User:ShardofTruth/Interviewspace

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Issues: Add the translation of the director interview of the Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+ Ultimania, add missing question of Kingdom Hearts Re:coded Ultimania Interview

Ultimanias

Kingdom Hearts Ultimania, June 13, 2002

Source: [1]. The author doesn't want his translations to be published outside of his blog so it has be replaced with other translated versions from gamefaqs and other sites. Because the book is quite old, there won't be many of them and definitely not one as complete as this.

Director Inverview (pg. 529-533)

Project: In the beginning, it was a "Solo Team"

Around what time did planning for a Disney collaboration begin?
Nomura: The producer Hashimoto (Square Co., Ltd. Business administrator: Shinji Hashimoto) was speaking to a person from Disney. Coincidentally, I was in the same place talking to Mr. Sakaguchi (Executive Producer: Hironobu Sakaguchi) about what kind of game to make. „I want to make an action game with stylized characters,“ I remember vaguely thinking to myself at that time. I offered my hand and said, „If that's the case, since I have an idea I want to do, please let me do this.“ The person from Disney was in on the idea and said, „Since it's stylized, it would be best if there are Disney characters that are known world-wide.“ It was a great opportunity, as if it was destined.

This was your first time demonstrating your prowess as the role of a director. What was it like to try out directing?
Nomura: In the beginning I didn't want to do it because I knew it was difficult. (laugh) When I offered to do a Disney game, there was no team. It turned out I would do the planning myself and talk it over with Disney.

You were a „solo team“ in the beginning?
Nomura: I was a one-man team for a year. (laugh) I began after FFVIII.

You were different from other directors because you had to give directions while drawing. Was it hard to hold two positions at the same time?
Nomura: I thought from the beginning that there would be places where I couldn't touch upon while I drew. In order to settle that, I made sure to gather excellent leaders. I believed that if I left the rest up to trustworthy people, than I don't have to spend time giving direction for the small, fine details. It was still tough while I drew pictures, but I think it worked out. Normally when the drawing job becomes tough because of the schedule, it is the director's role to push the artist to get the job done and say, „The drawings are not finished?“ But there were times when I myself would be late, and troublesome situations arose. I would make subtle changes to the schedule. (laugh)

Is the finished product what you had in mind from the beginning?
Nomura: Yes, just what I thought and drew out.

In terms of the game, which part did you spend the longest time on?
Nomura: I guess it would be, „What makes this game interesting?“ Even though lately hardware has evolved and the appearance looks more and more amazing, I felt that nothing was interesting at first glance, or felt fresh. I thought that if you were to compare the improvement of image quality, there wasn't enough of a feeling of newness or exhilaration. That is why I wanted to make a game that had various elements that were immediately interesting and enjoyable to play.

If you were to think of the Disney games up till now, there were times when other people thought that you would not be granted permission. You were planning to do things such as creating worlds from multiple works and remaking a large number of characters completely in 3D. Was it difficult to negotiate?
Nomura: I hardly think, „This is impossible so I'll quit.“ I think, „I'll just see what happens, and if it's no good, then I'll give up.“ Even though in the beginning people expressed their disapproval, I did it by thinking there was nothing that couldn't be persuaded.

I think it went well if you were able to create a project where all the Disney princesses appear in the same place.
Nomura: At first, I wanted to put in a scene where all of the princesses would be captured in Hollow Bastion and then each of their respective princes will come and save them. That idea was rejected but I was at least able to keep the part with the princesses.

Did you choose which Disney worlds you wanted to put in?
Nomura: In the beginning when I was working alone, I had a fair number of world choices in mind. If I were to add the original worlds, there was over twenty. In the end, I spoke with the staff and cut a few here and there, and ended up with the number it is now.

In what order did you choose them?
Nomura: Well, I guess the first priority is its popularity. I chose in the order of how well known it was. Then I chose by figuring out if there are characters that are fun to move around, and, in terms of staging, if there were places that were interesting to be a part in.

By the way, is there a reason why Disney's symbol character mickey Mouse only appeared in one scene in the game?
Nomura: Actually, according to the contract, I was only able to have one cutscene with him somewhere in the game. I thought deeply about which cutscene to put him in.

So you had that sort of limitation? If that is so, you really made an effective choice.
Nomura: Disney gave me permission to put him in a role where he can be waving his hand from behind a town's crowd. However, I thought that if I were to do this, I would use him in a way that would give the greatest impact. I thought, „He has to be here“ and used him in that scene.

Character: Final Fantasy Character's Episode

With what priorities in mind did you choose the characters from the Final Fantasy series?
Nomura: I ended up with more Final Fantasy characters than I thought. At first I planned that there would be less. Well, as I kept making the story, I thought about which characters to put in each role, and there were many places where Disney characters would not fit in. For example, I couldn't think of any Disney characters to put in as the Destiny Island children. When I thought about which character would guide Sora in Traverse Town, nothing struck me. Then I thought I should just make new characters, but they would just show up once in awhile and they would not be as appealing as the Disney characters around them. Since that was the case, I came upon the idea of using Final Fantasy characters to choose which characters that would fit the roles. When it came to choosing who would be the swordsman who guides Sora, I believed that Squall fit the role the best.

I digress, but Squall called himself Leon when he appeared... Squall Leonhart's „heartless“... in other words, does Leon come from taking out „hart“, or „heart“, from Leonhart?
Nomura: Ah, that's a deep reading into it, but that's not what I meant. (laugh). In Disney Castle, if people saw in the beginning that „Meet Squall“ was written in the letter, people would have an image of Squall in their head and the impact of the first meeting would be weak. Then Akiyama (Event Planning Director: Jun Akiyama) told me that he wanted to change only Squall's name. We decided that we would take the last part of his name.

The red wing pattern in Squall's back is based off of Rinoa's image, isn't it?
Nomura: That's right. Well, there is a reason why Leon rejects being called Squall. I added Rinoa's wings to imply something definitely happened in the past.

You did not plan to have Rinoa to appear?
Nomura: Rinoa didn't appear, huh. (strained laugh) I thought personally, Rinoa was different from the other characters that I imagined in FFVIII and her personality was hard to grasp.

Also, moving on to Cloud, the left half of his design was based off of Vincent from FFVII?
Nomura: Yes, his left arm is based off of Vincent. Cloud was meant to be a character that is leaning towards the darkness, so I wanted to make him demon-like. Vincent was created to be that way so I thought of adding that on. I wanted Vincent to have an appearance though.

I want to ask about Cloud from a setting standpoint. Is his hometown Hollow Bastion?
Nomura: In terms of Kingdom Hearts, it is that for now.

If that is so, does that mean when Cid escaped with the other members from Hollow Bastion, Cloud was left behind?
Nomura: No, he was not left behind just because he strayed from the others during the commotion. (laugh) Cid and the others were able to escape from the mayhem.

Then is the person Cloud searching for Aerith?
Nomura: I wonder. If that person was Aerith, then that means one question was answered by the ending. You can take it as that. Since Cloud is a popular character, I don't want to make this type of conclusion. The opinions of the players are stronger, so I want to give room for speculation.

Sound: Inside Story on „Hikari“'s Creation

I would like to ask about the main theme song „Hikari“. Was it your intention to choose Utada Hikaru?
Nomura: Yes.

I bet you still can't fathom how you persuaded Hikaru Utada to agree to making a song for a videogame.
Nomura: That's true. But I didn't think it was impossible, of course. If you don't try, you won't know. The others around me said, „It's better to stop, she'll definitely turn that down,“ and just convincing the other staff took the most time. I insisted from the beginning that the singer must be Hikaru Utada.

How were the actual negotiations once you started?
Nomura: The decision was unexpectedly smooth. Her people agreed to the first negotiation and it was not bad. They replied saying something like, „She likes games, so it might be alright.“ They also added that she likes Disney. I was told that since she is coming back from Japan, I can talk with her directly. When I was allowed one more negotiation with her after she returned, she asked if I could show what the game was. I quickly sent her a presentation video. Then in a day or two, she said, „I'll go for it“ and that she will strongly consider it. I said, „Seriously?!“ I was extremely surprised that came out of my own mouth. (laugh)

What kind of song did you ask for from Hikaru Utada?
Nomura: The song would play with the ending sequence where the hero and heroine part from each other since the images for that scene were decided very early on. However, I wanted to show that this is not a sorrowful parting but an optimistic one. The lyrics fit so perfectly that when I first heard it, I trembled and couldn't speak. I did ask her to not put in words that do not exist in the game's worlds, such as „cellphone“, but she added in „television“. (laugh) But I am glad that even from that, one can take away a deep meaning.

The Hikari single did splendidly and became #1 in the hit charts and matched up with the sale of the game. It was nice that both of them benefited from each other.
Nomura: That's right. Well, I think I was bothersome in some ways. (strained laugh)

Naming: Theme of Building One's Own Land

When did you decide on the title „Kingdom Hearts“?
Nomura: I decided from the beginning that the title would have „Kingdom“. That has several different meanings; first I wanted something that sounded like Disney... like „Magic Kingdom“ or „Animal Kingdom“ since Disney has that „kingdom“ image. Also, I wanted the meaning to be deep to an extent. Something not to be taken lightly. Then, since this was a newly created team.... this is not a sequel but a project that was built up from a vacant land, so there is an image of us creating our own country. I wanted to use it because of all those meanings behind „Kingdom“, but we couldn't use it.

The registered trademark... you mean?
Nomura: Yes. Since it was already a registered trademark, I was troubled and kept thinking of different names to use. But when everybody thought about it together, we only came up with silly ideas. „Kingdom Champion“, shortened to „Kinchan“. (laugh) In the end, I wanted the story to have heart as the theme, so I thought about using „heart“ in the title. But the sound of „Kingdom Heart“ did not flow well, so I thought „Kingdom Hearts“ would be good.

Moving on, I would like to talk about the main characters' names; Sora, Riku, and Kairi. Your characters always have very memorable names. In the Final Fantasy series, Cloud (FFVII), Squall (VIII), and Tidus (X) were all named after weather and such.
Nomura: Ah, Nojima (FFX Scenario Writer: Kazushige Nojima) named Tidus. I guess Nojima just wanted to go with the pattern. Because it just matched up out of coincidence, I didn't notice that at all. Since I named Sora, Riku, and Kairi after the three elements that make up the world, I didn't name Sora with weather in mind.

Kairi was the only one that was not named „Kai“ (means „ocean“ in Japanese) and instead had „ri“ attached at the end. Why?
Nomura: I thought Kai was not feminine enough, so I wondered what would be good. I tried attaching Japanese syllables starting from „a“, and I thought Kairi fit the best.

I am just curious, but are Sora, Riku, and Kairi treated as Disney characters?
Nomura: Yes.

Does that mean that those three can appear in a Disney movie or some other sort of development like that?
Nomura: That's right. I guess I can't say that's impossible. I can't say anything specific though. (laugh)

Scenario Inverview (pg. 531-533)

Mr. Nomura, in this game's story, what did you want to illustrate the most?
Nomura: As a story, I wanted to illustrate „bonds“... I wanted to show that the connections between people are not physical. Well, I think that it was thoroughly incorporated. Even when separated, things that are connected will still be connected.

When I heard that this was going to be a Disney game, I imagined that the story would be more simple, but in actuality it was a story that players can imagine different things.
Nomura: Ah, I was going to focus on the game's playfulness and keep the story simple. I thought of Disney's target age group and talked about avoiding a complicated story. However, once the project started to come together, Mr. Sakamoto said if we don't aim for the Final Fantasy fan group, this project is going to fail. Well, I knew that even without him saying it. Then, the game's core... as for the playful part it still was kept the same, but the story was changed a lot. At the very beginning, the story was meant to be extremely simple. I thought of restricting it to ending after you defeat Maleficent, without the existence of Ansem.

Then I would like to ask several questions about the story you changed. First, was Kairi's arrival to Destiny Islands a coincidence or fate?
Nomura: It's both. I was not able to illustrate it in the story itself. It is a delicate subject whether or not it is okay to talk about her life situation, but Ansem himself sent out Kairi from Hollow Bastion. The reason why he sent out Kairi was to find the Keyblade. In the End of the The World's prison, there is a is evidence that is left behind. Ansem believed that the young princess would end up where the Keyblade was no matter what. Thus the event of Kairi joining Sora and Riku is a coincidence and fate.

Does that mean there are other Keyblade masters?
Nomura: Well, there are other Keyblade masters, but coincidentally for now, Kairi happened to arrive to the world Riku and Sora are in.

Even though Riku was the rightful owner of the Keyblade, then why did Sora obtain the Keyblade in the beginning?
Nomura: Even though I would like to keep that obscure, there is a scene in Destiny islands where Riku is being swallowed by darkness, a light appears, and Sora first obtains the keyblade. With the setting I created, the darkness that surrounds them is Riku's heart's darkness. At that moment, Sora enters the darkness, and the light he sees inside is Riku's heart's light. Sora, who was squirming in the darkness to save Riku, touched the light and temporarily obtained the Keyblade from Riku.

Does not the Keyblade itself choose its owner?
Nomura: The Keyblade reacts to the rightful owner's heart and appears to them. Even though it was definitely Riku who called the Keyblade towards him, the reason why Sora was able to wield it was because he also had the right qualities too.

Also, I would like to talk about the nuance about what Kairi's grandmother told her: „The world was destroyed once, but it was revived thanks to the strength of the childrens' light.“ Does that „world that was born again through the power of light“ have to do with each of the worlds in the game?
Nomura: Yes. Only, that wasn't told as a historical story, but a fairytale. The story is not the world's history, pretty much. It only overlaps to some extent.

When you look at the World Prison's computer, there is a message with profound meaning. „The two will shut the door to darkness“ was written, but who are you specifically suggesting are „the two“?
Nomura: Well, one of them is definitely Sora. There are multiple choices for the other one. He can be Riku or the King. Also, the „two keys“ can also mean Sora's and the King's keys, or Sora and Riku.

The Message in the World Prison's Computer
Oh, born from hearts, children of darkness lacking hearts
Consume all the worlds and create the „End of the World“
Collect all the hearts, and complete the single great heart.
All hearts that became one. The one heart that became all.
In other words, the kingdom of hearts, „Kingdom Hearts“
That is the great heart. It conceals the great darkness.
Children of darkness, now return to the one darkness that seals the light
The strength of the heart devoid of darkness will open „Kingdom Hearts“.
There are seven hearts that lack darkness in the world. The seven are the keyhole and the key.
There are two who will close the door to darkness. Two keys will close the door.
The door to darkness that seals the light. The door that beings of the light cannot pass.
Only darkness that is born from darkness can pass through. Towards the center of the heart's darkness.
Oh, born from hearts, children of darkness lacking hearts.
Until the door of darkness opens, devour every single heart!

Official NA Translation:
Ones born of the heart and darkness, devoid of hearts, ravage all worlds and bring desolation.
Seize all hearts and consummate the great heart.
All hearts to be one, one heart to encompass all.
Realize the destiny: the realm of Kingdom Hearts.
The great darkness sealed within the great heart.
Progeny of darkness, come back to the eternal darkness.
For the heart of light shall unseal the path.
Seven hearts, one Keyhole, one key to the door.
The door of darkness, tied by two keys.
The door to darkness to seal the light.
None shall pass but shadows, returning to the darkness.
One born of the heart and darkness, hunger for every heart until the dark door opens.

After everything is done, Kairi is left on Destiny Islands, but why did she not go back to Hollow Bastion?
Nomura: Yes. I'm going to be a little blunt here, but I said within the book the reason why. The princesses told Sora, „We will be able to return to our respective worlds before they disappeared.“ Kairi disappeared from Destiny Islands, so she returned there. Since she was physically moved from Hollow Bastion to Destiny Islands, she did not disappear from there.

In the ending, why were Riku and the King on the other side of the door?
Nomura: In the King's case, he was on the other side from the beginning. The reason why the King disappeared was because in search for one of the two keys, he went to the other side of the world. He had an adventure unfold just like Sora, and he obtained the key and ended up there. In Riku's case, his body was stolen by Ansem, so that means Riku's heart was not in this realm anymore. As you saw on the other side of the door, it is darkness. And that side of the world, in other words, in the end Riku's heart went to the world of darkness just like Ansem said. Then when Ansem disappears and Riku's body returns to him, he stayed in the world of darkness.

Then, why didn't Riku go back to the other side of the door to this realm once he got back his body?
Nomura: Various people ask me that as well, but it was clearly written in the World Prison's computer. It said that only darkness can pass through that door. Riku and the King are not beings of darkness, so that is why they could not go through the door.

If that is so, the reason why those two are on the other side of a door they cannot pass... Riku went to the other side once he combined with Ansem. Since the King is there as well, does that mean there is another place where you can enter into the world of darkness without using that door?
Nomura: Yes. The last words he left behind were „find the door to light“. In other words, he was saying find the door, other than the door that allows darkness to come and go, that allows light to come and go.

In the end of the ending, Pluto has the King's letter. Is that implying that the King returned through the door of light?
Nomura: I will leave that up to your imagination. I'll tell you one thing. In the beginning in Traverse Town, after Goofy said, „Pluto, we're going,“ Pluto was not present. Actually, between when he first disappears and then appears again in the ending, he met with the King. The reason why Pluto perked up in Traverse Town was because he felt the King's presence.

Which worlds did Pluto travel when he had that letter?
Nomura: I can say that he appeared in worlds that do not appear in the game.... well, other than the current worlds, there are other worlds that the Heartless erased. The End of the World did not exist at first and is a world that is made up of erased worlds put together. Also, there is that place the door to Kingdom Hearts appears. At first that was another world, so that means that Sora and the others are now residing in that world which returned to what it once was.

So does that mean the reason why Pluto was there was because in that place, „that“ or that person.....
Nomura: I hope the story from then on would be revealed one day.

Secret and Message Section (pg. 533-535)

Secret: Who are the Three People in the Secret Ending?

I believe the question on people's minds who fulfilled certain requirements and finished the game... I would normally think that the three people in the secret ending (pg. 474) are Sora, Riku, and Kairi, but who are they really?
Nomura: Hmmm, is that so? I wonder if it's okay for me to say it. Well, there are several different meanings behind that... of course, there is also the image that comes after that. In the beginning, there are the words „Another Side, Another story“ . You can interpret that saying this is a different story. Well, since everybody is having fun guessing who they are, I worry about revealing information.

This book will be published in around six months.
Nomura: If that's the case, I guess I can say a little bit. Well, Riku is one of them.

Riku is there... then, who are the other two?
Nomura: I want to stop revealing if the other two are really Kairi or Sora. If there really is going to be a continuation, then I would like not to reveal any more about the clip since it will actually have to do with the sequel. If enough people demand for it, then it might be revealed in the form of a sequel.

In the secret ending, there is an avalanche of words. Does that mean that you have the continuation of the story clearly in your head?
Nomura: For now, yes. Hmmm, I wonder how much I should reveal. All I can say is that if there is a sequel, I want to have Ansem appear. Speaking of which, Ansem in the end, lost his body. That means that you can't really say that the Ansem that appears in the end is Ansem's true body. It's a form that he took on after borrowing Riku's body. Saying that, the existence of the robed man in the beginning is suspicious. There are several ways of interpreting it. Well, setting aside whether I'm doing that or not, I've been thinking about several ideas for the development after that.

If there is a sequel, does that mean Final Fantasy characters like Cloud will appear?
Nomura: Yes. If there will be a sequel, I want Cloud in it. Actually, in the overseas version of Kingdom Hearts, [censored] is [censored].

Ooooh!
Nomura: That is why this time, I want to expand on Cloud's story and such.

That means the overseas version is not exactly the same?
Nomura: There are many components added into the Plus Alpha. For example, [censored] was added. In the local version, the design was finalized and the polygon model was created, but we had to cut it out because of the time constraints. We revived it in this version. Since my staff never became so immersed in a game before, many of them said, „I want to fight a strong enemy!“ Various suggestions were taken into consideration, as much tuning and additions were feasibly added under time constraints, and certain parts that we were bothered about were improved.

On top of that, the original Disney voice actors will be in the NA version?
Nomura: Yes, the Disney voice actors are definitely splendid, but there are many good voice actors for the original characters as well. For example, Sora's voice is done by Haley (Haley Joel Osment: main works are „Six Sense“ and „A.I“). There are actors from dramas and singers that are popular overseas that are voicing as well.

If that is the case, wouldn't the fans be overjoyed if there was a „Kingdom Hearts International“?
Nomura: Personally, I would like to release the overseas version for the Japanese PS2, but I also feel that having „international“ in the title is a bit dishonest. It's a delicate subject. I already had talks about if it were to come out, I would have it say „English dub version“ instead of „international“. (laugh)

Message: To the people who played this game

This time around, you've been drawing the Donald and Goofy illustrations, haven't you? On that subject, with Disney's sacred-like image, how was illustrating?
Nomura: No, I didn't draw them from start to finish. With this "tight-pencil" technique I do the rough draft first of all then I pass it off to a Disney person. There, a Disney designer draws and sends over a character. Then after all that, I draw it once more. This is how it's done and I don't change their corrections that much.

Were the Atlantica and Halloween Town Donald and Goofy designs also done by a person at Disney?
Nomura: No, I did those too. Particularly, the Halloweentown Donald and Goofy I drew completely from the beginning.

If I were to think about it, the uniting of Disney and Square characters which everyone thought was unreasonable, arranging and drawing Disney's characters together, and appointing Utada Hikaru, you made everything everybody thought was impossible come true.
Nomura: That's right. I'm always talking with everyone about that. We say things like everything came true like a dream. Thankfully, I didn't quit from the beginning.

The game's sales have been promising, and it seems like the voice of people who want a sequel is growing.
Nomura: People tell me I did a great job. I've been thinking about it since the company has been pushing me to tell them what I'll be doing next. I want to do three or four. One of them is the sequel of course, but I am still consulting with the staff on what to do.

But it must be hard for you to work on your own projects and the character designs of the Final Fantasy characters on top of that.
Nomura: Hmmm, that's true. But I feel lately I've been subtly fading out of the scene. Even though I worked on the designs for FFXI, it didn't stand out.

You were done in?
Nomura: I was only helping. I've been gradually sticking more with my own team.

You mean that you would like to have more power in directing?
Nomura: Yes. Well, for Kingdom Hearts, this was the first time that I made a team from scratch by myself, and it was fun doing so. I thought, „This must be what it feels to make a game.“ I felt like I was experiencing something that I long forgotten. Not only me, but the staff also said that they have their own special attachment to Kingdom Hearts. I thought that there is such a good atmosphere. It was extremely tough, but I feel like we accomplished something. I wonder if that feeling comes across to the players as well.

Lastly, what message do you want to give to the people who played Kingdom Hearts?
Nomura: Ah, I'm extremely, extremely grateful to the people who played this game. I had no idea how this game would fare before it was released. I thought, „Is this really interesting?“ But when it was released, it received high ratings and players told me that they liked it. „It actually became this popular,“ I thought to myself. That's why I'm incredibly thankful. This whole time I thought I would make this game with little reward, but I feel it finally paid off. I heard that there are seven times the amount of survey postcards of people saying they want a sequel, so I spoke with the staff and we are thinking of ways to live up to the expectation. Thank you very much.

Tetsuya Nomura
Born in October, 1970. Lives in Kouchi prefecture. Was hired by the Square Co. in 1991. Major works are Final Fantasy V, VI, VII, VIII, X, Parasite Eve, Parasite Eve 2, and Bouncer.

[A secret known by him alone]
The words that appear in the opening were actually words that an actual character was going to say in the ending. Please enjoy speculating who was supposed to speak those lines.

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories Ultimania, April 11, 2004

Director Inverview (pg. 442-448)

Source:[2], translated by Mors, credit to Seraphim for the Scans and DKGerbil for typing pages 4-7

The reason it went to GBA

At the end of the previous installment, KH, there was a secret movie that was to bring light on what the sequels could be like. When you made those sequences, did you already have in mind what KHCOM and KHII would be like?
Nomura: In a kind of vague way yes. The most precise visions I hade were those of KHII as I already had decided that it would take place a year after KH, that the atmosphere would be different in some ways. If I was to create a KHII I wanted it to begin in the most intriguing way as it would be possible. I only began thinking about “What happens in that year between” in KHCOM much later.

When we look at the project book (will be pictured!) we can see that KHCOM was originally called “KH: Lost Memories”.
Nomura: Though for some we had to change the title you'll notice it isn't that much different than the original.. I though that “Chain of Memories” had more style and it matched the general outline of the story too (i.e. Sora relieving a succession of memories, a chain) and I personally liked it.

What was the reason you decided to develop this installment for the GBA?
Nomura: Soon after the release of the previous installment, I was told that I should make a KH for GBA. But at the time I was skeptical of the idea of seeing KH in 2D and said “Can't do it”. Then as I began to think about what I could work on next, I began to hear “Our kid wants to play KH on GBA” a lot more frequently. That kind of real voice that was saying that “Kids want to play” got me seriously considering it.

So it was the voices of the children that moved you?
Nomura: Yes. That is when I began to elaborate a gameplay system, visuals and concept artwork as well as a storyline to fill that one year story gap on the GBA. Eventually I began to think that KH in 2D really was manageable but since it was still pretty vague I came up with some systems that could adapt the KH gameplay to the GBA and asked for feedback on many members of the staff. Then I started getting “This can be done, can't it?” and that is when the KHCOM project was really set in motion.

The fun within the linear

If we glance at the project book we can see that the backbone of KHCOM ended up coming out of your ideas.
Nomura: But all of that is written in the project book is not sufficient to make a game. All I created was the very basic concept of the game. Then by borrowing the talents and strengths of all the staff those small ideas get bigger and bigger.

Where did you get the idea of making it a sort of card game?
Nomura: This is talking about KHII more but, if you were to begin the game with the very powerful Sora you had acquired at the end of KH, KHII wouldn't stand up to much as a game. I wanted the players to know the potential in strength Sora has more or less fulfilled at the end of the previous installment yet not be able to use all those abilites right from the start. That is when I thought that if I could make a story in which Sora's abilites and memories all get mixed up, KHCOM would be a perfect bridge between KH and KHII. I thought that to symbolise those messed memories and abilities cards could be used soI had to create a card based system. That's the jist of it, I think.

Normally when you'd say “KH for GBA” we'd think of a 2D action game where Sora flings his keyblade and defeats enemies. However, in KHCOM we see this card system a new kind of fun coming out of the restrictions that impose a card based system.
Nomura: When I think of making a game system, I refer myself back to the one I created for FFV, In the latter, there were loads of abilites but only the possibility of equipping three at a time at most. Learning them all does not mean you are all powerful, therefore. To be efficient you need to sacrifice some things. But it isn't that dramatic. I believe that these restrictions are closely connected to the fun you hve in a game. In the previous installment, this was in the slight delay between the input of the action and Sora's execution of that action, which created a little risk. This time, we aimed for a close balance between the effects of the cards and the stock techniques and the penalties they impose.

Nowadays, Game Crews are divided into Scenario, Graphic, Sound and Programming departments but in your case, while being the Director, you can also draw, think of the game system, write the story plot and take on a variety of roles and we think that's amazing.
Nomura: The part I enjoy the most myself is writing the project while drawing little bits of visuals and showing it to the staff. We then talk and small ideas I had become bigger and much more concrete and that is when I have the most fun when developing a game. It is almost as if I wrote the project book solely for having that kind of fun (laughs). Looking back on it, even back when I was at Primary/Elementary school, I enjoyed playing “Sugoroku” (Note by Mors: “a traditional japanese board-game comparable to Snakes and Ladders) based on my own stories and every time, the rules changed. Perhaps I was pre-disposed to enjoying creating games systems…

The secret of the "Organization" member's names

Looking a little more in-depth in the game: about Castle Oblivion, what world is it a part of?
Nomura: In the endng scene of the previous installment, Sora runs up a path that ends up in a crossroad. It is accurate to think that Castle Oblivion is at the end of one of those paths. This isn't explained in the egame but the building's upper floors and underground floors respectively represent the Light and Darkness of memories.

In the opening, there is a scene where Namine drawing Castle Oblivion and that image overlaps with the real thing but does that mean that the Castle was created out of Namine's drawing?
Nomura: That is incorrect. Castle Oblivion is under the orders of a member of the “org”, Marluxia and Namine is taken there by them. Within the Castle, the org members are conducting a little research but the real meaning of the “Organization” will be explained fuly in KHII. For now those aspects remain obscur so it is a relativeley enigmatic group. Incidently, there are 13 members in the Organization, therefor some have yet to be introduced.

About the Org. members' names, they all seem to have an 'x' in them when translated into English.
Nomura: Although it gives them an otherworldly sound, in their case there is another trick behind the choice of their names. It's just that, with the members that appeared this time, it is difficult to figure this out. I'm planning on making characters appear in KHII with names that will make you got “Aaaaah. I got it.”

Speaking of not understanding, the identify of the leader of the Organization is also an enigma.
Nomura: “Isn't it Ansem?” or “Isn't it the one bandaged in red?” are just some of the theories I guess some of you have thought of. The thing is, KHII is, even for me, unfolding in developing in such a complex way that at this stage nothing may be pronounced with certainty. Thanks to those members of the “Organization”, I think KHII will be quite an interesting and fun story.

By “the one bandaged in red”, you mean DiZ?
Nomura: Yes. DiZ will be one of the most important characters in the story to come and holds the answer to many questions. But, what he is thinking and what he wants is unclear to his entourage. When you learn his identity, you'll possibly be surprised.

Is there a link between the name DiZ and Disney?
Nomura: It was suggested that it would be his name because a few members of the staff liked it. I also put it in because of a reason but... i'll try to remember what that was until next time (laugh).

In the newly introduced “Org.” members, which is your favorite?
Nomura: I guess that would be Axel. He is also very popular with a majority of the other members of the staff. Given that he is further given delicious roles in KHII... Axel's true motivations, though I cannot tell them now, are a great story. You could cry. The scene where he tells you what he really wants is one scene you simply cannot miss in KHII.

Who is the kid who appears in the ending?

Why didn't Sephiroth appear this time?
Nomura: Since he had been given the role in KH: Final Mix, the fans wouldn't forgive me if the next time I used him, I didn't give him a role more closely related to Cloud. If I am to use him, I want him to stand out and that is why he did not appear this time. However I am thinking of a little something with Cloud in KHII...

In the ending of Riku's story, Riku chooses neither the path of Light nor Darkness, but the road in-between. How will that choice affect him as one who wields the keyblade?
Nomura: What Riku is thinking at that point will become clear later. He decides to follow the road in-between to achieve a certain goal. Riku's story was about “What is my relation with the Darkness?”, but some things, such as what he is, have yet to be explained.

At that point, DiZ says “The road to twilight…”, but does that have a relation with Twilight Town?
Nomura: Yes, it does. This will again be talked about in KHII, but... twilight, that is the time when it is neither day nor night. That theme of being in-between light and dark is central to KHII. In the previous installment it talked more about being of either Light or Dark, but this time we've added being “in the middle”. That is why there now is a Twilight Town and a Riku who follows neither Light nor Dark, but both. Twilight Town is the first world to appear in KHII, too. It is very different opening from the Destiny Islands abundant with light you begin the previous instalment on and people who played KH might say “What's this?” and get confused. However, I plan to give that confusion further depth as the story goes on.

During this game, Twilight Town is presented as being: “A town built out of the memories of Sora's other side.”
Nomura: Yes. But, let's just say it's not a town that is in Sora's own memories. It's not that Sora has any memory of that town but... hmmmm... there is a link. It is a very important part in KHII so it's difficult to explain.

At the end of Riku's story we see a young kid standing in Twilight Town. Who is he?
Nomura: He is a new character to appear in KHII and he holds a very important part to play, too. I will refrain from too much detail but he is to be a playable character. Besides him, many of the secret characters from the previous instalment's secret movies will appear in KHII. I plan to explain what the situations depicted in the secret movies signify.

The world of Kingdom Hearts expaning on many fronts

There is a KH card game that is being released. I guess you take part in that as well?
Nomura: Indeed. Actually, I've never played a card game. I didn't know any of the rules the card games currently released have, so I had to think of what could make the game fun myself. Then when it was decided that there would be a KH card game I wanted them to use the rules I had made up, but I realized that this was too difficult. So I decided to make it a KH card game in its own right. I was told to give up quite a few ideas while developing it. You might see that in the simplistic design the cards ended up in.

There were also some cards with designs from KHII, right?
Nomura: The publisher TOMY talked about making this a long term project. That is why I suggested featuring characters such as The King not only from KHCOM, but from KHII as well. The line up for quite a few future packs have already been decided. There also is quite a non-exhaustive list of the characters I want to appear and I have to design quite a few of them and it's tiresome. It seems my commitment with card games might go as far as that with video games.

Are there other fronts on which you plan to develop the KH franchise?
Nomura: There's those chess pieces we revealed at the Game Show. They are considerably well done. There are many female fans for KH which is rather different from the other goodies we release. So we're looking into developing more female oriented products. There are plenty of ideas in that respect when it comes to KH so please look forward to it.

We have heard that in America, there is a KH being developed for the mobile phone.
Nomura: There are quite a few things concerning that... Officially it has nothing to do with the original KH. It's completely different. The title is KH, Sora makes an appearance but the story has nothing to do whatsoever with KH, KHCOM, and KHII, we're developing since Disney is designing it.

Beyond KHII?

The story is carrying on to KHII, but is there a story that will continue KHCOM itself?
Nomura: This game system is very fun to use so I want to use it again the future. However, KHCOM doesn't really have a story in itself but, is just a piece of a much larger story. Right now, I feel that making a KHCOMII is a very difficult thing indeed.

Within yourself, have you been thinking far in terms of the story of the world of KH?
Nomura: No, for now it's been decided on how KHII will end but I really haven't been thinking beyond that. All the enigmas that arose in KH and KHCOM will be solved in KHII so it is possible to end it all then and there. However, quite a few new mysteries are glimpsed at in KHII so it isn't impossible to create another story afterwards. The question now is “shall it be done?”.

But will KHII feature secret movies that glimpse into a possible sequel again?
Nomura: I quite like secret movies so there might something in KHII... But first, we need to finish KHII (laughs).

Besides KHII you are developing quite a few other titles.
Nomura: Well apart from KHII I'm also committed to “Compilation of FF7″, with AC (Advent Children), BC (Before Crisis), CC (Crisis Core), and DC (Dirge of Cerberus). Then there's also Samurai Legend Musashi and another, that makes six… not counting the other projects that might being to develop soon.

That's quite a number.
Nomura: It's not exactly a burden, though. I'm surrounded by a staff that makes most things possible. After I think of the concept, the rest is cooperative between all of us. After that, the staff do a lot of the work and I'm consulted and give the “go signals and set things back on track sometimes. We heard you once went to the ER in America, but since, you've been working so hard, is your body's health alright?

Nomura: Quite a few people are indeed worried for my health so three years ago I ended up going to the doctor's. I was actually perfectly fine and people around me were “You're not human.” and “you can do even more?!” (laughs).

Having finished KHCOM

Finally, how do you feel now that you've finished KHCOM?
Nomura: In the days following the release, I felt similarly to the way I felt after that of the previous instalment. The players were first saying “Not that we're complaining, but it is a kind of worrying title” and similar feedback rose. This is what I call a good feeling. Indeed, similarly to the previous instalment, as the feedback of more and more players came to me, the popularity increased and that makes me really happy.

The previous instalment, for a contemporary game, has become quite a long running hit.
Nomura: Indeed. But this instalment isn't exactly the concept I originally had in mind... as well as being portable, it was designed so that you could interrupt your game at any time but with KHCOM, once you start, it's hard to put down. (laugh) That is a truly happy feeling. So much data in such a small cartridge which I think is for players to explore. It is all connected with KHII so I really hope that fans of the previous instalment will play this game.

When we play KHCOM, we really being to feel anxious for KHII.
Nomura: KHII is a lot faster than the previous instalment but, still within limits. But, please look forward to it. Though I can't really say this myself, KHII is really looking to become a bloody great episode. It's as if we just crammed into it all we thought of KH and KHCOM. The volume of it isn't exactly many times that of the previous instalment but I'm really beginning to scratch my heart as to if it's all going to hold on a single DVD-ROM. (Note: This interview was before the one where it was stated 2 discs would be used)

We're eager to find out what new worlds will be featured, too.
Nomura: We've already revealed Mulan's world, but there will also be a very surprising world. As much as The Nightmare Before Christmas' Halloween Town was in the preview instalment. You'll probably think “What is he thinking!?”. The characters of those worlds will also be very well modelized as we have worked hard on those polygons.

The more we talk about it, the more we want to play KHII, but when exactly will it be released!?
Nomura: Due to a lot of factors, it is very difficult to say at this point. All I can say is that it will be released after FF7: Advent Children. (laughs)

(11.04.2004 with the cooperation of Square-Enix)

Tetsuya Nomura
Gameography: KH, FF5,6,7,8,10,10-2, Parasite Eve, Parasite Eve 2, The Bouncer.

[A secret known by him alone]
The 13 members of The Org. as well as having numbers, have powers attributed to each of them.
Thus Axel was fire, Larxene was thunder, Lexaeus was earth, and Marluxia's flower shaped scythe was representing his power over flowers

Kingdom Hearts II Ultimania, January 20, 2006

Source: [3]. Credit goes to maiki for translating this interview.

Director Inverview (pg. 720-727)

When did KHII's development officially start?
Nomura: In the previous game, I inserted a secret movie in hopes of creating a sequel, but to actually pull it off, KHII had a number of hurdles that I had to clear first. Like our wish “to give Mickey more spotlight”, we had to wait until Disney allowed that and once it's settled, then we could finally talk about KHII's development.

Once the project started, did you have an image of how you wanted KHII to be like?
Nomura: One of (our goals) was to recover all the foreshadowing from the previous game. Then we took all the complaints we heard from it and fixed it to bring satisfaction. At the same time, we also thought of adding more into direction and increase choices in the battle system. Like this, the development was going towards the path of increasing the volume of the game from the start, so we thought “There are a lot of things that need to be done, but let's do all of them” and stuck to that thinking.

So is the finished game's volume just like what you expected, Nomura-san?
Nomura: No, I didn't expect it to go this far. My staff just wouldn't stop working. (laugh) I thought we would start cutting back some things if we ever run out of time, but many of the staff just wouldn't stop. I asked them “Are you alright with this?” and they would simply answer “Yeah, I can do this.” I've always been nervous all the time but in the end they accomplished and I was moved. “Wow, you all really did it.”

In the huge battle where we have to go through 1000 Heartless, all the staff thought they couldn't pull it off but in the end they could, eh?
Nomura: Yes. I always estimated that “If we have to drop something, it'll have to be this part” but instead the staff demand for something higher. When it came to “No, we can't do that but if we go a little lower, that should be okay,” I thought we would leave it at that but the staff would still make something of a higher level. (laugh) That is why I didn't think that huge battle would actually materialize to that point in the end.

Compared to its prequel, there are a lot of impressions on how there are less Jump actions, more user-friendly help menus and the difficulty level is lower; did you put that into thought?
Nomura: Yes. Last time we made a lot of things less user-friendly and we end up really being told it's “not friendly”. (laugh) So that's why this time we added information, navigation maps and so on, and created it to be very user-friendly.

Did you have troubles because this is a sequel?
Nomura: The game's story is a direct sequel of the first game so yes, there was that fear. Initially I didn't bear it in my mind as “a sequel”. But, as I sat down and thought calmly before the game's release, I thought “How will those who didn't know about the previous game think of KHII? I wonder if they won't buy it. Maybe this isn't good.” But still many people accepted it so I'm glad.

3 days after the game's release 1 million copies of it got shipped out, after all. Do you think there's a reason on why the fanbase has widen?
Nomura: I get the feeling it's because we made something that has a wide 'frontage', something that doesn't have age or gender as its threshold. I hear things like “My 6-year-old son is playing this” and “People in their 40′s and 50′s also play this” quite often. I guess that means it's because the game has a 'wide frontage'.

What's the theme that you most wanted to express this time?
Nomura: Not just this time; “Kingdom Hearts” always have something like “a person's heart” and “connection of hearts” as its theme. Like the strength of an invisible “heart” or what's the most important thing to you, that's what I was thinking while drawing the story.

One of the surprises of playing KHII is that the scenes and lines foreshadowed in the “deep dive” secret movie in KHFM were actually cleared. On solving the underplots, how much was hypothesized back in the first KH?
Nomura: I think half was thought up back in the first game, another half was thought up once we started working on KHII. Even so, that doesn't mean we didn't think of them at all in the first place, but more like a rough “maybe we should do this.” We also changed somethings we thought up at that time so that's what I mean by half-half.

For example, the heart-shaped moon in the previous game's key visual showed up this time as the Kingdom Hearts. Did you think of doing this right from the start?
Nomura: No, I didn't. I asked Nojima-san (Nojima Kazushige) to write KHII's scenario and in his scenario it was written that the Kingdom Hearts Xemnas created is “like a moon that floats in the World that Never Was.” When I read that, I thought “Oh, this can be connected!” (laugh) so I made it to look like the moon in the previous game's key visual. The World that Never Was has the “Dark City” right from the beginning of the game's development and since then its background is night. That's why when Nojima-san wrote that Xemnas was creating Kingdom Hearts in the sky, coincidentally he wrote “it looks like a moon” but I thought it got connected by destiny.

If KHII was never released, what would happen to the mysteries left in the first game?
Nomura: I guess they'll just stay untold. (laugh) I have a severe opinion about that but I think a game that doesn't sell just shouldn't have a sequel. If many people want a sequel, I'll have to answer to that but if not, I have to bravely give up. Thank goodness we had a lot of fans saying they want a continuation so we were able to make it, but if KH was a game that nobody wants a sequel of, then it's not that bad for the unsolved mysteries to stay that way, anyway. Besides, even if KHII was not released now, the fans can still have fun with the underplots in the previous game and make their own speculations. In that way, although the game gets old, people can still continue being happy with it so I think it's possible to draw the curtain like how the previous game did.

A game sure needs elements where people can discuss and make speculation.
Nomura: When we were kids, we always thought “there's not enough things to imagine from this” when reading manga, watching anime or playing games, and I thought that is strange. Whether it's game, anime or manga, there should be a place where you can speculate things. I have that feeling so I wanted to make a game that gives space for your imagination. That's why I don't like revealing everything and say “This is the answer.” Just like when I was a kid, I want to make something that can allow people to let loose their imagination with.

How did you choose the worlds that get inserted into KHII?
Nomura: Just like in the first KH, we make sure we don't overlay each world's outlooks. In abstract, we make world categories like “lots of greens”, “gothic”, “near future” and so on, and then think which world fits those categories. For example, in the first game there was the “Tarzan” world and at the same time there's an idea for a “Jungle Book” world, too. But both worlds' appearances look almost the same so I took some opinions from the staff and make a choice between those two. KHII's worlds were chosen one-by-one like that, too, but at that time I was at Disney's HQ in Los Angeles to make contract negotiations. On the day we had an appointment with the Disney HQ on requesting which worlds we wanted to use, I sent emails (through handphone) to the staff asking “This world got the OK sign, so what do you think?” and so on and made the choices at real-time.

Half of the worlds in the first game were major Disney titles so did you have a hard time choosing new worlds?
Nomura: Before choosing a world I certainly wondered if the choice was okay or not. But when I thought of “Tron”, “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Steamboat Willie” and so on, I got the feeling those are good choices. Half of the worlds overlayed with the previous game's but the new worlds give great impact so I thought they would be alright. Besides, this is still a sequel so people might want to re-visit some old worlds. In that way, both old and new worlds are inserted at the right ratio.

I heard it was you who suggested to insert the Seasalt Ice-cream in the game.
Nomura: Yes, I did. When the Tokyo Disney Sea opened and I went there by invitation, they were selling Seasalt Ice-creams at the time. You would think a “salty ice-cream” seems a pretty weird idea, right? I was like “What is this?” so I tried it out and it turned out to be very tasty. My impression of it back then was so strong that I overlapped Disney's image with seasalt ice-cream. Besides that, Roxas' story is set in summer break and I wondered what did I eat back in summer breaks when I was a kid and I remembered “Ah, of course, ice-cream.” Although I was the one who said I wanted to use it, Nojima-san was the one who actually made it show up that much. Even I was surprised; “You're using it this often!?” (laugh) I think that shows the playful-ness of Nojima-san's scenarios.

The text that's written on the photos in Jiminy Memo's Album is written by you, right?
Nomura: Yes. The project and menu leader came to my booth and said hesitantly “I want the text in the Album to be hand-written.” I answered “I think that's okay” and he replied “No, I want you to write them down, Nomura-san.” At that time there weren't that many sheets of paper so I said, “sure, I can write it” but just as I finished writing and gave back those sheets, more and more sheets kept coming in to the point of making me wonder when exactly they would stop coming in, and that's when I thought, “Oh, shoot.” (laugh)

Since those writings were 'written by Sora', that means Sora's handwriting is the same as your handwriting, right? (laugh)
Nomura: Yeah, I suppose so. (laugh) My handwritings have been used in websites and advertisements so when I asked “Wouldn't people recognize it's my handwriting?”, they just answered “That'll be okay.” By the way, those text will be erased in the international version and just be something limited to the Japanese version. I asked them “You're not saying I should write English for the NA version or French or German in the UK version, right?” and they answered “No, we're not inserting the text in the international versions” so I was saved by that. (laugh)

On what kind of basis did you choose the FF characters?
Nomura: In a way, we selected characters that are on demand. We considered from both fans and the staff's opinions and it all ends with just characters that are highly on demand.

And Tifa from FFVII showed up.
Nomura: In fact, back when we were working on KHFM, some of the staff members wanted to have Tifa show up. They said “Battling with Tifa would be fun, in a melee sense” and originally wanted to add both Sephiroth and Tifa (into KHFM) but due to tight schedules, we could only go with one character so we inserted Sephiroth into KHFM. Because of that, we decided to let Tifa show up in this game. When we were recording the voices for KHII, coincidentally they were also doing the recording for FFVII:AC so somehow we end up doing “Today we record FFVII:AC, tomorrow KHII”... (laugh) The voices were recorded in the same flow so I'm glad about that.

Speaking of Tifa, there's an event where she talked to Cloud after beating Sephiroth.
Nomura: In Nojima-san's scenario, it explained Cloud and Tifa's connection more in-depth but I deleted it away. I thought it would be more interesting to let the gamers think about it. For example, “If Cloud's darkness is Sephiroth, then Tifa is light”; in that sense you can take it that Tifa isn't really human. The reason Tifa doesn't talk to anyone else besides Sora and co. may be because she doesn't exist as a human. Of course, I also presented her in a way that she could also be a resident of Hollow Bastion, so I think you can feely think for yourself about her.

So Yuna, Rikku and Paine showed up as faeries this time.
Nomura: I've always wanted to have a FF character showing up as “something that looks human but isn't human” at least once. Since “Kingdom Hearts” is a deformed world, I wanted to have a little fun with that. And as a plus, if all three showed up in their normal human size, I was kind of worried that the screen might get a bit too crowded. At least I've aways thought that if I were to make them appear in the game, having them as faeries would make them as very interesting beings. I wasn't deeply involved with FFX-2 but from the impression I got of looking at them as an audience, their positions in this game is how I see them.

Were you planning to insert FFVII:AC characters into KHII initially?
Nomura: No. I didn't want to insert too many things from my newer works and FFVII:AC's world is very serious and has a little madness mixed into it so it was quite difficult to familiarize it to KHII's mood. I wasn't thinking of forcing to insert something that wouldn't fit in.

On the subject of characters, all the mysterious XIII Organization members finally appeared in KHII. Was it you who thought up of their settings?
Nomura: No, I didn't completely decide on everything; a few people were also part of it. But Xemnas as #1 and Roxas as #13 has always been in the initial settings of the creation of the XIII Organization.

Was there any mentioning of making the members that disappeared in KHCOM to show up as guests in the Coliseum?
Nomura: I did want to do that but I never said it out loud. If the members that died in KHCOM showed up, I would have to think of the details on why they're there, prepare the events and we'll need more work on creating the battles. Some of the staff said “It's kind of a waste since we already have CG models (of them) for the movies” but because of the schedule, nobody would go ahead to do something reckless.I actually like the XIII Organization a lot. Especially Luxord, I like how he's stylish and strangely has a glossy demeanor.

Looks like Zexion has a lot of fans.
Nomura: Probably because he's quite enigmatic. He's the only member who showed up with no weapons but it's not because he doesn't have his own weapon, it's more of because he died without fighting so nobody knows what's his weapon. I have an idea on what his weapon is and I might have a chance of showing it in the near future so I'll keep it as a secret for now. That reminds me, in the World that Never Was, each XIII Organization member had a gravestone for them and each of those have a picture of their weapons and that's when Zexion became a problem for us. “Eh, we're gonna put a spoiler on Zexion's weapon there!?” (laugh) That's a bit too much so we decided to destroy the gravestone so that his weapon couldn't be seen.

Previously you said “The members of the XIII Organization have something hidden in their names”, can you reveal the answer to us now?
Nomura: Before this I've mentioned that when their names are spelt in Roman alphabets, there will surely be an “X”, right? The truth is that when the “X” is taken away, the alphabets that are left behind is an anagram of the members' real names when they were humans. I actually wanted to insert an event scene showing how Roxas got his name. First the word “SORA” popped up and those letters were rearranged into “ROAS” and BAM, suddenly the “X” got inserted in the middle and he was told “Take this name….” Well, I had an image like that but it was something difficult to do time-wise so I gave up.

Following the previous game, Utada Hikaru also sang the theme song for this game, “Passion.”
Nomura: Many fans seem to have the image Kingdom Hearts = Utada Hikaru so I didn't think of changing that at all. This time I wrote a story explanation for her that's longer than the previous game's. We decided to have it played at the last scene, so for me the theme was “Sora and Riku's reunion.” I wrote stuff like “An image of a reunion, a happy moment in a way” and “Like a Hikari 2″ in there.

In the single version, there are phrases like “Seems like a child will be born in winter” and “The New Year's card has a photo attached to it” in it...
Nomura: After getting the finished song, we worked on the movie to make it synchronize with the song, and when we were almost finishing, suddenly I was told “we've made a single version” so I tried listening to it and noticed those phrases were added into the lyrics, so we didn't know about it initially. Come to think about it, if those phrases were added earlier, we would have been brainstorming how to make the movie fit that part of the song. (laugh) I guess it's because Utada-san understood that “Kingdom Hearts” won't be using that part of the song.

It was amazing on how the ending synchronized well with the song and movie.
Nomura: The first KH's ending also stuck well with the theme song, but this time it was a bit more difficult because the song started with soft piano keys. Before, the scene that synchronized with the start of the song was Sora letting go of Kairi's hand but this time this two would hold each other's hands. In the editing process, we were arguing on how many seconds we should show them holding hands. Someone said “Shouldn't it look better if we show it longer?” but I said “No, we're going to show it for just a split second” so we cut it short enough to just show them holding hands. The external editors told me “you're a really cold person”, though. (laugh)

In the last scene in the ending, they received a letter from the king. I'm quite curious to what's written in it.
Nomura: I was troubled for a very long time on whether I should show the letter's contents or not, and in the end I decided to let people speculate it themselves. You can guess what's in the letter by looking at those three's facial expressions: Sora looking at it blankly, Riku smirking and Kairi looking slightly worried. If it was just a “Hello, it's been awhile”, they would be smiling instead so at least it's hinted it is not that kind of simple letter. Actually, it was planned to have a little more scene to it and by watching it you could tell what's in the letter. I might be able to show that scene when I get the chance to.

After the ending, there's a secret movie this time, too. What exactly is the movie trying to tell?
Nomura: I actually have a solid idea on what the movie's setting will be in my head. In the previous game's secret movie, I wasn't even sure if I would be making a sequel or not, so some parts of it were quite vague. But this time I already have an idea my head where I think “This is it.”

Did that scene happen in the future or in the past?
Nomura: I would at least say it's an episode in the past, but.... Hmm, how should I say this? It's in the past but you can also think it's in the future, something like that.

Who are the 3 armoured people?
Nomura: Those 3 are completely new people who haven't shown up at all. In fact, I've already thought of their names. Back when I was making that movie, I only had their settings but now I've even drawn their faces to give myself a clearer image of them.

The king, Sora and Riku's keyblades were there, too.
Nomura: It's to show that those three armoured people aren't them but that doesn't mean they don't have connections. The words “Keyblade War” that showed up in the middle were to implicate that there were fights between Keyblades. Most of the puzzles in the first KH have been solved in KHII but there are many things about the Keyblade that haven't been revealed yet. A line from the previous game's Ansem Report #8 appeared in the movie but that is to say “It means this but it's not explained yet.”

Does that mean you already have a plot for KHIII?
Nomura: Hmm... I have an idea but it can't be helped because my team are planning to work on our next different title. So we're not working on KHIII now and we're not planning to work on it for some time, too. I have a plot in my head but I'm not sure if it'll be released to the world or just stay in there.

Well then, is there a possibility for a Final Mix version to be released like the previous game's?
Nomura: Actually, I wasn't planning for KHII to have a Final Mix. In beginning of the project, I wanted to have the English voices inserted, too, but the disc space was almost full and the recording of the English voices got delayed so that plan couldn't be realized. Compared to FF, there's a high demand for the English version of “Kingdom Hearts”. I assume it's because there are many fans who came in through KHFM so it felt quite weird to play KHII in Japanese when they played the previous game in English. Thanks to KHFM selling very well, many fans think the English voices are meant for “Kingdom Hearts” so right now I'm in the middle of wondering what to do about Final Mix.

Seems like many gamers are hoping there will be many extras besides the English voices if Final Mix is ever released.
Nomura: If I were to make it, I'll have to answer to that demand and I shouldn't put it at the same level as the previous game's. But more things have been done for KHII compared to the first KH so I'm troubled on how to make the 'tuning' for Final Mix. We still have to think how to solve the disc space problem, too.

Since it's you after all, Nomura-san, you probably already started thinking of some plans for Final Mix, right?
Nomura: In fact, I've prepared a very big trump card for it but I can't say what it is yet. It's something to look forward to if I'm able to make it. (laugh) Besides that, I regret not putting the mushroom Heartless in KHII. In the beginning of the project, I had new ideas that I wanted to use for the mushroom Heartless but it was too grand that it would take a lot of time to make so it got cut out. And the result is that not even one mushroom got inserted. A staff kept saying “Something's missing. Something's missing. Oh yeah, there's no mushroom!” (laugh) If we can make a Final Mix, I would like to add the mushrooms in.

By the way, you seem to be working on the international version now; are you adding anything extra in that?
Nomura: Nope, not much. We're making the North American version in 3 months so localizing(translating) it is pretty much the only thing we can do. After that there's the European version, so if I were to work on Final Mix, it'll have to be after that.

If that really happens, then that means the different title you're planning to work on will be slightly delayed to be worked on.
Nomura: Well, there are ways to go around it. I already started thinking on that title's plot and character by myself. That title is hidden inside FFVII:AC in a surprising manner, by the way. (laugh)

Well then, please leave a message to all the KHII players that are reading this.
Nomura: KHII achieved great quality not only because of the development staff's high motivation to not give up, but it's also because there were many voices from the fans wanting a sequel. Like I said before, the sequel's plot may not see daylight if there's no need for the a sequel, so I'm grateful to you all that I'm able to make KHII. KHII's story has completed but there are still some puzzles left behind, like the secret movie, the king's letter in the ending, the contents of Ansem's reports and so on. Inside me, the story of “Kingdom Hearts” still hasn't ended, so if you're thinking “I still want to keep in touch with this world,” then someday that might be realized. Besides that, what made me happy this time is that the people around me told me, “It's quite common to be moved by video games but KHII is the first to give me a warm feeling.” The “heart” is the theme of “Kingdom Hearts”, so if I get the chance to make a sequel again, I would like to make something that'll stay or appeal something to the heart.

Nomura Tetsuya – Director and Concept Design
[A secret known by him alone]
“Xehanort's name has two meanings. When you spell it in Roman alphabets and rearrange them without the 'X', they'll spell 'No Heart' and 'Another'. These meanings are connected to the secret movie.”

The Scenario Mysteries in "Kingdom Hearts II"

When was the XIII Organization founded?
Nomura: The timing is when Philosopher Ansem's 6 disciples turned into Heartless. The XIII Organization is called like that just because it has recruited 13 members, but it doesn't matter if it has “XIII” in its name or not. All 13 members were already gathered in KHCOM but the members that were in Castle Oblivion still called it as the “Organization.”

Besides Xehanort, did the other 5 disciples that turned into Heartless disappeared?
Nomura: Not really disappear but more like they're somewhere else as normal Heartless. Xehanort was about the only one who was able to keep a human form.

In the beginning of the game, there's a conversation between Xemnas and Roxas that went like “I met him. He looks just like you.” “Who are you?” at the beach in the World of Darkness. Did this happen right after Sora's fight with the Enigmatic Man in KHFM?
Nomura: “Right after”.... I'm not sure about that but yes, it's after that. In this game it was never stated that Xemnas was the EM in KHFM but from the way he fights and his line “He looks just like you”, I hinted that it was him in KHFM.

Roxas asked for Xemnas' name so does that mean that scene shows him meeting Xemnas for the first time and that's when he joined the Organization?
Nomura: Not really. It's true that he had a conversation with Xemnas at that beach before but that's not their first meeting and their conversation wasn't like that either. The conversation at the beginning of the game was Roxas' dream, mixed with his memories and feelings. The part where he asked for Xemnas' name but instead was asked back for his real name was a reflection of Roxas' feelings on who really is. Roxas didn't know his real name, remember? If he remembered that he was Sora, I think he wouldn't join the Organization in the first place.

Did Namine meet DiZ after Sora's story in KHCOM?
Nomura: Yes, they contacted each other between Sora and Riku's stories. Namine coorperated with DiZ not just because she's against the Organization but also because she wanted to protect Sora. She promised to restore Sora's memories so she needed to stay beside him. As stated in Ansem's Other Report #10, DiZ thought it's dangerous to leave Sora in Castle Oblivion, and in order to protect Sora, Namine needed DiZ.

Was the Mansion in Twilight Town a property of the XIII Organization?
Nomura: No, they have nothing to do with it. It's just a place DiZ used as his hideout. You saw a lot of pods like the one Sora was in but DiZ just transferred Sora and the others along with their pods from Castle Oblivion. In other words, DiZ just copied the pods that were created by the Organization and lined them up (in the Mansion). The reason there's a room in the Mansion that looks exactly like Castle Oblivion's was just prepared for Namine, not because that space is connected to Castle Oblivion.

Please tell us a bit more about the Twilight Town Roxas was in. From Ansem's Other Report #12, there's the line “For the moment, I have converted all of Twilight Town into data, and formed a 'copy of the world' in Sora's memories…”
Nomura: The Twilight Town Roxas was in is the data of the real Twilight Town, inside a computer. The pod Sora sleeps in is connected to a computer and in that computer is a data of that world and the XIII Organization hacked into the computer. It's not that Axel went into Sora's brain, it's actually that the Nobodies invaded the world that's in the computer that Sora's brain is accessing.

We found out that Riku's Keyblade's name is “Way to the Dawn” when examining his item slots after he joined your party. Is that Keyblade a transfigured version of Soul Eater?
Nomura: I designed it with that image. Since Riku has always been using Soul Eater, he still calls it that even after it changed form. Keyblades aren't something that you can obtain suddenly out of nowhere so in Riku's case, his Soul Eater was used as an intermediary for that Keyblade.

If we directly translate “Way to the Dawn”, “dawn” means “in-between night and daytime”, so does that mean that Keyblade is from the In-between World? In other words, this means the Keyblades that Sora, King Mickey and Riku wield represent the Worlds of Light, Dark and In-between?
Nomura: Well, if I have to say where they belong, it's just as you said. But the name of “Way to Dawn” doesn't have to mean that. This name came from the scene at the end of Riku's story in KHCOM that suggested which path he would walk on, where he said “The road to dawn.”

In Ansem's Other Report #13, DiZ had the unanswered question, “How did Xehanort open the door in Hollow Bastion's underground?” but....
Nomura: I can't talk about this yet. But, weeell, it's something you can speculate over, I think.

Speaking of “opening the door”, I'm going to move the subject to the previous game. Why when Riku opened Destiny Island's door, this accidentally called the darkness? Do the powers of Keyblade wielders that are called “Heroes of Light” are connected to darkness?
Nomura: Currently Sora and co. are the only Keyblade wielders and they're doing things that grant them the titles “Heroes of Light” but, as stated in the first game's Ansem Report #8 and the secret movie this time, the real Keyblade wielders “can bring chaos to the world, just as one can bring peace to it.”

In the World that Never Was, Xigbar said to Sora “Compared to the ones before this, you're weaker”; does that mean he's comparing Sora to previous Keyblade wielders before him?
Nomura: Yes, he was. I was hinting “Xigbar has met other Keyblade wielders before.” As for something more than that... I'll leave it to your imagination.

Director's Secret Report XIII, March 29, 2007

Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+ Ultimania, March 9, 2007

Scenario Mysteries Source:[4], translated by TheWertle

Director Inverview (pg. 500-505)

no translation found yet, page 504&505 are available here

The Scenario Mysteries in "Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+"

In KHIIFM+ , many mysteries are answered but many new mysteries are also born. In this version, things relating to additional scenes are included, but during the story there are some questions that pop up, so we'll see if Nomura can point us in the right direction.

In the original KHI, the King searches for a Keyblade in the Realm of Darkness, but when he meets Ansem the Wise, is the Realm of Light Keyblade he has the one that Sora is currently using?
Nomura: No. The King has the ability to use Keyblades from both the Realms of Darkness and of Light. This is an important point – There isn't just one Keyblade from each world, but just as many as there are people with qualified hearts.

During the meetings, the members of Organization XIII are sitting in chairs. Is the height of these chairs determined by things like their skills and abilities?
Nomura: No. The height of the chairs is not fixated – They move. That is to say that the height is up to each person. The leader, Xemnas, is always the highest, and to be at the same height as him would give that member a pretty bad feeling, so the other members wouldn't do that. *Laughs*

At the end of Sora and Riku's stories in Re: Chain of Memories, Roxas looks back while Hayner and the rest are walking and eating ice-cream, and without seeming to care, Hayner and the others continue walking. Is this because they can't see Roxas?
Nomura: Well it's just because they don't know Roxas that they don't notice him, not because they can't see him. At that time, right after Xemnas explains Roxas' name, Axel says to leave things to him. Then, Roxas seems jealous of how Hayner and the others are enjoying themselves while eating ice-cream, and Axel interprets this as him wanting some ice-cream, so he is obliged to go buy him some.

In the real Twilight Town, didn't Roxas cross paths with Hayner and the others and make acquaintances with them?
Nomura: I suppose. You can think whatever you want about that.

What triggered Roxas' separation from the Organization?
Nomura: As he kept having recurring dreams of Sora, someone he didn't know, he felt he needed to leave the Organization to find out who these people he didn't know were. As Axel didn't want him to go, he didn't tell Sora about Roxas in Castle Oblivion, did he?

In Riku's ending in KH Re:COM, could you tell us the meaning of the scene where the King and Riku are walking together and Riku suddenly plops down.
Nomura: That's because Riku realized he couldn't completely get rid of the Darkness inside of him. The King mentioned in Kingdom Hearts II that as Riku held Xehanort's Heartless in his heart, he disappeared from the King's sight. It's a sort of foreshadowing. In this scene, the King's face looks worried for a moment because he felt that Riku might eventually no longer be there. Riku headed towards DiZ in order to restore Sora's memories to normal, but in the end, his departure from the King was so that he wouldn't show his preparations to use the Darkness.

Could you tell us at what point Riku covered his eyes?
Nomura: When he departed from the King. You don't know after the scene, but in Riku's ending in KH Re:COM, when he comes to wherever DiZ is, he's already covered his eyes.

Please confirm some things about Castle Oblivion. In the additional event "The Truth about the Chamber of Sleep", you can gather from Xigbar and Zexion's conversation that Castle Oblivion existed in the Inbetween Realm before the birth of the Organization. The Organization then found it and used it for experiments about memories and to look for the Chamber of Awakening, right?
Nomura: Yes. Since their conversation was about Marluxia's entry, they discovered the Castle before that. In fact, its use, according to Secret Ansem Report 7, was for only 13 Organization Members. Naminé awoke in Castle Oblivion, but as she and Roxas were born at the same time, half of the Organization moved to the Castle.

In the additional event "To Put an End to Everything", Sora says "It should have been easy to say thanks to Naminé, but I couldn't say it". At this point in time, does Sora remember the things that happened with Naminé?
Nomura: If he remembers, it's because Naminé's existence was made possible by Sora, and when Naminé and Roxas return to Kairi and Sora, many things were connected. Since Sora never got to say thanks to Naminé, please think of that as a hint.

In the additional event “Farewell to a Friend”, there's a scene where Axel tells Roxas "You really do have a heart, don't you". What is the actual case here?
Nomura: In this scene, it ends bringing up more mysteries about Roxas, so for the answer, maybe take care to follow your hunches well. It's also related to Xehanort's memories, but I can't give any specifics now.

We'd like to inquire about the new secret movie "Birth by sleep". In the new event "The Truth about the Chamber of Sleep", Xigbar mentions a "group that wields Keyblades". Is he talking about the 3 armored people in the movie?
Nomura: Yes, Xigbar witnessed them when he was a disciple to Ansem the Wise.

The Lingering Sentiment is the same as the armored youth in the movie, but when he fights Sora he mentions "Aqua" and "Ven". Are those the names of the other 2?
Nomura: Yes, the blue haired girl is Aqua.

What is the armored youth's name?
Nomura: His name appeared once in code in the 2006 Tokyo Game Show Promotional Video. Also, Ven is actually a nickname, but his real name is a little bit longer. Sora, Riku, and Kairi's names can be seen as “Sky, Land, and Sea” respectively. The 3 armored people's names take the shape of different properties of the world, "Water, Wind, and Earth".

Ven looks an awful lot like Roxas...
Nomura: I can't give any specifics about that. He may just resemble him, and if there is a connection, Sora may be related too. What I can say right now is that these mysteries are all connected to the story.

In the beginning, the armored youth's eyes are blue, but at the end they change to gold. Is this revealing a change in him?
Nomura: I can't give specifics about this either... I think everyone's imaginations are pretty capable so please try and anticipate a lot of things.

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days Ultimania, May 27, 2009

Director Interview Source:[5], translated by krexia and Lissar
Scenario Mysteries Source:[6], translated by krexia and Lissar

Director Inverview (pg. 484-490)

The KH world shows new breadth in the spin-off titles KH Days, KH coded, and KH BbS. We were able to talk to Director Tetsuya Nomura about his thoughts on the new 358/2 Days as well as the development of the future of the series. (Interviewer: Akira Yamashita)

The time period for the scenario was decided after the multiplayer idea was solidified

So, the new KH Days is one of the three titles announced in the Autumn of 2007 as new projects in the KH series.
Nomura: Those three titles were all announced at the same time, but in reality the opportunities for the projects were raised in a disjointed way. KH BbS is a project that was raised within our company, but KH Days is from Nintendo, and KH coded is from Disney, so we started by talking to each of them.

So out of those, was KH Days the first project put into motion?
Nomura: That's right. Actually, from just before the DS was released, there were voices saying it should definitely have KH. When we first heard of the DS' specifications, we thought it was a kind of hardware completely unheard of in previous ways of thinking. There had been no other game machines with two screens, and we were pretty worried about how they should be put to practical use. So we didn't get started straight away, rather we continued searching for the form of a KH that it would be meaningful to release on DS. Separately, we wanted to make a completely new game making full use of the DS' functionality, and began The World Ends with You. So we were able to work on the concept for KH while actually working with the DS.

When you decided to make KH for the DS, what was the first concept you thought of?
Nomura: It was the multiplayer. With The World Ends with You, there hadn't previously been a game concept like it, and we couldn't fit in the concept of playing with multiple people at the same time. So this time, we thought we wanted to expand on that. Then, looking at the hardware specs, we considered whether to go with 2D presentation like KHCOM or The World Ends with You, or whether to use a specialised system for the DS' capabilities. When the market changed to more serious games (for example, educational games), I felt as a game creator that I wanted to give people a more straightforward “game”-like game. Also, from our experience with Chain of Memories we felt that what fans wanted from KH was this kind of straight-out game, so first of all we had h.a.n.d. draw up a test version of a traditional, fundamental KH, and when we saw how good it was, our resolve to go with a straight KH game even on DS was solidified.

Where did the idea to use the Organization members for the multiplayer come from?
Nomura: We made a game where characters from various FF games got together to battle, Dissidia, but that was a project we were originally thinking of using for KH. However, deciding it would be a bad idea to make Disney characters fight each other, it never materialized for KH and ended up shifting to FF. Even this time we thought that it would be difficult to bring out Disney characters and have them fight each other in multiplayer, and wondering what to do, we arrived at the idea of using Organization XIII. These guys were still connected to Disney, but we thought it would be okay because they were original KH characters. Also, with all their attributes and weapons being different, it would be easy to show their individuality, so made a scenario where you could play as Organization XIII in multiplayer. After deciding that, when we were thinking about which time period we should place the scenario in, we thought if we cut out the one year that Roxas was in the Organization it would link well with the multiplayer idea.

I see, so from the multiplayer you expanded on the concept of the storyline and time period.
Nomura: That's right. Only, in the end Donald and Goofy, who are original Disney characters, ended up in multiplayer too (laughs). When we went to confirm with Disney that it was alright to include those guys, we were unexpectedly told it was OK. I guess it's okay so long as it's not a one-on-one battle.

Xion's strong similarity to Kairi was due to a desire to mislead

How did you come up with Xion, who became such a key person in the storyline?
Nomura: We showed how Roxas left Organization XIII in KH2. At the same time as we were polishing off the KHII project, we had assumed to a certain extent what Roxas' movements were during the time period when KH Days happens, and thought that "Roxas definitely left the Organization because of the influence of someone close to him." And, we thought that "someone" should be a girl his own age. Flowing from that, we began to construct the storyline, beginning with Xion's existence.

Who was it that gave Xion her name?
Nomura: That was Kanemaki-san (Tomoko Kanemaki, scenario writer). I admired the many meanings included in it, and decided on it straight away. KH scenarios are always written by many scenario writers, but I was troubled about who to ask this time. Since this would be a continuation of the series so far, I couldn't ask someone without an understanding of the subject matter of KH. Kanemaki-san had previously written novels for the KH series, and I thought it would be good to work with her on the actual games, so this time I asked her.

The creation of a "14th Member" caused quite a stir.
Nomura: When we first made the announcement, we had thought it would cause a stir. We were often told that "It's strange to have a 14th member in Organization XIII," and Saix talks about that in the game itself.

How did you go about designing Xion's outward appearance?
Nomura: It was decided from the start that she would have a deep connection to Kairi, so she was based on Kairi with her hair changed a little. We were actually thinking of changing nothing but the colour of her hair, but when designs were drawn up her hairstyle was made quite a bit different too. Even the 3D polygon model's face is the same as Kairi's, apart from the hair. So, if you look at the 3D models of Xion, Namine and Kairi, they have the same face and differ only in their hair, but unexpectedly have individual personalities.

Also, Xion's voice actor is Risa Uchida, the same as Kairi, and bits of Kairi's theme tune are included in Xion's theme tune; elements that showed there was a connection between the two.
Nomura: Truthfully she's not unconnected to Kairi, but if I had to explain, we were thinking of trying to mislead people with things like, "Is Xion Kairi's Nobody?" This probably wouldn't work for people who'd played KHII, but on the other hand we also aimed to confuse them; "If she isn't a Nobody, what is Xion?" That was why we made her similarity to Kairi so strong.

Was her true nature decided from the start?
Nomura: Yeah. At the start of development, I worked on the scenario with Kanemaki-san, Watanabe (Daisuke Watanabe, scenario supervisor) and Ishida (Yukari Ishida, planning director), and it was decided then. This is related to the misdirection from before - people who know the KH series would think that the Organization members are all Nobodies. But it would be boring if she was really a Nobody, so we thought about what we could do for her true nature.

Xion's hood appears or disappears depending on who's looking at her. That was new.
Nomura: That was something we definitely wanted to do. We wanted people to go, "Huh?" when Xion's hood appears and disappears in each cut. After finishing the scenario writing, I thought about it and asked Ishida to somehow prepare people for it happening in the event scenes. I tend to think the program failed to make the reason clear, though. There were a lot of misunderstandings like that in the production of KH Days. The noise that was put over the reflections of Sora that appear on the bottom screen was something we'd been thinking about since the early stages of writing, but during debugging we were often asked, "Is this a bug?" (laughs).

The last scene was planned right from the start to connect to KHII

In this game, did you write much of the scenario yourself?
Nomura: I arranged the main parts of the scenario, and referencing the plot that Kanemaki-san had put together, I wrote everything from start to finish. For two weeks I didn't see anyone, lived on canned food, and wrote the whole time. After I finished writing I had Kanemaki-san go over the dialogue, had Ishida adjust and correct the fine details, then made the final revisions myself.

Is it unusual for you to write even the dialogue yourself?
Nomura: This was the first time I'd done it. In previous titles, I'd write the foundations of the plot, but apart from points where I wanted characters to say particular things along the way, I didn't put in the dialogue. So rather than what we call the scenario, it was really just the plot, but this time I thought, "Why don't I try to write this myself." And as you might expect, it was tiresome. When I finished writing, I said "I never want to do this again." (laughs)

What, to you, were the most significant lines in KH Days?
Nomura: Roxas' very last words, I guess. All the other dialogue was written to arrive at that point. We were thinking of that last scene, with Roxas running, right from the start. KHII begins from the scene just before this game's last scene where Roxas runs off, so we thought we wanted to connect to that really well. KH Days has a feeling of being well connected to this important point.

Several lines from previous titles appear in the dialogue of KH Days.
Nomura: Yeah. I like using that kind of device, so we'd think "Ah, this is from that time," and put things into the game. For example, if you compare bits of the start of KHII to KH Days, there's the same dialogue, and talk of the friends' promise to go to the beach. This was done for the imaginations of people who know that the beginning of KHII is a world made from Roxas' memories. While making this game we were conscious of having people who haven't tried the rest of the series play, but we put in elements to expand the imaginations of people who have been playing the series the whole way through.

Was that also why sea-salt ice-cream was given such a featured role?
Nomura: It's unusual in an RPG, but this time we were depicting daily life, and not every day is all that dramatic. This is a story about how those days pass by and pile up. Therefore, we weren't trying to depict adventures with lots of changes like we have in the series so far, rather the repetition of days, with each one ending in conversations on top of the clock tower. But there's nothing to pin down a situation where they just gather there and talk about nothing, so we thought we'd have them eat ice-cream.

Even when plot inspiration strikes, it's reconsidered and made unpredictable

Why does the story mode begin with the conversation scene from day 255?
Nomura: There are two reasons for that, and the first is that we wanted to start the story with a conversation. Roxas doesn't talk much at the beginning of the story, so we brought in this scene referring to another day at the beginning of the game. The other reason was, in showing a scene with a fun conversation but where someone waited for doesn't show up, we wanted to put the players in suspense, wondering what this was about. For people who know the series, they'd know before playing that KH Days is a game keeping all sorts of secrets, but people playing for the first time with this game would have no knowledge at all. We wanted those people to start the game with questions, too.

In the games you've worked on, Nomura-san, there are a lot of riddles like that, implanted throughout the scenarios.
Nomura: I'm aware of that. When I'm writing the plot, as soon as I get an idea for the next scene, I try and make it go in a completely different direction. Even if I think, "It'd be great to have that person's true nature be this," it's boring if it's what people expect, so I start thinking carefully about who else they could be. I want to create some sort of surprise, I want there to always be something left to wonder about, that's what I think about when writing the plot.

In the KH series, there are a lot of “mysteries” that continue from other games in the series that keep the players interested.
Nomura: Yes, but it's a double-edged sword. The games probably seem difficult for people who haven't played other games in the series to get into, so we're trying to make them so that they won't be that way. For example, in this game we had the main character Roxas start out with having no memories, so people for whom this the first KH game they have played, they can learn about the world along with Roxas. We always worry about how to “reset” from the previous game. For example, even though you got Sora to level 100 in KHI, why is it that he starts at level 1 in KHII? Of course it's a game, it has to start out like that. So, we used KHCOM's story to have them lose all of their abilities and then start anew.

Did you have anything to do with the individual World stories?
Nomura: I told Kanemaki and Ishida that I didn't want Roxas to just go, finish his mission, and leave. I wanted him to learn something, to leave with something to think about. But after that I left it up to them. Though I didn't do any of the writing on this part myself, I did check the story, and when they were writing it for the Scenario I told them what revisions they should make. In the game the Organization tries to not do anything to bring attention to themselves. So our story became them hiding while other characters talk, and occasionally talking to a few other characters, and what they took from those conversations.

There are quite a few things in the game that have a connection to KHII, like what happened at Beast's Castle. Was this your decision?
Nomura: No, that had already been decided from the beginning that there would be a lot of connections to KH2. Actually, having Pete was quite helpful. We were in a bit of a fix since this time we didn't have Donald and Goofy, there weren't really any Disney characters that we could see on multiple worlds. Fortunately we had used Pete in KH2, so we could just use him. (laugh)

We want you to imagine all the various meanings of "358/2 Days"

Where did you come up with the idea of having one mission per day in the Story Mode?
Nomura: Because this is on a handheld system we wanted to have something you could play quickly. So we made it so that you could play it in short spurts over a long period of time. If we had made each play session too long your eyes and hands would start to get tired.

Single missions are fairly short, but there is quite a number of them.
Nomura: At first we were going to have a mission for each of the 358 days. But we thought that would be too much, so we were going to make it around 150, but when writing the scenario we realized even that would be too much, so I gradually got rid of more and more missions. Then the guys on Planning got rid of even more, and then even after that when we sat down to play the finished product we still felt it was too much. I wonder what would have happened if we had made it as originally planned. (laughs)

I heard the Panel System was your idea. I thought it was a ground-breaking new way of using the abilities you've gained on your characters in multi-player.
Nomura: We didn't want you to have to train each character from the ground up. Also, since you can't allow two of the same Disney character or Organization member to exist at the same time, two people can't use the same character during multi-player. So if two people had only trained the same character, multi-player would lose a lot of its fun. So instead of training individual characters we made a system where you could take all the abilities that you've learned and move them to any other character.

By the way, I heard that it was your decision to name Luxord's weapon, "Ultimate Illusion 13"...?
Nomura: Well, the Planning staff always send us many different ideas for names, and this time they sent us something like "Ultimate Illusion 13" or "XIII Illusion", so we just put those together. Since the weapon was just for fun, we figured why not? But then the localize team said, “If we do a literal translation it will become “Final Fantasy XIII”. Is that okay?” I seem to remember saying that might be a bad idea. (laugh)

Just one more thing that I think everyone is wondering, just what does the title “358/2 Days” mean?
Nomura: That's the question that everyone has to ask in interviews. (laughs) There is an answer, but I think it's best not to answer it. Well okay, I'll give a little hint. “/2” is read in English as “over two”, but this isn't the kind of over that means to “pass over” something. The 358 days are shared between two people, so “/2”, but I'd rather you imagine which two we are talking about. After you've finished playing it you might change your mind about who the two people are.

358 Days is one week short of a complete year, of course...
Nomura: Yes, of course for people who played KHII they know that the game is like a countdown to the final day. And of course they know the realize why it's missing that one week. So they already know the reason for the title is that it is “a week short of a year, split between two people.” But is that really the true answer? I named this game hoping that people would think on it even after they've finished playing it.

The outlook for KH coded, KH BbS and afterwards KHIII

I'd also like to talk the other two games that were announced at the same time as KH Days. First I want to ask you about KH coded, which just started serialization on mobile phones.
Nomura: Yes. In KH coded, the structure of the game is a bit different than usual. Mickey and everyone are looking at the data worlds on the computer screen, and the player is controlling Sora in that world. So the story unfolds in both the real world and the data world. But, each episode always starts with Mickey, unfolds in the data world, and then ends with Mickey. Since you get it in episodes, I think it's very similar to the enjoyment you get from watching TV serial dramas.

It sounds like quite a lot...
Nomura: Well the first episode is mostly a tutorial, but world in the second episode will have something more concrete. We plan on having it start June 2009, then every month add a new world, and continue it throughout this year.

And how about KH BbS?
Nomura: KH BbS will be a very important game that collects everything about the series into one story. With the three main characters, the story is as big as one of the numbered Final Fantasies. We put in a lot of connections to it in KH Days, and I think that a lot of questions and unknowns from the previous game will be answered in KH BbS. Also, there will be quite a few original characters from previous making an appearance.

So the mysteries from previous games will be answered in KH BbS?
Nomura: Well quite a few will be, but there will also be enough to leave you wondering what will happen next. This game is set the farthest in the past of any other, so it connect to KHI, but the main characters are three that haven't appeared in the other games. So how their story will end, which will of course be shown in the game, will leave you wondering even more after the game has finished.

So is it possible that there will be another game connecting KH BbS and KHI? And might that be KHIII...?
Nomura: Who knows? I already have ideas for the next installment. But since KH BbS isn't even out yet, I don't have to think about it until awhile from now. Recently everyone kepts asking me when I'm planning on coming out with KHIII. Even though I'm currently busy with Final Fantasy versus XIII, I'm also thinking that it's almost time to start thinking about it seriously. Though it's entirely possible that the next game in the series won't be KHIII.

So what will it be?
Nomura: I can't say that quite yet, but it will be more “offical” than a side story. I actually told the producer this recently, and he said “...what?” It's the mystery KH. (laugh) Of course, I am also thinking about KHIII.

Well, I'm looking forward to seeing what will happen next in the series, of course we have to wait until these three games are released.
Nomura: Yes. With these three games we decided to show a new KH, with one of the answers to this being KH Days. That's why it has a different feeling from the previous games, and we're a little anxious to hear about how the fans reaction is going to be. This is the first time we've had a multiplayer mode, so I hope everyone will try it out and tell us what they think. Also, there will be a lot of people for whom this will be their first KH game, friends who invite them to play on multiplayer, or they became interested because it came out on the DS. So for those people I would like to say, please try out some of the other games in the series. And of course, for those people who have been with us since the previous games, I hope you will continue to support us. It's because of you we've managed to bring the KH series this far. I hope we can continue to live up to your expectations.

The Scenario Mysteries in "Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days"

At the same time as giving us the answers to riddles previously talked about, KH Days raised countless points of foreshadowing about KH BbS. Looking at the scenario itself, and the whole "plan", we asked Mr. Nomura about the more difficult parts of the story. (Interviewer: Yuuko Oono)

The "Replica Plan" that was the key to this game, was it begun with Roxas' entry into the Organisation?
Nomura: No, earlier than that. Originally Vexen was working privately to advance the research on Replicas, but for the Organisation's goal of completing "Kingdom Hearts of people's hearts" they needed to use the Keyblade to recover hearts, so they switched to this plan of copying the Keyblade hero. As for who was or wasn't told about the "Replica Plan", that depended only on their different missions.

Xigbar wasn't told about it, but he seems to have found out on his own.
Nomura: Even in KHIIFM, Xigbar was probing Zexion about the "Room of Awakening" - he was investigating various things on his own. He will be talked about again in Birth by Sleep.

Xion looked like "him" in Xigbar's eyes (see here), so why did he also treat her as a girl?
Nomura: First of all, Xigbar didn't always see Xion as "him", it's more like he appeared just at that moment. He always sees Roxas treating her as a girl, so he just goes along with that. There's no need to give Roxas doubts, and the way he called her "Puu-chan (Doll)" from the start was just joking around, typical for a guy like him.

Roxas and Xion collapse several times in the story, is this because of Sora's influence?
Nomura: Roxas has been existing closely with Sora from the start, and directly feels the influence of Sora's present conditions. Afterwards that tendency appears in Xion too. The two of them are sharing Sora's power, so if on the one hand one of them gains a lot of power, the other's body weakens and they collapse. It's a relationship that is only practical if kept perfectly in balance. (See box below.)

Roxas and Xion's incidents

Day 26: Roxas faints

  • In order for the changes in Sora's memories to progress.

Day 74: Xion becomes unable to use the Keyblade

  • As a counterbalance to the power absorbed when Roxas awakens.

Day 193: Xion, having been defeated by Heartless and gone to sleep, wakes up, then during a mission collapses, but soon gets up again.

  • While she was asleep Sora's memories continued to flow into Roxas. Due to the memories being reconnected.

Day 297: Roxas faints

  • A result of going to Castle Oblivion, where Sora is sleeping, and getting too close to his "true form".

Why does Xion become able to use the Keyblade again on day 96?
Nomura: This was less due to her doing missions together with Roxas every day, and more due to using his Keyblade. She was able to once again copy his power. At this moment, the two of them were perfectly in balance.

Xion is in a similar position to the Riku Replica of KHCOM, but unlike him, she is unaware that she was artificially created, and the path she finally chooses is completely different.
Nomura: The Riku Replica was modelled on Riku. With Xion, she becomes like the Kairi of Sora's memories. But rather than saying she was initially created to imitate something, it's more like she was a special case, born primarily to absorb Roxas' powers and evolve. It was intended right from the beginning of development that Xion and Roxas would eventually fight, but we had wondered about how to depict the conflict with Xion that would lead to this. At first I came up with the plot that would go like that of the Riku Replica, where Xion would insist that she was the real person and fight with Roxas. But many of the staff were of the opinion that Xion should stay as a nice girl, so when we were changing the scenario I rewrote it into its current form.

On day 356, after Axel brought Xion back, Xemnas took her away. Did something happen to her that caused her to attack Roxas the next day?
Nomura: No, because of what she had learned, she already knew what Xemnas expected of her. But because she had no choice but to go along with his plans, she knew she had no choice but to be defeated by Roxas. The reason why Xemnas took her away was so that he could give her a more powerful “body”.

On day 322 Saix says, “In a few days the three machines will be in operation.” Was he talking about the machines that appear in the fight with Xion?
Nomura: Yes. They used them to absorb the memories from the places Sora had visited. These memories were sent to the “body” that Xemnas gave Xion, and amplified her power.

The last thing that Xion asked Roxas was to “Set free Kingdom Hearts.” Was this due to Sora and Kairi's memories?
Nomura: Yes. At Xion's core are Sora's memories. And so what he felt, that the world's order should be maintained, she also felt. But Sora doesn't know anything about the Organization's plans yet, so strictly speaking this is not exactly Sora's feelings. The hearts freed from Heartless must return to where they came from, but if they are captured by the Organization they will not return to the body they are supposed to, so it is the same as if the Heartless took them. And that is what we saw in Kingdom Hearts II. Xion knew this, but she didn't have time to explain it to Roxas.

When Roxas tries to do what Xion has asked of him, Riku hears Xion's voice asking him to stop Roxas. Why?
Nomura: First he have to look at things in order. First, the reason why Roxas throws a keyblade to Riku, and we then see a vision of Xion, is that there is a small remaining part of Xion in Roxas that wants to stop him, and makes him take those actions. The name of the keyblade that is given to Riku suggests that it has something to do with Xion. Xion wants Roxas to set Kingdom Hearts free, but doesn't want him to face Xemnas right now. She sees that he would most likely lose. So she begs Riku to stop him.

She also had asked Axel to protect Roxas. What was her aim in doing that?
Nomura: Even though in the end both of their fates was to return Sora's memories and disappear forever, on day 356 she said to Namine “I think things will soon be difficult for Roxas.” Until that time came, she wanted Axel to protect him from Xemnas.

Namine tells Riku that in order for Sora's memories to be restored, both Sora's Nobody and Xion must no longer exist. So he takes it on himself to defeat them, but when he and Roxas fought, was that the first time he had realized that Roxas was that Nobody?
Nomura: Riku only realizes it when Roxas takes off his hood and he can see his face, and he responds to his call. Until then he only half believed. When he first met Xion, he didn't think that she was Sora or Kairi's Nobody, and it was the same with Roxas. When he first saw Roxas, he had no proof of who he was. So that's why he lost to Roxas, he was surprised at him using a real keyblade rather than an imitation like Xion's, and he called out to him. Part of Riku didn't really want to believe that his best friend really had a Nobody.

So at the start of the Replica Project they didn't have plans to get rid of Roxas?
Nomura: That's right. Originally the plan was to keep their power in balance. If it had been maintained, there would have been no need to get rid of one of them. But in the end Xion began absorbing too much power, and so they no longer needed Roxas. Xemnas had nothing to do with the plan, however, and only the people below him were concerned with it. Xemnas only cared that Kingdom Hearts be completed. Originally the Castle Oblivion plan was to use both Roxas and Sora, but since that changed it would be equally convenient to wait until Sora woke up in Kingdom Hearts II and use him then.

In the end Roxas is able use two keyblades. Is this because he now has Xion's?
Nomura: Well, it isn't that Roxas has physically inherited Xion's keyblade, but more that Xion has awakened it within Roxas. In the KH series there are a lot of complex reasons why someone can use a keyblade, but basically you need a “heart” to be able to wield one. So strictly speaking, they are being influenced by Sora. At the present I can't say more than that, since it would go into whether or not Roxas has a heart. And there is also a part that has to do with Xehanort's memories. This time there were connections to the Kingdom Hearts I secret movie, and the time will come when this will have a clear connection as well. You'll just have to ask me then.

Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Ultimania, March 25, 2010

Director Interview Source:[7], translated by Olivia? Scenario Mysteries Source:[8], translated by krexia

Director Inverview (pg. 644-650)

How did you begin the title KH BbS?
Nomura: Usually I go from considering many things about the game system, but for KH BbS, I did something rare and began by writing the plot of the scenario. The scene in which Terra meets Riku on Destiny Islands and the scene in which Aqua talks to Sora and Riku were written in the plot from the very beginning, and I put together a plan from wanting to have this realised. By the way, this plot came together a long time before KHIIFM+, and I began writing straight after finishing work on KHII.

So, were you planning for the secret movie of KHIIFM+ to be the climax of KH BbS from the beginning?
Nomura: That's right. But, it wasn't decided where in KH BbS that scene would come. When the secret movie of KHIIFM+ was being produced, we couldn't judge how large the game volume could be on the PSP, and so we hadn't decided how long the scenario would be. And so, until we actually tried to make it, we didn't know if we could put that scene at the end of the game, or if we'd have to write it before that because the volume would be too much of a problem, or if perhaps there was room we could even show the developments after it.

You used that secret movie in the opening, too, didn't you.
Nomura: I consulted Nomatsu (Takeshi Nomatsu: Cinematic Movie Director) about the opening movie, and we decided that 'let's go with showing things that happen in the story'. We made the opening movies of KHII and the like based on the concept of showing what had happened in the story so far, but there is no story before this one, and so we went with putting in omens for this title.

How did you decide on the subtitle for this game, 'Birth by Sleep'?
Nomura: Honestly, I simply wanted to try using the word 'by' (laughs). I thought, game subtitles always have 'of' or 'is', but you hardly ever see 'by'. I asked the localisation staff and they said 'you don't usually use it in titles', but according to a producer fluent in English there wasn't a problem, so I thought it wouldn't be too odd to use it. Also, I thought it would be good to continue the flow of KHCOM and KH coded using internet words, and keeping 'bonds between people' in mind, I wanted it to be contracted to BBS (Bulletin Board System, software that allows users to connect). Then, I wanted to use the word 'sleep', and the result of all that was 'Birth by Sleep'.

How was it first decided that the Osaka development team would be in charge of the title?
Nomura: When we were writing up the plan, it had already been decided that the usual KH team would make FF Verses XIII, and so I thought I'd ask another team to develop it. Then, the Osaka team sent an offer saying 'we could do it better than any other development team, so please let us do it'. After that they made a demo for me with Sora, Donald and Goofy running around smoothly on the PSP, and, thinking I could definitely leave it to them, I made the request. At that time, development of FFVII Crisis Core had just begun, and that development team was battling with how things appeared on the PSP. Hearing this, I showed them Osaka team's demo, and told them 'this is how far you can go with the PSP'.

The game system specialises in commands. Was that your idea, Mr. Nomura?
Nomura: That's right. The deck command element was implemented in the first stages of planning. It began when we wondered whether it would be more invigorating if we took card-using deck system adopted in KHCOM and made it simpler. Then, we put that with the idea of waiting to charge after using commands adopted in The World Ends with You (released 2007 on the Nintendo DS), and aimed to evolve it further. There's a degree of freedom in the manual charging as it is in KH CoM, but we thought the tension created by automatic charging when you're in a pinch would be more fun, having you escaping from the enemy thinking 'hurry up and fill, hurry up and fill...' with the cursor on Curaga.

The 'command board' was also born from a suggestion of yours, right, Mr. Nomura?
Nomura: I've loved board games for ages. When I was little, my father would make sugoroku (Japanese board game like backgammon or snakes and ladders) for me, and I'd copy him and make them myself. With that sort of thing having happened, I wanted to use a board game element as a system in a game someday. For example, like the board game-like sphere grid growth system in the FF series? I've always thought about using something that took that further, and could be played independently like sugoroku, and that's what became the 'command board'.

As for new elements, the dimension link was also impressive.
Nomura: In KHI and KHII for the PS2, your partners Donald and Goofy fight alongside you, however, this is a PSP title, and it's hard to make many characters appear at once when keeping in mind the performance of the machine. At that, instead of having partners walk alongside you, we thought of dimension link as a device that allows you to use the power of characters in other places.

If you use wireless, it's fun to be able to link to other players, isn't it.
Nomura: The idea of linking to others through wireless came from the Osaka team, and that became the final factor that made us adopt the dimension link system. One of the themes of the story is "bonds", and so we felt we should definitely implement the dimension link, which means forming bonds with other players. By the way, Ventus dimension linking with Vanitas at the end of his story was also suggested by the Osaka team. I myself liked the idea of using systems as foreshadowing in the development of the story, and so I was impressed, thinking they made clever use of it.

The concept of the scenario is 'there is no such thing as chance in the destiny of all'

Had you thought of constructing separate scenarios for each of the three main characters from the early stages of development?
Nomura: That's right. When I first wrote the plot, I decided that three main characters would be controlled, and each of their stories would be played. When I wrote the scenario I wrote Terra, then Ventus, and last Aqua, in that order, and the actual story also ended up unfolding like that; Terra leaves on his journey first, then Ventus follows him, and Aqua departs last. As a whole, the concept is about 'there is no such thing as chance in the destiny of all', which is actually what became the catch phrase of the game. Things such as 'Riku can use the Keyblade because he was chosen to be a successor', and 'there was a reason that Kairi met Sora and Riku' are revealed. Up until now these things could have looked like chance occurrences, when in reality everything was inevitable.

Was the last episode, playable after finishing all three stories, planned from the very beginning?
Nomura: No, the last episode wasn't part of the first completed scenario. To be precise, up until Aqua walking in the realm of darkness in the current last episode was actually in the ending of Aqua's story, and then, the scene with the conversation between Riku and Sora on the beach wasn't there at all. But, that way, all three endings ended with a dark feeling, so we prepared the last episode, and added the scene with Sora and Riku.

How did you decide on the names for Terra, Ventus, and Aqua?
Nomura: At the time of KHI, I wanted Sora, Riku, and Kairi's names to have meanings that related to the three elements of world, this time too I wanted the 3 main characters names to be the same. So names associated with earth, wind, and water were chosen. But that doesn't mean I consciously made Aqua correspond with Kairi, for example.

What were you thinking of considering the name of Vanitas?
Nomura: I wanted a name that really gave off the image of “empty” and when I was searching for a suitable word, I found the Latin word “vanitas” which has the same meaning as the Japanese word “kokuu” meaning hollow. The sound of Vanitas resembles Ventus, plus when the word for hollow is written in kanji, the compound has the same character for “sora” written in it. I liked that, so we used it. Although, in Vanitas' case the kanji's meaning isn't “sora” as in “sky” but “kara” as in “empty/blank”.

Master Eraqus' name is an anagram for “square” written in English, isn't it?
Nomura: Yeah, but that's not the only reason that name with such strong implications was used. Really I wrote out Eraqus' name when I was writing the original plot but when I reread it afterward I forgot myself what meaning was attached to it. I consulted everyone on staff and couldn't figure it out until finally the producer noticed it was an anagram for “square” in English. I remembered, “Oh, that's right.” (Laughs)

Whose face does Vanitas' resemble? After worrying the answer is revealed

Did deciding on the three main character's design go smoothly?
Nomura: No, I had a relatively hard time with that. Especially with those three armored suits they transform into, when I was first designing them I had decided that it'd be “armor that becomes a round device.” However thinking of how to incorporate that sort of device into clothing was difficult. But once “X” became a keyword for this story, the shape of that symbol became inspiration for the main three's outfits.

As for their faces, what manner of design went into that?
Nomura: For Terra, since his appearance after this had already been decided, he was designed to have a younger feeling of that. Ventus would inevitably resemble either Sora or Roxas, though I worried over which, I thought that Vanitas resembling Sora would have a greater impact, so Ventus ended up resembling Roxas. By the way, there's a reason Vanitas has Sora's face. Sora supplements the damaged parts of Ventus' heart, and as a result of Sora's influence on those damaged parts, Vanitas' face changed into the same as Sora's. Therefore, if Riku was supplementing the missing parts of Ventus' heart, Vanitas' face would likely look like Riku.

How about the lone lady Aqua?
Nomura: Since there was no base for her to begin with like with Terra and Ventus, I drew up an entirely new character. Since Terra's outfit was slightly Japanese inspired, I carried those elements to her design, with the ties ending in her lower back and the sleeves with wide openings at the ends.

Aqua seems to be popular.
Nomura: I really wasn't thinking of what sort of popularity she'd garnish, oppositely I worried while I drew her, “Her connections with pre-existing characters is slim, she might not be all that popular…” When writing the scenarios for 358/2 Days, I drew Xion as a “transient and brave girl”, but I wanted Aqua to be a strong girl too. She was drawn not as a “mannishly strong girl” but my own idea of a “femininely strong girl.” I didn't really know how she'd be received, but thanks to the voice work by Megumi Toyoguchi, she has this popularity. With Paine in Final Fantasy X-2, she used a voice lower than her normal pitch, but this time played Aqua with a tone close to her natural voice. I personally think it successfully represented Aqua's strength.

What were your intentions having Ryotaro Okiayu voice Terra?
Nomura: Chikao Otsuka's Master Xehanort voice is very dry, and Akio Otsuka's Terra/Xehanort voice is deep and resonating, and looking for a voice that lay between the two resulted in Mr. Okiayu. Of course, Chikao Otsuka was cast as Xehanort because he is the father of Akio Otsuka in real life.

Vanitas' voice actor being the same Miyu Irino as Sora was of course because they have the same face, right?
Nomura: Yes. But, he's nothing like Sora, is he? Mr. Irino had said before that he wanted to do a villain, so he performed with bells on. (Laughs)

The reason Zack was the only FF character to appear

How did you decide which worlds could be visited in this story?
Nomura: First of all, it was decided from the very beginning that you would be able to visit the first three worlds with princesses. Though the princesses appeared in KHI, their worlds didn't make it into the game, so I wanted to write that someday. Story wise too, we were able to tell of how Maleficent first began to target the princesses, and so that was perfect. As for the other worlds, we chose places that looked interesting to write, or looked fun when we made the maps.

There were also a few worlds that had appeared before, weren't there.
Nomura: Olympus coliseum has appeared every time, but because this was a chance to tell the events of the past in particular, I wanted to include it no matter what. In the original movie there were scenes of young Hercules growing up, and so, using that, we made it possible to visit Olympus Coliseum this time, too.

Zack appears at the Olympus coliseum, but was there a reason Final Fantasy characters other than him don't appear in this title?
Nomura: I could have made Cid and the others appear in Radiant Garden, but if I had done that, the story would have gone off track. The main story for KH BbS is very complicated, so we tried to just follow the main story and not branch out too much. The result was that with FF characters, only Zack appears. We chose him because this scenario is in KHI's past, and we wanted to use something similar if we were going to use anything at all. Zack was a character in the past in FFVII, and so he was perfect. The truth is, there were other FF characters I thought about putting in, but I decided not to use them this time so that they can appear in other titles. That title hasn't been announced yet, so I can't say who (laughs).

This time a new enemy called the Unversed appeared. What are your thoughts on them?
Nomura: It was necessary to prepare an enemy based on something that didn't appear in KHI, which is a later story and would already have disappeared by the time of KHI. At that, I decided to make them attached to Vanitas, so that all of them would disappear when he did. Their design concept became the theme of 'emotion', and we went with various motifs, such as a laughing face, angry face and crying face. The Unversed mark was also modeled on the heart from emotions.

Speaking of enemies, this time's hidden boss, Vanitas Sentiment, was very strong, wasn't it?
Nomura: Because the hidden boss in KHIIFM, Lingering Sentiment, was fairly well received, I decided to make this one an equal match in strength. The fans were asking for a hidden boss with “demon-like strength”, you see. And so, once the debugger (person who checks the conditions of programs) found a way to capture it we adjusted it so that it wouldn't get boring, and the result was that strength. During work I also went to Osaka and fought it as practice, but I couldn't beat it. (Laughs) I knew that if I had been able to defeat it right away it would mean it wasn't very strong, so it was ideal that I couldn't defeat it.

Riddles hidden in the secret ending, hinting at the future of the series

Secret movies are an established tradition for the series, and in this title, a secret scene titled "Blank Points" was included. Does that name refer to the blank points in the story?
Nomura: There is that meaning, but every secret title aims to be reminiscent of the contents of the next game. For example, the secret movie in KHI was titled "Another side, Another story", which was hinting at Roxas. Then the secret movie in KHIIFM was "Birth by Sleep", wasn't it? Well, the title of the next game isn't restricted to "Blank Points", but it will fit that meaning.

In the secret ending, who is the “other person's heart Terra is harbouring in his own” that Xehanort refers to?
Nomura: I can't answer that yet, but I intended to make the correct answer obvious. If you listen carefully to Xehanort's line, and read the Xehanort reports, I think there's someone who will come to mind.

Ansem the Wise said to Aqua, “everything is born from sleep”, but what does this mean?
Nomura: Those calling “Sora” in that scene are all people who have already left this world. But there is no concept of death in the world of KH, and so the image is of sleeping in Sora's heart for example. If they could be woken up, they should be able to be brought back into this world, and so that's what “born from sleep” means. Ansem the Wise was speaking of this possibility. Aqua isn't in the world of light either, so perhaps she too will come born from sleep.

And so, is there a possibility that the characters that appeared in that scene will be brought back in the future?
Nomura: Yeah. The data that Ansem hid inside Sora is a secret related to their resurrection. When Ansem became DiZ and worked from the shadows, he did research on the heart and emotion, but he hid the conclusion of his particular findings inside Sora. There were many who thought that what was hidden was Kingdom Hearts Coded, but that's not right. In the ending of KH coded, Naminé's words that DiZ did something to Sora are pointing to the data that Ansem hid. We are planning to make clear the nature of that data in a future title.

Designs for two games other than KHIII are in progress

The three handheld console titles KH Days, KH coded and KH BbS have sold quite well, however what are your thoughts?
Nomura: It was very difficult, but it was also fun. I was able to challenge myself in various ways, and from that I found elements I can use from now on. In particular, thinking about the hardware in different consoles was a huge gain. For example, on the PSP, we could use the same controls as the original series, and so we were able to pursue an invigorating make. Then, because the Nintendo DS hasn't got an analogue stick, rather than invigoration, we thought we'd better go with a system based around customizable play. On top of that, we also had a title not on a gaming console but on the mobile phone, which provided the challenge of making a simple title still feel completely like Kingdom Hearts. From those experiences, I think I've gained much I can use from now on.

The characters who were calling to Sora have the possibility of being born through sleep

The overseas version of KH BbS is currently being developed, are there parts in that will change from the original release?
Nomura: The scenarios won't change particularly, except for various adjustments. Apart from Proud mode, there is the more difficult Critical mode. I had a hand in some of the event scenes that according to the circumstances weren't able to be produced with my own intentions. More songs for the Rhythmic Ice Cream mini game were added and the number of Keyblades also increased. Furthermore, the battle balance and play feeling of it were regulated.

Like with KHI and KHII, can we expect a Final Mix version of KH BbS so Japanese fans can enjoy the perks of the overseas version?
Nomura: Well, if I answered “there aren't plans right now”, it might be perceived as “not releasing one”, and so I can't say anything. Though the voice work in the overseas version is fantastic, releasing a Final Mix version wouldn't be bad... But when we released KHIIFM+ we attached KH Re:COM with it, so I get the feeling everyone would expect something big with the Final Mix version of this. So even though I'd like to say that was the case, I don't think that such a big accomplishment could be achieved twice! (Laughs)

Now that KH BbS is complete, we're interested in the future titles to come in the Kingdom Hearts series...
Nomura: KHIII can't be started if the goals for Final Fantasy Versus XIII are not concluded, however development of the next title(s) in the series has already begun. There's one I plan to release within the year. After that, there's another one I'm thinking I want to release from next year onwards, and I think there will be more than one main character again. By the way, the scene “Blank Points” in Birth by Sleep in which Sora ends up setting off on his journey is planned to connect to KHIII.

It means that KHIII will wrap up the story so far, right?
Nomura: That's right. I've heard that some fans suppose that the series will probably end with KHIII, but the developing Kingdom Hearts series is being made with the intent that everything up until KHIII, which is to come, is the first part of an even bigger series. Sora is the hero of Kingdom Hearts, but the first part of the series, unfolding now, is the Xehanort saga. Hasn't Xehanort always been the enemy since KHI?

I see. So then, KHIII will be the end of the Xehanort saga?
Nomura: If I had to, I'd say that's the way to look at it. That's why even if the Xehanort saga ends, there's the possibility that a new adventure for Sora will begin.

So, it's not that “once Sora's story is over the story of a new hero will begin”, but that the series will always have Sora as the hero, isn't it?
Nomura: Yeah. One of the concepts of the series is that the hero Sora isn't some special being, but a normal boy. Sure, his heart is connected to Ventus and the others, but other than that, he's a normal kid that could have come from anywhere, that hasn't inherited anything from anyone. I want to make Sora a character that will give the player the feeling that “even if I'm not some special being, I have the possibility buried inside of connecting with many others to accomplish things”. In KH BbS, I wish for all the fans to hope to see that Sora reappears. The secret cutscene is what symbolizes this, so please work your way there, and wait for Sora's role in the future.

Tetsuya Nomura
"I wish for all the fans to hope to see Sora reappear in the future."
[Secret of the title that only I know]
The frames change quickly so it's probably difficult to notice, but in the opening movie, we accidentally put Roxas' ring on a finger on Ventus' left hand.

The Scenario Mysteries in "Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep"

In this title, where our eyes are apt to be drawn to points that elucidate the mysteries of the past, it is by no means easy to grasp the full details of the story. As usual, we've gone after Mr. Nomura with the questions from the game that have been simmering away. (Interviewer: Yuuko Oono)

Considering the conversation between Sora and Ventus in the ending of the Last Episode, is this saying that the "just-born heart" that Ventus connects with in the opening is Sora's?
Nomura: Yes. At first we supposed that it could be Sora before he was born, but because of opinions from overseas that "the heart doesn't exist until after birth", we discarded that portrayal.

Ventus awakens with Sora's help, but at first his eyes are blank, and when he first meets Terra and Aqua he falls asleep under their barrage of questions.
Nomura: At that time, although Ventus has awakened, his heart is not fully formed. The imagery is the same as the first week after Roxas entered the organisation in KH Days, when he was spacing out.

This time we saw a "rite of succession"[1] - is that a required condition for becoming a Keyblade user?
Nomura: That's essentially correct. In terms of the rite itself, the successee[2] just has to make the successor grasp their Keyblade - if this rite is performed by a Keyblade Master, and if they have suitable power, the Keyblade will choose that person as a Keyblade user, and appear before them. Terra, Ventus, all have passed this rite. Sora is the only exception.

The Keyblade succession can only be performed by a Keyblade Master, but we see Terra performing this rite with Riku - does this mean we can consider Terra a Keyblade Master?
Nomura: No. Terra was not awarded that title by his Master Eraqus, so no matter how Master Xehanort flatters him he is not a Keyblade Master. But that's just a matter of whether or not he's achieved the official title. Even Eraqus recognised that Terra possessed suitable power to be a Master, which is why he was able to perform the rite for Riku.

In Aqua's chapter, on the Destiny Islands, was Aqua originally intending to perform the Keyblade rite for Sora or Riku?
Nomura: Yes. When Aqua met Sora and Riku, she was on the point of realising that she may end up having to fight Terra. At that point she was going to perform the rite of succession for Sora, but realised that Terra had already performed the rite for Riku. Not wanting sora and Riku to end up fighting like she and Terra in the future, she didn't perform the rite for Sora. This is the meaning behind her murmurs that "One must not get too close to a chosen one," and "I must not make them walk the same path." When she tells Sora he must save Riku if he ends up walking the wrong path, she's projecting her own thoughts onto Sora.

By the time of KHI, have Sora, Riku and Kairi forgotten about Terra and Aqua?
Nomura: That's right. In KHI Kairi herself says that she's lost all her previous memories, that she "doesn't remember anything before coming to the Destiny Islands", and it would be pretty easy for Sora to forget. After all, I think for a child of 4 or 5 years old to remember a person they met only once and exchanged just a few words with would be quite unnatural. Only Riku, who was told by Terra "Don't tell anything of today to anyone," may simply be keeping quiet.

If Terra wasn't the one who stole Aurora's heart in his chapter, who actually did steal it?
Nomura: It was Master Xehanort and Maleficent. In KHI it was shown that beings of darkness like Maleficent and the Heartless are able to steal people's hearts. The theory is that Terra, who has light residing in his heart, is not a being of darkness and therefore didn't steal Aurora's heart.

Who is the hero "similar to Terra" that Zack aspires to be like?
Nomura: As in the original game, it's Sephiroth. In KHIFM and KHII Sephiroth was portrayed as a being of darkness, but at the time of KH BbS we don't know whether or not he was a being of darkness.

What's the meaning behind the several puzzling images in Terra's chapter where we cross over into his mind?
Nomura: Firstly, when he hears the name of the masked boy from Master Xehanort at the mysterious wasteland, and we see an image of Aqua and Ventus defeated, that's a hint of the future. On the Destiny Islands, when he makes Riku his successor, he has a special view of him and catches a glimpse of his future. However, this isn't to say that Terra has the ability to see the future - it was a directive nuance intended to portray the future connection between Terra and Riku.

Was Master Xehanort the one who delivered the final blow to Master Eraqus?
Nomura: Because it was necessary to avoid showing such a cruel scene, it's difficult to tell from the presentation, but that's right. Terra saw this happen right in front of his eyes, so when he realised at the Keyblade Graveyard that Master Xehanort intends to harm Ventus and Aqua, this drives him to anger, saying, "Not only my father Eraqus..."[3] As an aside, although he says "my father", and we see from Eraqus' words that he thinks of Terra like a son, Terra and Eraqus are not actually father and son. Also, in his final moments Eraqus falls towards Terra - an important meaning is hidden in this scene.

In a memory scene in Ventus' chapter, we see Master Xehanort send Neoshadow Heartless after Ventus. But the Heartless only appeared in the world of light at the time Ansem Report 1 from KHI was written - were Ansem the Wise's student Xehanort's experiments with darkness not his first?
Nomura: As Yen Sid says in KHII, the Heartless cannot be separated from the darkness in people's hearts, and have been around for a long time. Beings of darkness can draw out the darkness in the heart, so Master Xehanort could summon the Neoshadows with his own hands. In the same way, when Xehanort and Ansem the Wise's students begin to perform the first experiments on the darkness of the heart, artificial Heartless were created in large numbers.

In this title, the dark influence of the Heartless isn't breaking down the walls between worlds, so in this period before Gummi Ships, why are Donald and Goofy able to travel to the Mysterious Tower?
Nomura: You can think of it as being thanks to Yen Sid, and also because the Mysterious Tower is a loophole world in the first place, so it comes under slightly different rules than the ones that connect the other worlds. By the way, when Donald and Goofy visit the Mysterious Tower in KHII, they say "Isn't this tower strange!" even though they know it from KH BbS. This is because the floors are constructed differently to the previous time they visited, which is strange (laughs).

Are the Unversed of a similar nature to the Heartless?
Nomura: That's right. The Heartless are born from the darkness of the heart, and Unversed are born from negative emotions, so you can call them relatives (laughs). To make them fundamentally similar, we made the designs similar. However, there's one difference in that the Heartless are seeking hearts, whereas the Unversed behave according to Vanitas' will, and emotionally. For example, the Flood portray feelings of irritation.

In KHI when Sora stabs the "Keyblade of people's hearts" into himself to release his heart and Kairi's, Sora's Heartless and Nobody were born. When Master Xehanort and Terra:Xehanort stab themselves with the Keyblade, were his and Terra's Nobodies not created?
Nomura: That is not yet clear. However I will say that the fixed sentiment that remained just after Master Xehanort stabbed himself with the Keyblade was not a Heartless.

When Vanitas calls Aqua a "spare", is he talking about raw materials for making a χ-blade?
Nomura: Yes. She was a "spare" prepared in case Ventus did not survive the fusion process with Vanitas. Aqua was recognised by Eraqus as a legitimate Keyblade Master who viewed light as absolute, and holds a strong heart of light. So if Ventus were to fail she could have been used as material for the χ-blade.

Comparing the Organisation members when they were human to when they were in the Organisation, apart from Xehanort, only Isa and Braig have differently-shaped ears and differently-coloured eyes - why is this?
Nomura: It's a question of whether or not they're deeply connected to Xehanort. In Braig's case, comparing the scene where he's injured in his battle with Terra and flares up at Xehanort, his appearance afterwards changes, which hints that something happened with Xehanort in between.

Roxas, the "Sora + Ventus" Nobody, was able to use a Keyblade. In contrast Xemnas, the "Terra + Master Xehanort" Nobody, wasn't able to use a Keyblade. Why is this?
Nomura: I'd rather that point remain a mystery. It's possible that he intentionally wasn't using one.

In KHI, the robed man, Ansem the Wise's apprentice Xehanort's Heartless (the body of Xehanort's Heartless before he inhabited Riku's body), appeared on the Destiny Islands. Is this because it was Master Xehanort's homeworld?
Nomura: That may be one reason, but if he somehow had some of Terra's memories, we can consider that it might be because he had laid eyes on Riku previously. In terms of the elements of Terra and Master Xehanort, I think the questions of how their power is related and divided, as well as who has whose memories and heart, will become a key to the story[4] after this one.

Is that to say that there's a possibility that within Xehanort's Heartless, the darkness that sleeps in Riku's heart, there might remain something of Terra...?
Nomura: That's also a riddle connected to the next story,[4] so everyone please use your imagination.

Kingdom Hearts Re:coded Ultimania, October 5, 2010

Director Interview Source:[9], translated by Olivia? Scenario Mysteries Source:[10], translated by Olivia?

Director Inverview (pg. 390-395)

Out of the three titles he released on the mobile phone, the story of the Kingdom Hearts series finally proceeds to this new phase of gaming. Now director Tetsuya Nomura sheds light on everything, from Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded to the future of the series. (Interviewer: Akira Yamashita)

The volume of content increases compared to the original mobile phone version!

First off, please tell us what inspired you to remake the mobile phone game Kingdom Hearts coded for the Nintendo DS?
Nomura: The biggest reason was because there were many people who were unable to play the game due to the limited platform it was released on. There are many fans of the Kingdom Hearts series overseas as well, and the original platform KH coded was released for is completely unavailable for them. Therefore, I figured if it was released for the Nintendo DS, then more people would be able to play it.

KH Days, KH BbS, and KH coded were all made for handheld gaming devices and seemed to be three side stories. How is KH coded placed among them?
Nomura: Since it had communication components, I wanted to make it a title that was fluid on its own. It was linked with the Kingdom Hearts mobile service called Avatar Kingdom as well, so there were various developments in its design to include those elements. If the mobile phone's internal hardware was improved more, we planned to make it so it could be played online.

So why did you choose to port it to the Nintendo DS?
Nomura: The main reason was because it's the most popular handheld gaming device. When the project was beginning, we considered releasing the episodes for download via WiiWare; however, we wanted to make it accessible to as many people as possible. Internationally the Nintendo DS has sold the most units, so we chose it. But once we decided the platform would be the DS, we were still planning on porting KH coded as it was. When we considered where we should request help with the development, naturally the company h.a.n.d. that helped before with KH Days came to mind. The question then became, “If we ask h.a.n.d., since they already have the know-how of making a 3D Kingdom Hearts game, would it be better to make a full 3D remake?”

So it was after deciding to work with h.a.n.d. that it became a 3D remake?
Nomura: Yes. I think if it had been with another company the thought wouldn't have crossed our minds, but we knew that h.a.n.d. was highly capable since working with them on KH Days. When we first asked, we said,“Remake it roughly as it is.” After that, the volume wasn't full yet so we changed to say, “Do it in full 3D and put in the panel system arrangement from KH Days”. Despite this, taking away the time it took to actually produce the remake, the development period took about a year to complete. The developers from h.a.n.d. said it was nearly impossible, but they gave it their best.

In the process of producing the game, the scale of the game got bigger then.
Nomura: When I first wrote out the proposal, it summarized the changes that brought KH coded to KH Re:coded. Ideas steadily came to me as I itemized the things I wanted to include like the panel system and the full 3D aspects. I was thinking, “Maybe we can do this, too” and “Maybe we should try this”. In addition, when the interesting plans came together, the feeling overall from our two co. directors Jun Katou and Hiroyuki Itou, as well as our planning supervisor Tai Yasue from the Osaka production team was “Well, let's do that, too”. As a result, the volume increased quite a bit.

The Osaka team also participated in production?
Nomura: The Osaka team took care of the electronic communication aspects. Since there were so many plans, h.a.n.d. weren't the only ones who had a hand in production, but the KH BbS team from Osaka joined as well. We advanced by cooperating together.

What kind of meaning was put into the title of Coded?

Mr.Nomura, every title in the Kingdom Hearts has a strong meaning, what kind of meaning does “coded” entail?
Nomura: If we compared them all the time, then they don't hold a clear meaning to any extent. Overall, the title comes from the word “code” meaning something to be deciphered, indicating that the mystery of the message left by Namine in Jiminy's Journal leads to a journey. Additionally, unlike the titles up until now, the developments aren't as dramatic with strong ups and downs. Instead they were distributed in short periodic episodes, each one designed to leave an impression with a mysterious keyword. Also since the Data World is the setting, I wanted the title to be associated with a very digital atmosphere.

The initials of the 3 titles KH BbS, KH coded, and KH Days in short lined up are BCD. Was this intentional?
Nomura: I didn't think of that at all; afterwards I was surprised when it was mentioned. With the Final Fantasy VII Compilation works it was done intentionally, however this time it was really done by accident. When I heard that if you considered Avatar Kingdom, it becomes ABCD, I had really surprised even myself! (Laughs)

Speaking of an adventure taking place in the Data World, there are many terms relating to computers as a characteristic of this title.
Nomura: Since the time KH coded was becoming KH Re:coded, I was very conscious of putting in computer terminology. At first I worried, “Won't this give a difficult impression?” But since this was my only opportunity to put these sorts of vocabulary into Kingdom Hearts, I decided to go through with it.

Missing Question
Nomura:

As the director, what sort of story did you intend KH coded to be?
Nomura: I had decided I wanted to make a compact story, not something extravagant like the other titles in the series so far. In addition to that, I wanted a story that stayed within the Data World. Furthermore, the last objective with the scenarios was that I wanted the stories to flow with the other two titles KH BbS and KH Days.

What was the reason for making Data Sora the main character?
Nomura: One reason was because I wanted to use Sora's KHI design. Another reason was so that those who were playing the series for the first time could familiarize with the main character, even though it might wrack the avid fans brains a bit. For the players who don't know the back story, making Sora start at Level 1 was necessary so they'd be in the same position as the hero. If the real Sora was the main character, then the conditions dealing with the way KHII's adventure had ended would be heavy content, thus instead Data Sora was introduced.

Different then in KH Days, in KH Re:coded the cutscenes are shown using still images to convey conversations, what was the reason for this?
Nomura: At first we were going to use the same polygons like in KH Days to express the conversations. However, besides the labor it took, the player's reactions weren't satisfactory. Dealing with the DS's capabilities, no matter what we did the displayed images, there was a limit to how much their facial expressions could be expressed. That being the case, being able to see the characters nicely took priority, so we went ahead and used 2D pre-renders (a HD image made beforehand) that displayed their expressions better. Which way is better, it's up for the players to decide. There was the opinion though that we should try using the opposite approach of KH Days and try 2D styles in KH Re:coded.

Battle system with elements taken from 358/2 Days and Birth by Sleep!

The battles this time had an increasing number of fun actions to enjoy.
Nomura: At the time that KH Days went on sale, since most games were intended for the mainstream light players of the DS, I wanted to throw a stone into that tendency and make a game that had backbone. However KH Days seemed to have had more backbone than expected; many people thought it was too hard. Therefore, this time we tried something intended for those light players. (Laughs) Especially since the crosspad buttons of the DS are difficult to operate, we avoided technical fights as much as possible. As for the direction we took the battle systems, we increased the number of selectable in-battle abilities that from our experience making KH BbS we knew would be enjoyable. The more the better! Also, Yasue who was in charge of the KH BbS battles was supervising KH Re:coded's battles, so in that way KH Re:coded inherited KH BbS 's blood. The base parts were from KH coded and the panel system of KH Days was brought back. So in that way, you could say that the battle system of KH Re:coded is a combination of 3 titles.

The Status Matrix plays the central role in the growth system of KH Re:coded, how did you come up with this concept?
Nomura: Original I had planned to do a renewed version of the panel system from KH Days, but Yasue had the idea to use electrical blocks (electric toy made of small blocks connecting in a circuit) which I liked better. When I read the proposed design I thought the system looked very difficult, but then when I saw the illustrated image that the designer from the Osaka team had come up with I thought that the atmosphere was very fun and decided to use that. It's very important for the things you customize and play with to be visually appealing too! You can change the numerical value on the Cheat Tuner, as well as twist the dials and switches. Seeing the touchable screen, I thought that players would enjoy it.

Being able to modify the game's balance at anytime with the Cheat Tuner was a unique idea.
Nomura: In The World Ends With You (2007 RPG developed for the DS) players were able to adjust the game level of difficulty whenever they wanted, it was developed to model that. Co. director Itou was originally the main producer for The World Ends With You, so you could also say that the blood from that game also flowed into KH Re:coded.

KH Re:coded also features a new element called the System Area, how did you come up with that?
Nomura: The System Area feature was something I wanted to do in KH coded but was one thing that could not be implemented into the project. When it comes to mobile phone games, to me there's the feeling that even if you play it once for a short period, you could play the same game for a long period of time. In that vein, we prepared the System Area feature. It doesn't take long to clear them; however you could enjoy playing them a countless number of times. In particular, I really wanted to try to do 100 levels in the Avatar System Area during cross-player communication. When I first asked the staff to make 100 levels, they responded with astonishment. (Laughs)

The cross-player communication function can connect with other players with the game, and even when we don't really connect, it seems the device will still send a message.
Nomura: The way it connects and sends a message without really connecting was the same feature used in The World Ends With You. Since it was quite a popular feature in that game, we adopted it into this title for people who don't often get the chance to connect with other people with the game. The co. director Itou said, “We can cross-connect with whatever!” (Laughs) But really you can only cross-connect with other players holding the cartridge in their DS. We wanted the cross-communication circumstances to be active because the DS perceives various radio waves, so it's constructed to send a message.

The new developments in the Secret Movie reveal the beginning of KIII!

In KH Re:coded, as expected, a Secret Movie was recorded.
Nomura: This time the volume of Event Scenes in the original version was big, so when it came time to put in the Secret Movie, there was hardly any room left. Since there wasn't going to be enough room to show something shocking, I thought, “let's make the topic of their conversation shocking instead”. And so their conversation played out the way you see it.

We were surprised when Yen Sid said, “Supposing Xehanort isn't alone?”
Nomura: If you look back in the past titles, weren't you always fighting some form of Xehanort? As Ansem, as Xemnas, and as Master Xehanort, his form is different in each time and there is a reason why he appears differently each time. Don't you suppose that it's going to influence the future?

After this, it seems Sora and Riku will be taking their Mark of Mastery Exams. Does this have a direct relation to curing the “pain” of those connected to Sora?
Nomura: No, those are two separate stories. I'm thinking KHIII will be about going to cure their “pain”. I plan on drawing out the story of those two's Mark of Mastery Exams in another title.

Perhaps that's the recently announced title for Nintendo 3DS tentatively known as KH3D?
Nomura: Yeah, it's related to that.

Seems that a demo trailer was premiered at the American game show E3...
Nomura: In the trailer Sora and Riku are on Destiny Islands, and then in Traverse Town many Soras are shown falling from the sky. Those weren't real cutscenes from the game; the trailer merely portrayed the overall feeling of the game. At the moment, we are selecting the worlds that will appear; the Disney worlds used in previous titles will likely be changed out for the most part. We're considering using the Disney films I've thought about using someday as well as relatively newer films. The system components are also progressing, and development in each section has already begun.

About when will we be able to play it?
Nomura: I'd like it to be available as soon as possible, but... It was premiered at E3 in the 3DS line up in order to get a reaction and to take those reactions into consideration. I strongly feel that it must live up to those expectations.

When we were discussing in the Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Ultimania, you mentioned that there were 2 new Kingdom Hearts titles other than KHIII coming up. One coming out in 2010, and one more being announced in 2011. It seems the title releasing in 2010 was KH Re:coded, but what about the other one? Were you referring to KH3D or KH BbS Final Mix?
Nomura: No, at the time of that interview I intended to hint toward a different project. However, focusing my energy on KH3D and KH BbS Final Mix comes first. Since a new Secret Episode is revealed in the KH BbS Final Mix, I definitely want it to be seen. I think when you see it you'll be excited for future developments.

Moreover, 2012 will be the 10th anniversary for Kingdom Hearts, it seems that you are planning something.
Nomura: Yeah. Actually, the real reason I went to E3 this year was to speak with the chairman of Disney Interactive Studios. The things we discussed are confidential, but our discussion had everyone's interests in mind. From within that conversation, I'm considering whether there was something about the 10th Anniversary that I could announce.

For the 10th anniversary there is talk of remaking the original KHI, what do you say to that?
Nomura: I recently had a some interest in making an HD remake, but right now there simply isn't time to make it. Although, before KHIII releases, I do have to consider the notion that the series has become too long and that it's difficult for any new players to enter it in the middle of the story.

Finally, please share a message with the players.
Nomura: We made KH Re:coded a game with as bright an atmosphere as possible. The story is a bit painful yet hopeful as opposed to the sadness of recent titles. The gaming system is fun and incorporates a variety of rich aspects. There are also elements that make the game play time long, so please continue playing little by little, and also look forward to the new developments revealed in the Secret Movie.

The Scenario Mysteries in "Kingdom Hearts Re:coded"

Same as always, this is our chance to toss questions at director Tetsuya Nomura having to do with the story revealed in KH Re:coded. We'll try to ask about the secret event from KH BbS and the mysteries involving KHIII as well! (Interviewer: Ohno Yuuko)

Data Sora can newly obtain a legitimate Keyblade during his adventure, but are there changes to the real Keyblade when that happens?
Nomura: No, it's a data version the entire time. However like with the first Keyblade, it wasn't created by someone else. It comes from the heart's connections with the data, hinting towards the story theme, “Can a heart be born in an existence made of data?”

During KH Re:coded, Namine seems to have explained the reason for the “pain” mentioned in the journal to Sora and company, but why does she take the roundabout method of accessing the data in the Jiminy Journal and adding to it?
Nomura: At the point of time when Namine explained Sora's secret in the real world, she already knew that by the time Sora and company woke up she would be gone. She thought she wouldn't be able to speak to them directly. Thus she left a note in Jiminy's Journal, however she didn't presume what sort of form the meaning of the message would take when presented to Sora and company. Therefore, Jiminy's Journal was made into data according to the King and co.'s assumptions.

Was the message presented in Jiminy's Journal prepared entirely by Namine herself?
Nomura: The very first message, “We must return to free them from their torment,” was the only one by Namine, however the messages “Their torment has been lessened” etc. were transmitted by the data itself when Sora eliminated the bugs, implying that restoring the data would bring him closer to understanding the mystery of the message.

As for the outbreak of bugs in Jiminy's Journal, did they accidentally appear as a result of Namine adding data? Or did Namine intentionally devise the bugs in order to make Sora triumph over the “pain”?
Nomura: That occurring wasn't part of Namine's intentions. She couldn't predict that Sora Heartless would take charge and bring about a crisis like that.

I see... Roxas appears dressed in the black coat in Castle Oblivion among other worlds too. Was that something else that Namine had not added intentionally?
Nomura: Right. Since Roxas and Sora together make up one existence, if there is a Sora made of KHI data, then data of Roxas must exist too. Roxas says, “It's my personal duty to check whether or not Sora is ready to take the pain.” However that role was not assigned by Namine, Roxas personally decided that goal and acted upon it accordingly.

Who was the person taken from the data of Jiminy's Journal that took the form of Riku in the data world?
Nomura: That wasn't someone from the real world's data, more like that was the data itself taking on the body of Riku in order to avoid being eroded by the bugs.

When each world is completely debugged, a scene is shown that was not seen in KHI. Did those scenes occur at the same point in time as KHI?
Nomura: Yes, they were memories deep in the data of the worlds recorded in Jiminy's Journal, however as a result of Data Riku searching after the worlds were debugged, they were tangible to the King and company.

In the final chapter of Hollow Bastion, it happens in the story that if the Jiminy Journal is completely debugged, then the existence recorded in the data will be erased. Then why is it even if Data Sora doesn't remember, Data Riku's memories remain?
Nomura: Data Sora became an existence whose purpose was to go about debugging, so at the point in time when he had completely debugged the data his memories were gone. In Data Riku's case, it existed in the main data even without the Jiminy Journal itself being erased, and since its purpose was to solve the mystery first written in the journal, it couldn't fulfill it until the debugging was complete. Once the mystery was solved, it too would lose its memories.

Throughout playing the lines “Restoration Rate X%” appears a few times, when it reaches 100% Sora Heartless begins to run amok. Does that number represent the growth condition of Sora Heartless?
Nomura: In KHII, Sora's memory restoration rate was expressed that way. In this case it's basically showing how much of the data world was restored thanks to Sora. However it's also like an indicator of Sora Heartless' growth since it grew at the same time as Sora exterminated the bugs.

After debugging Traverse Town, the King says to Sora, “That day, your travels began here. Also on that day, I was here too.” Does that mean that the King was in the same place at the same time as Sora adventured into Traverse Town in KHI?
Nomura: Seems so. What he was actually doing becomes the previously mentioned “blank time period”, but in this title, it's implying that the two crossed paths in the same place.

As for the story, the curtain has closed on Sora finally saying “thank you” to Namine. In your KHIIFM+ Ultimania interview, you mentioned that Sora not having yet thanked Namine was foreshadowing the future. Is that matter considered settled now?
Nomura: Although it can't really be said that it's completely settled since they haven't exchanged words in the real world, there's naturally that implication. This time it's the data of Sora from before KHCOM saying thanks, however it shows there was a special connection beyond the passage of time between Sora and Namine. Additionally, it gives a contradictory answer to the implication that data existences don't have hearts shown in the story.

I'm going to ask about the Secret Movie now. Yen Sid tells, “With Ansem and Xemnas defeated, it means Master Xehanort will be revived.” When Yen Sid explained about Organization XIII in KHII, did he know this at that point in time?
Nomura: He knew, but it couldn't be avoided. At that time Xemnas existed as the main threat, so nothing could be done until he was defeated.

“If you release the heart of the Heartless and annihilate the body of the Nobody, then the real form will be revived.” If those conditions are met, can others outside of Xehanort be revived too?
Nomura: It can be considered a possibility. Although it's what-if speaking, I think that if the members of Organization XIII were restored, they would become there true form.

Though he's a member of Organization XIII, Axel is shown in the end of KH Re:coded in the memories of “pain”...
Nomura: Since healing the necessary “pain” of Axel's is different than with other people, if he is revived he will take a form like Xehanort's. In the end of the story, Namine says, “Those whose memories are sleeping inside Sora need relief.” In the KH BbS secret cutscene “Blank Points”, certain characters call out to Sora, however in that scene Axel is the only one who appears and doesn't say Sora's name out loud.

Speaking of the KH BbS secret cutscene, Ansem the Wise says that he hid his research results in Sora. This complies with what happens in KH Re:coded when Namine says DiZ (Ansem the Wise) has hid something inside Sora. Is that mystery remaining unsolved?
Nomura: Yes. Namine added data to the Jiminy Journal in order to convey that the “pain” of those connected to Sora must be healed, but at the point in time Ansem hid the research results inside Sora, he didn't know that. Accordingly, Ansem's research results will become the key to healing the “pain” in the future of the story.

So even though Namine and Ansem acted independently, as a result of what the two did, it leads to one thing. And speaking of those details...
Nomura: Since that will likely become the story for KHIII, please look forward to that until then.

Magazines

References

  1. ^ Refers to Terra's interaction with Riku on Destiny Islands.
  2. ^ Yes, I know successee isn't a word. But the same word stem is used for the successor and the one-who-is-succeeded here in Japanese, and I wanted to convey that.
  3. ^ The quote is unfinished in the Japanese text, but the way it's phrased makes it clear that he means something like, "So not only did you kill Eraqus, now you intend to do the same to my friends." Just thought I'd add a note in case it wasn't clear in English.
  4. ^ a b Story or stories. Japanese doesn't generally distinguish singular and plural nouns.