Volume 463 of Dengeki PlayStation magazine has featured Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, the upcoming Kingdom Hearts title for the PlayStation Portable, in an article. This article, which was scanned by HEARTSTATION.ORG, contains high quality screenshots, as well as an interview with the series' director, Tetsuya Nomura. The article can be viewed below, in our gallery, and the interview, which was translated by Kingdom Hearts Insider, can be read below.
“There is enough packed into this game that it is on par with a console title.”
You have to watch the secret movie
--- The release date is almost near isn’t it? First, I’d like to ask you some things about the story.
Nomura: I really don’t think I’ll be able to say much (laugh). With the story we have this time, if I talk about it even a little bit it’s a spoiler.
--- Well that’s a problem (laugh) One interesting point of this game is that you can choose which of three main characters you want to play with. But which order do you recommend?
Nomura: Terra, Ven and Aqua is the best order. We wrote the scenarios in that order, and you’ll probably understand why while you’re playing it. Also, Ven is very easy to use, but Terra is a little heavier and moves slowly. So you could begin playing with the character that best fits your play style. But if you choose to play as Ven first and then go on to Terra, you’ll probably feel too slow.
--- So the scenarios for the three characters are really quite different?
Nomura: Yes, we set it up that way. If three friends were to play the game and choose different characters, after ten minutes the story would be completely different. If you choose to play as a different character than your friend, you both should be careful of spoiling each other.
--- Instead of using one character until the end, can you play each character a little bit at a time?
Nomura: For the most part yes, you can. When you first create a save, it creates saves for all three characters. But if you play them together it becomes confusing, and I wouldn’t recommend it.
--- Alright then, now can you tell us what kind of characters the three heroes are? Starting with Terra.
Nomura: Terra, as we’ve shown in trailers and screenshots, becomes [closer? entangled?] with darkness, which is the highlight of his story. But he doesn’t just fight the darkness in his heart, he tries to hold back his desire while being invited into the darkness. He can also use the moves that we saw from “Lingering Sentiment” in KHIIFM, so that will be fun.
--- Next, I want to ask about Ven, the one everyone is wondering most about.
Nomura: Since Ven has a lot of mysteries about him, I can’t really say clearly what sort of character he is. But when you play the game, you’ll find out more about who he really is. While the connections in the series haven’t been explained, we’ve made it so you can imagine who he is. Also, as I said before he will be an easy character to use for newcomers, since he is the quickest.
--- And Aqua is watching over the both of them.
Nomura: Yes that’s right. Aqua’s position is what I guess you could call their “guardian”. And unlike Terra and Ven, you can’t easily see how she connects to the series. I’d like for everyone to watch her to see what lies in her future. Since she is a magic type character, she has trickier moves than we’ve seen in the series to date. Also, like Final Form in KHII, she has a Style where her keyblade floats in the air.
--- How will their Master be involved in the story?
Nomura: Master Eraqus and Master Xehanort used to be fellow students. Their way of thinking is different, but deep down they are connected in some way.
--- And what about the mysterious Master Xehanort and Vanitas?
Nomura: Vanitas wears a mask and we can’t see his face, but eventually we will find out who he is. I want you to watch out for how Master Xehanort connects to Ansem the Wise’s apprentice Xehanort that was introduced in KHII.
--- In screenshots we see Master Xehanort saying something about the “Keyblade Wars”...
Nomura: The “Keyblade Wars” were something that happened quite a long time ago, so there is no one who actually experienced the war can explain more about it. They can only speculate on what happened. But that isn’t really what is important, what I want you to pay attention to is the “Mystery that is hidden within the keyblades” that is in connection with the war. The place where Xehanort is talking about it is close to the climax of the story, and all of the story’s highlights will be summarized there.
--- We see quite a lot of characters that look like Organization XIII members in Radiant Garden, don’t we?
Nomura: But they don’t have a lot to do in the story, they just appear as residents in Radiant Garden. Except for Braig, since you fight him and he is quite involved in the story. In KHIIFM and KH 358/2 Days there was a lot going on with him, and he is a character I think you should pay attention to.
--- Of course you usually have a secret movie at the end, do you have one this time too?
Nomura: Yes there is one. Except this time it isn’t a pre-rendered movie that gives a hint as to how the story will develop later, but is shown like an event scene. There is dialog, and in all it runs about ten minutes. It is set up as one episode. Instead of showing us what will happen in the future, it is more like a true ending. I would really like everyone to see it. There are characters that will only show up there in it as well.
--- I wonder what sort of things will be required to see the event.
Nomura: Of course there are lots of requirements. This time too, it depends on the difficulty. It’s pretty difficult to get on Standard Mode, and on Proud it becomes easier. On Beginner you can’t see it at all. Well, I’m sure fans of the series can imagine the requirements.
An enemy even stronger than “Lingering Sentiment” will appear!?
--- Even just playing it a little bit, I found the Deck Commands quite interesting, but in the beginning you can only equip three.
Nomura: If you give lots of options in the beginning it actually makes things more difficult. It’s because you have that limitation that it becomes fun. If you were able to equip lots of them in the beginning it wouldn’t be nearly as fun. You can have up to eight slots by the end, and probably the urge to get more Commands will give people more of a motivation to play.
--- This time even the Finish Commands have levels, it seems that having to think about leveling them will make it a little confusing?
Nomura: Even the our development team said as you go through the game that maybe there were too many levels. Well, I think that there will be some people who will get into having that sort of leveling system. But beginners can just have fun and don’t really have to bother thinking about all that.
--- Using keyblades to move between the worlds looks quite interesting. Nomura: Unlike before with Gummi Ships, they aren’t a mini-game, but instead you can use the Keyblade Ride to have a race. Also, this time the worlds screen is like before, and you can choose which world you want to go to freely.
--- I’m quite happy that when you play on wireless you can upgrade your Deck Commands, you can bring those over into single player as well.
Nomura: We didn’t want to have a separation between multiplayer and single player. For KH 358/2 Days there were people who said that they couldn’t gather all of the Mission Crowns, so we were thinking about that. In “Mirage Arena” there are items you can’t get anywhere else, but you can get them all even if you are playing offline by yourself. Of course it is made for several people to beat together, so it would be quite difficult by yourself. The strongest enemy that appears in multiplayer is about equal to the hidden boss in single player.
--- There is a hidden boss this time too!?
Nomura: Yes there is. We wanted to make it even stronger than Lingering Sentiment. But, you can only defeat it by having a certain set of Deck Commands. You’ll have to wait until you see it. You could also say that if you don’t think about your attacks [or it’s attacks?] you won’t be able to win.
--- Something even stronger than Lingering Sentiment must have taken quite a lot of fine tuning...
Nomura: We had Debuggers who are really good at action games help us with it, so we were able to make it into quite a difficult boss. It is strong, but it doesn’t have high HP. It is just a battle of attack against attack.
--- With both single player and wireless, I’m a little worried about loading times...
Nomura: I very much recommend Data Install. There are three different sizes you can choose from, but please choose the largest one. It will change the way you play the game. You can also go into Config and change the speed and color mode.
Braig is a Dark Horse!
--- This time there will be quite a few things, I think, but in the story and battles what do you think is the highlight of each?
Nomura: In the story, it’s the connections with the rest of the series. Since Sora isn’t the main character we didn’t give it a number, but there is no difference between this one and the PS2 games. I think the KH series has a story with lots of mysteries that the player can have fun imagining what will happen next. They don’t have to imagine something from nothing, there are lots of little hints left everywhere in the story. So everyone can take those hints and imagine what will happen. For battles, the actions using the Deck Commands. With Shoot Locks and Dimension Links, there are lots of different ways you can fight and have fun with it.
--- So which character do you think people should be watching out for?
Nomura: Definitely Braig. Everyone is thinking about all the other characters, but no one is watching Braig. But he will have quite an impact on the story.
--- “KH 358/2 Days” had quite a sad story, but what about this story?
Nomura: I’m sorry to say, this one is also pretty sad (laugh). The stories I make usually make the character sad, or they have lots of troubles along the way. But since the theme this time is “bonds”, I think the story connects to a bright and hopeful future.
--- “KH coded” has reached it’s climax, so are you thinking of what is going to happen in the future?
Nomura: Of course I’m thinking about it. But right now I’m too busy with “FF Versus XIII”. Of course it wouldn’t be any good to make our fans wait for years for it, so we’re planning something. But first I’d like you to enjoy this latest game. All the fans who are excited for the game, I think you ought to pre-order it.