When it comes to Disney, I can be a bit spoiled. I end up wanting so much more than what I’ve already been given. I’m not sure why that is, but it’s pretty frustrating. For example, I’ve always wanted a crossover Disney fighting game. There’s the mobile game Disney Heroes, where you can have Wreck-it Ralph, Stitch, Buzz Lightyear, Maui, and Jack Sparrow fight alongside each other. It’s okay, but What I’ve really wanted was a Super Smash Brothers-type game where I can use Bolt, Darkwing Duck, GizmoDuck, Zorro, Hercules, Kim Possible, Agent P, and the Rocketeer among all the others already in the game.
I’ve loved Disney’s House of Mouse, where all the characters get together, but it was restrained by having to show Mickey Mouseworks cartoons instead of utilizing the crossover to its full potential.
I even loved Walt Disney World’s Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom card game, which still doesn’t have a Tomorrowland section, and leaves out storylines and battles with Madam Mim, Gaston, the Queen, Captain Hook, the Queen of Hearts, or Shere Khan.
And sure, there’s things like Once Upon a Time or Disney’s Descendants, but…nah…
You see? None of it’s really good enough for me. And it’s not just wanting better quality, as a good fan should, it’s just me wanting…more.
But few have left me feeling more frustrated the Square Enix’s Kingdom Hearts franchise.
For those who have never beheld this massively successful game series, here’s a starter synopsis: Sora is a 14-year-old kid living in a tropical paradise island with all his friends, including possible girlfriend Kairi and 15-year-old tough guy Riku. One evening, a storm blows through and scatters all of them to worlds beyond the horizon, and Sora determined to find his friends. Meanwhile, at Disney Castle, Court Wizard Donald and Captain of the Guards Goofy are on a mission to find their suddenly-missing King Mickey. Sora, Donald, and Goofy stumble upon each other and team up to find Kairi, Riku, and Mickey. But of course, it isn’t that simple. The trio travel from world to world, almost all of which are settings of popular animated Disney films: Wonderland, Monstro’s stomach, the Hundred Acre Wood, Agrabah, Atlantica, Hercules’ Coliseum, Neverland, and Tarzan’s Jungle, battling the Disney villains and wretched creatures called the Heartless. Worse still, Kairi is abducted along with the other Disney princesses as the “princesses of Heart”, and Riku is seemingly brainwashed to join the dark side.
Of course, (sigh!) that’s just the first game.
As the series progresses, things got more and more complicated. Soon, we got to meet beings called nobodies, who operate a cult called Organization Thirteen. Then you soon meet the original villain, Ansem, who turns out to be a nobody of the original or something, then you play as Roxas, who’s Sora’s nobody, then there was a Keyblade War, and a WHOLE lot more that makes me FAR under qualified to talk about.
Since the first game, more and more Disney worlds have been added, including Mulan, Pirates of the Caribbean, TRON, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Frozen, Tangled, Toy Story, and Monsters, Inc. Now, in early 2019, Kingdom Hearts 3, the twelfth installment in the franchise (Please don’t ask…) continues to showcase even more worlds and characters, 16 years after the original was released.
And so here are my suggestions for new Disney worlds to pursue. I know at this point, they’re done with Sora’s narrative, but this is kind of a thought experiment. So let’s continue the saga with new characters and new worlds to explore!
10. The Isle of Naboombu (Bedknobs and Broomsticks)
During production of Mary Poppins, Walt worried that Ms. Travers was going to be too difficult to deal with (For the Cliffs Notes version, watch Saving Mr. Banks) so he secretly planned another movie based on a British book about a magical woman who looked after some kids, and took them on magic adventures. It ultimately became 1971’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks. And much like Mary Poppins, the characters take a detour to an animated realm with talking animals and get involved in a sporting event. Specifically, they land in Naboombu’s lagoon, and eventually wind up on land. It turns out Naboombu is an island occupied by anthropomorphic animals, and humans are outlawed. The cranky king Leonidas grants them hospitality after Professor Emilius Browne agrees to referee his football match, but only as a means to grab the magic pendant around the king’s neck.
There’s little to do much with here, I’ll admit. But on one hand, Leonidas is such an overbearing character, it’d be entertaining just to see him engage with Sora. After all, at least Donald and Goofy are animals. For one thing, it might be a good place to practice a soccer mini game or two, practicing Sora’s reflexes, and maybe Leonidas accidentally kicks a summon gem that Sora catches. Perhaps he has to swim around the lagoon for treasure. Or maybe he has to rescue some wayward humans that found themselves on the island: the characters from the movie, Merlin, maybe even the Traverse Town Final Fantasy characters…who knows?
But here’s my best pitch. Sora has had zero issue turning into creatures to adapt into when visiting realms (A monster in Halloweentown, a merman for Atlantica, a Lion cub for the Pride Lands, etc.). However, suppose on his way to Zootopia (See next entry), the Gummi Ship’s tech is faulty or something. Now, that magic pendant I mentioned? It belonged to a great wizard named Astoroth, and is set up to be the last relic of his magic. Supposing there’s a lost incantation somewhere on the island only Leonidas knows that will let Sora change. This would be a great quest that would allow some cool exploration of the tropical jungle.
9. Zootopia (Zootopia)
So after Sora completes whatever challenges on Naboombu, and Sora can change into an anthropomorphized animal, He is then welcome to hop aboard the Gummi ship and fly to Zootopia, where anyone can be anything!
There is plenty to work with here, considering the inherent drama, suspense, and intrigue the movie had. A kidnapping, maybe of Judy or Nick, and they have to help Sora and the others investigate and find out why the Heartless are taking over the city.
Perhaps after the conspiracy from the movie, the locals are still shaken up and tense in predator-prey relations. Of course, the Heartless feed off such raw negative energy and are threatening to overwhelm the city. Only Sora, Donald, Goofy, Nick, and Judy can save Zootopia!
8. Prydain (The Black Cauldron)
I recently wrote a whole article about the origins of this movie, up to and including its disastrous box office returns. Ideally, this shouldn’t even be an option. Even Eilonwy, its princess character, doesn’t have a seat at the proverbial Disney Princess franchise table. But if they choose to remake it, like I suggested, this would be a good way to test the waters.
Prydain, like the movie, is besieged in a war, only this time by Heartless and Nobodies. Sora soon finds out the Horned King has the eponymous Cauldron and can control them en masse. So far, their only hope is a scrawny pre-teen with a magic sword and bloated ego…named Taran. Sora, of course, was once an overconfident kid with a powerful weapon, too, but by this point, he’s grown out of it, having fought countless villains, monsters, and creatures. Seeing a relationship between the two could be fascinating.
There are other characters: Dallben, Fflewdurr Fflam, Hen Wen, King Eidilig, Doly, the witches of Morva, Creeper, and yes, even Gurgi, but most of these guys are ineffectual or otherwise not very useful. And at least the scenery looks great. Perfectly murky and gritty for a more mature game. Not least of which are Dallben’s farm, the Horned King’s castle, the swamps of Morva, and the Fair Folk’s caverns are all great realms to explore.
7. Crescent City (The Princess and the Frog)
Ah yes, how dare we forget the 2009 hit movie The Princess and the Frog? A nearly-forgotten movie that kick-started the resurgent era in which we are in today?
Aside from its inherent popularity, there’s a major plus here: Dr. Facilier. After all, the Nobodies and Heartless are essentially shadows of their former selves. The Shadow Man, however, despite being the obvious one responsible, is actually found incarcerated by his own allies. See, if you recall, Facilier is only interested in wealth. But because the Organization and the Heartless seek only power, they probably use Facilier purely as a means to an end, if not deemed outright useless.
Of course, as much as we like Dr. Facilier, lest we forget there’s a ton more characters in the movie. Perhaps the adorable couple that is Tiana and Naveen might have reverted back to frog form yet again. Maybe Louis has put himself in charge of protecting them. And while Mama Odie’s possibly not quite spry enough to go charging around with Sora, you know who is?
Admit it. You want this ragin’ Cajun zipping around, zapping Heartless with the power of his lit-up butt. After all, Ray arguably had the biggest heart in the movie.
Mama Odie is, of course, the film’s fairy godmother. Her boat-tree-home is a perfect place to pick up elixirs, potions, and spells.
6. Uncle Remus’ Stories (Song of the South)
I know! I know! I’m such a hopeless case. We all know this will never, ever happen. And above all, I’m such a fan of this movie, to such a hopeless extent, I felt I had no choice.
Of course, a whole world is unlikely. There’s not enough locales to flesh it out, and the character count is too few to really do much with. My recommendation is, much like Merlin having a copy of Winnie the Pooh’s stories, he also probably also has a collection of Br’er Rabbit stories (Probably alongside a few significant Marvel comic books, too, but I’m skipping over that universe for now). Sora jumps inside and is treated to a variety of mini games where he teams up with Br’er Rabbit and frequently gets the drop on the cranky Br’er Fox and the oafish Br’er Bear.
Now of course, we have to address Br’er Elephant in the room. So much like Splash Mountain, references to Uncle Remus and the subject matter of Song of the South will have to be tremendously downplayed, if not altogether negated. If “Uncle Remus’ Stories” is too on-the-nose for a book title, perhaps just go by “Br’er Rabbit’s Tales” or something. But as long as the focus is on the animated stories and whatever tertiary characters can be scrounged up, this should be a fun and whimsical side quest.
After all, that’s exactly what they did for Kinect Disneyland Adventures for XBox 360.
5. Toontown (Who Framed Roger Rabbit)
Much like another movie in this list, Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a live action/animation hybrid starring an animated rabbit that will never get any further treatment from the studio, and that includes being part of a co-produced video game. But at least this movie has a much greater following than that other one.
Toontown is looney, madcap, nuts, and insane. Cartoon characters come and go, constantly doing wacky business with little regard of, well, pretty much anything. But of course, it’s also the home to Roger Rabbit, his wife Jessica, Benny the Cab, Baby Herman, and a trillion characters from a multitude of other studios. While obviously we wouldn’t get to see Bugs Bunny, Betty Boop, or Woody Woodpecker, we might see glimpses of other Disney characters milling about. Maybe this might be a great place to pick up summons like Bolt or Pecos Bill: Fighting Disney characters whose source material can’t substantiate having a whole world for them.
I imagine, due to Toontown having such close ties to Mickey and the nature of toons, it might be a suburb of Disney castle: adjacent to where Mickey’s gang lives, but not the same area, obviously. Like almost as if it’s the “other side of the railroad tracks” kind of neighborhood. Sora might even find his keyblade won’t work, and has to resort to tossing pies, using a spring-loaded boxing glove, or some other cartoonishly silly weapon, as if this were Toontown Online.
Rest In Peace.
What might Roger, et al have to do? Maybe the joy is being literally sucked out of Toontown and Roger has to help Sora lead the charge. After all, a toons’ entire raison d’être is to make people laugh. Benny might have to escort Sora from part of town to the other, but other than that, I don’t have much.
4. Duckburg/Saint Canard (DuckTales/Darkwing Duck)
I wrote another article recently that truly testified my never-being-satisfied with what I’m given. The new DuckTales is friggin’ amazing. And because they set forth a precedent that any of the Disney Afternoon shows could be homages or referenced, we fans began to lose our minds. I mean, crossing over with Darkwing Duck made sense, since it was a spin-off of the original show. But even in the reboot, D.W. is just a TV show Launchpad watches, instead of cohabiting the same universe, as was established on in the original series’ run of Darkwing Duck.
Maybe I’m split into wanting to have Sora fight alongside Darkwing or GizmoDuck. Maybe I got inspired by Kingdom Hearts 2 utilizing both Christmastown and Halloweentown. Or maybe I’m an entitled millennial who just wants to indulge in his favorite nineties cartoons like I used to wrap my Gushers in my Fruit Roll-ups. In any case, this would be awesome.
It could be Magica DeSpell. It could be the Beagle Boys. Maybe it’s Flintheart Glomgold. Heck, it might be the Fearsome Five. Whomever is responsible for unleashing the Heartless and the Nobodies upon Calisota, Sora’s going to have to work with the two ego-emboldened heroes of GizmoDuck and Darkwing Duck and have to find a common ground to fight the enemy.
You know you want it, too. Admit it.
Besides, how much you willing to bet Donald’s a closet nerd for Darkwing Duck?
3. Casey Junior’s Circus (Dumbo)
Dumbo’s only involvement with the series so far has been limited to being a summon, where he flies in, and blasts a powerful water cannon in the face of Sora’s foes. An unusual, aggressive departure for the sweet little elephant, but he packed one heck of a wallop.
But the circus isn’t just a great area to explore, it’s also a very dark and sinister place. After all, Dumbo was about a baby elephant ostracized by society because of his large ears. One could even make the argument that there are latent, residual feelings haunting the circus grounds, forcing Dumbo to doubt himself and unable to fly.
Of course, we know there is only one way Heartless can inconspicuously sneak around a circus. Creepy-looking clowns start popping up and start harassing Sora and the gang. Maybe for a mini-world, this’d work great.
2. Montonui (Moana)
Of course, we can’t ignore the remarkable world of Polynesia, the home to Moana, Maui, Pua, Hei Hei, Tamatoa, the Kakamora, and Te Fiti. It’s a gorgeous locale with more than enough possible islands to explore, not least of which is Lalotai, the realm of monsters.
Sora and company find themselves on Moana’s island, and find the island being consumed by darkness, possibly giving Sora some PTSD. Sora and Moana join forces to find Maui (Probably forced to rescue him from Tamatoa) and get him to either Montonui, or recreate the plot of the movie entirely and have them venture out to Te Fiti.
Watching Sora team up with Moana and fighting Tamatoa and the Kakamora are already the stuff of dreams. But also, I want to see Sora have a really heart-to-heart about the nature of being a hero. Maui, of course, has the bragging rights, the swagger, and the grandeur to dwarf true hero Sora, who not only has proven his worth as a hero, but also consorted with the greats like Hercules, Tarzan, and Aladdin. It might be a bit of a culture shock to be in the presence of the self-centered, righteous demigod, but in all seriousness, I think we just want to see Sora’s next keyblade be inspired by Maui’s magic fishhook.
What can I say except…you’re welcome.
1. The Seeonee Jungle (The Jungle Book)
This, for me, hasn’t changed. I was miffed when I heard The Jungle Book, my favorite animated Disney movie, was tossed aside from the first game because it was too much like Tarzan’s Deep Jungle world. Then people told me in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, there was a hackable extra level where the characters can run around an undeveloped jungle world, one area being what is clearly King Louie’s throne area.
To that I say this: That doesn’t count!
I don’t want some vague, ambiguous nod to The Jungle Book when there’s so much untapped potential. For one thing, if Kingdom Hearts 2 and PlayStation’s The Jungle Book Rhythm n’ Groove have proved, the world can be used as a sort of DDR level, with Baloo or Louie establishing a real swingin’ beat to level up. (Of course, Louie’s all tied up in some legal drama, but that’s for another article, one I’ll happily do if I get enough requests!)
If Sora were to train with Baloo or Louie, doing timed trials or various mini games, only one individual is qualified to employ his military training: Colonel Hathi! Surely there’s some entertaining bits to write of a blustery old elephant barking out orders to Sora.
Then there are the bosses: Kaa and Shere Khan. Kaa may not be exactly a strong villain, but he is powerful. Just imagine being up in the tree canopy and swinging Sora’s keyblade at Kaa’s head, but the wily snake keeps moving his head around. You try deftly to avoid falling off the branches, hopping around with deft skill, but there’s an extra wrinkle: Kaa’s famous hypnotic eyes essentially are zapping at you. And with every hit, your reflexes get a touch slower, and your jumps seem to lack power. Too many hits…and Kaa gets to eat!
Then there’s Shere Khan, the all-powerful king of the Jungle, with unmistakable arrogance, and the speed and viciousness of Sabor. Shere Khan is bigger and stronger than Scar, but unlike Sabor, he can talk. In fact, I imagine Shere Khan super angry the Heartless have invaded the jungle, seeing as how he sees himself as rightful ruler to it. And who shows up? The one thing he hates more than fire or guns: a man cub who can actually take out those beastly Heartless. I can see Shere Khan reluctantly allowing Sora to take care of the problem, but only to turn around try to kill Sora when he’s the only thing left to hate.
Now with all that’s said, where do Bagheera and Mowgli fit into all this? I’ll admit I can’t think of much on the top of my head, but it’s possible maybe Mowgli’s held captive in Louie’s ruins by a troupe of monkey-shaped Heartless called Bouncywilds. Bagheera might do best as a contact when Sora, Donald and Goofy first arrive, since he is the most responsible character.
So those are the Disney worlds I nominate for Kingdom Hearts. Did I miss any? What are your thoughts?
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to see if that Disney Princess scene in Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-it Ralph 2 is worth the hype.