E3 2012: Kingdom Hearts 3D Developer Interview
While the Japanese version has been avaialble for a little while now, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance is still a little way out here in the West.
We caught up with some of the staff of the title at E3 2012 to chat about 10 years of Kingdom Hearts, the future of the franchise and what makes this latest spin-off special.
RPGSite: How did the decision come about to make this game for the Nintendo 3DS?
Yasue: There were a lot of demonstrations in Osaka, Tokyo with the 3DS and we really liked the hardware.
It’s the 10th anniversary of Kingdom Hearts so we wanted to refresh everyone’s memory and bridge that to the future of Kingdom Hearts so I guess those are two reasons we’re excited about the handheld and also because we wanted to bridge the past and the future using this title.
RPGSite: Do you have an over-arching narration with Sora and Riku’s story—do you have this sort of plan where you’re going next with the franchise?
Yasue: Franchise-wise it’s all in Nomura’s head. We just hear from him so it’s surprising. For KH3D we had the plot and scenario from Nomura and we came up with the gameplay ideas in Osaka.
RPGSite: Will there be any changes between the Japanese and English versions of the game?
Yasue: Not really this time, there are no major changes actually between the English and Japanese version.
RPGSite: Do you think KH3D is a good entry for newcomers to the franchise?
Yasue: For KH3D we have a Memento system that sort of refreshes everyone’s knowledge of Kingdom Hearts. After cutscenes you get these mementos which you can open up in the campaign and they tell you the story of Kingdom Hearts, II and Birth by Sleep using graphics and text.
So by playing this you can refresh your memory or if you don’t know anything about Kingdom Hearts you can learn about it in this way. Obviously if you’re not that interested you can just play the game and play each Disney world as its own story, so you could enjoy that by itself as well.
RPGSite: When Kingdom Hearts first started, it was on the PlayStation 2 and since then it’s migrated to the DS and now 3DS so now the releases are about equal across both Sony and Nintendo platforms, do you feel that the series is a better fit on any certain platform’s audience?
Yasue: When we make each Kingdom Hearts we have new ideas for each of them and we make it for the hardware in a way. For 3D, the 3DS was the best for us. With Birth by Sleep we made it for the PSP so I think it really fit.
The DS gave us nice views of the map and with the PSP we had nice views with the bigger screen. For the 3DS wanted to use the touch screen in a unique sort of way and we did that with the reality shift. For each world you get this reality shift ability.
For example if you go to the Three Musketeers world you have to touch the screen for this comic book strip and by touching it you can damage enemies.
In Fantasia you can use the touch screen to create music, so we’re really excited about that.
RPGSite: What brought about enhancements to the combat system with the Dream Eaters and Flow Motion systems?
Yasue: With Flow Motion, we really wanted to take Kingdom Hearts to the next level. We wanted to make it for the handheld but it was if we wanted to make it for a [home] console in a way. We wanted it to be more dynamic and speed-based—you can kick walls, slide down ramps and everything. I think KH from now on will follow in that sort of direction. More dynamics and maps wider, bigger, taller—searchable maps. There’s a lot of hidden places for treasure boxes and whatnot.
For the Dream Eaters, we’ve never done gameplay where you can have your own pet, so we wanted players to feel really attached to their own spirit creature. You can chose your own creature and pet it using the touch screen and so we wanted to introduce that kind of gameplay as well.
RPGSite: With the 3DS supporting digital downloads including downloadable content, will Kingdom Hearts 3D see any DLC content released?
Yasue: No, really we’re not planning anything just yet.
RPGSite: Has Disney had any input on the new worlds that have been added this time around?
Yasue: Actually we come up with ideas first. What we do is come up with the concept paper and decide what we really want to do with each world. There’s a reason for each world coming into being such as the Hunchback of Notre Dame—there was a lot of user input from players who wanted that Disney world incorporated so put it in because of that.
For Fantasia we wanted a musical stage and for Tron Legacy we wanted to challenge what the 3DS could do in terms of making something console-like with the realistic characters. Each world has its own meaning and characteristics. The gameplay is really varied in each world and interesting.
RPGSite: Are there any Disney worlds you would like to see in the series that haven’t made it in yet?
Yasue: Personally, and this isn’t an announcement but I really want to make a Pixar world like Toy Story. I think a lot of users share that feeling. I think they have a lot of fun ideas and I would love to work with the Pixar people in coming up with a new world.
RPGSite: The World Ends With You characters were introduced in KH3D… was that due to their popularity as a cult DS game?
Yasue: Nomura came up with the idea and wanted it incorporated. I think a lot of the characters have their own characteristics and we thought that would be interesting to mix with Traverse Town. This time we changed a lot of the features of Traverse Town and it sort of resembles Shibuya—a lot of the buildings, the graffiti. Mixing Traverse Town with TWEWY is something new and I think you’ll find it really fresh when you play it.
RPGSite: Do you have any other plans to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Kingdom Hearts?
Yasue: Kingdom Hearts 3D basically is the 10th anniversary presentation game.
RPGSite: Nomura-san recently shared his desire to return the series to consoles. Could you comment on that?
Yasue: I really can’t, but what I can say is that Kingdom Hearts 3D is directly connected to Kingdom Hearts 3 so if you play it, you’ll get a rough idea of the future in the secret movie for example. A lot of the gameplay, as I mentioned earlier will be taken to those future games as well.
[Interview Conducted in Collaboration with Nintendo Universe]