?Game Informer magazine ranked Kingdom Hearts as one of the top games of all time, and in almost every sense, it is. No one knew ahead of time how wonderful it would be to combine Square Enix’s popular Final Fantasy games with the sure-fire hit of Disney properties in one mega action-RPG, but the result worked together like chocolate and peanut butter, except sold for $50-60 a pop. Disney fans, Square Enix zombies, and even regular gamers loved the result
The series has already based levels off classic Disney worlds like Wonderland, Atlantis, and the Beast’s Castle, but also oddballs like Tron, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Monstro’s gastrointestinal system. So what’s next? Surely the series won’t end with only two major games (no need to count the many, ridiculously named handheld games), and Square will need some new lands for Sora and crew to explore. Where should the Kingdom Hearts franchise go? We have a few ideas.
10) Willie the Giant’s Castle
By including a kick-ass “Steamboat Willie” level in KH2, the folks at Square Enix have proved that they’re not afraid to go deep into the Disney vaults for content. So how about a fun level from the classic short “Mickey and the Beanstalk”? It’s based off of “Jack and the Beanstalk,” so you’ve already a great set-up for a world where things are huuuuuge and you need to bounce around to get to the top of the level? Willie the Giant completely fits in with KH’s penchant for boss battles that can’t be contained on one screen, and Goofy and Donald are already part of the story!
9) The Isle of Naboombu
No one remembers that Bedknobs and Broomsticks was equally as awesome, if not moreso, as Mary Poppins when it came to a mix of magic, live-action, animation, and off-the-wall action. The opening credits alone could qualify as the neatest thing Disney has done, but how has no one offered the Isle of Naboombu, an animated land ruled by a lion where soccer is the national pastime, as a KH world? Hell, we’d even take the memorable scene inside the British Museum where the suits of armor came to life to fight Nazis. How hard would it be for the Heartless to take over a few old knights?
8) The S.S. Tipton
Okay, hear us out. Disney has had runaway hits with shows like Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place, and The Suite Life with Zack and Cody. When Disney did that crossover of all three series — Wizards on Deck with Hannah Montana, set on the cruise ship the S.S. Tipton — basically every kid under 14 in the world watched. Sure, the shows might be kid-friendly, but a world of rock and roll and magic, all done on a boat, sets up a pretty decent level for Sora and friends to chase down some villains. And hell, who doesn’t want to see a Final Fantasy crazy beast attack Miley Cyrus? Guest voices abound! Sephiroth holding Selena Gomez hostage!
7) The Horned King’s Castle
The Horned King’s castle is the BEST possible location for a Kingdom Hearts level. Most people forget Black Cauldron, since it was extremely dark, had choppy animation, and got panned by critics and fans, but atmospherically, it’s Heartless bait. The Horned King himself, with skull face and stag horns, makes for an epic boss in the full Heartless tradition, and his place of residence is the scariest nightmare in Disney cinema. Throw in some demon dogs and a few dragons, and this could be the level that keeps kids from sleeping for a few nights.
6) Romney Marsh
Easily forgotten, since it hasn’t been publicly available outside a few scattered showings on TV and an exceedingly limited DVD release in 2008, Patrick McGoohan’s Scarecrow of Romney Marsh was a neat tale of smuggling and costumed heroes. As Dr. Syn, McGoohan dressed like a scarecrow to thwart 18h century authorities around the American colonies. A with other KH games, one of your party can drop out and the costumed Dr. Syn can step in and kick Heartless ass. Romney Marsh is a pretty nice real estate too.
5) 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
The movie submarine, NOT the ride at Disney World. There’s more to the story than a few badly-proportioned mermaids and sea serpents, although make a few of those evil and they can be nice keyblade fodder. Explore the ins and outs of a steampunk ship like the Nautilus, including the amazing pipe organ, and then end up on the deck to take on a deadly squid that’s been possessed with an inky black heartless! And why not make some silly spikey-haired anime freak the real bad dude?
4) Notre Dame
It’s a cathedral! It’s a self-contained level with a ton of ins and outs where you can lead Sora through. It would be absolutely amazing to travel through the giant stained glass interiors of Notre Dame cathedral while leading Quasimodo around bashing Nobodies and collecting some munny. The level would have some deep crypt action, since the actual Notre Dame has crypts, and we’d give our next paycheck to see the transformation of the evil churchy Frollo into a Nobody.
3) New Orleans
The setting for the Princess and the Frog is tailor-made for some Kingdom Hearts action. The characters are too, from the humorous trumpet-playing gator to the voodoo-themed villain Dr. Facilier, making a full-realized cast of bosses and NPCs to interact with. Plus the bayou setting is a great outdoor scene, ala Tarzan’s tree house, and the inevitable psychedelic battle with Facilier’s voodoo spirits is the natural successor to Oogie Boogie’s lair. Oh, and have Randy Newman score it, just for giggles.
If you didn’t see The Emperor’s New Groove, stop reading this article, take the day off work, and go rent it. It’s really funny and every actor from David Spade to Patrick Wharburton seriously brings their A-game. Plus you have the entire Incan temple complex to explore and a trek through the mountains. Eartha Kitt’s Yzma is kind of a cheap villain, so make it another one of those Final Fantasy crazies on a color-changing chameleon like in the first Kingdom Hearts. Plus it would be nice to get Patrick Wharburton into the recording studio to record Kronk’s voice part again.
1) The Haunted Mansion
In this case it’s based on the ride, not the shitty Eddie Murphy movie. The Haunted Mansion has taken on a life of its own outside Disneyland, and almost every element of the ride can be re-used for Kingdom Hearts 3, or 4, or “Ghost Sleep of Actuality” or whatever they end up calling it. There’s the ballroom with the ghosts, the twisty-turvy starwell, the insane graveyard, and the s?ance room with a floating head in a crystal ball. Imagine leaping up and slapping Madame Leota’s spectral visage with the keyblade, wouldn’t that feel good? There’s so much that goes into that ride that Sora and Goofy and Donald (and maybe Jack Skellington) could travel through there for hours.