Tetsuya Nomura talks second playable character, Toy Story world and more in Kingdom Hearts III

Following today’s illuminating announcement of the game’s 2018 release window and Toy Story world, IGN (2) and Game Informer (2) sat down with Kingdom Hearts III director Tetsuya Nomura to discuss new details about the upcoming title.

Here’s what Nomura said:

Second Playable Character

Nomura declined to specify who exactly, but he has confirmed there will be an another playable character besides Sora for Kingdom Hearts III.

“So it would be tough to introduce many, multiple playable characters, but there is an intention of adding a playable character aside from Sora. Unfortunately we’re not able to disclose who it is yet, but there will be [another playable character],” Nomura said.

Bigger Parties

Kingdom Hearts III will feature a party system that allows for more than two extra members on the field to fight alongside Sora. The design choice is primarily rooted from the decision to pull away the “Dimension Link” feature included in the PSP title Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep.

“D-Link, that has been done away with”, Nomura confirms. “It was actually a compromise in a previous iteration because we were not able to display multiple characters on that platform in that game,” Nomura said. “We’re able to depict multiple characters. Up to five people can join, even more, multiple characters can join your party.”

The Gummi Ship

“In terms of the Gummi Ship making its return, I can confirm on that, but how it is or what has become of it, we’re not able to reveal it at this point,” Nomura said. “We ask you to stay tuned for more information.”

Following the above statement, Nomura also hinted at the offering of new & improved elements for the Gummi Ship.

“The staff members on our development team always want to try something new, so even with previously introduced mechanics, they always try to make it their own or tweak it. Even if it is small or minor, we customize it so that it’s for Kingdom Hearts III.”

Toy Story World

Ever since the release of Kingdom Hearts II, Nomura has been longing for Pixar’s Toy Story to make an appearance in the game series.

“Just looking at the trailer, I feel Sora really fit in and matched well with that world, and it’s something I always personally wanted to see – that image of Buzz and Woody coming face to face with Sora in his toy form. “I had been imaging that in my head, and to be able to execute that into the game is something I’m really excited for and I’m hoping fans feel the same way I do.”

And sort of a first for Kingdom Hearts, rather than having the world loosely follow the story of the original films, Kingdom Hearts III’s Toy Story world will feature an original story made from the ground up as specially requested by Pixar Studios.

“[Pixar] preferred for us to not follow the film directly. They said, ‘Please create something original to Kingdom Hearts,’ so we did not draw any inspiration from the films. It is completely original and exclusive to Kingdom Hearts, so you can almost say it’s a sequel of some sort.”

Nomura and the rest of the development team took account of all three films in the series and made a decision about where to place it. “We placed the narrative in Kingdom Hearts some place after Toy Story 2.” He said he worked very closely with Pixar to get its approval on the new story for the game. “So many rounds of review! I couldn’t believe how many back and forths I had,” he laughed.

In the trailer, Sora and crew team up with Woody and Buzz in search of a toy store area called “Galaxy Toys”

“Galaxy Toys is going to be your primary stage where a lot of the action is going to be happening in this world,” Nomura said. “Because Sora, Donald, and Goofy are toys and very small, the playing field is going to feel very large. We also have multiple floors and each section has its own personality, so to speak.”

The scenario taking place in Toy Story’s world involves the search for Andy, who has gone missing, as well as to unravel the mystery of why Organization XIII has appeared in that particular world.

“Rather than having multiple different little worlds, we wanted to make sure we’re providing rich gameplay in an individual world, so we put in a lot of effort and allocated a lot of resources to create these worlds, and it would be sad for players not to enjoy the world and breeze right through it,” Nomura said. “Therefore, we made sure that each of the worlds is designed so players can take their time and enjoy the gameplay that’s available.”

The sweet, meaty trailer also showed off Sora piloting a series of mech-toys, called Gigas, to fight off enemies in the combat space. According to Nomura, this is “to showcase that with the specs of the current generation hardware, it is possible. We’re hoping there’s a surprise element with each new mechanic that is introduced with Kingdom Hearts III, and we’re going to be revealing more information as they become available.”

Nomura on a Switch Version

“The Nintendo Switch is definitely a very interesting piece of hardware, but if we lightly say, ‘Oh yeah, we’ll be on the Nintendo Switch,’ I’m sure people will come back and say, ‘But what about the PS4 and Xbox One? We want them out first. Don’t focus on other platforms,’” Nomura said. “So for now, we want to focus on what platforms we’ve already announced we’re going to be releasing Kingdom Hearts III on. And so after, perhaps, maybe we can start thinking about other possibilities.”

Nomura on Kingdom Hearts Collection for Xbox One

“Just like with the previous answer, if we were to announce yet another non-Kingdom Hearts III [project]… people are going to be like, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ So we will want to focus on releasing on the platforms that we have already announced,” Nomura said. “Do the Western audiences want Kingdom Hearts titles on the Microsoft or Xbox platforms? Japan might say ‘well, we don’t want any more on Xbox.”

“Nomura also noted Microsoft’s recent announcement of the Xbox One X and added, “It also makes you think, ‘Well, do we want to have [the collections] on the Xbox platforms? Isn’t it a bit late in the game?’”

Kingdom Hearts III is slated to release in 2018 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

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