have had an interview with Tetsuya Nomura, the director of the Kingdom Hearts series, where he discusses the series' past and present. Except for the fact that Sora's original weapon was intended to be chainsaw-like, the interview does not reveal any new information.
How did the concept behind Kingdom Hearts, one of Square Enix's most successful new concepts in recent years, come about? "I don't remember the details, but I was talking with [current Square Enix corporate executive] Shinji Hashimoto and Hironobu Sakaguchi," producer Tetsuya Nomura told Famitsu magazine in an interview. "The topic came up that it'd be nice if we could make a game with Disney. I had been wanting to make an original action RPG by that time, and I had had the basic game system for KH in my mind for a while by that point. I thought it'd be a good opportunity for me, so I raised my hand and told them to let me handle it."
The three sides didn't see eye-to-eye on everything, of course. "Square wanted to make a game starring Mickey Mouse, and Disney wanted a Donald Duck title. Meanwhile, I wanted neither," Nomura said with a laugh. "So I built a project plan for KH and began negotiating with both sides. That plan was largely what you see now; a game featuring lots of characters without focusing on any particular one."
People often have the impression that Nomura, given his artistic background, designs games based off story and characters ahead of gameplay. "That's not really the case," he notes. "I thought of the Keyblade in KH from the beginning, and that made 'keys' an integral keyword in the story."
"Actually," he continues, "the first weapon I showed Disney was a chainsaw. It was this chainsaw-like weapon that I had a rough sketch of when I first showed my concepts to Disney. Everyone got this scrunched-up look on their face and nobody said a word in the entire room. Dead silence. And I thought 'No, I guess this wouldn't work, huh?'"
Nowadays Nomura is occupied with the DS's Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, out now in Japan and due for a September release in America. The game's been a remarkable sales success in Japan, with Famitsu and other publications calling the title the furthest the DS has ever been pushed technically. "I have my doubts about how the world is turning toward 'serious' titles [such as Brain Age]," Nomura said. "I don't think that can be the industry's main focus. I'm here to make games, obviously, and that attitude played a major part in [358/2 Days] development. A lot of gamers don't play anything except the really big names, like Dragon Quest and FF. Look at it another way, though, and as long as you can grab their interest, they'll play your game. That's the userbase I want to attract here. You have to, or else you'll never challenge yourself. I'm not here to analyze the game industry or anything. All I believe is that if you make a fun game, people will play it."