Hear Me Out: Kingdom Hearts Musou – A New Perspective on the Kingdom Hearts Series

Not too long ago, I was lamenting the way Kingdom Hearts in particular has suffered from ever-extending development cycles and long delays between series installments. Growing up we got a new Kingdom Hearts game almost every year.

Many were experimental, bending the action-RPG genre in different directions and constantly introducing new systems and mechanics across different platforms. Many people disparage the card-based Chain of Memories, but I maintain that it’s remarkable such a thing exists.

Wouldn’t you rather have a new Chain of Memories today than nothing at all? I’ve been thinking about all the Kingdom Hearts games-that-could-have-been a lot lately, and also scrolling through Kingdom Hearts posts on social media, which is not so much a ‘lately’ thing as an ‘always’ one – and this tweet about Final Fantasy characters in Kingdom Hearts caught my attention.

For the record, I agree: Kingdom Hearts games were better with Final Fantasy characters in the story, even if it doesn’t need them anymore. But the thing that really grabbed me about this post was the clip of Cloud and Leon facing off against an endless onslaught of heartless in Kingdom Hearts 2.

I don’t know why I’ve never considered this before, but Kingdom Hearts is begging for a musou game. Now, I’m not the biggest musou fan, which is probably why the thought has never crossed my mind before.

My only real exposure to the genre is through the Hyrule Warriors series, the Zelda crossover games developed by Team Ninja and published by Koei Tecmo. Based on those games alone, my impression of the genre is that its appeal comes from its large-scale hack-and-slash battles that let you chop down hundreds of thousands of enemies as effortlessly as a weed whacker slices through blades of grass.

Well, the most memorable scene in all of Kingdom Hearts history is the one that directly follows this scene from the tweet, where Sora goes full weedwacker on 1000 heartless at once. The other thing that makes musous so popular is its enormous cast of playable characters, which is another one of Kingdom Hearts’ strengths.

If you only count the main heroes, Kingdom Hearts has the seven Guardians of Light, plus Terra, Roxas, Xion, Donald, Goofy, and the Riku Replicant. In 358/2 Days, you can play as all 13 members of Organization XIII.

Then you’ve got all the Final Fantasy characters like Cloud, Sephiroth, Yuffie, and Leon, all the different versions of Xehanort, Master Eraqus, Namine, Yen Sid, the Foretellers – the list goes on and on, and that’s not even considering all the different Disney characters you could play. Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate has 177 dynasty warriors, and it wouldn’t be hard for a Kingdom Hearts musou to match that.

Someone is going to say ‘licensing nightmare’ before even reading this, but personally, I don’t find that to be a compelling argument at all. Kingdom Hearts itself is a licensing nightmare.

I don’t know or care how contractually difficult it would be to get a Kingdom Hearts musou game made, all I know is that it’s a great idea that needs to happen before I get too old to mash buttons and watch a million heartless die in one fell swoop.

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