trapped in revamp hell
- Nov 1, 2009
Famitsu has interviewed Director Tetsuya Nomura on KINGDOM HEARTS 3, KINGDOM HEARTS HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, and KINGDOM HEARTS Unchained X! Read it below, translated by goldpanner.
Edit: Updated with scans from Churro
Tetsuya Nomura talks about KINGDOM HEARTS HD 2.8! FFVII Remake also progressing well [E3 2016]
KINGDOM HEARTS HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue had a trailer unveiled ahead of E3. We hit up director Tetsuya Nomura to ask about this title (which has been announced for a December 2016 release), the content of the demo version and new trailer, and what's going on with the series.
>We can't take our eyes off Nomura and his many highly-anticipated titles!
Jumping the gun on E3, held in Los Angeles from the 14th–16th June 2016 (local time), a trailer for KINGDOM HEARTS HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue (hereon KH2.8) was made public ahead of the others. We hit up director Tetsuya Nomura regarding this title, which has been announced for a December 2016 release, to ask about the demo version allowing a hands-on experience on-site at E3, the content of the new trailer, and what's going on with the series. We also got a few comments on other titles Nomura is working on.
>The KH series: the first of many highly anticipated titles handled by Tetsuya Nomura (hereon Nomura).
>KH0.2: plenty of volume, all parts have evolved
—We were able to play the KH0.2 demo, and what a wonderful workmanship! First, the graphics dazzled our eyes. It doesn't look simply realistic, it's a new kind of KH-ness.
Nomura: I'm so glad. KH0.2 is the first title in the series that adopts lighting, and we adjust things from start to finish since the way it looks changes considerably depending on the light, but I still wondered whether the direction we'd taken would show. We are also working very closely with the developers of Unreal Engine 4.
—That's reassuring. Is what we were able to see in the demo the opening part of the full title?
Nomura: Yes. We isolated the playable section of the opening. It's set in the town around Cinderella's castle
—We really enjoyed the sense of actual exploration we got from the complicated high and low platforms.
Nomura: They're maps with gimmicks to find, and those who get lost easily in complicated parts can go to a high place to get a view of the whole thing and understand the connections between points. We're also making the movement work so that you automatically climb small levels and such, so just like KH3, it's possible to parkour around.
—It seemed a though time had stopped in that town. Is the whole Realm of Darkness like that?
Nomura: It's only on that map. If you continue to different areas, there are different things to play with. I know so far you have had no idea what sort of adventures Aqua had in the Realm of Darkness, but here, many worlds… worlds that had been swallowed by the darkness are fused together. After the part you played in the demo, you enter Cinderella's castle and find yourself in a different world, and leaving that brings you to yet another world, that's how it is.
—So we aren't going to just explore Cinderella's castle, then. At the end of the demo, Terra appeared. Was that some sort of illusion?
Nomura: I wonder (laughs). When it comes to that sort of thing, I'd like you to play the full game.
—In the town around the castle we went along rewinding time by operating gear gimmicks. More and more abilities unlocked every time we set off a mechanism, and we thought it was quite high tempo. Will this be the same in the full game, too?
Nomura: Yes, that's right. KH0.2 is not the full sized of other titles in the series so far, which means you can unlock various gameplay elements in the early stages. Battles don't use the deck commands from KH Birth by Sleep (hereon KHBBS), but a system based on KH3.
—There are also elements from KHBBS like Style Changes (Command Style) and Shotlocks.
Nomura: Those two will also be adopted in KH3, but KH0.2 is actually a little different from both KH3 and KHBBS. In KH3, too, triggering them will be optional, but Style Changes will be fundamentally dependent on the Keyblade. In KH0.2 they are dependent on Aqua herself, so it's like a KHBBS hybrid. With Shotlocks, there are more things you can do with them in KH3, and in KH0.2 they're closer to KHBBS.
—I see. One more element that has evolved remarkably is magic. It's more flashy and, moreover, more useful.
Nomura: It does not just simply deal damage, with blizzard you can freeze enemies and the field and slide on it, with thunder you can make things stiff from the shock, and such. The trait is that you can use it tactically.
—There are also original small-fry enemies now, about three new types in addition to Shadows. The enemy made of a mass of Shadows left a particularly strong impression. The slippery way it moved… it was pretty gross (laughs).
Nomura: When Shadows do that, it's called a Devil's Wave, the thing that appeared in the first trailer for KH3. It wasn't at full power yet, though.
Nomura: That was just the beginning, in the demo. They're amazing at full power (laughs).
—That doesn't sound very good (laughs). In order for Aqua to stand up to those, will she be able to get stronger or be enhanced?
Nomura: The growth system works by levelling up, which brings up stats.
—What about new Keyblades?
Nomura: The only Keyblade she will have is the Master's Defender that she inherited from Eraqus.
—So that means battle variation will be brought out through changes in style, rather than Keyblades, in KH0.2. By the way, will there be any features for completionists?
Nomura: There's a collecting element, or perhaps I should say a customising element separate from the progression of the game.
—I see. I get the impression that there are way more things to do than expected. Volume-wise, how big would you say this game is?
Nomura: At first I was saying it will be the length of one world, but when I did a playthrough from start to finish to check it, I thought, this is actually pretty substantial (laughs). I know there are some out there expecting it to be over in 30 minutes like a demo, but that's absolutely not the case. There's story advancement and lots of cutscenes, so even though there aren't that many words, I believe you will be able to fully enjoy the new KH.
—So it's that much like a regular title!
Nomura: Story-wise, this title is situated at rather an important point. The scenarios of KH 3D Dream Drop Distance (hereon KH3D) and KH0.2 can essentially be thought of as the prologue to KH3, you see. When considering the titles to be included in KH2.8, I wanted people to play previous-gen-console KH before KH3, and I decided to work on KH0.2. The story connects from KH3D to KH0.2 to KH3. In my own head, KH3 begins at KH3D. That's why I put that subtitle on KH2.8.
—Does spreading the story from not only KH3D but also KH0.2 mean that KH3 will be smaller in size?
Nomura: It's not that I've spread the story out, perhaps it's more that I've separated the parts that would have ruined KH3's tempo if they were told then. In fact, KH3 is overwhelmingly big, so it's not that content has been shaved off, and it's something I've worried over how to handle. And then, to me, I've made a lot of RPGs so far, and I think rather than listening to long explanations at the start of the game, we want to enjoy the adventure right away, so I decided to try and keep the opening exposition part of KH3 as short as possible. Because of that, maybe people will be like, "why is Sora here?", feeling like KH3 begins comparatively abruptly. Of course, if you keep playing, you'll work out the minimum about the situation.
—Hm? So if you think we will have questions about where Sora is in KH3, does Sora appear in the story directly before it, KH0.2…?
Nomura: Yeah (laughs). By the way, KH3's intro is short, and it begins straight away, but I am thinking very precisely about how to make sure both those who have been with the series for a long time and those for whom this will be the first KH title will be able to follow along. However, the details and particulars will be told in KH3D and KH0.2, so please play KH2.8 while you are waiting for KH3, it will make the flow of the story easy to grasp. For those who want to know everything in detail as they have up until now before the journey begins, I think it is best to play KH2.8 in preparation.
>KHDDD and evolution not limited to HD remastering
—We were also able to play the HD version of KH3D, which is intimately connected to KH3, and… there was a tanuki-looking Meow Wow-type Dream Eater!
Nomura: That's Catnuki (laughs). We had the actual Osaka team and everything, so I had them add it in for me. There are more new Dream Eaters, and you'll be able to get in-game all the friends you made through AR cards in KH3D.
—You've said that it will support the PS4 trophy feature, and there are even more additional features, aren't there?
Nomura: Yes. In addition to PS4 trophies, the trophies from the original game are also there as a separate feature. Other than that, drop times have been extended, and some enemy reactions are currently undergoing adjustment. And, as a series-first experiment, KH3D will be in 60fps. There, it differs fundamentally from the original.
—The movements were certainly smooth, and it was refreshing to play on a big screen. And then, our interest was piqued by the fact that the original KH3D made use of the lower screen. Have you adjusted completely for that?
Nomura: Yes. Reality Shift is now triggered through the buttons, as you were able to try in the demo, and everything can now be achieved on one screen. Flick Rush, where Dream Eaters can battle, has also been condensed to one screen, and it now takes the form of selecting cards to use with a cursor.
Nomura: With Spirit Training, there are now several completely new minigames, and we have added adjustments that make it work on PS4 controls.
—Changing Spirits and link attacks are now executed through changing commands with a cursor key, too. It felt a little difficult, since I wasn't used to it.
Nomura: It wasn't included in the demo version, but in the full version we plan to make it possible to select Spirits with a shortcut. In battle you don't control just one character like in KH0.2, you manage the Dream Eaters fighting alongside you to some extent, which can get a little complex on occasion. But, that's an important part of the feel of the battle gameplay in KH3D, and I think having it be a little tough is what makes it so exhilarating when you get the hang of it.
>KHχ, a clear divergence in the series… and season 2!?
—It was extremely fresh seeing Ephemera and the Foretellers in CG with voice acting in KHχ Back Cover.
Nomura: Just like KH0.2, it uses techniques from KH3. You can go ahead and think of KH3's cutscenes as looking pretty much like that.
—Was the black coated figure the Master of the Foretellers?
Nomura: Yes, that's right. He's a figure with a characteristic mood, and he calls Master Ira of Unicornis "Iracchi*", and Master Aced of Ursus "Acedon*" (laughs).
[*Translator note: very cutesy suffixes, something like Iwa and Acie]
—Iracchi and Acedon... goodbye, Foreteller image (laughs). The other day, the smartphone version KH Unchained χ hit four million downloads across Japan and North America, didn't it
Nomura: It is especially popular overseas, it seems. When the North American version was released, there was a huge response from Europeans wanting a supported release in Europe, so I'm as happy as can be.
—That's because there are KH fans all over the world, isn't it? On the other hand, you announced termination of the PC version of KHχ.
Nomura: I've just finished writing the scenario. After a mad scramble every day (dry laugh). Up until now, what amounts to one scenario has been being released divided into two.The final chapter will be composed of two separate installments, a first and second half, and has been from the start. The split with KH Unchained χ is coming soon, too.
—A distinct split...!?
Nomura: I expect the servers will close in September, about a month after the final story update has been released. It's fairly easy to play KHχ now, so I'd like you to take this chance to push forward in the story.
—What's going to happen with KH Unchained χ, I wonder.
Nomura: We are focusing on managing it for a long time, so we are considering new worlds, and a story plan is coming along. The story of KHχ will conclude, but in KH Unchained χ there will be new developments… the beginning of the story of 'season two', so to speak.
—Does that mean that KH Unchained χ, the one that will continue longer, will be the more 'official' history?
Nomura: The nature of the connection between the two worlds is something I can't talk about in specifics yet.
—We are interested in what will happen to the characters Ephemer and Skuld, and whether they will appear in future titles in the series.
Nomura: I wonder (laughs). First of all, as for KHχ and KH Unchained χ Season 1, the actions of the Foretellers are important. I really hope you see it for yourself.
—In the trailer, you announced a December worldwide simultaneous release, and that the next information on KH3 would be in winter.
Nomura: It's likely that Japan will get it a few days earlier, but it will be basically simultaneous. KH2.8 is in the final stages of production, and as you may expect from the announcement of a worldwide simultaneous release, the English voicing has finished recording, and even though the timing of the deadline is a little tighter than usual, everything is progressing nicely. The reason we were able to prepare a demo version on such short notice was because we took it from the actual game. You will all be able to play in under half a year. Work on KH3 is progressing too, but as I said recently, I'd like you to first pay attention to KH2.8, which has an important position, so I am going to update you all with information on KH3 around when KH2.8 releases. Please look forward to both games.
—By the way, next year is the KH series' 15th anniversary. You're starting concerts this year, will you be planning anything else?
Nomura: Let me see… Next year is also the 30th anniversary of Final Fantasy, but it does look as though there will be plenty of things happening for KH's fifteenth year.
>25 years of being a creator! The many titles Nomura is involved in
—So then, we would like to ask you a little about the other titles you are involved in. World of Final Fantasy is set to release on the 27th October 2016.
Nomura: My own work on that was finished quite a while ago, and as we are now in the final stages before the deadline now it's more like I'm watching over things, supervising as we head towards release. It's truly in the very last stages.
—Have all the characters you drew been revealed so far?
Nomura: I drew Lann, Reynn, Ena Kuro and one more person, and that last person hasn't showed up yet. So far they've been shown in CG, but I think my illustrations will be released soon too. In-game they're rather chibified, but they're a little taller in my designs.
—You're holding a national tournament for the favourably-received arcade version of Dissidia Final Fantasy on the 27th August 2016.
Nomura: Right now, preparation for that is moving along steadily. After the announcement it'll be a big event, so I want to do it somewhere everyone can enjoy more than just the tournament. I've gained the cooperation of Artnia, who has a food menu and an official store, and they are lending me their help.
—It does sound like it'll be a large-scale function. Now, how FF7 Remake coming along?
Nomura: I know I haven't given any information in a while, but please rest assured that work is moving forward steadily. We are currently getting specifics ready for the next information release, and just like we've done with KH2.8 this time, we plan to bring a whole lot out in one go instead of dribs and drabs, so please look forward to it. I am looking forward to the reveals myself.
—We can't wait for the next information!
Nomura: I still don't know the timing for what we will be able to show you next, so I can't give any details, but please be excited.
—That's all we can do! In any case, before FF7 Remake, we have KH2.8 this year, don't we? This is also your 25th anniversary as a creator, do you think it is a turning point for you?
Nomura: Actually, on the day of my 25th anniversary, I'd thought of having a big celebration with my friends, but I got so busy and forgot all about it until a few days had already passed (laughs). They say 25 years is special because it's a quarter of a century, but next year is KH's 15th anniversary and FF7's 20th anniversary, and I think I'll jazz things up for them. At the next information releases, which will be this coming August at the KH concert and the Dissidia Final Fantasy tournament, I plan to start bringing more to light little by little, so I thank you in advance for your continued support.