One of the more notable elements of Kingdom Hearts III was that the lineup of worlds was much more modern than past games. In addition to the first-ever Pixar-based worlds, it also included locales from modern Disney hits like Big Hero 6 and Frozen. In fact, Kingdom Hearts III included the first worlds based on CG animated films, which actually proved to be a benefit for the game’s development team. The developers actually had access to the real assets used in the films themselves! However, using a more modern slate of films added plenty of complications, as well.
For previous Kingdom Hearts games, the lineup of worlds came primarily from traditionally-animated fare (save for some detours into stop-motion and live-action territory), making recreating iconic Disney heroes was a little more complicated. According to character art director Toru Yamazaki, the team would previously “watch the movies and copy the costumes as we saw them.” However, for Kingdom Hearts III, Disney actually provided the polygons for characters when available. So while the Kingdom Hearts team did most of the work, the Rapunzel and Baymax on your console share some DNA with their big-screen incarnations.
While this did provide the team a huge leg up, it also made for some extra difficulties. Because the films are so modern, many of the people involved in making these films are still at Disney and Pixar. As such, the companies held the Square’s work on Kingdom Hearts III under a microscope, urging the team to get every detail just right. However, different teams had different thoughts and suggestions, ultimately meaning the developers were working with multiple parties with their own standards. That’s also why we some some worlds, like Tangled and Frozen, essentially retell the narratives of their respective films, while others, like Big Hero 6 and Toy Story, tell new tales.
Seeing as the Disney elements were one of our most highly-praised aspects of Kingdom Hearts III, it certainly seems like the painstaking effort was well worth it. If you want to experience the Disney magic for yourself, Kingdom Hearts III is available now for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.