trapped in revamp hell
The latest issue of Famitsu Weekly has been released and includes a large spread on KINGDOM HEARTS 3 covering the Toy Story world reveal, new battle systems, and interview with Tetsuya Nomura!
We'll have full translations of the interview soon, but the summary is available now for your reading pleasure.
Update (7/20/2017): Saken has translated the first half of the interview!
The world that was absolutely necessary, Toy Story!
— The release window for KH3 has finally been announced! 2018… Do you have anything more specific?
Nomura: I’m not sure what else you’re expecting other than “Please wait” (wry smile)
— Knew it (laughs). So, I’d like to ask about both the trailers released at D23 and at the orchestra concert. In both, we see the same words appear on the screen in impressive displays. What’s the reason behind this?
Nomura: The trailers begin with Sora performing vibrant actions such as vigorous dives and athletic slides, so I wanted the phrase to end in “dive in”. Considering this, I also thought back to the original concept of Kingdom Hearts, and came up with the phrase you see as a sort of throwback to its own roots.
— I see. Something that’s definitely a hot topic this time is the announcement of the “Toy Story” world. Having been so eagerly awaiting this moment, it’s sort of like a “It’s finally here!” feeling inside.
Nomura: I’ve been wanting to add Toy Story in from since KH2, so even for me, I’m welled up with emotion finally seeing it implemented. For KH3, a Toy Story world was absolutely necessary. With these thoughts, and after many discussions, here we are.
Just like we did back with KH1, we had to relentlessly consult with all related parties… It was quite a long process (laughs). For example, when John Lasseter* had come over to Japan, I was asked about the way I was thinking of implementing the worlds(**), and I would tell him about the types of things I wanted to include, and so on.
* Chief creative officer of Pixar
** It’s not clear whether or not he’s talking about one or many worlds
— According to the Toy Story timeline, does this fall about the time of the 1st movie?
Nomura: The Toy Story world isn’t simply a sort of abridged telling of the original Toy Story plot with Sora and co. being thrown in. The events that occur take place after the 2nd movie. The setting of the story is not in a parallel plane to the original. Everything that happens in KH3 will be on the same timeline as the Toy Story series.
— By that, I guess you can say that it’s a new addition to the Toy Story series... So what kind of story will unfold there?
Nomura: At the beginning of Sora’s adventure in the Toy Story world, he’s mistaken for the character of a new game that’s to go on sale. It wasn’t put in the trailer but, the dinosaur toy, Rex, mistakes Sora for that game character as well.
— So, Sora is mistaken for the figurine of the character of a new game, I see… The toy-like designs of Sora, Donald and Goofy are also refreshing to see.
Nomura: The art directors of the KH team designed them, and with a bit of back and forth with Pixar they became the way they are now. At the beginning, we hoped for a design that resembled more of an action figure, but we took on board various bits of advice from Pixar to make them match more of the feel of the Toy Story world. The result you see is the point of compromise.
We received many suggestions from representatives of Pixar in charge of setting, story, and character designs etc. in order to forge the shape of the Toy Story world. Both us at Square Enix and the people at Pixar are very picky about what goes in, so we aim to reach a point where all parties could come to agreement and go from there, properly taking time to discuss everything clearly.
— Well that must be why all the Toy Story characters, especially Woody and Buzz, look like they’ve been ripped right out of the original film!
Nomura: We received data from Pixar to use as samples, however just like I never imagined that they would be able to reproduce the characters to such a level, Pixar were incredibly taken aback. And so, compared to all previous KH games, our power to create expression has increased dramatically, so each world will have their own expressive and unique visuals, whereby even things like the gimmicks of each world will be different from each other. It feels like we’re creating multiple games at the same time, it’s quite the work (wry laugh).
— Sounds like tough work. By the way, was there any reason that you chose D23 to announce the Toy Story world?
Nomura: Actually, it has been in a relatively complete and showable state from a while back, but according to Disney’s intentions and promotion plans, I held back on revealing anything. It’s a very popular film, so we discussed where would be the best place to announce it, and we thought that D23 was quite suitable.
Last time at D23, we announced the Big Hero 6 world, however it was a sudden request so I could only draw up one small illustration. So, I wanted this D23’s announcement to be in video form for everyone to enjoy watching.
— There are also a lot of interested fans waiting for further information on the Big Hero 6 world. Will there be any follow up news soon?
Nomura: Development is coming along fine, but it was the last world that we decided on, so compared to the other worlds we have planned, Big Hero 6 will have to wait a little longer.
— In regard to the fighting style shown in the battle scenes, we were able to see many commands for forms and finishers appear on the screen. It seems like a system close to KH0.2, but there were times with more than 5 commands on the screen at once. It seems that this time strategy has been taken even further beyond what was available in KH0.2.
Nomura: That’s exactly how I wanted battles to be this time. As battle rages, I wanted there to constantly be a list of options ready, where you are able to sift through and select the command you desire. Depending on the order that you select the commands, you are able to construct different combinations, so by nature it creates a very fun and tactical environment. At first glance it may seem a little difficult, but as always, even with simple inputs you will be able to deliver flashy combos. Even random button presses will have your combos continue to evolve so if you’re not too strategically minded there’s no need to worry.
— While having the extravagant Keyblade transformations, you are also able to simultaneously change clothing (Forms). Both transformations, clothing and Keyblade are quite vibrant, it really is impressive.
Nomura: The several Forms that are available are divided among each Keyblade, according to their traits. Just as before, as you go from world to world the Keyblades you obtain will differ depending on the world you obtain it in. And of course, they are not just usable in their own respective world, you can freely use them among any world. Forms included.
— Toy Story’s Keyblade can change into a hammer and a drill, but the drill really had a big impact.
Nomura: The drill is what I showed at the end of the Orchestra trailer as a silhouette. The forms in which the Keyblade will transform into have all originated as ideas from our staff, but the drill was one of the better ones…
The patterns of transformations between Keyblades will not overlap one another, and each will evolve into some pretty crazy designs (laughs).
— The Keyblade from Hercule’s world will transform into a shield. According to prior news, at that point, Sora will enter the “Guard Form”. On top of that, will you be able to attack with it, and not just guard?
Nomura: Actually, it’s not the “Guard Form”, it’s now officially become the “Guardian Form”. This is in reference to the “Guardian” in the “Guardians of Light”, so suitably he will also be able to utilize the shield to attack. Sort of like how Goofy does (laughs). I’m sure you noticed the huge fists that appeared and delivered a frenzy of punch attacks, that’s actually a counter attack that only the shield transformation can utilize. And of course, it’s not only that counter that’s available, we’ve also prepared devastating finishing moves too.
— Oh so there’s counter attacks too, is there?
— With the Keyblades, according to their current transformation, the actions available vastly differ from each other. So then devising effective strategies against enemies, for example against bosses, may vary in difficulty depending on the actions available.
Nomura: I think to some degree there will be transformations that are more or less compatible with certain foes. However, there won’t be cases where there will be only one specific strategy or transformation that will ensure victory. It’ll be fine for players to choose whether to use their favourite battle style, or to opt for something a bit easier.
— In the Orchestra trailer, we saw some other parts of the battle system, like a combination attack with Goofy.
Nomura: In battle, if you satisfy the right conditions, you will be able to deploy combination attacks at a button press. And it’s not only combinations with Donald and Goofy, just as always, you will be able to team up with the various heroes from each world too. For example in the Toy Story world, you’ll be able to have Woody and Buzz in your party, so you can launch combination attacks with them. As for the construction of parties, there’s a new system in place which I’ll be introducing at a later date.
— I’m looking forward to seeing what sorts of combinations are possible. In the Toy Story world, jumping in the robots and fighting with them seems like a really interesting concept.
Nomura: From the beginning of development, at the time that I told the team, “let’s do this”, part of what I said was to include mountable robots which would then suddenly turn the gameplay into an FPS (laughs). There are actually a few types of robots you can mount, like the red robot will be able to directly attack with a shoulder tackle, and the purple robot will be able to fire projectiles out of a canon. The robots will each have a main battling style. On saying that, though, if you go to other floors of the Toy Shop, there will be different gimmicks available for you to use.
— There are other floors you’ll be able to access?
Nomura: What we showed in the trailer this time was the opening sequences of the Toy Story world, but the main area of the world will be the “Toy Shop”. In this Toy Shop, there will be many sales floors. The floor you will be able to find the robots and mount them will be the floor that has them up for sale. In the Toy Shop, you’ll be able to visit the various sales floors and enjoy the respective gimmicks of each.
— It’s like multiple games in one! You’ve outdone yourselves!
Nomura: I think that’s a good thing, but that’s probably because the team overdoes it a little (laughs). They are constantly improving themselves to surpass expectations, and create top quality content. Otherwise, they think that it’s not enough. I think fans will be quite surprised with future announcements.
— By the way, this time you debuted the Toy Story world, but other than Disney worlds, will there be any new original worlds?
Nomura: In a previous trailer, there was a scene where Xehanort and Eraqus from their earlier years are together playing a game like chess. That world is an original world. This time, the number of Disney worlds themselves are fewer than KH2, but the overall content available in each world has become quite vast. They’ve truly become worlds you’ll be able to play until your heart is content.
— With all that quality content being packed into each world, there’s no doubt that KH3 is becoming quite the rich game indeed.
Nomura: With the amount of characters involved this time, the story is also becoming quite rich. Because of the chain of events so far, the number of both friend and foe have multiplied. There’s too many to even have them all assemble together in one place (wry laugh). Additionally, I can’t just let each character speak one line and just be done with.
— Counting the number of Seekers of Darkness and Guardians of Light, just that number is a crazy amount...
Nomura: Yeah, and I have to solve all the problems that each of those characters have been carrying on their backs this whole time (wry laugh). There’s also every member of the old Organization XIII...
— KH3 is the main priority right now but, the current state of the FFVII remake also piques our interests.
Nomura: There are some parts of the remake, such as cutscenes, which are actually further developed than KH3, but due to the fact that we’re currently right in the middle of switching from out sourced focused development to inner house focused, there’s a chance that there won’t be any sort of large revelations for a while.
— So, I’d like to ask you a little more about what’s coming for Kingdom Hearts Union Cross. The identity of the 4th Union Leader has been revealed but...
Nomura: I’ve already finished writing the scenario involving the 5th Union Leader and it will be releasing in the first few weeks of August. Actually, I have an illustration of them right here... (Nomura shows the interviewer the illustration)
Nomura: They’re a good kid. And... hot off the press, here’s a rough sketch of the main illustration for the scenario. (Nomura shows the sketch to the interviewer)
— Huh, the 5th leader isn’t in this sketch? Among the other revealed 4 Union Leaders are... an unknown character and someone in a black hood. Is the one in the black hood the 5th Union Leader?
Nomura: Nope. And with that, please pay close attention to what will unfold in the next scenario (laughs).
— I feel like I’m not gonna be able to sleep now! (laughs)
Nomura: In regard to KH3, there’s going to be another small intermission, but next time I’ll be announcing more finer details about various systems, such as the battle and levelling systems. Also, up until the 2018 release there’s some idle time, so please fill that up by playing the HD remasters and Union Cross, of which Union Cross includes content connected to KH3. We thank you for your patience.