Nomura GameInformer Interview scans

The latest issue Game Informer issue features an interview with Tetsuya Nomura on the upcoming North American release of Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. At the end of the interview, the magazine questioned the game director and character designer about his future projects.

Full Interview

Q: The North American versions of Kingdom Hearts games have traditionally included some extras. What kind of bonuses can we expect?

A: There are a variety of new elements, including Critical Mode, which takes the difficulty beyond Proud Mode; Keyblades, abilities, minigame maps, and songs. We’re also unleashing a mystery enemy for North American fans, so hopefully everyone will enjoy the challenge.

Q: How did you decide which Disney worlds would be in Birth by Sleep?

A: The process of choosing worlds has been the same with every entry. First, we select the worlds that are essential based on the scenario; in this title’s case, the three pricess’ worlds. Then, to add some variety to the locations we decided to include Deep Space (Lilo & Stitch) and Neverland (Peter Pan). Since Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep takes place before the rest of the games in the series, we decided to include Olympus Coliseum (Hercules) to show the contrast between past and present. We were able to incorporate more locations because of the hardware’s capacity, and also because this title carries the same weight as a numbered Kingdom Hearts title.

Q: How did you decide to set Birth by Sleep before all of the Kingdom Hearts games?

A: We set it before the other games to resolve mysteries that have scattered us thus far, and to clarify what mysteries lie ahead in the series. I hope everyone gets to see the secret ending!

Q: What can you tell us about the new enemy, the Unversed?

A: Heartless are realizations of darkness in the heart, while Unversed are an existence born of negative emotion. They’re similar in essence, but more information will be revealed in due time by a certain individual.

Q: How did you decide on featuring playable heroes in Birth by Sleep with different quests rather than a single protagonist like Sora or Roxas?

A: Everything is part of one big story, and there is only one final destination. Fans of the series who already know what happens beyond Birth by Sleep may be able to predict where the three are headed. I thought that by separating the story into three prospectives, and having the player choose the order of progression would deepen the mystery, making the journey all the more interesting. Even if you complete one character’s story, you’ll become more curious as to what happens to the other two, and eager to see to how everything comes to a close for the three.

Q: Can you explain some of the new combat elements?

A: The main concept for this battle system was to incorporate speed and tension in combat. There are three new systems that comprise the core of the game’s battle sytem, and the Command Deck is definitely a key component. Each command has a level assigned to it, and there are several ways to develop them. There is also a charge time for each command, and timing is a crucial factor to using them successfully. You can freely adjust the command column, creating a setup that reflects your personal strategy and battle style.

The Shotlock command is an evolution of the target lock-on, which was one of the few constants throughout the series. You can use it to wipe out multiple enemies at once, or as a special one-shot attack against powerful enemies.

Dimension Link (D-Link) was a concept we took from the scenario and built into the system. It’s an extension of the summoning system, and allows you to access other characters’ deck commands and special attacks by connecting with them.

Q: What was the inspiration behind the new Command Board?

A: I personally love board games, and this was a concept I had been working on for years as something I wanted to construct as a system one day. It’s not a concept I thought of just for this game, but I think we were able to link it very well with the current command leveling system. It’s not just a minigame, but an alternate game whose results affect the main game as well.

Q: What did you want to accomplish with the multiplayer gameplay in Birth by Sleep compared to 358/2 Days?

A: In Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, you could venture to different worlds to accomplish missions, but this time around players can gather in a world called the Mirage Arena to defeat target enemies. Up to three players can play co-op or against each other three-on-three. There are also minigame battles that are new to the series: Command Board and Rumble Racing. We utilized the hardware’s wireless capabilities and capacity to the fullest to offer minigames that people can jump right in and out of. This way, people can enjoy the variety of battles and worlds that the game has to offer.

Q: Translations of your interview in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep Ultimania seem to confirm that Kingdom Hearts III is coming along with two other games.

A: Kingdom Hearts III is not a confirmed title. I actually phrased my asnwer for the Ultimania “two titles other than III” to avoid speculation that we were working on Kingdom Hearts III.

Q: Are there any hints you can provide about these new games?

A: Hints would give away too much, and for Kingdom Hearts we’re contractually obligated to keep any information that has not been official released under wraps. However, I can say one of the two projects mentioned above came into existence because we wanted to do something for the North American fans, so we’ll be announcing it at E3.

Q: Any chance these new games will spread to consoles that Kingdom Hearts hasn’t been on yet like Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, or iPhone?

A: We have no plans at the moment, but have been discussion opportunities with various parties, so once we’ve completed the two new projects we’ll begin thinking about the next steps.

Q: Final Fantasy Versus XIII is your current primary project. How is it coming along?

A: Developement is progressing smoothly, but starting with E3 and through winter, there are a number of titles I am involved in that will be announced. And of course, the company as a whole has many upcoming projects, so we’ll take it one step at a time. We do have plans to officially showcase the title at a certain point.


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