There are licensed games, and then there’s Kingdom Hearts – very probably the biggest and strangest cross-company undertaking in video game history. Over the course of almost 20 years, Square’s borrowed dozens of Disney characters and adapted them for its bonkers multiverse plotline. Kingdom Hearts 3 is its most ambitious use of Disney properties yet, from trying to create photorealistic Pirates of the Caribbean characters, while simultaneously trying to capture Pixar animation magic for the first time.
It’s such an unusual task that, in getting the chance to talk with multiple members of the game’s team, my first question was invariably “what’s working with Disney like?” The range of answers reveals a lot about how both Disney and Square Enix work, and the challenges and rewards of their ongoing relationship. Here’s what I learned.