Gaming

Kingdom Hearts III review: More for long-time fans

It didn’t spark joy

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I played the first Kingdom Hearts game for a grand total of around 40 minutes, so I don’t think I can qualify that as actually playing. I didn’t have my own PlayStation 2 at the time so I was mostly watching my friend play, waiting for him to wrap up so I could beat him on NBA Live.

However, it’s such a popular game that it was impossible for me to not at least be familiar with the premise. I did play my fair share of Final Fantasy games and like most people, Disney titles and characters aren’t complete strangers to me.


Ready to take on some Heartless!

I didn’t have any major expectations jumping into Kingdom Hearts III, but I thought the way the Disney levels are woven in would at least be clever. It was not.

The backstory is massive

The first thing you need to consider when coming into this game is that you’re stepping into a massive pile of backstory. It can be hard to catch up to. If, like me, this is your first game in the franchise, it will be like watching Avengers: Infinity War without seeing even at least a quarter of the movies that led to it.

That said, the game is aware that it has tons of lore to get into. Right in the title screen you’ll see a Memory Archive which is a chapter by chapter summary of the Kingdom Hearts story. It’s best watched in its entirety which means sitting through over 20 minutes of backstory. For the most part, it does its job of catching you up. If that’s not enough, there are several story-so-far videos on YouTube. This one I liked in particular.

Despite all of these recaps available, no amount of summarizing can truly prepare you for the tangled mess that is the Kingdom Hearts lore. During certain parts, it even feels like the game is self-aware of how much of a mess it is and pokes fun at itself. That’s one of the more entertaining aspects of the game, intentional or not.

The story just isn’t gripping enough

This is my main gripe with the game. After playing titles like God of War, Detroit: Become Human, and Marvel’s Spider-Man — all of which had stories and characters that you will inevitably invest in as you play — Kingdom Hearts III’s story pales in comparison.

I understand the comparison may not be fair. The games I mentioned are either standalone stories (Detroit and Spider-Man) or a fresh start to a long-running franchise (God of War). Given all of that, I can’t help but feel the storytelling could have been so much better.

The way I feel about Kingdom Hearts III is similar to how I felt about Final Fantasy XV which, coincidentally, was initially helmed by the same guy behind Kingdom Hearts — Tetsuya Nomura. The story’s pacing felt off and it went into places that maybe it shouldn’t have.

There’s also something off about the dialogue during cutscenes. I felt the characters were talking so much slower than usual and it invites zoning out if you’re not that into the story.

That’s a thing? Okay.

If you’re a long-time fan of the franchise and have played most, if not all, of the games and feel differently than I do, then that’s all good. In fact, I’m really interested to hear what the likes of you thought about the game.

The Disney stuff can be fun

It’s not all bad. After I realized the story isn’t gonna spark joy in me whatsoever, I started treating each Disney level as a non-canon mini-game. That made me enjoy it for what it had to offer.

Some levels felt like rushed versions of the original films with Kingdom Hearts lore thrown into the mix. Others offered some value-add to the stories we already know and love, and that truly made it more fun to play.

There’s also enough variation in each level that can make you forget you can get through most of the game by just smashing X and pressing △. The animations during battle look super flashy and the combat has a few other options you can tinker with if you get tired of smashing X.

Might be made more for long-time fans

I suspect this game was really made as more of a pay-off for long-time fans than an opportunity to acquire new ones. That’s perfectly fine. In fact, playing Kingdom Hearts III made me crave another good Final Fantasy game, but perhaps one that features tight turn-based combat versus an action RPG (role playing game) type.

Is there a game where Kairi actually does something?

There are plenty of ways to have fun with Kingdom Hearts III, but the story — which I believe should be paramount in RPGs — just isn’t one of the them. If you’re just coming into the franchise through this game, I suggest you play it for the fun Disney levels and just push the overarching story to the side.  The visual spectacle in this game is off the charts, so go ahead and enjoy that too.

By now, long-time fans would have already bought the game. If you’re one of those who are still deciding whether to get it or not, I suggest waiting a little longer for the price to drop. If you simply can’t wait, I recommend getting a second-hand copy which would also be cheaper. But whatever you decide to do, may your heart be your guiding key.

Gaming

We’ve been calling PlayStation’s X button wrong all this time

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Regardless of which gaming console you have, the X button unites us all. Every console available today — the PlayStation 4, the Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch — has some form of the same button. That said, what do you call it? Both the Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch use other letters — Y, A, and B — for their other buttons. Naturally, majority vote calls for pronouncing it as the “ex” button.

However, Sony doesn’t use the same letter scheme. Instead of letters, the PlayStation’s DualShock controller uses shapes: Triangle, Circle, Square… and X? Do we still call it the “ex” button? According to the official PlayStation Twitter accounts, absolutely not.


In a now-infamous series of tweets, Sony has laid down the verdict in an argument we’ve probably never even thought about. Apparently, PlayStation users should pronounce each button according to their respective shapes. According to that logic, the X button should be called the Cross button.

As you might expect, the revelation didn’t go well with the gaming community. Twitter users have outrageously and creatively expressed their dismay.

In response to the outrage, the PlayStation account posted a three-option poll asking what gamers call the controversial button. The more traditional X button won by a landslide: 81 percent. Meanwhile, a joke answer — “+ rotated 45°” — got 11 percent of the votes. The “correct” answer — “Cross” — got only 8 percent.

That didn’t stop the memes. Twitter user @TheDrencom posted a more hilarious compromise. PlayStation even retweeted and allowed the weird alternative. Should we call it the “no pizza” button?

The Cross button’s supporters also had a few things to say in their defense. Based on the actual geometry of the icon, it’s more accurate to say “Cross,” rather than X.

Of course, Sony owns the PlayStation. They can call it whatever they want. Still, the console already has a massive following calling it by a more ubiquitous name. Are you going to call it the Cross button now?

SEE ALSO: Sony PlayStation 5: Everything we know so far

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Gaming

Apple Arcade aims to make your iPhone a gaming phone

100+ exclusive gaming titles

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Apple is known for its hardware lineup, including the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch. The iPhone accounts for a huge chunk of the company’s revenue and has been the sole product to propel the brand towards a trillion-dollar valuation.

But with changing times, it’s essential for every business to slowly evolve. And, we’re witnessing this change with technology companies around the world. Instead of relying on first-hand hardware sales, brands are now monetizing virtual data.


Arcade, which was demonstrated during the unveiling of Apple’s latest iPhones on Tuesday, is an attempt to turn the mobile gaming industry on its head and add an extensive new revenue stream to the company’s books.

It boasts over 100 unique titles, including Beyond a Steel Sky, a sequel to the classic adventure game Beneath a Steel Sky, with art by Watchman comic book legend Neil Gibbons.

Apple said games will be exclusive to Arcade and not available on other services. The subscription service will be available across Apple devices, and Arcade will work with Microsoft Xbox One S and PlayStation DualShock 4 controllers, which should make for more varied gameplay.

The gaming subscription service will release on September 19 and costs just $4.99 / £4.99 / INR 99 a month. This is automatically a Family Sharing plan, allowing for up to six family members to share the same subscription for just one monthly fee.

For iOS devices, Apple Arcade will arrive Sept. 19 with iOS 13. Apple Arcade will be available Sept. 30 on iPadOS and TVOS 13 devices and in October on MacOS Catalina.

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Gaming

From Jedi to Avenger, Lenovo announces AR game Marvel: Dimension of Heroes

Your turn to save the world

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dLenovo made us live our Jedi dreams in 2017, now they want us to be an Avenger. Announced at IFA 2019 is the company’s follow-up to fan favorite AR game Star Wars: Jedi Challenges — they’re taking us to another universe with Marvel: Dimension of Heroes.

The hardware you’ll need

Much like Jedi Challenges, you’ll need nearly the same hardware to make Dimension of Heroes work. There’s the Lenovo Mirage AR headset, the Tracking Beacon, and instead of a Light Saber replica, you get a pair of Universal Controllers.


Of course you’ll also need a compatible smartphone to run the game. Basic requirements are as follows: Has to be larger than 4.3 inches to align with phone tray display cutout. For iOS devices, it has to have at least a 1.4 GHz Dual Core chip along with 1GB RAM. For Android phones, it needs at least a 2.0 GHz Quad Core chip with 2GB RAM. You can check the full list of compatible devices at lenovo.com/miragear.

Play as your favorite Marvel Superhero

There aren’t a lot of details available as to how the game will play out. The only clue so far is that you have to “defend your reality” as any of the six superheroes headlining the game. The six are original Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Avengers Captain America and Thor, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and Star-Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy.

Fans of the MCU should easily recognize the mentioned superheroes as they prominently feature in the last two Avengers films — Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.

In early 2018, I had the chance to speak with some Lenovo Executives and they did mention working on a Marvel AR game. More popular characters like Iron Man and Spider-Man were mentioned but they’re noticeably missing in this lineup.

While Spider-Man’s future in the MCU is looking bleak, I personally am still hoping we get an AR game featuring the wall-crawler.

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