So, about a month before the highly anticipated release of Kingdom Hearts III, Disney Springs offered a pop-up shop to give their guests a Kingdom Hearts experience! The big draw from this experience was a special demo of Kingdom Hearts III that people were able to play before the release date.
Inside the shop, they had a lot of promotional posters for the game. Most of the posters featured all the worlds that were announced for the game like Arendelle from Frozen and The Caribbean from Pirates of the Caribbean. Not only are our favorite trio(Sora, Donald, and Goofy) featured in the posters, we get a glimpse of them in their costumes from the move that the world is based from. There was even a throne that people can sit on to represent Sora’s throne that he sits on in a lot of promotional material.
There was even life size replica keyblades on display, like Sora’s original keyblade or the new Infinity Badge keyblade (that will be received in the Toy Box world which features the characters from Toy Story). Also, on display was thePlay Arts figures previously released or yet to be released. The figure of Aqua was very excellent, and I know in the future that this figure will be added to my collection. They had the game cases for Kingdom Hearts III both PS4 and Xbox One on display. Only the standard version of each game, none of thecollector/limited edition versions were displayed.
Inside the shop, they had a TV that had a playlist of every trailer that was released for the game (in English). There were several iPad kiosks that had the Square Enix store loaded on it, so guests can preorder the game. Instead of a physical line to wait to play the game, guests were placed in a virtual line. We could go elsewhere in Disney Springs until they texted us to let us know it’s our time to play.
For the game, they gave us rules (especially for us media people!). We were allowed to take video of us playing the game, but at all times we had to be in the video! (If you check out my YouTube reaction below, you’ll see there is no instance where I’m not on screen.) Also, we could only play for 15 minutes. They suggested for us to skip the cut scenes as they said it was 7 minutes in total length. I however, did not want to skip the scenes because I wanted to get the most out of the game I could. After I completed my first play through, I signed up again to watch the rest!
The demo, or Premium Showcase as it was called, was the same one that was offered at E3 in 2018. We could select from 2 worlds: Olympus from Hercules and Toy Box from Toy Story. I selected Olympus first, since the end of Kingdom Hearts 0.2 ~A Fragmentary Passage~ heavily suggested that this will be the first world you will play in Kingdom Hearts III. In this part of the demo, it’s more of a boss fight, between Sora and the gang and the Rock Titan. You get to climb the mountain as the titan is smashing it. The only keyblade you have equipped in this world is the Kingdom Key, and the only summon you can use is the Meow Wow dream eater from Dream Drop Distance. While you bash the baddies with your keyblade, the Command Style from Birth by Sleep returns. When you go into your second form, you can pull off familiar commands like Sonic Blade and Ars Arcanum. It looks like D-Links returned from Birth by Sleep, as Donald and Sora teamed up to do Donald’s Duck Flare and Goofy vaulted Sora up for an attack as well (I didn’t get to read what the attack was called). I saw that the Shotlock command returned as well from Birth by Sleep, but during my first playthrough I forgot how to do that. By my second playthrough, I remembered that I had to hold the Lock-On shoulder button.
To defeat the Rock Titan, Sora uses a new Attraction Move, which gives him new summons based on Disney Parks rides. In Olympus, you get to ride the Big Thunder Mountain Train as it uses fireworks to blast the titan. Once you defeat the boss, the level stops as “Thank You for Playing” is displayed. There wasn’t much story in this part of the demo, but it really showcases the combat and controls we can expect in Kingdom Hearts III.
The second part of the demo, Toy Box, opens with a pretty lengthy cutscene. As we see Sora, Donald, and Goofy are action figures now as they get to meet the characters from Toy Story. Normally worlds in Kingdom Hearts would just retell the plot from the movie it is based off of. In this world, the story is original for Kingdom Hearts, as we find out Buzz’s laser is real and the Heartless are after the toys. One funny exchange from this level is that Rex sees Sora and treats him like a celebrity as he recognizes him from Andy’s video game and calls him Yohzura (a play of Sora’s name in a Japanese accent). There is even mention that Rex can’t beat Bahumat, which Sora fought in the first Kingdom Hearts game and is well known in the Final Fantasy series.
In the Toy Box, you can cycle through keyblades, one from Tangled, one from Monster’s Inc., and the one you will get in the Toy Box. It was easy to switch keyblades as you had to just press the left direction on the d-pad. Each has their unique moves, like the one from Monstropolis turns into claws to attack the enemies. Also, a new Attraction attack was available with the classic ride featuring the Mad Hatter teacups! And we have 2 new summons in the Link menu. Ariel comes in (completely covered in water) as she and Sora dives and splashes the Heartless while the Atlantica theme plays from the first Kingdom Hearts game. The other person you can summon is Ralph, from Wreck-It-Ralph. Ralph builds 8-bit turrets and then when you are done having him build as many as you can, he will activate them then smashes them along with the other baddies!
Woody and Buzz join up with your party, and the best part of this is that Goofy and Donald are still helping you, meaning that you don’t have to switch out characters like you had to do in the original Kingdom Hearts games. They also join up with Sora for other combo attacks. At one point, Sora and the toys are in a toy shop and here Sora meets up with Terra-Xenahort. Sora mentions that this was the first time he saw him since Dream Drop Distance, and he saw other members of Xenahort’s gang. Meaning that this may not be the second world you go to, but still may be an early world. After that cut scene, you get to battle heartless in big robot toys and here you can have Sora either attack toys with them towering over you or climb in the other mech like toys and command your own. Each one has their own health and if it gets badly damaged, you can get out and go inside another one (like the ones you defeated). After you finish this battle, the “Thank You for Playing” displays.
I liked that Olympus featured more boss combat and Toy Box felt like starting a new Kingdom Hearts level. This combined with the atmosphere that Disney Springs created really invigorated my hype for the game! What about you guys? Have you preordered the game yet? Maybe 4 years ago like me or a certain pirate! Were you able to visit Disney Springs for the Kingdom Hearts experience?
Also, be sure to watch my video review of the experience here:
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