A 2004 issue of GMR magazine included an interview with Tetsuya Nomura, the director for the Kingdom Hearts series. The major topics discussed were Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts II and Kingdom Hearts.
GMR: Why did you guys decide to make a Kingdom Hearts game for GBA? Why not tell this entire story within the context of Kingdom Hearts II?
Tetsuya Nomura: The story for Kingdom Hearts II already existed when we worked on the original Kingdom Hearts. At the time, the story for Chain of Memories wasn’t concrete. Kingdom Hearts II continues where we left off in the original, but a year later. Initially, we weren’t planning on telling the story of that one “blank” year, but the more we started disscussing the GBA version, the more we thought it would be to do so in Chain of Memories.
GMR: How much busier are you now that you are directing multiple games? Is it more satisfying than when you were doing mostly character designs?
TN: Extremely busy. I don’t have any time to myself. Since I get to do most of the decision making on my projects, it is definitely a different level of satisfaction compared to when I mostly did character designs.
(GMR then asked a couple of questions about the characters, Nomura mostly replied with “We’ll reveal the characters soon”)
GMR: Kingdom Hearts made Disney cool again and also shattered the notion that Disney games were only for kids. In hindsight, how do you feel about Kingdom Hearts’ massive success?
TN: “Shattered the notion that Disney games were only for kids.” That is exactly what I had set out to do, so I’m glad you saw it that way. However, I believe the sequel will really tell us if Kingdom Hearts is a success or not.
GMR: Chain of Memories is primarily a one-man show, despite appearances by nearly everyone from the first game. Why put the focus on Sora?
TN: Kingdom Hearts is Sora’s story…and especially in Chain of Memories, Sora’s memories play an important role.
GMR: Who is Axel and what is his part in Chain of Memories? He is also in the trailer for Kingdom Hearts II; He must play a significant role.
TN: As you can see in the assets we have released, he is one of the guys who belongs in the group wearing the long black cloaks. His role and purpose hold the key to Kingdom Hearts II and Chain of Memories, so I cannot discuss details at this time. However, as one of the “members” of the group, Axel’s role “links” the two games, and he appears fairly early in the game.
GMR: With the first Kingdom Hearts, two of the biggest complaints were the camera and the extreme difficulty level (for people who suck at videogames or the youngins). Are you adjusting KH2 to be more user-friendly to gamers?
TN: Of course we are…no need to worry.
GMR:Are you making adjustments to the battle engine? If so, how will this affect KH2? Will the game have the same balance of exploration and battle as the first Kingdom Hearts, or will it skew toward one or the other?
TN:We are doing without the engine from the original and built a new one for KH2. That is because we realized the limitations of the original engine, and in order to create a better game we had to come up with a new one. I believe the biggest appeal of KH is its battle elements, so I think you’ll be surprised how we’ve changed it. We’re not just focusing on battles either-we’re including quests in battle.
GMR: Are you planning to include Utada Hikaru (who provided the theme song “Simple and Clean”)in the soundtrack again? We know you’re a fan.
TN: We cannot answer this question at this time.
(GMR went on to ask questions about the possibilty of a KH movie, which in short Nomura denied the possibility, they also asked a question about FFVII:Advent Children which I will not include at the moment.)
GMR:Is Mickey the most powerful character in the Kingdom Hearts universe?
TN: I have yet to reveal the most powerful character. But I’m confident that you’ll be surprised by Mickey’s role.
GMR: Will players need to play Chain of Memories in order to keep track of key events in KH2?
TN: As I mentioned earlier, since the story for Chain of Memories did not exist when we already had one for KH2, you won’t be put in a position where you have to play Chain of Memories. However, in order to see and know everything in the world of Kingdom Hearts, I recomend you play Chain of Memories (and patiently wait for KH2!).
GMR: With the first Kingdom Hearts, you took a wait-and-see approach before starting work on a sequel. Now that the series is a success, do you plan to turn Kingdom Hearts into an ongoing, Final Fantasy-sized franchise? What is the future of Kingdom Hearts?
TN: I believe that the Final Fantasy series is one that will continue forever. On the other hand, Kingdom Hearts will come to an end at some point. Whether that end comes in the next story or in several more installments, I do not know. What I do know is that I already see that “last scene” that will put an end to Kingdom Hearts.