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Tetsuya Nomura Talks Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep

Secret movies, Final Fantasy crossovers and more detailed in the producer's latest interview.

With Final Fantasy XIII out of the way, this is Square Enix's biggest upcoming release.

Tetsuya Nomura is making the PR rounds in anticipation of January's release of Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep. This week's Famitsu has an interview with the producer in which he shares lots and lots of details on what will likely be the PSP's biggest game of early next year.

At the time of the interview (it's unclear when exactly this was, although the issue in question doesn't hit stands until tomorrow), development on the game was winding down with the staff doing text fixes, debugging and the like. One thing they're trying to do, said Nomura, is make it so that players who are new to the series will be able to understand what's going on. They're making adjustments towards this end.

Nomura added that he expects the game to be done by the time the magazine hits news stands, so we can probably assume there's finished code sitting around in Square Enix's Shinjuku office.

Regarding newcomers to the series, Nomura does seem to expect this group to enjoy the game. His aim with every KH game is to make it so that playing from the perspective of the main character, you'll be able to enjoy the title on its own. As an example of how this might work, he brought up the encounter Ventus has in BbS with Lia and Aiza, characters who are already members of Organization XIII in the other KH games (BbS is a prequel). This is Ventus's first encounter with the two characters. Of course, players who are familiar with the series will know who they are (they resemble their grown up counterparts), but Nomura hopes that newcomers will have the feeling, from Ventus's perspective, that they're important characters.

Incidentally, Nomura didn't write the BbS scenario. He and Daisuke Watanabe (Chain of Memories) created the story. The scenario itself was written entirely by Masaru Oka, who also took part in writing the scenario for KHII. The KH scenarios are always put together in this fashion, as a group effort.

The Birth by Sleep scenario is split across three characters: Tera, Ventus, and Aqua. Famitsu asked Nomura his suggested order for playing the game. From a story perspective, he recommended the above order, although he added that regardless of your order, mysteries will gradually unravel as you work through the story. From a play perspective, he said that Ventus is the easiest character to handle. Aqua takes some getting used to, and Tera's moves are "heavy."

Media debuting in the magazine includes a Nomura-drawn image showing the three heroes and Mickey in action. This is the game's main visual. Famitsu asked if Mickey's appearance in the main visual means that he'll appear in the game a good amount. Nomura's response was that while his role is not small, it's not at the same level of the three main characters. There are a lot of events connecting Mickey with the three.

Famitsu also scored intro movie images. The BbS intro includes a battle between Tera and crew and Master Xehanort. This scene was shown in the Secret Movie that appeared at the end of Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix.

The song that plays during the intro is a remixed version of Utada Hikaru's Hikari, the same theme song from the first Kingdom Hearts game. When Square Enix releases the game's Jump Festa trailer, you'll be able to hear the theme song in the background (I'm not sure if the trailer version is a remixed version or not).

Nomura shared a bit of information about the BbS scenario and other bits that you may or may not want to read depending on what you consider a spoiler.

The Famitsu interviewer made note of a scene (presumably from the trailer -- it's not in the magazine's screenshots) of Mickey holding a glowing star fragment. Mickey uses this to move into the real world. While it's referred to here as a star fragment, it later becomes the Gummi Block part for your Gummi Ship.

The magazine also noted a scene of Mickey encountering Kingdom Hearts heroine Kairi. Nomura explained that there are some areas of Kairi's pre story that they couldn't ignore. However, she doesn't appear too much in BbS. The game won't even cover why she visits Destiny Island or other specifics.

Asked for how far prior to part 1 BbS takes place, Nomura responded 9 or 10 years. As part of the story, a number of Organization XIII characters will appear here, although only through Number 8, Axel.

As previously revealed, Final Fantasy VII's Zack appears in BbS, marking his first appearance in a KH game. He was chosen, said Nomura, because as BbS takes place prior to the other entries in the series, they wanted a character who appears in the past in the FF "universe." Zack is given his soldier class 2nd look, without his Buster Sword. In terms of age, he's a bit older than Ventus. He's aiming to become a hero, and appears at Olympic Coliseum hoping to become Phil's pupil.

Zack is the only Final Fantasy character in BbS, Nomura confirmed. The team considered putting in other FF characters, but felt this would increase the character count too far.

As with past primary KH games, BbS will have a Secret Movie. Nomura feels that watching this will change your impression of the story. It's not just something that ties in with the sequel, but something that summarizes the whole story.

Watching the Secret Movie will be tough, though. You can select 3 difficulties when starting off the game. Getting the Secret Movie will be easier if you play in the hard setting. On the lower setting, you won't be able to see it no matter what you do.

Nomura suggests suggests that players dig deep into Birth by Sleep in order to see the secret movie. Given the amount of time fans have been waiting for the PSP entry, this probably won't be an issue.

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