What with the incessantly frustrating lack of information we've been given for Kingdom Hearts 3 and its release date (don't tell us we'll have to wait until 2018!), some fans of the series are starting lose interest. It's not surprising really, considering the game is eleven years in the making, and recent delays in other games such as, say, Kingdom Hearts 2.8, could push the release date for 3 back even further.
One of the burning questions that hasn't died amidst all the dwindling hope, however, is just what characters we'll be able to see in this massive mash-up of gaming and animation proportions. Fans are, of course, anxious to learn more about the fate of Sora, Riku, and Kaira (and all their friends and enemies), but one of the reasons the Kingdom Hearts series did so well in the first place was because of its inclusion of characters from Final Fantasy and Disney properties. After all, what RPG fan wouldn't be excited about fighting alongside Cloud or Squall or Mulan or Aladdin (actually, Aladdin always kinda creeped me out in the KH games...).
Little has been revealed about what new characters we'll see in Kingdom Hearts 3. We do know there will be worlds for Disney's Tangled and Big Hero 6, which means we can expect to see characters like Rapunzel, Flynn, Hiro, and Baymax, but besides that, we're still very much in the dark. Which is why I wanted to take today to ponder just what characters I'd like to see pop up in the newest installment of the Kingdom Hearts series. Between Square-Enix and Disney, there are a lot of characters to choose from... but who'd best be able to bring something fresh to this series already rife with personalities of all shapes and sizes?
Square-Enix and Disney Characters We'd Love to see in Kingdom Hearts 3
On the Square-Enix side of things, I'd love to see an end to the Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy X characters. You might as well call Kingdom Hearts a Disney/Final Fantasy VII+X crossover half the time given how many of these characters dominate the line-up. I know the over-representation is because of Tetsuya Nomura's hand in designing characters for both of those (as well as VIII), but considering my favorites in the series fall outside all three of those, I personally feel it's time for a change.
1. Balthier (Final Fantasy XII)
Final Fantasy XII has gotten exactly zero representation in the Kingdom Hearts series so far. While I understand this was, no doubt, due to the fact that the game didn't even come out until after Kingdom Hearts 2 was released, I also feel this would be the perfect opportunity to remedy the situation.
Balthier is without question one of the most popular characters in the game. He's witty, snarky, calculating, dashing, and remarkably talented with his big... gun. FFXII's leading man and number one sky pirate would be a great addition to the Kingdom Hearts line-up, providing some well-placed, snide commentary and generally being a badass. Not to mention, his actor Gideon Emery's voice is like a sultry whisper against the cilia in my ear, and I'm all for more opportunities to hear it.
You could even throw Fran into the mix, as well, and have them appear together. Perhaps they take Sora for a ride on the Strahl?
2. Palom and Porum (Final Fantasy IV)
The earlier Final Fantasy games have also received a woeful lack of representation in Kingdom Hearts. We got Final Fantasy VI's Setzer in KH2, but his inclusion was minimal and forgetful, to say the least. It's time something more was done to pay tribute to Final Fantasy's rich history and colorful cast of characters.
Twin mages Palom and Porum of Final Fantasy IV fame would mesh perfectly with the color, humor, and style of Kingdom Hearts, and would allow what might have been the first RPG for many a current gamer to have some inclusion in the Kingdom Hearts legacy. Not only would they play well off of Sora and the others, they'd play well off of themselves—Palom the upstart brat with a smart mouth and Porum the soothing voice of reason. They've also got a wealth of spells in their arsenal that could be used if, for instance, Sora had to go up against them in combat.
3. Gilgamesh (Final Fantasy V)
I put Final Fantasy V here, but it's not completely true—after all, Gilgamesh has made some sort of appearance now in almost every Final Fantasy to date (even being added to past games for their re-releases)! As such, this dimension-traveling, multi-armed, sword-stealing warrior would be a perfect representative for the Final Fantasy series as a whole (and given he's randomly popping up everywhere anyway, him appearing in the Kingdom Hearts world wouldn't even need to be explained).
One of the things I love about Gilgamesh is his humor. I can see him showing up at some point to steal Sora's keyblade, or perhaps as a mercenary-for-hire sent by one of the Disney villains. He'd make for a fun, lighthearted inclusion to the already cartoonish world, and would help balance all the moody, introspective characters already in the game.
Plus, it would mean another chance at remixing his awesome theme song (that I may or may not already have twenty different versions of)!
4. Frog (Chrono Trigger)
If Square-Enix were to tread outside of Final Fantasy territory for an odd character or two, I could recommend no game higher than Chrono Trigger. Just as much—if not more—of an influence on gamers across the world, it's been heralded by many as one of the greatest RPGs ever produced. Including it in the Kingdom Hearts series would be a welcome (and probably celebrated) choice for many of the series' fans.
Choosing just one character from the game, however, was hard, but in the end, I found my thoughts consistently coming back to Frog. While Crono would be the most typical choice, Kingdom Hearts already has a wealth of leading Final Fantasy men, so throwing another main character into the mix would be nothing but white noise. Frog, on the other hand, would fit perfectly amongst the many animal-like Disney characters of the series' world and bring with him a touch of knightly elegance, of loyalty and honor.
I could imagine him running into Sora, say, on a search for Magus—to avenge Cyrus and regain his true form. His inclusion would also be a great opportunity to put the Masamune into the game—a keyblade version of the legendary sword would be fun to see.
5. José Carioca and Panchito Pistoles (The Three Caballeros)
Moving on to the Disney side of things, there are a number of colorful characters I'd love to see given new life in Kingdom Hearts 3. My first choice is easy—José Carioca and Panchito Pistoles, the Brazilian and Mexican fowl of The Three Caballeros fame. Practically hidden away in the Disney vault at this point, these two would be hilarious additions to the Disney line-up and would give Donald a chance to shine more, as well.
There are any number of different scenarios and backgrounds they could use for the duo. Perhaps they're old buddies of Donald's from magic school (he had to learn magic somewhere, didn't he?) come back to see how he's doing? Or perhaps they used to be a trio of mercenaries and now they want Donald to join them again? No matter the direction, it would make for some quirky interactions with Donald, and I can only imagine how fun their new designs could be.
Now if they could only bring José's original voice actor back from the dead so we don't have to suffer through Rob Paulsen's fake Spanish accent...
6. Basil of Baker Street (The Great Mouse Detective)
The Great Mouse Detective will forever be one of my favorite Disney movies, but it doesn't even show up as a blip on the radar for most casual (or even not-so-casual) Disney fans. The darkly comic blend of Sherlock Holmes meets The Secret of NIMH is a brilliant take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's masterpiece long before it became the hip thing to remake Sherlock Holmes.
Basil himself, the socially inept, quick-brained rodent version of Sherlock Holmes, would make a fine addition to the Kingdom Hearts cast. Though I'd love to see an entire world dedicated to The Great Mouse Detective that would have Sora and company wandering the dark, rainy streets of London, I know that's a bit much to ask for, but perhaps he could be a side character that pops up every so often with missions or secrets (similar to Jiminy Cricket's inclusion in past games). Either way, his inclusion could add some mystery to the series and give the writers a chance to show off their chops.
7. Kronk (The Emperor's New Groove)
While I'm not so sure how well an The Emperor's New Groove world would work in Kingdom Hearts (not that I wouldn't accept it with open arms if they did try), I do think a character or two from the film would fit right in with the game's aesthetic. And, well, if I had to choose one character from The Emperor's New Groove, it would definitely be Kronk, Yzma's lovably stupid henchman.
Superbly voiced by Patrick Warburton, Kronk provided much of the humor in The Emperor's New Groove and even earned his own sequel (one of the few Disney sequels that I actually liked, too!). If his humor could be translated into the world of Kingdom Hearts (well), it could make for a match made in Heaven. Perhaps Kronk could run his own restaurant, and Sora has to perform various tasks and errands for him? This sort of scenario would be perfect for including other cameos (Disney and Square-Enix alike), as well, and even act as a hub for side-quests, mini missions, and hilarious cross-Disney/Square-Enix interactions. A number of other The Emperor's New Groove characters also could pop up from time to time, which would give Kronk (and his shoulder angel/devil) more of a chance to shine.
How long will we have to wait?!
There's no telling how long we'll have to wait for more info on Kingdom Hearts 3. Square-Enix is keeping it safely under wraps (we can't even get a release date for crying out loud!), so it could be a while before we know what kinds of worlds and characters we can expect in the long-anticipated sequel. But that doesn't mean we can't keep pondering and speculating what it would be like if our favorite characters, Disney and Square-Enix alike, were to make appearances in what has already been described by its director as "overwhelmingly big."