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Dream Dropped: Playing Kingdom Hearts on the Cloud

by Joe DeVader - March 27, 2022, 2:30 pm EDT
Total comments: 1

I would have honestly rather had nothing.

In the late 90s and the start of the new century, Squaresoft found itself sitting on top of the world. Their move from Nintendo to PlayStation worked out remarkably well for them, with Final Fantasy VII and VIII selling record numbers and being highly praised by critics across the board. While not as financially successful internationally, Final Fantasy IX had been wildly successful in Japan. For two decades, Square had specialized in making sprawling RPGs, but as early as 1996 the winds of change were starting to blow over the industry.

The smash success of Super Mario 64 had caused the designers at Square to think about how they could throw their hat in the wild frontier of 3D platformers. While casually talking in the office some of the designers in the company had joked about how they didn't have a character who would be able to move sales the same way Mario would. In fact, the only character they could think of who would be able to stand up to Nintendo's plumber was the big mouse himself: Mickey Mouse. This was only a joke, of course.

But then that joke somehow became a reality when Square happened to be sharing an office building with Disney, and after a chance meeting between executives in an elevator, a deal was struck between the two companies. This couldn't have happened at a better time for Square, because while they were joking about getting into the 3D platformers space, they were unfortunately not joking about getting into the movie business. This lack of joking led to the disastrous release of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, a movie that bombed so hard that it almost sank the company. The creative lead behind Final Fantasy, Hironobu Sakaguchi, was essentially thrown under the bus and made his exit, and Enix was starting to reconsider a merger of the two companies.

The only thing that saved the merger and the company was the runaway success of two releases: Final Fantasy X and the fruition of that elevator ride with Disney, Kingdom Hearts: a bizarre anime action game crossing Final Fantasy with the house of mouse's biggest animated brands. From there, Kingdom Hearts blossomed into one of Square's most successful IPs, seeing releases on the PlayStation 2, the GBA, PSP, DS, and 3DS. Strangely enough, despite being remastered to hell and back, the series had largely avoided the Switch outside of a spinoff rhythm game. This was odd, as theoretically the system could definitely run on the handheld/console hybrid.

But now, finally, after all this time hoping for a game series that would fit perfectly on Switch, Kingdom Hearts has arrived on Nintendo’s flagship platform.

And it’s a trainwreck.


Awesome job on this, Joe. I respect the lengths you went to test all the versions in different environments. It's such a shame how it has panned out.

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