Kingdom Hearts Ultimania Interviews Kingdom Hearts II Progress Report/Interview (Dengeki)

This interview reflects on the assets shown at E3 and talks about various features of the game, probably one of Nomura’s more revealing interviews…

Please tell us what the current stage of development is.
Nomura: The scenario is at least twice as long as the previous installment, and now we are at the crucial point of figuring out if we can get it all in. Also, we are nearing the stage when we can have a round view of all the worlds.

We were allowed to get another feel of the gameplay this E3 and we felt that the combos are considerably speedier.
Nomura: In the previous installment, the action was divided into three parts: “Battle”, “Move (or exploration)” and “Event”. This time we’ve developed it into “Event” and “Real-time”. The staff who was assigned to “Battle” now have to fully work in Real Time. The battle and exploration action all uses this procedure. Most of the staff participated in the previous installment and in Final Mix, so we had to remake the know-how that had been lost since that time Also, this really is the second installment of the series but, game system-wise, it really is the third game that is being made. So various aspects of the game have benefited from that.

In the movie [trailer] shown at the E3, Sora was seen wearing a blue costume but, does that mean that there are transformations other than the red one?
Nomura: There are quite a few. That is why Sora’s action has largely expanded and there are many types of actions that were introduced. I can’t explain just yet, but some forms have amusing tricks. Also, the attack pattern will vary depending on the form and it will allow players to choose a form they will like and fight using that, I hope.

When in Valour Form, we were able to wield two keyblades, but will we be able to change the keyblades we wield in that form?
Nomura: We’re planning to give you the freedom of choice of which keyblade you will use. Also, I didn’t’t want anything to be wasted, so each of the “change form” may be considered as an attack in its own right. They will be integral attacks, with the importance that implies.

During the trailer presented at the E3, we got to fight a huge Heartless army. Will there be other events similar to that one?
Nomura: This is indeed something I want you to await eagerly. There were situations in the previous installment that confronted you to a large number of enemies at a time, but it doesn’t compare with what’s coming up next! (laughs) This time we created a program for the special task of managing numerous foes. However, I didn’t want this to completely abolish one-on-one fights either, so we managed some kind of balance in relation to the triangle button. There are plenty of battle patterns, so please look forward to this aspect of the game.

About the progression of the game, will KHII also involve going through one world after another?
Nomura: Well, generally speaking, the progression will be indeed similar to the previous installment. However, this time there is a little catch added to it so that you won’t be able to complete the game simply by going from one place to another in a linear succession.

In the previous installment, we used Gummi Ships to travel between the worlds. How will it be this time round?
Nomura: You can still use gummi ships, but they are more complex and faster. Rather than an STG (?) it will feel like more of an attraction ride at a fair. It moves very smoothly.

Will the customizable feature of the gummi ships from the previous installment be used again?
Nomura: In the previous installment, it was very minute detail that could be altered, but this time we are planning to throw in some of that and something new as well.

The “Pirates Of The Caribbean” was recently revealed. Could you tell us how a world of that movie came to be?
Nomura: I came up with a small selection of films that I presented to Disney that I could use as really eye-catching worlds; the one I first had in mind was refused… Then as they were asking if there were any others, I gave them Pirates of the Caribbean (I fancied the movie). I introduced a new function to the game, called “Real Capture” (using live action pictures rather than drawings as a basis for generating polygon models); the team leaders were very eager.

Did desinging characters using “Real Capture” cause any problems?
Nomura: Most of KHII’s staff have previously worked on FFs that demanded pretty realistic character models, so it wasn’t too troublesome. In a demo, we tried to insert a scene from the movie itself and the graphics were very similar. Facial expressions are also very similar so please look forward to that.

Was the Mulan world also chosen in the same way?
Nomura: With Mulan, I felt it had a unique atmosphere, so I already had wanted to use it for some time. That’s why, when we were selecting the worlds to put in KHII, it was decided quite quickly we would use this one.

What would be the “must see” of Mulan’s world?
Nomura: The special aspect of the world is, of course, its design, but other than that, the battle scenes in the snow and the avalanche are worth paying attention to. Also, scenario-wise, it might answer some big questions so please look forward to it.

About characters, what kind of person is that boy clothed in white (of whom we don’t know the name yet)?
Nomura: Right now, we’re choosing when exactly to divulge his name so… (laugh)

Does the name have a heavy significance?!
Nomura: …! Erm… well, excluding the previous installment and CoM, there might be some who start playing with KHII. As I wanted them to enjoy this game all the same, I hope he will be a character that will introduce them to Sora’s tale in a fun way. You’ll understand more about him bit by bit, I expect.

Though its name has finally been revealed, what kind of group is Organization XIII?
Nomura: In Kingdom Hearts 2, the Nobody will appear as something different compared to the Heartless. Those who command the “Nobody” are Organization XIII. Though, the Organization members are also “Nobodies”, they are a more special type of being all-together.

Is the red cloaked DiZ who appeared in CoM also a member?
Nomura: Good question. (laughs) Anyhow, he will have an important role in the tale, that’s for sure.

In the trailer movie, we also finally got to see the face of the girl with a checkered skirt and her face looked a lot like Kairi’s, but is she?
Nomura: That girl is Kairi. Next to her there was a similarly matured Selphie too.

Will the king make more frequent appearances this time?
Nomura: He will certainly appear more often. However, the voice is a bit different as we’ve opted for a more serious tone.

Will we even be able to fight together?
Nomura: I bet you’re all looking forward to a lot in that respect. (laughs) When he takes his hood off, you might understand everything.

If he is also wearing a hood, then does that mean that the king has some relation with Organization XIII?
Nomura: Well… it might be one way… or another… heh (laughs)

We’re also looking forward to the Final Fantasy characters that will appear, but how is that aspect of the game looking?
Nomura: A few of the characters that appeared in the previous installment will be back, and there are some new ones as well. At some point, there seems to have been people who reached the conclusion that the reason I didn’t use characters I didn’t design was because of legal rights. The truth is that it merely is because it’s difficult to work on a character I didn’t design myself as I do not know the background work that went into it. I’m thinking a bit about giving it a try all the same. A little bit…

Finally, how is the future of the Kingdom Hearts series shaping up?
Nomura: At the moment the KHII story has been completed in a clean way that leaves hardly any questions open for a sequel. Now, it really is up to all of you to decide, and the future will probably depend on how well KHII will sell within its first year.