Famitsu released an issue on April 18th, 2018 showcasing a three-page feature on the Kingdom Hearts Union x[cross] 2018 fan event, aka "Dandelion Meeting," which took place at Disney's House of Blues Anaheim in Anaheim, California. The feature talks about the activities carried out across the event, the Classic Kingdom Trailer, and the question and answer section of the discussion panel with Tetsuya Nomura among the development staff!
A fan event "Dandelion Meeting" for the smartphone game "Kingdom Hearts Union Cross" (KHUχ for sort) was held in Anaheim, California on April 15, 2018.
We will give a report of the event, in which was announced elements linked to Kingdom Hearts III (KH III for short). Some stages and panels wasn’t allowed to be shoot or filmed, so we apologize for the lack of images for those parts.
The Dandelion Meeting took place at the House of Blues located near Disneyland in Anaheim.
At this KHUx themed place, 1,000 fans were gathered. The interior was decorated for the event as well.
In addition, KHUχ was playable on a huge touch screen, there were sections where photos could be taken, and a panel where you could write messages along with various other amenities provided to satisfy the fans.
(Fans in line legend): The opening of the doors was planned around 10 o’clock, the first fans began to be in line at 9 o’clock. Some famous Youtubers were also spotted among them.
(Interior decorations 1 legend): There are plenty of highlights, such as the walls decorated with KHUχ artworks, stage decorations imitating Daybreak Town, and character panels.
(Nomura illustration): There were also illustrations drawn by Tetsuya Nomura displayed!
(Huge touch screen legend): Playing at KHUχ on a huge touch screen was really compelling. In addition to this, there were various activities such as draw battles, a message board, and a stamp rally.
Fans were allowed to sift through the attractions and assembly hall at their leisure, and when Kingdom Hearts brand manager, Shinji Hashimoto, appeared on stage, at last the “Dandelion Meeting” was able to start. On behalf of the fans, as the the panels were being announced, Hashimoto carried on with the commencement with a well-known quote by Sora in English stating, “My friends are my power!” (Literally in Japanese, “The people bound to my heart are my power!”), which was met with loud applause from the audience.
(Caption: When I went out for a break, Hashimoto was surrounded by fans. He was signing various items!)
Next, as the director, the moment that Tetsuya Nomura was called and entered the stage there were shouts of excitement from all directions! Though the leftover tension permeated within the fans throughout the assembly hall, Nomura waited for them to calm down, reminding everyone that this was an event to celebrate “KHUx,” before stating, “there is something I wanted to show you.” After that, a Kingdom Hearts III video showcasing LSI mini-games (LCD in the US) started streaming, which was accompanied by more excited cheers erupting from the audience!
Following the video was also a message from Kingdom Hearts III’s Co-director, Yasuuji Yasue. Yasue prefaced the video with, “About a year ago I received an unusual request from Tetsuya Nomura . . . this happened quite often,” and laughed before acknowledging what Nomura ordered; Nomura wanted the main development team to create LSI mini-games in the style of 1980s cartoons using cutting edge technology and free software. Out of the more than 20 mini games they completed using Unreal Engine 4, Mr. Yasue was most pleased with the game that involved changing the pipes in order to retrieve falling eggs. He laughed again, saying, “I didn’t think something like this, gathering eggs, could be fun,” and the audience laughed along with him.
These mini games, created in black and white following the motif of classic Disney animations, were available for those to play within the assembly hall. There were places where fans could sit and be able to see and play the four mini-games shown in the video (Including Mr. Yasue’s egg game, “Musical Farmer”). Here we will reveal the rules and the feel of playing each game.
THE BARNYARD BATTLE
The player simultaneously controls Sora and Mickey to repel Pete who approaches towards the player from the background. Pressing the button causes Sora and Mickey to swing a hammer, and depending on the timing a score of GOOD or PERFECT is rewarded; the goal is to receive the highest score possible. As you succeed Pete increases the speed of his movements and moves over the hedge on the left and right, creating a thrilling experience. The game feels similar to that of rhythm action (rhythm games) with parts that depend on sound.
THE KARNIVAL KID
This is a mini game in which the player provides drinks, french fries, and hotdogs depending on the customer’s order. Once the prescribed score is reached within the time limit you advance to the next stage. To avoid getting the order wrong and only receiving a low score, you must carefully check the orders such as whether the hotdog requires ketchup or not. The hotdog has to cook for a certain time to be fit to serve, but if you let it cook for too long the hotdog will be scorched!
This mini adventure involves aiming towards the spot where Mickey is located on the top right of the screen by the window. After avoiding the feet of the giant, getting propelled up to the desk by spoon, and moving to the right to pull the chord, the curtain covering the window opens and causes the lamps to shake with the breeze. You then must go back the way you came, dodging the giant’s arms, and get carried by his sneeze in order to move across the lamps, which requires using the pepper . . . etc. In order to progress quickly one must be wary of the timing of the giant’s movements.
For this game you must manage the connections of the pipes in order to keep the eggs produced by the chickens from breaking and guide them into the crates. You clear the stage once you deliver the prescribed number of eggs to Mickey or Minney. It’s important that Sora moves up and down besides just left and right, for if you focus on delivering the eggs within the crates and neglect to monitor the ones traveling along the pipes, they will crash into each other and break. You will be very busy choosing your actions while foreseeing the eggs movements! The difference between game A and game B presented as buttons on the top right of the screen are the difficulty levels.
“Toy Story Land” Project also in the works!
Toy Story’s green army men also appear?! A fan generously chosen to attend Walt Disney World’s planned opening for “Toy Story Land,” on June 30th, 2018, was also invited up on stage. In celebration for the opening of “Toy Story Land,” according to Kingdom Hearts Union x[cross] producer, Mr. Hiroki Okayama, there are plans to introduce a Toy Story land limited to the English version of Kingdom Hearts Union x[cross].
(Caption photo 1: Hashimoto (left), Okayama (center), and North Asia Senior Vice President/General Manager Justin Scarpone representing World Disney Japan, also made an attendance. He conveyed his gratitude, stating, "I and my team are very honored to be working with Square Enix's development team on games such as KHUx and KHIII.")
(Caption photo 2: Green Army Men bless the winner (?).)
(Caption: There was also a spot in the assembly hall where you could have your picture taken with the Green Army Men)
After that announcement, a total of 7 artists led by the Art Director Mr. Tatsuya Kando entered the stage and talked about medals, Keyblades, characters, Heartless, background design, and the production struggles during the designer panel. We have drawn some points of the Q&A session and posted them below.
Although it was forbidden to take photos during this session, several pictures were shown at the event, such as the stages of progress within design creation. This is usually a part of the development that does not appear easy to show, but the fans seemed really interested in it.
Artists photo legend: Members of the Art team are lined up, among them a lot of brilliant women are present. “I’m feeling bashful among all these women, I’ll try not to be kicked out by spoiling the mood (laughs)” said Mr. Daigo Tsukada, working on KHUχ and KHIII’s keyblades and Heartless design.
Heartless picture legend: The picture is framed and put as a decoration on a wall in the hall. A heartless is showed, with details and explanations written.
For the creation of the medals, the team received orders from Mr. Kando, they think about the position of the characters, draw some patterns. If there’s a need to modify it, they rework, retouch and add effects until it’s complete. They show a Sephiroth medal as an example to support their explanation.
Development Staff (DS): KHUχ original app icon was “KH mobile”. From there, we reviewed many elements such as the amount of actions, the size of the avatar’s head among others, it became the version we can see now.
For Strelitzia’s design, Nomura specified that her name was inspired from a flower, that her theme color was orange and she was a quiet person, as such we submitted 13 different designs. Seeing them, Mr. Nomura said “Her hair is more like this, its color like that, but her hair’s tied like this, she got hair clips and her boots are……” his reaction was trivial and messy. We finally fixed it and here is how Strelitzia looks now.
For the Heartless design, we received a concept from a planner, and from there our imagination amplifies. Furthermore, we also received motion instructions for the art parts, when we looked at its totality, we kept in mind to create a cute, interesting design with a fairy tale atmosphere.
For the upcoming enemies, we are currently working on summoned creatures from Final Fantasy: Titan, Ramuh, and Shiva.
Keyblade elements such as colors and shape, are consciously designed so they can fit on small smartphones screen.
The backgrounds basically conform to the look of the original movies. After viewing the movie, we check the localization of the buildings; if there’s a relevant place later in the plot we make sure to select it. We also look for a balance of exploration elements and a three dimensional feeling. In some cases map areas may be newly created and adjusted for KHUχ.
For the cutscenes, first we decided which background we need to use, then the position of the characters, movement route, and camera movements. It’s difficult because the point is that we mustn’t exactly recreate the movie. You can’t see it much due to the framing and the camera movement, but I’d like you to pay attention to the details as we put a lot of effort into them.
For the initial design of the Keyblade “Starlight,” since players collect Lux that is star-shaped, we thought that all the Keyblade wielders should possess a weapon with a star on it.
Q. There are many avatar parts limited by gender, do you plan in the future to create parts that can be equipped to men and women?
To which Mr. Kando answered, “We will consider it if more people request it”.
At a point in development, there was one difficulty: “Character deformation, especially the deformed version of the Charming Prince. It was hard to detach the over-cute version from the original while keeping the heartless design that our seniors have drawn; we’re struggling to bring out new aspects as well. It’s not easy to make non-human motion with 2D.”
New elements of KHUχ have been revealed one after another!
Next, Director Tetsuya Nomura re-appeared on stage. Along with Mr. Kando and Mr. Okayama, they talked about LSI mini-games, showed at the beginning of the event, and KHUχ updates.
There are a total of 20 LSI-like mini-games, and are collectively called “Classic Kingdom.”
Instead of being in a Kingdom Hearts III style, Sora moves one frame at a time in a linear way.
Nomura: “In KHII, he adventured into a black and white world known as the Timeless River. This time I have prepared a mini-game inspired by Mickey’s classic shorts.”
You’ll feel like you are playing KHIII in advance while playing the Classic Kingdom, and if you’re playing KHUχ, they are considering linking both games for good for people who play both.
The Barnyard Battle legend: At the reveal of the Classic Kingdom, visitors were able to play at a demo on regular tablets, as well as on a huge touch screen at the event.
QUESTION AND ANSWER PANEL/FINAL DISCUSSION
Q. How are the players in KHUx carrying around their medals as they travel?
Mr. Nomura: Wouldn’t they just be carrying them in their pockets? (laughter fills the room)
Mr. Kando: What . . . then how do they equip them onto their keyblades?
Mr. Nomura: Perhaps you can insert them once the Keyblade has been opened from the pocket, right? After all, this is derived from dreams and magic (laughs)
Q. Are there any new worlds you want to add in KHUx?
Mr. Nomura: There are plans to add a world that will not appear in Kingdom Hearts III. The main point is that this character will appear as a summon. However, this character hasn’t been introduced yet, so I think right now you won’t understand. From now on, pay attention to future Kingdom Hearts III trailers and you might get it.
Q. (On the English Version) “Guilt,” is translated as, “Special Attack Bonus,” what was the reason for that?
Mr. Nomura: Maybe . . . “Guilt” is short for Special Attack Bonus (Laughs)
Q. Are there any collaboration events you would like to do in the future?
Mr. Okayama: As I announced earlier, there will be the Toy Story Land collaboration.
Mr. Nomura: And along with that, Mr. Kando would like to give us an interesting answer.
Mr. Kando: Wha…do we have THAT freedom here?! Then how about a collaboration, you and me? *very resolved* (The room filled with laughter)
Mr. Kando: See! (with a bright look on his face) What about you, Nomura?
Mr. Nomura: There are currently a lot of collaborations between different Japanese games. KHUχ doesn’t need to focus on that. Although it is just an example, it might be interesting if collaborations with platforms such as Twitter and LINE, which are not games, occurred.
A medal with Twitter’s bird logo perhaps? (laughs)
Mr. Kando: A 7★ medal?
Mr. Okayama: You sounds like you’re drunk, please don’t take it seriously everybody!
Mr. Nomura: You can’t get drunk if you don’t drink in the first place (laughs). Everyone, if you have any requests about collaborations, please send it to the official Twitter account.
Q. Please tell us more about the new Union leaders Ephemera and Skuld’s design, and about the intention behind their appearance.
Mr. Nomura: It feels like you want to know about their story, rather than learning more about their design. In KHIII, their shadows have been caught in a flickering story. I think that you will often feel their presence, more than the five former Union leaders. The fate of the new Union leaders is sealed, their names have a relevant meaning.
Mr. Okayama: The meaning of the names includes the spelling, do they not?
Mr. Nomura: That’s right. Everything has a meaning. Including Strelitzia, who isn’t part of the other 5. A new character will also appear in the future, and the story of KHUχ will become something that cannot be simply overlooked.
After the panel, for the second time Nomura and company were all seen coming out to the podium and there were countless cheers and admiration in the form of whistling coming from the fans. In words of encouragement and hope for their next reunion, Hashimoto stated, (in English) “Kingdom Hearts is forever with you! See you next year . . . maybe.” Once he stated this there was positive applause and affirmation for a repeat of this event. Nomura then addressed everyone with, “For the purpose of promoting KHIII, we will be visiting the US again I think. Please look forward to it,” which led to the joyful shouts of, “Thank you!!!” and “We love you!” from the entire assembly hall in a string of Japanese from the fans, ending the Dandelion Meeting in a climactic finish. From such a positive response and the joyful, sparkling aura of the crowd there was no mistaking that this had been a highly festive and memorable event that American fans were more than satisfied with.
(Souvenirs were also distributed (tote bag, postcard set, badge set, languard) Till the very end this event was filled with consideration for the fans’ enjoyment)