Nomura talks Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy XV
posted on 06.11.13 at 09:05 PM EDT by (@admeady)
Noctis might appear cool, but he's actually quirky, says Nomura.

Square Enix sat down with Kingdom Hearts series creator and Final Fantasy XV director Tetsuya Nomura for a live talk at E3 in Los Angeles today. During the sit-down, he discussed Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix, Kingdom Hearts III, and the newly announced Final Fantasy XV. Find the full transcript below.

Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix

How did you come up with Kingdom Hearts and where did the name originate?

Originally, I wanted to find a title that fits Disney because it’s a Disney-related game. When I thought of this game, I thought of amusement parks. I wanted to make something kind of like what you can imagine at Disneyland. I knew of the name “Animal Kingdom.” So “Kingdom” became the first name that came in my mind. So at first, the development team was calling it “Kingdom,” but I couldn’t get the IP for “Kingdom.” So then we thought of “Heart” as part of the story, and we just combined those together and it became “Kingdom Hearts.”

Originally, our producer Shinji Hashimoto became friends with a Disney employee. We share the same office in the same building. He chatted with people from Disney and said it would be great to make a game together in the future. He brought that idea back to us and asked me if we could make something, and that’s actually how the Kingdom Hearts franchise was born.

In terms of our relationship with Disney, it’s been good, I think, because we’ve been working together for 10 years, and we actually still have the same counterpart at the Disney side. Sometimes, of course, we’ll have heated discussions, but as a result we’ve made so many games in the [Kingdom Hearts] franchise. So I think the relationship has been pretty good.

What’s involved in the process of remastering Kingdom Hearts?

Kingdom Hearts I was created a long, long time ago. Actually, the original data was missing—it was lost. So we had to research and dig out from the actual games available and recreate everything for high-definition. Then we had to recreate graphics, and it was actually not that easy.

What makes this the definitive Kingdom Hearts experience? Especially considering this version was never released in North America?

The Final Mix version of Kingdom Hearts was available in Japan but not available in North America or Europe. I had intentions to eventually bring it everywhere, all over the world. There were additional elements that existed in Final Mix that were not seen by fans in other territories. This became a really good opportunity, and I knew that making a remastered high-def game was not something that comes by very often. So we added two games and one movie as a package in HD 1.5, made it into high-definition, and now everyone in the world can share in the Kingdom Hearts world.

Who is your favorite character?

Xehanort, who appeared for the past ten years in the whole series, is definitely one of my favorites. And also in Kingdom Hearts I, there is an enemy character named Ansem, and he’s one of my favorites as well.

What kind of worlds do you want to see in Kingdom Hearts games?

I mentioned this in other places before, but Jungle Book is one world that we always talk about—the team wants it. Each time we try to insert it, but each time it’s cut.

What does Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix mean in relation to Kingdom Hearts III?

Because we decided to make Kingdom hearts III, we decided to make 1.5. It basically shows my determination to Kingdom Hearts III. So for the fans, I wanted to make sure everybody plays 1.5 to prepare for Kingdom Hearts III.

Kingdom Hearts III

What new worlds can we expect in Kingdom Hearts III?

Of course, I’m not allowed to say what will be coming in Kingdom Hearts III. But each time I select worlds for the game, I choose some stable choices necessary for the game’s story and of course, I also try to insert surprising factors. I want to make sure everyone is surprised to see that particular world. And so for Kingdom Hearts III, I want to make sure there are lots of surprises.

Is the battle system like previous games? Has it evolved?

Previous Kingdom Hearts titles, especially I and II, are core games, so I want to make sure an appropriate evolution is happening. And I think it’s necessary. For spin-off titles, I wanted to experiment with new challenges or new styles. Kingdom Hearts II had game systems that were well received by the game players. And I think Kingdom Hearts III will have some evolution of that game system. Also, we did a lot of experiments in spin-off game titles. Some of them were well received, some of them were really interesting, so we would like to incorporate those, as well.

Will we see any new Final Fantasy characters or get a chance to play as King Mickey?

Final Fantasy characters, whether they’re included in Kingdom Hearts III, are definitely under consideration. For a while, previous titles in the Kingdom Hearts series haven’t had Final Fantasy characters. So I think it’s time to include someone. In terms of King Mickey, I know you want to play him, I really know! So I want to take that into consideration, as well. Of course, Sora will be the main playable character, but it would be nice if other characters are playable as well. And if we take your consideration, King Mickey will be playable, too.

Are there any plans for multiplayer?

Multiplayer elements are also under consideration. We are looking into online possibilities. With that online capability in mind, multiplayer will be under consideration, as well. But again, we will announce more details at a later time.

Will summoning return in Kingdom Hearts III?

Yes, summons will be available, but in a very different form. Before, in the Kingdom Hearts franchise, you probably remember Disney franchise characters could be summoned. But in Kingdom Hearts III, it will be a very different system.

Is this the end of Organization XIII and the Nobody characters?

Yes, the battle against Organization XIII will be ended in this title. I don’t know about Nobodies, but Master Xehanort is the one who controls Organization XIII and the battle against him will be the end.

Will we actually get to see Kingdom Hearts?

I don’t want to say too much because I want you to look forward to the actual game, but Kingdom Hearts appeared occasionally during the franchise’s past ten years, and I think it will appear again.

Nomura remembers something…

For Kingdom hearts III, if you see the trailer, you might have noticed—but there is a technique called “shader.” Using that tool, the description of characters have been changed. The texture, which is to put on the surface of the character models, have been used to describe the surface of the Disney characters and make them similar to the Disney characters people are familiar with. For Kingdom Hearts III, we would change the different shader for different worlds, so that it would match those worlds.

Final Fantasy XV

What led to the decision for the name change from Final Fantasy Versus XIII? And what gives it the feel of being one of the numbered titles in the Final Fantasy universe?

Within the company, about to one to two years after Versus XIII was announced, we had a discussion about—because of the scale of the game—if it would be appropriate to make it XV. So we had this discussion for several years, and about two years ago, when we started hearing about next-generation consoles, we officially confirmed to make it XV. And about a year ago, we decided that all the development would shift to next-generation consoles.

Is it more of an action RPG or traditional RPG?

Yes, it is an action-based RPG. There’s not much turn-based style in it, but if you look carefully in the trailer, the command system is on the screen, as well, so we tried to keep a Final Fantasy taste. But we are not trying to make it an action-only game. Making the game Final Fantasy is the most important thing. I want everyone to imagine if Final Fantasy would be an action game—this is what it would be.

Noctis already has a huge following…

To be honest, Noct is not cool inside. His appearance might tell you he is cool, but he is not very cool. He is a very quirky guy, so in the end being ‘not so cool’ is one of his characteristics.

Does the game focus mainly on Noctis, or on the other characters in the party, as well?

In Final Fantasy games, party is necessary, I think. So how we use party members is a core part of Final Fantasy games. How to take turns and how to act is very important. Noct can battle himself, but in the trailer, you can tell he did battle with other characters, as well. So I think there will be a lot of co-operation within the team, but in a different form from previous Final Fantasy games. In the trailer, you probably saw that three players were co-operating with each other to fight with that giant, so there was some drama in it. I don’t want to make it into a systematic team play, but that it has some story to it. We are always aware that party battle is necessary in the Final Fantasy series.

In the trailer, it seems he’s able to defy gravity. Is that an ability we’ll be able to activate in the game?

Actually, he wasn’t defying gravity. He has the ability to teleport himself into the sky. I think that if we tried to make the game very realistic, it would become impossible to enjoy as a game. For example, if you try to float an enemy in the air and try to battle with tumble attacks and he falls at regular speed, it would become kind of strange. So we’re always trying to figure out the balance between realism and fantasy.

Can you discuss the platforms?

Up until about a year ago, we were making Final Fantasy XV for current generation consoles and keeping that in mind, as well. But as you’ve seen in the trailer, next-generation consoles have really good quality that make it possible to create the game in really good high quality. And I think the quality will increase even more in the development process.

The way we’re developing the game has changed and is very different. Before when we said multiplatform games, we developed a game to fit to one console’s specifications and evened it out to the rest. But now, we make the game in a different way. And I always had in mind that I didn’t want to make a game that compromised the quality.

This time, we are using a different method of development. We are not looking at the consumer consoles to meet their specifications. We are making the higher quality game for next-gen consoles, but use a tool called DirectX 11 to make it. Then, whichever consoles are able to handle that tool can be used to port the game to it. So we just care about the specifications of each hardware and hope that they will maintain the original high quality of the game we are making when it’s ported to the console.

Again, it’s not like we have to care about the difference in each hardware, but it’s just about whether the console can handle its high quality. So that’s the only part we will have to be aware of.

(Note: He appears to be saying that they make they game in DirectX 11 on PC and port the game to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One since they’re able to handle it. And that they can consider any hardware that supports DirectX 11 functionality.)

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  • Christopher Celand

    Number one question I would love to ask: “WHY YOU MADE IT NOT PS4 EXCLUSIVE!?

  • DarthBrian

    So put it on PC then if it’s made with Direct X. sheesh. :p

  • CosmicNova

    All these questions and yet not the one I wanted asked.

    • Elvick

      Pretty much…

  • GetOffMy_Lawn

    Should have asked him when these games will be released. I really don’t want to wait another seven years…

    • Hidayat246

      XV will be release after LR so is around 2014/2015
      but u must be ask when KH 3 release?? because i smell 2016/2017

      • Dasher1572

        Kingdom Hearts is being developed by the Osaka team. which means that the two titles are being developed simultaneously, so the release of Kingdom Hearts might be sooner than you think.

        • TetsuyaHikari

          Yeah? Versus/XV was also being developed “simultaneously” as well. What’s your point?


          • Bobby Jennings


          • Dasher1572

            My point is that the Osaka team is a completely different team than Square Enix 1st Production Department. Meaning that Kingdom Hearts 3 does not have to wait until Final Fantasy XV is finished to go into full production.

            • TetsuyaHikari

              Well, that much is true, but it still doesn’t mean we’ll be getting KH3 before FFXV, so I don’t see the point.

              • Dasher1572

                Kingdom Hearts 3 will definitely be released after Final Fantasy XV, but with the two teams it will be sooner than if it was the same team working on it.

                • Hidayat246

                  but the director is STILL NOMURA-SENSEI

                  if u believe that, then the fastest release KH 3 is around desember 2015

                  • Dasher1572

                    December 2015 is probably a good guess. Though considering that he has been Director, Concept Designer, Character Designer, and Base Story writer for all of the Kingdom Hearts games while he is an active Character Designer and Creative Producer for the Final Fantasy series, including his work on The Third Birthday and The World Ends with You. He is a busy man, he should be able to handle the upcoming games.

      • GetOffMy_Lawn

        Those are probably pretty good guesses. I think sometime between December 2014-February 2015 for XV, since they have a habit or releasing FF games during that time of the year.

        They’ll probably want to release the second HD collection of KH before 3 (I’m guessing around fall 2015 for that), then holiday 2016 for Kingdom Hearts III.

    • Matt Andre

      Honestly? When. It’s. Done.

      I really do not give a damn how long it takes to finish. I want a complete product on the disc I buy. Not a rushed-out, half-finished, glitchy game. I want all the god damn awesome they can fit on it *before* it’s released. Do I want to wait another seven years? Hell no. They probably shouldn’t have gone and announced it back in 2006.

      I mean, unless that was their plan. I mean, they were discussing it being “XV” *years ago*, according to Nomura. So.. The hold-up seems to have been next-gen consoles. He wanted better tech. That’s why there’s been info bans all this time, they’ve been calling it FFXV in their office for the last.. 2-3 years? They just didn’t tell anyone.

  • bloodiOS

    That’s nice and all but I would like Final Fantasy XV to be released within the next two years and Kingdom Hearts III sometimes before the ninth generation of consoles rolls in.

    • Budgiecat

      I want FF XV to be released this November along with the PS4 being released then too. Then KH3 early next year.

      Then Shenmue III announced at TGS for PS4 exclusive

  • Learii

    so FF 15 battle system will be like FF12? he did say is turn base

    • KingKellogg The Waffle Haggler

      More like KH

      • Learii

        I hope so because he didn’t say is an action rpg

    • Solomon_Kano


      “Yes, it is an action-based RPG. There’s not much turn-based style in it, but if you look carefully in the trailer, the command system is on the screen […]”

      Plays like his Kingdom Hearts games, but it has a party like FF.

      • Emdimian

        I freakin hope so cause if it plays like FF XIII I’ll be freakin dissapointed

        • TetsuyaHikari

          If it played more like XIII, I’d be more interested. It sure beats the combat system I’m currently seeing anyway ;w;

          • aeoncs

            XIII beats the combat system of nothing. Seriously, there are people out there who like it? Huh, go figure.

            • TetsuyaHikari

              Well, there were also people out there that enjoyed X-2. Just goes to show there truly are different strokes for different folks. Huh, go figure.

              You’ll live.

    • DongT

      reminds me of a mix between kingdom hearts and crisis core combat

      • Matt Andre

        This! Hnngg, dat Crisis Core..

        • DongT

          ikr!? CC ended up being my favorite FF :)

  • new_tradition

    I kind of feel bad for Nomura. I was watching the livestream of the interview, and the poor guy kept sniffling. Probably dealing with a cold, and yet he still came on to do the interview >.<

    Interesting info all around, but at this point I'm sold. It's not a matter of if I'll buy the games, but when.

  • DesmaX

    hahaha, I like how Square didn’t even ask about 2.5 HD

    • Matt Andre

      Nomura’s already said “It’d be incredibly silly if we didn’t do 2.5 HD as well..” 2.5’s literally already a given.. But it’ll also be PS3 exclusive.

  • Kita

    Well it feels great that Square is talking about FF15 and KH3, games we haven’t heard from in eons… I was surprised this year. I had low hopes.

  • MrRobbyM

    I wonder how possible a PC version is?

    • Farid Belkacemi

      LR XIII will have a PC version so… Why not FF XV ?

      • Adol Christin

        That was a misprint.

        • Farid Belkacemi

          Mmm, ok then ! :D

        • Matt Andre

          This, there’s no way LR will be on PC. It’s a continuation of existing Xbox 360/PS3 franchises. New generation means Kingdom Hearts III (without exclusivity rights) could go wherever it wants.
          FFXIV:ARR’s the only upcoming PC Final Fantasy. =P

  • $18114340

    Wouldn’t they have to pay licensing fees to Microsoft to get DirectX11 working on non-Microsoft OS? Actually, would DirectX11 even work on non-Microsoft-based OS?

    EDIT: nvm, just realized that with the released specs the PS4 does indeed have DX11 support. Wonder how Sony managed to get support for a proprietary (albeit modified) API on the Playstation.

    • Lynx

      Microsoft’s using Blu-Ray. Isn’t that Sony?

      Perhaps that’s what happened? Sony gives Microsoft Blu-Ray, Microsoft give them DirectX

      • LordKaiser

        So they negotiated it.

      • Matt Andre

        Who knows, maybe Sony and Microsoft are really.. DUN DUN DUUUUUUUN.. The same company? Or at least secretly in bed together? XD

    • DesmaX

      Well, no developer these days work with OpenGL.

      Sony didn’t have a choice

  • kiri25

    Is it just me or does this comment make no sense?
    “So for the fans, I wanted to make sure everybody plays 1.5 to prepare for Kingdom Hearts III.”
    Yet 1.5 is PS3 only so why put KH3 on Xbone?

    • TetsuyaHikari

      Probably because they know “everyone” will be PS4 fans playing KH3. After all, this will be the first Kingdom Hearts title with Microsoft and I certainly don’t see it doing near as well as it does with Sony. It should be no surprise that a majority of the consumers for KH3 will be getting it on PS4 :P

      I don’t even play KH, nor am I fan of it, but even I know THAT much, heh.

      • Matt Andre

        Exactly this! In comparison, FFXIII sales on Xbox were absolutely *abysmal* compared to PS3. It sold tons more on PS3, because it’s predominantly for an Asian-influenced audience.. I mean, more units is more units, I guess.. But Xbox hasn’t exactly been good for them.

    • Raiu


      I don’t even know why the Xbox One is being considered at all… They would have to put in long lists of text to explain the overall story(KH 3D) and Sony got Asia, Japan and most of EU territories at their grasp right now….

      Unless Square Enix likes to lose money on porting costs and they think they can recoup the cost with it then I don’t know….

      • Bobby Jennings


    • MasterSensei

      Remember what happened to Metal Gear Rising Revengence in Japan? (in case you didn’t know) The Xbox 360 version was flat out cancelled because Xbox 360 was REALLY unpopular in Japan. It’s still in the early stages at the moment so maybe later along the lines they might change it to a PlayStation 4 exclusive…maybe? depending on how badly the Xbox One sells they could change their mind last minute. But right now it’s still in the starting stages of development and that’s what I personally care about!!

  • Christopher Celand

    Question we all want to ask “So, why it not a PS4 Exclusive?”

  • Farid Belkacemi

    So in short, the Wii U can’t support DirectX 11 ?

    • bloodiOS


    • Bobby Jennings

      Basically! It’s a Gen behind!

      • $18114340

        I don’t think an entire generation of gaming being defined by Microsoft’s proprietary Windows-based API is a good thing. If anything, we should be lamenting the movement away from open standards and we should be disappointed that common APIs such as OpenGL couldn’t get their act together in time for this generation.

        Part of the problem might have to do with the ease of use of these APIs, but I’m guessing that another part of it has to do with ubiquity and marketing. DirectX11 isn’t widely used because it’s necessarily better or “more next-gen”, it’s widely used because Microsoft pushes for it to an almost oppressive degree and DX/D3D are already popular APIs. When an API is popular, it stays popular because people are more accustomed to using it, and it’s easier for graphics hardware makers to optimize towards one solution rather than two (hence why graphics drivers support for OpenGL traditionally lags behind Direc3D support).

        The common misconception is that DirectX11 is capable of things that other APIs aren’t. That’s not true. They’re simply different ways of getting what you need to out of the hardware. Of course, people like big numbers, and 11 is bigger than 10, so by saying, “DirectX11!” you’ve already blown away your targeted audience of idiots.

        Microsoft has been trying to control game development since ’95, and prominent programmers such as John Carmack have traditionally resisted it. Carmack is a genius and a very talented graphics programmer. He can’t have spent the last nearly-20 years resisting Direct3D for no good reason.

      • Matt Andre

        I don’t see how.. I mean, sure, a standard technology would be nice, but I don’t see how it’s immediately a generation behind, simply for doing something different. Developers just can’t seem to be bothered working with alternatives. The lazy way is often the best way.

    • $18114340

      The Wii U’s architecture is fairly exotic in comparison to the PS4 and Xbox One’s “me-too” processors that are basically PCs. It probably can’t run DirectX11, but might be able to approximate certain aspects of the API if developers try hard enough. Of course, they won’t, because porting these games and getting them to work correctly probably takes more effort than developing new ones from the ground-up.

      • Farid Belkacemi

        Ok then, thanks for the answer :)

  • King-Prodigy-X

    Now we just need a damn release date.

  • Demolish

    will be fun if they release in summer 2014

  • Souji Tendou

    So, what about your stand long time ago about FF Versus being only on PS3 Nomura? :p
    Oh wait, it’s technically changed into FF XV, so ofc being multiplatform is all okay. Well, I never cared about this game anyway, just find it curious no one asks him about that. :p

    • artemisthemp

      I really hope FFXV for PS4 will get something, that XBone don’t else…

    • $18114340

      Square Enix using Final Fantasy to exploit disillusioned Sony fans? Nothing new.

  • KingNigma

    I can’t believe “Will we actually get to see Kingdom Hearts?” in KH3 was a question.

  • Gilgamesh2025

    I hope Sora will get new clothes! ^^

    • MasterSensei

      I’m really hoping he gets new clothes AND get to keep the AWESOME Drive forms. kickin’ ass with Valor form, casting powerful magic with Wisdom form, straight-up owning enemies with Master form and flying around in Final form will be spectacular!

  • Shakki

    We want it on WiiU!

  • PrinceHeir

    get hype :D