×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Kingdom Hearts’ Director Tetsuya Nomura Worked Hard to Bring You Those Pixar Levels

It’s been five years since Square Enix and game director Tetsuya Nomura announced “Kingdom Hearts 3.” While the man behind the blend of Square Enix and Disney magic says his perspective on the game hasn’t wavered, he’s also been one step ahead of players since the beginning.

While Nomura didn’t have the entire series planned out, he was always looking ahead to the next chapter in what has become a sprawling saga. So while he didn’t necessarily know where the path would lead Sora, Riku, and friends at the start, he’s always planning.

“When I was developing ‘Kingdom Hearts 1’, I already had in mind what I wanted to do with the next titles, ‘Chain of Memories’ and ‘Kingdom Hearts 2′” Nomura says. “While we were in development of ‘Chain of Memories’ and ‘Kingdom Hearts 2,’ I was already thinking of story lines for ‘Coded,’ ‘358/2 Days,’ and ‘Birth by Sleep.’ I’ve always been thinking of the next title when in development.”

Nomura’s relationship with Disney has been an evolution, as “Kingdom Hearts” games have started taking advantage of more contemporary films. Instead of working with a license covering legacy properties, he’s now working alongside film creators to incorporate new movie characters and settings.

“It’s gotten more difficult now to get approvals,” Nomura explains. “In ‘Kingdom Hearts 3,’ we have so many recent titles compared to previous ‘Kingdom Hearts’ games. Because we are working with more recent titles, the staff who were on the original project are the ones we go to for approvals. For instance, ‘Frozen.’ The staff is still there and they work with us on ‘Frozen.’ Because we go directly to the creators, they have the most passion for their titles. So it’s just a little bit harder to have freedom. On the older titles, it used be a bit easier.”

Persistence pays off, though. Fans have delighted in the new “Toy Story” and “Monsters, Inc.” worlds. It wasn’t an easy task to convince the powers that be to let Woody, Buzz, Mike, and Sully join the “Kingdom Hearts” universe.

“When we first started talks with Disney about ‘Kingdom Hearts 3,’ it started with the ‘Toy Story’ world. From the time I conceived the plot to when we received approval from Disney, it was more than a year. It was a long journey for me. I really wanted to show it to everyone as soon as possible. When I did, I saw that everyone was happy with what we have, so I was really relieved.”

Despite the long approval process, licensing doesn’t hold Nomura back from getting the story in order. The story is adapted to the worlds after the initial plot is crafted.

“For the main storyline that involves our ‘Kingdom Hearts’ original characters, I already have a good idea of what kind of story I want to have,” Nomura explains. “Then, the locations come in later as we get approvals. All of the approvals come in around the same time, and I try to fit in what matches my ideas.”

There are also more worlds left to unveil, though not many. A “Big Hero 6” world has been confirmed, but it hasn’t yet been shown. Nomura suggests that players still haven’t seen an original world built from the ground up for “Kingdom Hearts 3.”

One thing you won’t see quite as much of in “Kingdom Hearts 3” are “Final Fantasy” characters. The first two numbered games in the series feature heroes (and villains) from throughout the “Final Fantasy” library, including fan-favorites Cloud and Sephiroth. We haven’t seen much from that side of the equation in trailers so far, and we might not get reacquainted with those characters at all (though Nomura hints that there is more to unveil).

“Compared to when ‘Kingdom Hearts 1’ was released, there are so many other titles that include ‘Final Fantasy’ characters,” he says. “I don’t feel that it’s as much as a necessity to bring these characters together like I did before.”

If you want to revisit those “Final Fantasy” cameos, you can always go back and replay the older games in the franchise. If you do, Nomura has a suggestion for how to tackle them. Fans have debated whether players should go through the games in release order or chronological order.

“I would recommend to play in order of release date, especially because the story hints at what happens in future releases,” Nomura advises. “I feel that it’s more interesting that way. Of course it’s not to say you can’t play in chronological order. That’s fine. I just think it’s more interesting to play according to release date.”

As you’re playing through, there’s one thing you’re likely to notice. Many of the “Kingdom Hearts” games came out before downloadable content was a reality. While there are no announcements yet, don’t be surprised is “Kingdom Hearts 3” gets post-launch support.

“I am looking into potentially having DLC, because I want people to continue to enjoy playing ‘Kingdom Hearts 3’ even after release,” Nomura says. “I have no idea what kind of DLC it might be. Nothing has been decided. For season passes, usually the format people use is to announce a year of content in advance. I’m not fond of that style.”

More Gaming

  • NinjaThe Game Awards, Show, Microsoft Theater,

    Ninja, JGhosty Discuss 'CS: GO's' Battle Royale Mode, Breaking Into Mainstream

    Variety caught up with Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Jessica “JGhosty” Blevins on the Game Awards red carpet earlier this week. Ninja was at the show both as a presenter — it turns out he was a co-presenter with Muppet Pepe the King Prawn — and as a nominee for content creator of the year. That particular [...]

  • Lay Offs Hit Daybreak Studios, Rumored

    Lay Offs Hit Daybreak Studios, Rumored at 70

    Daybreak Studios, the developers behind “EverQuest II,” “H1Z1,” and “PlanetSide 2,” laid off a number of employees this week as part of a structure optimization, the company told Variety. Former Daybreak Studios president John Smedley took to Twitter Friday afternoon to talk about the layoffs noting that “70 people is a lot.” “Very sorry to hear [...]

  • ESL And Oculus Partner For VR

    ESL And Oculus Partner For VR Charity Challenge Game Show

    Esports company ESL is teaming up with Oculus for the Change the Game VR Charity Challenge (VRCC), it announced on Friday. Two teams of influencers will compete for a $100,000 prize during the event. Each will represent one of two gaming charities — Stack Up or Take This. Stack Up is a nonprofit that works [...]

  • Electronic Arts Logo

    Inappropriate Comment Results in Dismissal of EA Senior Director

    A senior director at EA was dismissed after allegedly making a comment about his genitalia to a female colleague, Irish news site Independent.ie reported Thursday. Phillipe Grenet, the former director of global delivery service for EA Ireland, allegedly said he would not “pull [his] d**k out and put it on the table” in front of a second [...]

  • Former Chiefs Running Back Kareem Hunt

    Former Chiefs Running Back Kareem Hunt Removed From 'Madden NFL 19'

    Former Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt is no longer in “Madden NFL 19,” CNN reports. Publisher EA Sports reportedly pulled Hunt from the game on Wednesday. He was cut from the Chiefs last week after TMZ published a video of him shoving and kicking a woman in a Cleveland hotel back in February. [...]

  • Soulja Boy is Selling Cheap Emulator

    Soulja Boy Is Selling Cheap Emulator Consoles Now

    Soulja Boy, best known for his hit 2007 single “Crank That (Soulja Boy),” is now selling what appear to be cheap emulator consoles, as spotted by IGN. The SouljaGame Console and a handheld console, marketed as the SouljaGame Handheld, are offered up via the website SouljaWatch.com for $149.99 and $99.99, respectively. These are apparently sale prices, [...]

  • YouTube Rewind 2018 Video Features A

    YouTube Rewind 2018 Video Features a Lot of 'Fortnite'

    YouTube released its annual Rewind video on Thursday highlighting 2018’s biggest viral events, trends, and more. Epic Games’ battle royale phenomenon “Fortnite” features prominently in the montage. The video begins with Will Smith wishing for a mashup of “Fortnite” and technology-focused YouTuber Marques Brownlee. Cut to a Battle Bus full of YouTube personalities (Ninja is [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content