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Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Tetsuya Nomura and Sora in Smash, Final Fantasy in Kingdom Hearts

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Let's get your villains in proper order.

Many talking heads and media outlets have remarked that Sora being in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate brings a frightening or troublesome wrinkle of Disney being added to the crossover's copyright statement—and Disney has a reputation of closely guarding its copyright and being a pain to work with. This very website has also engaged in that kind of commentary, including saying that thanks to Disney, “Sora is a rights management nightmare.” As well as saying that Sora brought a “difficult rights management situation with Disney.” I mean, that's not some Internet myth we made up or believed—Super Smash Bros. Ultimate director Masahiro Sakurai himself deemed it a “huge undertaking” and said Sora specifically took “more coordination than other fighters.”

Masahiro Sakurai Sora took more coordination than other DLC fighters Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
KoopaTV's fact checkers can confirm that Masahiro Sakurai is referring to Sora, not Mario.

In a fresh interview of Kingdom Hearts director Tetsuya Nomura by Game Informer, he was asked about his feelings on Sora in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. He described that he saw many people react that Disney is difficult to work with, but he described Disney as pretty supportive. Instead, Nomura was the real difficult one to coordinate with.

I... doubt that Disney was as seamless to work with as portrayed. Again, Disney has earned their reputation through their very real-life manipulation and lobbying of how copyright law even works. And they (likely) got DuckTales: Remastered removed from storefronts. Plus, you may note that when Sora got into the game, he... didn't exactly bring an array of other Disney things with him. It's all original Kingdom Hearts stuff, though people will point to a keychain that's shaped like Mickey Mouse's head on Sora's Keyblade as a big Disney concession. ...I'm... not so sure about that one. Disney clearly was stingy and picky about their traditional properties making an appearance with Sora. Sora himself, I suppose, is easy, as well as the assortment of original Kingdom Hearts characters used for Spirits and the Dive to the Heart stations accessible from Hollow Bastion. Disney probably doesn't care much about them. It's not like they're used for anything besides Kingdom Hearts anyway. But Goofy and Donald? No way they're coming.

Most of the interview was actually about Kingdom Hearts IV, but in my article introducing Kingdom Hearts IV with its trailer featuring Gigantamax Grimmsnarl in a realistic setting—I mean, Darkside—I wrote that the Disney characters are looking for Sora in that trailer because he went missing due to leaving all of them for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which is a separate universe where only original-to Kingdom Hearts (or Final Fantasy) can come. No Disney-originals. This is surely what Nomura meant when he said that he was concerned with how Sora's appearance could clash with established series lore. But I guess he figured it out perfectly and Super Smash Bros. is canon. That's what I was thinking all along and it's vindicated!

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Little Mac up-smash Sora kill screen red sparks
Don't worry, Goofy and Donald!
Little Mac, resident real-worlder, will Up-Smash Sora right back to Disney World! You'll be reunited!

The director promised that at least a “few” Disney worlds will appear in Kingdom Hearts IV, and that apparently the new realistic graphical style limits the Disney content they can put in without messing things up. They're also purposefully limiting the Final Fantasy content, and want to make sure there aren't still people who actually think that Kingdom Hearts is a crossover between Disney and Final Fantasy. I remember thinking that back in the first Kingdom Hearts, and I know many other people who thought that too. That's a big reason why Cloud and Sephiroth are as popular today as they are.

But the Final Fantasy characters basically loaned themselves to the series to make up for not as many original characters being formed yet. Now that Kingdom Hearts is overflowing with complicated original characters, no one needs Final Fantasy appearances anymore. That's Nomura's point.

I'm thinking that Kingdom Hearts IV must have barely started development because Nomura is constantly saying things like how “it's hard to say what the exact balance is going to be and how it will play out in Kingdom Hearts IV.” Or, “At this time we're considering how to approach that, but there will be Disney worlds in Kingdom Hearts IV.” Really? You're still considering which and how much Disney content is going to be in the new game? Isn't that the fundamental content of the game, a very core design decision? If that's still not decided yet, then the game isn't far along at all and it's still in basic planning. They're even still “considering bringing the [reaction command system] back in Kingdom Hearts IV.” That's a core gameplay mechanic!

You could say that Nomura is just being shy about giving away details, but you don't use words like “consider” if decisions haven't been made yet. You'll say stuff like “Stay tuned to see what's in store!” Or “We'll announce our decision at a later date.”

Don't expect anything soon. Unfortunately, I'd like Sora to be ejected back to his own series and out of Super Smash Bros. NOW... doesn't seem like that'll happen. The man's still the most popular character in usage right now and he's a menace. And his voice acting is ANNOYING. “Ah-hah! Back off!” Ugh.

That kill screen screenshot above was from a great replay that Ludwig can't share because he didn't buy Sora's DLC, but his Little Mac just destroyed the Sora and it felt great. He uploaded this replay of a similar match where he quickly dispatched a Wolf with Little Mac—though he doesn't feel like Wolf should be punched out of the game like Sora should be. Anyway, what do you think of what Nomura said? Is Disney really as lenient as he portrayed? Should Final Fantasy and/or Disney have bigger roles to play in Kingdom Hearts? Feel free to rant in the comments section below.


  1. Sora had some nerve making Smash Bros all about himself and his rotten fans too! And I think Disney doesn’t deserve anything to do with Kingdom Hearts ever

    1. I think Kingdom Hearts and Disney are inseparable; if you hate Disney, you gotta hate KH too.


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