Though I’m excited about the news that Nintendo Switch is getting a Kingdom Hearts game at all, I can’t help but be confused as to why. Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory seems to be a celebration of the franchise as you relive the magic of the games through their phenomenal music. But with no prior Kingdom Hearts entries on Switch, what exactly are we celebrating, and who is celebrating it? The only way I think this really makes sense is if Melody of Memory is meant to pave the way to bringing Square Enix’s franchise to a Nintendo platform once again. While some may see this as wishful thinking, I say it’s not as farfetched as it may appear.
Kingdom Hearts is no stranger to Nintendo platforms
Kingdom Hearts is already no stranger to appearing on devices beyond PlayStation. Notably, three of the non-numbered entries have appeared on Nintendo platforms. Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, and Nintendo 3DS received Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, 358/2 Days, and Dream Drop Distance respectively. Though Chain of Memories was largely experimental due to the 2D gameplay and limited control scheme of the Game Boy Advance, the other titles fell more in line with what one would expect from the series’s gameplay style. It’s not entirely out of the question then that a more traditional Kingdom Hearts game could also appear on Switch.
Kingdom Hearts would fit well on Switch
Traditional game or not, Kingdom Hearts would be a great fit on Switch. Nintendo has long been known for more gimmicky features, and the Switch is no exception. Given Square Enix’s propensity to play around with the series more outside of the numbered entries (as seen in Melody of Memories), the Switch offers a number of things that the developer could utilize. Gyroscopic controls could be used to revamp the Gummi Ship segments of the classic titles, or it could even be turned into a spin-off of its own. Likewise, the touch screen could play a key role in mini-games. Maybe we could even get some sort of a multiplayer Kingdom Hearts title, thanks to the Joy-Con! The possibilities are endless if Square Enix wants to play around with things.
Even if Kingdom Hearts would come as a straight port though, the “pick up and go” nature of Nintendo Switch would mesh well with the franchise’s world-based progression. For some, RPGs can be off-putting due to their length, but being able to play whenever and wherever does wonders to help alleviate that problem. Most worlds are only a few hours at most, which is the perfect amount of time to kill on a car ride or flight. It just makes sense.
Moving beyond Kingdom Hearts for a moment, Square Enix has proven to be a big supporter of Switch in general, particularly when it comes to RPGs. From ports and smaller titles such as Oninaki to behemoths like Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition, Square Enix has launched over 20 RPGs for Switch, helping solidify it as my platform of choice for these lengthy adventures. As an RPG, Kingdom Hearts would feel right at home among the ever-growing library of Square Enix titles.
Why bring Melody of Memory to Switch if there are no plans to bring the franchise over?
My first thought upon seeing the reveal was, “Oh, cool, this looks like it’ll be fun.” My second was, “Wait, why is it coming out on Switch?” for the reasons already outlined. Even considering the other moderately received Nintendo titles on handhelds, it’s hard to say for sure there’s a large existing audience here.
The easy answer to this why question, of course, is money. The casual nature of Melody of Memory will be perfect for sporadic play, something the Switch undoubtedly thrives at. Further, there’s no doubt that Melody is less resource-intensive than other Kingdom Hearts titles, so performance shouldn’t be an issue. Even the money argument has weakness though, as you still have to generate enough appeal among your target audience to convert into sales.
So is there a deeper meaning to this release? I certainly hope so. This situation reminds me of when Kingdom Hearts III (a game at the end of the current Kingdom Hearts timeline, mind you) was announced for Xbox One, a platform with absolutely no connection to the franchise whatsoever. Baffled as I was, the only rationale I could come up with was that the rest of the games would soon follow. Why spend resources making the game multiplatform unless you were trying to break into the market? And if you’re breaking into the market, why have only the ending of the series story available?
Of course, a whole 10 months later, we had our answer. The other games would indeed be coming via the same collections launched previously on PlayStation 4. I can only hope Nintendo Switch enjoys a similar fate, and that Melody of Memory can serve as an entryway for fans to get on board the crazy train.
“The Door is open!”
In the words of Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, “The Door is open!” A Nintendo Switch version of Kingdom Hearts has been a personal wish of mine for a while now, and with Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory coming later this year, the time has never been better. The Switch can certainly run at least the older games. The Kingdom Hearts HD titles, for instance, were originally released on PlayStation 3, and we know the Switch is more powerful than that.
Furthermore, we’ve already seen the Switch handle larger, more intensive games such as The Witcher 3, so there’s no reason it couldn’t run the classic titles. Even if history were to repeat itself and Square Enix announced another gimmicky “side” game as a new Switch Kingdom Hearts, the hybrid platform would at least allow Square Enix to experiment with a new style of gameplay, while still tying everything into the larger story.
So really, there’s no reason why Kingdom Hearts couldn’t come to Switch later on, in one form or another. And with the launch of Melody of Memories later this year, the door is wide open. It’s up to Square Enix to step through it.