Scans of this week’s Famitsu Weekly featuring an interview with Kingdom Hearts series director Tetsuya Nomura reveal more about the upcoming release of Kingdom Hearts 3D Dream Drop Distance. He also talks about Theatrhythm Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy Versus XIII as well as hinting an an unannounced, secret title! Thanks to KH13.com for the scans, make sure to check their site for the high quality versions. I’ve completed the translation, if you have any questions or would like any other part of the article to be translated, please leave me a comment here or a shout on Twitter!
Influenced by Final Fantasy Versus XIII!?
—In December of last year, the 8 minute long trailer was released. Along with that and the other information being announced, it seems you are gearing towards the release date?
Nomura: Partly because it’s a title we’ve been working on for a few years and the release date for KH3D is after the New Year, we had to deal with refraining from exposing too much. This time the trailer had parts that were withheld up until now; we tried to make the contents of it attention grabbing. The phrase displayed at the beginning of the trailer, “Darkness becomes light, light falls into darkness” becomes the catch copy of this title.
I’d like to ask about the contents of the trailer. It seems Sora and Riku awaken in Traverse Town simultaneously?
Nomura: What about that? (Laughs.) Incidentally, the screen of the trailer is split to show both parts. In actuality, the event scenes won’t necessarily be composed in that way.
—In Traverse Town, Neku and other characters from The World Ends With You appear, but besides them, where are the Reapers?
Nomura: The Reapers aren’t there, just the Players, however there is a reason they are in that town.
—The conversations that Sora and Riku have with TWEWY characters are quite comical, like Shiki being harsh to Riku.
Nomura: For Sora and Riku who have grown up on the island, Neku and his friends who grew up in a modern city contrast quite a bit. Since I’ve been writing the scenarios for Final Fantasy Versus XIII concurrently as I work on KH3D, maybe some of that has had an influence.
—It has a very youthful tone, huh?
Nomura: The personalities of the Versus characters and their situations are so serious, to the point that I can’t stand it so I need a break from the constant serious conversations. (Laughs.)
—It looks like Neku and co. teach Sora how to handle the Dream Eaters.
Nomura: That’s the case. It’s because this is the first world they visit.
—Other worlds shown in the trailer included Pinocchio and Tron: Legacy.
Nomura: In Pinocchio’s world, there are new areas like the circus tents and other places from the original work introduced. Here Sora explores before Pinocchio is swallowed by Monstro, but after they are swallowed is when Riku’s side of the adventure takes place. I’ll tell you more details about Tron’s world in a later update, so please look forward to it.
—It looks like there will be a shooting type mini game where the characters scroll into the center of the screen this time.
Nomura: That’s the part we call “Dive”. In order to go to the next world, they “fall” into the dream of the next world. It sort of replaces the Gummi Ship sequence of the past games.
The truth about Lea’s appearance in the trailer!
—The scene where King Mickey confronts Maleficent caught our attention. At what time period does that scene occur?
Nomura: It occurs after Re:Coded, during the KH3D period. Since King Mickey is in possession of the “Data Worlds”, Maleficent is demanding that he hand them over. This scene occurs in between intervals of Sora and Riku’s adventure.
—Sora and Riku set out to free the “hearts of pure light” and “seven keyholes of sleep” that Maleficent speaks of. Is their a connection between these two things?
Nomura: You’ll see when you play it, so please look forward to that. (Laughs.) The connections of the various mysteries and truths are what it builds up to.
—Well, can you tell us about “Lea” who interrupts the confrontation between the King and Maleficent?
Nomura: That’s Axel as he has returned to being human. In the same place are Zexion and Lexaeus too, they have also returned to being human.
—Do they have their memories of being Nobodies?
Nomura: They do.
—So their Heartless, you’re saying they were defeated somewhere along the line?
Nomura: Well Sora has defeated many Heartless before now, hasn’t he? To say that they returned to being human, their Heartless was probably included among those, huh? (Laughs.) Even when Sora became a Heartless, he was a normal Shadow type. The details of their Heartless aren’t really that important.
—I see. By the way, it seems Xigbar or any of the others were not present in that place…?
Nomura: In that scene, those guys had just been revived as humans. It’s not shown in the trailer, but there are other Members there, they have a conversation about what happened to the Members who are not there. They are in the place where they originally disappeared… In other words, they were revived in the place where they lost their hearts; everyone should be in the research lab. However there are Members who don’t appear there for some reason.
—After their conversation, Axel says he is leaving to search for something.
Nomura: That’s right.
—Will KH3D’s story be concerned with Organization XIII at all?
Nomura: Concerning Organization XIII, the secrets about what specific Members were up to during certain time periods will be revealed.
On the bottom screen of the opening…
—Axel and Roxas among other characters from the past titles appear in very impressive movie that displayed familiar scenes in a spectacular manner.
Nomura: That will be the opening movie of this title. Just like with a number of titles, Visual Works was used to render that movie.
—When Roxas lands as well as in other parts, it looks as if paper swirls and is dispersed. What is the relevance of that?
Nomura: During the KH3D opening, a 2D animation is streamed on the bottom screen. It’s a cel animation, the silhouette of Mickey moves so smoothly it may look like CG. (Laughs.) In it, Mickey takes on the appearance of the Sorcerer’s apprentice. While the movie streaming on the top screen is occurring, it influences the Mickey on the bottom screen. Still on the bottom screen sheet music swirls and disperses in pieces that are used to direct back to the upper screen.
—It seems Mickey will be appearing as the Sorcerer’s apprentice in the Fantasia world.
Nomura: I’ve wanted to have a stage based on Fantasia for a while. In the early stages of planning with Co. Director Yasue, he suggested that if I were to use Fantasia, I needed to split the numerous stories told in that one work in a way that applied to Sora and Riku’s adventure so that is the way it was implemented.
—In KH3D, it seems not only in Fantasia, but in the Three Musketeers world as well Mickey appears in a form that hasn’t met Sora yet.
Nomura: Those worlds are set during a time Mickey was in the pursuit of knowledge, like “in a dream of the world of the past”.
—In Fantasia as well as other worlds, a golden eyed person wearing a black coat appears, who is he?
Nomura: He is the mysterious man who appeared in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix as a boss who manipulated time. Just who he is will be told in KH3D. Everywhere he goes, a few people of the darkness turn up, like how Vanitas came out in the trailer.
Various abilities to use in battle!
—I was able to try the demo, and I found that the sudden character swapping was quite interesting. Since you are suddenly thrown into a different situation, there is a high level of tension in the gameplay.
Nomura: Now you are able to switch between Sora and RIku at will, but at first you weren’t able to switch at your own discretion. Since it was switching in such an irrational form, it was unpopular with us too. (Wry smile.) When you switch, you can prepare the next character you play by applying earned bonuses which is a benefit, so you can still enjoy it while dealing with the tension.
—In the demo, regardless of who defeated the boss, whether it was Riku or Sora, the level would complete, but would that character be the only one who advanced in the storyline?
Nomura: No, that’s not how it works. If one of them advanced too far, then they would be limited to a point where they could no longer progress.
—As for the exploring part, I felt that the judgment of the Free Flow Action ability was quite severe…
Nomura: It is still under adjustments even now. By only changing its judgment a little, the Free Flow Action often surpasses the intended direction or action, so it’s being repeatedly debugged and regulated.
—Has the Reality Shift technique of each world been decided upon?
Nomura: That’s right. Basically, it’s different in each world and in the same world how you use it and its effectiveness varies. The Reality Shift introduced last time in the Three Musketeers world was implemented to resemble the comic strip style of the original work.
—The Dream Eaters seem to take on different personality traits, like “wise” or “narcissistic”. Are they influencing anything in some way?
Nomura: It’s a component of their upbringing. Not only are their different kinds of Dream Eaters, but depending on the individual as well their characteristics are varying. Since we decided from the beginning that KH3D would have an upbringing system introduced, we were excited to do something with emotion and attachment. Also, in this way Sora and Riku do not become strong on their own, but when they release the abilities of their Dream Eaters, they become even more strengthened. Being able to release abilities like that is a similar system to that of Re:Coded.
The Ending of KH3D
—So will KH3D will be equipped with a system that utilizes wireless transmissions?
Nomura: There is a mini game where you can compete against other player’s Dream Eaters via ad-hoc wireless to upgrade your Dream Eaters. These competitions occur differently than normal battles. It’s a system that we’ve wanted to try before.
—The expectations are rising for fans who want to know the release date and whether or not there will be a special edition release.
Nomura: Please wait just a little while longer for a formal announcement.
—Will the ending of this title also be a heart wrenching one?
Nomura: The ending for KH3D is a little unusual, the plan up until now had been different… But every once in a while I think, it’s good this way. In fact, the first ending I thought up quickly became no good due to various circumstances, but now the ending is something that I worry quite a bit about. As a result, we tried to do something unique for the ending this time. Incidentally, the secret movie will be shorter. Though it is short, like the Re:Coded secret movie, it will connect to the next shocking developments in the series, so please look forward to it.
How are the other upcoming titles coming along?
—The sale date for Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is February 16th, can you tell us more about its upcoming release?
Nomura: It seems that the distribution of the trial version was very popular, so I’m not worried about its release. Since it’s been well received and we’d like to give players more opportunity to experience it, we’ll be releasing a 2nd demo about 10 days into February before its sale date.
—A second demo!?
Nomura: Yes (laughs). The plan is to distribute 2 more songs. The game is very addictive, so we’ve prepared the 2nd demo so players can get a real feel of how fun it is.
—By the way, after the game’s initial release, will more songs be distributed for download?
Nomura: That’s the plan. We’d like to make the game as enjoyable for as long as possible.
—There is one more title which you are the director of, would you mind sharing the production status of Final Fantasy Versus XIII?
Nomura: The other day we announced that we did the first graphic check for this title the other day. Compared to the trailers we released last year, the expressiveness has really improved.
—You previously mentioned that Final Fantasy Versus XIII would not have cutscenes, but rather there will be two types of scenes, pre-rendered movies as well as real time movies that the players can control to some extent.
Nomura: Yes. As far as the ratio goes, about 70% of the cutscenes occur in real time while about 30% are pre-rendered scenes managed by Visual Works.
What did you mean by the expressiveness has been improved?
Nomura: I’m talking about the real time technology. The drawn expressions of the characters have rapidly improved. What the players can control in real time varies by scene, like I mentioned before “not everywhere” but there is still a lot of variation in that. In some pre-rendered scenes, the player’s intervention is not necessary; in other cases intervening will not have an effect. Because of that reason, the scene we previously introduced where Noctis and Stella meet has been switched to a pre-rendered one.
—Are there not plans to release a public trailer at a 1st Production Department private event like last year?
Nomura: Right now there are not plans for such an event. We’d like to do some sort of presentation this year, but the details like where etc. haven’t been decided yet. However, the next time we do a public event, I intend to show the true status of the game, since you can’t really fathom how unbelievable the current status of it is from a trailer alone.
—We can’t wait to see it! Lastly, tell us about your outlook for 2012 and your message to the readers.
Nomura: Well first off, I’d like to thank you in advance for your interest in Theatrhythm Final Fantasy which is our commemorative title celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Final Fantasy series as well as KH3D which is in its final stages of production. Considering 2012 is the 10th anniversary of the Kingdom Hearts series, it’ll be good if we are able to do something special for it. Additionally there are the announcements regarding Final Fantasy Versus XIII we are considering, and the HD release of Final Fantasy X as well from the 1st Production Department to look forward to. There is also a secret team working on an unannounced title, so there is a chance that some information about that will be announced this year too, please continue looking forward to these announcements.