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Kingdom Hearts IV is coming. I know that sounds like a threat to some of you, but it’s great news for fans of Square Enix’s Disney RPG series like me.
And with a new Kingdom Hearts on the horizon, it’s time to speculate! A lot of the fun of these games comes from seeing how they adapt different Disney films into levels. As both a big fan of Disney and Kingdom Hearts, I have a better shot than most at guessing which Disney properties will inspire this new entry’s worlds.
Although the first trailer is brief, it does offer us some clues. Sora is stuck in a realistic looking city that’s also some sort of afterlife, at least for him. While the new look may give you the impression that KH4 could have less Disney flavor than previous entries, the trailer also makes it clear that Sora will explore more worlds. Plus, Goofy and Donald look poised to join Sora on his adventures again.
Still, I do think that this realistic makeover is in part to help Sora blend in better with more live action Disney properties. But I’m still expecting to see Disney worlds inspired by animated films. Kingdom Hearts III already changed Sora’s look depending on which world he visited, including giving him a more realistic appearance in the Pirates of the Caribbean level.
I’m also guessing seven worlds, since that’s how many Disney stages we had in Kingdom Hearts III. I’m also trying to think realistically. As much as I want worlds from The Rocketeer, National Treasure, The Muppets, and Alien, I don’t think they’re likely (although a Great Gonzo summon would rule). Now then, let’s get to those predictions.
Eagle-eyed fans have already spotted what looks like the foot of an AT-ST during the opening shots of the Kingdom Hearts IV reveal, which happen to show a forested area that looks a lot like the forest moon of Endor from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
Even during the buildup to Kingdom Hearts III, many wondered and hoped that Star Wars and Marvel would make appearances. I can’t imagine that series director Tetsuya Nomura would want to make a Kingdom Hearts IV if he wasn’t able to secure those franchises. And I can’t imagine Disney would say no, given the success of Kingdom Hearts III and its willingness to throw Star Wars and Marvel at any multimedia project imaginable.
The forest moon of Endor also makes sense for a setting. It’s one of the few times in the original trilogy that our main heroes are all adventuring together while Luke is a Jedi. Plus you have those adorable Ewoks running around, plenty of Stormtroopers to attack, and Darth Vader even comes down to the moon for a time.
In 2002, the idea of a Star Wars level in Kingdom Hearts would have sounded like the most far-fetched kind of pipe dream. Now it looks like an inevitability.
We don’t know much about Kingdom Hearts IV, but we do know that Sora is stuck in a sort of afterlife. Donald and Goofy even go looking for Hades from Hercules to get his help to find their lost pal.
Well, if we’re already going to one afterlife, it sure would make sense to include Coco, Pixar’s animated film that takes place largely in the Mexican Land of the Dead. Coco is arguably Pixar’s best film in the last decade. After Kingdom Hearts III introduced Pixar levels for the first time, I’m sure we’ll see more worlds from that studio’s works in the sequels.
Coco‘s colorful Land of the Dead would make for a dazzling Kingdom Hearts location, and it’ll be fun to see Sora, Donald, and Goofy given the skeleton makeover.
Kingdom Hearts IV is almost certainly going to have a Marvel world. It’s just a matter of guessing which one. I think Thor makes the most sense. Unlike the other core Avengers, most of which are no longer part of current Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor is alive, well, and continuing to star in new movies.
He’ll also make for a great party member. Like Sora, Thor has access to an arrangement of strength and magic-based abilities. Oh, and let’s not forget that Thor’s mythology includes its own afterlife, Hel. It hasn’t appeared in the movies yet, but characters have mentioned the place.
Also, Thor comes with Loki, one of Disney’s best Marvel characters and one that will work well for a boss fight.
Kingdom Hearts III included a lot of modern Disney hits like Frozen and Big Hero 6. Kingdom Hearts IV is likely to do the same, so I’m betting that Encanto gets a world.
Granted, Maribel may not make for an exciting party member, as I can’t imagine she has any combat capabilities. But her sisters, the super-strong Luisa and the plant-controlling Isabela, could join Sora and friends in the world’s battles.
Plus Bruno can make an appearance and then we can all proceed to not talk about him.
Moana is also likely due for some Kingdom Hearts representation. It’s another recent Disney hit, and both Moana and the demigod Maui could make for fun party members.
Plus, Square Enix created that whole ship sailing mechanic for Kingdom Hearts III’s Pirates of the Caribbean level. A Moana world could easily borrow a lot of that tech.
Also, although Moana is not exactly a princess, Disney does consider her a part of their Princesses™ brand, and Kingdom Hearts and Disney both love them some princesses.
Some fans complained that Kingdom Hearts III focused too much on newer Disney movies. I bet we’ll see at least one classic this time, and I think it could be one of Disney’s older live action films. And while most of Disney’s best beloved hits have shown up in Kingdom Hearts, Mary Poppins has yet to cross paths with Sora.
I know the idea of Poppins and Bert fighting creatures of darkness alongside an anime kid and his duck and dog friend might sound silly, but — hey — it is Kingdom Hearts. And just like the film, a Poppins world could move between locations inspired by live action and traditional animation.
Oh, and to be clear, I imagine this will be based on the original 1964 film, not 2018’s Mary Poppins Returns. I enjoyed the sequel, but it wasn’t a giant hit.
We’re probably going to get a second Pixar world. While it’s tempting to pick Soul for the same reasons as Coco — another film about life after death — I don’t think Soul would work well for Kingdom Hearts.
No, I think Square Enix will look to a more traditional Pixar film from its earlier days. And I think it’s going to pick Cars. Most Kingdom Hearts games include at least one world that transforms our heroes completely. Kingdom Hearts II, for example, had Lion King stage that turned Sora into a little lion.
Much of Kingdom Hearts IV is likely to have a more realistic vibe with all of its potential live action-inspired levels, but I bet we’ll get one world that goes full bonkers. I don’t think Nomura will resist the urge to turn Sora, Donald, and Goofy into living automobiles. Plus, we know Kingdom Hearts loves its minigames, and this gives them an easy route to some racing-based side activities.