(Plain text written by me, on May 18, 2001. Bold text taken verbatim from Gamespot, copyright 2001 CNet, included solely for satiric purposes. The original article was posted at http://gamespot.com/gamespot/stories/news/0,10870,2761861,00.html. The original article was an E3 preview.)
Square and Disney Interactive are teaming up to develop an RPG for the PlayStation 2.
Square, everyone’s favorite source of tragically dull, overproduced, excessively-hyped movie-games, announced, in a decision which will surprise few, Kingdom Hearts this morning, an RPG, which stands for Richly Profitable Game, for the easily lampooned PlayStation 2 that is being co-developed by Square and? and Disney Interactive What?!. The game will feature worlds are you serious? and created by both teams God, surely you’re joking? --including worlds tell me you’re joking dammit, it isn’t funny anymore! based on Tarzan, created by Edgar Rice Burroughs and now solely property of Disney, Aladdin, created by a rich Arabic culture and now solely property of Disney, and Peter Pan, created by J. M. Barrie and now solely property of Disney, Tinkerbell underwent a legal procedure to have that little trademark symbol added to her name--and will also feature new and old Disney characters, most having nothing in common besides their corporate sponsor.
The money sponge, sorry, I mean game will feature four new Disney characters because God knows there aren’t enough as it is, created by Tetsuya Nomura, bully for him, who worked on Final Fantasy VII and VIII and was responsible for FFVII's controversial casting of Popeye as lead. The four characters will, in a controversial move, be named Sora, Riku, Kairi, and the Heartless, I’m sure you’re thrilled. These characters will team up, forming the Ultra Mega Zord, with existing Disney characters, ca-ching!, and embark on what Square is calling a "dark, magical adventure." Which reminds me, I haven’t repeated “I hate Legend” my customary hundred times today. Sora, Riku, and Kairi are friends who live on an island, on which resides the mystic wormhole to the Disney Universe! A violent storm strikes the island, that wacky Prospero is at it again!, and whisks the three friends away to three different worlds, the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT and MGM Studios. Sora, that bastard, meets up with Court Wizard Donald cast against type and that noted military genius Captain Goofy, who are wandering the countryside near Disney Castle in their epic struggle against the evil land of Dreamworks, in search of the missing King Mickey. I suggest they check over at Concubine Minnie's. Their common search puts them up against the Heartless, what a distinctive moniker, a race of creatures seeking to enlist the help of Disney villains, always a wise career move, in their quest to steal the pure hearts and souls of others. At least everyone in the game will be safe.
Square will release Kingdom Hearts this year in Japan, where it might have a chance, and the game will come to North America next fall, where the streets will be filled with flopping asses, having all been laughed off the rear ends of thousands of gamers.
Be sure to watch your local bookstores for Captain Goofy’s new book: “How to Crush Your Enemies,
See Them Driven Before You, and Hear the Lamentations of Their Women. Gawrsh!“
You might want to leave now. Here’s where it really gets ugly. “ I hate Legend. I hate Legend. I hate Legend. Tim Curry must die. I hate…”
I wrote the above about a year before the release of Kingdom Hearts, which still strikes me as a massive travesty, an incredible act of hubris, and a partnership akin to a trainee Satan taking lessons from a senior Beelzebub in the firm. For a while I let the writeup stand on its own. It's garnered almost as many downvotes as upvotes by this time, but it's still in the black, and I still think that it's funny. Why so many downvotes for a silly press release MSTing? I have only one explanation. To a certain extent defending yourself against criticism lends credence to it, regardless of its source. Also, if you explain the jokes, as Johnny Carson observed, they aren't funny anymore.
But I'm writing more here, because Content_Salvage says the writeup is not copyright compliant because the quoted material must be less than 33% of the total. Right now I figure it's about half. The planets of WU Defense and Copyright Compliance have aligned, and they decree that I add more. Happy to oblige.
Here, then, are a set of good reasons to loathe Kingdom Hearts and everything it stands for, written from the perspective of one year after the release instead of one before.
First: Kingdom Hearts is a crossover game.
Being a crossover game, it buys into the longstanding comic book practice of allowing characters from different series to freely interact with each other.
Comic books are a bit of a special case, because now that there are extensive comic "universes," and even gigantic story arcs devoted to ensuring they don't melt down into twisted webs of continuity, most comic books are produced with an eye towards crossovers, and those are basically all issues of a larger meta-comic. That's a nifty idea I guess, though it doesn't salvage comic books in my mind, me still no like 'em.
Comic books get to do it these days because they're now written with it in mind. But Disney's animated movies and, to a lesser degree, their shorts were not created with the expectation that their characters would become part of a larger narrative outside themselves, and to use them as such is disrespectful of the creations. It's nowhere in the copyright code, but yes I feel that the characters themselves deserve some amount of respect. Donald Duck (best of the lot) deserves better than to be forced to play the role of moogle replacement, dammit! Characters are defined by their context, and thus when you change the context you change the character, regardless of considerations of "canon," and in a way that reverberates back across the character's previous body of work. There are people out there now that won't be able to think of the classic Duck cartoons, some of the better output of the Disney studios of around that time, without thinking of Final Fantasy. That's a real shame. I image that even Unca Walt, a sharp businessman in life, even he must be reaching 180 rpm in his cryogenic deep freeze by now.
Second: It's a further, and particularly telling, example of Disney's pillage of the public domain to produce their movies, all while they continue to lobby Congress to extend the copyright date to hinder others from doing the same.
Funny that copyright issues should place so prominently in this writeup, given the reason for expanding it, innit?
The great majority of Disney's animated films are retellings, expansions, bastardizations, etc., of ancient stories. Even many that aren't turn out to be novels, some of which not credited by Disney in their movies. There's no problem with drawing from the myths, except that Disney simultaneously lobbies the U.S. Congress, with great success, to get the copyright expiration date pushed back to prevent their own characters, most notably Mickey Mouse, from entering that same public domain. They take from the rich commons of humanity and give nothing back, even many decades after its creation.
Worse, the combination of the admitted quality of many of Disney's animated feature films with their remarkably rabid advertising department, operating in full manipulate-the-culture mode, means that Disney's renditions of our rich traditions come to displace the actual versions. Who can think of Snow White now without thinking about that particular cartoon version? Peter Pan has a rich life outside of the Disney cartoon, yet a lot of people now don't know about that, and as I said above, Tinker Bell has become one of MouseCo's many soulless corporate symbols. Disney has done this with many sources, and because it's all legal (the soul determinant of appropriate corporate behavior in the eyes of the corporations themselves, and even then...) they don't see a problem with it. Otherwise, why would they feel it respectable to proprietarily appropriate from so many of those rich, wonder-filled sources for their damn crossover Final Fantasy idiotic dumbass roleplaying game?!
Urg, where did that come from? Sorry, the bile rose, for just a moment. Perhaps I should move on.
Third: The Final Fantasy game dynamic is showing its age.
Let's move on to the technical side of things for a moment, shall we? Final Fantasy games have a certain play mechanic that, in a large part, hasn't changed since the series' origins on the NES. I'm not talking about combat, which despite its great focus on a game that's supposed to be about playing roles is considered almost the entire game by many, I'm talking about fighting random battles every couple of steps, finding better equipment, the endless cycle of weapon and armor trade-ups, level advancement, and save points. Also, starting with Final Fantasy VII, we got the wondrous new feature of blasted annoying damn load times before each of the thousands of random battles! (Argh, happened again.) Sure, Square elaborates on the different systems in clever ways, not *all* their games fit this template in all areas, and they are to be commended for that. But there's been ten games in the series now, and a good number of associated games. They're repeating themselves. We've seen the Job system, arguably the best of them all, several times to date. Active Time Battle was rightfully hailed as well and keen back in the early SNES days, but there are only so many ways the FF-style of fighting can be made interesting, and by now... urg.
Actually, the entire Japanese RPG industry is showing its age, and Square's failings in this area is merely a symptom of that. There is not a great deal of innovation happening there. Or, indeed, almost anywhere in the game industry that isn't produced by Nintendo, Sega, or a handful of others (but that's a rant for another day). It's still no excuse.
Fourth: It's damn ridiculous.
Come on guys! Donald Duck casting magic! There's a certain MM/DD cartoon that successfully addressed this, more definitively, over sixty years ago! If Goofy were portrayed in any way accurately all of his attacks would be critical fumbles! And how about how so many of Disney's cartoons were piled together into one game, willy-nilly, with respect towards none of them greater than the Almighty Bottom Line? This is a work of childhood ruining-caliber above and beyond anything some guy with too much free time could do with a digital copy of Transformers: The Movie and a 70's porn soundtrack. This is the point I made hamburger with in the original, above-listed writeup. It's why I resisted expanding this WU for so long. And it's still the greatest reason Kingdom Hearts is absolutely laughable in the minds of anyone with a sufficiently-wide worldview. Which, I firmly believe, is most of the people playing it now, in a few years. (If they don't, my opinion of humanity will drop another notch.) Age gives you better perspective on these things, and most gamers are quite young.
Hey, I wonder why that is?
That concludes my lecture. And, as an aside, I'd just like to add, in response to one of the wags below:
Cut-and-paste writeup, indeed. Bah.