The original Kingdom Hearts is a marvelous mish-mash of Final Fantasy characters and fully traversable Disney worlds, with a few brand new faces as our main protagonists. As the story developed and more sequels got tacked on, fans became enamored with Sora’s journey and where it took him; thus less Final Fantasy fan service was necessary to draw in the more casual gamer. The addition of many more original FF-esque characters (i.e. Organization XIII) only compounded this, and thus we unfortunately rarely see those familiar faces anymore.
The biggest and best showcases of beloved Square Enix characters by far happen in the two proper numbered titles, so I don’t expect Kingdom Hearts III to drop the ball by leaving them out. Plus, arguably the best moments in KHII happened when taking on the hordes of Heartless with the likes of Cloud, Tifa, Yuffie and Squall (or Leon, or whatever he’s calling himself these days) watching your back. Seriously, I’m getting tingles just remembering it. Surely they won’t short-change us now, so let’s take a look at some new-old faces we might be treated to catching up with in Sora’s final chapter.
Lightning Farron [Final Fantasy XIII]
For some reason, SE thinks the entire world is completely infatuated with Lightning, so much so that she was given an entire TRILOGY of games. Not only that, but she’s also popped up in Dissidia Duodecim and Theatrythm Final Fantasy, easily two of the most awkward titles to ever exist. There was high speculation that they’d pull a hat trick, and bring her in for a surprise appearance in the third-worst named SE title, Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, with even a supposed leaked image making the rounds online of a KH-styled Light holding a Struggle bat. That of course ended up being a fake, but it would be legitimately shocking to see them leave their pet protégé out of the big finale to the epic 8-game trilogy (yeah, you read that right). Plus, you just know it would make the best Coliseum fight to go up against the entire bad-weather trifecta of emotions: Lightning, Squall and Cloud.
Vincent Valentine [Final Fantasy VII]
Final Fantasy VII is without a doubt the most represented FF in Kingdom Hearts, boasting party members Cloud, Tifa, Aeris, Yuffie and Cid as series constants, plus enemy Sephiroth popping up as a bonus boss. Even a young Zack Fair cameos in Birth by Sleep. Yet of all of these players, Vincent and Zack are the only two to receive their own spin-off games, and as stated above, the latter has already shown up in the series. No, Dirge of Cerberus wasn’t exactly the most compelling or well-made game, but the fact that Vincent, an optional character who appears in zero in-game cutscenes, merited his own game seems pretty noteworthy. Plus DoC made it clear that Yuffie and Vincent share something of a significant professional relationship, so his introductory scene basically writes itself. Sora finds himself in Radiant Garden, and happens upon a dark and monstrous figure looming over Yuffie. The creature transforms into a dark and brooding caped figure, and Sora rushes in to help save Yuffie from the surely-connected-to-the-Heartless monster. Yuffie intervenes and explains to Sora his faux pas, and he befriends this mopey guy in the same way he does Cloud and Leon. By force.
Terra Branford [Final Fantasy VI]
Old-school Final Fantasies have been criminally under-represented, featuring only Setzer Gabbiani from Final Fantasy VI in Kingdom Hearts II, and even then only as a cameo role during the game’s prologue. His role was inconsequential, and highly disappointing. How better to remedy this injustice than throw in arguably the strongest female protagonist Final Fantasy has yet seen, she who paved the way for the likes of Aeris, Yuna and Lightning to follow? Terra is strong-willed, overcomes adversity, and would be a perfect addition to Sora’s Army of Light and Justice. She even got a recent model update through the Dissidia games, and her outfit was seen as in-game avatar parts in Kingdom Hearts Re:coded. So really, she’s already a part of the franchise by proxy. We just need her around to fill that outfit and play her part.
Unlikely Wish List
Aya Brea [Parasite Eve]
It’s a known fact that Tetsuya Nomura loves his characters, and will cross them over with other works of his for absolutely no justifiable reason whenever possible. In the case of Kingdom Hearts crossovers are commonplace, and as of Kingdom Hearts 3D it becomes apparent he is open to more guest spots in the franchise than just Final Fantasy, as evidenced by the entire playable cast of The World Ends With You being pivotal characters in Traverse Town. Nomura designed Aya Brea for the Parasite Eve games and even though the relatively recent The 3rd Birthday met with mixed reviews and went widely unnoticed by the media, he still gave her and Lightning mutual nods to each other; Light’s alternate outfit in Duodecim Dissidia is Aya’s 3rd Birthday get-up, and Aya gets Lightning’s outfit in her wardrobe in T3B as well. And really, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see the two ladies as good friends. If Lightning shows up in Kingdom Hearts 3 (and let’s face it – WHEN she shows up), it would just be the best thing to see her wandering with her BFF Aya. And with all the mutations and terrible things that happen to Ms. Brea in her games, it wouldn’t be difficult to tie in a boss fight against her, wherein one of the many wandering Xehanorts possess or otherwise control her and bring out her parasitic side. And then, SORA TO THE RESCUE. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem likely that she’d make the cut both due to the general cult status of her games, paired with the mature rating they’ve all got tacked on.
Zidane Tribal [Final Fantasy IX]
As stated before, Nomura prefers to keep his personal projects closer than any other. It is why we’ve seen seven characters from FFVII, five from FFVIII and six from FFX/X-2, with a pitiful one (bless you, Vivi) from the gem that is Final Fantasy IX. The clear connection? Tetsuya Nomura designed basically all of the characters for 8 and 10/10-2, and was highly influential for those in 7. Meanwhile we’ve got Hideo Minaba’s less emotional and broody, yet brilliant and infinitely more endearing designs for most of IX’s main players, including the only main protagonist from FF7 through FF10 to be absent from the Kingdom Hearts scene. Zidane would be an immediate friend to Sora, and would shake things up in the best ways possible. He’d fluster the main trio by constantly hitting on Kairi, be a general goof-off, crack all the jokes in the world, and still be by your side when you need him most. This underrated hero deserves a prominent role in Kingdom Hearts so much more than the likes of pixified Yuna, Riku and Paine, or the childish versions of Tidus, Wakka and Selphie. And yet, they are all there while he remains absent. Sadly this is unlikely to change.
Balthier and Fran [Final Fantasy XII]
Just like Final Fantasy IX, XII has seen little representation in Kingdom Hearts. To be more precise, it has seen zero representation. To be fair, FFXII released half a year AFTER Kingdom Hearts II, so it makes sense that they haven’t made their way to the franchise yet. All that really means is KHIII has to make up for lost time. Now this pair would play out a little differently than normal cameos, and would harken back to their roles as Vaan’s unofficial overseers at the beginning of their game. Only this time they’d be quietly watching Sora instead. Every now and then throughout the game they’ll appear from around a corner or come and help for a single scene, then they’ll make a hasty exit as Balthier give some snarky comments tacked onto a few words of wisdom, and it just rubs Sora the wrong way. They don’t even have to be a big part of the game; I would just be happy to see them pop in and out a few times.
Chocobos [various FF]
So who have I left out? Would you rather see Vaan and Penelo, perhaps as more Destiny Island pals? Maybe you want more TWEWY characters, like Uzuki and Kariya on team Xehanort? Let us know in the comments who you’d like to see!