Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary Weekly Famitsu Tetsuya Nomura Interview Coverage
The newest issue of Weekly Famitsu has been officially released in Japan, and it contains a lengthy interview with Kingdom Hearts series director Tetsuya Nomura regarding the franchise’s future projects. Another gaming outlet I write for, KH13, will be translating all the relevant information, and one of our translators, Ryuji, also provides coverage for that site. So, the KH13 information will be cross-posted here with some additions for non-fans to better understand the news.
We will be continually updating this article with more information as it is translated:
- The latest trailer was shown in Unreal Engine 4, but by the next time we see Kingdom Hearts IV make an appearance, we will certainly see it in Unreal Engine 5.
- The girl who knows Quadratum [possibly the Nameless Star’s identity from the Final World in Kingdom Hearts III] is still a secret. It is unknown whether she’ll appear in Kingdom Hearts IV or not, but Nomura does suggest she is a Verum Rex character.
- The “Lost Masters” refers to an opposition group, similar to Organization XIII.
- The 5 masters (Foretellers) aside from Luxu have completely vanished. It is unknown if they’ll make an appearance in Kingdom Hearts IV.
- The scenario for this arc will be written by Nomura, Oka Masaru, and Akiko Ishibashi (NEO: The World Ends with You writer.)
- The scenario for Missing Link will be written by Ruiko Fukazawa (writer for Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward).
- The Dark Road finale is being animated by 2 female animators, who are hard at work.
- There are no plans to release any Kingdom Hearts IV information in the near future.
Page 3 Timeline Translation – Corfidbizna
Union Cross: Age of Fairy Tales
- The Master of Masters (henceforth “the Master”), writes the Book of Prophecies.
- The Master vanishes.
- After the five pupils are given copies of the Book of Prophecies and assigned roles, the Master vanishes. The sixth apprentice Luxu isn’t given a copy of the Book of Prophecies and is instead given a Keyblade bearing the Master’s eye and a mysterious black box.
- There is a traitor amongst the apprentices. Doubts begin to strain their relationships.
- The Book of Prophecies told of the road to the Keyblade War that was to take place.
- “Dandelions” are selected from the Keyblade wielders. They escape the Keyblade War into a data world where they continue their training.
- Five of the Dandelions are selected to guide the Unions.
- At the height of the battle, the countdown to collapse begins. The Union leaders all depart in lifeboats, setting off to various eras, various worlds.
- One of the Union leaders, Brain, arrives at Scala ad Caelum.
Between Union Cross & Dark Road
- This blank era will be portrayed in Missing – Link, see p. 20.
Dark Road: Beginning of the Dark Seeker Saga
- In the former Keyblade capital of Scala ad Caelum, young Xehanort spends his days studying the use of the Keyblade with his friends.
- Communications with their upperclassmen outside of Scala ad Caelum cut off. Xehanort takes his first steps toward darkness.
Birth by Sleep: Xehanort Goes Dark
- Master Eraqus trains aspiring youths in the use of the Keyblade. Terra, Aqua, and Ventus depart to fight the monsters called Unversed that have appeared throughout the world.
- At the end of their fight, Master Xehanort steals Terra’s body. Aqua is left behind in the Realm of Darkness, and Ventus’ heart is wounded and falls into a deep sleep.
- Master Xehanort goes missing.
KHI: Sora, Riku, and Kairi Start Their Adventure
- Sora becomes able to use the Keyblade.
- Sora, alongside Donald and Goofy, sets out on a journey to find Riku and Kairi.
- Sora briefly becomes a Heartless.
- Dark Seeker Ansem is defeated. Riku and Kairi help out Sora, but Riku and the king are shut away beyond the Door to the Realm of Darkness.
Chain of Memories: Sora, his companions, and Riku go to Castle Oblivion
- While looking for Sora and the others, Riku and the king arrive at “Castle Oblivion”.
- In Castle Oblivion, Sora’s memories of Kairi are replaced with memories of Naminé.
- In order for Naminé to restore Sora’s memories, he goes into a long slumber.
358/2 Days: The Story of Those Born from Sora
- Roxas, a Nobody born from Sora, is recruited by Xemnas. He becomes Organization XIII’s thirteenth member (No. 13). *This happens shortly after Sora became a Heartless.
- Roxas leaves Organization XIII and fights Riku, then is captured by DiZ.
KHII: Fighting Xemnas’ Organization XIII
- Roxas returns (is absorbed by) Sora, who wakes up.
- While Sora looks for Riku and Kairi, Organization XIII rises to meet him.
- In Organization XIII’s stronghold, Sora reunites with Riku and Kairi.
- With Xemnas’ defeat, Organization XIII’s plans are halted.
Coded: Adventure in the Data World
- Data-Sora sets off in the Datascape to investigate the Datascape’s bugs, and to heal the hurt of the ones connected to Sora.
KH3D: Preparing to Take On Master Xehanort
- To prepare for Master Xehanort’s revival, Yen Sid has Sora and Riku take the Mark of Mastery exam.
- During Sora’s travels to close sleeping keyholes, Xehanort directs him into the abyss of sleep.
- In honor of waking Sora back up, Riku is named Keyblade Master and passes the Mark of Mastery exam.
KHIII: Xehanort’s Ambitions are Crushed, Sora Disappears
- Sora uses the power of waking to restore those trapped in sleep. Riku goes on a journey to recover Aqua, who is overtaken by darkness.
- In Master Xehanort’s final battle, his ambitions are crushed.
- Sora misuses the Power of Waking and disappears from the world as a result.
Melody of Memory: Searching for Clues About Sora
- One year after KHIII, a clue about the missing Sora is found.
IV: To be Continued
Pages 8 and 9 (Full Famitsu Interview) – Ryuji – [In Progress]
Interviewer: First of all, congratulations on the 20th year anniversary.
Nomura: Thank you very much.
Interviewer: How does it feel to have been with these series for 20 years?
Nomura: It’s still a hard fact to grasp, to tell you the truth. I have nothing but lots of gratitude to everyone who’ve supported the series.
Interviewer: And it has been three whole years since KH3, huh?
Nomura: Indeed, and inside those three years, we released tons of big things such as Melody of Memory, the PC ports and even the Nintendo Switch cloud ports.
Interviewer: According to our staff who was at the event, they said they could feel the passion of the fanbase inside the event.
Nomura: Yes. I’m so glad that the series has inspired both young and old people alike, given that this was a collaboration project with Disney.
[The Interviewer and Nomura then discuss his secret message. This is where we get that comment from Nomura previously where he said that “none of the staff” have figured it out.]
Interviewer: We have heard that KH3 is being developed using Unreal Engine 5, and that the trailer was in Unreal Engine 4. Even though that was an older version, it still looks stunning.
Nomura: Yes, we are carrying on with development using Unreal Engine 5. By the next time* you see Kingdom Hearts 4, it will most likely be already completely into the new engine.
*: “By the next time” = not in the near future, in this case. Famitsu hammers the point that we won’t see anything past E3’s period, which we’ve known previously.
Interviewer: Why did you want to hold the Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary Event at Shibuya Hikarie?
Nomura: Shibuya is such a worldwide landmark, and I felt that it would be an easy choice for the event.
Interviewer: Regarding Shibuya, we know that characters from The World Ends With You appear in KH DDD, so is there any connection to that?
Nomura: No. I’ve noticed that some fans have speculated that the Shibuya in The World Ends With You or that the world that Jack’s friends come from in Stranger of Paradise have some connection to Quadratum, but I’m that one person that can tell you that “no, there is no connection to those at all”.
Interviewer: Is the room where Sora wakes up also in Shibuya?
Nomura: That is Minami-Aoyama in terms of location. However, the original location is different from the view from the balcony, so we will have the Osaka staff go there for location scouting later to make adjustments for the later revisions of the game.
Interviewer: So it is set up to that extent?
Nomura: Yes, that’s right. We have also specified the layout of the rooms, but the furniture, etc., has not been specified yet, so the interior will be changed. That room will be your base of operations in the early stages of the game.
Interviewer: What kind of world is Quadratum? In “KH Melody of Memory,” it was described as the “other side of reality known as unreality, a fictional world.” Does that mean it does not belong to the world of light, the world of darkness, or the world in between?
Nomura: That is correct.
Interviewer: In “KH Melody of Memory,” someone who knew Quadratum appeared. Will she appear in “KHIV”?
Nomura: That is still a secret, I’m afraid. As I said at the event, there was a time when I was not sure whether I would choose to name this title “KINGDOM HEARTS IV” or “VERUM REX”. But she is originally a character from VERUM REX, I’ll say that much.
Interviewer: I see, I see!
Nomura: To be frank with you, I was surprised with the overseas fans’ reaction to Yozora. I thought he wouldn’t perhaps be received positively, but I’m glad they’ve proved me wrong. (bitter laugh)
[Next, they talk about the narrator in the trailers, and tie back on how it was a “character we’ve known” and how the voice actor did two tones, and such.]
Interviewer: I noticed the logo got changed, huh?
Nomura: To signal that we have started a new saga, we decided to change the logo. The font and logo design do look simplistic compared to the previous, but although it is simple, I made sure that it would still capture the essence of Kingdom Hearts.
Interviewer: In the trailer, the narrator talks about the Society of the Heirs (継ぐ者の結社) and the Society of the Non-Heirs (継がざる者の結社). Could you explain more about that?
Nomura: Kingdom Hearts Missing Link is a story that takes place about four generations after Ephemer was alive. The main family that carries his bloodline is known as the Society of the Heirs (継ぐ者の結社) while the society of those who do not carry his bloodline are known as the Society of the Non-Heirs (継がざる者の結社).
Interviewer: Donald and Goofy are seen at the end of the trailer. How will the story develop if we know that Sora is in the real world (Quadratum)?
Nomura: As you could tell, they are currently looking for clues regarding Sora’s whereabouts. Sora looks more realistic because he is in Quadratum, and since Donald and Goofy aren’t, they’ve retained their cartoony style.
Interviewer: What’s the identity of the two black coats we see on the KH4 trailer?
Nomura: Sorry, but that’s still a secret. (laughs). However, what I can tell you is that alongside me, Akiko Ishibashi and Oka Masaru will be helping write the scenario for Kingdom Hearts IV.
Interviewer: Please tell us more about Kingdom Hearts Missing – Link, the game that was announced for smartphones alongside Kingdom Hearts IV’s “Lost Masters Saga”.
Nomura: The Kingdom Hearts series currently spans three sagas/arcs in total. You have the Seekers of Darkness Saga that goes until the end of Limit Cut of Kingdom Hearts III and the Lost Masters Saga that will be Kingdom Hearts IV. The third saga is the “χ (chi)” saga, which encompasses Kingdom Hearts chi (* browser game), Kingdom Hearts Union Cross, and finally, Kingdom Hearts: Dark Road. Kingdom Hearts Missing – Link is a title that fills in the blanks and it will function as a bridge-like work, connecting two games together. (Translator note: He reiterates how Missing Link is between Union Cross’s finale and the beginning of Dark Road.)
Interviewer: In the trailer, we can see that Brain appears. Will he be the main character?
Nomura: No, he won’t. The main character will be yourself. Much like Union Cross, the protagonist will be a custom player avatar created by yourself.
Interviewer: Missing – Link seems to be centered on action-packed battles that can also be enjoyed in multiplayer, with the addition of so-called location-based game elements that utilize augmented reality technology. You say that you can move around without actually going out, but in that case, do you perhaps mean that you can move around while moving your character in the game?
Nomura: Yes. It works similar to Google Street View, where you can tap on the arrows to go forward or back in a street. However, I’ve chosen to make it feel more faithful to the series. (He means as in, you won’t “tap arrows to go forward and back”, like Street View does)
Interviewer: So you can even walk around Okinawa, if you wanted to!
Nomura: Yes, but if you want to go far, far away, it will take a certain amount of time (laughs), but you can also use points to teleport right to where you want to go.
Interviewer: So if you do not want to walk, you can spend points and teleport wherever you’d like, or you can simply choose not to and walk around yourself. It’s all up to who plays it.
Interviewer: If the game is linked to the real world, does that mean that there will be no Disney worlds?
Nomura: We are experimenting with a variety of things, but depending on the timing, the terrain and atmosphere will be partially based on the Disney worlds motifs. In the early stages of development, we covered the entire map with a texture change, but it seemed like overkill, so we are trying to make it more consistent.
Interviewer: Collecting figure-like pieces sounds interesting, and the multiplayer action battles look fun.
Nomura: We are trying to develop some new things that wouldn’t be normally possible in the main series of games. I hope you look forward to testing those out on the Closed Beta, as it is scheduled for Fall of this year.
Interviewer: You have mentioned that for the Dark Road finale, you have added more scenarios than you originally planned. Could you elaborate more on that?
Nomura: Originally, I wanted to focus more on Xehanort’s classmates and seniors, but due to some last-minute changes in the plan, we couldn’t focus on them as much, since I was told to prioritize Xehanort’s character development. However, I felt really unsatisfied that I had to cut that, so I decided to have the finale give them the required focus. You will also understand the reason as to why Xehanort became the way he is [talking about his old self being completely bald].
Interviewer: Ohhh! I look forward to that! (laughs). Last question: Do you have any further plans for this year’s 20th anniversary?
Nomura: The two Flash animators for the now-disbanded Dark Road team are hard at work in making sure the finale ends things on a high note. We also have the Missing Link closed beta coming this fall. While I can’t disclose any other plans than that, I urge you to keep an eye out on the official social media accounts, just in case.
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