In a recent interview with Gamasutra, design director and overall face of Epic Games Cliff Bleszinski (or Cliffy B, as he’s known in the Bro Zone) insisted that Japanese disc-based game releases cannot ignore multiplayer. As someone who usually avoids the online components of every game I play, this statement quickly piqued my interest. The full interview reveals that Mr. B. understands that multiplayer doesn’t fit everywhere and the gameplay type should not be tacked onto everything, so him and I are still cool on that front.
But still, this assertion got me thinking. Evident by the “unabashed lover of Kingdom Hearts” blip in my short author profile at the bottom of this article, I adore the franchise (well, at least the console releases). Further, when Kingdom Hearts III is finally unveiled in 2030 and released in 2049, I do not, under any circumstances, want a multiplayer component to exist inside it. Nuh-uh, no way, and here’s why:
Reason #1: I’m Sora, not you
For some odd reason, Sora’s story really resonated with the middle school me that bought a PlayStation 2 exclusively for Kingdom Hearts. Final Fantasy characters I knew and loved were splashed together with my unwavering devotion to everything Disney in a painting of pure masterpiece, and without any of that slow-moving turn-based combat to break my immersion. Sora wasn’t a character I played, but a character I became. I was on a mission to save my friends, not his. This was my tale, and I’d rather you stayed out of it.
Beyond that, a competitive multiplayer scenario would be unreasonably stupid. Does anyone actually want a billion Soras…Or a billion Sora Nobodies…Or a billion whatever other versions of characters the Kingdom Hearts universe has created in its countless portable spin-offs tearing each other to pieces? No, we don’t. Just let me be Sora, wrapped up in my own beautiful world, and leave me alone.
Reason #2: No one wants to be Donald or Goofy
I’m Sora, and we’ve established that. So, say the multiplayer went the drop-in/drop-out route and allowed a second or third player to come in and take control of one of Sora’s two party members. That’s not so bad, right? For me, I might even enjoy this feature. Party AI in the previous two console releases wasn’t exactly stellar, and throwing in the human element might mean my team truly helps me out once in awhile. On the flip side, however, no one wants to be Donald or Goofy. With a choice between a magic duck who dies all too often and an underpowered dog who doesn’t know how to properly use a shield, I’ll take Option Three every single time.
What’s Option Three, you ask? Playing as Sora, the Heartless-killing hero and Keyblade-wielding bad ass. Call me old fashioned, but I wouldn’t have it any other way, and neither would you.
Reason #3: Leave strange supplements to the portables
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days for the Nintendo DS already added cooperative multiplayer, and it works because the portable releases are bat-shit crazy. Chain of Memories introduced a truckload of new concepts to bridge the gap between the original Kingdom Hearts and its proper sequel, but the knowledge wasn’t necessary to fully enjoy the console releases on their own. Likewise, the portable games released since will likely provide only supplemental material and nothing mandatory in the connection with Kingdom Hearts III. These smaller side stories have become so crazy convoluted, and it’s easy to believe that an optional set of multiplayer missions could follow in the same wild canon. So please, keep this madness to the portables, and don’t you dare let those nightmares or spirits from Kingdom Hearts 3D influence the next console release. Disney is one thing, but rainbow bats with shimmering eyes and silly smiles? My goodness…
Reason #4: Final Fantasy XIV
If Square Enix can’t get an entire game devoted to multiplayer right, even after two years of trying to fix it, I don’t want those wackos anywhere near my baby with their hair-brained multiplayer schemes. Stick with what you do well, and ignore the rest. Moving on.
Reason #5: It’s taking too damn long as it is
It’s been over six years since the last main installment of Kingdom Hearts II, and series producer Tetsuya Nomura finally announced just this month that the franchise is ready to come back to consoles. Nobody outside of Square Enix knows whether or not development on KH III has begun, and that’s bloody ridiculous. If the team decides they have to shove in multiplayer, the game will surely take even longer to see a release. And we’re sick of waiting. Kingdom Hearts III is becoming the next Duke Nukem Forever, and everyone knows how that fiasco turned out. Don’t do that to us, Squeenix. It would break our hearts.