KH3 – Interviews & Official Website

With E3 in progress, we’ve been getting a lot of Kingdom Hearts news, particularly on the long-awaited Kingdom Hearts III. After the reveal of the teaser trailer on Monday night during the Sony Press Conference, Square-Enix kept the momentum going with the launch of the Official Kingdom Hearts III Website, which currently does nothing more than show off some specs for the game and let you watch the trailer from the other day.

The past few days, as you might imagine, the man behind the magic, Tetsuya Nomura himself, has been busy in interview after interview on the E3 floor. Of course, questions about Kingdom Hearts III were among the conversations, but there were also questions buzzing about the upcoming international releases for Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD ReMIX. You can read all three full interviews with Nomura below (bold text are the questions and italicized text are Nomura’s answers):

Square-Enix LiveChat Interview

We’re going to start off with a little bit of Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX chat. Can you explain how you came up with the idea of Kingdom Hearts and how the name originated?

Originally, I wanted to find a title that fits Disney, because it’s a Disney video game. When I thought of this game I thought of amusement parks and I wanted to make something kind of like through Disney Land. So, “Kingdom” was the first name that came to my mind. The development team was calling it as a kingdom. But I couldn’t get the IP of “Kingdom”. So, we thought about “Heart” as a core part of the story, and we combined them together.

How it’s meant to work with Disney?

Originally our producer Hashimoto became friends with Disney (they shared the same office building), and chatted with people from Disney. We decided it would be great to make a game together. This is how the franchise was born. Our relationship with Disney has been good, working together for 10 years, and we still have the same counterpart at the Disney site. We have heated discussion (laughs). But the relationship has been good.

Can you let fans know what’s been involved in the process of remastering Kingdom Hearts for the HD 1.5 ReMIX?

KH1 was created a long time ago, so actually the original data was missing. We had to research and dig out from the games and recreate everything. Then, we had to redo the graphics, and it was actually not that easy.

What makes this a definitive Kingdom Hearts experience? Especially because this version was never released in North America, it’s going to be the first time for people to experience this package.

The Final Mix version of KH was available in Japan, just not NA and Europe. I had a vision that I eventually wanted to make them available everywhere– all over the world. There are many additional elements in FM that were not seen by the other territories, so this became a big chance. We added two games and one movie as a package, as HD 1.5 ReMIX, and now everyone over the world can share the complete KH world.

What is your favorite character and enemy in the Kingdom Hearts universe?

Master Xehanort is definitely one of my favorites. And in KH1, Ansem was my favorite.

Was there any characters or worlds that were cut at any time?

The Jungle Book is one world that we always try to insert, but due to various circumstances it always ends up being cut.

What does HD 1.5 ReMIX mean in relation to Kingdom Hearts III?

Because we decided to make Kingdom Hearts III, we decided to make HD 1.5 ReMIX. So basically, it shows my determination to Kingdom Hearts III. To the fans, I want to make sure that everyone plays HD 1.5 ReMIX in preparation for Kingdom Hearts III

Pre-order Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX, and get a free 24-page art book which includes new sketches. Also, get a never before seen sketch by Nomura-san!

On to the Kingdom Hearts III questions, what new worlds can we expect in Kingdom Hearts III?
(Laughs) I’m not allowed to say what will be coming in Kingdom Hearts III, but each time when I select the worlds for the game I choose some stable choices that are accessible for the game and the story, and I try to insert surprising factors. I want everyone to be surprised to see that particular world. For Kingdom Hearts III I want to make sure that there will be a lot of surprises.

Can you speak of the new battle system at all?

For the previous KH’s titles, especially for KH1 and KH2 (core games), I want to make sure that evolution is occurring. For the spin-off games, I wanted to experiment with new challenges and new skills. Because this is a core game, I feel like there are appropriate game styles. KH2 had a game system that was well received by the KH players, and Kingdom Hearts III will follow this system. However, due to the experiments in the spin-off titles, we would like to incorporate the well-received changes of these games.

Will we see any new FF characters? Will we get a chance to play as King Mickey?

The appearance of FF characters is pending. For a while, the previous titles didn’t have any FF characters, and I think it’s time to include some. I know everyone wants to play as King Mickey, so I will take that into consideration. Of course Sora will be the main character to play; it would be nice if other characters are playable as well.

Any plans for multiplayer in Kingdom Hearts III?

Multiplayer elements are also under consideration. We are also looking into online capabilities. We will announce more details regarding this at a later time.

Will summoning be returning to Kingdom Hearts III?

Yes. Summon is going to be available, but in a very different form. In previous titles, Disney characters could be summoned. But in Kingdom Hearts III, it will be a completely different system.

Is this the end of Organization XIII and Nobodies as characters?

Yes, the battle against Organization XIII will end in this title. I don’t know about Nobodies. But, Master Xehanort is the one that organised the Organization XIII and the battle against him will be the end.

Will we actually get to see Kingdom Hearts?

I don’t want to say too much, but Kingdom Hearts has appeared occasionally in the last 10 years of the franchise and I think it will appear again…

(Nomura remembers something he wanted to say about the worlds in KH3.) For Kingdom Hearts III you may notice there is a technique called “shader”. Using this tool, restriction of characters have been definitely changed, and the texture which is to be put on the surface of the model has been used to describe the Disney characters and to make it similar to the Disney characters that people are familiar with. For Kingdom Hearts III, we will use a different “shader” for different worlds, so it would look natural to match these worlds.

Hiroki Yasumoto Interview

Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD ReMIX

  • They note that KH 1.5 has already released in Japan, and will release overseas in September.
  • As the trailer plays, Yasumoto gives a basic description of KH 1.5 and mentions speaking with animation supervisor Tatsuya Kando about KH 1.5 on the Square Enix Channel radio show in March.
  • When Yasumoto mentions being impressed at the length of and the effort put into the Days video volume, Nomura says that they didn’t intend on making it so long from the beginning, and that they actually began work without being sure how long it would end up. He says that as it became so long anyway, he almost wishes he had just gone and made an actual film.
  • Nomura affirms that it was difficult to create the HD remaster. He says that as the original title was so old, almost all the original data was gone. The programmers began the project by digging around for data, and they had to work out everything for themselves bit by bit, as they were working with other people’s programs rather than programs they had made themselves. It was apparently a huge job to recreate everything.

Kingdom Hearts III

  • While Yasumoto is excited about KH3 finally on the way after so much waiting, mentioning that KH2 was released in 2005, Nomura says he hasn’t felt aware of the time passing at all! Yasumoto says that’s probably to be expected since there have been games out every year anyway. Nomura says, however, hearing that seven or eight years have passed does make him think it’s been a bit too long. He says he has been thinking he really needs to hurry up and do it.
  • When Yasumoto asks how work on the numbered titles begin, Nomura says that he thinks of a numbered title as something following the pattern of KH1, with Sora as protagonist and Donald and Goofy as friends that come with you.
  • Nomura agrees that during the concept stage it is simple. There hadn’t been anything plot-wise that fit so far, so they had continued with spin offs.
  • Yasumoto confirms that is has been 8 years since KH2 was released. Nomura agrees that it’s taken a bit too long.
  • On the topic of gameplay and battling, Nomura says since it’s a numbered title they plan to evolve the basic style of KH2, while perhaps incorporating some of the elements of gameplay they challenged themselves to develop for the spin off titles. Apparently there will be a lot of gameplay from KH3D in particular, and he thinks you can feel the future KH3 in that game.
  • When asked whether people who are completely new to the KH series will be able to enjoy KH3 without playing any other titles, Nomura is unsure! He says that when he decided to make KH3, he decided he would also have to make 1.5. Nomura hopes people will play and enjoy 1.5, especially now that KH3 has been announced.
  • They talk about the difficulties of working on new hardware such as the PS4 and XBox ONE. Nomura says that they way they have to make the game is very different from how they have done things so far. They are using the method of making the base of the whole thing on PC and then adjusting for the features of each console, which is apparently the best way to go about ported projects.
  • There are many challenges in making a ported game, but Nomura is confident he and his team will overcome them.

Famitsu Interview

We were surprised that you would release a KHIII trailer so soon, what with KH 3D and KH 1.5 still so recent.

I know there are many fans who are restless because we have only released spin off titles since KHII, so I decided to announce it along with FFXV. Looking at the stage of development, though, I do think perhaps it is a bit early to be announcing it.

However, it does seem like the visuals already have a solid direction.

Among the developers we are calling the visuals ‘Kingdom Shader’. On original worlds, this is the feel the characters will have. The Shader will adjust depending on the world, so the visuals will match with the style of each Disney World.

Like FFXV, is KHIII being developed on Luminous Studios?

At present, we are going with Luminous as our main and undergoing investigations. The porting to both PS4 and Xbox One, working by overengineering, is the same. For the section of battle in the trailer we showed, we didn’t have time to prepare a clip of it working on the existing equipment because of tool issues, so instead we made an FMV that would give a feel for what is possible in realtime. Even so, the way it moves doesn’t look much different at all in realtime.

Please tell us how the action in KHIII will have evolved.

Right now there’s a demo version that works on our existing equipment… and it’s an absolute storm (laughs). It goes even beyond ‘bold action’. In KHIII you will have a three person party, but depending on the world NPCs will also join in fighting, basically, we’re developing some very flashy action. You’ll be flying through the sky unfolding into air battles without landing.

Just with Sora (laughs)?

I suppose so (laughs). The enemy AI is becoming rather elaborate, and we’d like for coordinated action to flow from enemies and allies alike. For example, there’s a vehicle-type enemy, and we’ve already got Sora being able to ride that enemy all around during battle.

Lastly, a message for your fans.

FFXV and KHIII are projects that exist as great rival projects that polish each other up as they are developed. At our private conference, despite KHIII being the lucky last and being at a low stage of development, I’m aleady feeling a response. For KHIII, developments unseen in the KH series so far involving online elements are under investigation, so please look forward to upcoming news. This year in Japan we will be exhibiting at Tokyo Game Show and at Disney’s D23 Expo Japan event, so I think there will be more information available around those times.