With the long-awaited Kingdom Hearts 3 almost upon us, I wondered how much the entertainment landscape has changed since the series first showed up on the scene. In today’s media, nearly every franchise has started to build their own vast universes, just like the Kingdom Hearts franchise did 17 years ago.

Tim and I chatted about how the idea of creating giant cohesive universes feels much different today than it did back in 2002. After all, Disney now owns Star Wars, Marvel, and even certain parts of Fox, And if Disney continues to gobble up everything in sight, we might just see Darth Vader force-choke Goofy or witness Shuri hook up Sora’s gummy ship with a vibranium hull.

Check out the video to hear Tim and I talk about the Kingdom Hearts franchise and why 90% of the fun with Kingdom Hearts is just swimming in it all. Here’s an excerpt:


Paul: It was such a novel idea at the time. Like Final Fantasy and Disney, “What a nice pairing!” You get to see Goofy and Sephiroth in the same scene or whatever.

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Tim: It was a nice pairing for Final Fantasy fans. They were like “whoa, games are real now!? Games are legitimate. My favorite game franchise is ‘worthy’ of Disney?” It validated video games for a lot of people. It inspired huge amounts of fan fiction. It was huge amounts of fan fiction bundled into video game form.

Paul: Yeah, it was “real.”

Tim: That became the cultural zeitgeist for superhero movies. Like what if Batman was real? Which is the mission statement behind almost every superhero movie that’s ever happened. Batman but with real world political situations in it. Kingdom Hearts almost felt like a prototype of that. Like, Disney characters but with real dark wizard stuff… All of the weird zippers and pleather- black-cad dark wizard characters fit in with Disney because they’re all so uniform. So you have something to catch your eyeballs on in every scene.

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Paul: I’m a little hesitant to even jump into Kingdom Hearts 3 even though I know a part of it is specifically targeted to hone in on my nostalgia from when I was a teenager playing the first one in my bedroom. But a part of me also wonders if I’ve forgotten too much about the lore or the story but 90% of it is just watching it happen on the screen. It’s visual cotton candy.