Creator’s Voice Interview with Tetsuya Nomura

Here’s the “Nintendo DS: Creator’s Voice” interview discussing Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days with Kingdom Hearts series director Tetsuya Nomura posted on Touch-DS.jp translated along with videos and images. Please do not repost this translation without crediting to Heartstation.

There’s tons of new cutscenes, as well as Xemnas gameplay, and what appears to be either part of the opening or ending video for Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days! All the videos are available in the Downloads section.

projecting KINGDOM HEARTS

On KINGDOM HEARTS

The Kingdom Hearts series has had several new titles announced so far. Though the genre of the games is RPG, the action elements are high; if anything I’d call it an action RPG. When you talk about content, it’s an original story collaborating the world of Disney and Final Fantasy (FF1), with various characters of Disney works and guest appearances from FF characters, making it a unique game that mixes various elements. I think it’s a title that a wide range of people can enjoy, not to mention those who of course are interested in FF, but also including fans of Disney.

1Final Fantasy: The first game release by Square (now Square Enix) in 1987, the RPG series presently continues to add titles.

As for the SERIES FIRST DS TITLE

Now a first for the series, we’ll be releasing a title for Nintendo DS. Having the series continue up until now, I received considerable feedback from before, everyone saying, “We want to play Kingdom Hearts on the DS.” Although from an early time during development we were thinking of making a DS title, we had kept everyone waiting until now since the preparatory phase was necessary to consider how to plunge the Kingdom Hearts series onto a new type of game console like the DS.

Working on the title now, the experience of making the DS title It’s a Wonderful World2 that released last year was very helpful. It’s a Wonderful World from the planning stages aimed to make use of the DS’s features, it became a game that utilized the functions of both screens and the touch panel only the DS has, where you could carry out a battle that was simultaneously different on the top and bottom screens. I personally researched the DS while developing It’s a Wonderful World, wondering what to do to make Kingdom Hearts work on the DS. As a result, I felt the best response would be to bring the action elements natural to the Kingdom Hearts series to the DS, a reverse idea to the new directions that It’s a Wonderful World took to when adjusting to the DS, furthermore I had confidence that it could be powered up and new elements could be implemented.

2It’s a Wonderful World (The World Ends With You in North America): An action RPG for Nintendo DS released in 2007 by Square Enix.

Birth of KINGDOM HEARTS

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As for the Kingdom Hearts series, its exhilarating feature that utilizes 360 degrees of space freely is the 3D action environment, however it was during the time of making Final Fantasy VII3 that I obtained the primary idea that became the origin for the Kingdom Hearts series. Around that same time Super Mario 644 for the Nintendo 645 was released and watching the actions of Mario move around in full 3D was very shocking. I thought, “From now on, games will be like this.” When I plan a game, a picture of how the game will work floats around my head at first, back then the game image I was thinking of involved a character who moved about in a full 3D world like that of Super Mario 64 but had the world view of FF. That was the starting point of Kingdom Hearts.

3Final Fantasy VII: The seventh installment in the Final Fantasy releasing in 1997. Tetsuya Nomura was in charge of character design.
4Nintendo 64: The non-portable game console released by Nintendo in 1996.
5Super Mario 64: The action game for Nintendo 64 released by Nintendo in 1996.

World of 358/2 Days

KINGDOM HEARTS and FINAL FANTASY

Although I had thought up the plan for Kingdom Hearts, the world view of FF profoundly influenced it. However, Kingdom Hearts is played by a broader age group than the FF series; I imagined a small child could also play it.

The way of making the story is also different for Kingdom Hearts and FF. In the FF series, the story is reset in each title, throughout the Kingdom Hearts series it is characteristic that the story continues along a storyline that follows the same time axis. Therefore the more the series continues, the more the world outlook and characters are thoroughly expanded upon is charming, but on the other hand, considerable care is used when figuring out how to join the story together well. The story of this game is in the flow of the series up to now too. In chronological order, it follows immediately behind Kingdom Hearts6, it’s time period overlaps with Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories7, and the events drawn upon follow up to Kingdom Hearts II8.

6Kingdom Hearts: The first title of the Kingdom Hearts series released by Square (presently Square Enix) in 2002.
7Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories: The second title in the Kingdom Hearts series released by Square Enix in 2004.
8Kingdom Hearts II: The third title in the Kingdom Hearts series released by Square Enix in 2005.

The STORY SURROUNDING THE HEART

002_1To put it simple, the Kingdom Hearts series is the story of a hero who uses the key of legend, the Keyblade9, on adventure to save the world. In the Kingdom Hearts world, the heart is a major point. Common in the series, born from the darkness in someone’s heart, the enemy that steals hearts called the Heartless10 exist. Rarely when a person’s heart is stolen by a Heartless, the existence leftover which do not have hearts known as Nobodies11 are born. Those Nobodies constructed together into the top organization called Organization XIII12 and this group defeats Heartless in order to gain hearts so that they may achieve their main goal of becoming complete. The story developed in this title centers on Organization XIII.

9Keyblade: Only the good hearted chosen heroes can possess the Keyblade of legend.
10Heartless: The enemy commonly appearing in the Kingdom Hearts series. They are the embodiment of the existence of darkness and aim for people’s hearts.
11Nobodies: They are the rarely born incomplete existences from the cast off shell of a person the Heartless have stolen the heart from.
12Organization XIII: They are a group of 13 Nobodies who lost their hearts to Heartless and have special abilities.

The MYSTERIOUS BOY ROXAS

Though this title has some points different than the current series up until now, the biggest difference is the hero. Until now the constant hero of the series had been a boy named Sora13, however in this work the hero is the boy named Roxas who appeared only a little in Kingdom Hearts II. Those who played the past series have only a little understanding of what kind of background the character has, but only an episode covering 6 days was told until now. The untold story of Roxas covering about one year is revealed in this title.

Since Kingdom Hearts is a continuing series, those who start with this game might think they’ll be unable to understand the story, but from its planning stage it was designed so that those who pick this game up first will still find it enjoyable even if they haven’t played the previous titles. As for this game, the story begins from the place where Roxas is just being born into the world. Since he does not know what he was doing prior to that or what he should do in the future, he learns various things from scratch. In that manner, I think those playing this title for first time also plays the hero’s viewpoint as it is received.

13Sora: The main character of the first through third installments of the Kingdom Hearts series, he can wield the legendary weapon, the Keyblade.

The CHARACTERS MAKING UP THE SERIES

If it’s called the Kingdom Hearts series, then the big feature of it is the many Disney characters that appear and I think this is something that many people who play it can enjoy. In the past 3 games until now, the group of three Sora, Donald14, and Goofy15 adventured through worlds and came in contact with various Disney characters. Although it is usual to encounter Disney characters in this title, how the heroes interact with them is different. A character like Roxas belonging to an organization of shadows, which if anything, is serious; whereas Sora’s group of 3 is considerably cheerful and friendly. So therefore the steps he takes to interact with the Disney characters are different than that of Sora. Of course like in the past games, you go to various Disney worlds, and in each of those worlds meet the same Disney characters, please look forward to how the various influences occur.

I think those who played the old series would be worried about what would happen to Sora, but Sora makes an appearance in this game too. Since the circumstances of how he appears are not being discussed here, I think you’ll have to play the game in order to really check it out. Riku16, the series hero who exists in darkness, also appears though his role has not changed, but because he plays an active part, there’s something to look forward to. Furthermore, the mysterious girl Xion who has not appeared in the series until now makes her debut. Just who the Organization XIII’s 14th member is in this game is the first key of the story. When the truth becomes clear, won’t those who played the previous games up until now be surprised?

14Donald Duck: The animated Disney character who personifies a duck.
15Goofy: The animated Disney character who personifies a dog.
16Riku: The character who appears since the first Kingdom Hearts series.

358/2

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You read the subtitle as “Three Five Eight Days Over Two.” Of course there is meaning behind these numbers, though perhaps nearly no one understands what it is. For now, I want to keep the difficult code like title the way it is and finally I’m able to implement it this time. (Smiles)

As a matter of fact, I tried to make the title of It’s a Wonderful World only numbers, but because it was a new series, I gave up the number title since I feared it people wouldn’t remember it. Though, it might be a good subtitle for a game in the Kingdom Hearts… I thought that arranging a subtitle with numbers in this game would be especially good since the story is deeply concerned with days. Meaning has been given to those numbers. When one gets to the end of the story, you’ll ask “Is there such a meaning?” It’s a mechanism that has you wondering about the meaning of the subtitle at the end. But I feel perhaps its meaning will be interpreted differently by each person. Please play until the absolute last part to check it out.

Playing KINGDOM HEARTS WITH FRIENDS

MISSION MODE

Kingdom Hearts so far has developed as a single player game where you play as the hero. In this title on the DS, other than playing Story Mode which is single player, you can choose your favorites from the members of Organization XIII and play with up to 4 friends in a struggle against the missions prepared in Mission Mode. Frankly this time the best thing you can do is to play Kingdom Hearts in Multiplay17.

chara

However, Multiplay in Kingdom Hearts was more difficult than I initially thought it would be. Thereupon, since Kingdom Hearts had an exceeding amount of action variety and each member of Organization XIII had inherent actions and weapons’, making it able for simultaneous 4 player battles was of a considerably high level of technical difficulty. But it was worth doing our best, there probably isn’t another game as excessive as this until now. (Laughs) As a result to that extent, I can say it with confidence.

Incidentally, Mission Mode can be played by a single person but it’d be a bit to handle since basically the content of it was made assumingly to be played by two or more players. That being the case, I think it’s best to do single play in Story Mode first until you gain confidence to play Mission Mode.

17Multiplay: Multiple players can connect through communication transmission to play together.

The PANEL SYSTEM OF THE SERIES

003_1Speaking of Multiplay, some might perceive it as a “single player bonus”, however the Multiplay of this title was designed not to be a bonus of single play, but as an equivalent feature to single play. For that reason, we have the panel system18 appear for the first time in this title. When playing in Multiplay you can choose whom you like from multiple characters, and since experience has been developed by handling the hero in single play until then, you are ready to utilize and operate the other available characters. In this system, things like magic, abilities, items, and levels are possible to manage with panels. Panels can be obtained by fighting enemies, opening treasure chests, or by completing missions. However, the panel’s effects are not produced just by obtaining a panel, they must be inserted into a grid slot in order for them to take effect. Now those with more experience in handling panels in single play can put that knowledge to use in Multiplay. This is the most characteristic feature of this title.

Although in this title practically almost all actions begin by pressing buttons, there is also a writing function that uses the touch screen possible through manipulation of the panel system. There is a function where one person says “chat linkage” and the chat screen appears where people can write messages or draw pictures using the touch pen.

18Panel system: You can manage the magic, abilities, items, and levels of a character using panels. The effects of the collected panels are produced when they are set in panel slots.

Message

special_editionIncluding NINTEDO DSi EDITION

This time a KINGDOM HERTS EDITION limited Nintendo DSi bundle including the game is going to be released. So far along with the previous titles I’ve been involved with, Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories for Gameboy Advance19 and It’s a Wonderful World for DS both released in special edition bundles I designed. Since both of those designs involved a single illustration contained to one spot, I made a design for this title that covered the entirety of the DSi top. Since I think the finished result is very polished, I like it very much and I recommend it by all means.

KINGDOM HEARTS HEREAFTER

I think that the Kingdom Hearts series so far has gained the favor and support of many domestic and overseas audiences, and as long as that support is there I feel a sense of duty that I should continue making more. This title is a finished product, it’s included in the future of the Kingdom Hearts series, and I think I want to start considering a new lineup soon. Because I considerably tried to not only push the limits on action but also the DS’s movie capabilities, I get the feeling I want to make use of this experience and to continue doing more with the DS. By all means it’s a title many people want to play, and since I hope to be involved in the next installments, I think you can expect a future for Kingdom Hearts.

To EVERYONE PLAYING

004_1Since I’m considering those who haven’t played the series before and those who have played from the beginning, if you haven’t played the previous games by all means I recommend you do so. Even though there is a remarkable volume to enjoy in the entire story, so as not to take time to play individual missions so much, I’d like for you to play free heartedly so you enjoy it.

Also, speaking of Kingdom Hearts concerning Utada Hikaru, like in the past games, we asked Utada Hikaru for the theme song for this title as well. In this game the theme song is “Passion” (Sanctuary in NA), the same as Kingdom Hearts II, because it matches the image of this game, I think by all means you’ll enjoy it along with the movie scenes.

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