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Kingdom Hearts III's shortcut menu upgrade is great

February 03, 2019 2 min read

Like the action RPG junkie I am, I hyped myself up for Kingdom Hearts IIIon gameplay trailers full of spectacle-based eye candy. And despite everything happening on screen, I was fixated on three dots next to the combat shortcut menu. You see, if basic combo attacks are the bread of an action RPG, then spells and spell-adjacent abilities are the meat. Kingdom Hearts often adds enough extra ingredients to turn its combat into a club sandwich, but magic has always been an integral part of the series.

Unfortunately, in most of the series, using magic requires navigating through a command menu. And KH's usual command menu is very cumbersome, especially in fast-paced boss fights where you need quick access to abilities. Thankfully, also like many action RPGs, this franchise implements a shortcut menu that assigns any four spells to the four face buttons in conjunction with the shortcut button (L1 for this game). Thus, these shortcuts are more or less the “main” way to use magic. Yet this really just replaces KH's unique problem with the same problem found in most action RPGs.

This shortcut design seriously handicaps the number of actual options players have by only allowing them to assign a small fraction of their available abilities. Kingdom Hearts emphasizes this issue even further than most action RPGs by making items share the same assigned slots as abilities. But at long last, KHIII has expanded its shortcut menu from 4 slots to 12 -- as implied by those three dots I noticed -- and I want to elaborate on about how I appreciate this tiny tweak not just for this franchise, but for the genre as a whole.

Kingdom Hearts III's shortcut menu upgrade is great screenshot