The Kingdom Hearts franchise is truly unique and with thousands of crazy Disney fans and millions of RPG fans alike, the series seems to draw in quite the crowd, but there is always some fault within perfection. Nothing is quite perfect, especially in gaming, but when a game takes its time to hit the shelves, gamers expect these faults to be at a minimum.
It’s hard to say anything negative about Kingdom Hearts; some find the story to be convoluted, but although it does take some strange and at times seemingly random turns, it’s not that hard to follow. The gameplay over the various titles has made some much needed upgrades and Square isn’t afraid to change it up all together to keep it feeling fresh over the course of the ongoing series, with entries like Dream Drop Distance and Birth By Sleep. Nevertheless, there are some gameplay features that should just vanish from existence.
If you’re an avid Kingdom Hearts fan or at least played Kingdom Hearts I or II then you know what I’m referencing…the dreaded Gummi Ship sections. These parts although small are not far and few between. The player literally has to fly through an on-rails ship section between worlds for their first visit to each world or until the player acquires the Wrap-G Gummi block, which gives you the ability to warp between worlds and bypass this head-scratching section all together. These sections of the game not only slow down the pace of the gameplay, but also takes you out of the game’s world.
Every time I am forced to take a seat behind the most boring, slow and drab space ship and experience the most lackluster ride of my life, I find myself checking the clock and realizing everything else I should be doing besides sitting here and guiding a ridiculous space-craft through hoops. The speed is ramped up for Kingdom Hearts II, but now feels like the Gummi Ship levels drag on longer than normal and are just as tedious. Even building your own Gummi Ship is boring and at times frustrating to figure out how to piece everything together in-order to make the ship flyable. Oh, did you just spend twenty-minutes crafting a ship from scratch? That’s cool…too bad it’s not flyable. Really, Chip and Dale? You couldn’t have told me that while I was building it?
If Kingdom Hearts III is making the decision to keep these Gummi Ship sections intact instead of taking the route of Birth By Sleep and removing them altogether, Square needs to completely transform them. The way they feel, the time it takes to do them and making them feel like they are adding to the loveable charm of the game instead of making them seem misplaced and tacked on. This is where the Kingdom Hearts team takes a break from developing the third proper entry of the series and plays Star Fox 64 or the reimagining and most recent version Star Fox Zero. This game knows how to make guiding a spacecraft through an on rails level fun, intuitive and engaging, all of which the Gummi Ship missions lack. This is not to say that these missions should be as long as a Star Fox level, on the contrary, I just want to see Square gain some inspiration out of the game in order to enhance Kingdom Hearts III’s overall experience
What I wish the Gummi Ship missions in Kingdom Hearts III will play like is a mix between corridor combat and open-space sequences scattered between each route to the various Disney worlds we will be exploring. Allow for there to be a few detours or alternate paths, which will lead to secret areas with meaningful secrets to find, like upgrades to your default ship because I never want to go through the pain of creating my own again. They should also add some objectives within each mission to keep the player feeling like these parts matter instead of feeling out of place and forced, while also giving us a reason to reply the routes, unlike in Kingdom Hearts II where they wanted you to play though each route multiple times, but never really give the player a reason to.