trapped in revamp hell
- Nov 1, 2009
Famitsu has released an interview with Kingdom Hearts series director Tetsuya Nomura. He shares his thoughts on the 20th anniversary and discusses the newly announced Kingdom Hearts 4 and Missing-Link.
-- Congratulations on the 20th anniversary of the Kingdom Heart series.
Nomura: Thank you.
-- How does it feel, looking back on these past 20 years?
Nomura: When I look back, I realize how much time has passed, though it certainly doesn't feel that way as of late.
-- It's been three years since Kingdom Hearts III released.
Nomura: That's right. But during those three years, we've wrapped up Kingdom Hearts Union X and released Kingdom Hearts III Re Mind, Melody of Memory, and the cloud versions on Nintendo Switch, so time seemed to pass in the blink of an eye.
-- This series has been going on for 20 years, but there are many young fans as well. It really hit me when I saw the attendees at the 20th anniversary event.
Nomura: Yes, that's right. I feel that Kingdom Hearts has many fans who are relatively young. I think the appearance of Disney properties arouses their interest.
-- There were a lot of valuable materials exhibited at the venue. You had a message posted on Sora's statue, but there was a letter "x" on the third line from the bottom. What does it mean?
Nomura: It contains a hidden message, and the "x" is a clue. I've seen people discussing it on social media, but no one seems to have arrived at the answer yet.
-- I did think there was something rather peculiar about the phrasing of that message, with the "x," line breaks, etc. There must be a trick to it.
Nomura: It was very difficult to come up with (wry smile). I wanted to convey a message through my thoughts on the 20th anniversary in the text as you see it. I had to make it look a little unnatural so that people would discover the mystery, and then plant the hidden message on top of that.
-- I'll try to decipher it myself later (laughs).
Nomura: It's pretty hard, isn't it? None of our staff could figure it out either (laughs).
-- I was surprised by the faithful recreation of the area surrounding Shibuya Hikarie, the venue in which the event took place, in the Kingdom Hearts 4 trailer. Did you purposefully decide to hold the event there?
Nomura: We wanted to do it at Shibuya Hikarie if possible. Shibuya is an easily recognizable landmark, and you can recreate the real world more realistically in a game if you're familiar with the setting.
-- Is Shibuya part of the world of Quadratum?
Nomura: Yes, it is.
-- While we're on that topic, is there any possibility of a reunion with the characters from The World Ends With You, who appeared in Kingdom Hearts 3D?
Nomura: Strictly speaking, it is a different world from the Shibuya of The World Ends With You. Some fans believe there is a connection to TWEWY and Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origins, but there's really no such thing.
-- Is the room where Sora wakes up also in Shibuya?
Nomura: That is located in Minami-Aoyama.
-- A great location! (laughs) So you've even established that?
Nomura: Yes, we've also specified the room layout. The furniture and whatnot haven't been decided yet, so the interior will be undergoing some changes. That room will serve as the base for the early parts of the game.
-- What kind of world is Quadratum? In Melody of Memory, it was described as "the other side of our world." Is this a new world that does not belong to the Realm of Light, Realm of Darkness, or Realm Between?
Nomura: That's one interpretation.
-- In the trailer's narration, Quadratum was described as "a world full of life- but for you and I, it's similar to an "afterworld," I suppose." What does this mean?
Nomura: It means that perception changes depending on your viewpoint. The Master of Masters says something along those lines in UX.
From Sora's point of view, Quadratum is a world on the other side of his own world and reality: a fictional world. However, from the point of view of the inhabitants of Quadratum, their world is the real one, and the place Sora and his friends hail from is the other side, the fictional world.
This time, I think the theme will be something akin to the "contrast between people from different positions."
-- I see. The narrator is Strelitzia, and she's also from Sora's side, so that's why she says "for us," right?
Nomura: That's correct.
-- I've been told that the male narrator is the same person who voiced over the footage of Kingdom Hearts Missing-Link?
Nomura: Yes, it's the same character being played by the same person. The character is someone who has already appeared in the series, but this is the first time they've been voiced.
-- The place where Donald and Goofy are is the original world, right? What would a realistic Sora look like in the original world?
Nomura: Donald and Goofy are looking for clues to Sora in the original world. Everything you saw in the trailer before the title appeared is from Quadratum, and Sora will look realistic there, but if he returns to the original world, then the shaders will make him look like Donald and Goofy.
-- The battle scenes show Keyblade transformations and free-running, giving the impression that this is an evolution of Kingdom Hearts III.
Nomura: Yes, that's right. In the video, you can also see button icons that appear when an enemy punches you. You can think of that like the reaction commands we had in Kingdom Hearts II.
-- Oh, so it's a command that appears briefly under certain circumstances and, if successfully executed, triggers a special action.
Nomura: The reason it's appears with a black circle is because we haven't announced the platforms yet.
-- I see.
Nomura: After KH3 released, we saw quite a few people asking for reaction commands to return, so we brought them back.
-- The word "Build" is at the bottom of the command window on the lower left. What does it refer to?
Nomura: The battle concept this time around is "Scrap & Build," with Build being the command that represents it.
-- "Scrap & Build"... What is that exactly?
Nomura: I can't give you the details yet, but destruction and reconfiguration are key. Please wait for more information.
-- Kingdom Hearts 4 lies in the Lost Master Arc, but to what saga does Kingdom Hearts Missing-Link belong to?
Nomura: The Kingdom Hearts series does not solely include the Dark Seeker Arc up to Kingdom Hearts 3, and the Lost Master Arc from Kingdom Hearts 4. There is also the X series that includes Kingdom Hearts X, Union X, and Dark Road. Kingdom Hearts Missing-Link is a work that fills in the blank period and bridges them together.
-- We see Brain in the trailer for KHML. Is he the main character?
Nomura: No, the main character will be the player themselves. It's a create-an-avatar game like KH Unchained X.
-- The game seems quite challenging, with a focus on action-packed battles that can be enjoyed in multiplayer, as well as the addition of location-based game elements utilizing AR technology. You say that you can move around without actually leaving the house. Does you mean the character is the one who can do the moving?
Nomura: Yes. There's a Street View in Google Maps, isn't there? You just tap on the place you want to see and it'll take you there. I imagine KHML to be just like that.
-- So suppose I wanted to go to Okinawa on foot.
Nomura: You certainly could, but it'd take quite a bit of time to get there (laughs). By using points, you can teleport immediately to the place you want to go.
-- So if you don't want to spend the points, you can go out and walk around yourself. It's up to the player.
-- If the field is linked to the real world, does that mean we won't see any Disney worlds in the game?
Nomura: We're experimenting with a variety of things, but depending on the timing, the terrain and atmosphere will be partially based on Disney world motifs.
In the early stages of development, we covered the entire map with all sorts of motifs as though it were a skin, but it seemed like overkill, so we're trying to balance things out.
-- Collecting figure-like pieces sounds pretty interesting, and multi-action battles seem like they'll be fun.
Nomura: I'm trying to do something sharp that I can't do in the main story. Please look forward to the closed beta test scheduled for this fall.
An expanded version of the interview will be published in the May 12-19 issue of Weekly Famitsu (on sale April 28).