In an interview with RPG Site, Yoko Shimomura, composer of the Kingdom Hearts series, describes the challenges she's faced while working on the Kingdom Hearts series and how that process has changed as the series continued to grow and expand. She also briefly touches on her work for Kingdom Hearts III, discussing the differences between composing for that game and Final Fantasy XV.
An excerpt of the interview can be found below:
Besides her work on new arrangement albums, Shimomura is of course knee-deep in working on Square Enix Japan’s two largest upcoming releases – Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy XV. While she’s had an impressive career spanning everything from her incredible, seminal work on Street Fighter II to Parasite Eve, Terra Battle and the Mario RPG series, these two titles are undoubtedly her biggest undertaking yet – and a slightly daunting one.
“Well, of course, they're completely different,” she says of the two. “The story is completely different, the image is entirely different, the tone... For Kingdom Hearts, I've been working on it for quite a while now. Because of that I can make new suggestions myself, I can change the direction and I have ideas about where to take it myself.”
Shimomura’s history with Kingdom Hearts is an interesting one. At one point in our meeting, she detours to explain that though she now has the confidence and history with the series to be bolder in pushing it in new musical directions, initially her instructions were quite different to what her gut told her to create.
“In my mind, Kingdom Hearts is very simple - very much Disney, cute and sweet,” she explains. “My original ideas for it were in that area - but on the contrary, I was asked to make very heavy stuff. There was quite the gap between my original idea and what was requested... filling that gap is really the heart of my job! That was what I did with the first Kingdom Hearts.”
One of the greatest challenges that series has provided to Shimomura since becoming a success is balancing the wishes of fans with presenting new musical themes and ideas.
“A lot of game fans feel special feelings towards the original versions of pieces, always,” Shimomura laughs, going on to explain that recreations or evolutions of tracks that fans have already built up a love for are some of the hardest to create. “A lot of the time I consider it brushing up and improving, rather than outright rearranging,” she concludes.
Are you looking forward to hearing Yoko Shimomura's latest compositions in Kingdom Hearts III? Let us know in the comments!