1UP: You’re working on so many games right now — how do you have time to work on four, five projects?
Tetsuya Nomura: Well, I’m right at my limit — I’m busy, tired, jet-lagged, and sore, but I’m going to be okay.
1UP: In what we’ve seen of Chain of Memories, you go back to a lot of the familiar Kingdom Hearts locations. Does the game also feature some new locations and levels?
Nomura: Well, first of all, yes, there will be new worlds in Chain of Memories. But you know that the main theme in Chain of Memories is Sora’s memories, so you can easily imagine what kind of new Disney worlds we’ll have in Chain of Memories, and what we won’t have.
1UP: Is there a new technology that you’re using for the cutscenes in Chain of Memories, something different in the cartridge?
Nomura: Yes — we’re using a new technology to integrate all these cinema sequences in the game. It’s not a proprietary technology, we’re collaborating with a Japanese company called AM3, they’re providing us with that technology.
1UP: Is the card system something that you had in mind before you decided to make a GBA Kingdom Hearts game, or did that come about as a response to the GBA’s interface?
Nomura: Yes, before it was time to create Kingdom Hearts for GBA, I had a lot of ideas about real card games in my mind. When we first came up with the idea of doing a sequel to Kingdom Hearts on GBA, we said, hey, why not use this card system? Kingdom Hearts 1, of course, uses a 3D environment, and has a lot of original gameplay features based on that 3D environment. We couldn’t use that on GBA, so we needed to find an alternative to those features. We decided that for the 2D environment on GBA, a card system would be a pretty nice key element for the game system. Using these cards is like using the different realtime action commands in Kingdom Hearts — we wanted the cards to replace those systems, and so far we think it’s doing pretty well. Feedback from testers has said that even on GBA, they’ve had the same gameplay feeling as Kingdom Hearts.
1UP: We saw on the video, there’s the character named Axel [editor's note: black cloak, spiky red hair] in Chain of Memories, and he also appears in the Kingdom Hearts 2 trailer. Are there some things in Chain of Memories that you’ll need to see or learn about to understand Kingdom Hearts 2?
Nomura: First of all, you know that Chain of Memories is the direct sequel to Kingdom Hearts, and Kingdom Hearts 2 is the direct sequel to Chain of Memories. So there are very tight links between each one, but at the same time, we tried to separate the storylines so someone playing Kingdom Hearts 2 doesn’t necessarily need to play Chain of Memories, and someone playing Chain of Memories doesn’t have to play Kingdom Hearts as well. We first got started on the game design of Kingdom Hearts 2 before we got started on the Chain of Memories project — we started throwing around ideas for Kingdom Hearts 2, and then we got the idea of doing a Kingdom Hearts on GBA. Kingdom Hearts 2 takes place about two years after Kingdom Hearts. When we decided to do the GBA game, we thought, well, why don’t we fill in this missing link of two years in the GBA game? Yes, of course, if you play Kingdom Hearts, Chain of Memories, and then Kingdom Hearts 2, you’ll have a much better conception of the entire Kingdom Hearts universe. But you can play each game without playing the others.
1UP: About the new characters in Kingdom Hearts 2, there are the three children we see sitting on top of the building in the preview. Are those all new characters?
Nomura: Yeah, there are a lot of new characters in Kingdom Hearts 2, and those three are among them.
1UP: Do you plan to reveal any of the new worlds, Disney theme worlds, in Kingdom Hearts 2 at the Tokyo Game Show or some time in the near future?
Nomura: Yeah, we’re willing to show some of the new worlds, but we’re not sure exactly when — maybe at TGS, though.
1UP: At what part of 2005 do you hope to be able to bring the game out in the U.S.?
Nomura: We don’t know much about the U.S. release, but we believe that as soon as Final Fantasy XII is released, we can start getting a better picture of that.
1UP: Auron is the first Square character, Final Fantasy character, that we’ve seen in Kingdom Hearts 2 — why was he the first one you picked to add to the game and show?
Nomura: Actually, since Auron was one of the most popular characters with fans, we got a lot of requests from users asking us to put him in the first Kingdom Hearts. But, finally, we didn’t put him in the storyline, because the choice of who we’d feature in Kingdom Hearts isn’t only based on popularity. We have to see if that character matches well with the storyline, the Kingdom Hearts universe, and so on. This time, you saw that the Hercules world is back again, and we use the character of Hades. We thought that there could be a link between Hades and the underworld in the Olympus world, and in Final Fantasy X, Auron is also representative of the underworld. So we thought we could do something special with the relationship between those characters.
1UP: Personally, what do you think of the new PSP and DS hardware?
Nomura: Well, I tested some of the prototypes of both PSP and DS, as far as I know, I’m very interested in how to use those two. The two platforms are very different, I found that interesting. But since I already have five titles I’m involved in, I’m so busy, my bosses have said, “If you try and take on another project for another console, you’ll die.”