After a disasterous year that prompted the CEO of Square Enix to proclaim that Final Fantasy, the publisher’s signature franchise, had been “greatly damaged,” things are looking up for the Japanese gaming giant. Final Fantasy XIII-2 is a major success, having garnered a perfect score from Famitsu, and massive sales in Japan.

But Square Enix’s reputation isn’t built on Final Fantasy alone. Since the first Kingdom Hearts game released in 2002, that series — and along with it, the influence of creator Tetsuya Nomura — has rivaled Final Fantasy in popularity, if not in number of releases.
Though it’s anyone’s guess when we’ll finally see another proper console installment of the series, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance is on the way to Nintendo’s 3DS. Appropriately enough, it’ll debut in Japan just in time for the tenth anniversary of the first game.
To continue building hype for the new game, Square Enix has released an extensive new trailer. Get ready for eight full minutes of spiky hair, giant Keyblades, and Mickey Mouse speaking Japanese in the brand new trailer for Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. Keep your eyes open for the game’s new characters and locations.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPtX25lSRmE&feature=player_embedded

Did you catch it all? Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance will take players to all new lands, based as always on a mix of classic and contemporary Disney films. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Three MusketeersPinocchio, and Tron: Legacy all make appearances in the trailer. Exciting as the new stages are, Normura’s fans are probably focused on another aspect of the game: its characters.

Neku Sakuraba, Shiki Misaki, Rhyme, Beat, and Joshua from Nomura’s cult classic, Shibuya-based DS RPG The World Ends With You all show up in the trailer. Nomura hasn’t exactly been shy about voicing his wish to develop The World Ends With You 2perhaps including those characters in Kingdom Hearts 3D will get him one step closer to the goal. Or maybe it means that modern day Shibuya will be a stage in the game. Either way, fans of both series have a lot to look forward to. Plus, just like Metal Gear Solid 3D Snake Eater and Resident Evil: Revelations, Kingdom Hearts 3D will support the battery-efficient Circle Pad Pro.

Update: what a difference a day makes! Just this morning, Square Enix officially announced Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance for North America and Europe. The release date is a vague “2012” for now, but in honor of the announcement, Tetsuya Nomura spoke a bit about the game, and Square Enix released a new screenshot. Check them both out below.

“With the tenth anniversary of the series on the horizon, the current KINDGOM HEARTS saga is approaching its climactic conclusion. The story of this game will serve as the opening chapter of the final conflict, and, as always, will be full of surprises. In order to best implement this element of surprise and discover new realms of possibility, we have chosen Nintendo 3DS as our platform. With its revolutionary new game system, this title will not only be a bold, exhilarating tale of adventure, but also a first look into the future form of the KINGDOM HEARTS series.”

KINGDOM HEARTS 3D Dream Drop Distance Coming 2012

Ranters, what do you think of the new Kingdom Hearts 3D trailer? What other Disney films do you hope are represented in the game?

Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance releases March 2012 for the 3DS in Japan, and sometime in 2012 for North America and Europe.

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