During 2004 IGN included an interview with Tetsuya Nomura, the director for the Kingdom Hearts series. The major topics discussed were Kingdom Hearts II, Kingdom Hearts, Chain of Memories and the Kingdom Hearts series.
Q: Sora does the drive mode with Goofy in the demo. Are there other drive modes with different characters in the game?
Nomura: I can’t really say.
Q: Are there any other characters that aren’t Disney but help the main character?
Nomura: I can’t answer that.
Q: How often do Disney reps see the game?
Nomura: They don’t really see it in development at all.
Q: Are there problems working with Disney?
Nomura: Keeping and managing multiple worlds where the rules are rigid is one of the main problems.
Q: You were able to turn the limits of the Disney universe into the game’s strengths. Why do so few companies manage to do that?
Nomura: We don’t really want to break a world view. As far as Kingdom Hearts II is concerned, we’ve already made Kingdom Hearts I, so it wasn’t as hard — we just based it on that. The same thing goes for Chain of Memories. The game itself is based on Sora’s memories and is just a step up from Kingdom Hearts I, so it’s basically based on Kingdom Hearts I.
Q: What would you describe as the target audience for Kingdom Hearts II?
Nomura: Since the games are based on Final Fantasy, we think Final Fantasy to be the center of the target audience. For Kingdom Hearts it’s maybe a lower age audience, or a higher age audience than Final Fantasy.
Q: Since they have Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII on cell phones and a movie based on Final Fantasy VII, will Kingdom Hearts ever be on another platform or in another media?
Nomura: Final Fantasy is our property so we can do whatever we want to, but Kingdom Hearts it’s half Disney, so we can’t use the property as we please.
Q: How much was reused between Kingdom Hearts I and Kingdom Hearts II? As a director, what’s exciting about melding the two game universes?
Nomura: For the first question, although there are many similar elements we actually recreated the game engine [for Kingdom Hearts II] from scratch, so we didn’t import any data from Kingdom Hearts I. It’s 100% new. Although it’s the same world, it’s completely new.
As for the second question, Disney has different touches for each character, for example The Nightmare Before Christmas. The same goes for Final Fantasy. It’s a different world for every series we have. Each different world has different values. Like with Final Fantasy, there are lots of non human, sub-human races, and it was easy to fuse the two worlds together. As long as it made sense, it wasn’t that big a deal.
Q: What makes your team special enough to work on Kingdom Hearts?
Nomura: I can’t really think about comparing with other titles, but as a team, we try to put our effort on every little detail and aspect with the game. We make every level max level. We even put effort on particles and leaves in the game. The staff itself is eagerly waiting for the game to come out — they want to play it quickly, which is a bit strange amongst the games I’ve made until now.
Q: Have you considered doing a different kind of property other than Disney? And, have you considered bringing Enix characters into the game.
Nomura: For the first question, there have been talks with other companies about using characters, but we’re too busy with Kingdom Hearts 2 and other titles I’m on. We’d like to do it but not now because of time constraints. As for Enix characters, we cannot talk about it [laughs].
Q: How was it working with Disney? Did you have to take anything out of the game at their request?
Nomura: We don’t really put anything in the game that we though Disney wouldn’t want in the first place, so there haven’t been any big issues.
Q: Can you give us an idea of what your studio looks like?
Nomura: We have different sections within the dev team, such as modelers and motion capturers. Everyone does their own job and everyone is happy about it. No one is sad or gloomy. Everyone is pretty much enjoying themselves.
Q: Have you explored the possibility of bringing Kingdom Hearts to PSP in the future?
Nomura: The producer told me that until all my projects are done, don’t touch the PSP. [laughter]
Q: Any chance that other characters from Final Fantasy or Kingdom Hearts will make it to feature films from Disney?
Nomura: Actually, I’m not sure when it comes to movies, but we do have Advent Children as a movie, although I believe it’s presently more of a visual software than a movie. I can’t really tell — you’d have to ask at the upper levels of the company.
Q: Any chances of Square Enix character being in a Disney movie?
Nomura: Definitely not.
Q: Looking back to the start of Kingdom Hearts, I was wondering how it happened. Was it something that started in a bar or something?
Nomura: The producer, Mr. Hashimoto, met one of the executives of Disney in the elevators — we used to work in the same building.
Q: In Kingdom Hearts I, the Nigthmare Before Christmas level was somewhat of a surprising level because it wasn’t like the other levels. Can we expect any surprising Disney choices for Kingdom Hearts II?
Nomura: We have a bigger surprise for you.
Q: Can you use the wireless adapter to exchange cards and so-forth in Chains of Memories?
Nomura: Can’t say yet.
Q: Are you using any middleware to create the game?
Nomura: We’re working with AM3, which produces software that allows the GBA to play anime movies. We use the technology to play movies in the game.
Q: Who is your favorite Disney character and what was the last Disney movie you saw?
Nomura: Simba. Because I like Lions. [laughter]
Q: What was the biggest criticism you got for the first game and how did you go about fixing it?
Nomura: We had complaints about the camera. It has been modified and it’s must better, as you’ll see at TGS.
Q: How many projects are you part of right now?
Nomura: Six, along with others that I can’t really can’t mention.
Q: Anything in Kingdom Hearts II that you did and you loved but Disney made you pull out?
Nomura: Yes. But, we can’t really talk about it or Disney will do something to me. [laughter]
Q: You mentioned that you’re currently working on six projects. How many of them are not current generation games?
Nomura: The six projects I’m working for have been announced and they’re all current platforms. Advent Children is PSP. As for the ones I can’t comment on, we don’t know what’s going to happen to them.
Q: How much work did you put into the movies for Chain of Memories to create what you wanted?
Nomura: We did have lots of things that we wanted to put in but we had to take out because the ROM itself is limited.
Q: How many minutes of movies are in the game.
Nomura: You’ll find out soon. It’s a big surprise.
Q: How long is Chain of Memories?
Nomura: It’s a secret. You’ll be able to play for dozens of hours.
Q: Have you seen the new PS2 design? What do you think of it?
Nomura: It’s very thin.