Tetsuya Nomura talks Kingdom Hearts III development length, keyblade transformations, DLC and more By Wassim Deen on July 17, 2017 at 7:50 AM

Prepare for a feast because even more information about Kingdom Hearts III has come out from Game Informer and Gamespot with director Tetsuya Nomura following the announcement of the game’s 2018 release window and Toy Story world.

You can check here to read Nomura’s discussion about a second playable character, the addition of a Toy Story world, some new & refined gameplay tidbits and more.

For this excerpt, Nomura sheds some light on the long development time of Kingdom Hearts III, followed by a breakdown of keyblade transformations, hints on possible downloadable content and even hints on the game containing a lesser total count of worlds compared to previous entries, but with greater depth to compensate it.

Catch it all down below:

Keyblade Transformations

“First and foremost, each keyblade will have its own form that it can transform into, and it’s different per keyblade,” Nomura said. “There are at least two different forms it can take. For example, in Toy Story, you saw the giant hammer and then the drill. Another one was at the beginning of the trailer where you saw Sora shoot arrows and it [then] turned into a bazooka, so there are two different forms. It also has multiple layers in terms of transforming; you start out with your first phase of transformation, and if you successfully connect your combos, the [next] transformation will happen.”

Nomura was unable to disclose additional information about the transformation’s activation process, as the feature is still in development. “We’re still trying to finalize the specifications, but that being said, it is subject to change, so it might evolve into something even more impressive.”


While it’s confirmed that summons will make a return in Kingdom Hearts III, Nomura was unable to share much of its functionality. “If I could provide a glimpse, I’ve made it more pretty. Not just the literal modeling, but it’s more about how we’re expressing it that has become more pretty.”

Interactive Environments

“It’s a new mechanic that we’re implementing in Kingdom Hearts III,” Nomura explained. “The Japanese name is Athletic Flow. I don’t know what the English final name is just yet. It’s based on the Flow Motion mechanic, and it’s basically revamped and introduced as a new mechanic in Kingdom Hearts III. You’ll be utilizing the environment to propel yourself to an area that you’re not normally able to go to, or again, running up the cliff during battle. Those can be expected in each of the different worlds you’ll be traversing through.”

Nomura on Kingdom Hearts III’s Development Phase

“A lot of people have been mentioning and making it sound like ‘Oh, Nomura’s taking too much time,’ and it hurts,” Nomura said, through a translator. He explained that the decision was made by the higher ups to switch development to Unreal Engine 4 after about a year of development, which caused extensive delays. Certain timing and resources challenges within Square Enix had an effect.

“There was a decision made to change to an external [engine]…Unreal Engine 4,” he said. “So we switched over to that. Unfortunately there was a bit of time that needed to be rewinded and started over. So there was a bit of a setback there, but it was a decision that the company had to make, so it was inevitable.”

Nomura continued, “We had a plan of the period that it’s going to take for us to create the content at the start of the project, and we laid out, after such and such years, we would need to add more personnel resources. We had submitted it to our headquarters and had it approved, but internal personnel is very limited, and there are various different projects that happen within our company, so unfortunately timing did not work out. So we had to make due with the timing that was appropriate for the company…the company makes the decisions, so unfortunately sometimes it is out of my control.”

Nomura especially stressed that the lengthy development phase was not due to development problems or decisions made by him or his team. “I wanted to emphasize that it wasn’t a problem on our development teams,” he said. “It just happened that way, and there were some decisions that the company had to make, and it just didn’t work out for certain timings that we were hoping to hit.”

“It’s kind of out of my hands,” he added. “I mean, yes, time has passed. But it’s out of my hands.”

Nomura on Revealing Worlds Before Release

“I don’t think we’ll be keeping any worlds secret until the game is released. I think we will be introducing them leading up to launch,” he said. “Nowadays games can add content on after the fact through DLC content, so there’s no need to hide any worlds.”

Nomura on Downloadable Content

“Nothing is set in stone, and I’m afraid we can’t go into details, but I have told the team: Just be prepared to be able to accommodate for something like that,” Nomura said. “We can’t suddenly develop a system where we’re accommodating for downloadable content. So it’s not confirming or denying either way, but just so that the development team will be prepared, I have informed them of making the preparations.”

Nomura on Creating the First Full HD Kingdom Hearts

“I feel like I’ve packed in much more fun than I had in my previous Kingdom Hearts titles,” Nomura said. “Kingdom Hearts III is going to be our first full HD game in our current console generation,” he continued. “It does involve a lot of bandwidth and resources in order to create in full HD, so our directive was to have as many elements [as possible] of gameplay included in one single world, rather than having multiple different little worlds with few elements. We wanted to pack in as many gameplay elements and fun into a single world.”

Nomura concluded, “If we are able to accomplish everything that we did plan out for, I’m pretty confident that people will enjoy and be fully satisfied with the end product.”

Kingdom Hearts III is set to release in 2018 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

  • Serj_Angelo

    “I wanted to emphasize that it wasn’t a problem on our development teams. It just happened that way, and there were some decisions that the company had to make”

    Really, this is the point that people always have to bear in mind when criticizing both Nomura and Tabata about the Versus/XV/KHIII situations.
    They’re just men who try to develop the best games they can with the time and resources they’re given.

    KHIII though has a leisure of not having to be developed along with the engine it operates on, so praying for a more complete experience right off the bat.

  • Noctis Leonhart Strife

    This Luminous engine is to blame for most of the problems that Square-enix had with FF and KH. It should not have been used in FFXV. Correct decision to have switched to Unreal 4 on KH3 and FFVIIR

  • Some people out there make all sorts of presumptions regard Nomura’s competence that are probably mostly false, Nomura would not have achieved his acclaim within the company and continue staying employed were the things people claim about him true

  • 2me

    Until right before I played XV I took interviews and all other types of promotions seriously. I don’t know what’s really going on with their development stuffs and I don’t care what they are capable of. All I believe is the actual product on my hand.

  • James Stine

    Luminous Engine didn’t create any problems, it was Crystal Tools with XIII and other games at the time which delayed many other projects within the company.

  • As long as the game is great I’m fine. From what i see it looks like it’ll be even more fun than KH2. And 2 was the beat action rpg of all time.

  • David Thornhill

    If DLC DOES happen for this game, as long it’s not missing cutscenes being restored *coughFF15cough*, I’ll be happy. Even a 99 cent Keyblade would be fun for me to use.

  • Clawson_J

    For DLC… hope they won’t make a World as DLC or better yet don’t have any dlc at all

  • Randy Marsh

    Major releases are required to have DLC as console company policy. However the content can vary, honestly the DLC I would see them doing at most for KH is just costume DLC to let Sora get his old oufits from KH1, KH2, KHDDD. However, there’s always a chance of a “Final Mix” DLC for the game….

  • NoctLightCloud

    “….the company makes the decisions, so unfortunately sometimes it is out of my control.”

  • NoctLightCloud

    Also, unlike FF, KH has less pressure/expectations when it comes to graphics.