku) and be more focused. I completely agree with Twilight Lumiair that Nomura obviously doesn't know what to actually do with his characters and the whole premise of KH3 shows that: Every character except for Riku, Mickey, Lea, Kairi and SDG is basically reduced to being a damsel in distress and it even goes so far that every character except for SDG needs to be saved in some way because Riku and Mickey are failing constantly with the Realm of Darkness, Aqua decides to have some strange ego tour and Kairi and Lea are never even seen training and, despite Lea having a lot of combat experience, contribute nothing. Making every character incompetent or only one person even relevant to all the saving that has to be done despite hyping them up in different ways, is just weak. I felt that the characters no longer really felt different in KH3 ... because they all got the same "help me!" treatment, did basically nothing themselves, hardly had interactions, didn't even care about Kairi's death and when they finally had the chance to talk, all we got was one "we are all happy" beach scene where nobody talks.

I don't say KH3 is all bad, but the storytelling really has to go somewhere else. Yes, you can't make 20 separate character stories, but just think about which characters you want to include from this point on, think of some decent way to write the others out, actually intertwine their stories in a compelling way ("I have been another person all along, so now I'm in automatically!" is not good writing), have them interact, give each one purpose and actual screentime other than being a pushover and for once, have a goal not as overblown as a finale that requires 8+ games and is destined to crack under so much pressure.
I think it is a combination of Nomura not knowing what to do with all of the characters and the fact that fans were expecting KH3 to feature everything. Roxas/Xion/Namine/Riku Replica didn't need to come back and if Nomura skipped them, that would have opened up space in the game to focus on other stuff. I strongly believe that Nomura felt pressured by fans to bring back everyone. Granted, he was building up Roxas and Xion's return for years, but he only did that (in my opinion) because fans wanted them back. My problem with that was always WHY bring them back. They all played their parts (as tragic characters no less). The other problem is that so many stories were started from the points of view of other characters (Master Xehanort vs. TAV) and then the point of view had to switch to Sora's point of view. Storytelling doesn't really work well that way, especially for the finale of a trilogy. Side stories are great and all, but Harry Potter wouldn't have been so successful if 3 or 4 of the books were from the point of view of other characters.

Which brings me back to the approach Nomura needs to take with KH games. The numbered/main titles need to be Sora's point of view and an enclosed plot (with elements building to the sequel, but the main focus being the story in that game). The side games can be from other characters' points of view, but games that enhance the lore of the game and help build to the next main game. The biggest issue with KH3's storytelling was that Master Xehanort and Sora did not feel like actual opponents. We just know Master Xehanort is the villain because of his past with TAV. The conflict between the two was basically nonexistent and THAT is why the storytelling suffered. If there is no actual conflict between protagonist/antagonist, there can be no real story. The hero and villain need to be taking jabs at each other throughout the story until the climactic final battle. KH3 did not have that at all. It's the same issue that KH2 had, but KH2 had the luxury of having less characters to deal with.
 

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I want to avoid repeating what's been said so far, sooooo....

Uuuuh....

I'll just say that one thing I'd like to see KH do going forward is shorter games (like 10-ish hours, less worlds) focusing on one or two storylines/groups at a time. Followed by a regular-length title where they converge. E.g. one handles Sora's, then Riku's, then Kairi's, fourth game where they come together. Or Riku's, then Kairi's, and Sora's happens a little during both, with the Reaper's Game finishing up during a normal-length third game.
 

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There were a handful of characters that had NO business of coming back. We have the elephant in the room being Roxas and Xion. But what the hell grounds did Nomura have for bringing Vexen, AtW, Demyx, Luxord, Marluxia, and Larxene? Three of them didn't even have a ROLE in the Union X story. Like...I feel this falls to what Face my Fears said. It's popular demands of returning characters (The most DEMANDING one being Xion). There were fan demands of Maleficent returning back in the days (I believe) and to this day she and Pete hasn't done....anything.
 

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There were a handful of characters that had NO business of coming back. We have the elephant in the room being Roxas and Xion. But what the hell grounds did Nomura have for bringing Vexen, AtW, Demyx, Luxord, Marluxia, and Larxene? Three of them didn't even have a ROLE in the Union X story. Like...I feel this falls to what Face my Fears said. It's popular demands of returning characters (The most DEMANDING one being Xion). There were fan demands of Maleficent returning back in the days (I believe) and to this day she and Pete hasn't done....anything.
And like half of those characters weren't even fan favorites that people were eager to see. Like everybody was happy with AtW's end in KH2. AtW could have just been a shade on the beach and stayed there lol Besides his moment with Ienzo, he added nothing to KH3.

Vexen as a character made no sense. He went from being a one dimensional baddie modeled after Hojo in FF7 too...a one dimensional turncoat.

We see Dilan and Aeleus and they do jack shit but stand there and make facial expressions lol

Marluxia and Larxene didn't NEED to come back in KH3 and could have been saved for future games, especially since they didn't even fit Xemnas' rules for being a vessel in KH3D and they really didn't do anything in KH3 except stand around and look menacing.

Roxas and Xion were fine to come back but the problem is that they are automatically going to be involved with Isa and Lea's future storyline involving Subject X...
 

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And like half of those characters weren't even fan favorites that people were eager to see. Like everybody was happy with AtW's end in KH2. AtW could have just been a shade on the beach and stayed there lol Besides his moment with Ienzo, he added nothing to KH3.

Vexen as a character made no sense. He went from being a one dimensional baddie modeled after Hojo in FF7 too...a one dimensional turncoat.

We see Dilan and Aeleus and they do jack shit but stand there and make facial expressions lol

Marluxia and Larxene didn't NEED to come back in KH3 and could have been saved for future games, especially since they didn't even fit Xemnas' rules for being a vessel in KH3D and they really didn't do anything in KH3 except stand around and look menacing.

Roxas and Xion were fine to come back but the problem is that they are automatically going to be involved with Isa and Lea's future storyline involving Subject X...
Roxas is chill to come back. It gives a reason to remember that Hayner, Pence, and Olette exists. Xion died and sacrificed herself after days, and it's BEEN told that she wasn't going to come back. BUT THEN WHOOP-DE-DOOLDE-DOOOOOO LOOK, IT'S XION....OUT OF FUCKING NOWHERE! Literally nothing was explained why Xion was needed, or how the hell she even came back at this matter. What we just need to leave it at the replicas? Xion...makes no sense in returning and had no reason to come back. Like said above, she was probably the most demanded to make a return by fans. And yeah, like you said. We have some randomly introduced plot with this mysterious 3rd trio between Lea, Isa, and X...or whatever the hell and Xion and Roxas'll obviously get in the way of what could've been a...pretty interesting development between these two. (Even though we barely GOT this development, and this....mellowed and sarcastic Siax came tf out of nowhere. Yes, we get that ISA is mellowed out and sarcastic, but SIAX showed literally NONE of that. Not in Days, not in 2, not ANYWHERE.)
 

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I think one of Nomura's biggest mistake was not using DDD/.2 and maybe even Coded to move some of the major plot points of KH3 so it becomes easier to write.

Like they could have had Kairi's training and gameplay happen during DDD so Nomura can get it out of his system. Aqua recovering could have just been .2. I get how they save Aqua was a big mystery for KH3 but given how underwhelming it was (Sora just decided I want to save her now) they could have really flesh it out in .2 Then in KH3 you have more hours to pour into other things that Nomura finds important.

Instead we get Coded which meant very little long term because Sora's hurt did not seem to matter much? DDD which could have done more and then .2 which was a big recap in a big sense. Nomura had extra hours to reduce the burden of KH3 but he chooses an odd route to say the least.
 
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