In the latest issue of Dengeki PlayStation, which released on October 12th, 2016, Tetsuya Nomura, director of the Kingdom Hearts series, talks about some of his various upcoming titles, such as Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, releasing on January 12th, 2017 in Japan and January 24th, 2017 to the rest of the world, and Kingdom Hearts III.
The previous day before the interview had been released, hokanko-alt, a Japanese blog website, gave us a summary of Tetsuya Nomura's interview with Dengeki PlayStation. In the interview, Tetsuya Nomura has stated that Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue will be PS4 Pro enhanced once again, however, he also states that the title will be in 4K as well. We're unsure if the 4K will be upscaled or native. Furthermore, Nomura states that the new remix for Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep -A Fragmentary Passage- was able to be done as Utada Hikaru, singer of the Kingdom Hearts theme songs, had recently returned to her music work. A new theme song for Kingdom Hearts III is currently undecided, Nomura says. Aside from all that, Tetsuya Nomura has also confirmed that Kingdom Hearts III news will be released after the release of Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue.
The interview has now been published in the latest issue of Dengeki Playstation and you can view an image of the interview below as well as a full translation thanks to Catherine Mueller (firstname.lastname@example.org). The sections focusing on Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue and Kingdom Hearts III have been bolded.
The prototype of [WOFF] was an entirely different game?!
--[World of Final Fantasy] (from hereon, WOFF), which you first showcased at E3 2015, is going to be sold soon, but what about the details of remaking original game?
Tetsuya Nomura (hereon shortened to Nomura): There is concept art on our official Twitter, but we originally wanted to create a different game with that world. It was more of a simulation game, completely different from [WOFF]. During that other game's development, we made characters that are now our Primero and Oobito (TN: Everyone seems to be calling it this, but to me it sounds more like Orbit?), and we connected them both into the setting of the game, and then proposed a system in which one could freely switch between them.
--Primero and Oobito were originally from a different game's system, right?
Nomura: We had a lot of troubles, and the game was temporarily reduced to a blank slate, and we decided to go ahead and use the loads of chibi character designs for [Pictlogica FF] instead. After that, Chiba (Director Hiroki Chiba) was the one who decided to include Primero and Oobito in the newly designed [WOFF].
--What characters did you design for [WOFF]?
Nomura: I designed the main characters Reynn and Lann, as well as Enna Kros. There's also one other character, making it a total of four female characters. I also drew the female key characters on the engraved PS Vita model “Oobito Edition.” By the way, since Enna Kros was a character first designed for that other game I mentioned before, she's been around quite a while.
--Was there anything you were particularly fussy about with the characters' designs?
Nomura: We still haven't revealed everything about the four characters I've drawn, but where I'm allowed to touch up things is up to Chiba (laughs). Since these characters are included in the colossal world inside of Chiba's head.
--We've seen past [FF] characters with voices, but will there be a lot of new characters with voiced parts, too?
Nomura: That's right, Edgar and Faris, and also, though these aren't characters, the cactuars etc. will have voiced parts. There are also characters like Eiko, who didn't have a voice in the original but had one in other productions (in Eiko's case, she first had hers in [Road of Vermillion]).
--Did you decide the cast?
Nomura: Yes, I was involved in both the casting and registration (TN: not sure what this means in game terms!!). When we added character voices to previous [FF] games, we checked the opinions of the users. We see opinions like, “If they ever voice this game, this character reminds me of this voice actor/actress” quite a lot. As far as what I'm involved in creating, I put a heavy focus on the characters' images. For example, with Shadow's voice in [FFVI], I had an image of him in my head alongside Kefka, so in [Dissidia FF Opera Omnia], I asked Yoshito Yasuhara to represent that image.
--Did you have any parts that you requested for this game?
Nomura: As far as the content goes, I'm entrusting that to the staff. I occasionally ask them to show me things, but rather than giving them instructions, I'm just checking for problems. I guess I just have specifically nudged at the battle tempo and the ability to easily see the UI.
--Are there any scenes or events that left an impression with you?
Nomura: I suppose it would be the entirety of the serious scenes? Because, through the entirety of the [FF] series there is occasionally humor added into some of the more serious stories, but in [WOFF]'s collection of humorous scenes, there is occasionally a serious atmosphere added in (laughs). I think that the serious scenes might look better.
--Were the PVs gathered and made with that small amount of serious scenes?
Nomura: That's how it seems (laughs). All of the gags in Chiba's scenes are long, so if we try to show one exchange until the joke happens, the trailer length doesn't fit to scale. Also, when I was checking event scenes, I watched them and thought, “Wasn't it fine to end the joke earlier?!”
--When they've actually played it, there might be people who are surprised at the mood of some of the scenarios, then?
Nomura: The world is overflowing with serious stories of a protagonist who must carry out a great destiny, and [WOFF] has that setting, too, but every so often having a fun story like this might not be so bad, I think. It shows the “color” of the director.
--Please give a message to everyone waiting on the release!
Nomura: I think a lot of companies are releasing various titles at the end of this year and beginning of the next, but [WOFF] is becoming a production that will not be buried in those other games, and you'll be able to enjoy it for a long time. Since it will be released on the PS Vita, allowing you to play it outside without a heavy system, please try it out and enjoy.
The HD3 Packaging has a meaning in “Sora (written with katakana)” and “Sora (written with the kanji for “sky”)”!
--You presented the release date for [Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue (hereon, KH2.8)] at the September SIE press conference, right?
Nomura: We sincerely apologize for prolonging the release date from December 2016 to January 2017. We wrote it in the comments on the official Twitter, but due to several titles that are coming out one on top of another, this is what it's become.
--You also revealed a gorgeous package art.
Nomura: There are actually two secrets about the illustrations from [KH1.5] until [KH2.8]. Extremely attentive KH fans might have already discovered them, but one is that Sora's movements change from sitting, to standing, to walking. One more is that when you line up the three illustrations, you'll notice that they show the flow of time with changes in the sky. [KH1.5] is sunset becoming night, [KH2.5] is the middle of the night, and [KH2.8] is night breaking into dawn. Those three illustrations have a message regarding the final chapter, [KHIII].
--So you planned all this from the time of [KH1.5]'s release, then?
Nomura: We worried a long time about the package art for [KH2.5], and we worked on trying to connect the three productions in a continual manner. It seems like there were a lot of people who figured out Sora's movements, but there were not very many people who noticed the connection between the skies. There are two meanings to “sora” (I.E. one being the protagonist's name, and the other meaning “sky”).
--Since the illustrations were blown up for display at Tokyo Game Show, they really stood out.
Nomura: Since we were told that we needed to finish the art in time to have it on display at the Game Show, I drew it with my fighting spirit. In result, we finished the package illustration with unprecedented progress.
--The trial version you presented at Tokyo Game Show seemed to basically be the same as what was at [E3 2016], right?
Nomura: That's right. It's the version that was revised right after [E3]. The new short cuts functions, etc. from [Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance HD] are the same thing. The master version is having a lot of things brushed up from the TGS version. The production is continuing according to plan, so soon you'll be able to master-up.
--We got a taste of the evolution of action on the PS4 with [KH0.2] at TGS, but will [KHIII] see an even deeper improvement of action from there?
Nomura: That's what will happen. Since there is an overwhelmingly large amount of things one can do while playing as Sora in [KHIII] timewise, compared to playing as Aqua. Aqua cannot change her keyblade as the story progresses, but Sora can, and that will in result change the action.
--The exploration and battles in the latest PV, are those the developments that came after crossing the bridge in the TGS trial play?
Nomura: Yes. Like what you were able to play in the trial, there is a map waiting up ahead with more added to it. The Osaka production team cleverly placed it as an object, and they're good at making maps with areas outside one's exploration.
--Let me ask about things connected to [KH X], too. First, the browser game [KH X] ended its service at the end of September, but what are your thoughts on that three years of continued service?
Nomura: It's too bad that service ended so early, but I think having continued for three years served as a great amount of strength to us. Looking at the user number, there were more people playing the smart phone app [KH Unchained X], so we will now focus on that. As we've already announced, we are planning a season two of [KH Unchained X], so we are continuing its service. In October there will be new worlds available, and we are working on the planned multiplayer function for January release, so please look forward to it.
--You laid out the last scene of [KH X] to us, but will [KH Unchained X] develop in the same way?
Nomura: That was only the development for [KH X]. The story for [KH Unchained X] will deviate midway to a different story.
--In the latest trailer of [KH X Back Cover], there was a figure wearing a black cloak, separate from the five Foretellers, but...?
Nomura: As we've already revealed in [KH X], that is a character named Luxu. Since he's wearing that black coat, it seems like a lot of people mistook Luxu for the Master of Masters, but they're two different people. The one holding a dandelion on the package art and in the trailer is the Master of Masters, and the other person wearing a black cloak is Luxu. Their relationship is more clearly drawn out in [KH X Back Cover].
-- Since they serve as a road to [KHIII], you really can't overlook any of the productions included in [KH2.8].
Nomura: Even among players, there seemed to be some people who were just now hearing about [KH2.8] at the Game Show and seemed troubled, but please, we'd like you to play [KH2.8]. Since it is a prologue to [KHIII], just as it says in the title, you'll need to play to smoothly enjoy [KHIII]!
--In the latest trailer, we got to hear a new arrangement of Utada Hikaru's “Hikari,” so that stirred up our hopes.
Nomura: Since I heard that Utada has returned from hiatus, I thought it was perfect timing, and I requested an arrangement from her. We have yet to decide the main theme for [KHIII].
--By the way, will [KH2.8] be supported on the PS4 Pro, too?
Nomura: It supports 4K, so it should cleanly play without any problems. Anything else detailed about support, we will showcase next time.
--Also, when will you be presenting more interesting news on [KHIII]?
Nomura: We spoke of this a bit at E3, but we are waiting to speak more about [KHIII] after releasing [KH2.8], so we have currently released all available information. Please wait shortly for new news.
--Since 2017 is the [KH] series' 15th anniversary, we're hoping for a lot of developments!
Nomura: We are thinking of a lot of plans heading toward the 15th anniversary. Next year's January release of [KH2.8] will be the start, and from March the full orchestra's world tour will commence. It will be a year's worth of non-stop [KH] news, so we look forward to speaking with you again.
--Finally, please tell us more about the [FFVII REMAKE] that has caught the world's attention.
Nomura: If it had past materials like [KH], the basics would have been easy to understand, and the staff can understand the hurdles we've had to overcome, but at any rate, the battles in [FFVII] have greatly changed from the original, since they're something with more action in them. The next time I release information about [FFVII REMAKE], I think that I'll definitely have to explain the specifics of what the battle system has become to the players. I think right now that nobody is really able to imagine a concrete battle, so I'm in the middle of coming up with steps that I can show and explain to people, “It's this kind of battle.”
--Sounds like you're breaking your backs over remaking what was originally a command-based battle system into an action style battle system.
Nomura: We've heard a lot of [FFVII] fans also say that they want to play the game with the original ATB style, but for the remake we're proceeding toward an action-heavy style. Of course, we've added systems that future fans will be able to enjoy, so people who are bad at action-style battles, please don't worry. For those who excel at action-style battles, we're working to make this a system that's different than what you've used before and can still enjoy. Recently, we checked the Guard Scorpion at the beginning of the game, and I think you'll be satisfied with the realism you'll feel there.
--2017 is also the 20th anniversary of [FFVII].
Nomura: Like with the 15th anniversary of [KH], I'm thinking I'd like to plan something or other. It's just that, since we've been keeping busy with productions, including the game [WOFF] that I showcased today, I don't think I will be able to share any new news until after things calm down.
Would you like a new Kingdom Hearts III theme song with Utada Hikaru? Will you be playing Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue in 4K? Let us know in the comments below!