The Kingdom Hearts III DLC marks a grand return. Final Fantasy characters will be returning to the series. People from Square Enix’s hallmark series have always found their way into Kingdom Hearts titles, though they tended to get less time in the spotlight than Disney’s familiar faces.
The most iconic Final Fantasy character to constantly appear in Kingdom Hearts is the humble moogle. They appear in every single installment in the series. Each time, they end up running shops in worlds. These can be actual moogles, though sometimes they are holographic creatures.
Originally, Kingdom Hearts set the bar with Final Fantasy representation. Nine human characters from Final Fantasy VII, VIII and X all showed up. Initially, the RPG heroes we knew popped up on the Destiny Islands. FFVIII’s Selphie and FFX’s Tidus and Wakka are among Sora, Riku and Kairi’s childhood friends. Once Sora finds himself in Traverse town, he has a run-in with even more people we know and love. FFVII’s Aerith, Cid and Yuffie are among the Radiant Garden refugees who, along with FFVIII’s Squall as Leon, have found a new home in Traverse Town and protect it. The crew is rounded out by two of the more recognizable people in Final Fantasy canon in Olympus Coliseum, FFVII’s Cloud and Sephiroth.
Given the nature of Kingdom Hearts games, most of these characters reprise their roles and storylines in two filler games. Both Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts Re:coded serve as means to explain bits of lore and act as bridges to additional installments. Since these end up retelling the events of Kingdom Hearts, in a way, we see Aerith, Cid, Cloud, “Leon,” Selphie, Tidus, Wakka and Yuffie in their same positions.
Kingdom Hearts II amped things up. Everyone in the original Kingdom Hearts reprised their roles, though the events meant they showed up in different places. Since Aerith, Cid, Cloud, “Leon” and Yuffie were able to return to Radiant Garden, they appeared in their home again. (All were members of the Hollow Bastion Restoration Committee.) They were joined by FFVII’s Tifa, which is fitting given her connections to the group, and FFX and X-2’s Yuna, Rikku and Paine appeared in the area as the Gullwing treasure hunting fairies.
Outside of Radiant Garden, which is essentially the “official” home for Final Fantasy characters in Kingdom Hearts, lots of people ended up appearing in Twilight Town. FFVIII was known for having its own sort of committee, the Disciplinary Committee, and they showed up in this area. Seifer led Fuu, Raijin (here called Rai) and FFIX’s Vivi in keeping things on the up-and-up in town. Setzer also showed up as a Struggle champion. A number of NPC shopkeepers and people who appear in multiple Final Fantasy, specifically Biggs, Jessie, Wallace, Wantz and Wedge, all appear as shopkeepers. The group was rounded out by FFX’s Auron as another unfortunate soul used by Hades and staying in the Underworld.
Unfortunately, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep marked the decline of Final Fantasy representation in the series. Only one new character appeared in this installment, and others were almost entirely absent. When people would head to the Olympus Coliseum, they’d be able to run into Crisis Core: FFVII’s Zack. While Sephiroth was alluded to, we didn’t really get to see him around.
But now, Kingdom Hearts III ReMIND will bring people back. The initial trailer for the DLC confirms the return of a few characters. Aerith, “Leon” and Yuffie all show up speaking to Riku. It’s a welcome change, considering representation prior to this point consisted of an early Olympus portion showing statues of Auron and Cloud when explaining how Hades would use people.
It’s a positive sign for Kingdom Hearts’ future. Bringing these people back and acknowledging their role in the series bodes well for fans. Once the Kingdom Hearts III DLC appears in 2020, we’ll have to see how many icons get to come back again.