Tetsuya Nomura is ready — at last — for ‘Kingdom Hearts 3” to progress

July 26, 2013 | 1:28 p.m.
Concept art for "Kingdom Hearts 3," due in 2014 for next-gen consoles. (Square Enix)

Concept art for “Kingdom Hearts 3,” in development for next-gen consoles. (Square Enix)

This post has been corrected. See note at the bottom for details.

It’s been seven-plus years since the last core “Kingdom Hearts” game was released in the U.S.  Although there’s been no shortage of spinoffs in the Disney-meets-”Final Fantasy”- role-playing-game series, a 10-year-in-the-making story will finally reach its conclusion when Square Enix publishes “Kingdom Hearts 3″ on next-gen consoles.

So how did series architect Tetsuya Nomura know he was ready to start bringing many of the branching plot points outlined in the numerous “Kingdom Hearts” to an end? He just did.

“First and most important,” said Nomura, speaking through a translator, “is the determination in my mind. That will launch the project. It’s difficult to explain what kind of determination I am talking about. As you can imagine, expectations by the fans for franchise with sequels go up each time.

“Fan expectation for ‘Kingdom Hearts 3′ is extremely high,” he continued. “To respond to those expectations, I have to provide something really good. Technology is really important, as is the [Disney] world.”

Unlike other franchises that Nomura helps shape, such as the “Final Fantasy” series, “Kingdom Hearts” has a more complicating element: Nomura must work closely with Disney. Throughout the games, heroes have traversed numerous Disney-inspired worlds, encountering universes built around properties as diverse as “The Little Mermaid” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”

Disney looks different today than it did in 2006, when “Kingdom Hearts 2″ was released in the U.S.  Disney, for instance, has long since completed an acquisition of Pixar. Characters from Disney and Pixar films will collide in August’s “Disney Infinity” platform.

Could Pixar-inspired lands make their way into “Kingdom Hearts 3″? Nomura wouldn’t budge on what’s confirmed for the game but said the biggest challenge in designing the “Kingdom Hearts” titles is working with Disney to see which brands Square Enix will have at its disposal.

"Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5. Remix" will be released this fall in the U.S. (Square Enix)

“Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5. Remix” will be released this fall in the U.S. (Square Enix)

“What world is available for the title is an important question,” he said. “The story — it has to be great enough to meet the expectation of the fans. When that’s ready, and I feel like I am ready, then the game can start. The counterpart that I’ve been working with at Disney the past 10 years is the same person. We have very heated discussions about this franchise, and we’ve done that for the past 10 years, but we have a steady relationship.”

And though there was never any doubt that “Kingdom Hearts 3″ would eventually be released, Nomura bristles when the word “trilogy” is used. He intends the primary games in the series to tell a story, but the franchise will continue long after “Kingdom Hearts 3″ is released.  To get fans up to speed for the next-gen edition of “Kingdom Hearts,” Square Enix will release “Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix” for the PS3 in September.

“There was never a plan,” he said. “As a core game, this is finally the third, and 10 years have passed. I couldn’t call this a trilogy. There have been so many spinoffs. In ‘Kingdom Hearts 3,’ the battles that the characters have been fighting for the past 10 years will come to a conclusion. That is the plan. But the series will continue. Only the particular enemy they have been fighting the past 10 years will come to an end.”

From a design standpoint, Nomura suggested fans get their hands on “Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance” if they’re looking for clues as to where he’s heading from a game-play perspective. The 3DS game was released last year and Nomura said he is using the hand-held title’s combat functionality as an early guide for “Kingdom Hearts 3.”

Mickey Mouse in 2012's "Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance" for the Nintendo 3DS. (Square Enix)

Mickey Mouse in 2012′s “Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance” for the Nintendo 3DS. (Square Enix)

“We tried many experiments in that game that will be applied to ‘Kingdom Hearts 3,’ ” he said. “If you play ’3D,’ you will get some hint of ‘Kingdom Heart 3.’”

Nomura notes that all of this, of course, is open to change. “Final Fantasy Versus XIII,” for instance, was announced years ago and after prolonged silence on the project was officially rebranded as “Final Fantasy XV” this spring.

“Square Enix changes its philosophies pretty often,” Nomura said. “That’s something I can’t do anything with. I’m just one of the employees, so if the company decides to change, I have to follow. I’m a so-called ‘salary man.’ Of course, the creative policy I have stays the same. “

[For the record, 9:26 p.m. July 26: An earlier version of this post said that "Kingdom Hearts 3" would be out in 2014. A release date has not yet been set.]

– Todd Martens | @toddmartens

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex


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21 Responses to Tetsuya Nomura is ready — at last — for ‘Kingdom Hearts 3” to progress

  1. KHFAN says:

    It can’t be on the Wii U because it doesn’t have a special program call “DirectX 11″. The Xbox One and PS4 have this program which is why it’s being released on both these consoles and not the Wii U. Mr Nomura said that its not that he doesn’t want it to be on the Wii U it’s that he can’t make it for the Wii U.

  2. justaregularguy says:

    Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance was amazing.

  3. Random fan says:

    Can you put KH3 on a Nintendo system

  4. SkippyJones says:

    @KHFAN, The FF/KH games don't use DX they use Open GL :)

    • KHFAN says:

      @SkippyJones Yes that may be so in the past KH games even though the numbered sequels and spin offs were exclusives to either Nintendo handhelds and Playstation consoles, but Nomura stated that it won’t be released on the Wii U because it doesn’t have DirectX 11.

  5. Capt. Baker says:

    Put it on Wii U sorry but no way. No Point. I was shocked to hear it wasn't going to be a Playstation Exclusive BUT I understand why its a lot more $$ coming in and its to fuel later games. Putting on the Wii U doesn't make sense honestly who play games on those anymore when PS4 and Xbox One come out…maybe for SSB but that's it right

    • thisguy234 says:

      Not really. There are people who play the Wii U, and not just to get the new Super Smash Bros. There are other games for it, and other games that will come out for it, so yes people play the system. The only reason KH3 will not be on Wii U is because it doesn't have DirectX 11.

  6. kade says:

    It would be cool if ff15 characters were in kh3

    • Aaron Roper says:

      yes and that would be a great way to setup a multiplayer system like the mirage arena in kingdom hearts birth by sleep. and would possibly lead to multiple story lines like birth by sleep and dream drop distance.

  7. @EscoRayn760 says:

    There are a lot of great games on Wii U, but I think fan-boys of PS & Micro feel like Wii U isn't considered a "next-gen". Usually, those same people are the ones who said the Wii & motion sensors were "a gimmick" then called PS Eye & Kinect to be "revolutionary"! But that's another discussion. I personally think, w/ all that KH has put their hardcore fans through, buying devices that they normally wouldn't just to play their games(this goes for the Sony people buying DS/3DS & Nintendo people buying PSP & me personally now going to be buying a PS3 for KH1.5), that they deserve a cross the board release, to give everyone what they want. I DON'T want to buy a $400 machine just to play 1-game nor go on YouTube to see how a series I've followed(very devotedly) ends.

    • 2cents says:

      Don't buy the ps3 to play KH 1.5. I'm a hardcore fan, and I can't imagine doing that to play one game that's not even one in the established series. I'm just going to buy the PS4 to play the KH3. THis is a better choice because the console is newer, and yeah, it's actually part of the main sequel.

      Anyway, just my two cents. And, Yes, it's annoying that Square Enix keeps on switching the consoles, but whatever.

  8. Walker says:

    So is KH3 gonna be available for 360 or ps3?

  9. Dem' Keyblades says:

    It's interesting that KH3 is going to be Multiplatform released.. I never expected KH3 to be released on the Xbox One. Also, Disney and Pixar worlds dang, KH3 could be a cluster of epicness! :P My question is if Starwars is now owned by "Disney" Could that be integrated into the whole KH series? Or is that too much lightsabers and keyblades! :D

  10. Lizzie says:

    I think personally any kingdom hearts game on Wii is dangerous because one person is going to send the remote flying into the tv thinking its a heartless.

  11. QualityControl says:

    Honestly at this point only, god I hate to use the word…fanboys/fangirls…of their favored consoles are going to really care if it gets released all-plat. I however DETEST the thought of most games going multi-plat/all-plat not due to caring about any 1 console really there aren't many gameplay discrepancies between the platforms (the wii aside for obvious reasons) most of the differences are cost whether that's console/hardware/online, and interface, but due to the fact that almost every game that got released all-plat since the wii came out was pure garbage because they designed the game with going all-plat in mind as the wii doesn't have the visual quality PS and XBOX do. This is one of the many things I have and always will absolutely love about Nomura Tetsuya, he REFUSES to sacrifice game quality for a secondary, tertiary or all-plat release. If the Wii-U boosts the system capabilities I would be more than happy to see more games get all-plat releases, as I am sure most people would.

  12. noctis says:

    kh3 will be release on what console ? ps3 or ps4 ?

  13. Majority Rules says:

    We need multiple stories, and coopritive story mode.

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