Few hours counting til the Kingdom Hearts III Japan release. And Tetsuya Nomura still have some last things to share with the players in an interview with Famitsu. More precisely, Nomura-san would reveal about exactly how much of the writing he’s been doing for the series.
But do not worry, the interview doesn’t contain any spoiler, just some things we already know from the previous games. Nomura-san went into details with the story, however, so if you haven’t played the past games, read summaries or know about their stories in some way, the parts of the interview focusing on Kingdom Hearts III‘s story won’t make much sense to you.
According to the Famitsu reporter, who has played the full game, the game has rich content and even after finishing the story of a Disney world you still have tons of things left to do in it, like completing all mini games. And like a puzzle, the main story slowly advances, giving you new information and reveals as you progress.
As Nomura already stated multiple times in the past, Kingdom Hearts III‘s story is about how the good guys will defeat the bad guy, Master Xehanort, and will mark the end of the first saga in the franchise, explaining a lot of the mysteries laid-out so far.
Nomura also quickly re-explained how the start of Kingdom Hearts III’s story goes, and Sora’s objectives in the game like getting the “power to awaken”:
There’s a lot of details, but basically the “power to awaken” is the power “to return back to normal a heart currently in an abnormal state”, and “to open up something and be able to bring back the heart emprisoned in it”. In Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance, Sora was training to get this power, but his training was interrupted by Master Xehanort. So at the start of Kingdom Hearts III he’s still looking for that power.
Another objective of Sora in Kingdom Hearts III is to reassemble the guardian of lights needed to oppose the darkness, so this means “resurrecting” Roxas. The reporter from Famitsu asks Nomura to explain to newcomers what does “resurrecting” Roxas means since he’s part of Sora anyway:
Sora wishes to revive Roxas with his own body and as his own distinct person. In Kingdom Hearts II, Roxas goes back to be part of Sora and his story seems to be over. In Dream Drop Distance however, Sora connects deeper with Roxas’ heart and memories, and starts thinking he deserves to be his own person. Sora realized that Roxas has his own specific heart, that Axel wants him to come back, and that Roxas is one of the guardians of lights they need.
The Famitsu reporter also asked Nomura to reassure fans, and how Kingdom Hearts IIIisn’t the end of the series or Sora’s story:
Kingdom Hearts III is the end of the Dark Seeker arc, but the Kingdom Hearts series, which includes Kingdom Hearts Union Cross, isn’t ending now. I think you’ll get a good idea of what comes next after seeing the Epilogue and the Secret Movie of Kingdom Hearts III, which will both be added after release. The epilogue movie is the movie after the game’s ending, and can be seen as long as you clear the game. The Secret Movie requires to be unlocked by fulfilling certain conditions.
Kingdom Hearts III‘s epilogue movie and secret movie will only be added to the game via an internet update. Also, Nomura specifically mentions Union Cross because if you know its story, it’s obvious it’s planning for what will happen after Kingdom Hearts III.
Here’s what Tetsuya Nomura revealed on the conditions to unlock the Secret Movie:
It depends of the numbers of “lucky marks” you’ve managed to find and take selfies with. “Lucky Marks” are elements in the game which look like King Mickey. In Beginner difficulty, you’ll need to take photos with every single Mickey-looking mark in the game. In Normal you’ll only need a certain number, and even less in Proud difficulty. Unlike past games which required multiple different conditions to be fulfilled, this is the only thing you need to do to unlock the secret movie in Kingdom Hearts III.
The gallery below has an example of these Mickey marks you’ll need to take selfies with to unlock the secret movie. Kingdom Hearts III is also the first KH game ever where the Secret Movie is unlockable on Beginner difficulty because Nomura wants as many people as possible to see it.
Next, Nomura spoke about Kingdom Hearts III’s difficulty balance:
The game’s battle system focuses on changing the Keyblade’s form depending of the situation. Some of the boss battles may be hard, but we’ve designed the game so as many people as possible can clear it. We still have different difficulty levels as well, including “Critical”, the highest difficulty level. For people who want to do self-imposed challenges, there are also abilities which block characters from receiving experience points and leveling up, and you can also do things like preventing the AI-controlled characters from using healing abilities.
Here’s the rest of the interview
Famitsu: Did you also write the scenario (for Kingdom Hearts III), Nomura-san?
It wasn’t just for Toy Box (Toy Story world) but I ended up writing everything as far as the scenario goes, including dialogue. This was never made public, but that’s generally how it’s been after Kingdom Hearts II, especially so starting with Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days.
Is that so? I was under the impression that you put the plot together and others were in charge of dialogue and other details.
It was like that at the beginning, but after Kingdom Hearts II up to now, generally speaking I would create the scenario outline, and using that as a basis Oka (Masaru Oka) would put together a draft for the scenario and dialogue while considering requests from the level design team. Then after that I would write the final draft, and that’s how it went. Before that we had other staff work on the scenario, but the Kingdom Hearts series has a complicated setting so it becomes increasingly difficult to work together the more people there are involved. In the end since I had the best grasp of things, so that’s how we got to the current style.
However, in the titles up until now you were never credited under “Scenario” right?
I’ve been credited under ‘Story’ so I didn’t think it was needed. I’ve been in the industry for some time now, so there was also the concern of preconceived notions that could come from seeing ‘written by Tetsuya Nomura’ so I didn’t want that getting in the way of gameplay. However, the series is already 17-years-old, and it’s actually more like ‘written by some old man’ now [laughs], so this time I’m credited. As for the text, I decide on everything from scenario to item names.
What about the social media-style loading screens?
Ah, I did write those. There are all kinds, including some that you can see after clearing the world. You’ll see things like informal hashtags and such, so please take a good look during the loading times.
By the way, speaking of item names, I was curious about the Toy Box Keyblade that has a mysterious name “Favodeputy.” Did it not have a different name before?
Previously, it was displayed as ‘Infinity Badge’ but that was its in-development name. As for Favodeputy, that’s from Woody’s built-in voice line from the original work that says ‘You’re my favorite deputy,’ and I got the ‘favorite deputy’ part and shortened it [laughs]. There’s a character limit and I couldn’t fit the whole thing.
Now that’s an unexpected origin story! [laughs] so on top of handling everything including the text, did you mostly work together with Oka-san on managing such complicated story?
As far as the meaning of managing goes, Oka is the one with that position, but we also had Nojima (Kazushige Nojima) as a supervisor, so I would ask for drafts for the last battle to ending, or consult with him about parts that were troubling me. We also had a coordinator that worked on proofreading to make sure there wasn’t any plot holes in the scenario that got increasingly more complicated by the end of development, so there were four of us. For a title of such scale, it was an exceptionally small number [of management].