Dengeki PS June 2009

The latest issue of Japanese gaming magazine Dengeki PS featured an interview with Kingdom Hearts developer Tetsuya Nomura where he spoke shortly about the new games in development. Thanks to FF7AC Reunion for typing up and sharing the interview script. Please do not repost without crediting to Heartstation.

Now that 358/2 Days is finished, can you breathe?

There are three titles being developed in the Kingdom Hearts series, but let’s start with the discussing the development status of Kingdom Hearts Coded for mobile phones.

Nomura: Everyone has been kept waiting, but finally it’s ready to be distributed. It is planned to be distributed without a space between from the release date of 358/2 Days, so by all means please play.

So how much volume will the episodes have?

Nomura: Now that the episodes are made and set, it’s become a considerable volume. Although it is a short story as far as the time axis goes, the contents of the finished title are quite deep.

What kind of point is specifically deep?

Nomura: It’s the game part rather than the story side. When you finish quickly thinking it was easy, then you’ve really used your head, I think it’s a close game with sufficient length. It’s not inferior to the other two titles; the finished product is a good one. Since what has been done was seen, the staff’s enthusiasm was felt. Although a game which could be played easily was considered at the beginning, the staff has made it considerably serious. There are good points in the other 2 titles too; the staff is really fired up to be working on it.

–To begin with, how did the production of Coded get started?

Nomura: With a proposal to Disney. With 358/2 Days and Birth by Sleep, the production was settled early on, but since there was a demand to have a Kingdom Hearts game you could take out with you on your mobile phone that was more easily accessible than them, I chose to warm up the idea of Kingdom Hearts Coded. With the mobile phones, there are no specs for having accompanying party members and it was better for the story not to be long, therefore we thought that releasing Coded in episodes would be suitable.

–If you have any secrets to reveal before it begins distributing, by all means please share.

Nomura: I can’t say anything specifically; however I plan on linking it with Avatar Kingdom. When a player is shopping in the Avatar Kingdom, if they’ve started playing Coded, it may be advantageous for them. If you’ve played the games of the series, you won’t want to overlook the scenes in Coded, please expect that there are scenes that allude to future developments.

–Next, how is Birth by Sleep coming along?

Nomura: Currently Birth by Sleep is in a terrible state of affairs schedule-wise. You might think with 358/2 Days finishing there’d be room to breathe, but this one needs to be finished on time. Because the release plan is within the year, I am doing my best to finish it on time. At the moment we’ll be doing voice editing over the holidays.

–Considering it’s on the PSP, it seems this game will have considerable volume too.

Nomura: Out of the 3 titles, this one has the most volume. The three main character’s parts of the story enter and the script has become thick like the caliber of Final Fantasy. The maps are also new, so I think the playing aspects are also sufficient. Although the graphics and playing style is closest to the original series, it’s appealing since it can be played on a portable game console. There are an immense amount of event scenes in this title and it advances steadily, so please keep looking forward to it.

Savor the feeling of cooperation and competition in Mission Mode

–Finally the release of 358/2 Days has come, please share some of the highlights of it.

Nomura: If we are talking in regards to the system side of it, definitely Mission mode. In Mission Mode you can play with up to 4 people, which was the basis of this title. The panel system offers the element of customization, since various methods of playing can be done depending on how the panels are combined, please by all means make use of it during Mission Mode. You can only customize the item panels of accompanying characters, which I think can make missions more challenging.

–It was surprising to see that the damage verdicts from your allies could be set freely in Mission Mode.

Nomura: Although that is true about the competition over ranking, the “competitive” part was an aspiration from Disney. In the past the Organization members appeared as enemies and since internally they do not have friendly relations, having them compete against one another during missions seemed suitable. However, since you can inflict serious damage on your comrades, please be on the lookout. Especially regarding the characters with wide attack ranges and characters doing Limit Breaks! Of course, everyone will need to work together to take down the powerful enemies, so it’s up to the way the player’s do things. I want players to savor the special atmosphere of cooperation and competition.

What about the highlights of the story side?

Nomura: The existence of Xion and the growth process of Roxas, both are parts of 358/2 Days I wanted the story to draw upon. Just like in the past series, you travel to various Disney worlds, during which Roxas thinks about the emotions and mentalities people have. In the beginning of the game he wanders about vacantly, but as the game advances he encounters emotional words. Though the diary Roxas keeps can be read during the game, the writing styles change as the days go by. Please pay attention to the growth of Roxas.

It seems that as a character appearing for the first time there are many facts to be discovered about Xion.

Nomura: Many fans are holding suspicion over “Whose Nobody is Xion?”, but all I can say is to play the game to find out the answer.

Since when was her existence thought up?

Nomura: There was already an image for her since Kingdom Hearts II. When Roxas was leaving the Organization, he was influenced by a certain person and in the back of my mind I thought of it be due to a girl of similar age. From there, the finishing touches on her current appearance were done in this game. Since she was made cleverly, she’s also one of my favorite characters. I think throughout the story, her changes, thinking, etc. were closely kept not to be inconsistent. As a result, this time Roxas feels sad, but…

As familiar with the series, is there a hidden component?

Nomura: You are able to use secret characters in Mission Mode. I think Donald and Goofy have already been publicly revealed, but there exist other characters. This time the player can choose from 3 levels of difficulty at the beginning of the game, but it is only affected by the difficult degrees.

Are there secret reports and the like?

Nomura: Roxas keeps records in the Roxas Diary, but there is a little trick prepared for them. Those people who are familiar with the series won’t overlook it.

Will there be a new illustration revealed after clearing the game this time?

Nomura: I’ve only done two illustrations, the one for the title screen and the one after clearing the game. I planned to do a 3D illustration for the clear time display, I wanted to work really hard on it and produce it myself, but it was unreasonable for the staff and so we took it down and drew something hurriedly.

Throughout the game sea salt ice cream appears frequently, but to Mr. Nomura personally, is there any contemplation?

Nomura: It’s because I like the sea salt ice cream that actually exists in Disney Sea. It’s actually served in a cup, but I thought it’d be better on a stick, so in a little way I included my wish. (Smiles) On the DS game starting up screen the icon was Roxas’s face at first, but later we changed it to sea salt ice cream.

Are the plans for Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep’s future already prepared?

Having passed the production of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, how does it feel about working with the DS hardware?

Nomura: Although 358/2 Days and It’s a Wonderful World are the only two titles I’ve produced on the DS, they both have different concepts; I think I’ve come to understand the DS to some extent. Making the best use of the experience received from both titles, if the next game is made in such a way, the ideas are in my head only. There are also other titles in production and the form of the proposal is not made yet.

How about the plans for the Kingdom Hearts series hereafter?

Nomura: Of course I’m thinking about it. Among the three recent simultaneous announced titles, even though Birth by Sleep is a story of the past, it’s the presentiment to the future past Kingdom Hearts II. Once Birth by Sleep is completed and all three titles are out completely, perhaps Sora’s turn will come gradually. At the conclusion of Kingdom Hearts II, what were Sora’s actions after reading the letter from the King on Destiny Islands…? Please wait for future development slowly.

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