Bring the fantasy to Kingdom Hearts.
Kingdom Hearts has always been a crazy idea, something that didn’t seem like it would work at first, combining the gargantuan series of Disney and Final Fantasy. Yet, Square Enix made their crazy idea work, and work well. Obviously the focus of Kingdom Hearts has always been on Disney, with Sora and company visiting a myriad of Disney cinematic worlds like Aladdin and Lion King. Meanwhile, Final Fantasy has been relegated to mostly cameo appearances, boss fights, and references. It’s always been a fun mix seeing characters like Squall and Cloud next to Donald Duck, but with Kingdom Hearts III it’d be great to see Final Fantasy get more of a spotlight role. This means having a full-fledged Final Fantasy world available for exploration, with Sora, Donald, and Goofy teaming up with some traditional characters.
A Final Fantasy world would, of course, make perfect sense in the context of Kingdom Hearts, with how closely the series are tied together. So far most of the FF characters seem to get bounced around worlds like Hollow Bastion, so there’s no reason you couldn’t have a place for everyone to gather, or even get a brand new world.
This holds doubly true because the look and style of Kingdom Hearts just gels with Final Fantasy so well, mostly due to the character designs of Tetsuya Nomura. Because of this, it’d be great to focus on a FF world that Nomura has had a hand in designing, something that Square Enix tried to stick to when introducing cameo characters.
Introducing a more Final Fantasy focused world would also let you break up the flow of Disney worlds, providing some great variation with new enemy types and locations. This could be a good chance to take on a bit of a darker tone for Kingdom Hearts. Nothing too adult of course, but definitely more serious than the often bubbly Disney worlds. Re-imagining iconic Final Fantasy enemies as Heartless and Nobodies could be great fun as well.
The first, and most obvious choice for this world, would of course be Final Fantasy VII. Cloud and Sephiroth have both already featured into Kingdom Hearts, and this would be a great chance to see one of the most beloved Final Fantasy characters join up with the party. At this point, Kingdom Hearts players are familiar enough with these characters that you could add on some good development, or introduce interesting sequences/battles into the third game. Imagine a pitched battle with Sephiroth or the Turks on top of the Shinra building in Midgar. You could even go for a gimmicky world and have Sora visit the Golden Saucer to participate in Chocobo Racing and play a host of minigames redone in Kingdom Hearts style.
Another option would be to visit the world of Dissidia: Final Fantasy, taking Sora into the conflict between Chaos and Cosmos. This would be the best way to introduce a set of new Final Fantasy character into the games, while letting Sora join up with some old friends as well. You could make a Dissidia world the new Colosseum for Kingdom Hearts III, havig players take on waves of enemies in battle, with different Final Fantasy villains at the end of each rank. There’s so many different characters you could pull form the series to make memorable and fitting battles for Sora such as Jecht, Gabranth, and Kefka.
A different choice may fit the tone of Kingdom Hearts even better than those options, however, by taking you to Cornelia Castle from the very first Final Fantasy. Exploring the roots of the series would be a fascinating thing to experience, especially as it’s evolved so much to encompass spin-offs like Kingdom Hearts.
Going to Cornelia means you could recruit the Warrior of Light into your party, the epitome of everything Final Fantasy. At the same time the main villain, Garland, would easily control the Heartless forces for his own agenda, making him a strong foe. This sets the stage perfectly for the battle of Darkness vs. Light that Kingdom Hearts encapsulates, letting the location further explore this theme for the climactic end of the trilogy.
It only makes sense that as the Kingdom Hearts series goes on Square Enix would have more clearance to put Final Fantasy in. The Disney worlds are always fantastic, and the main focus of the series of course, but Final Fantasy definitely needs its own world to mix up the tone and pacing of Kingdom Hearts III, while also letting fans of the series experience some unique gameplay.