Spoiler Warning: This article contains spoilers for both Kingdom Hearts 3, and the Re Mind DLC ending. You've been warned!
Kingdom Hearts 3's big DLC is out today. According to Square Enix, it's the only substantial DLC Kingdom Hearts 3's gonna get. It serves as an epilogue of sorts to Kingdom Hearts 3's main story, letting you play as keyblade wielders who aren't just Sora. It also has secret endings-two in fact. But they're endings that are gated by whether you win or lose in a certain secret boss fight. Both endings bring up interesting repercussions for not just the world of Kingdom Hearts, but the worlds of director Tetsuya Nomura's past projects too.
Once again, Nomura has shown that he is really sad about how Final Fantasy Versus 13, once a project within the Fabula Nova Crystallis saga centered around the lore of FInal Fantasy 13, evolved into Final Fantasy 15. In a switcheroo six years into development, Nomura was replaced as director by Hajime Tabata, and Nomura went on to focus his time on Kingdom Hearts 3. Final Fantasy Versus 13 is dead. Long live Final Fantasy 15.
That's right: There's very much a nod to Nomura's vision for Final Fantasy Versus 13 buried within Kingdom Hearts 3's new Re Mind DLC. But first, allow me to set the scene as to how this comes about.
The new Kingdom Hearts 3 DLC features a secret boss fight, and the boss is none other than Yozora, the hero of the video game advertisement seen in the Toy Story-themed world, and in the secret ending of the main story. Yozora is puzzled that Sora recognizes him at all when they meet, says he was given the order to "save Sora," and puzzlingly points his gun at him. Then the boss fight happens. The fight itself is in the same Shibuya area seen in the main story's secret ending, or rather, a Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded-reminiscent data version of it.
In Re Mind, after winning (or losing) against this boss, you're treated to one of two secret endings starring Yozora. In one, Sora crystallizes. In the "good" ending entitled An Oath to Return, it's Yozora who fades away. In both, Yozora suddenly awakens in the backseat of a car. In the "bad" ending where Sora dies, the camera never shows who's driving. Both cutscenes end with a familiar refrain from the very start of all of Kingdom Hearts: Sora, now joined with Yozora, saying, "I've been having these weird thoughts lately. Like is any of this for real, or not?"
Yozora himself is a bit of an odd addition to Kingdom Hearts. He strikes a visual similarity with Riku, Sora's longtime best friend in the series. They both have gray hair; they both have gingham print on their overdesigned outfits. One would think this would be a cheeky one-and-done appearance, considering how high the production value was even just for that single in-game trailer, and yet, Yozora seems like he's staying around for good. As if this story wasn't complex enough!
There's one more thing about the Yozora-stuffed secret endings too. Shot for shot, it's the exact same framing that we saw back in a 2011 trailer for Final Fantasy Versus 13. The very direct likeness was originally spotted within the Kingdom Hearts subreddit. There's even a frame of the front seats-though here it's clearly Luxord driving, judging from the glimpse of short blonde hair in the rearview mirror and voice. (To jog your memory: Luxord is one of the original Organization XIII members. He wields the power of manipulating time. In Kingdom Hearts 3, he returns to the series as the primary antagonist across the Pirates of the Caribbean themed world.)
After Kingdom Hearts 3's release even, fans immediately latched onto the in-game trailer for the fake-game Verus Rex, of which Yozora is the star, that appeared in the Toy Story world. The trailer was very flashy, with a lot of magic and dark-hued clothing. It seemed very, well, Final Fantasy Versus 13. Now, it seems that Nomura isn't ready to even let the scene direction he was planning for that game go.
So what is Nomura's aim with this? The car scene was immediately recognizable in watching the cutscene when it leaked yesterday, but it was only going back and watching old Versus 13 trailers where it was apparent how shot-for-shot this new ending was. Is this what he had planned for Versus 13 all along, or is this just a knowing nod to send Reddit aflutter? (At the time of this writing, there are already comparison screenshots and a spoiler post boiling over with theories.) Or is this Nomura's final goodbye to Versus 13, a game he clearly very much wanted to make and never had the chance to see through? Is The World Ends With You involved after all, considering Shibuya's purgatory-like presence in the world of Kingdom Hearts 3 (and its similar Shibuya 104 renaming of the famous shopping center Shibuya 109)? Why do I care so much? We don't know.
As for me, I'm leaning toward it just being a reference with no substantial significance. In a recent interview with PlayStation Blog, Nomura even says, "Sometimes I do see interpretations that make me think they could be overthinking things," in regards to fan theories. Still, it's fun to dream, ain't it?