trapped in revamp hell
- Nov 1, 2009
The Kingdom Hearts 20th anniversary event was held today in Japan, wherein Square Enix confirmed the new release date for the final chapter of Kingdom Hearts Dark Road, as well as announcing two brand new titles: Kingdom Hearts Missing-Link and Kingdom Hearts IV. A fan-powered Q&A with development staff and special guests also took place at the event. We will post information here as attendees and official sources share details.
Bear in mind that this is paraphrased based off of impressions and the actual answers may differ once we learn more.
Sources: @zexion0613, @loxas_xi, @aibo_ac7, @rhyme_monsta, @toro_cocoron0te, jyaco_juice
Update 4/11/2022: Updated with further context and corrections from press recaps (Famitsu   , Gamer.ne.jp, 4Gamer)
- Can't say much about the game right now. It was only shown early to avoid leaks, so there won't be any more news for a while. There won't be any news on KH at E3 either (Nomura is saying it now before people jump to conclusions all over the internet.)
- Everything you saw in the PV are rendered in real time in UE4. However, development is moving to UE5 so this footage is being discarded.
- When the team sent Nomura the video of the forest, he thought, "Why are you sending me live-action footage?"
- Takes place post-MoM, which is 1 year after Sora's disappearance in KH3.
- The visual style is a result of being in Quadratum.
- Donald and Goofy were shown at the end to assure everyone that Sora will still appear in the familiar KH style.
- World selection is currently in progress.
- The logo has changed because the Dark Seeker Saga has concluded. It was tough to settle on the new design.
- Nomura was torn between Verum Rex or KH4 for the next title, and discussed it with Yasue. In the end, he decided to prioritize KH4 because it'd be difficult to develop two big console games at the same time, and there were many fans who were worried about Sora.
- People tend to say "Verum Rex" with a short u like "veram" but the dev team actually pronounces it with a long u like "veroom" (ヴェラム vs ヴェルム, the latter is correct)
- The same actor provided the narration for both the ML and KH4 sections of the trailer. Nomura wouldn't reveal the identity of the character they play, only confirming that it's not Brain.
- Nomura started working on it before UX concluded.
- Has action like in the mainline series
- Supports battles with up to 6 players
- Screen can be viewed in portrait or landscape mode
- Set during a blank time period between UX and DR
- A story that connects all of the mysteries up to now
- Key words: The Multi-Layered City of Scala ad Caelum, Founder Ephemer, Secret Society of Keyblade Wielders. Everything is connected.
- Beta testing is scheduled for Fall 2022
- There are two systems: one is a story mode where you advance through quests, and the other a walking mode like Pokemon Go.
- As fans can imagine, Nomura doesn't particularly like AR games. He also doesn't want to walk and knows players wouldn't be receptive to it either if it were required, so he made it possible to play the game in the comfort of your own home.
- There's a base from where you can go out into the world map and explore to collect "pieces," which can be set onto your Keyblade to enhance abilities.
- "Pieces" take the form of figurines, like what you see in the trailer when the player uses an ability.
- Start quests from the base and complete them to advance the story.
- Quests and world map are the two main components of the game.
- Nomura talks about dreaming of traveling to places that he'd like to visit but wasn't able to. He thinks it wouldn't be very KH-like if you aren't able to go wherever you wanted and are instead limited by how far you can walk.
On Dark Road:
- Final chapter is scheduled to be released in August 2022.
- The UXDR team has already disbanded. As a result, they can no longer do periodic updates and must release everything all at once.
- The current work on DR is being done by the two animators who worked on the UX event scenes (Reminder that the second animator was only hired in the final year of UX's service.)
- A number of improvements have been made.
- Resolves various mysteries up to now.
- It took a lot of work to recreate the chess scene for DR.
- There were many tough hurdles for D-san (Disney?)
- Nomura didn't finish the anniversary artwork until 10:00am this morning. He stayed up all night to get it done in time.
- Asked Hazama to help him buy some shampoo but he didn't make it in time before the event started so here we are.
- Is exhausted by rehearsal.
- Nomura was burnt out after KH3.
- He realizes that he's really been recognized in these 20 years. Back when the first game released, he wasn't very well known. Now that the series has become much more prolific, he doesn't have as much freedom as they used to, but his development ideology hasn't changed.
- KH3 has sold a record high of 6.7 million units as of September 2021.
- Nomura reminisces about his school days, when he lived only 5 minutes away from the ocean. He's inserted some of his own life experiences into the games, such as spending time eating ice cream with friends.
- He isn't very good at action games, but tries to be conscious that KH can be played by everyone.
- He's not keen on too much fantasy. Instead, he prefers something inbetween reality and fantasy, with just a little bit out of touch with reality.
- Nomura wants to convey two key points in KH: that our hearts are connected, and anyone can be the hero.
- Sora may be gone, but his heart is still connected to others.
- First started work on KH in 1997.
- They've given out all of the information they can right now. Perhaps the next time Nomura appears in-person will be on the 25th anniversary?
— Regarding superbosses.
Hazama: Sephiroth was terrible. I could barely even hear the One-Winged Angel playing in the background as Sora floated around in the air (laughs).
Nomura: Isn't it hilarious though? To be so thoroughly beaten out of nowhere. I can't defeat them myself, but it's fun to see someone else losing like that (laughs)
— Regarding the lack of livestream.
Nomura: When you're livestreaming something, there's a lot of work that goes into making it available for the overseas audience, subtitling it, and having to adhere to a script. Then I might inadvertently leak some undisclosed information, in which case I'd say "Boy am I glad we didn't livestream this (laughs)."
Hazama: So says the one always getting angry about it...
— Are Nobody emblems natural? Do humanoid Nobodies have them?
Nomura: Is this something you all care about? (laughs) No, the humanoid Nobodies don't have them. Think of them as the Nobody equivalent of a Pureblood Heartless, they all lack emblems.
— Who exactly is Demyx?
Nomura: This question was asked a lot. I'm going to withhold the answer because if I reveal it here, then there'd be no point in showing it in a future game, and I'd rather save it. He's the only character in Organization XIII who is still shrouded in mystery, so I am thinking of touching upon it someday.
— Hikaru Utada is in charge of the theme songs throughout the series. Do you draw any inspiration from her work?
Nomura: Always. When it comes to the Kingdom Hearts series, I only start thinking about the opening movie after I receive her songs. I work on it with them in mind, so they're indispensible.
— At the end of UX, the Player melts into Xehanort's heart. Were they inside him the whole time?
Nomura: This will become clear when you play Dark Road. Please look forward to it.
— Riku hands Kairi a Keyblade in Kingdom Hearts 2, but where did he get it? Are there any plans to show how that happened?
Nomura: This would be another one of those questions that I can't show if I tell you the answer (laughs). I'll try to follow up on it somehow, otherwise it'll just go to waste.
— The story diverges based on who wins or loses the battle against Yozora, which I believe is a first for the KH series. What is the significance of this?
Nomura: There isn't any. Yozora is a very powerful foe and therefore difficult to beat, so I thought it'd be better if players could see something even if they lost the battle. It'd be upsetting for those who couldn't defeat him no matter how hard they tried, and receive nothing for their efforts.
— Did Ephemer realize the Player's true intentions in UX's ending?
Nomura: It's a sad goodbye, but there's still a lot to be said about Ephemer, so I will refrain from answering. However, past stories will be resolved in Missing-Link, so be sure to check it out.
— When did Namine and Ansem meet?
Nomura: When there was no one else left in Castle Oblivion. Organization XIII had been eliminated, and Sora and Riku were gone, so they were like "Well now what we do?" (laughs)
Hazama: It wasn't that amicable, was it? (laughs)
Nomura: It wasn't. I didn't show it because I thought people would be able to figure out what happened on their own.
— Why did Riku's hair get cut in KH3D?
Nomura: Everyone kept saying that his hair is too long in KH2 and that he should cut it off, so off it went (laughs)
— While we're on the topic, is there anything else you've changed in response to fan feedback?
Nomura: Roxas and Xion's return in Kingdom Hearts 3. I was struggling with the issue until the very last minute, and even considered a scenario where they wouldn't be revived at all. However, everyone's feelings were so strong that I felt I had no choice to bring them back.
There are parts of the story that I won't budge on, but when I'm having trouble, I will consider what everyone is saying.
— How do you read the "world of ※" that the Master of Masters tried to disappear to? Is the ※ a hidden character?
Nomura: It is. The name was written properly in the script. We're keeping it under wraps for the time being, but you'll find out eventually. However, if you have a good sense, you might be able to figure it out on your own.
— When and how did Isa receive the scar on his face? Also, why is it in the form of the Recusant's Sigil?
Nomura: Good question. There's a story with Lea and Isa and the girl they were trying to rescue. Stay tuned for the future.
— Why was there noise in the sky after Ephemer and Skuld left the data world in UX?
Nomura: There's no deeper meaning to this. It's just an effect.
Hazama: People tend to misunderstand this kind of thing.
— Master Xehanort hijacked Terra's body to see what lies beyond the Keyblade War, but it seems like Young Xehanort was already pretty powerful. So why didn't he do anything about it while he was still young?
Nomura: Because he didn't have the power to do so. Not enough.
As for Xehanort himself, the mysteries surrounding him will be revealed in the final chapter of DR. You'll also find out why Xehanort's hair became the way it did.
— What is the difference between falling to darkness (as happened to Riku and Aqua) and becoming Heartless and creating Nobodies?
Nomura: Falling to darkness and losing your heart to it are two different phenomena. When the heart falls to darkness, it still remains with you, but when it becomes a Heartless, the heart departs the body.
Dark Aqua is pretty cool and I like her a lot, so I wanted to show her a little more.
— You mentioned that the reason why Maleficent believes the black box contains the Book of Prophecies would be revealed in UX, but are there any plans to elaborate on that in the future?
Nomura: The scenes with Darkness and Maleficent in UX hinted at the reason, even thought it wasn't explicitely revealed. Since it wasn't clear to everyone, I think I'll have Maleficent talk about it sooner or later.
— In KH3, Xemnas breaks Lea's Keyblade and says "Your Keyblade is no more," yet Lea continues to use it regardless.
Nomura: There were a lot of these kinds of retorts. It doesn't mean that Lea's Keyblade is gone for good, since Xemnas does not have the power to do that. The nuance is that Xemnas has destroyed it on the spot, sending a message to Lea that even if he were to summon his Keyblade again, the same thing would happen. He's got a Keyblade now, but he can't use it.
VA Talk Session:
Thoughts on their auditions:
- At the time, both Miyu Irino (Sora/Vanitas) and Risa Uchida (Kairi/Xion) were in middle school.
- Uchida performed a line for a scene in Destiny Islands for her audition. She lived near the ocean at the time, and read her line while thinking of those familiar views. She auditioned because of her love of the ocean.
- Miyu Irino doesn't remember his audition and jokes that it's just like Sora to not remember anything.
- Yoji Shimizu (sound director) recalls his first impression of the two, saying that they were 13 and 14 year olds without fear, just like Sora and Kairi. That quality, along with the similarities in ages with the characters, contributed to their casting.
- His first impression of KH was of original characters and Disney characters existing on the same screen and having conversations with each other. The frequent interaction between characters from completely different worlds and cultures "almost made him faint" when he first heard about it, but as he proceeded to work on the project, he realized just how interesting it was.
- Shimizu oversees the recording of around 100-150 characters per KH game.
Mamoru Miyano's (Riku) video message:
- KH is the work that made him who he is, taught him the joy of being a voice actor, and was a chance for him to make himself known to the world.
- He recalls working part-time at a bookstore when the Ultimania was released, and convincing the owner to let him display the book prominently in the shop.
- Says he was happy to perform with Uchida on stage.
- His two favorite lines are "Giving up already? Come on, Sora. I thought you were stronger than that." which he'd often say to his friends in private, and "Having you for a friend." as they express Riku well.
- Would love to see another title where you can play as Riku.
- Shimizu's first impression of Miyano was that he was a bit troubled and skeptical of the world at times, making him best suited for the role of Riku. Irino and Uchida, on the other hand, said they were doing it with the thought of having fun.
- It's precisely because they have the same personalities as their characters and have such great rapport that they've been able to get along with each other for over than 20 years.
- Irino comments that Miyano is "the one who will always play the leading role."
- Irino on Sora: "My friends are my power."
- He remembers struggling to record "I've been having these weird thoughts lately" for KH3.
- Uchida on Kairi: "Don’t ever forget. Wherever you go, I’m always with you."
- Uchida on Xion: "You're both my best friends."
Thoughts on Roxas: "My summer vacation... is over."
- Irino: "I had a friend who loves Roxas and would often say that line to me, because I'm Sora."
- Shimizu recalls an interesting episode where he noticed something in common between Irino and Koki Uchiyama (Roxas). According to him, many children would turn fearfully to look at the teacher's face when they make a mistake or perform poorly, but these two are the only ones who have never done so since they were kids. Rather than worrying about how the adults would react, they kicked themselves for not being able to do it. Considering Roxas is Sora's alter ego, he finds it interesting that their two actors share such similarities.
- Irino is the intuitive type, while Uchiyama tends to worry. Shimizu remembers Uchiyama struggling to grasp Ven.
Thoughts on Axel: "Go on, you just keep running. But I'll always be there to bring you back!"
- Shimizu got goosebumps during recording of the aforementioned line. His job requires him to be objective so he tries to not get too absorbed, but this one time, he was very moved by Fujiwara's performance.
- Fujiwara once had to do 70 takes for a certain line of dialogue, but did it without a sour look on his face. Shimizu is very grateful to him.
- Nomura: "When I talk about Axel, I feel sad."
Message from Hikaru Utada:
- It's difficult to write both Japanese and English versions, but it's a special task.
- "I'm not good at games, but I've got a copy [of KH] and would like to play it with my son when he's old enough. He said he was thinking of trying it."
Closing remarks by Shinji Hashimoto:
"I think back to all those times myself, director Nomura, and others would travel to the U.S. to give presentations, have meetings, sign contracts, and climb stairs, and before I knew it, it'd been 20 years. I'm truly happy that we were able to pass the baton to the next generation, and that [KH] has become a work loved by people all around the world. I believe the world of KH will continue to expand with KH4 at the forefront, so I'd like to ask for your continued support in the future. Thank you you all very much."