My Journey with Kingdom Hearts

This post contains spoilers for the series, but spoilers for the latest game are marked near the end.

So I played Kingdom Hearts Ⅲ.  In many ways, it was exactly what I expected it to be, so I can’t say I was disappointed per se.  For me, the series had gone off its rails early and quite thoroughly.  But even when you’re watching a train wreck for the spectacle, it’s hard not to feel a bit sad – after all, it had been such a nice train once.

The game had its moments.  The gameplay was fun and flashy, the worlds were full of satisfying details, the visuals were often gorgeous.  But ultimately, the entire experience felt like a string of semi-random Things that Happened.

It’s part of what I’m noticing as a larger trend, especially prevalent in recent Japanese pop media, were sequels to compelling works seem to disregard the very things that made those works compelling.

But to me, Kingdom Hearts is a particularly tragic example, because the original game got so much right.

There is a reason this series still has such a strong following, and I believe it has a lot to do with its first impression.  Of course, I can only speak from my own subjective experience. With that in mind though, this is a post I’ve wanted to write for years: an exploration of why the original game resonated deeply with me and why, instead of building on that resonance, its sequels trampled on it.
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Writing Prompt – 03/09/17

One of my fondest Telltale memories was starting a writing club with some of my co-workers.  Every week or so, we’d all write short stories based on the same prompt and share them during lunch the following Tuesday.  I found this one from March 2017 on my drive, and I still like it a lot, so I thought I’d share.

Prompt:

A cracked bone floated up from the muddy pond OR “Warning, may cause SHC”

When they met for the first time, they were both twelve, though she would have lied and said she was fourteen, had he asked.  It was summer vacation, and his parents had dragged him to Grandma’s house in what seemed to be the land of tall grass and marsh.  He only ventured out when he ran out of notebook pages to doodle in, though there wasn’t much to look at besides mud and more mud. At the edge of a the largest muddy puddle, he found her holding a makeshift fishing rod – made from a stick and some string – over the cloudy liquid that passed for water.

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Goodbye Telltale

On my way back from the career fair on Thursday, I realized I would probably never come back here again, so I decided to take one last picture of the Telltale office from the parking lot.  It was a very warm day, the rays of sun creating an epic, almost game-like scene.  It felt surreal and oddly fitting.

It saddens me that the studio went out the way it did, but I gained a lot in the 2+ years I’ve been there.  I made some amazing friends, learned much more than I could have imagined, and I got to work on some incredible projects in the process.  So however this story ultimately ends, I’m stepping out of it on an optimistic note.

Here’s hoping that whatever adventure’s next will be even more amazing.