E3 was a big event for all things Kingdom Hearts III this year, with trailers dropping and news spreading quickly throughout social media platforms. Now with E3 2018 concluded, interviews for the long awaited title are starting to pop up gradually across the internet, and popular gaming news site Gamespot had gotten the chance to sit down with Tetsuya Nomura, director of the Kingdom Hearts series, to ask him some questions regarding the three new trailers, among other things.
Nomura shared his experiences working on Kingdom Hearts III and the entire series as a whole, revealing some of the struggles the team faced early on in development upon switching to the Unreal Engine. When asked if he felt any pressure from high fan expectations, especially since the game has been in development for a while, Nomura expressed he was nervous, if only for a little bit.
“I just naturally don’t really feel pressured and that’s always been fortunate for me. That’s been leading me to successes, but at least for Kingdom Hearts 3 the fan excitement was a lot more than I had expected. So [for] the first time in my life I did feel some kind of pressure from it. But when I thought about why I didn’t really feel pressure until now, I realized that it was because I always had the confidence that my game is going to be good and fun. Because I have confidence that Kingdom Hearts 3 will be great as well I think that’s probably why I don’t feel too pressured or I don’t feel too scared about fan expectations or meeting expectations.”
“I also have experience working on Final Fantasy titles as well, but Kingdom Hearts is a very unique one where a lot of people that are on the title really love Kingdom Hearts 3. They’re overflowing with love. They’re just like our fans as well. So because their love towards the title is so high, they’ve been creating the game with that much love and so I think that we are able to push out a game that meets expectations or even more than what you might expect.”
When asked if any Final Fantasy characters would appear in Kingdom Hearts III, Nomura admitted that it was somewhat difficult to find ways to include them in the game.
“They obviously appeared from [the first] Kingdom Hearts, but at least for Kingdom Hearts 3, there’s going to be a lot of [original] Kingdom Hearts. So most of the main characters from the Kingdom Hearts titles will appear and they will all have their problems that they need to resolve in the game. Because of that, Final Fantasy characters that actually do not have problems of their own … it’s just a little bit difficult for them to appear in the game. But, obviously, the trailers that we have been showing until now is not everything. So all I can really say to that is just wait for a little more update to that.”
“Actually, in interviews throughout E3, I think every single interviewee has asked me about Final Fantasy characters and so I realize that that probably means that everyone’s actually looking forward to them. There weren’t that many titles out in the world that had all these Final Fantasy [characters] comes together in one [place], but nowadays there’s just so many games out there that incorporates all these different Final Fantasy characters together, so I actually felt that it might not even be necessary to have another one of those in my game. But now that I’ve been talking with everyone, I’ve realized that maybe it is necessary, so I’m a little surprised by that.”
One of the biggest surprises in the E3 trailers was the reveal of Aqua’s current predicament in KHIII, which had shocked and excited fans. Gamespot was curious to know if any other surprises like Aqua’s fall to darkness should be expected in the upcoming title.
“It’s not to say that there will be similar situations for other characters as Aqua, because I think that actually if I did that too often in the game, it will just lose the surprise element or it’ll just feel very boring. But I can say that there will be a lot of surprises in the game, and future trailers may reveal it, but there are some surprises in there that I don’t even know if it’s okay to even put it in a trailer. Maybe we should just leave it in the game without revealing it beforehand so it’ll be like a surprise in the game. I think all I can really say is to just please look forward to that. But let’s say, so it’s not like I’m changing your perspective on a character or not, but there will be some moments in there that you will definitely be surprised.”
Gamespot had also managed to sneak in the “Star Wars or Marvel characters appearing in Kingdom Hearts” question, to which Nomura explained it was not an option currently available to the team due to Star Wars and Marvel being owned by separate companies under Disney. Then when he was asked what character he would include, if any, from either of those franchises, Nomura admitted he really loves Tony Stark.
“If I answer to this question, I think a lot of people will actually be like, “Oh my God. It’s confirmed. It’s going to come,” but it’s not like that. But just simply as a character, I really love Tony Stark.”
Nomura was also asked about the release date being pushed back to January 2019 when it had been previously stated that KHIII would release in 2018.
“We really wanted to release the game as simultaneous as possible, this was a big request from our overseas team, our Western teams, so we had to think of that for this title. Until now, we would decide on a release date for Japan, and then the rest of the world would follow, so we would only have to think about situations in Japan. But now that we’re looking towards a global release, we have to think of distribution and software production lines in global terms. If it was only like about 10,000 or like 50,000 units, then I think it would have been a little bit more of a simple matter, but since we’re trying to produce more at once, we really had to think about those issues.”
“For instance, like one country might be able to distribute a game towards the end of the year, but another might not be able to because of their holiday season. So the higher-ups actually were very cautious about this, and they really wanted to make sure that we did not run into any issues, and so that is why we decided that this date that we have is the safest to be able to achieve a global simultaneous release, or as close as possible. And of course, with developers, it’s much easier to push the release date a little back than to make it earlier, and so that is why we decided on this date.”
And finally, Gamespot told Nomura that the Kingdom Hearts series means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, and asked the director what the series meant to him personally.
“It’s probably the title that represents who I am. When I was a starting as a developer, like I wasn’t an industry veteran yet, when I was creating Final Fantasy titles with Mr. Sakaguchi, the father of Final Fantasy, and at that time, he said that Final Fantasy is a game that has everything in it. I don’t think that there are that many people left in Square Enix that have actually worked with him on Final Fantasy. Of course, Final Fantasy is still continuing on–they still are committing to push out titles. But when I started creating Kingdom Hearts, that was when I kind of had this time away from Final Fantasy. And of course, I am working on a Final Fantasy title right now, but it was at a time when I was not working on a Final Fantasy title, and I really wanted to realize what Sakaguchi-san said about Final Fantasy, that it is a game that incorporates everything, to Kingdom Hearts. So I brought that idea to Kingdom Hearts. Currently looking at the newer Final Fantasy titles, to be honest, I don’t think it really incorporates that idea of having everything. So I think that Kingdom Hearts, to me, is a game that has everything in it.”
Kingdom Hearts III is scheduled to release in Japan on January 25, 2019 and in North America and Europe on January 29, 2019 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.