Kingdom Hearts IV
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This past week has easily been among the busiest periods of the Kingdom Hearts franchise. Between the 20th Anniversary Event releasing a lengthy 7-minute trailer, to the waves of information that came out afterward, fans have had an immense amount of news to parse; perhaps overwhelmingly so.
This article aims to compile all of the news we have received and will receive, with various hyperlinks to merchandise and more detailed avenues of coverage. Essentially, this article can be seen as a convenient hub for all of the 20th Anniversary information. I'll also be providing light speculations and breakdowns (though not quite Bio-Roxas level.)
Kingdom Hearts Dark Road
Kingdom Hearts Dark Road has been delayed yet again, this time to August 2022. This is the most detailed release window we've received since the previous September 2022 window, so hopefully that's indicative of the title being finalized at that time. The new trailer showcased a slew of new story scenes, primarily highlighting Xehanort's upperclassmen. We do not know any of their names, but there is one character who looks strikingly similar to Baldr, likely implying that she's the sister he has been searching for.
Additionally, Odin's actions and words are somewhat suspicous. He tells one of the new characters to prioritize studying the darkness, and perhaps more damning, is him approaching Young Xehanort and Young Eraqus with what appears to be a cognizant Darkness entity behind him. These beings made themselves known near the end of Kingdom Hearts Union χ's finale and are pivotal to the overarching narrative going forward, so seeing at least 1 present here is already cause for concern.
A common theory going around is that Odin is potentially Luxu, which is definitley probable. Master Xehanort is shown at the trailer's start in the Dwarf Woodlands, specifically in the Queen's chamber where the Magic Mirror resides. One has to wonder how long this experience will be if we'll be viewing the life of Xehanort in both his youthful and elderly days.
Those aforementioned points are the entirety of the Dark Road updates we received. The title's full offline release state will have no microtransactions, though its state of playability is still up in the air. Regardless, we'll assuredly learn more as we approach August.
Check out the Anniversary trailer's portion on Kingdom Hearts Dark Road. Moreover, new screenshots of this upcoming final Dark Road update were provided, viewable via our gallery below:
UPDATE 8/26/2022: The remainder of Kingdom Hearts Dark Road has launched worldwide. Additionally, a Q&A was conducted with Tetsuya Nomura. You can view our translations below, courtesy of our team's Ryuji.
However, note that this interview contains spoilers for pivotal Dark Road plot points.
Kingdom Hearts Missing - Link
Kingdom Hearts Missing - Link is the new upcoming mobile entry, taking place between the finale of Kingdom Hearts Union χ and the start of Dark Road. It utilizes Pokémon Go-esque systems with AR technology, but the specifics of how combat will work have not been specified yet. At the very least, it can be highly assumed that gacha elements will be returning in the form of amiibo-looking statues that will replace the medals seen in Union χ.
General information about this game's systems were provided by Nomura at the 20th Anniversary event Q&A, and those points are viewable below (via our team's Ryuji) :
Smartphone game, to be released for Android and iOS Promises to have action elements to be as faithful as possible to the main series Max of 6 players can play together. Screen orientation can be switched between portrait or landscape. The story, chronologically speaking, is between Union χ's finale and before Dark Road's start. "All of the mysteries we've had so far will be explained." Keywords: Scala Ad Caleum, Founding Father Ephemer, Keyblade Wielders of a Secret Society Closed Beta Test is scheduled for Fall of this year (Details on how to enter are still unknown, however) Two systems: A story mode where you progress through quests, and a mode where you walk around (Comparable to Pokémon Go, but with ways to play it even without having to walk around in real life) In this walking mode, you'll collect pieces and strengthen your Keyblades. As a minor note, the custom player character seems to be receiving orders from an earpiece in the trailer, possibly implying that they are part of the same organization that Sigurd reveals himself to be a part of in the Union χ finale. He also contacts other individuals via an earpiece when first meeting Brain.
The following statement was provided via a press release:
Those aforementioned points are all we currently know about Missing - Link, but considering how there's a planned Closed Beta Test this Fall, more news will undoubtedly arise soon. The game's Japanese website recently launched.
Check out Missing - Link's specific 20th Anniversary trailer portion. Additionally, official screenshots and the logo were provided, viewable via our gallery below:
Kingdom Hearts IV
Kingdom Hearts IV was officially announced in the Anniversary trailer's final portion. After brief panning shots of a city-like landscape and a forest, the camera revealed Sora sleeping in an apartment. He looks dramatically different due to his presence in this new reality. Then, after being awoken by a doorbell and seeing the visitor to be Strelitzia from Kingdom Hearts Union χ, she reveals that Sora has been asleep since he arrived in this city 1 week ago; here in Quadratum.
This world, as stated by Strelitzia, can be perceived as an "afterworld" for both her and Sora, following their passings in their previous lives. Still, Sora committed a nature taboo, while Strelitzia's circumstances are more questionable when the final scenes of Union χ are taken into account. So, the ways in which denizens of the Kingdom Hearts reality enter Quadratum may differ rather than solely committing nature taboos.
A gargantuan monster appears in the city's center, awfully akin to a Darkside except far more terrifying in visage. After some scripted combat sequences where Sora's keychain is highlighted to have a grappling hook, two black-robed figures are shown observing the batttle on top of a nearby building. The general consensus is that the right figure is the Master of Masters, though the one on the left is more up in the air. The most frequent predictions identify the left figure as Luxu/Xigbar, or perhaps Luxord.
There are also theories going around about Star Wars being potentially incldued, which we discussed in a separate article, but aside from that, we'll have to look forward to more information. The game's Japanese website recently launched.
Check out the Anniversary trailer's specific portion announcing Kingdom Hearts IV, and official screenshots and the logo are viewable via our gallery below:
Tetsuya Nomura's 20-Head Anniversary Message Cipher
At the Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary event venue, there was a displayed message by Tetsuya Nomura, which we translated. However, there was a secret hidden within the message that several fans figured out. Essentially, the cipher read that "The voice's identity is Sigurd. Pay close attention." Sigurd, a character introduced in the finale of Kingdom Hearts Union χ, is the narrator of the Kingdom Hearts Missing - Link and Kingdom Hearts IV trailers.
The methodology of how this secret was uncovered can be viewed via our Twitter thread below:
Tetsuya Nomura Interview with Famitsu
Famitsu conducted an interview with series director Tetsuya Nomura about Kingdom Hearts IV, Kingdom Hearts Missing - Link, and Kingdom Hearts Dark Road.
The entire interview has been translated by our team's Ryuji and is viewable below. Further, a franchise canon timeline was included in this Weekly Famitsu issue and has been translated by our team's Corfidbizna, also below:
Tetsuya Nomura Interview with Game Informer
Game Informer recently interviewed Tetsuya Nomura regarding Kingdom Hearts IV, the series' future, and other related aspects.
Firstly, Nomura states how some of his favorite fan reactions are to the original Kingdom Hearts' ending, primarily due to how players at the time weren't sure if the story would continue beyond the first entry. The Luxu reveal reactions in Kingdom Hearts III are another of his collective favorites simply because of its severe implications.
Regarding Kingdom Hearts IV, Nomura states that the story is focused more on Sora's disappearance and that there's uncertainty about whether the team will be able to include more of the original cast, notably the Birth by Sleep and Days crews. Still, he desires to explore them more at later points.
Interestingly, Nomura states how he was the one being picky about Sora's recent inclusion into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, not Disney. The latter party was actually quite eager, while Nomura thought it would clash with the "established lore in Kingdom Hearts and the Disney worlds." The end result ended up being qualitative, though.
Moving on to antagonists, Nomura says he's quite happy with their handling of Xehanort's character, citing it as a slow burn that tackled each facet of his character with genuine depth. So now, the Foretellers will be the following antagonists, and Back Cover has already shown the types of characters they are. Moreover, "there will be more new characters as well," though specifics have not been mentioned yet.
Sora is reiterated as the only possible main character for the franchise, to the extent that the numbered entries would conclude if he were to stop being the protagonist. Moreover, there will be a "few Disney worlds," so fans won't have to worry about them potentially being absent, even if their inclusion has "slightly" differed from previous entries.
Reaction Commands' return was reiterated due to fan demand after their removal in Kingdom Hearts III. They were initially taken out because Nomura didn't find the mechanic's debut reception in Kingdom Hearts II particularly positive.
Quadratum is reiterated as the game's initial base, with players returning there as the narrative progresses. Sora's daily life will be approached more, such as seeing him go in and out of his room. Realism is a challenging factor the team has been pursuing to see just how far they can take it.
Final Fantasy characters' lacking presence was discussed next, with Nomura stating that their inclusion is not at the core of Kingdom Hearts' identity. Their presence in the first game was a collective device for players to get to know the at-the-time limited original cast. Now, it's difficult to continually include Final Fantasy characters because of how vast the original cast is. There is no word on how Final Fantasy balance incorporation will work in Kingdom Hearts IV.
Finally, Kingdom Hearts Missing-Link is brought up as an entry fans should look forward to, as it sheds light on several mysteries throughout the series. It will even have hints and new information pertaining to Kingdom Hearts IV.
UPDATE: Notable quotes from Nomura; "As far as the graphic qualities ... since with each new title, the specs have been really increasing and there's so much more we can do in terms of graphics, it kind of limits the number of worlds that we can create in a sense."
"Also, some figures that appear in Missing-Link are tied to Kingdom Hearts IV."
You can read the full interview via Game Informer's website.
Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary Event Proper
Square Enix has stated that they intend on releasing a recording of the stage event, but if you want peeks at how the venue itself looked like, check out our dedicated event coverage where several attendees shared photos of the location.
Moreover, various photos of the venue and stage event have been provided by 4Gamer and Game Watch, also viewable via our gallery below:
Dengeki shared exclusive photos from their event coverage, viewable via our gallery below:
During the stage event, a mini-concert was held, where five songs were selected from the series' many masterpieces, and were performed live in an arrangement for the 20th anniversary event (via Famitsu) :
Dearly Beloved Sora's Theme Vector to the Heavens Nachtflügel Link to All After the performance, Risa Uchida, the Japanese voice actress of Kairi and Xion started hosting the event as the MC, and Yoko Shimomura, composer of the Kingdom Hearts series, took the stage. Regarding the live performance, Shimomura said that since this was a commemorative event for the 20th anniversary of the series, she personally took on the challenge of arranging chamber music (jargon for a small ensemble of musicians) for the first time.
"For the songs chosen, I made sure that they were not only popular songs, but also that there was no bias toward any particular work." she stated. One of the main reasons "Nachtflügel" was chosen was that because it was a newer song that had never been performed live.
Looking back on 20 years of Kingdom Hearts, Yoko said she had many memories of her times with songwriting and concerts. "There are many ideas that I still have in my mind, and I hope to have another concert sometime in the future." she stated.
Further, Yoko Shimomura provided a new comment regarding these recent announcements, viewable below with a translation:
Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary Merchandise
A vast variety of celebratory anniversary merchandise was announced, which we intricately covered. Links to our coverage of all of the merchandise announced following the event's conclusion are listed below. Store pages and officially provided images can be accessed via these avenues.
SuperGroups announced 45 incoming Kingdom Hearts-themed accessories Sora, Kairi, and Riku Play Arts Kai figures Kingdom Hearts II Naminé & Roxas Plushes Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary T-shirts & Hoodie Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary Plate Collection Blind Boxes Kingdom Hearts Light-up Keyblade Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary glass sets, tea cups & bowl Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary jewelry and watches Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary bath towel & face towel Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary Die-Cut Memo Pad Set Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary Metal Keychain & Pin Badge Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary Postcard Set Kingdom Hearts Art Can Badges Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary Pin Badge Set Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary Amnibus Hoodies Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary Tetsuya Nomura Postcard Sets Kingdom Hearts Mini Glass Set Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary Soba Set Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary Chopsticks & Chopstick Rest Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary Bean Plate Set Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary Pin Boxes Vol. 1 & 2 Kingdom Hearts II King Mickey 20th Anniversary Plush Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary Animate Fair Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary Walkman & Earbuds Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary Samantha Thavasa Luxury Fashion Merchandise Japan 7-Elevens Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary Postcards Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary Folding Umbrella Ichiban Kuji lottery prize images revealed Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary U-Treasure Watches Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary 7-Eleven Merch Collab Roxas, Xion & Axel Room Fragrance Mists (not shippable outside of Japan) Super Groupies x Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary Apparel Lineup; Behind-the-Scenes Featurette Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary Sony Japan Wearable Headphone Speakers Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary Mickey, Donald & Goofy nuiMO Plushes Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary Caribbean, Timeless River & Halloween Town Tsum Tsum Plush Sets Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary 1000-Piece Puzzles The following merchandise was announced prior to the event, but they still celebrate 20th Anniversary:
Sony Japan announces Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary walkman Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary Tamagotchi Kingdom Hearts Organization XIII Necklaces Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary glasses, cases & cloths Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary Event Q&A
A Q&A session was held during the Anniversary event, with our translations of specific questions and responses being viewable below:
Q1. Does the finale of Dark Road imply that the Player's heart is now inside Xehanort's?
A1: Play Dark Road and you will find out.
Q2. This is the first time in KH that there is a story branch (the Yozora battle). What is the meaning behind this?
A2: Since Yozora is so strong, I thought it would be better to put something in the game "if he loses".
Q3. Was Ephemer aware of the player's true intentions in Union Cross' finale?
A3: It was a pretty sad farewell, but there's more to Ephemer than meets the eye. A "Missing Link", if you will. All of the questions will be answered once you play Missing Link.
Q4: When did Naminé and Ansem first meet?
A4: In Castle Oblivion.
Q5: Riku's hair was cut in Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance. Who cut it for him?
A5: Well, you all wanted his hair to be cut, so I answered your prayers...
Q6: Please tell us about the return of Roxas and Xion.
A6: There were some doubts on whether to bring them back or not, but everyone had such strong feelings for them, so we decided to bring them back.
Audrey of Aitai Kuji has provided translations for information we did not personally cover, viewable below. This information is sourced from the coverage of Japanese publication, Gamer.
Other Notable Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary News
A Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary cafe was held in select locations throughout Japan. We provided translations for the menus. Merchandise was also on sale in the cafes', though they have also been made available for pre-order via digital storefronts which we listed 2 sections prior.
Additionally, official images of the cafes' dishes can be viewed via our gallery below:
The official Final Fantasy VII Remake Twitter account shared celebratory artwork for Kingdom Hearts' 20th Anniversary, viewable via our gallery below:
While not specifically tied to the Anniversary event, Sora's English voice actor, Haley Joel Osment, was interviewed by Deadline in which he reflected on his time voicing the iconic protagonist.
Utada Hikaru also sang "Simple and Clean" and "Face My Fears" at Coachella 2022.
Further, these three following points are not tied to the Anniversary event, but they're remarkably coincidental.
One of Mickey's Keyblades, Kingdom Key D, received a cameo in a recent Mickey Mouse short on Disney+. Sora's Dive to the Heart and Destiny Islands received highly detailed cameos in The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder The Kingdom Key appeared in the official trailer for Chip N' Dale: Rescue Rangers. Sora's hair appeared in Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers Sora was mentioned in a Taco Bell Mexican Pizza Rap Advertisement (Our Interview with the Rapper) The D23 Gold Member Poster depicts the Kingdom Key Tetsuya Nomura shared a gorgeous Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary illustration. Further, the official Kingdom Hearts media accounts have shared this new artwork in clean, high-quality, viewable via our gallery below:
The opening theme for Kingdom Hearts III, "Face My Fears," has been added to Netflix via "Hikaru Utada Live Sessions from Air Studios." Additionally, the Japanese version of the song has been added to several audio services!
Former Kingdom Hearts series Producer, Shinji Hashimoto, has retired from Square Enix, and has now become a Senior Advisor at Sony Music Entertainment & Board Member at Forward Works.
Kingdom Hearts series Brand Manager, Ichiro Hazama provided the following statement regarding the announcements of Kingdom Hearts Missing - Link and Kingdom Hearts IV, viewable below:
Walt Disney Games Director, Nana Gadd, provided the following statement regarding the collective anniversary event, viewable below:
Lastly, the Kingdom Hearts Memory Locker website launched, containing 15 quotes from several crucial members of the series staff. Unfortunately, the website's messages went offline following the Anniversary event's conclusion. They will be made viewable again at an unspecified date.
However, we have provided translations for each Memory Locker message, accessible via our dedicated coverage.
UPDATE 8/8/2022: The English version of the Memory Locker website has launched, with officially translated messages from the series' staff.
These translated messages have been transcribed by us and are viewable below:
Did we miss anything from the Kingdom Hearts Anniversary event? Inform us!
What were your favorite parts of the Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary celebration, be it merchandise, game announcements, or more? Let us know in the comments below!
Personally, I can't wait to see what the future of Kingdom Hearts has in store, and I'm sure the rest of the KH13 staff agrees. We have some incredible content to look forward to, so let's wait for the future and hype responsibly!