E3 2015 was a gamer’s dream come true – from the Sony trifecta of Shenmue III, The Last Guardian, and Final Fantasy VII Remake to the announced returns of the Star Fox and Metroid franchises. As the expo ran its course, each day was filled with more, bigger, greater news for video game fans. But the three most impressive and innovative announcements were the RPG mashups: Kingdom Hearts III, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, and Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem.
You might think the creation of these games to be inevitable, and you’d be right. We all knew, deep down, that Kingdom Hearts III was coming, even before the E3 2013 announcement. You probably could have guessed that the Mario and Luigi and Paper Mario franchises would eventually merge, and you might even have had a conversation with your friends about the possibility of a crossover between Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem. But despite all of that, confirmation that these projects are actually happening doesn’t fail to excite.
Yeah, the Final Fantasy VII Remake is huge news that Square Enix has teased us with since E3 2006, and we’ve been waiting on a new Doom title since Doom 3 dropped on the original Xbox in 2004. But these almost entirely unexpected titles are what really stole the show this year. Here’s a look at the wonder and whimsy of the RPG mashups at E3 2015.
Kingdom Hearts III
Gamers have been hooked on Kingdom Hearts since the franchise premiered on PlayStation 2 in 2002. Followed by handheld titles galore, the original Kingdom Hearts spawned a second main series installment in 2005. For the last ten years, fans have anxiously awaited Kindom Hearts III, and now, two years after it was confirmed to be in development, we have more to celebrate.
Neither of the E3 trailers have revealed much about what worlds we’ll get to explore in Kingdom Hearts III. Since the release of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance in 2012, Disney has acquired Star Wars and Marvel, both of which, if they are included in Kingdom Hearts III, will undoubtedly provide amazing new environments and enemies to conquer.
Kingdom Hearts III is the odd game out in this article, because it does not combine two established video game franchises into one. Rather, the Kingdom Hearts series melds together intellectual property from developer Square Enix and media giant Disney. The result is a quirky, endearing, and high-selling franchise.
Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam
Both the Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario series trace back to Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars: a 1996 SNES title from developer Squaresoft (now Square Enix). In fact, Paper Mario was originally developed as Super Mario RPG 2.
A crossover title between these two related series was inevitable, but that certainly hasn’t dampened Nintendo fans’ enthusiam. This will be the first new Mario & Luigi title since 2013’s Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, and the first Paper Mario series installment since 2012’s Paper Mario: Sticker Star Story.
Although we don’t know much about Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, this RPG mashup looks pretty great already. Paper Mario joins Mario and Luigi as a playable character, and we’ve seen confrontations between several “regular” characters and their paper counterparts, including Boswer and Peach. Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam is currently slated for a Spring 2016 release.
Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem
Nintendo first announced this game back in 2013, as part of a collaboration with developer Atlus. Since then, updates on the development team’s progress rolled out at regular intervals, but gamers in the West didn’t have a confirmed release date until this year’s Nintendo E3 conference. An April tweet from Atlus slated the Japanese release of Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem for winter 2015.
Due to hit North American and European shelves in Spring 2015, Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem – known in Japan as Genbei Ibun Roku #FE – is an RPG set in modern Japan. From what we can tell in the trailer above and Anime News Network’s writeup, the Fire Emblem characters may have alter egos, known as Mirage Masters, who have all the cool equipment, abilities, and world-saving destinies we expect from a JRPG.
All in all, this writer thought E3 2015 was one of the best in recent memory. What do you think? Did the RPG mashups steal the show? Let us know in the comments!