At the E3 2013 conference, Square Enix and Disney Interactive announced the development of the long-awaited title Kingdom Hearts III in the form of a teaser trailer, which showed a compilation of CGI cutscenes from the previous Kingdom Hearts games in the beginning and then faded to Sora grabbing a Keyblade different from his own and fighting a horde of Heartless in Twilight Town. The graphics have drastically improved since Dream Drop Distance, thanks to a new animation program called the Kingdom Shader. My Alaskan cruise had just stopped in Ketchikan when I saw the trailer on YouTube, and I was completely surprised that Square Enix actually got around to producing Kingdom Hearts III at all.

Now, two years later, my cousin from my father’s side of the family was there to witness the new trailer for Kingdom Hearts III at Square Enix’s conference. I called him and asked if they posted a release date at the end of the trailer, and he said that it still reads “Now in Development.” I groaned. Two years after the initial announcement, I thought Square Enix would be towards the finish line in cooking up Kingdom Hearts III, releasing it to the gaming market by next year the latest, but some people (my cousin included) believe that it will be done later than that.

The recent trailer for Kingdom Hearts III–dubbed in English, and showed teenaged Eraqus and Xehanort playing chess–revealed a few things. First, Sora’s new outfit, which is a combination of his KH2 outfit and the one in Dream Drop Distance sans the “X” sigil. Tetsuya Nomura, the creator of the Kingdom Hearts series, was pressured by his staff to design that outfit for Sora to accommodate for his Flowmotion moves. I’m not exactly sure–nor is anyone else entirely sure–if Sora is gonna wear that outfit the entire time, or if he’s gonna magically change from his KH2 outfit to his new one when the need requires just like his Form outfits. Second, some of the new Disney film worlds that Sora, Donald Duck, and Goofy are going to travel to, and the only one added to the World Map so far is the world based on 2010’s Tangled. And finally, the Keyblade’s transformations. It can turn into dual bazooka-lasers at will, and change into some Disneyland rides, including the Mad Tea Party teacups and the Thunder Mountain train. Not to mention, a pegasus drawing a chariot. Everyone was hyped to see all of that.

The new teaser trailer for Kingdom Hearts III also made me ponder about some challenges that Square Enix and Disney Interactive will face. The first of these is who will voice Ansem the Wise (if he’ll appear in the game at all) and Master Xehanort now that Christopher Lee and Leonard Nimoy, respectively, have recently passed away. Actually, Lee was replaced by Corey Burton in Re:Chain of Memories, Birth by Sleep, and Dream Drop Distance, so that part of the problem solved itself. The real problem is who will take Nimoy’s place as the voice behind Master Xehanort. When Nimoy died earlier this year, I didn’t know that he voiced the main antagonist in Birth by Sleep and Dream Drop Distance, but I do know that his voice-acting in the games was incomparably legendary. I do hope they find someone whose voice is equal to that of the late Nimoy. Honestly, I wish any Star Trek fan would’ve told me that Nimoy voiced Xehanort before I read his filmography on Wikipedia. Another challenge is asking Utada Hikaru if she will write a new opening theme song for Kingdom Hearts III. I understand that in most anime a new opening theme by a different artist will play at some point, but I think Square Enix is crazy if they’re thinking about replacing Utada with someone else as the main singer of the series. I know Utada is still on hiatus from music and has gone through some trials and tribulations, including the tragic death of her mother, Keiko Fuji, and her marriage to Francesco Calliano, but had she not sang for the Kingdom Hearts series I wouldn’t be listening to her music today.

As for the release date…well, I just hope that Kingdom Hearts III comes out next spring or next summer. If Square Enix decides to release it by the time I earn my Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications, I will be seriously pissed. After all, Nomura stepped down from Final Fantasy XV so he could finish producing Kingdom Hearts III as quickly as humanly possible.

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