I’m nostalgic for Kingdom Hearts. The prospect of playing the long-awaited third title has filled my mind with wistful imaginings of what could be for so long that I’m dazed by the reality now before me. What baffling nightmare am I living in where Kingdom Hearts III sucks?

Lazy level design, gameplay that’s all show with little substance, poor pacing from excessive expositional baggage, filler side content—it’s all presented with gorgeous visuals and moments of charm, but everything pales in the shadow of my expectations. I had to step back and ponder. Has the series’ gameplay and story never been as great as I’ve thought, or is it just all dated by now? What am I missing that most players seem to love? What are these conflicted emotions that arise when I want to love something I can’t help but dislike? I’ve been pulled this way and that between nostalgia and reality, and I realized that when I zoom out, the former has profound influences on my interests, emotions, and way of thinking. It’s not just me—nostalgia is a defining trait of this decade’s entertainment.

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