What worlds do we want to see in Kingdom Hearts 4? Since 2002, Kingdom Hearts has transported players into almost every weird and wonderful Disney world imaginable. From classics such as Peter Pan and Pinocchio, to modern cult hits like Big Hero 6 and Tangled, the Square Enix series has continually provided lovingly recreated worlds from the House of Mouse’s history to roam around in.
With Kingdom Hearts 4 in “early development” and tantalizingly perched just over the horizon, we’re ready to explore where Sora, Donald and Goofy should head next. After all, there have been some serious blind spots in Kingdom Hearts, and several Disney deep cuts and hidden gems that have yet to be mined.
So grab your keyblades and rev up your Gummi Ships. Here are the 10 Disney worlds we want to see in Kingdom Hearts 4.
Kingdom Hearts finally opened the door to Pixar’s library of classics with the inclusion of Toy Story and Monsters Inc. in Kingdom Hearts 3. Kingdom Hearts 4 offers a chance for, arguably, the animation studio’s best movie in a decade to make its mark – bolstered by the graphical prowess of Unreal Engine 5.
Coco follows frustrated musician Miguel through the Land of the Dead in the hopes of finding his great-great-grandfather – a legendary singer.
The Pixar release already seems tailor-made for the Kingdom Hearts treatment: We can picture Sora, Goofy, and Donald in their skeletal Day of the Dead get-ups, while the carnival of color surrounding the film’s musical energy would really pop on the current generation of consoles. From a gameplay perspective, Coco could also be a way for a series to freshen up after the overuse of the similarly-styled The Nightmare Before Christmas. Most of all, we just want to hear Kingdom Hearts’ take on ‘Remember Me.’
Disney owns Lucasfilm, the creators of Star Wars, so this is totally fair game – and could follow in the footsteps of the likes of Tron and Pirates of the Caribbean as live-action properties that made the leap from cinema to consoles.
Sora swapping his Keyblade for a lightsaber already seems like a no-brainer as, too, does pitting Disney’s great and good up against the likes of Darth Vader and the Emperor. What we wouldn’t give for a trip to the Death Star or smacking down some Organization XIII members on Tatooine.
A minor detail in the initial Kingdom Hearts 4 reveal trailer already has fans speculating that Endor could be part of the game – which makes a galaxy far, far away less of a pipe dream than you might expect.
The Jungle Book
It’s difficult to believe that The Jungle Book, Disney’s 1967 adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling story, hasn’t already appeared in Kingdom Hearts. For one thing, it’s got a savannah’s worth of iconic characters – including Baloo and Mowgli – that could make for perfect companions, plus a cherry on top that heightens any Kingdom Hearts level: a classic song in the shape of the Bear Necessities. The series’ penchant for remixing classic Disney villains into boss battles also works in Jungle Book’s favor as Shere Khan would make a formidable opponent for all but the most skilled of Keyblade Masters.
We could also envision Jungle Book taking some cues from Winnie the Pooh’s 100 Acre Wood by sprinkling in some rhythm minigames and other side activities across its luscious, sprawling environments. Let’s just hope it would be a little less confusing than the original 2002 game’s labyrinthian Tarzan levels.
This is a great idea, right? You’re welcome. Disney’s seafaring adventure seemed to usher in a new generation of stories at the company, ones specifically focused on the backgrounds, heritages, and histories of underrepresented groups.
Moana, specifically, revolves around the Polynesians on the island of Motuni. There, a girl named Moana is tasked with finding the demigod Maui so they can help overcome the blight afflicting the island.
That quest alone is set up perfectly for a couple of hours of Kingdom Hearts magic. Throw in some vehicle sections on the high seas and you’ve got the perfect evolution of Destiny Islands from the original Kingdom Hearts ready and waiting for Sora to stamp around in.
We got a taste of what Wreck-It Ralph could offer during his debut as a summon in Kingdom Hearts 3, as well as Game Central Station appearing in mobile spin-off Union X. The opportunity to flesh out that concept further or visit a fully realized Litwak’s Arcade, though, is too good to turn down.
Series creator Tetsuya Nomura could get deliciously meta with the cabinets on offer. It would be a seamless way to homage various classic video games – such as Donkey Kong and mascot kart racers – without stepping into lawsuit territory.
Now that Sora is in Smash Bros, there’s even the remotest of possibilities that Nintendo could return the favor and allow one of their characters – such as Bowser, who appeared in Wreck-It Ralph – to appear. Forget Avengers: Infinity War, that would be the ultimate crossover.
The Emperor’s New Groove
One of the most overlooked Disney features in recent memory, The Emperor’s New Groove deserves its moment in the sun in Kingdom Hearts 4.
The 2000 animation stars David Spade as a selfish Incan ruler named Kuzco – who is accidentally turned into a llama. Because reasons. That would act as the perfect jumping-on point for Sora to arrive, helping shepherd Kuzco through the events of the film.
Kingdom Hearts has already been great at lavishing attention on Disney’s more obvious classics. Kingdom Hearts 4 should mark the turning point towards a celebration of all things Disney – even those that didn’t light up the box office. Besides, The Emperor’s New Groove is ripe for a Kingdom Hearts makeover; the Incan Empire could provide fertile ground for Square Enix’s always-imaginative team of level designers.
Turning Red is Pixar’s most recent work, charting the struggles of Chinese-Canadian Meilin after she discovers her family’s unfortunate curse: when she loses control of her emotions, she turns into a giant red panda.
Mechanically, this could work similarly to Kingdom Hearts 3’s San Fransokyo, a larger open world space for the Heartless to invade. It could also thematically tie into Sora stumbling his way around ‘real’ locations in Quadratum. Kingdom Hearts 4 is already giving us its spin on Tokyo, so why not go further and bring Turning Red’s 2002-era Toronto into the mix?
It’d be a real missed opportunity, too, if the movie’s final act – a stadium showdown against, you guessed it, another red panda – isn’t turned into a multi-stage boss battle.
Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Atlantis: The Lost Empire sunk without a trace on its 2001 release. The animated effort, starring Michael J. Fox, saw Milo Thatch join an expedition to find Atlantis. Its beautifully realized world absolutely deserves to be resurfaced in the next instalment of Kingdom Hearts.
Atlantis also offers a way for the series to hit the reset button. It’s been a little tiring revisiting Olympus and Agrabah across two decades. Kingdom Hearts finally has the chance to really freshen its roster up with this ancient destination – and potentially revive interest in a forgotten classic in the process.
Because only Kingdom Hearts could give us the faintest possibility of Goofy meeting Galactus and Donald quacking at Deadpool.
In truth, a Marvel/Kingdom Hearts crossover has enough potential for an entire game franchise, in much the same way the original series sprinkled in some Final Fantasy fan service. Yet, there’s plenty of scope for just one world – think a SHIELD Helicarrier, Doctor Doom’s Latveria, or the Baxter Building – to prop up a few hours of concentrated superhero action here. The likes of Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Captain America would be perfect foils for Sora, imparting lessons of leadership and how to get over losing a loved one.
Why hasn’t Sora visited The Happiest Place on Earth yet? Its many, many iconic attractions are ripe for the picking from a gameplay perspective, with each having enough potential for separate levels and areas in a world.
Imagine Sora taking a trip up Space Mountain or being dwarfed in It’s a Small World. Plus, it would provide ample opportunities for Nomura and company to break the fourth wall and explain exactly why there are giant mascots of Mickey, Donald, and Goofy running around the park. How’s that for Disney magic?
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