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  1. Yoko Shimomura discusses new music for Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue and soundtracks for Kingdom Hearts III

    On October 6th, 2016, in London, UK, Symphonic Fantasies was held featuring music from various franchises including Kingdom Hearts. At the Symphonic Fantasies concert, Yoko Shimomura, composer of the Kingdom Hearts series, discussed music for Kingdom Hearts. Many wondered about the music for Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, releasing on January 24th, 2017, and the anticipated Kingdom Hearts III. Shimomura says that she has written new music for Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue and that she has a ton of tracks planned for Kingdom Hearts III with the high expectations in mind.
    Shimomura also addressed Kingdom Hearts in general and some of her experiences as she developed and composed the music for the games.

    You can check out her responses below. Thanks go to KH13 News Team members AndrewHankinson & Aquaberry for attending and taking note of the responses given by Yoko Shimomura. You can also check out some of the pictures they took below.

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    [UPDATE] KH13 News Team Member AndrewHankinson has added the questions from the audience members and answers from Yoko Shimomura including a question asked by KH13 News Team Member Aquaberry. Please let us know if you asked one of the question on the night!

    GARETH DAVIES (Interviewer/Principle Flute player and Chairman in the London Symphony Orchestra)
    Now, your career in video gaming has spanned over 3 decades. The industry now is changed beyond all recognition since you started composing for games. When you decided not to accept the job as a piano teacher, but you decided to compose for games instead, how did you colleagues and family react?

    YOKO SHIMOMURA
    Yes, now-a-days you have all these games and concerts, and so many people come to listen to them. And everyone knows about game music, but back then it was a really minor profession when I started and so the reaction I got from other people was…”You’re going to do what?” “What, you’re going to make little bleepy noises?” They just didn’t understand what it was I was going to be doing.

    GARETH DAVIES
    Now, the London Symphony Orchestra, as you know, has played lots of film soundtracks like Star Wars, Harry Potter, and now-a-days we do quite a lot of film music concerts and film music has been…it’s gradually being more accepted on the Classic FM Hall of Fame. Do you find that gaming music is finally now taken more seriously by people who go to other kind of concerts?

    YOKO SHIMOMURA
    I started checking the charts a couple of years back and I’ve been keeping an eye on it for the last year or two. And when I first saw one of my own compositions on there 2 years ago, it was a really moving experience. I thought I’m standing side by side, shoulder to shoulder with Beethoven. Hearing my music played by the LSO, by such an amazing and respected orchestra is really an honour for me. I’ve always loved orchestras since I was a child and it just makes me really happy.

    GARETH DAVIES
    Thank you. That’s really kind of you. We love playing your music too. Especially my flute solos.

    YOKO SHIMOMURA
    I actually used to play the flute as a high-school student.

    GARETH DAVIES
    Oh wow!

    YOKO SHIMOMURA
    I’m not about to play for you. Maybe in another life I can be your pupil.

    GARETH DAVIES
    If you teach me composing, yes. Speaking of standing shoulder to shoulder with Beethoven, what a lot of people may not know (I don’t know if you know!) is that you are, in the Classic FM Hall of Fame, the highest female composer, ever!

    YOKO SHIMOMURA
    What an honour! I’ve hardly ever been number one at anything. I always thought that happiness was to carry on doing what you love whether or not I got to number one or number two or number three or number four. But that was happiness and so it’s a real surprise to be number one and I’m very very grateful because it’s of everyone here.

    GARETH DAVIES
    Now, after graduating in Osaka in 1988, you found success very very quickly, composing many now legendary soundtracks including I have to say one of the games I used to spend hours playing when I should have been practicing flute at college: Street Fighter 2. That’s up there! Now, Street Fighter 2 was the first score that you wrote that’s actually released as a stand alone soundtrack album, which is quite a huge thing particularly for gaming music at the time. Can you tell us how important that was for you and how important you think it was for the development of the way gaming music was accepted? Sorry, they’re very long questions.

    YOKO SHIMOMURA
    Yes, Street Fighter 2 was such a big hit and the soundtrack did so well, and it’s an honour for me that they continue to use my music all the way through. It’s really something that has a lot of memories for me. But back then they weren’t using the internet like they do now; there wasn’t Facebook, there was no Twitter. So we didn’t really know if my music was successful or not.

    GARETH DAVIES
    That’s really interesting. So since the internet has been invented (yes, some of us remember when it wasn’t!) have you found that’s been a really useful tool for keeping in contact with fans and seeing how they feel about your music?

    YOKO SHIMOMURA
    I think in a way it’s because of the internet, that I’ve got to where I am today. That I’m sitting here on this stage because as a composer what you do is quite solitary. You’re shut away, you’re plugging away at composition and you don’t have a chance to hear what people think about what you do. So sometimes if I’m feeling down or if I’m going down in the middle of the night, I just type in I wonder what people think about such and such a piece. All these amazing positive comments and that really cheers me up and gives me that need to carry on.

    GARETH DAVIES
    Oh, there you are. So ladies and gentlemen; you know what to do! Get on Twitter straight away! …Don’t forget to tag London Symphony Orchestra!
    Now in 1993, when you joined what’s now Square Enix, when you started working for the them the kind of games that you composed for seemed to change to more fast role-playing games which also seemed to coincide with the change in style in your music. Writing for the games which have a more complex narrative; something which attracted you to Square Enix as apposed to the not so complex narrative of Street Fighter 2, I think is fair to say.

    YOKO SHIMOMURA
    I’ve always like classical music so writing/composing those pieces with the drums and guitars wasn’t really my strong suit. But I did somehow ended up starting writing for all those fighting games and it was fun, but I did want to try something that was more suited to me. That was more classical and I also wanted to try composing for role-playing game and yeah there was a sense in which Square did have those kind of games that appealed to me.

    GARETH DAVIES
    It is very beautiful music and it’s interesting because hearing it in the orchestra. It’s like the whole thing expands.!What I do find fascinating about your music is the many many different themes for all the characters. There are so many individual motifs that are all different but they all fit together in the same way. When you compose a new game score, tell us how you do it, how you start? Do you see the gameplay, do you get shown pictures of the characters? Do you see characters and ideas for themes popping to you head? How do you start with such a huge project?

    YOKO SHIMOMURA
    That’s a hard question, but it’s difficult to answer because I don’t really think too hard about it, when I’m composing for a new game. I will have pictures of the characters, the story, I might see some background art, and then all of that combined stimulus comes together and I don’t really try to compose it. I just wait for something to appear.

    GARETH DAVIES
    Oh wow! So it’s easy?

    YOKO SHIMOMURA
    It’s easy if something comes to me.

    GARETH DAVIES
    So do ideas come to you when you’re sitting down at your piano or your desk or when you walk around? Do you have to lock yourself in room and just wait?

    YOKO SHIMOMURA
    I never know when the ideas are going to come to me. I don’t know when they’ll appear, I don’t know when they’ll disappear, so it’s really about how I just seize them when they do show up.

    GARETH DAVIES
    Well you’ve seized a lot! If you have an idea, write it down!

    YOKO SHIMOMURA
    If I get an idea right now I’ll have to go backstage and try to write it down before I forget.

    GARETH DAVIES
    Now in 2002 you composed the music to Kingdom Hearts. [crowd applause] I know where this is going! Now, it’s amazingly a game that solds 4 million copies; it’s an incredible amount of people playing it! Now, famously it’s with the Disney characters. They are already really well loved characters, but also have a lot of very famous musical themes. We’ve all whistled various Disney themes, my daughter never stops. Was that a daunting prospect, going from one set of well loved characters to another and having to integrate them?

    YOKO SHIMOMURA
    I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous, but I would also be lying if I said that it was really daunting and that I’d feel like I’d be under a lot of pressure. I had seen a lot of Disney films myself and I had my reactions to those; you know I was moved by them or I found them sweet. I just wanted to get those feelings across in the music with their reactions. So bits of it were difficult but a lot of it was wonderful as well!

    GARETH DAVIES
    It’s great. That’s some of my favourite music CDs! Now, nobody's listening…but the eagerly awaited Kingdom Hearts III? Now for a game franchise that you’ve been involved with for such a long time, how’s it been revisiting some of those characters?

    YOKO SHIMOMURA
    Yeah, there’s a lot of expectations to live up to and think there are people that are hoping for great things and of course Tetsuya Nomura is doing his best as well. So I think I will be writing a lot of music for that, but before that there’s actually 2.8 which is coming out, and I’ve already been writing new music for that – quite a lot! It has been a while since I’ve done it and so I just hope it will live up to people’s expectations. And yeah, just watch this space!

    GARETH DAVIES
    [indicating to the audience] You can see how excited they all are!
    Now, Kingdom Hearts is regularly listed as one of top game soundtracks, and I personally would like to know do you have a favourite soundtrack of your own that you’ve written, and also a favourite by another composer?

    YOKO SHIMOMURA
    That’s such a tough question and I can never answer it because when it comes of my music and my soundtracks, they’re like my children and I love them all the same even the naughty ones. The particularly bad, but I love them all and they’re all important to me and I can’t say I like this one more than that one, so I can’t answer that question. Sorry. When it comes to other people’s music, again there’s so much that I like and it’s hard to pick just one off the top of my head so I’m going to have to apologise again and say I can’t answer that one either.

    GARETH DAVIES
    When you come back next time, you can think about it.

    YOKO SHIMOMURA
    I’ll have a think. I’ll be ready!

    GARETH DAVIES
    Excellent! Now before we open the floor to questions with my two beautiful assistants with microphones, it has been a pleasure talking to you and it’s a pleasure playing your music! I’m sure that there might be some young people out there who would also like to compose for games. Is there something that you wish you’d known when you were starting out that you know now that you would be able to give them some advice?

    YOKO SHIMOMURA
    Well now-a-days I think people have much better technology than I had back then and I think the more familiar you are with that, the more technology you take on board, the better; the more you’ll be able to improve! But that’s not so much something I wish I knew back then, and neither is this, but I guess I would say just don’t give up doing what you love! Stay strong, keep passionate and value small things! Small responses; things that move you however small they are in the music. It’s there in music that you write; there’s something that moves you and that what you need to respect and to know it. Because it’s there.


    GARETH DAVIES
    That is very good advice for everybody I think. Thank you very much!




    QUESTIONS FROM AUDIENCE



    GARETH DAVIES
    Now, I’m sure, everyone’s shifting in their seats! I’m sure lot of you may have some questions that you would like to put to our guest!

    QUESTION 1
    Hello. Thank you for joining us in London. Thank you for coming to see us and speak to us. I would like to know the story of how you composed the boss battle music for Final Fantasy XV?

    YOKO SHIMOMURA
    That was 2007 Tokyo Game Shows. That was about 9 years ago? Yes I’m really glad that’s finally been used! At that time I wrote it for a trailer at the Tokyo Game Show and I really wanted it to be used for a game and I wanted it to be a battle song. That’s why it’s got that intense rhythm and it’s very dramatic and fast-paced, but I also wanted you to be able to go through that whole emotion in just one piece. That’s how it came about!

    QUESTION 2
    What composers and artists in general have inspired you?

    YOKO SHIMOMURA
    When I started this work, I already loved classical music and I’d listen to so much classical music that I don’t know if I could have told you who’d written what there was so much of it and it’s all had influence on my music. As a child I just loved classical music and I loved the piano of course, so I think some of the famous piano composers like Chopin, like Rachmaninoff. Those are some of the big influences but there are so many. So so many!

    QUESTION 3
    Hello. You’ve had such a wonderful career. What three words would you use to describe your journey you’ve been on during that time and why have you chosen those words?

    YOKO SHIMOMURA
    Give me a minute. …Sounds a bit corny maybe but love, passion, feelings.

    QUESTION 4
    I was just thinking, you were saying there just before that you decided to be a composer, you were thinking of going to be a piano teacher. I was just wondering what made you decide not to take that easy path? What made you think, no this composition thing is a good idea?

    GARETH DAVIES
    I’m not sure piano teaching is quite as easy.

    YOKO SHIMOMURA
    Well I did like games and then there were a lot of people becoming piano teachers and I thought it’s going to be hard to stand out and be a really good piano teacher amongst so many. So I wanted to do something that was different from what everyone else was doing and I thought no one’s really writing video game music, and I like games so why not give it a go.

    GARETH DAVIES
    I think it’s the other way round now; everybody wants to compose music for video games!

    QUESTION 5 (Aquaberry’s question)
    Hi. I met you 3 years ago so I’m really happy to see you again in London. This question is actually from my friend who lives in America; she told me "You have to ask her this!" Also she told me "You have to tell her that I love her!" because she’s very inspired by [you] because she also wants to be a composer. Her name’s Becca by the way, and Becca asks: when you were composing Vector to the Heavens, what sort of feelings did you go through or what was your journey to composing such a powerful piece? Because I know that there’s a lot of love and a lot of pain in that music, so we’re all very interested hearing how you composed it.

    YOKO SHIMOMURA
    If you’re familiar with Kingdom Hearts you’ll know how important that music is in the story and I really wanted to get across the sadness of Xion’s destiny and the sort of sense of unfulfillment. It’s really hard to describe in words; you’ll have to listen to the music to get it. But just the whole of the character and what they go through I wanted to get it there in the music and I would almost always be crying with tears in my eyes as I was composing that music. I also had tears in my eyes because of all the requests coming from Tetsuya Nomura!

    QUESTION 6
    Video game music is very different in certain ways from all other kinds of music because the player interacts with the game and because of that, the music as well has to be very flexible to be able to repeat, to be fade in and out as the situation changes. I was wondering as a composer how have you had to sort of shape your style around those challenges where it has to be flexible in a way that a lot of other music just doesn’t have to be; where it has to be scripted to a set scene or where it has to fit a lot of different scenarios?

    YOKO SHIMOMURA
    Yeah there are various challenges for example in the first Kingdom Hearts in the question/answer bit with the stain-glass, where based upon what the player chooses, that determines what the next step is, all that music is connected but you have to set up so that you can jump from there to different other pieces. [It’s] The same with the last boss battle; you have to be able to jump to different bits for the music.

    QUESTION 7 (Asked by DarkSeekerCosplay, a Xemnas cosplayer)
    What gave you the idea when composing Xemnas’ theme (Disappeared)? What emotion did you have for that sort of theme?

    YOKO SHIMOMURA
    Is that the fast one? They showed me the battle scene for that one and my impression was it was really fast and the attacks came really quickly so I knew it had to be a fast-paced piece that would latch to the action in the battle scene.

    GARETH DAVIES
    I love the fact that you’ve written so much music you have to ask everyone how it goes.

    QUESTION 8
    This is actually a question for Gareth. I was wondering when LSO gets music that’s new, temporary or whatever next concert you do like tonight, what’s the process i.e. how far in advance do you get the piece to read through and look at or does it come naturally because they’re such professionals?

    GARETH DAVIES
    Oh, we’re just amazing! But seriously, it’s slightly different for concerts; we’ve been rehearsing this for a couple of days, but when we do film soundtracks and video games, we turn up at Abbeyway Studios usually at 10 o’clock in the morning, or 5 to 10, and at 10 o’clock a whole pad of music about that thick [indicates with his fingers an inches’ width] appears on the stand and we sightread it and they put the red light on and they record it. So when I said we were amazing I wasn’t that far! The LSO recorded the very first soundtrack in 1934 for H.T. Mell’s film and have recorded films ever since. We are now officially the most extremed orchestra in the world. So really we’re very very quick, we get given music and it’s very quick; when you hear quite often we do a lot of education work with the London Symphony and we go to schools and we recorded music for the Harry Potter films, and there’s the moment when Dobby dies which is my flute solo. I apologise if that’s a plot spoiler! Quite often when children find out that we’ve done films like that, they’ll say could you play me that bit from the film, and the truth of the matter is I probably only played three times in my life. So the answer is you get the music on the day, and you sight read it and then you record it, and that’s it! Good question, thank you!

    QUESTION 9
    I’m going to ask a specific question about the Kingdom Hearts soundtrack. So you write a lot of music obviously, so first of all, when you wrote the main theme Dearly Beloved, were there any pieces that you wrote and discarded or did you come to Dearly Beloved straight away? Did any of those first drafts or second drafts get reused in the game? And also this is a slightly separate question, what’s your sort of workflow? How much music do you write in a day?

    YOKO SHIMOMURA
    Dearly Beloved came to me quite quickly. The opening shoot it was based on was meant to be the sea and so I think the idea of the first Kingdom Hearts but also there was this instrument back then, I don’t know if you know, it was called the sound canvas. And one of the sound effects was the sea shore and so I just used that in the demo that I created.
    In terms of workflow, it really varies as to how much I can process in a day or how long I spent doing it. If it’s all going well I might write 7 pieces in a day or if it’s not going so well I might spend a few days without completing one piece. I’ve never really tried to stick to a rule like I must finish 3 a day or anything like that. If there’s a deadline coming up then that can make it a bit difficult but it’s quite flexible.

    QUESTION 10
    Hello. Thanks for writing so much music. I’ve got your music on loop on a daily basis; it really helped me throughout my education and work as well! My question is when Final Fantasy versus 13 became 15, what had they told you and what happened to most of your music? Also what opinions do you have regarding this change because it changed quite a lot in regards to story?

    YOKO SHIMOMURA
    I guess everyone was surprised by that change of title. I was surprised to be honest. When it became 15, most of the music is just carried through apart from a very small part of music that wasn’t quite right, but it’s mostly still all there because the basic world of the music is the same! So, there may have been concerns, but as far as the music goes, there’s no need for concern. It’s still there, just carried on; my feelings for it are just the same.

    QUESTION 11
    Hi. So basically I was wondering with Birth by Sleep, in regards to the main trio of protagonists (Terra, Aqua and Ven), we’ve heard snippets of them at the secret ending of Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix (Fate of the Unknown). I was wondering had the you and the team decided then or did you pick them out afterwards?

    YOKO SHIMOMURA
    The themes for Terra and Aqua were arrangements part for that secret ending because I predicted that it was going to be their story coming up next when composing for that secret ending. So I wanted to be able to connect it through to their themes.
    So I already had that in mind but at that stage it was just me thinking of what I thought might happen but when it did actually happen then I got permission from Tetsuya Nomura to use those phrases for Terra and Aqua’s theme songs and that’s how it came about.

    GARETH DAVIES
    Ladies and gentlemen, at the beginning of this talk, our composer was worried that we wouldn’t have enough time, that we’d have TOO much time and then nobody would have had anything to say or have any questions, but I think we could probably could go on all night! However it almost time to let the music do the talking which is the other thing you’ve came here for. So, before we just wrap up here can you please give a huge round of applause for Yoko Shimomura!

    • Oct 08 2016 06:18 AM
    • by Jake
  2. Yoko Shimomura discusses composing for Kingdom Hearts III and Kingdom Hearts series in new interview with RPG Site

    In an interview with RPG Site, Yoko Shimomura, composer of the Kingdom Hearts series, describes the challenges she's faced while working on the Kingdom Hearts series and how that process has changed as the series continued to grow and expand. She also briefly touches on her work for Kingdom Hearts III, discussing the differences between composing for that game and Final Fantasy XV.

    An excerpt of the interview can be found below:

    Besides her work on new arrangement albums, Shimomura is of course knee-deep in working on Square Enix Japan’s two largest upcoming releases – Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy XV. While she’s had an impressive career spanning everything from her incredible, seminal work on Street Fighter II to Parasite Eve, Terra Battle and the Mario RPG series, these two titles are undoubtedly her biggest undertaking yet – and a slightly daunting one.

    “Well, of course, they're completely different,” she says of the two. “The story is completely different, the image is entirely different, the tone... For Kingdom Hearts, I've been working on it for quite a while now. Because of that I can make new suggestions myself, I can change the direction and I have ideas about where to take it myself.”

    Shimomura’s history with Kingdom Hearts is an interesting one. At one point in our meeting, she detours to explain that though she now has the confidence and history with the series to be bolder in pushing it in new musical directions, initially her instructions were quite different to what her gut told her to create.

    “In my mind, Kingdom Hearts is very simple - very much Disney, cute and sweet,” she explains. “My original ideas for it were in that area - but on the contrary, I was asked to make very heavy stuff. There was quite the gap between my original idea and what was requested... filling that gap is really the heart of my job! That was what I did with the first Kingdom Hearts.”

    One of the greatest challenges that series has provided to Shimomura since becoming a success is balancing the wishes of fans with presenting new musical themes and ideas.

    “A lot of game fans feel special feelings towards the original versions of pieces, always,” Shimomura laughs, going on to explain that recreations or evolutions of tracks that fans have already built up a love for are some of the hardest to create. “A lot of the time I consider it brushing up and improving, rather than outright rearranging,” she concludes.


    Are you looking forward to hearing Yoko Shimomura's latest compositions in Kingdom Hearts III? Let us know in the comments!

  3. Yasue talks KH3 world selection, wanting to be involved with future titles/saga, & dealing with the complex story

    Following the interview reveal last week that Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX and Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX could be coming to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, IGN has posted the second half of their interview with Tai Yasue, the co-director of the Kingdom Hearts series.

    This full interview covers when we might see Kingdom Hearts III, the world selection process for Kingdom Hearts III and future entries, both fans and development staff alike dealing with the series' complex story, Yasue's personal wish to be involved with future Kingdom Hearts titles ("especially if it's a new saga"), and the team's goal to have Kingdom Hearts III help with expanding and revitalizing the Japanese video game market.

    Check out the full interview at IGN, or read it below, in full.

    Yasue: “Nomura has always been working on Kingdom Hearts III full-time, so nothing’s really changed there. Nomura is really the visionary, so he doesn’t work on the nitty gritty details. That’s something we do in Osaka; alongside development, we do the technology. That hasn’t really changed. We get Nomura’s input but it’s not a day-to-day thing, he just has these big ideas sometimes he tells us about. The pace really depends on how our team’s doing and that was never affected.”

    Yasue: “I can’t make any announcements on the Disney worlds but, even there, there are so many that we’re studying."

    [Yasue explained to me that two teams of programmers were employed, one focusing on 2.5 Remix and the other on Kingdom Hearts III, while the designers split their time evenly between the two projects. Now 2.5 is out the way, it’ll enable them all to focus on Kingdom Hearts III but he doesn’t believe there was ever really a slowdown. Admittedly, getting to grips with Unreal Engine 4 took some getting used to, but he believes the dividends are already paying off.]

    Yasue: “We’ve shown some videos of what Kingdom Heart III looks like and it does look a bit different but it’s still clearly Kingdom Hearts. UE4 was introduced and there’s a lot of stuff that we didn’t have to do previously, like lighting and shading, which we now have to do. The technology is vastly different but it’s exhilarating to have all this stuff to learn. There’s so much we can do, the consoles are so fast. Some of the videos with Sora, with individual strands of his hair moving? That stuff is a real leap in technology. I can’t make any announcements on the Disney worlds but, even there, there are so many that we’re studying. They do a lot of new stuff as well so we’re figuring out how to incorporate them as well.”

    [As everyone’s well aware at this stage, however, Disney has been busy growing its portfolio since the last game in the franchise launched. With both Marvel and LucasFilm now sequestered inside the walled garden of the House of Mouse, speculation has been rife that Avengers or Star Wars-themed playgrounds could make an appearance in the upcoming title. The look of fatigue that crosses Yasue’s face when I ask the question he’s clearly heard a million times before isn’t unexpected, but his answer should give fans some hope.]

    Yasue: “I can’t really go into any specifics or say anything about Star Wars, but when we come up with worlds we really want variety and to make sure that there’s a lot of different types of worlds. Any world that looks special is definitely a consideration; everything from the characters, to how they look and the differences between them. We think Star Wars is great but I’m not going to relate that to Kingdom Hearts III yet! We want a wide variety of worlds and when we come up with ideas, it’s the differences and the originality of each that’s really important.”

    Yasue: “Any world that looks special is definitely a consideration; everything from the characters, to how they look and the differences between them. We think Star Wars is great.

    [Alongside this hint, Yasue said that just because a world has previously appeared in the series doesn’t mean it won’t do so again. Square Enix is taking it’s time to evaluate which worlds will best suit the story and create a diverse experience for players and, until they’re ready, we shouldn’t expect any announcements. What he would admit, however, is that the non-linear structure we’ve come to expect won’t change, saying we’ll be able “to play them as you want”.]

    [Of course, just because Endor or Iron Man don’t end up making it into Kingdom Hearts III doesn’t mean they’ve missed their shot for good. It’s been confirmed before now that Kingdom Hearts as a franchise will continue on beyond the conclusion of The Dark Seeker saga as the games up to this point have been called. Yasue explains he’d like to be part of whatever’s next, especially if it’s a new saga, though he acknowledges one or two issues may need to be addressed.]

    [I first brought up the common complaint that, with so many different instalments on different platforms, a major problem with the franchise so far is how obtuse the story can be. It’s a complaint he acknowledges as fair, joking that even some of the development team find it hard to keep track of the story.]

    Yasue: “Honestly, a lot of the developers, me included, are also sometimes confused. Nomura has all this stuff in his head and sometimes doesn’t tell us. He keeps it secret. So there’s a lot of stuff he says in interviews that surprises us. I think he wants to shock us as well as fans, but a lot of it is hidden from us too!"

    Yasue: “What we do next time around largely depends on the hardware, too. It’s changing so rapidly."

    Yasue: “What we do next time around largely depends on the hardware, too. It’s changing so rapidly and we obviously don’t know what’s going to happen. We’ll be sure to consider the ones that most of our players are using though. We don’t even know the business model or how to sell it. That’s changing rapidly too, so we may have to adjust to that as well.”

    [Despite this, it seems unlikely Square Enix is prepared to let one of its most-loved franchises languish when there’s an opportunity for money to be made. Yasue, however, argues it’s something much nobler that motivates the developers based on the ground. There’s a general consensus this year’s Tokyo Game Show was much more exciting than it has been in previous years thanks to the strong presence of titles like Bloodborne. With the Japanese games industry having been labelled as a dying behemoth for years, the new consoles seem to have offered a second lease of life. According to Yasue, Square is under no illusions about how all the big Japanese developers need to do their bit.]

    Yasue: “With the development of Kingdom Hearts III we want the market to become bigger. We want to be responsible for moving it forward. There’s a lot of stuff, technology-wise, that we have to play catch-up to as well but I think right now we’re doing a lot of new stuff. By making, developing and publishing Kingdom Hearts III, hopefully the Japanese market will change. I think everyone from Square Enix feels that responsibility. We think we’re maybe even the people who are most responsible for doing that. We’re the only people in the right position who are able to change the market."

    Yasue: “As a whole, the market isn’t getting smaller. It’s getting bigger, but it’s going towards smartphone apps. Personally, I enjoy making big budget, huge development games with long cycles so for me it’s exciting and hopefully that translates to the player.”

    [Kingdom Hearts III may still be some way off, but it seems like Square Enix is fully aware of the pressure on it to deliver. As our interview draws to a close, I ask Yasue one more time if we’ll maybe see the game before 2015 is out? “We will make sure to make Kingdom Hearts III as quick as possible,” he says with a tired smile. It seems that’s as good an answer as I’m going to get.]

    • Dec 12 2014 10:09 AM
    • by Sora96
  4. Yasue says 1.5 & 2.5 were 'good training' for Kingdom Hearts III & sharing ideas with FFXV team

    In an interview with Kotaku at last month's European launch event for Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX, Tai Yasue the co-director of the Kingdom Hearts series spoke about Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX & HD 2.5 ReMIX being good training for new staff members in preparation for Kingdom Hearts III. He also discusses respecting source material and sharing ideas with the Final Fantasy XV team for the new hardware. You can read the interview below.

    "We have been working on 3 and 2.5 at the same time," he explains, "so a lot of people are crossing over and doing both. There are also a lot of new people working on both. In a way, we've learned what was good about our previous Kingdom Hearts [games] by making 2.5."

    "For 3, we want to evolve it in a new direction, but at the same time we don't want to change what is fundamental about Kingdom Hearts. We're hiring new people continuously, so they are learning about Kingdom Hearts through making 2.5. It's a good learning experience."

    Kingdom Hearts is a unique thing to be working on, says Yasue, due to the necessity of finding a balance between respecting the Disney properties and incorporating original, creative ideas - so the training has been necessary.

    "There's a lot to get used to working with the Disney content," he says. "You have to have a lot of dedication and respect for their visual IPs for example, and when you play Kingdom Hearts 2 you see that: when you summon a character or use a spell there's a lot of love and care that goes into the presentation. When you see Stitch coming out of the screen, for example, it's very true to the original movie. That dedication is something you learn through the process or remaking 2."

    It must surely be restrictive working within those constraints, but Yasue enjoys the challenge that they introduce. "As Square-Enix, if someone else was making a Final Fantasy or a Dragon Quest, we'd be very protective of that too," he ventures. "So we really understand the importance of not changing the brand and respecting the fans. We want to make it true to Disney - we don't want to change it fundamentally. We always strive to make original content, but with Kingdom Hearts you have to really respect the source material, and that's something people really like about the series."

    "As someone who creates games I think the constraints make you really think. They are what make you strive to come up with new ideas - ideas that are acceptable to Disney, and also fun. That balancing act leads to a lot of surprises. It's very challenging, but we work on it daily. We continuously talk with Disney and see what they think is acceptable… but we constantly want to surprise our players, too, so we need flexibility. It is challenging and makes you think."

    The Kingdom Hearts team also benefits from sharing expertise with the other Square-Enix development units, including the Final Fantasy XV team, Yasue says - even though Kingdom Hearts development is based in Osaka. "We trade ideas - especially for PS4, Xbox One, new gen stuff," says Yasue. "We're trying to move in leaps obviously, so there is a lot to learn and a lot to explain to other people. That exchange of ideas and technology is very important and we're doing that inside Square Enix, with other teams."

    • Jan 23 2015 09:22 AM
    • by Sora96
  5. Yasue discusses Kingdom Hearts III's switch from Luminous to Unreal Engine 4, Nomura's involvement, & Disney properties being considered

    In an interview with Eurogamer, Tai Yasue, the co-director of the Kingdom Hearts series, has discussed Kingdom Hearts III in the lead up to Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX's release in Europe. Here, Yasue explained the switch from Luminous Engine to Unreal Engine 4 and its effects on Kingdom Hearts III's development, Tetsuya Nomura's involvement in the development so far, and the prospect of various Disney properties being used in the game. These important portions of the interview can be read below, with a big thanks to Eurogamer.

    On Unreal Engine 4:

    Yasue: "The technology is moving forward a lot. That's something we've learned from the West, I think, in a big way. We're using Unreal Engine 4 right now, and that really has changed the way we make the game. There was nothing wrong with the Luminous engine at all. We decided that Unreal 4 was right for us. There was a huge network of people actually using it, we were communicating with the Japanese people at Epic a lot - it was like a complete product."

    Yasue: "It was easy to shift to, but at the same time though, there was a lot of stuff specific to Kingdom Hearts that we couldn't really do on Unreal 4 at first. So we had a lot of co-operation from Epic - they did a lot - at the same time we were doing a lot of customisation of the engine as well, to suit our needs. A lot of painstaking detail - the shadows for example, the really vivid colours, that sort of thing - we couldn't really do at the beginning, so we had to remake/customise the engine and add a lot of parameters."

    Eurogamer: Given that the game began life on Luminous, does that mean work on the initial teaser from E3 2013 had to be completely scrapped?

    Yasue: "We use the same graphical assets, so we didn't throw any of that away, and I guess a lot of the experience we got from making that for E3, that experience really translated to our development now. It was in our initial production stage, so I think we were learning a lot of stuff while using the Luminous engine."

    On Nomura's involvement since stepping down from being the director of Final Fantasy XV:

    Yasue: "Nothing has really changed. The development team is in Osaka, and Nomura-san didn't really do a lot of the detailed stuff, as he's really the sort of creative visionary. We communicate as much as we did previously, so our working relationship hasn't changed at all. We are speeding up things for development, obviously, on Kingdom Hearts 3 as we move along, but I don't think it has anything to do with Final Fantasy."

    Eurogamer: Has Disney made anything off-limits to the team at Square yet?

    Yasue: "At our current stage, they have not said no. There's a lot to choose from, a lot of wonderful new IPs. No specifics but there are a lot of new IPs that we are considering and there's a lot on our table, and Disney hasn't said no - we don't have any trouble with that."

    On the purpose of the HD collections:

    Yasue: "It's been 12 years since the original Kingdom Hearts came out in 2002; it's been a long while. We want new users to be able to understand the story before going into Kingdom Hearts 3, so I guess that was the plan - making Kingdom Hearts 3 but making it more accessible by making 1.5 and 2.5."

  6. World with new playable character confirmed for Kingdom Hearts III; future D23 Expo reveals undecided

    Amongst the Kingdom Hearts III information revealed at the Kingdom Hearts 15th Anniversary Commemorative Campaign Preview Night held at Square Enix Café Osaka on October 13th, 2017, there was also some discussion pertaining the worlds in the upcoming title and future reveals. Kingdom Hearts III development leads, such as series director Tetsuya Nomura and lead character modeler Mr. Yamasaki, answered related questions.

    It was confirmed that a new playable character other than Sora will be present in Kingdom Hearts III. They said:

    Such a world will come out [where this is possible]... But it is something we cannot tell you right now.


    This follows a previous statement where Nomura hinted at the possibility of a second playable character.

    When asked about the world selection criteria in Kingdom Hearts III, the staff in attendance answered:

    Although we put emphasis on the play-element of worlds, sometimes we like for the new worlds to be a surprise.


    When asked if they meet with Disney representatives abroad to discuss world selection, Yamasaki replied that he does so on a regular basis to share his point of view with the world, and that "each leader goes [abroad] as a delegate."

    Lastly, the staff stated that while D23 Expo has been confirmed in the past to present new information on Kingdom Hearts III, it is undecided whether this will be the case for the event's upcoming 2018 installation.

    Translations have been provided by KH13 translators Mio-chan and Lady Aleister.

    You can read more about the Kingdom Hearts 15th Anniversary Commemorative Campaign Preview Night and view pictures of it here.

    The Kingdom Hearts 15th Anniversary Commemorative Campaign Preview Night at Square Enix Café Osaka is a campaign that precedes the joint campaign between Square Enix Café Osaka, Square Enix Café Tokyo, and ARTNIA, which is held to celebrate the Kingdom Hearts 15th Anniversary as well. You can read more about this joint campaign and view pictures of it here. This collective campaign will run at ARTNIA until December 14th, 2017, and at both Square Enix Café Osaka and Square Enix Café Tokyo until November 10th, 2017.

    You can also keep in touch with the ongoing updates on our Twitter here.

  7. Voice Actors for Mike and Sulley for Kingdom Hearts III revealed in Press Release

    In a press release from Square Enix about the Kingdom Hearts III Premiere Event, the voice actors for Mike and Sulley were revealed. Carlos Alazraqui will be providing the voice of Mike while Christopher Swindle will be voicing Sulley.

    You can read a exert from the press release below.

    "The new game features the wondrous worlds and characters from Disney•Pixar’s Monsters, Inc., and Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Big Hero 6, Tangled and more. The evening gala gave celebrities and entertainment industry professionals the chance to journey through the Toy Story and Hercules worlds as they appear in the game. Event attendees included celebrity influencers, including Strawburry17, Kelly Eden, KittiesMama, GhostRobo, Wongfu and Maxmillian Dood, and voiceover actors Bill Farmer (Goofy), Tony Anselmo (Donald Duck), Carlos Alazraqui (Mike Wazowski) and Christopher Swindle (Sulley) among other top talent."


    You can check out our coverage of the Premiere Event here.

    What do you think of the voice actors for Mike and Sulley? Let us know in the comments below!

    • May 21 2018 02:06 PM
    • by Leamax
  8. Voice actor Quinton Flynn claims he has not started recording for Kingdom Hearts III

    In a recent tweet, Axel/Lea voice actor Quinton Flynn claims that he has not begun recording for Kingdom Hearts III. This comes just a few months after other voice actors in the series, namely Jim Cummings (Pete, Tigger, Winnie the Pooh) and Bill Farmer (Goofy), claim they have finished their recording process, or at least some of it. You can view the tweet made by Quinton Flynn below:


    Posted Image

    Flynn confirms that he is referencing Kingdom Hearts III and not Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue in another tweet:

    Posted Image


    With the information given to us by these voice actors, how far along do you believe Kingdom Hearts III is? Feel free to discuss in the comments!

  9. Voice Actor James Woods Confirms work on Kingdom Hearts III

    James Woods confirmed on Twitter that he is working on Kingdom Hearts III! You can view the tweet below.



    KH James Woods voice work confirmation


    Previously, the only news we had on voice work for Kingdom Hearts III was the Japanese dub given to us in previous trailers from the 2015 E3 trailer up to the last ones revealed at D23 Expo 2018.

    Which other Kingdom Hearts voice actors do you think will be next to reveal their work for the latest installment? Let us know in the comments below!

  10. Utada Teruzane said "be positive! "We won't break your heart." regarding Utada Hikaru possibly doing Kingdom Hearts III's opening song

    In 2013, Utada Hikaru's father and manager, Utada Teruzane, stated on Twitter that Utada Hikaru's involvement with Kingdom Hearts III was undecided at the time. On December 22, 2016, a curious fan followed up on this message, receiving a reply from Teruzane that they'll do the opening song for Kingdom Hearts III and that they've already started. Later, Teruzane retracted that statement, correcting himself by saying that they're eager to do the opening song for Kingdom Hearts III, but their decision is not yet official.

    Now, on December 6, 2017, Teruzane was asked once more on Twitter if Hikaru would do Kingdom Hearts III's opening song, and he replied saying that he can't say anything yet, but to be positive and that they won't break your heart. View the full tweet below:

    Posted Image


    It was also just recently revealed that Utada Hikaru will release a new album and is planning for a live tour across Japan in 2018. Also, all of her songs from "Automatic" to "Fantôme" will be releasing on Apple Music, Spotify, and other subscription services. You can read more about these new announcements in the article here.

  11. Utada Hikaru's music label confirms involvement on Kingdom Hearts III intro song

    Utada Hikaru's manager and father, Utada Teruzane, has announced through his Twitter account, @u3music, that work on the Kingdom Hearts III intro song has begun! In 2013, Teruzane stated that Utada's involvement was undecided at the time. On December 22nd 2016, a curious fan followed up on this message, receiving a reply from Teruzane later that day.

    Posted Image


    Utada made her return to the Kingdom Hearts series earlier this year, collaborating with PUNPEE to create "Hikari/Simple and Clean -Ray of Hope MIX-", included in the opening for Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep -A Fragmentary Passage-.

    UPDATE: Utada Teruzane has retracted the confirmation for Kingdom Hearts III, saying that they would like to be involved but aren't sure quite yet. You can find a screenshot of the tweet below. The original tweet confirming their involvement is still available on the U3 Twitter account.

    U3 music correction


    Are you excited to have a new Kingdom Hearts intro song? Let us know in the comments!

  12. Utada Hikaru's 7th Japanese studio album "Hatsukoi" hits stores as Kingdom Hearts III theme song "Chikai" plays in full at Shinjuku Station

    Fans have started to get their hands on Utada Hikaru's newest studio album "Hatsukoi" in stores in Japan, one day prior to its official release! It is still on pre-order on iTunes (Japan) however, for release on June 27.

    The fourth track of this album is "Chikai" ("Oath"), the theme song for Kingdom Hearts III. (Note that this cannot be purchased on iTunes independently; it comes with the full album.)

    Find more information about the album and where to purchase it from here.

    While the song is not yet on a streaming service outside of Japan, we have found a video on Youtube from user @yuuna_kisaragi who has recorded the full version of Chikai as played at the Kingdom Hearts III promotional campaign at Shinjuku Station. You can watch it below.


    UPDATE [Jun 26, 2018]: User Viet Tran has uploaded the full version of Chikai on YouTube, and has pinned it's lyrics in romaji and English. You can listen to it below.









    UPDATE [Jun 26, 2018]: Utada Hikaru talks about Kingdom Hearts in this interview. Thanks to @Mio-chan for the translations.

    The 4th song is « Oath », Kingdom Hearts III’s theme song, right.

    I received an offer from around the time I had not release the album
    « Fantôme » yet.
    Immediately after Fantôme was completed, « I have finished many things. It’s an enclosure. There’s nothing! » I thought to myself but, when I started working on Chikai, « Uh, if I keep up the momentum, maybe more will come up? (laughs). And through this momentum, I created and crank out « Ozora de dakishimete », « Forevermore » and « Anata ». I did it in a tremendous and ambitious way, I think I surprised a little bit myself.


    UPDATE [Jun. 27, 2018]: Hikaru Utada’s new album is out now! It features the Japanese version of the Kingdom Hearts III theme song "Chikai" (named "Don’t Think Twice" in English). You can buy the album on iTunes here!

    UPDATE [Jun. 27, 2018]: New tweets on @UTADABLOG about Chris Dave, which gave some insights on the production of Chikai/Don't Think Twice and the help he gave Utada to make the song succeed:

    Famed drummer Chris Dave and “Chikai”: Upon the theme song trailer release for KH3, Utada heard reaction saying “I don’t understand the rhythm” and “what kind of beat is this?”

    Made Utada realize that something which seemed like a very simple + normal groove line for her wasn’t necessarily heard that way by Others

    Feels like if Chris Dave hadn’t been involved, the song would not have have succeeded since the beat was so tricky and nuanced


    Tell us what you think of the song so far while we wait for Don't Think Twice!

  13. USgamer interviews Tetsuya Nomura on Kingdom Hearts III development, Pirates of the Caribbean, Gummi Ship system and much more

    Tetsuya Nomura, director and creator of the Kingdom Hearts saga, recently got interviewed by USgamer.neton Kingdom Hearts III development, the choosing of Pirates of the Caribbeans as a Kingdom Hearts III world, and the comeback of the Gummi Ship system. Nomura also offered some insights and personal hints on how the relationship between Square Enix and Disney went on in the previous years, just like his recent statements in the last Multiplayer.it interview. The interview is completely available, and you can read it down below:

    Kingdom Hearts 3 finally brings the Dark Seeker Saga to a close after more than 15 years. Tell me what it means to you to finally finish this story. Are you happy? Are you a little sad that it's finally coming to an end?


    Nomura: Yes. It does come to an end, but I'm not fully swayed to one emotion. I'm not really happy, I'm not really sad. Although I do feel a little sad when I think some characters will probably never appear ever again. Once I think about that, it makes me a little sad. But other than that I'm just more relieved that I was able to tell the full story.


    Pixar films feature prominently in Kingdom Hearts 3. I'm curious to know why they get more emphasis here, but not as much emphasis in, for example, Kingdom Hearts 2. Was it because the PS2 wasn't powerful enough to give you the results you wanted?


    Nomura: I've always wanted to have a Pixar world within Kingdom Hearts, it's just that Disney has always returned to me and said that it will be difficult to make it happen. I assume that there were some reasons within Disney that did not allow us to do this, but I don't know what they were. But I do think that that situation probably changed this time and that we are allowed to do it. It just so happened that we were able to negotiate with Disney and Pixar to have it in on our title this time.


    Seeing Goofy in the Monsters Inc. world, he has a very interesting design. I'm curious what were your intentions were in that regard? Can you tell me a little about that?


    Nomura: For Pixar world, the desires that [the Monsters Inc. and Toy Story teams] had for their titles were really strong. We had a lot of guidelines to abide by in terms of how they appear. Comparing the two worlds, Monster's Inc. had more guidelines that we had to follow, and were a little more clear cut in the details. The coloration, for example, or whether a character only had one eye. When we took a look at those guidelines and figured out what we had to do, we felt that Donald should look this way and then Goofy should look this way. We also had a lot of input from the Pixar team that worked on Monsters Inc. We did pretty much follow their guidelines as well as their feedback for those characters.


    The Gummi Ship is returning in Kingdom Hearts 3, which I think is interesting. I'm curious why you decided to bring it back? What you think it can add to Kingdom Hearts 3. Is it to tie it more into the previous games?


    Nomura: In Kingdom Hearts numbered titles, the Gummi Ship has always been there to travel between the worlds. Gummi Ships are part of the basics of Kingdom Hearts, and as a numbered title in the series, I thought it was necessary to have it in there to complete the package. This is something that [Hironobu Sakaguchi] told me once, which is that Final Fantasy is a title that just has everything in it.
    I wanted to bring that to Kingdom Hearts. In Kingdom Hearts there's the shooting game, there's the RPG, there's the adventure game. It has action, command battles, and everything. There's customization with Gummi Ships, and they bring with them the shooter aspect and the travel aspect. It's just a part of Kingdom Hearts. That's why I thought it was necessary to have it in the title.

    At the end of one of the Kingdom Hearts trailer, Aqua definitely has Xehanort's eyes. We think that signifies that she was corrupted by the realm of darkness since the events of Birth by Sleep. Could you elaborate on that and can you speak a little bit on what we can expect from Aqua in Kingdom Hearts 3.


    Nomura: I do know that she is a popular character among her fans. I'm sure many are shocked to see [her eyes]. People were more shocked than I expected that they would be. I can't really go into much detail about her because I will just spoil everything, but something does happen in Kingdom Hearts 3 that make her seem like how she is right now in the trailer. I think all I can say is that the player is the only one that can save her from him.


    I think it's interesting that you brought back Pirates of the Caribbean, especially since it contrasts sharply with the animated characters. Like, you have Johnny Depp, then you have all the other characters. Why did you bring back Pirates, and why did you choose Pirates Of The Caribbean 3 in particular? Is it because that game is end of the trilogy much like this one?


    Nomura: For Kingdom Hearts, it's been a while since we released on a console. Now a lot of developers are creating photorealistic games, and I think that's more mainstream nowadays. I wanted to prove Kingdom Hearts is able to do a more realistic game as well. I also was very interested to see how realistic we could get it. That's why I wanted to have some live action film-based world.
    I also thought that the matchup between a very photorealistic character and Sora, Donald, and Goofy would be very interesting to see, which is why we decided to have that world. As for why we selected The World's End, it was because of its story line.


    The second and the third movie are connected and the second movie doesn't really have an ending because it takes you to the third movie. It didn't really make sense to go with that one because it doesn't really have a clear ending with that film. We decided to go with the third film which had a clear ending. You mentioned skipping the previous generation of consoles. Was it always your intention to finish Kingdom Hearts 2, explore some side stories, look at different things, and then finally return to the final story much further down the line?


    Nomura: It's not like I had a specific order in mind. It was more like we released it in order of conception or idea. Also because it took us a long time to prepare for Kingdom Hearts 3. If you can take a look at what we have already revealed, you can tell that it is a pretty crazy title that we have created. We did have to have a lot of prep time for it. That just a bit longer than our other spin-off titles.
    Disney has changed tremendously since 2006. Obviously Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, totally different style of animation. How your relationship with Disney and its properties evolved over the past 10 years or so in the context of Kingdom Hearts?


    Nomura: I can say that it has actually been increasingly difficult to get approvals from Disney. That's mainly because in the past Kingdom Hearts titles, the creator wasn't around anymore or the team that used to create those titles wasn't there anymore. There was just this one person that we would just have to go to and they would approve it and we'd be fine and good to go. But because we've been featuring recent titles, they still have existing teams for existing creators that are still working in Disney and still working on a certain title.
    That feedback process just has been a little bit more difficult than before. And each team would have a different set of rules and guidelines and they would say different things, or they would look at different things. It's just been a little different that how it used to be because Kingdom Hearts is a bigger title than it was before. I think that whenever we would bring our previous titles, a lot of people at Disney, and this is my assumption, but I do assume that they probably didn't know what Kingdom Hearts was. They'd go, "What's Kingdom Hearts? I have no idea." But now that it's become a bigger title, a lot more people have been involved in than before. In that sense the relationship with Disney has changed quite a bit. Emotional changes I don't really know if there has been any changes emotionally for me. But at least physically I can say those were the changes that we had with Disney.


    You mentioned that Monsters Inc. had many more guidelines than Toy Story. Was that the one that had perhaps the most guidelines or was there one that had even more?


    Nomura: Frozen had the most.


    I imagine if you want part of a level to be behind the Monsters Inc. factory, you could ask them what they think that would look like. You could ask them to try and provide some suggestions or fill in some of their vision. Whereas for Aladdin, for instance, that's not possible anymore. Being able to quiz those people. So is that also helpful in some respects?


    Nomura: Since you mention Aladdin, I'll just use Aladdin as an example. Since there isn't anyone that we could ask about adding more areas to Aladdin, it was actually easier because we could just create them on our own. But speaking of advantages, because all these films were made in CG, we weren't able to use the character models as is. But we were able to receive a lot of different assets that we could actually base references on them to create, and I think we were able do it a bit easier than we were able to do with our past titles, as well as create something with higher quality because the original title was in CG.


    Final Fantasy characters have always been a big part of Kingdom Hearts, but it was always fun to watch them interact with Disney characters in interesting ways and of course it brought together Disney fans and Square fans. But it appears Kingdom Hearts 3 won't be using Final Fantasy. I'm curious to know why you went in that direction? Is it because you wanted to focus on the core cast, because it's their final game?
    Nomura: I can't disclose too much about the Final Fantasy characters or whether or not they'll be in Kingdom Hearts 3, because I can only speak to what's been shown. But the reason you haven't been shown any Final Fantasy characters is that there are so many original characters that need to resolve their own problems and issues. And because their issues and problems are very difficult, there just hasn't been that much space to fit Final Fantasy characters so far." When you look back on the first Kingdom Hearts, Sora was still a new character, so we kind of had the Final Fantasy characters as supporting characters. But now that it's been 15 years, the original characters are more polished than they were before, so I don't think think they need the Final Fantasy characters help as much as they did before. [...] Also, when we first released Kingdom Hearts, there weren't that many other titles that brought together the Final Fantasy characters. I actually think that Kingdom Hearts may have been the first to do that. But nowadays, there are an abundance of titles that do that, so I don't see the value of having that kind of feature in the game anymore. But that doesn't mean that I'm saying that there won't be any Final Fantasy characters. Please look forward to future information.


    Kingdom Hearts III releases on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on January 25, 2019 in Japan, and January 29, 2019 to the rest of the world. You can now watch the latest Frozen trailer, Square Enix E3 Showcase trailer, and Pirates of the Caribbean trailer!

    What do you think about Nomura's statements on Final Fantasy characters into Kingdom Hearts III? Do you think they will be likely to appear or not? Let us know in the comments!

  14. UPDATED: Limited time Kingdom Hearts III promo coming to Shinjuku Station

    Square Enix have announced that a special board will be put up in Shinjuku Station to commemorate Kingdom Hearts III's release in Japan on January 25th 2019. The board will be available between June 25th to July 1st.

    The board shows several shots from Kingdom Hearts III's cutscenes, showing off characters like Elsa and Ralph. There will also be five boxes that contain leaflets based on the "Stories Connecting To III" summary movies that were released earlier this month. You can check out what it will look like in the gallery below.


    Shinjuku Promo 1 Shinjuku Promo 2 Shinjuku Promo 3 Shinjuku Promo 4


    Each leaflet has its own art and story and there are 15 leaflets to collect in all. The leaflets are said to be in limited quality. At several points in the day (10:00, 14:00, 17:00 and 20:00) JST residents can collect one leaflet from each book for themselves.

    A special Twitter campaign will also be happening that gives people the chance to win 5 notebooks based on the storybooks themselves. All entrants have to do is share what they thought of the recap videos by July 8th to be in for a chance to win.

    Square Enix Japan tweeted about the special promo saying:

    "From 6/25, Stories Connecting to KH3 special boards will be displayed at Shinjuku Station Metro Promenade! We are also preparing a unique experience - don't miss out!"


    Information from the official site says this about the leaflets:

    "5 Episodes of the Kingdom Hearts series appeared as pictures books, now they are exhibited as 5 physical boxes! You can pull out the pages from the pictures books, borrow them and come back another day. Messages that link to KHIII can only be read in the leaflets.

    For Square Enix members (free), the leaflets are planned to be tradable at a later date by using points."


    Thank you to goldpanner and KH13 Staff Mio-chan for translations.

    UPDATE [Jun 24, 2018]: It is now the morning of July 25th in Japan, and fans have started to share pictures of the Stories Connected to Kingdom Hearts III boards!

    See them below, and follow our Twitter for the latest media on this promotional campaign!

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Kh3 001 cs1w1 800x600 Kh3 002 cs1w1 720x Kh3 003 cs1w1 720x Kh3 004 cs1w1 720x Kh3 005 cs1w1 720x Kh3 006 cs1w1 720x Kh3 007 cs1w1 720x Kh3 008 cs1w1 720x Kh3 009 cs1w1 720x Kh3 010 cs1w1 720x Kh3 011 cs1w1 720x Kh3 012 cs1w1 720x Kh3 013 cs1w1 720x Kh3 014 cs1w1 720x Kh3 015 cs1w1 720x Kh3 016 cs1w1 720x Kh3 017 cs1w1 720x Kh3 018 cs1w1 720x Kh3 019 cs1w1 720x Kh3 020 cs1w1 x720 Kh3 021 cs1w1 x720 2 3 5 6 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 board rap1 rap2 rap3 Rat rat2



    UPDATE [Jun 25, 2018]: Leaflet distribution has been momentarily suspended due to congestion during distribution periods.



    UPDATE [Jun 29, 2018]: The Memorial leaflets will be redistributed via lottery. You can read more about it and the translations of the special messages at the back of the leaflets here.

    UPDATE [Jun 30, 2018]: DTimes have published close-up images of the special Kingdom Hearts III board that show some exclusive stills from the Kingdom Hearts Orchestra trailer shown earlier this month to the attendees at the concert in Los Angeles!

    You can see stills from the scene where Sora and Rapunzel are dancing - infact, there will be a rhythm mini-game where you can dance with Rapunzel in Kingdom of Corona. There are also stills from the scene where Sora is cooking with Remy in a mini-game you can play in Twilight Town.


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    What do you think of the special promotion? Let us know in the comments below!

  15. UPDATED: Kingdom Hearts III to have approximately 80+ hours of playable content, including 40-50 hours in main story gameplay

    Following a hands-on experience of an hour-long demo of Kingdom Hearts III, Geek.com has published an insightful review of playing the third main installation of the series from the perspective of a newcomer. In it, Tony Polanco describes his positive experience of playing through the Olympus and Toy Story demo.

    While talking about the various gameplay elements, he adds in comments made by a Square Enix PR representative on what to expect from the final version of the game. He states:

    A Square-Enix PR representative explained that Sora is more agile than in past installments. For example, he can now wall run up shimmering vertical surfaces. He also has some context-sensitive motions.

    [...]

    Players can now equip up to three different keyblades at once. They can also level up each keyblade to make them stronger. Before, there was no incentive to continue using keyblades obtained from previous worlds since the newer keyblades were more powerful. Now, keyblades you have a fondness for are viable even later in the game since you can level them up.

    [...]

    In addition to the main story, players can look forward to several mini-games. One is a cooking game with Remy from Ratatouille. You must find ingredients hidden across several of the worlds and use them to create new recipes. There are 20 different old-school Tiger Toys/Game & Watch style 2D side scrolling games based on Mickey cartoons from the 1930s and 40s. Building your Gummi ship (used for traveling to each world) is pretty much a mini-game of its own. Kingdom Hearts 3 is around 40-50 hours if you stay on the critical path. Including the mini-games, players can expect 80+ hours of content.


    It seems that players can advance through the game's main story in approximately 40-50 hours, or about double that time considering additional playable content.

    Click here to read the full review on Geek.com!

    Many thanks to Tony Polanco for talking to us about his experience and confirming that these statements were made by a Square Enix PR representative.

    UPDATE: Geek.com has updated the following statement to clarify that the game lengths given to them by the Square Enix PR representative were approximate, but the exact length has not yet been finalized as the development of the game continues towards its release date.

    I was told Kingdom Hearts 3 is around 40-50 hours if one stays on the critical path. Including the mini-games, players can possibly expect 80+ hours of content. With that said, Square-Enix has yet to finalize the game’s exact length as there are still many months to go before release date.


    How will you be playing Kingdom Hearts III when it comes out? Will you be speeding through the main story or enjoying it in full on your first playthrough? Let us know in the comments!

  16. Two Kingdom Hearts III trailers relevealed at D23 Expo Japan 2018

    During the Kingdom Hearts Fan Event at D23 Japan 2018, a pair of new Kingdom Hearts III trailers were revealed. You can view both Japanese trailers, and those with English subtitles, below.

    Kingdom Hearts III – D23 Expo Japan 2018 Monsters, Inc. Trailer [English Subtitles]

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    Kingdom Hearts III – D23 Expo Japan 2018 Monsters, Inc. Trailer [Japanese]

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    Kingdom Hearts III Theme Song Trailer – “Don’t Think Twice” by Utada Hikaru

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    Kingdom Hearts III Theme Song Trailer – “Chikai” by Utada Hikaru

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    What do you think of the trailers? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to catch up with our coverage of D23 Expo Japan 2018 and the Kingdom Hearts Fan Event!

  17. The two non-trailer Kingdom Hearts III screenshots have been released in HQ

    Two Kingdom Hearts III screenshots that were shown in Square Enix Presents' Spotlight on Kingdom Hearts last week at E3 2015 have been released in high quality. These are not featured in the E3 2015 trailer but have been since in various Japanese magazines. You can view them below.

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    • Jun 23 2015 05:08 AM
    • by Sora96
  18. The D23 Expo 2017 event schedule has been released but is not final

    Earlier today, the D23 Expo site was updated to include the activity schedule for the three-day event. The most recent Kingdom Hearts III trailer confirms that the game will appear at D23 with a new world announcement in addition to a new trailer on July 15th, 2017, but the current schedule released on the D23 website does not list a Kingdom Hearts event on July 15th. There is a note made on the page claiming that the schedule is not final and is schedule to change. You can view the schedule by clicking on the image below:

    d23schedule

  19. Tetsuya Nomura's take on whether Kingdom Hearts III is the End of Sora's Story

    As revealed by Jonathon Thornbush today in an IGN article, Tetsuya Nomura states that dark things are in store for the heroes in Kingdom Hearts III.

    Nomura talked about the story's progress in an interview for IGN at E3, offering this comment in regards to whether this new entry would be the end of Sora's story.

    "I do consider Kingdom Hearts to be Sora's story. But if I go into any more details, I think I'll be spoiling the game for everyone, so I just want to leave it at that," Nomura said.


    The article continues, mentioning the other various games in the series. With the theme of the latest game being, "resolution," according to Nomura, it looks like the fans of the series will be able to look forward to an ending that's full of surprises.

    "There are going to be a lot of shocking scenes, especially toward the end of the game," [Nomura] said. "So I think you would definitely need to brace yourselves for them."


    Many are hoping that, when it comes to the main characters, such as Sora, Riku, and Kairi, that their stories reach a satisfying conclusion. Nomura had this to say about the nature of friendships and how he wants to replicate the reality of those dynamics in Kingdom Hearts III.

    "Kingdom Hearts is not too realistic, but I do want my players to grasp a sense of reality from it as well," Nomura said. "For example, I'm sure you had friends when you were young, a good group of friends, but as you grow older things change and it doesn't always stay the same. I think all I can say is please play to the very end and see what happens. But I think Kingdom Hearts 3 does depict how each character feels about each other in this new story line."


    What do you think this means for the ending of Kingdom Hearts III? Let us know in the comments below!

    Kingdom Hearts III releases on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on January 25, 2019 in Japan, and January 29, 2019 to the rest of the world. You can now watch the latest Frozen trailer, Square Enix E3 Showcase trailer, and Pirates of the Caribbean trailer!

    Follow our coverage of Kingdom Hearts III at E3 2018 here, and our live updates on our Twitter!

  20. Tetsuya Nomura's message in the Kingdom Hearts Series Memorial Ultimania translated

    The Kingdom Hearts Series Memorial Ultimania released today in Japan and included in is a message from director of the Kingdom Hearts series, Tetsuya Nomura. The message included concerns Kingdom Hearts III and the Kingdom Hearts series in general. You can read it below thanks to SQEX.info.

    Message from Tetsuya Nomura

    If I had to pick, I am a person more on the dark side like Xehanort and co., I harness the burning anger in my heart into what I create. Kingdom Hearts III’s current development explodes very much in this sense. Each time, it’s a battle with Sora and co. who are the exact opposite of myself, it’s been over 10 years and yet we haven’t reached a conclusion.

    This battle will surely last longer.

    In Kingdom Hearts III as well, I am scheming many challenges that Sora and his friends must overcome, because I myself cannot lose either. And in preparation for the great battle that lies ahead, we have this one book that looks back on their entire journey.

    When I think about it, I had an explosive mindset when I made the first Kingdom Hearts as well.

    Thus when I look back at all the material, I feel that fever again. Fans who will continue the journey so far alongside Sora and his friends will also recall their own feverish enthusiasm. With that passion, we will not lose to darkness, and Sora’s journey will continue onwards.

    The journey still continues, but I would be overjoyed if you stuck with us until the very end.

    • Oct 01 2014 09:29 PM
    • by Sora96