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Recapturing the magic



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AR829038

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I wanted to posit a question to the community: Do you all think there's any possibility of recapturing the magic of KH1, or do you think too much of that magic rests on nostalgia?

Let me be clear: I think that KH1 had a unique atmosphere to the rest of the series. Even KH2 didn't have the same type of vibes to it. Only Chain of Memories (the original GBA release more so than the remake) came close to those vibes, and that likewise might just be due to nostalgia. But it feels like KH2 constituted a pivotal vibe shift for the series—all the games since then have basically walked in the path of KH2 in terms of building off THAT atmosphere, but the feeling of KH1—its story, its music, its design, and so many other things about its aesthetic—feel almost like a different world to the rest of the franchise.

So it gets me thinking: could that special feeling from the first game ever be recreated—is it just an issue of picking the right storytelling technique and eschewing the heavy plot stuff and other characteristics that the series has grown to adopt—or is it a futile errand? I'm interested to know what you guys/gals think.
 

bcsimaoo

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I don1t think it's only nostalgia.

KH1 had a different game "logic" if I can say... It was way more engaged in explorantion, interacting with different stuff on the scenario, discoverying secrets. (Wonderland and the bizarre room has so many secrets that even now I am not 100% sure I have discovered all of them)..

However, the following games where much more designed based om the gameplay, combat expereince, abilities (command deck), etc...

Sadly I don't see that H1 logic coming back, but KH3 had a secondary focus on exploration and discovering secrets again (Kingdom of Corna and the Rapunzel interactions are a good exemple... Then maybe we can see a midterm between thos two "logics". And I really hope so, cause that's what make KH1 the most special and entertaining KH game imo.
 

Zackarix

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Not without a new writing team, more creative freedom with Disney properties, and at least a soft reboot.

The magic of KH1 wasn't (solely) because of nostalgia. It was because of how well integrated the Disney properties were and the simple but well thought out story. You can't take the Disney out of KH1, or I suppose you could but you would be left with a bare-bones version of the story. KH1 is the game that isn't afraid to have bold ideas like Beast in Hollow Bastion. In the sequels the Disney properties have become increasingly disconnected from the story. Part of this is due to Disney becoming more protective, but it's also due to a lack of creativity of SE's part.

KH1 was also written to stand on its own. They were clearly hoping for a sequel, but it's a complete story in its own right. Modern KH is franchise that is planned to continue indefinitely. Those are completely different writing philosophies and it shows.
 

kaseykockroach

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Nah, but I don't need it to.
And it's not like KH1 is entirely devoid of its own share of peculiar cheese. Such as....who the hell working at Square Enix was into shipping Terk and Donald?
Eugh. Weirds me out just thinking about it.
Anyhoo, KH1 is my favorite, but the series after that is still a fun ride to laugh with/at.
 

KingdomKurdistan

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My little sister and I are currently going though the series and she thinks KH1 is the best so far and is asking why the writing gets so cringey as the series goes on. She's 13.

Unless she's nostalgic for a few weeks ago, it's a small anecdote towards why the "IT'S JUST NOSTALGIA" arguments are some of the most intellectually lazy ones.

Edit: I completely forgot to add, her first experience of KH long before we started the series from scratch was actually KH3 and its worlds for films she has already seen and loved! If anything she'd be nostalgic for the latest game.
 
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AdrianXXII

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Yeah I agree with Zackarix, it probably wouldn't be possible unless there's a major change to the development team and they're given more time to give the game more heart. An aspect I noticed is that after KH1, most games felt like they didn't quite have all the funds and time they needed to realize the vision.

I think part of why it'd be hard to do is that it's kind of hard to exactly nail down what made KH1 have such a different atmosphere.

The type of mystery surrounding the plot changed. It went from a mystery of the grander world we have yet to discover and understand to a mystery of information we weren't being told. Secrets are being kept for the sake of it.

The way we interact with the worlds also changed, it used to be us exploring hoping to find something to help us find our friends to we're just passing through to pad out time between original content, the two aspects of KH felt better entangled in KH1, the motivations were simple and clear. Riku is acting like a jerk, because he's insecure and jealous, Maleficent craves more power and control so she's manipulating others to get what she needs to amess more power and take over more worlds. Each world felt like a stepping stone in defeating the villains etc.

The worlds also felt more like their own things and not just cheap abridged versions of the movies. Jaffar isn't just doing what he did in the movie, but is taking part in a scheme to take over Agrabah and gain more power to take over other worlds. Will there are still moments that unfold a certain way to fall in line with the movie it's usually integrated better.

Still I do feel like KH3 and KH0.2 did try and include more aspects of KH1 and I'd love to see that trend continue. Having to solve puzzles to continue in KH0.2 was a nice call back to all the times we did that in KH1 and I like how it makes us explore the worlds more.
 

Sorarocks93

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KH1 is my favourite out of all of them and it's definitely not just nostalgia for me.

Still though, I think ignorance to the KH world played a huge part in it. It was a new world, and the only familiarity we had was either the Disney characters and worlds, or the FF ones, or probably both.

Now it's different, players are familiar with the characters and world of KH, and with each new title we're wondering how this or that connects with other aspects of the universe. Even if a new game with brand new characters comes out, with completely new never seen worlds, we'd still wonder how everything connects to other stuff as long as the game has "Kingdom Hearts" in the title.
 

the red monster

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I don't understand what "magic" KH1 had that KH3 don't.
the only thing that comes to mind is disney boss fights. KH3 has amazing exploration in the caribbean and san fransokyo.
 

AR829038

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I don't understand what "magic" KH1 had that KH3 don't.
the only thing that comes to mind is disney boss fights. KH3 has amazing exploration in the caribbean and san fransokyo.
I suppose I mean more the feel of the game. There's a certain kind of vibe, a very mysterious yet innocent vibe, that KH1 gives off, and CoM kind of gives, but I feel that in KH2 that feeling somehow got left aside. Not to say that KH2 and later KH games aren't magic in their own right, but it feels like a different kind of vibe. I don't know how to explain it much better. It's not even to do with the gameplay or with the story per se, there's just this aesthetic to the first game that never really got replicated in the others. Maybe it's because the first game was so much heavier on the Disney elements and the later games leaned more heavily into anime-esque original characters and storylines, because Disney and anime have very different feels to them in general besides their more obvious characteristics.
 

MATGSY

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KH1 was a Disney RPG that happened to be made by Square.
The rest of the series is Square RPGs that happen to have Disney in them.

Like in the first game it still felt like there was an effort to make the new characters & worlds feel like they fit with the Disney setting, Traverse Town has a certain nostalgic feeling to it even on your first trip there & that's before factoring in just how many actual Disney characters are there. Once the ball got rolling, they basically dropped any notion of fitting & just did their own thing first & awkwardly wedged Disney worlds in second.
 

disney233

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I've said this constantly, before. The Disney, the Final Fantasy, both aspects as the series progresses basically gets SHAFTED to hell for the anime & ocs aspect to the point where A, The FF aspect is literally forgotten, and B, The Disney aspect shoved in our throats is solely there for gameplay & padding. KH2 was the absolute worst of that instance.

The reason why KH1 has this Magic is because the blend between Disney, Final Fantasy, and Original content felt just...right, and the story wasn't as...needlessly cryptic & 'complex' as we see the rest of the series. The introduction to Xehanort's inane plans, Maleficent's fucking travel through time, Almost EVERYONE Somehow living in the same world, or the same exact fucking timeline, the madness wasn't so fucking....weird to digest back then. It was just a harmless game with a goofy-ass character, Donald Duck, and Goofy traveling through Disney worlds to save them from the Disney villains.

KH3, to an extent, touched upon KH1's charm. The Disney dungeons (Arendelle Labyrinth), the charm of Disney worlds ACTUALLY mattering (Well...at least the Pixar worlds), but idk. It's kinda hard for me to see Kingdom Hearts 'recapturing' the KH1 Magic, because that charm just...died with each installment.

Wasn't the whole reason the Summons AREN'T the real deal in 3 was because Disney didn't want Disney characters in other worlds despite doing this in the past...? AND DON'T GET ME STARTED ON ARENDELLE. So long as Disney has such a....restrictive grip on their franchise, it's hard for me to see the KH1 charm coming back anytime soon. If at all.
 

Zackarix

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Still though, I think ignorance to the KH world played a huge part in it. It was a new world, and the only familiarity we had was either the Disney characters and worlds, or the FF ones, or probably both.

Now it's different, players are familiar with the characters and world of KH, and with each new title we're wondering how this or that connects with other aspects of the universe. Even if a new game with brand new characters comes out, with completely new never seen worlds, we'd still wonder how everything connects to other stuff as long as the game has "Kingdom Hearts" in the title.
I think that the magic of KH1 can at least partially be attributed to the "new franchise smell" it has, where the universe feels wide open and there are a ton of potential directions the story could go in. In order to make a sequel they had to close some of those doors.

But it doesn't help that they spent so long using Xehanort as a villain. We're two decades in and the series still hasn't properly moved on from him. Spending so long on a villain, even one with a bunch a variations, has made the world feel a lot smaller.
 

Zettaflare

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We're probably in way too deep for the series to ever regain the atmosphere and feel of the first game unfortunately. Though it is possible to make Disney become more prominent in Phase 2 if Nomura really wanted to.
 

the red monster

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KH1 was a Disney RPG that happened to be made by Square.
The rest of the series is Square RPGs that happen to have Disney in them.
Yep this explains it perfectly.

i do feel like the disney is stuff is just there now for marketing now, instead of actually doing something with them, which is pretty boring. at that point SE worlds like nier will be far more interesting and fresh. it will bring other sort of "magical" feeling with more freedom.
 

AdrianXXII

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Oh I remembered another point I was meaning to make. I think part of the different feel from KH1 comes from it aiming to tell a closed off, stand alone story with room to grow, where as all games after have also aimed to plant seeds for future story arcs that may ore may not be revisited in future installments.
The framing and development of the story seems to be different now. KH3 is a good example, it felt like it spent almost as much time trying to connect to previous and future installments as it was to it's own story. Though perhaps I'm a bit off with this seeing up until Coded or 3D most KH games felt like they told their own whole story and weren't just stepping stones to get to the next one.

KH3 did try and do more to recapture the charm and magic that KH1 had, but in some regards it fell flat. There was more space to explore, but it felt less detailed. Personally I'd really like it if we did get more puzzles and fetch quests mixed in again.
 

MATGSY

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Not without a new writing team, more creative freedom with Disney properties, and at least a soft reboot.
Pretty much what I wish the D+ show to be, get it away from Nomura & let some experienced director/producers reimagine the whole concept into something more "digestable" to the casual viewers. Probably ain't gonna happen.
 

Absent

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I basically say the same thing in every thread that mentions KH1. The first entry was lightning in a bottle, and you can't replicate that. The right people got together at the right time, at the right place, with the right outline(Hero's Journey). To simplify it further, KH1 was a product of its time, the turning point of media. The Disney brand was powerful and infallible (us ignorant of their shady practices and attitudes).

The Disney Renaissance of the 90's was a big reason, it elevated the Disney brand to greater heights of fame and power, which led to more opportunities. Kingdom Hearts could not exist if Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast weren't great successes. Each movie, every success leads to another Disney classic, and KH1 relied heavily on the Disney Renaissance.

Why bring that up? Because the late 90s and early 2000s is responsible for KH1's tone and development. The writing and character composition is borrowed/modeled after many old and current(at the time) Disney movies, which is why I believe there's a huge disconnect/tonal shift after KH1. They can try and follow KH1's formula but it will fail to capture that essence: That late 90's and early 2000's vibe.


HOT TAKE: Howard Ashman is the reason KH could even exist.
 

Elysium

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Unless they swiped the slate clean and started over with a reboot, I doubt it. And even then in that scenario, Nomura would go into it still determined not to include FF characters (the FF series has scarred him psychologically, I guess. *eyeroll* ). I expect 3D and KH3 are the best the series will deliver at this point, and I'm fine with that, more or less.
 

KudoTsurugi

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Not without a new writing team, more creative freedom with Disney properties, and at least a soft reboot.
Why not just bring back previous writers pre-DDD? Daisuke Watanabe was responsible for the plot for CoM, BBS and Coded, and Jun Akiyama was responsible for some of the Disney-style humour in the first game(the scene where Donald got flattened by a door is one example). And while Kazushige Nojima didn’t write the plot for KH3, he was involved as a scenario supervisor. If we could get these guys writing as a team again, or least supervising a new game’s story together, maybe that could bring back some of the old magic.
 

2 quid is good

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Why not just bring back previous writers pre-DDD? Daisuke Watanabe was responsible for the plot for CoM, BBS and Coded, and Jun Akiyama was responsible for some of the Disney-style humour in the first game(the scene where Donald got flattened by a door is one example).
Hell yes

And while Kazushige Nojima didn’t write the plot for KH3, he was involved as a scenario supervisor.
Hell NO

I never got the feeling Nojima really *got* KH, we don't even know to what extent he helped with KH2 and it seems like his involvement in KH3 was more lip service than anything. Also.... The guy has crazy bad plots. I'm so on board with Akiyama coming back because WoFF was a delight, and I always appreciated Watanabe's work. Its disappointing to see these guys take a back seat. I guess a bright spot is Nomura rates Akiyama very highly, hopefully he decides its time for his grand return
 
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