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.
[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?
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.
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?
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.
Thank you. That’s really kind of you. We love playing your music too. Especially my flute solos.
I actually used to play the flute as a high-school student.
I’m not about to play for you. Maybe in another life I can be your pupil.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Oh wow! So it’s easy?
It’s easy if something comes to me.
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?
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.
Well you’ve seized a lot! If you have an idea, write it down!
If I get an idea right now I’ll have to go backstage and try to write it down before I forget.
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?
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!
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?
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!
[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?
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.
When you come back next time, you can think about it.
I’ll have a think. I’ll be ready!
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?
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.
That is very good advice for everybody I think. Thank you very much!
QUESTIONS FROM AUDIENCE
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!
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?
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!
What composers and artists in general have inspired you?
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!
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?
Give me a minute. …Sounds a bit corny maybe but love, passion, feelings.
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?
I’m not sure piano teaching is quite as easy.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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?
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.
I love the fact that you’ve written so much music you have to ask everyone how it goes.
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?
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!
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?
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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
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!
- Jan 06 2016 09:22 PM
- by soraspromise
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
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
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."
- Dec 04 2014 11:29 AM
- by DChiuch
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.
- Oct 19 2017 01:57 PM
- by Aquaberry
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
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:
Flynn confirms that he is referencing Kingdom Hearts III and not Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue in another tweet:
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!
- Apr 05 2016 10:17 AM
- by Toominator
James Woods confirmed on Twitter that he is working on Kingdom Hearts III! You can view the tweet below.
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!
- Mar 29 2018 11:48 PM
- by NihonScribe
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:
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.
- Dec 07 2017 09:59 PM
- by Elfdemon_
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.
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.
Are you excited to have a new Kingdom Hearts intro song? Let us know in the comments!
- Dec 23 2016 02:14 PM
- by Raxaimus
- Jan 18 2014 12:09 AM
- by Churro
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]
Kingdom Hearts III – D23 Expo Japan 2018 Monsters, Inc. Trailer [Japanese]
Kingdom Hearts III Theme Song Trailer – “Don’t Think Twice” by Utada Hikaru
Kingdom Hearts III Theme Song Trailer – “Chikai” by Utada Hikaru
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!
- Feb 12 2018 07:05 AM
- by Raxaimus
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.
- Jun 23 2015 05:08 AM
- by Sora96
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:
- Jul 16 2017 10:33 PM
- by Toominator
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 Carribean trailer!
Follow our coverage of Kingdom Hearts III at E3 2018 here, and our live updates on our Twitter!
- Jun 14 2018 05:49 PM
- by NihonScribe
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
Tetsuya Nomura writes a message regarding the Kingdom Hearts III & Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ news from E3 2015
Tetsuya Nomura, the director of the Kingdom Hearts, has written a message for fans regarding the Kingdom Hearts III and Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ news from E3 2015. The message from Nomura has him presenting all of the announcements to us, and interestingly mentions that not all the assets/information available were revealed – just a snippet. The message also says that there will be more news soon, so stay tuned!
You can read the full message below:
After we announced KINGDOM HEARTS III, we went through some redesigning associated with the change in the game engine. Since we were prioritizing those tasks, we were not able to reveal much new information, but this time, we premiered footage that shows the game in action on the new engine.
The video is just a snippet, but I believe you can get a glimpse of all the challenges that the development team is taking on.We leaned toward the flashiest of scenes due to the limited length of time, but I hope that viewers can sense that this new world of KINGDOM HEARTS is something that players can enjoy, not only during the powered-up battles, but even when you’re just traversing the map.
That being said, the true nature of KINGDOM HEARTS III is still to come, so please stay tuned for further information.
Also, we just made the announcement that KINGDOM HEARTS χ [chi], a PC browser game that was previously only available in Japan, will be coming to North America as KINGDOM HEARTS Unchained χ.
It is meant to be a handy way to enjoy the world of KINGDOM HEARTS more deeply, so I hope that you try out KINGDOM HEARTS Unchained χ, and imagine your new journey in KHIII.
KINGDOM HEARTS Series
- Jun 17 2015 02:33 PM
- by Jake
Tonight at the Kingdom Hearts Orchestra - World Tour - in LA, the Kingdom Hearts series' director Tetsuya Nomura has made another appearance. As translated by the official concert interpreter, Nomura tells fans that he will return in a month for D23 Expo 2017 on July 15, 2017, with "final information" on Kingdom Hearts III. We do not yet know the content of this final information, but we do know that at D23 Expo 2017 we will see a new world reveal as well as a new trailer, as was announced in the most recent Kingdom Hearts III trailer from yesterday's LA concert.
UPDATE 1: At yesterdays Kingdom Hearts Orchestra - World Tour - in LA, Kingdom Hearts director Tetsuya Nomura made his third appearance. According to @SkywardWing on Twitter, who was at the concert, Nomura tells fans that, as translated by the official concert interpreter, "If this month's announcements made you happy, next month's will make you even happier." He is referring to the upcoming news and trailer at next month's D23 Expo 2017 on July 15th.
UPDATE 2: During the final Kingdom Hearts Orchestra - World Tour - in Osaka, Japan, Kingdom Hearts series director Tetsuya Nomura stated that they raised expectations high for the new Kingdom Hearts III information and news being revealed at D23 2017. He makes sure to note that it will be "normal" Kingdom Hearts III news, and he would like people to spread this word.
- Jul 16 2017 10:40 PM
- by Mystics Apprentice
Tetsuya Nomura, director of the Kingdom Hearts series has stepped down as director of Final Fantasy XV, the title that has been in development since 2006 by the team who developed both Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II. Square Enix CEO Yosuke Matsuda has released a statement that confirms Nomura will be focusing his efforts on Kingdom Hearts III. You can read this below thanks to Square Enix.
“As the director of FINAL FANTASY XV, Tetsuya Nomura has mainly worked on the original concept for the story and universe in addition to creating the characters. Hereafter, he will be focusing his efforts on the production of titles that can only be made possible by Nomura, himself, and delivering products that exceed the quality of past titles, starting with another one of his representative projects, Kingdom Hearts III. Square Enix will continue to work on these titles with the best staff formation in an effort to deliver them to everyone as soon as possible and appreciates your continued support.”
Update 2: Tetsuya Nomura has answered why he stepped down as director of Final Fantasy XV in the latest issue of Famitsu Weekly. Thanks to sqexgal for the translation, you can read it below.
"It was the company's decision, I can't say more than that."
Update: Square Enix Europe have provided some extra insight about Nomura's change within these two projects, and this can be read below.Spoiler
- Sep 24 2014 07:29 PM
- by Sora96
Tetsuya Nomura says that they raised expectations high for the D23 2017 Kingdom Hearts III news, and it will be "normal" info
During the final Kingdom Hearts Orchestra - World Tour - in Osaka, Japan, Kingdom Hearts series director Tetsuya Nomura stated that they raised expectations high for the new Kingdom Hearts III information and news being revealed at D23 2017. He makes sure to note that it will be "normal" Kingdom Hearts III news, and he would like people to spread this word instead of raising the bar in order to not cause any trouble.
- Jul 16 2017 10:24 PM
- by Elfdemon_