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Tetsuya Nomura Discusses Kingdom Hearts 3DS

Square Enix's keyblade master reveals some surprising gameplay systems for new installment.

 

Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix is now out and topping the sales charts. Time for Square Enix to move on to the next Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts 3d!

As revealed at last week's 1st Production Department Premier event, the 3DS title is fully named "Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance." Square Enix showed a new trailer for the game at the event (an official online version is coming later today) and also had co-director Yasushi Yasue take the stage for a few comments.

Of course, as with any Kingdom Hearts game, we'd like to hear what Tetsuya Nomura has to say. Famitsu gives us the chance this week through a two page preview of the game and and one page interview with Nomura.

First, some details on what's in the previews.

A pair of screenshots in the preview look like they were taken from the same spot in Traverse Town. In one of the shots, we see Sora standing in a faceoff with Xehanort, who he defeated in KHII. The other shot shows Riku in a face off against Ansem. The magazine notes that even in the same area, Sora and Riku appear to encounter different bosses.

The preview mentions that the game will have new worlds. One screen shows Sora running through a bell tower. Another screen shows Sora falling down into a crowded plaza (a scene meant to symbolize the "drop" part of the title). These two are new worlds. The game will have others besides these.

Also mentioned in the preview are some of the actions that were shown in the trailer: Sora swinging from poles, Riku kicking off walls to advance, and Sora sliding down a rope at high speeds.

ABOUT THE NAME...

The interview first began with Nomura explaining the meaning of the title Dream Drop Distance. The image associated with the name is "the distance you fall in your dreams" (presumably as in how deeply you fall into your dreams). Nomura admitted that the English isn't grammatically correct, but they were focused on how the sound of the phrase.

This scene represents the 'Dream' in the title.

Together, the three words have a number of meanings, Nomura told the magazine. On their own, "Drop" in particular has something to do with the gameplay.

One of the points mentioned at the Premier event was that the game will have a lot of actions that we aren't used to seeing in the series, some of which are listed above. This area of change actually ties into Nomura's other big project at the moment, Versus XIII.

Explained Nomura, if you take Kingdom Hearts as a base and evolve it like Final Fantasy, you get Final Fantasy Versus XIII. However, if you evolve the Kingdom Hearts qualities further, you will get Kingdom Hearts 3D.

Versus XIII can be said to form a pair with Final Fantasy XIII. However, in terms of gameplay, Versus XIII forms a pair with Kingdom Hearts 3D and the future Kingdom Hearts series. The base gameplay between the two sides is similar. However, Versus XIII doesn't have some of the actions that you see in KH3D, like the pole swinging. The evolutions shown in the two games differ greatly. The flashy and bold actions shown in KH3D provide a glimpse at the image of the future of the series, and Kingdom Hearts III.

The concept of Kingdom Hearts 3D is "bold actions," said Nomura. He believes that numbered Kingdom Hearts games should have proper and orthodox evolutions. But they want to try out bold things for non-numbered titles like KH3D. The plan is to make KH3D far bolder than even Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep. "By playing this, you will probably understand how Kingdom Hearts III will evolve," said Nomura.

SWITCHING BETWEEN SORA AND RIKU

In the past, Nomura suggested that the game would depict Sora and Riku in their Mark of Mastery test that will turn them into Keyblade Masters. In this latest interview, he clarified a bit. The Mark of Mastery test will not span the entirety of the game. Only some parts of the game will cover the test.

Riku (left) and Sora (right). You'll apparently be switching off between them against your will.

You'll be switching off between Sora and Riku as you play. However, Nomura revealed to Famitsu that the switching will be forced upon the player as they play. When walking through town and even in battle, you'll suddenly be switched to the other character.

Nomura noted that in most games, character changes take place at key points in the story. But here, the changes will have nothing to do with your progress through the story.

The Premier trailer showed a mysterious new gauge called the "Drop Gauge." Famitsu asked if the character changes will have something to do with this. There are actually a number of secrets to the gauge, said Nomura. Regarding character changes, he said that it will be easiest to understand if you think that there's something like a countdown event always taking place.

Adding even more confusion to the issue, Nomura said that Riku and Sora's stories are different. They don't have the same goal, and they'll encounter different bosses (as indicated in the screenshots in the preview).

They also have different actions, and even different control methods! This area has something to do with a new system that has yet to be shown.

NEW WORLDS AND NEW GAMES

Regarding new worlds, Famitsu noted that the bell tower world shown in the trailer and screens looked a bit like Hunchback of Notre Dame. Nomura wouldn't acknowledge that this is the case, saying that we'll have to wait for a followup report. The new worlds being included in the game are ones that have received a large number of requests in the past. There will be new Disney Worlds, of course, although Nomura would not give a solid count of the new count.

Closing off the interview, Nomura said that Kingdom Hearts 3D is not currently at a state where he can give a release time period. He suggested that players first take a look at Birth By Sleep Final Mix and Dissidia Duodecim Final Fantasy.

More mysteriously, he added, "Also, there are still titles that were not announced this time," presumably in reference to the 1st Production Department being in development with additional games that weren't shown at the Premier event.

Famitsu is promising a complete version of this interview at Famitsu.com shortly, so we may get a few additional Kingdom Hearts 3D details shortly. An official online version of the game's Premier trailer will be released later today.

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