Now that the series has gone on for so long, I suppose you must have gradually established a “Kingdom Hearts-esque” style.
Hmm. I wonder...
Or perhaps your team didn’t need to discuss it, because you had a clear vision of what the final product should look like from the very beginning, before a game was even produced?
I think so, yes. We don’t really talk about whether games are Kingdom Hearts-esque or not. Staff are aware that if I say “this is what I want to make”, that means it’s already a Kingdom Hearts game.
So Kingdom Hearts as we know it actually comes straight from your mind?
Yes... Now, if you’re asking what “Kingdom Hearts-esque” means, one of the things it involves for me is a sense of depth.
What do you mean by “depth”?
I hope people feel a sense of depth when they enter the world of Kingdom Hearts. I don’t want it to look like we’ve just made something flimsy and superficial, and are just trading off the Kingdom Hearts name.
So it’s not just a matter of sticking the world and the characters into the game?
No, it’s not. I really don’t give much thought to that, to be honest... What really matters is the “setting” of the game – and that is not necessarily something that can be seen on the surface.
So you have a coherent idea of how everything works, and the game only works if this is adhered to. Whether or not it’s all mentioned is irrelevant, it’s about you knowing how everything is interconnected, and being able to explain it without contradicting yourself.
Tell me, when you actually revealed this game to the public and watched their reactions, what kind of responses did you observe, Nomura-san?
When the game was first announced in Los Angeles24, I was sitting on the first floor, watching you make the presentation. The title came up on the screen behind you, and I could see the audience getting really excited. “Thank goodness...” I thought. It was a real relief. 24 The game was first announced at E3 2010. E3 in an abbreviation of “Electronic Entertainment Expo”, a video game trade fair held annually in Los Angeles.
I remember standing on stage and witnessing the audience’s reaction as well. People seemed really thrilled.
I did think “I have to take this seriously now”... Ever since that first announcement, there’s been a big reaction to every trailer we’ve put out. People are really taking an interest in the game – I didn’t think they would, not to this extent.
Why is that?
A really great line-up was being announced at the time, and I didn’t think that this title stood out, particularly. But I really felt the audience were showing an interest in it. The reaction to the bundle25 was also really good. 25 ”Bundle” refers to the version of that is packaged with a Nintendo 3DS system in Japan. The system included in the package is coloured Cosmos Black, and its front and back are decorated with an original pattern depicting images from the game, such as Mickey Mouse and the crown symbol.
There certainly was a very positive reaction to the bundle.
Yes. Though I’m confident that the game has become something that the fans will like, but I felt the general response was actually better than I’d been expecting.
When you create a long-running series like this, there must come a time when you worry about the conflict between meeting fan’s expectations and being accessible to new players. What do you think about that?
I worry a lot about that... I feel it’s something that has to be dealt with eventually. We try to make the introductory part of every game accessible for new players, for example by having the main character enter the world and ask “what is this place”? That puts them in the same boat as the player.
So you always start from a situation where the player knows nothing?
Yes. We give players who don’t know anything some information about the characters and the game setting that we think is useful. But it’s hard for the players who’re familiar with the series to understand the things that new players will be uneasy about.
And the fans of the series probably feel that explanations aimed at new players are a bit excessive.
If a puzzle is presented both to players who have experience and those who don’t, the ones who don’t have experience may think that they are lacking some prior knowledge required to solve the puzzle. That is, they think they can’t solve the puzzle because they haven’t played previous titles in the series. So, although it’s always a difficult question that will never go away, we’ve included a system in this game that will allow players to learn the entire plot of the series so far.
You certainly don’t feel like you need to have played the previous games in the series in order to enjoy this one.
I hope that’s the case. We’ve made this title so that it contains all the information you need to know, even more so than previous titles. (laughs) But still, we didn’t forget that concept of “just picking up the controller and playing around - even without any specific game mission - is fun enough”. So you don’t need to know every detail in order to enjoy the game.
This series did come about after you enjoyed jumping around in front of the castle in Mario 64 and decided to create gaming world where even just moving around can be fun for the players.
That’s right, yes.
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