I sometimes don’t have a lot to say in a worst of the year post, because the fact that my finances are always pretty stunted, I am always having to measure what games I buy. As such, unless something looks pretty awesome, I don’t buy it. However, this year had one that really stuck in my craw. A game that could have been something amazing, that SHOULD have been something amazing, but turned out to be a giant pile of trash that spit on its legacy. For those who are salivating thinking I’m talking about Death Stranding, don’t. While that game does have a ton of problems, I don’t hate it. Some of you who read my site regularly will probably know which game I’m actually talking about.
Recently, I talked about how I am kind of done with nostalgia culture. Well, there are things that I am genuinely nostalgic for. So many people talk about this thing or that thing ruining their childhood. I have that thought when I saw the post talking about how Disney is going to do a live-action version of A Night on Bald Mountain from my favorite film of all time – Fantasia. The game that I hated most this year actually did shit on my childhood a little. It hurt me as I got to the end and there was one thought in my mind – that’s it?! Seriously?! Got a lot of rage to unload here, so let’s get to it. The game I HATED most in 2019 is…
Kingdom Hearts III
It kinda blows my mind how bad this game is. How it can take a formula that has been done so well before, even in some of the more cash-grab games, and take such a dump on it is kind of impressive. How do you fuck up a formula where it’s been done so well in two mainline entries?! Was this a deliberate choice?! Did Tetsuya Nomura just think to himself, “fuck Square Enix, I’m just gonna shit this out and give it to the fans because they wouldn’t let me make the Final Fantasy versus XIII game I wanted to do.” By the way, that’s the truth. They didn’t let him do that. Why? Because Square Enix wanted to market the game in china, and they didn’t like the focus on a god of death. So they had to dumb it down in order to make the game sell in the place that now more and more companies are bending the knee to. But I digress.
Every single part of this game feels rushed. All of it feels like things were just being done in order to be finished with it. Like nobody wanted to be working on this game, but were obligated to do it. Maybe it’s because more and more games are coming in below projected estimates for this entertainment giant, and they figured that they needed something to just rake in the cash. If nothing else, Kingdom Hearts fanboys/girls are pretty die-hard. Still, while playing it, I could never escape this feeling that they were just looking to be finished with it.
I can guess why. Part of me feels like Disney got their grubby fingers into this and were forcing the company to pimp their biggest stuff in order to get the licenses to work with. Fan favorite worlds? Nope! That would detract from Disney’s marketing their newest and biggest stuff to the gamers. Actually having Final Fantasy character? Fuck that! That will detract even more from it. Even though they could EASILY have just taken characters from their library and integrated them into Disney worlds, that would also have detracted. I don’t know where the fault lies for how rushed and poorly paced this game was, but I want to call out the person responsible.
Nothing in this game feels engaging. Sure, we had all the fan callbacks with every fan favorite character getting screen time. But we don’t care about any of them. After this many years with the franchise basically being on ice, nobody gives a fuck about anything that happens here. It looks very pretty, but feels unbelievably hollow. Just a lot of spectacle. The plot felt like it was going nowhere. The characters had no investment. It was all just playing out a string.
Why did they not let us visit ANY of the worlds we loved? Hell, your time in 100 Acre Wood felt like something tacked on just to make fans happy. Why? Just another rushed world where you are in and out before you even know that something happened. I don’t get it! For everything they got right, like putting tons of people in worlds that were supposed to have them, they made the areas with people just afterthoughts. Nomura’s last project, Final Fantasy XV, feels like it was half-done. This was feels like even less than that. And I hear that his next one, the remake of Final Fantasy VII is STILL being released episodically, with each one basically being the size of a AAA game by itself. Screw that! Is that the future now? Don’t have your game done, you can just release a full-priced game that is a third complete and then release two other full-priced expansions?! I’m not doing that! I want to be excited for that game, but the more I hear about how they are releasing it, the more I realize that I’m just not. It looks beautiful, but it’s coming out one third done.
This game’s biggest failing to me was that it was boring. With the exception of the Toy Story world, which got me invested just because it had that iconic music and characters I grew up loving. I’m surprised they couldn’t have at least gotten Tim Allen to do the voicework for Buzz. I mean, how much is that guy’s cost really at these days? He ain’t that high on the hog anymore. Still, there were worlds where I should have been invested, and I just wasn’t. Like the world from Big Hero 6, though admittedly, that one got the closest. And Pirates of the Caribbean world was fun to return to. The part of that level where Jack is teaching Sora how to be a pirate, and you find out it wasn’t really him was pretty great stuff.
When trailers for this game came out, everyone thought this was going to be a tour de force for the franchise. Instead, it was a game where everyone involved just wanted to be done. You can feel it in every second of rushed dialogue. And you know what, that bums me out a little. So much more could have and rightly should have been done. Let the creative energy flow. But then Square Enix wouldn’t have gotten the easy money. It breaks my heart. I was hoping for more, and instead I got less. Then we find out that more games are coming out in the franchise. Nope! I’m done. Just fucking done.
Until next time, a quote,
“This sucks.” – Beevis, Beevis and Butthead