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Why do people keep saying KH2 is better than KH3?



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shady543

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In all honestly KH2 wins for me mainly because it has an actual midway point. KH3 didn't have that and I feel that really let it down. I still do think that KH was a lot better as a franchise in general back in the PS2 days up to BBS so that could also play a role as well. Another thing I loved about previous games is that if there is an event going on in original worlds, you would have to actually travel there to trigger the event. I really did not like how KH3 just had cutscenes in those original worlds instead of making you travel there. It just made it feel rushed despite having at least 4 years worth of development time. The disney worlds were really good in KH3, the best the franchise has ever been, but even then I felt that there could have been a lot more improvement and only Olympus and Corona were perfectly done with its environment/gameplay. Toy Box for example I still feel that they should have made the world set in Andy's house instead of the toy store so it just felt like wasted potential (kind of like that PS1 Buz light year game I guess?).
 
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No shade, but Kingdom Hearts III doesn't have a ton going for it (especially in the post-game). I'll bite my tongue if they give it a Final Mix treatment (either in actuality or just through updates), but it leaves a lot to be desired.

I've already ranted on other threads, but KHIII is a joke when it comes to difficulty. All of the story happens in the last two hours of the game, the best story beats are massively underutilized, there are no world "revisits" and the pacing is awful. Zero Final Fantasy characters, less worlds, no colosseum, etc. etc. The massive scale of the worlds we do have, more NPCs, voice acting, etc. are all good changes, but that feels like things that are just expected in current-gen console games. But I digress.

KHII is by no means perfect, but I finished that game feeling as though I'd earned something. KHIII made me feel like the whole game was asleep at the wheel until the last couple of hours.
 

Face My Fears

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Hold on a second here. I think you're misremembering the plot of KH2, and characterizing things oddly here. In KH3... we literally have no explained reason as for why Sora goes to each world. He just points his keyblade at the sky and they are there. Nothing builds towards saving Aqua and Ven for Sora in the Disney Worlds until just after San Fransokyo, when they decide it's time to save Aqua. Nothing changed for Sora throughout over 2/3 of the game. In KH2, Sora visits worlds originally to rid them of the Heartless. In KH1, this is something he was told was absolutely NECESSARY for him to do. In each world, this feeling is strengthened by the Heartless ruining people's lives. We're chasing the ghosts of Riku, but Sora is still having an adventure like he did the first time. Plus, he's chasing the Organization who bother him about Roxas, while he deals with conflicting feelings about Roxas and all that good stuff. That's just the basic skeleton. But even in this short little discussion, Sora has had way more character growth than KH3. Things have changed from the first time he explored, he has a different purpose. He's like an orderkeeper, world jumping.

Then the mid game happens. Suddenly, everything Sora has known about the heartless has been thrown into chaos, and he reacts to this. There are multiple scenes where he goes "oh damn, how do I fight the heartless? It's helping the organization! But I want to save people like the Beast, and Mulan". He has a battle he grapples without throughout the revisits of each world. But he has to keep going forward. Now he knows that the Organization are meddling in worlds, changing the natural order of things. As this peacekeeper that he has become, Sora feels it's his duty to take out the heartless AND the Organization. So he chases them to various worlds, both to keep those worlds safe, and also to fulfill his 2 (soon to be 3) selfish desires; The frustration and hatred that Roxas feels towards the Org is driving him forward, and the Org keeps dropping hints about Sora's inner workings that Sora wants to figure out. Eventually, and yes, this is an issue in the game, Kairi is kidnapped and Sora goes to save her. (let me remind you though, that Kairi escaped Axel, went with Pluto of her own accord before getting captured, but then essentially broke herself outta jail and is able to hold her own with Riku.

Throughout ALL of this, Riku has been struggling with his own arc, against his own darkness. Kairi has been learning about Namine bit by bit. The Hollow Bastion restoration committee has their own arcs. Even some of the Org members (although some are underutilized) have great arcs. We see Saix go from a cold, unflinching commander, to him losing control before fighting Sora. Axel has arguably one of the best arcs throughout KH2. Even Xigbar gets some interesting development. We see him as the laughing schemer. In KH3... do we ever learn why any of the new Organization joined up with Xehanort? Vexen is the only one. With most of the Org, we actually get to see why they do what they do. Even Demyx and Luxord get a decent amount of development in their short on screen appearances. In a few short scenes, we get that Demyx is lazy, he seems like a coward. We fight him twice. And we get a remarkable shift in his character right before we fight him the last, demonstrating that the acts they put on are just that: Acts. Xaldin gets a pretty decent arc throughout his encounters in Beast's Castle. We see him as a manipulator, pulling the strings behind the scenes. He's smug, and stoic. I mean, you can't possibly believe they got no character at all, do you? KH2 is where they got their character! BBS hardly expands on it, and Days only serves to make their characters. That's just a false statement.

Pretty early on, we learn that Xemnas wants to complete Kingdom Hearts. He explains why. "So that they can have hearts". Sora even wonders if this is a bad objective, but recognizes that they are hurting people. He would stop beating the heartless if he could, but good guy Sora feels compelled to help. The story isn't confusing at all. It's incredibly clear. It's well executed. KH3... is not clear. It's not well executed. If we didn't know ahead of time, through trailers, what we were building towards, it would thematically make no sense. Sora has to gain an unexplained Power of Waking, which he gets through a Deus Ex Machina instead of anything in the Disney Worlds. The villains in each world have unclear motives that don't really seem to add up to their overall objective. Heck, some of them aren't even relevant for the game (The 7 new princesses anyone?) Then we save Aqua and Ven, go to the Keyblade Graveyard... why? Xehanort says he wants to fight us to make Kingdom Hearts. If we just didn't go... wouldn't his plan fail? Why are we playing into his hands? Why do we even need to fight him?

Seriously... i feel like... you might need to go back and play KH2. Because it did everything you said it didn't... and it did it well. I'm sorry if I'm coming off as rude, but you need to work on your analysis skills here.

KH2's story was just simply better than KH3's. Mechanically, from an analytical angle, it just was.

And finally to Drew... the Maleficent arc in Kh2 was a little rough, sure. Her resurrection is actually perfectly fine because thats how the fairy tale works, ya know. But... at least in that game we understood her objective. We interacted with her and Pete. They fulfilled the purpose of a secondary antagonist. What do they do in KH3 again? Oh that's right, they traipse around taking up screen time for a sequel hook, an objective we don't understand yet, and we don't even get to fight them. Let me remind you, we fought Pete multiple times in Kh2. And he was an integral part of many of the worlds. They may not be perfect in KH2, but they are 10 times better in that game than they are in KH3.
I literally played KH2FM before KH III came out. If anything, I will need to go back and play KH2 (normal) to back up my points even better. See, I was going off of regular KH2, which did not include the additional cutscenes that KH2FM included. So a lot of the examples you provided were "fixes" placed into KH2FM. The regular KH2 had A LOT of confusing stuff that was not explained. We BARELY saw the Organization outside of scenes face to face with Sora. A lot of things were not explained or made clear. Sure KH3 suffers from this too, but to say that KH2's story was better AFTER the "fixes" were added is unfair to KH3. And even with the additional videos meant to help clarify the story, in my opinion, KH2's story is still not better than what we have for KH3.

To be honest, I feel like having 13 years of discussions/theories/explanations/interviews/side games that complement KH2's story is what led you to this conclusion. It seems like KH2 on its own delivered all of the things you described, but in reality it did not.

Demyx being a coward isn't character development. It's also not story. Demyx could have been a heartless or non-humanoid nobody and would have served the same role (albeit way less entertaining). Luxord only got a modicum of development due to the cutscenes added into KH2FM that feature him in Where Nothing Gathers. Before that we only ever saw him in Port Royal and The World That Never Was for VERY BRIEF moments. In Port Royal he is just a nuisance to Jack Sparrow... relevance to the main story? None. In The World That Never Was all he served was "oh yeah, this Organization member is still alive, so we gotta kill him". Saix going from "cold, unflinching commander" to "losing control while fighting Sora"... OK, you added in a bunch of stuff that you already know about Saix into that description. What we see of Saix in KH2 is a cold character loyal to Xemnas, then in his fight he goes berserk. How is that at all a character arc when we have NO IDEA why? It's like a shy guy coming out of his shell and surprising everyone, but that act is definitely NOT a story, let alone good character.

You claim that Sora visited the worlds in KH2 to rid them of the heartless and acted as the protector of worlds (initially in the story), then you opened up the biggest story flaw of all in KH2 - WHY DOESN'T SORA CLOSE THE KEYHOLE OF ANY WORLD HE VISITS? You say that he has these conflicted feelings about Roxas, sure he does, but you make it out to be throughout all of KH2. It's random moments when Organization members/Namine/Twilight Town gang yell Roxas at him, which mostly occurs near the end of the game. Also, let's not forget a lot of the scenes with Riku/Axel/Namine/Roxas were added in KH2FM to help explain things AFTER we got additional information about the main plot of the series.

So I want you to tell me what Sora's goal is in KH2. What is the purpose of his adventure (from only information provided at the start of KH2 when the adventure begins)? Compare that to KH3 and it's clear which one at least has a clearer purpose for the adventure and hence a clearer story. I've played KH2 over 10 times each (the original and FM) and I still am not quite sure what the purpose of Sora's adventure (at least at the start) was. It seemed to be looking for Riku/Mickey and fighting heartless in random Disney worlds (and not bothering to close the keyholes to, you know, stop the heartless).

Regarding the whole "thrown into chaos" thing about Xemnas' plan using the keyblade to gather hearts. I really would love for you to show me these "multiple scenes" where Sora wonders about how to fight the heartless. I remember vividly that there was only ONE scene addressing this and it was right after the revelation in Hollow Bastion, then it is never addressed again during his time in the Disney worlds as he happily kills more heartless. It is never even used as a threat against him by Luxord or Xaldin. If there is another scene besides that one, I will happily concede that point to you.

The way I see it, KH2's story was structured with the beginning as "look for Riku/Mickey while helping kill heartless in Disney worlds (but not close keyholes to stop heartless from coming back) and look out for the Organization because...*shrug*", then there's tons of Disney filler (and empty corridors) that had nothing to do with the main plot, then the middle of the story where the plot reactivates when we find Mickey and he tells us about Xemnas then we fight a giant war in Hollow Bastion and finally the Organization's plot is revealed halfway through the game (notifying Sora that they want him to use the keyblade to kill more heartless), after that there's more killing of heartless with no concern whatsoever in more filler Disney worlds, until finally we clear them all out and get access to Twilight Town where the rest of the main plot is explained (or basically explaining what your whole adventure was about after the fact).

KH3's story is structured from the get-go with the main goal of defeating Master Xehanort to prevent him from summoning Kingdom Hearts. Sora, Riku and Kairi have their own responsibilities to handle. Sora has to regain the power of waking during his travels, Riku has to save Aqua, and Kairi has to train to fight in the final battle. The middle of the story reveals that certain members of the Organization and Ansem The Wise are seeking atonement and want to save Roxas/Xion/Namine, while also confirming that the Organization is now ready with their 13 darknesses due to research done in various Disney worlds. The end of the game is the climactic final battle at the Keyblade Graveyard that was being built up since KH3D.

Side notes about KH3 (information provided IN THE GAME) that explain certain things that people seem to deem pointless/useless:
- Each world that Sora visits is due to him letting his heart be his "guiding key", so his heart guided him to those worlds.
- As seen with each world's visit, the world has something to do with the main plot (even if small).
- The princesses of heart in Kingdom of Corona and Arendelle WERE relevant. We are told that Master Xehanort was preparing for every eventuality. If the 7 lights were not able to be assembled, Xehanort would need the princesses of heart to fill the void. So if Sora and company didn't go to the Keyblade Graveyard and fight, the 7 princesses of heart would be targeted.
- Sora gained the Power of Waking because of what he witnessed in the Disney worlds (IE "true love"). It stemmed all the way back to his question to Hercules about saving Meg, then he said that this was something he had to figure out on his own.

The execution of KH3's story was not the best, and at times really messy. But to say that KH2's story is better, I just cannot get behind that at all. One of the things that KH3 had going for it that KH2 did not is that you didn't feel disconnected from the main plot for huge chunks of time, then thrown back in. You were always reminded of the Organization in each world you visited in KH3 and the Disney characters actually interact with them, making it feel like an organic overarching story and less like there was some weird invisible "story barrier" between the Disney movie plot and the main plot outside of the Disney worlds.
 

Tartarus

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Sorry to be slightly off-topic, but, Eel, the image in your signature reminded me of a previous discussion somewhere on the forum about how we should've at least seen the beach at TT. But I guess HPO got to go to the beach after all--Destiny Islands!

I agree with nearly everything you said. I do believe KH3 would be better with a midway point (which should've been Radiant Garden--its absence is KH3's biggest weakness), but it has a much better story than KH2 overall. Nearly everything in KH2 felt pointless and meandering during the Disney worlds. The whole Keyblade lightshow they ended every world with just didn't work for me as far as explaining why SDG were in the worlds. KH1 is still the only one with a clear goal / endpoint to the world storylines thanks to the Keyholes, but KH3 at least has the whole "Sora needs to build up his strength and regain the PoW" plot to justify his world exploration. Plus every world has an interaction with an original villain--most of whom are integrated very well--on top of the PoH subplot in Corona and Arendelle + Maleficent and Pete looking for the BoP in Olympus and the Caribbean. And there are scenes tying into the overarching plot inbetween every world, too, just like in KH1, which was a major failure in KH2.

Also, I can't help laughing when KH2 is somehow propped up by saying KH3 was easy... KH2 was and still is the easiest game in the series, imo. KH3 could benefit greatly from a Critical Mode, but it's still a great deal more challenging than KH2 was. Aside from KH2's FM content, Xaldin was the only truly hard boss in KH2. If you severely under-level, other bosses can be difficult, too, but that required effort on the player's part to make it so.
 

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I like KH3 just slightly more than KH2. My only real complaint is that if feels short, since you visit each world only once in the main story like you did in KH1. But then the worlds in KH3 are so big compared to the first two games (only counting the concoles here) it make up for that a lot.
 

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Sorry to be slightly off-topic, but, Eel, the image in your signature reminded me of a previous discussion somewhere on the forum about how we should've at least seen the beach at TT. But I guess HPO got to go to the beach after all--Destiny Islands!

I agree with nearly everything you said. I do believe KH3 would be better with a midway point (which should've been Radiant Garden--its absence is KH3's biggest weakness), but it has a much better story than KH2 overall. Nearly everything in KH2 felt pointless and meandering during the Disney worlds. The whole Keyblade lightshow they ended every world with just didn't work for me as far as explaining why SDG were in the worlds. KH1 is still the only one with a clear goal / endpoint to the world storylines thanks to the Keyholes, but KH3 at least has the whole "Sora needs to build up his strength and regain the PoW" plot to justify his world exploration. Plus every world has an interaction with an original villain--most of whom are integrated very well--on top of the PoH subplot in Corona and Arendelle + Maleficent and Pete looking for the BoP in Olympus and the Caribbean. And there are scenes tying into the overarching plot inbetween every world, too, just like in KH1, which was a major failure in KH2.

Also, I can't help laughing when KH2 is somehow propped up by saying KH3 was easy... KH2 was and still is the easiest game in the series, imo. KH3 could benefit greatly from a Critical Mode, but it's still a great deal more challenging than KH2 was. Aside from KH2's FM content, Xaldin was the only truly hard boss in KH2. If you severely under-level, other bosses can be difficult, too, but that required effort on the player's part to make it so.
Thanks! I'm glad my signature could help you come to that conclusion, even though HPO are way in the back as Terra/Roxas/Riku run by.

You mentioned the black box subplot, which is something that I wanted to talk about as well. I think one of the successes that people should recognize KH3 for is that it built up the next game really well. It included a lot of content that will make it feel WAY more connected to its sequel than KH2 was for KH3. I can't blame KH2 - on its own - for not being enough to connect storywise to KH3 because we know Nomura didn't even think out this whole story just yet. However, I think people should be giving Nomura props for learning from his past mistakes. Instead of needing several side games on different consoles to explain the main story leading up to KH4, we probably only need 1 (if even). Imagine if KH2 included details about Master Xehanort and Terra/Aqua/Ven, Xion and the replica program, and the datascape... we would probably only have needed Birth By Sleep, with KH3D's main piece of information (the Organization's true purpose) being included in that version of Birth By Sleep.

Moving on to something not related to story, I think both KH2 and KH3 are extremely easy games. The only reason KH2 has a leg up on KH3 is because of non-main story bosses (Sephiroth in KH2 and the Data Battles in KH2FM). If you put them strictly against each other for story difficulty, then they are both easy. The only truly difficult boss in KH2's story mode is Xaldin (and even then, if you die Mickey can save you). The Ansem/Xemnas/Young Xehanort fight can be tricky if under levelled and Master Xehanort himself can also serve as a challenge, but again, easy enough. What KH2 DOES have better than KH3 - undeniably - is the number of bosses and variety in boss fights. Even though the bosses in KH2 are very easy, there are a lot and the fights are fun and different. KH3's boss fights were pretty much run up to them and hit X like crazy. KH2 had Oogie Boogie, Scar and the Pride Lands heartless, Demyx, The MCP/Stark etc.
 

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I dunno, I can still die in Proud mode in KH II if I'm not careful. I... kept messing around in KH III Proud and never even came close to dying. For me there's no doubt that KH III is galaxies easier than even KH II.
The closest I can think to danger in my KH III run were the Gigas, and I could just warp to the other side of the universe to avoid damage whenever I wanted.
Doing that on the Solar Sailer, or Hades' escape? Yeah, turns out I can't.
And of course, having a ton of big AoE nukes, sometimes free and without any cost, helps a whole lot.

So I want you to tell me what Sora's goal is in KH2. What is the purpose of his adventure (from only information provided at the start of KH2 when the adventure begins)? Compare that to KH3 and it's clear which one at least has a clearer purpose for the adventure and hence a clearer story. I've played KH2 over 10 times each (the original and FM) and I still am not quite sure what the purpose of Sora's adventure (at least at the start) was. It seemed to be looking for Riku/Mickey and fighting heartless in random Disney worlds (and not bothering to close the keyholes to, you know, stop the heartless).

The way I see it, KH2's story was structured with the beginning as "look for Riku/Mickey while helping kill heartless in Disney worlds (but not close keyholes to stop heartless from coming back) and look out for the Organization because...*shrug*", then there's tons of Disney filler (and empty corridors) that had nothing to do with the main plot, then the middle of the story where the plot reactivates when we find Mickey and he tells us about Xemnas then we fight a giant war in Hollow Bastion and finally the Organization's plot is revealed halfway through the game (notifying Sora that they want him to use the keyblade to kill more heartless), after that there's more killing of heartless with no concern whatsoever in more filler Disney worlds, until finally we clear them all out and get access to Twilight Town where the rest of the main plot is explained (or basically explaining what your whole adventure was about after the fact).
Clearest purpose doesn't always entail better execution or more logical way to go about it.
In KH II, Sora learns of some new enemies that, to Yen Sid's own admission, have an obscure goal no one is aware of. What they do know, is that they were not friendly, which is something Sora himself learns firsthand when they try to break down the castle gates at Hollow Bastion, leaving the town defenseless. And there was proof that Pete was going to many worlds releasing Heartless.
So yes, it was a mystery and that was kinda the whole point, but there was reason to go to other worlds to both protect people and look for clues. That was something Mickey himself was doing, so there was chance to meet him too. And he definitely knew where Riku was.

I admit I also wanted the keyholes to return, but Sora not closing them feels more like a nitpick than an actual flaw to me. Because no one this time around was trying to mess with the worlds hearts or the Princesses, so there was no reason to. Like Yen Sid says, Heartless would've still been around anyway, so it would've actually just been a huge waste: no one was looking for the keyholes, so Sora himself should've done that on his own, wasting time, and in the end Heartless would've still appeared due to darkness in people's heart. It would've actually been counter-producing.

And in the second half, the Organization revealed they also command Heartless so they're just replacing Maleficent and Pete in making the trio go to the worlds to protect them.
Do I also think they wasted a huge opportunity to deepen the inner conflict of defeating Heartless even if it helps the bad guys? Yes, but even if it's a desplicably short moment, Goofy's "nah dawg (Goofy can say the word, it's okay), you need to keep fighting them or innocents will suffer" makes sense and it's enough for me.

All of this is not perfect nor perfectly written, but it's clearly established in the beginning by many dedicated cutscenes. KH III solves all of this with "hurr durr go take powr of woking back".

KH3's story is structured from the get-go with the main goal of defeating Master Xehanort to prevent him from summoning Kingdom Hearts. Sora, Riku and Kairi have their own responsibilities to handle. Sora has to regain the power of waking during his travels, Riku has to save Aqua, and Kairi has to train to fight in the final battle. The middle of the story reveals that certain members of the Organization and Ansem The Wise are seeking atonement and want to save Roxas/Xion/Namine, while also confirming that the Organization is now ready with their 13 darknesses due to research done in various Disney worlds. The end of the game is the climactic final battle at the Keyblade Graveyard that was being built up since KH3D.
The power of waking had nothing to do with going to Disney Worlds. I know what Nomura and the Ultimania said, but it actually goes against logic and previously established rules and I have no problem calling them out for trying to justify the injustifiable, because they maybe realized just how nonsensical and weak the whole premise was.
The power of waking is a power gained from closing the seven sleeping Keyholes in the realm of dreams. That's the power, and that's how it was obtained in the first place. Sora needs to focus on getting the power of waking and his own powers back, and he goes to Olympus for the latters. Yen Sid says that PERHAPS Hercules can offer some clues, but they all acknowledge it was essentially a big waste of time. Every Disney world offers the same sunday mornng cartoon lesson at the end: listen to your heart, value your friends, be a good person. If this all was enough to get the power of waking, then Sora should have it since KH1.
That's why during the in-between cutscenes, when Donald or Goofy or someone else asks if Sora has gotten the power of waking back, he can only answer "no" and then no one has any reply to that. Because what they're doing is useless and serves no purpose at all. No one could go "Well, you should've piloted that Gigas better" or "Maybe if we slide in Arendelle some more you'll get it" and not even "If only we fought more Heartless or that Organization dude" because it's all irrelevant to the power of waking. So it's all a big "Hey you got it?" "No" "K then nevermind".

Also Riku does nothing for the majority of the game. He gets the new Keyblade, he goes to Radiant Garden, learns a few things, then it's all blank. And this time they can't even make it like "oh he had some off-screen adventures/the investigation on his part took more time and happens in an unspecified moment" because due to the semi-constant back and forth between him and Sora we know excatly when he does some things. Sora goes through many worlds in the time it took Riku and Mickey to go from the plaza to the main laboratory.
Then he also fails his main assignment, btw. Which, disappointment aside, also means his whole build-up for the whole game was essentially a waste of time. Whatever discovery he made regarding Terra or Vexen could've easily be conveyed to Sora and the player through one of those Ienzo exposition dialogues KH III seems to like so much.

- The princesses of heart in Kingdom of Corona and Arendelle WERE relevant. We are told that Master Xehanort was preparing for every eventuality. If the 7 lights were not able to be assembled, Xehanort would need the princesses of heart to fill the void. So if Sora and company didn't go to the Keyblade Graveyard and fight, the 7 princesses of heart would be targeted.
That's right. IF they didn't go to the GRAVEYARD, the Princesses would've been targeted. Problem is, that was never going to be an option and we knew this since the ending of DDD. Again, going to the Disney worlds accomplished nothing in this regard.
That's where I feel Nomura backed himself in a corner... he made it so that the villains had nothing to gain by hurting either Sora or the Princesses. Hurt Sora, you risk having fewer Guardians than desired. Hurt the Princesses, you can kiss your plan B goodbye. And that's why the Norts basically do nothing and you don't fight them, which makes them pretty useless and not threatening at all. It'll take more than just Marluxia being physically in Corona and talking about Rapunzel for me to feel like he's actually integrated in the story and being an element of disturbance.
Even the Heartless they conjure, they seem to go after Sora rather than the Princesses, which makes sense but doesn't ultimately fix the issue of there being no danger whatsoever for the Princesses, hence them not being relevant at all.

Of course, if Xehanort had decided to kidnap the Princesses from the get-go, it would be another story, but he seems to be so bent on having the Guardians, so we're back to square one.
And yes, there's the whole thing where Ansem says "If Sora stray from the path we destroy him", but that's just as bad as KH II's "we need the hero of the Keyblade but you can also kill him if you feel like it". Come on Ansem, you KNOW you're not going to touch Sora before the final battle.
That's Nomura realizing his secret villain plans erase all stakes and trying to make up for it.

- Sora gained the Power of Waking because of what he witnessed in the Disney worlds (IE "true love"). It stemmed all the way back to his question to Hercules about saving Meg, then he said that this was something he had to figure out on his own.
No. The power of Waking was never lost and was in Sora all along, as Ventus said. That seals it, we can think of how many accessory experiences helped him in realizing it, but as soon as Ven says that then the Disney worlds visits become pointless. Sora doesn't even think of any world visit when he wakes Ventus up. Does someone here really believes Sora would've not been able to perform the power of Waking with Aqua in danger even without going to the Disney worlds? Because I don't.

The execution of KH3's story was not the best, and at times really messy. But to say that KH2's story is better, I just cannot get behind that at all. One of the things that KH3 had going for it that KH2 did not is that you didn't feel disconnected from the main plot for huge chunks of time, then thrown back in. You were always reminded of the Organization in each world you visited in KH3 and the Disney characters actually interact with them, making it feel like an organic overarching story and less like there was some weird invisible "story barrier" between the Disney movie plot and the main plot outside of the Disney worlds.
KH II is far from perfect, and the way it handles the filler sides of the story never sat well with me. But there's no doubt in my mind KH III does a much worse job, especially since unlike KH II it had much higher stakes and a much higher bar or "plot relevance" to clear in the first place, since we indeed did already know the endgame goal and how it all came to be.
As I said, just showing the customary Nort in each world is hardly going to impress me, it's the same shtick BbS and DDD did with the "links" that should've given you the impression everything was connected.
"Oh man, they just finished talking about how Quasimodo's heart was his prison and now Young appeared to Sora saying the exact same thing! Everything's connected, duuuuude!"

There's little doubt KH III talks a lot about the main plot more than KH II does. The question is, does it really benefict the game? Is it a mark of "being better at story"?
You certainly seem to think so, and that's fine.
I don't. I feel like if you don't have anything REALLY important or life-changing to add to the main story, then I'm much better off with you not talking about it until you do. KH III is a constant repetition of the same three main objectives, which not only is in stark contrast with the fact that you're doing actually nothing to achieve them, it becomes kinda frustrating. At that point I'd rather take a world disjointed from the main plot and indulge in the immersion that not everything needs to be connected in the first place.
You made the point that Sora is led to KH III worlds by his heart, and I can't argue there. It's true.
Doesn't mean I think it was better or a good decision. I blame Nomura for screaming "RECONNECT!" in our faces for almost a decade, making many of us believe that as soon as [main name] is dropped in a dialogue then we're getting somewhere when we're not.

Again, I guess I sort of understand if one feels like KH II was still worse by not doing any of it in the first place.
It's like an honor student showing up for an exam and then ending up taking either the bare minimum to pass or a failing grade. You guys are saying "well at least they tried" and I'm thinking that maybe it would've been better if they never showed up at all given the end result.
And it's an honor student and not a rando in my example because again, KH III had a lot on its plate that should've handled better. It was definitely the time to overperform and not doing the essential (sometimes not even that).
I wouldn't be so harsh on another KH game because they weren't this big saga finale.
 

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I dunno, I can still die in Proud mode in KH II if I'm not careful. I... kept messing around in KH III Proud and never even came close to dying. For me there's no doubt that KH III is galaxies easier than even KH II.
The closest I can think to danger in my KH III run were the Gigas, and I could just warp to the other side of the universe to avoid damage whenever I wanted.
Doing that on the Solar Sailer, or Hades' escape? Yeah, turns out I can't.
And of course, having a ton of big AoE nukes, sometimes free and without any cost, helps a whole lot.



Clearest purpose doesn't always entail better execution or more logical way to go about it.
In KH II, Sora learns of some new enemies that, to Yen Sid's own admission, have an obscure goal no one is aware of. What they do know, is that they were not friendly, which is something Sora himself learns firsthand when they try to break down the castle gates at Hollow Bastion, leaving the town defenseless. And there was proof that Pete was going to many worlds releasing Heartless.
So yes, it was a mystery and that was kinda the whole point, but there was reason to go to other worlds to both protect people and look for clues. That was something Mickey himself was doing, so there was chance to meet him too. And he definitely knew where Riku was.

I admit I also wanted the keyholes to return, but Sora not closing them feels more like a nitpick than an actual flaw to me. Because no one this time around was trying to mess with the worlds hearts or the Princesses, so there was no reason to. Like Yen Sid says, Heartless would've still been around anyway, so it would've actually just been a huge waste: no one was looking for the keyholes, so Sora himself should've done that on his own, wasting time, and in the end Heartless would've still appeared due to darkness in people's heart. It would've actually been counter-producing.

And in the second half, the Organization revealed they also command Heartless so they're just replacing Maleficent and Pete in making the trio go to the worlds to protect them.
Do I also think they wasted a huge opportunity to deepen the inner conflict of defeating Heartless even if it helps the bad guys? Yes, but even if it's a desplicably short moment, Goofy's "nah dawg (Goofy can say the word, it's okay), you need to keep fighting them or innocents will suffer" makes sense and it's enough for me.

All of this is not perfect nor perfectly written, but it's clearly established in the beginning by many dedicated cutscenes. KH III solves all of this with "hurr durr go take powr of woking back".



The power of waking had nothing to do with going to Disney Worlds. I know what Nomura and the Ultimania said, but it actually goes against logic and previously established rules and I have no problem calling them out for trying to justify the injustifiable, because they maybe realized just how nonsensical and weak the whole premise was.
The power of waking is a power gained from closing the seven sleeping Keyholes in the realm of dreams. That's the power, and that's how it was obtained in the first place. Sora needs to focus on getting the power of waking and his own powers back, and he goes to Olympus for the latters. Yen Sid says that PERHAPS Hercules can offer some clues, but they all acknowledge it was essentially a big waste of time. Every Disney world offers the same sunday mornng cartoon lesson at the end: listen to your heart, value your friends, be a good person. If this all was enough to get the power of waking, then Sora should have it since KH1.
That's why during the in-between cutscenes, when Donald or Goofy or someone else asks if Sora has gotten the power of waking back, he can only answer "no" and then no one has any reply to that. Because what they're doing is useless and serves no purpose at all. No one could go "Well, you should've piloted that Gigas better" or "Maybe if we slide in Arendelle some more you'll get it" and not even "If only we fought more Heartless or that Organization dude" because it's all irrelevant to the power of waking. So it's all a big "Hey you got it?" "No" "K then nevermind".

Also Riku does nothing for the majority of the game. He gets the new Keyblade, he goes to Radiant Garden, learns a few things, then it's all blank. And this time they can't even make it like "oh he had some off-screen adventures/the investigation on his part took more time and happens in an unspecified moment" because due to the semi-constant back and forth between him and Sora we know excatly when he does some things. Sora goes through many worlds in the time it took Riku and Mickey to go from the plaza to the main laboratory.
Then he also fails his main assignment, btw. Which, disappointment aside, also means his whole build-up for the whole game was essentially a waste of time. Whatever discovery he made regarding Terra or Vexen could've easily be conveyed to Sora and the player through one of those Ienzo exposition dialogues KH III seems to like so much.



That's right. IF they didn't go to the GRAVEYARD, the Princesses would've been targeted. Problem is, that was never going to be an option and we knew this since the ending of DDD. Again, going to the Disney worlds accomplished nothing in this regard.
That's where I feel Nomura backed himself in a corner... he made it so that the villains had nothing to gain by hurting either Sora or the Princesses. Hurt Sora, you risk having fewer Guardians than desired. Hurt the Princesses, you can kiss your plan B goodbye. And that's why the Norts basically do nothing and you don't fight them, which makes them pretty useless and not threatening at all. It'll take more than just Marluxia being physically in Corona and talking about Rapunzel for me to feel like he's actually integrated in the story and being an element of disturbance.
Even the Heartless they conjure, they seem to go after Sora rather than the Princesses, which makes sense but doesn't ultimately fix the issue of there being no danger whatsoever for the Princesses, hence them not being relevant at all.

Of course, if Xehanort had decided to kidnap the Princesses from the get-go, it would be another story, but he seems to be so bent on having the Guardians, so we're back to square one.
And yes, there's the whole thing where Ansem says "If Sora stray from the path we destroy him", but that's just as bad as KH II's "we need the hero of the Keyblade but you can also kill him if you feel like it". Come on Ansem, you KNOW you're not going to touch Sora before the final battle.
That's Nomura realizing his secret villain plans erase all stakes and trying to make up for it.



No. The power of Waking was never lost and was in Sora all along, as Ventus said. That seals it, we can think of how many accessory experiences helped him in realizing it, but as soon as Ven says that then the Disney worlds visits become pointless. Sora doesn't even think of any world visit when he wakes Ventus up. Does someone here really believes Sora would've not been able to perform the power of Waking with Aqua in danger even without going to the Disney worlds? Because I don't.



KH II is far from perfect, and the way it handles the filler sides of the story never sat well with me. But there's no doubt in my mind KH III does a much worse job, especially since unlike KH II it had much higher stakes and a much higher bar or "plot relevance" to clear in the first place, since we indeed did already know the endgame goal and how it all came to be.
As I said, just showing the customary Nort in each world is hardly going to impress me, it's the same shtick BbS and DDD did with the "links" that should've given you the impression everything was connected.
"Oh man, they just finished talking about how Quasimodo's heart was his prison and now Young appeared to Sora saying the exact same thing! Everything's connected, duuuuude!"

There's little doubt KH III talks a lot about the main plot more than KH II does. The question is, does it really benefict the game? Is it a mark of "being better at story"?
You certainly seem to think so, and that's fine.
I don't. I feel like if you don't have anything REALLY important or life-changing to add to the main story, then I'm much better off with you not talking about it until you do. KH III is a constant repetition of the same three main objectives, which not only is in stark contrast with the fact that you're doing actually nothing to achieve them, it becomes kinda frustrating. At that point I'd rather take a world disjointed from the main plot and indulge in the immersion that not everything needs to be connected in the first place.
You made the point that Sora is led to KH III worlds by his heart, and I can't argue there. It's true.
Doesn't mean I think it was better or a good decision. I blame Nomura for screaming "RECONNECT!" in our faces for almost a decade, making many of us believe that as soon as [main name] is dropped in a dialogue then we're getting somewhere when we're not.

Again, I guess I sort of understand if one feels like KH II was still worse by not doing any of it in the first place.
It's like an honor student showing up for an exam and then ending up taking either the bare minimum to pass or a failing grade. You guys are saying "well at least they tried" and I'm thinking that maybe it would've been better if they never showed up at all given the end result.
And it's an honor student and not a rando in my example because again, KH III had a lot on its plate that should've handled better. It was definitely the time to overperform and not doing the essential (sometimes not even that).
I wouldn't be so harsh on another KH game because they weren't this big saga finale.
Have we really been reduced to arguing about which game was easier to prove a point? Easiness of the games are pretty much subjective to each player, however we are both in agreement that KH2 and KH3 are easy games. How easy they are, well that depends on who you talk to, but ultimately both easy games.

I know that clearest purpose does not mean the better execution/logical way to go about it. I'm not saying that KH III's story was a masterpiece in execution or quality. What I am saying is that the storytelling aspect of it is objectively better than KH II's because it provided key elements to telling a story - the protagonist's goal, the antagonist's goal, the conflict between both sides, the setting, the characters, and narrative arc. KH III has all of those things set up early on, so that nothing is really a "surprise" or "mystery" like KH II. In KH II, you find out key information (the actual plot/more character details/antagonist's goal - which subsequently clarified the protagonist's goal) basically HALFWAY through the game and then there is pretty much no mention of it (and seemingly forgotten by the protagonists) in the Disney filler worlds which results in several more hours of meaningless content before you circle back to the main plot that was just made to feel irrelevant for a long period of time. A made up example would be if Avengers Infinity War had the Avengers spend 30 minutes helping random old people cross the street, stopping bank robberies, and getting a cat out of a tree then get 5 minutes of info about Thanos, then back to menial acts to help the public that has nothing to do with Thanos, rinse and repeat until the end when you have a big fight with Thanos. That would be a horrible way to tell the story and that's basically what KH II did. KH2FM added in fixes to help clarify the story, but those additional scenes were born out of information known about the series AFTER KH II and should be seen as basically an admission by the developers that the story was poorly told. Compare that to KH III that while - yes, there are additional scenes I would like to see be included (like Lea/Kairi's fight, Riku/Mickey in Radiant Garden etc) - those scenes are NOT NEEDED to elaborate or clarify KH III's story. The ones in KH II were definitely needed.

You're right that the Organization basically took over the Maleficent/Pete role in the second visits as they too control the heartless and are going to worlds, but... why is it that we only see Luxord and Xaldin actually DO stuff in those worlds? Why do they also not capitalize on the major piece of information - that they're using Sora's keyblade to release hearts? That was a wasted opportunity to not only put Xaldin, Luxord, Xigbar, and Saix in different Disney worlds to connect the main plot, but also expand on their characters! The only one out of the 4 I named that feels somewhat fleshed out in KH II is Xaldin and that's because we see him twice in Beast's Castle. I'm sorry, but if you can call out the poor execution of Sora regaining the Power of Waking, I'm going to call out the fact that Sora and Organization members completely ignore the fact that they're using Sora to get more hearts in the Disney worlds. At least the Power of Waking is mentioned throughout the journey. Sora being used is only mentioned immediately after he receives that information from Xemnas and then when he goes to the World That Never Was many hours later. If you really think that ignoring The Organization's master plan for hours on end (basically more than half the game) is better storytelling than the way the Power of Waking was handled in KH III, then I don't know what else to say except that it's your opinion and you have every right to it.

Regarding the Power of Waking and the Disney worlds - you're right on the money! Sora DOES have the Power of Waking, he had it all along like Ven said. I know it wasn't explained well at all - and this may just be my interpretation - but the Disney worlds helped him realize he had it all along. It would have been pretty cheesy and poor writing to have him deliver a monologue of exposition stating exactly how they helped him and I liked that Nomura left it up to our imagination/perception on how he regained it. The way I saw it was that his heart was trying to help him regain the Power of Waking, so it took him to the worlds that would do so - that's why after he heard about "may your heart be your guiding key" only then was he able to open the gateway to Olympus. It then takes him to Twilight Town to reawaken another part of his heart (Roxas), then he goes on to the other worlds and learns lessons from them. Sure, it was the same "Sunday morning cartoon" lessons, but I feel that the way Sora processed them this time around was different - IE through a more mature lens - and were actually helpful to him in the final battle.

I think you're assuming way too much regarding what Riku/Mickey do while Sora is on his journey. We only see them visit Radiant Garden, but we know that they visited the worlds that Aqua did to help get a trace of her. The world we happen to see them in is Radiant Garden. That could have been the last, first, or who knows which number world they visited before heading back to the Realm of Darkness. Also, how is failure on his mission a major waste of time for the build up it got? Are you saying that the hero ALWAYS has to be successful? It'd be pretty lame if the hero was always successful.

The Princesses of Heart weren't meant to be captured then and there. The worlds Sora was brought to by his heart were worlds being investigated by the Organization as a BACKUP PLAN. Master Xehanort was preparing for every eventuality - that means he was preparing for the eventuality that the 7 Guardians of Light could not be assembled. Marluxia and Larxene did not go to those worlds to disrupt (clearly shown by Larxene's attitude to Sora to leave Elsa alone and let her figure it out on her own). They're just there to confirm whether Rapunzel, Anna, and Elsa are Princesses of Heart (again evidenced by Larxene's surprise that there were 2 POH in Arendelle). Speaking of integration of the main story and the Disney worlds - I would love to see the KH II worlds that featured Disney characters interacting with the main villains (Organization) besides Beast's Castle and Port Royal. All the other worlds had this weird barrier between Disney worlds and main plot. Even in Beast's Castle and Port Royal, the interactions between Disney/Organization had very little to do with the main plot (more so Beats's Castle, as Port Royal had basically nothing). You complain about Marluxia and other Organization members being in the Disney worlds doesn't feel integrated to you, but would it have been better if they went the KH II route of having it revealed several hours later in a traditional KH "surprise!"/"that makes sense now!" cutscene in an original world where it is revealed that Marluxia and Larxene were in those Disney worlds looking for the Princesses of Heart, while having experienced the Disney movie's full plot during your time in that world and completely forgetting any outside characters/plot for hours upon hours?

You also mention that KH III had higher stakes than KH II... how did we know that back when KH II was released? As far as we knew, KH II was the end (IE the highest stakes possible at the time). You can't look back at KH II now and excuse it for something like that. I'm sure that when KH IV comes out, it will have "higher stakes" than KH III since it will be the most recent entry. I don't really think you can say which (main title) game had the "highest stakes" because if the heroes failed any of them, Xehanort would have accomplished his goal. Just because we know now that KH II wasn't the end of the story doesn't pardon the game from delivering (at the time of release) a subpar story that was filled with mysteries/plot holes/no explanations - a story that required several side games/interviews to allow us to now be able to replay the game and actually understand the plot. A story should not need several outside sources from the narrative of that story to explain what is going on in the main plot. Sure, having some mysteries thrown in to be explained later on is fine and expected for an overarching story like the KH series, but you should have been able to understand the basic plot of KH II going off of information provided in KH II.

I get that you want to exalt KH II and it is easy to do that given the amount of discussion/information/interviews/games/explanations over the 13 years since its release, but I'm talking about what was provided on KH II's disc only versus what was on KH III's disc. The storytelling was better/more effective in KH III. Does that mean it was a masterpiece? No. Does that mean the choices made in telling the story of KH III were logical/sensible/good? No. But it was better than KH II. You may prefer having no main plot stuff be mentioned unless it's "life altering", so the tidbits included in the Disney worlds meant nothing to you and possibly annoyed you, but for the narrative of KH III - it worked in making KH III's narrative feel connected, rather than the disjointed/fragmented narrative you got in KH II.

PS: I love KH II and KH III.
 

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I get that you want to exalt KH II and it is easy to do that given the amount of discussion/information/interviews/games/explanations over the 13 years since its release, but I'm talking about what was provided on KH II's disc only versus what was on KH III's disc. The storytelling was better/more effective in KH III. Does that mean it was a masterpiece? No. Does that mean the choices made in telling the story of KH III were logical/sensible/good? No. But it was better than KH II. You may prefer having no main plot stuff be mentioned unless it's "life altering", so the tidbits included in the Disney worlds meant nothing to you and possibly annoyed you, but for the narrative of KH III - it worked in making KH III's narrative feel connected, rather than the disjointed/fragmented narrative you got in KH II.
That's the best way to put how I feel about the games. I like KH3's story because it feels like a coherent and cohesive narrative with clear goals, much like KH1 (and not surprisingly, these are my favourite KH games). KH2 on the other hand feels confusing, without direction and just a mix of different things that aren't really explored. I can't bring myself to appreciate its story simply because CoM, a GBA game, does a much, much better job with its story and villains (actually, with its characters in general) and it simply puts KH2 to shame in these regards. KH3's storytelling could be better (and I don't think additional cutscenes will improve it significantly), but knowing what I can expect from a KH game, I'm pretty satisfied. I liked the inclusion of Disney worlds and I don't care if they are a giant sunday morning cartoon lesson, that's what KH ultimately is after all. I enjoy the fact that I can look back and see why we visited Toy Box, Corona or San Fransokyo, but I just can't do this with KH2's worlds and this is a giant flaw for me because it makes these worlds pure filler (and on top of that, frustrating filler because I loathe KH2's level design). With KH3 and KH1 (and to an extent, with BBS), I feel like everything came together to tell a story, while with KH2, due to its disjointed nature, that's not what I feel at all.
 

allenleonardo

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I think at the end it all comes down to preferences.

But at least for me KH3 was better in all ways than KH2.

Disney worlds had purpose (more than they ever did in KH1 and 2 imo) and we got interactions with the enemy in each of them and we have disney characters interacting with the enemies too. All of these worlds also share a theme that explains a lot of what happens at the end. (Love and its forms, how love can help overcome these things and maybe even some kind of acceptance about death) Also Sora was not only traveling to them to get the power of waking but to gain strenght back, something that seemingly quite some people forget. (But I cant completely blame them since Sora is still quite strong from the very beginning)

A midpoint could have been nice but after seeing a video about someone talking about this, I kinda believe that we did not need it in this game because we got our information through other means. (Other KH games had midways because we got crucial information at that point) Also my negative opinion about getting Aqua and Ven back and then going to battle right afterwards also changed. Why would Aqua follow us in other worlds? Why would the guardians take a break to go through more worlds if they already have all their fighters or why would Aqua not go to Ventus directly? Marluxia telling us about the importance of getting all guardians of Light fast really showed that there should not been a bigger break after we got all of them together because Xehanort might take the princesses to force our hands. So for me the pacing now feels quite fine and it has to kinda be fast because the guardians are running against "time" since they dont know how long it will take Xehanort to gather all his darknesses.

And difficulty is really bad to compare since KH2 has critical mode already while KH3 does not. Maybe that should be compare when it finally arrives. (I am also of the opinion that its much better to get critical later with free DLC instead of already having it. I dont think its that easy to balance it from the start, and now they have at least the time to get every feedback they can take and thus balance it the best they could. Of course that could still mean that some might not like it but you wont always please everyone anyway) People also should not forget that sometimes you are just getting better with age thus one game could just feel much easier than the older one because you trained. If you have beaten proud or even critical mode of KH2 FM many times, then it might just simply be a lot more easier to play KH3.
 

drew0512

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A midpoint could have been nice but after seeing a video about someone talking about this, I kinda believe that we did not need it in this game because we got our information through other means. (Other KH games had midways because we got crucial information at that point) Also my negative opinion about getting Aqua and Ven back and then going to battle right afterwards also changed. Why would Aqua follow us in other worlds? Why would the guardians take a break to go through more worlds if they already have all their fighters or why would Aqua not go to Ventus directly? Marluxia telling us about the importance of getting all guardians of Light fast really showed that there should not been a bigger break after we got all of them together because Xehanort might take the princesses to force our hands. So for me the pacing now feels quite fine and it has to kinda be fast because the guardians are running against "time" since they dont know how long it will take Xehanort to gather all his darknesses.
Agree. A midpoint doesn't equal good pacing (and KH2 is a great example). What KH3 needed, in my opinion, were longer segments with Riku and Mickey (maybe involving Kairi and Axel too). It's hard to make them interesting given what we saw in KH3 (nothing noteworthy happens in RG and RoD is redundant to explore again) but it's definitely possible to come up with something exciting. I've seen a lot of suggestions on how to make the pacing in KH3 better that were actually worse than what happened in the game, 90% of the time. Many of them involve saving Ven before the last Disney worlds for example, which doesn't make sense.
Another thing KH3 needed was a better transition once you're done with Disney worlds, as it's too abrupt. KH1 did this perfectly with Hook's ship. KH2 had the same problem and I think it was even worse because of optional worlds: play a bit further until you reach a certain, vague point that lets you unlock the final world. It's just absurd to me that you can finish the game without finishing Hollow Bastion's arc (so without even knowing its real name). It just highlights how filler the worlds are and the disjointed nature of the game.
 

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Agree. A midpoint doesn't equal good pacing (and KH2 is a great example). What KH3 needed, in my opinion, were longer segments with Riku and Mickey (maybe involving Kairi and Axel too)

Many of them involve saving Ven before the last Disney worlds for example, which doesn't make sense.
Yeah maybe longer segments with Riku and Mickey would have been great, especially down there in the RoD. Maybe to give us the feeling on how dangerous it really is, thus we would understand it better when Riku needed help from Sora. (And kinda give us the understanding on why Aqua gave up so fast against the tornado..since that was not just a bunch of harmless shadows combined but probably one of the strongest heartless in existance)

I agree with the Ven part. I first thought it would have been better that way too (saving Aqua or Ven earlier and let them be with you in some worlds) but now I do believe that it would not be good because it would destroy the pacing much more and makes it seem like they have too much time. If they went that way some us might ask the question on why Xehanort allowed it to happen since they would have had all the guardians of light ready.
 

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Have we really been reduced to arguing about which game was easier to prove a point?
No, I was merely giving my own contribution and experiences with the games.

I know that clearest purpose does not mean the better execution/logical way to go about it. I'm not saying that KH III's story was a masterpiece in execution or quality. What I am saying is that the storytelling aspect of it is objectively better than KH II's because it provided key elements to telling a story - the protagonist's goal, the antagonist's goal, the conflict between both sides, the setting, the characters, and narrative arc. KH III has all of those things set up early on, so that nothing is really a "surprise" or "mystery" like KH II. In KH II, you find out key information (the actual plot/more character details/antagonist's goal - which subsequently clarified the protagonist's goal) basically HALFWAY through the game and then there is pretty much no mention of it (and seemingly forgotten by the protagonists) in the Disney filler worlds which results in several more hours of meaningless content before you circle back to the main plot that was just made to feel irrelevant for a long period of time.
You say it like this makes KH III's story "objectively" better, but suspance is a thing. Keeping information and key elements from the player/reader is a time-tested narrative choice, and there are entire genres dedicated to the element of surprise.
I count the fact that KH II had some reveals as a plus, because it means I had something to understand and look forward to while playing, instead of knowing point A and point Z from the very beginning and then having to suffer through all the rest in between, which loses a lot of appeal since I already know it won't have any great revelation that will change the main stakes. Sora needs to be at the Keyblade Graveyard with such and such people by the final stretch, against already established villains. Knowing this, the moment he goes in any other world I already know it's not gonna change those facts, meaning there will be no Nort defeat on my part and nothing excessively crazy will happen elsewhere. For me, that's a huge loss in a narrative game.
Videogames are forms of entertainment, and surprise and variety are entertainment's closest friends.


A made up example would be if Avengers Infinity War had the Avengers spend 30 minutes helping random old people cross the street, stopping bank robberies, and getting a cat out of a tree then get 5 minutes of info about Thanos, then back to menial acts to help the public that has nothing to do with Thanos, rinse and repeat until the end when you have a big fight with Thanos. That would be a horrible way to tell the story and that's basically what KH II did.
The thing is, Avengers Infinity War isn't a videogame which requires pacing and filler to meet the common standards of lenght. Infinity War has to cover roughly three hours of content vs the at least tens of hours KH III should have.
Like, again, I don't want to exalt KH II in any way, I do believe and I always did that it too is on the negative side of the spectrum when it comes to telling a story, but a videogame isn't like a book or a movie script where you should only put essential stuff, it has its own parameters.
This isn't me completely ignoring or absolving KH II's narrative flaws, btw. We wanna talk about how the story works in Disney worlds and such (as we are) I'm all up for it, but I just won't write off Disney worlds as a whole as this completely meaningless portion of the game because it is unreasonable to expect main story at all times all game long.

KH2FM added in fixes to help clarify the story, but those additional scenes were born out of information known about the series AFTER KH II and should be seen as basically an admission by the developers that the story was poorly told. Compare that to KH III that while - yes, there are additional scenes I would like to see be included (like Lea/Kairi's fight, Riku/Mickey in Radiant Garden etc) - those scenes are NOT NEEDED to elaborate or clarify KH III's story. The ones in KH II were definitely needed.
Just as I didn't need Sora and the gang repeating that we gotta save Aqua and recover the power of waking all those times without adding anything new to it.
Like, at one point closer to the last batch of worlds Sora goes back to Yen Sid alongside Riku and Mickey who have just come back from Radiant Garden. They share some info we've already heard of, like Marluxia revealing they are after the new Princesses, and the whole meeting gets adjourned with "Then it's decided. Riku and Mickey will try to save Aqua while Sora works on getting the power of waking back".
That's... what was established more than 20 hours ago, with no variation whatsoever. That cutscene was especially pointless.

You're right that the Organization basically took over the Maleficent/Pete role in the second visits as they too control the heartless and are going to worlds, but... why is it that we only see Luxord and Xaldin actually DO stuff in those worlds? Why do they also not capitalize on the major piece of information - that they're using Sora's keyblade to release hearts? That was a wasted opportunity to not only put Xaldin, Luxord, Xigbar, and Saix in different Disney worlds to connect the main plot, but also expand on their characters! The only one out of the 4 I named that feels somewhat fleshed out in KH II is Xaldin and that's because we see him twice in Beast's Castle. I'm sorry, but if you can call out the poor execution of Sora regaining the Power of Waking, I'm going to call out the fact that Sora and Organization members completely ignore the fact that they're using Sora to get more hearts in the Disney worlds. At least the Power of Waking is mentioned throughout the journey. Sora being used is only mentioned immediately after he receives that information from Xemnas and then when he goes to the World That Never Was many hours later. If you really think that ignoring The Organization's master plan for hours on end (basically more than half the game) is better storytelling than the way the Power of Waking was handled in KH III, then I don't know what else to say except that it's your opinion and you have every right to it.
The only objection I'll raise is that I think the Organization's plan was hardly ignored just because they don't keep mentioning it. Luxord shows up again after the Grim Reaper fight to collect the heart, because that's how things are now. I think in that case KH II just trusts that the player will remember the stakes at play without constant reminding, something I instead found very jarring in KH III. When a game tries so hard to make you care about its points by presenting them over and over it hardly strikes me in a positive way, and I think it has more of a resemblance of insecurity and unclear goals.

Other than that, that's fair. I'm not a fan of how KH II handled the Organization either and while Xaldin is more fleshed out he never goes for making Sora gain more hearts (by summoning a Pureblood and then fighting himself). At least Luxord and Xigbar bothered to unleash big Heartless during their visits.


Regarding the Power of Waking and the Disney worlds - you're right on the money! Sora DOES have the Power of Waking, he had it all along like Ven said. I know it wasn't explained well at all - and this may just be my interpretation - but the Disney worlds helped him realize he had it all along. It would have been pretty cheesy and poor writing to have him deliver a monologue of exposition stating exactly how they helped him and I liked that Nomura left it up to our imagination/perception on how he regained it. The way I saw it was that his heart was trying to help him regain the Power of Waking, so it took him to the worlds that would do so - that's why after he heard about "may your heart be your guiding key" only then was he able to open the gateway to Olympus. It then takes him to Twilight Town to reawaken another part of his heart (Roxas), then he goes on to the other worlds and learns lessons from them. Sure, it was the same "Sunday morning cartoon" lessons, but I feel that the way Sora processed them this time around was different - IE through a more mature lens - and were actually helpful to him in the final battle.
I can only reserve you the same courtesy received and say that if you feel like you got that out of it, good for you. At the end of the day what a game makes you feel positively is always a plus.
Alas, I'm not that convinced.

I think you're assuming way too much regarding what Riku/Mickey do while Sora is on his journey. We only see them visit Radiant Garden, but we know that they visited the worlds that Aqua did to help get a trace of her. The world we happen to see them in is Radiant Garden. That could have been the last, first, or who knows which number world they visited before heading back to the Realm of Darkness. Also, how is failure on his mission a major waste of time for the build up it got? Are you saying that the hero ALWAYS has to be successful? It'd be pretty lame if the hero was always successful.
Well, we left them in the main plaza, which is were we find them again when they have the phone conversation with Sora, at the end of which they decide to talk to Ienzo for the Replicas, and that's where we find them again in another cutscene. All of this happens while Sora travels many worlds and I find it odd that they just rushed to another world and quickly returned in the same exact location in time for the cutscene to play.

No, I didn't mean to imply Riku had to be successful in order to have a good character arc. The problem is that the reason why many fans feel like Riku was wasted in this game is that for the majority of it he's on this quest to save Aqua. The two things that follow are that he hardly makes any progress in it until a certain point and that he fails.
The fact that he fails while not necessarily a waste remains kind of a bummer, and the reason why he tries again so late in the story is because everything is set so that Sora will come and finish the job.
So to reiterate, Sora not only does ultimately slow down Riku's quest but will eventually do that in the end. Which means that Riku was buried in this long investigation (that will serve Sora little to no purpose to help him save Aqua anyway) and detained from other scenarios and opportunities only for the conclusion of it to be left to Sora like the remaining 98% of the game and story.

That's what I call a major waste of time and character.


The Princesses of Heart weren't meant to be captured then and there. The worlds Sora was brought to by his heart were worlds being investigated by the Organization as a BACKUP PLAN. Master Xehanort was preparing for every eventuality - that means he was preparing for the eventuality that the 7 Guardians of Light could not be assembled. Marluxia and Larxene did not go to those worlds to disrupt (clearly shown by Larxene's attitude to Sora to leave Elsa alone and let her figure it out on her own). They're just there to confirm whether Rapunzel, Anna, and Elsa are Princesses of Heart (again evidenced by Larxene's surprise that there were 2 POH in Arendelle).
Speaking of integration of the main story and the Disney worlds - I would love to see the KH II worlds that featured Disney characters interacting with the main villains (Organization) besides Beast's Castle and Port Royal. All the other worlds had this weird barrier between Disney worlds and main plot. Even in Beast's Castle and Port Royal, the interactions between Disney/Organization had very little to do with the main plot (more so Beats's Castle, as Port Royal had basically nothing). You complain about Marluxia and other Organization members being in the Disney worlds doesn't feel integrated to you, but would it have been better if they went the KH II route of having it revealed several hours later in a traditional KH "surprise!"/"that makes sense now!" cutscene in an original world where it is revealed that Marluxia and Larxene were in those Disney worlds looking for the Princesses of Heart, while having experienced the Disney movie's full plot during your time in that world and completely forgetting any outside characters/plot for hours upon hours?
Yes, and that's the problem I have with it all. If there was no intention of capturing them and actual threat, why even bother in the first place. I'm not suggesting to not put the worlds at all, but to do a better job if you really want to feature your main baddies there.
I actually have no real qualms with the Disney stories by themselves, it's this integration of main story that bothers me. It's the "honor student exam" example I made: you favor those little interactions because it's better than nothing, I think I'd rather see a fully satisfying rendition instead of a messy tease.
It's ultimately a difference of perspective, really. It's what makes me like overall KH II's narrative approach more than KH III: at least I realized very quickly that Disney worlds were going to be just Disney experiences and little else. I don't like it, but I prefer it to what KH III did.

In this case the reason is a little detatched from my main point of KH II story being better than KH III: I think KH III needed to do more and had less room for "mistakes" given that it's a much more recent game and a saga finale. But admitedly it has little to do with KH II's own merits.

You also mention that KH III had higher stakes than KH II... how did we know that back when KH II was released? As far as we knew, KH II was the end (IE the highest stakes possible at the time). You can't look back at KH II now and excuse it for something like that.

I'm talking about initial stakes, the ones we knew while going into the game the first time. KH II had some plotlines from KH1 and CoM, sure enough, but KH III was this declared all-scale war and multiple confirmations that it would've been the conclusion to all the unresolved plotlines, which only drastically increased after KH II's release.
I look back not excusing KH II, but realizing that when I first played it it was a little more than just another KH game meanwhile KH III had years worth of promises and expectations to live up to.

I'm sure that when KH IV comes out, it will have "higher stakes" than KH III since it will be the most recent entry.
Oh, I'm not sure about that. I'm pretty sure it'll take a while to reach the same level of stakes KH III had, unless Nomura starts the next game with the MoM and six apprentices being self-declared villains ready to lay waste to all creation (and he kinda already stated he won't do that, a "middle" KH game will be next if I recall correctly).
The man loves his puzzles and hints, so even by the end of the next game I hardly expect a fight against the X-Blade-wielding main villain under the true Kingdom Hearts.

Just because we know now that KH II wasn't the end of the story doesn't pardon the game from delivering (at the time of release) a subpar story that was filled with mysteries/plot holes/no explanations - a story that required several side games/interviews to allow us to now be able to replay the game and actually understand the plot. A story should not need several outside sources from the narrative of that story to explain what is going on in the main plot. Sure, having some mysteries thrown in to be explained later on is fine and expected for an overarching story like the KH series, but you should have been able to understand the basic plot of KH II going off of information provided in KH II.
I mean, I did. I'm also not so sure about all these plot holes, I think KH II is perhaps the best autoconclusive KH title. By the end of it, both Xehanort's Heartless and Nobody were gone, Sora Riku and Kairi made it back home, Roxas and Naminé went back into Sora and Kairi and at the time that was painted as the "good ending" for them, the King was at his castle and Radiant Garden was well on its way to be back to its former glory. The Organization was all gone and we didn't know any of the former selves aside from the six "bad" apprentices so we didn't care about that part. Pete and Maleficent were left presumed dead too.

KH II explained some parts BADLY (like DiZ and Naminé throughout the whole game or the Riku vs Roxas thing, which was only talked about) but explained them nonetheless. By the end of it I understood all perfectly and didn't need any external source if not for some lore stuff like dual wielding.
Like, Days, the game immediately after, didn't actually explain anything but only raised more mysteries, because it was apparent after that game that Xion was going to appear again and that Roxas and Axel's arcs were not finished. So if anything it only opened back up what KH II considered done.



To sum it up:
- I don't mind mysteries purposedly witheld from the player
- I don't mind Disney worlds as a whole, even if they're 100% filler: I prefer that to what I personally don't deem good main story interaction, despite the fact that ultimately I'd prefer a good story interaction over only filler content.
- I agree on many parts about KH II! It's definitely not a game I would bring up in terms of narrative done right, and me defending it against KH III certainly puts me in an icky spot, but I can't help it. I ultimately like its story and narration better than what KH III did, which I also think had more pressure on it and would've been bad even if/when he only achieved the same levels KH II did or close to.

We both acknowledged we just disagree on these matters because this is what it is in the end. I don't say it to hastily sweep this conversation off in a bitter manner, but at this point we'll mostly express the same concepts. I never aim to convince others- only to try and explain what my take on the matter was.
I think this was a good exchange of opinions, I hope it was the same for you.
 

drew0512

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KH III was this declared all-scale war and multiple confirmations that it would've been the conclusion to all the unresolved plotlines, which only drastically increased after KH II's release.
No, KH3 was advertised as the end of the Dark Seeker saga many times and regardless of whether you liked it or not, the game delivered what it promised.
 

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No, KH3 was advertised as the end of the Dark Seeker saga many times and regardless of whether you liked it or not, the game delivered what it promised.
When did I ever say KH III didn't deliver the end of the Dark Seeker saga? I stated multiple times myself how KH III is a saga finale.

A game can promised more than one thing and KH III promised a lot more than just being a finale.

"A Keyblade War is upon us" - Maleficent, trailer for the game

Nomura went on several times in interviews saying things like "KH III will be the one to tie all loose ends, I feel sad knowing some characters will never appear again after it, this game will be the culmination of a story 10 years in the making" and similar statements.

So, I double down on the fact that KH III was presented as this final war meant to end all the endable, which drastically raised the stakes it had to confront with and my disappointment over its execution.
 

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"A Keyblade War is upon us" - Maleficent, trailer for the game

Nomura went on several times in interviews saying things like "KH III will be the one to tie all loose ends, I feel sad knowing some characters will never appear again after it, this game will be the culmination of a story 10 years in the making" and similar statements.
Well it was a war just not with a huge amount of people in it. (But still huge amount of enemies for the good side to fight) And if they had truly lost it the whole universe would have been destroyed by Xehanort. (I mean we kinda knew for quite some time that the clash would be against the seven guardians of light and the 13 guardians of darkness. And that is exactly what we got)

I do believe that Nomura simply meant that the loose ends of the Xehanort saga will be tied together and imo it did that. It just also opened up more questions for the future. (I mean the story of 10 years making was probably just the Xehanort saga + the stuff to hint at the new saga after that)

Of course you can interpret these statements different but I never thought that this would be THE final war or conflict, just the one to defeat Xehanort, who we know is nothing but a pawn in the game of the MoM.
 

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I feel like we're getting sidetracked. These statements only served for me to justify why KH III had much higher stakes than other KH games, simply because KH II or any other KH title were never advertised as "characters from 10+ years ago are coming back and will get the ending to their own story arc!"
We almost never knew what the big conflict in a KH was going to be like, KH III had all of it and more way up front so it didn't even had the "crutch" of surprise to fall back to. We knew what was going to happen and so the execution of it was even more crucial.
Like, I have little doubt I'd like many more things about KH III if they came out as a complete surprise, but some of them I've been known for YEARS before actually playing. And this is also where the awful awful marketing campaign which spoiled nearly the whole game comes into play, but that's another story.

That it did on a base level deliver those points it's not even in need of discussion, nor am I trying to argue the quality of it, but merely the existance of those premises.
 

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I'm going to start a new post instead of quoting all of that. I just want to thank you for the exchange. I enjoyed it and I agree that these are just opinions that we disagree on.

There were three things you said that I did want to bring up though (sorry I don't know how to do the multi-quote thing):
I mean, I did. I'm also not so sure about all these plot holes, I think KH II is perhaps the best autoconclusive KH title. By the end of it, both Xehanort's Heartless and Nobody were gone, Sora Riku and Kairi made it back home, Roxas and Naminé went back into Sora and Kairi and at the time that was painted as the "good ending" for them, the King was at his castle and Radiant Garden was well on its way to be back to its former glory. The Organization was all gone and we didn't know any of the former selves aside from the six "bad" apprentices so we didn't care about that part. Pete and Maleficent were left presumed dead too.

KH II explained some parts BADLY (like DiZ and Naminé throughout the whole game or the Riku vs Roxas thing, which was only talked about) but explained them nonetheless. By the end of it I understood all perfectly and didn't need any external source if not for some lore stuff like dual wielding.
Like, Days, the game immediately after, didn't actually explain anything but only raised more mysteries, because it was apparent after that game that Xion was going to appear again and that Roxas and Axel's arcs were not finished. So if anything it only opened back up what KH II considered done.
- From information in KH2 only, we get that Xehanort convinced his apprentices to become Nobodies for an unknown reason. He now wants to create Kingdom Hearts to regain their hearts. So then immediately, I ask myself - why did he become a Nobody in the first place? Why not seek help from someone like Sora to become whole again? Is it a "just because he's the villain" excuse? It never made sense to me what the Organization was doing in KH2. Especially because KHCoM made it clear they were trying to control Sora. If they just needed him to kill heartless to build Kingdom Hearts, why not just never show their faces and drown worlds in heartless? Sora would kill them anyway and not have a clue what Xemnas was planning.

KH2 did have a more definitive ending with them returning to Destiny Islands and Mickey/Donald/Goofy going back to Disney Castle and every world seemingly in piece with no loose ends, but if KH2 was the end... it would have really been a huge mystery (not in a good why) on what the Organization's plot was really about and it only made sense after KH3D was released.

Days was used to elaborate further on KHCoM and KH2 because the Organization in itself was explained horribly in KH2. Aside from that, it felt more like fan service to Roxas/Axel who (I believe) became very popular after KH2 was released.

KH2 is filled with "huh?" moments that took outside sources to explain, such as:
"I've been to see him, he looks a lot like you."
How Riku looks like Ansem Seeker of Darkness.
How DiZ left the Realm of Darkness and basically his whole story.
All of Namine.
Why there are no heartless in Atlantica (and how Ursula returned).
What happened when Sora/Roxas fought in The World That Never Was (or what triggered that fight there).
Where Riku got Kairi's keyblade from.
Why Riku was wearing the blindfold.
Why did Xehanort turn himself and the apprentices into Nobodies.

I'm talking about initial stakes, the ones we knew while going into the game the first time. KH II had some plotlines from KH1 and CoM, sure enough, but KH III was this declared all-scale war and multiple confirmations that it would've been the conclusion to all the unresolved plotlines, which only drastically increased after KH II's release.
I look back not excusing KH II, but realizing that when I first played it it was a little more than just another KH game meanwhile KH III had years worth of promises and expectations to live up to.
But at the time of KH2, Xemnas assembling Kingdom Hearts was the highest stake possible (from what we knew at that time). We had CoM building up this mysterious Organization that was trying to control Sora. Like you said before, KH2 had the most conclusive ending which made a lot of people believe that was it. Sure KH3 was a full-scale war with multiple games building up to it, but that shouldn't diminish the fact that (at the time) we were to believe that KH2 was the conclusion and Xemnas' plan was the climax of the story. Under that impression, the fact that his plan received less attention and time than filler Disney worlds makes it feel less impactful than KH3's where they tried to implement aspects of the main plot throughout the narrative. It made KH3 feel more connected and less disjointed than KH2. Also, KH3 delivered the climactic keyblade war. It may not have been done the best it could have been, but it happened. In KH2, all we knew was that we had to kill Xemnas because he decided to make himself a Nobody (for an unknown reason) and now he's looking for his heart again.

You say it like this makes KH III's story "objectively" better, but suspance is a thing. Keeping information and key elements from the player/reader is a time-tested narrative choice, and there are entire genres dedicated to the element of surprise.
I count the fact that KH II had some reveals as a plus, because it means I had something to understand and look forward to while playing, instead of knowing point A and point Z from the very beginning and then having to suffer through all the rest in between, which loses a lot of appeal since I already know it won't have any great revelation that will change the main stakes. Sora needs to be at the Keyblade Graveyard with such and such people by the final stretch, against already established villains. Knowing this, the moment he goes in any other world I already know it's not gonna change those facts, meaning there will be no Nort defeat on my part and nothing excessively crazy will happen elsewhere. For me, that's a huge loss in a narrative game.
Videogames are forms of entertainment, and surprise and variety are entertainment's closest friends.
I'm saying that knowing where the story is going is part of storytelling. It's why even in the best stories out there you have the general idea of what's going to happen next. It's sort of the agreement made between storyteller and audience. For example, a Batman comic would ultimately lead to a fight between Batman and The Joker. We know that will happen. Same with romance movies, we know that the two characters will fall in love - but will it work out? We have the general idea of where things will go, but we need to see what will happen between to get us there to make the climactic final battle really effective.

In KH2, we just know we have to kill the Organization (specifically Xemnas). The build up of conflict between Sora/Xemnas from the moment he finds out about the Organization from Master Yen Sid to the battle in The World That Never Was is extremely limited. Xemnas himself only talks to Sora once briefly halfway through the game. His representatives don't really do much to build conflict up to the battle in the World That Never Was, so when we reach Xemnas it's more like "time to go fight the last boss".

In KH3, we're reminded constantly that Xehanort is meddling in Disney worlds to further his research and assemble his 13 darknesses. This adds urgency to Sora's quest to regain the Power of Waking. We then also find out that not only is he quickly working to assemble the 13, but he is also working on a backup plan if the 7 Guardians of Light cannot be assembled (the Princesses of Heart storyline). We are shown that Xehanort is constantly at work and, more importantly, working against Sora. This not only adds to the already established Keyblade War, but makes you feel like what you're doing in the Disney worlds are relevant in 1) stopping Xehanort and 2) helping protect them from the main villain. Because Disney characters were actually allowed to interact with main villains/plot (except Arendelle due to Disney law to protect their precious franchise), it made me excited and curious to see what would happen in the other Disney worlds. How far would they push the interaction. Sure, it may have been a let down in the grand scheme of things (I was kind of expecting the Disney characters to be part of the keyblade war), but at least it was something. Also, there was the mysterious element on whether Riku/Mickey would save Aqua and what exactly happened to her (semi-spoiled by trailers, but say what). And then there's whether we would save Ven/Terra/Roxas/Xion/Namine etc. So mysteries can be good, but when they go unexplained (in that story) it becomes a negative to the plot overall.

Anyway, thanks for the discussion!
 

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A game can promised more than one thing and KH III promised a lot more than just being a finale.
It promised to be the ending to Xehanort's arc, nothing more. If you say "conclusion to all the unresolved plotlines" and "end to all the endable", you're implying that KH3 promised to end all the stuff from KHUX and things connected to it that started in other games (like Maleficent's plot in Re: Coded), and that's clearly not what the game promised and we've been knowing this from the start. I get what you mean with the rest, but you started from a false premise or you simply expressed yourself wrong.
 

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It promised to be the ending to Xehanort's arc, nothing more. If you say "conclusion to all the unresolved plotlines" and "end to all the endable", you're implying that KH3 promised to end all the stuff from KHUX and things connected to it that started in other games (like Maleficent's plot in Re: Coded), and that's clearly not what the game promised and we've been knowing this from the start. I get what you mean with the rest, but you started from a false premise or you simply expressed yourself wrong.
No, I'm implying saving the TAV trio, the RAX trio, revealing Lea and Isa's secret plan and backstory, giving Naminé and Roxas their own existence.
I didn't mention that Ux wasn't included because frankly I thought it was obvious KH III wasn't going to end its storylines and I'd be surprised if anyone thought otherwise.

Like come on guys. It's like you didn't live in a world where every game since 2010-ish ended with "Reconnect: Kingdom Hearts" and DDD's credits weren't the construction of the sentence "This leads to Kingdom Hearts III". Or even just BbS' Blank Points which literally screamed that one big game would've tied all of those stories together.

And before we get into a debate of whether or not those plotlines count as "part of Xehanort's arc": it doesn't really matter. What it matters to my argument is that Kingdom Hearts III was presented as way more than "just" a Kingdom Hearts game with its own goal and storyline. It was the sum of nearly all of the parts that came before it, the culmination of more than one protagonist and one villain and one story, but several ones and promised, and it literally did unless several interviews straight up lied about it, the answer to many mysteries, some big and some small.
And all of this was kindly reminded to us all with every new iteration of the HD collections, dubbed by the series director as the necessary pieces to understand and enjoy KH III.

Saying "it was just the end of Xehanort's arc and nothing more" really undersells what this game represents and how it was presented and sold by its very own creator and publisher. Which was nowhere near the introduction and reputation an average game, sometimes not even a saga finale (and certainly no other Kingdom Hearts game), gets which means that KH III had a huge bar of settings and expecations to live up to. And the higher the distance, the louder the fall.
 
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