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Iwata Asks Tetsuya Nomura About Kingdom Hearts 3D

Producer of Square Enix Disney collaboration shares development secrets.


Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata has a very special guest for the latest installment of Iwata Asks. Timed with the release of Kingdom Hearts 3D, Iwata managed to get some one-on-one time with Kingdom Hearts series mastermind Tetsuya Nomura.

This was actually the first time Iwata and Nomura met. Iwata admited that he'd wanted to meet Nomura from some time back.

The interview began with some talk about Theatrhythm Final Fantasy. Regarding the game's demos, Nomura said that they decided to release these after seeing the strong reaction to the game at game events. Following such events, people posted on blogs and Twitter that they'd lined up multiple times. The staff realized that the impression seemed to get better after playing, prompting the decision to release the demos.

Have you ever lined up in a line to play a Square Enix game at an event. Nomura may be watching you. Nomura said that the staff watches people's reactions as they view the trailers that are shown to those in line. They're able to see what areas cause reactions.

Moving on to Kingdom Hearts, Iwata first asked about the Kingdom Hearts series in general. The original PlayStation 2 title, released in March 2002, was Nomura's first game as director, Iwata noted (for the record, Iwata managed to discuss the first KH without mentioning PlayStation 2).

We've all heard the story that Kingdom Hearts came to be due to Disney and Square being in the same building at the time. Nomura revealed to Iwata the actual starting point for a collaboration between Disney and Square.

One day, producer Shinji Hashimoto and Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi were conversing. Nomura had been called over for something else and ended up joining in on the conversation just as the two were discussing Disney, saying something to the effect of "Mickey is nice, but he can't be used." Nomura jumped in and said that he'd like to work on whatever it was they were talking about.

Nomura did not want to make a Mickey game at first.

Nomura admitted that at the time he didn't really have a desire to work on a Mickey game. The reason for his interest can actually be attributed to a Nintendo game, Mario 64. This game came out around the time Nomura was working on Final Fantasy VII, and it shocked Nomura greatly. He spoke to his staff about making a game like that, but was told that Mario is a character who's known throughout the world, and it would be impossible to do the same thing by making a new character. The same person said to Nomura that unless it's a Disney-level character, it would be impossible. This stuck in his mind as he volunteered to work on the project Sakaguchi and Hashimoto were discussing.

Nomura tagged along with Sakaguchi and Hashimoto for a meeting with Disney. The Disney side said that they wanted to make a certain type of game. Nomura responded, "I won't make this type of game." This apparently surprised the Disney side, and they said something in English that Nomura was unable to understand, so he went on to explain that he wanted to make a game where original, new characters would travel through the Disney worlds. He was eventually able to get this basic idea for Kingdom Hearts across.

Sora's birth had some difficulties. The Sora design Nomura first showed depicted Sora wielding a chainsaw-like weapon. It was not well received, with people saying things like "this is terrible." Once again, Nomura did not understand English so he did not pay much attention to the criticism. Sora's final form was eventually arrived at after multiple meetings. Nomura credits the CEO on the Disney side at the time for being lenient, allowing the talks to continue.

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