Microsoft’s Kingdom Hearts III Trailer A Misfire

Putting that ending reveal in the Microsoft conference for a new console was a mistake.

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Just when you think that “Let It Go” is finally out of your head, it turns out, it isn’t. Microsoft brought out, for the first time, a Kingdom Hearts experience to its console. Introduced by Xbox head Phil Spencer on the E3 stage at the Microsoft Theater, it was a significant step for the series. The trailer introduced a ton of new details, and unveiled the world from Frozen: Arendelle.

With a returning cast featuring Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, and Olaf, probably more, the game gets better and better. I’ve more to say about the game in the coming days, having played a demo of Kingdom Hearts III at long last. In a concise statement, the game feels polished. Check back for more. In the meantime, there’s a lot to chew over in these details, and when I look back, I think that Square Enix really missed the boat on the Microsoft trailer.

Beyond Frozen, let’s talk about the one moment that got Kingdom Hearts fans talking quite a bit.

!! SPOILER WARNING !!

If you still are reading on from here, you know that I’m speaking of the end sequence, in which the protagonist from Birth By Sleep, Aqua, is revealed to be a seeker of darkness, after having spent a decade in the Realm of Darkness. In the trailer, she’s seen picking up a new key blade, shrouded in black fog. In our brief cameo of Mickey Mouse, we see and hear him asking, “Is that…?”, followed by the million-dollar answer and revelation. The shocking revelation comes from the fact that Aqua’s eyes are now amber-colored, indicating that she has been, in Kingdom Hearts fandom terms, “‘Norted.”

This is an intriguing development; Aqua is considered by many to be the true protagonist of Birth By Sleep (the game had two other protagonists, Terra and Venn). Seeing her fall to Darkness, although somewhat understandable, is a shocking blow to her legacy as she was the Keyblade Master who followed the “good” path the closest in comparison to Venn and Terra. The fact that this detail was revealed at a Microsoft conference, though, that’s what’s a real surprise, as there are a ton of Microsoft fans who probably have not played Kingdom Hearts. In the theater, the reaction was very lukewarm. A mild smattering of applause for what major Kingdom Hearts fans considered to be a stab in the heart. It was a huge misfire, one that could have had much more impact at the Sony conference. The Sony conference brought out a bevy of new information with the Pirates world, but the Square Enix conference barely changed from the Microsoft one. Microsoft and Square should have switched, or Microsoft should have switched with Sony. Doing things the way they happened was a misfire, and Square Enix should have known better.