Is Kingdom Hearts 2.9 a game, and could Roxas actually return?
IGN had a chance to speak with series co-creator and Kingdom Hearts III co-director Tetsuya Nomura about the sequel. In addition to learning about whether there’s any potential for a Kingdom Hearts III Switch version, that the game might feature a second playable character, and the return of the Gummi Ship, Nomura offered plenty of new details about the upcoming sequel.
Read on for the nine coolest things Nomura told us about Kingdom Hearts III’s story and gameplay.
Will There Be a Kingdom Hearts 2.9 Game Ahead of Kingdom Hearts III?
Spoilers for Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8: FInal Chapter Prologue follow
Before Square Enix announced Final Chapter Prologue, leaks suggested a “Kingdom Hearts 2.9” would be released, but that never came to be. Well, except for the final, epilogue cutscene featured in the game, which was labeled “2.9: The First Volume.”
So, we asked Nomura if that indicated a “Kingdom Hearts 2.9” game would be released.
“Of course [the 2.9: The First Volume] narrative does connect to Kingdom Hearts III, but I understand that there were some speculations about, like, is there going to be another 2.9 that’s going to come out? But rest assured, it is already – that bridge, that link is already bridged, so we are now leading up towards Kingdom Hearts III,” Nomura said.
Organization XIII and Maleficent Are Working Independently
The Kingdom Hearts III Orchestra Trailer teased what both sides of the franchise’s villains will be up to in the sequel. Maleficent and Pete were scouring Olympus Coliseum for a black box, while the 13 Darknesses met up with Sora at Twilight Town.
The Disney villains of Kingdom Hearts III aren’t necessarily focused on the same goal as the series’ original baddies, though.
“Whenever [Maleficent and Pete] go to different worlds, they may interact with some of the villains, Disney villains that exist in that world, but they are their own thing, with Maleficent leading the way,” Nomura said. “They have no sort of cooperation [with Organization XIII], nor are they conflicting or enemies against those people. Sora is battling the 13 Darkness, but Maleficent and Pete are kind of separate from that…So she doesn’t necessarily actively poke at Sora or try to bother him.”
Is Roxas Actually Returning?
The Orchestra trailer also featured Organization XIII questioning Sora about whether he intends to give into the darkness to revive Roxas given what he’s discovered about the members of Organization XIII.
Nomura explained that scene is “actually a bit longer” in the game, and this excerpt is in reference to the fact that, somehow, Xehanort’s Heartless and Nobody — Ansem and Xemnas — are existing at the same time, despite Sora having defeated both of them.
“If a Heartless and Nobody can exist at the same time, can Sora and Roxas exist at the same time, too?
“That brings to Sora’s attention, if a Heartless and Nobody can exist at the same time, can Sora and Roxas exist at the same time, too? And to do that, Xemnas is asking Sora, do you intend on utilizing the power of darkness? So that’s the kind of narrative that we wanted to talk about in that section [of the game],” Nomura said.
And How Will Kingdom Hearts III Touch on Kairi’s Story?
For those wondering how Kairi will factor into the sequel, Nomura pointed to the new story scene included in the Kingdom Hearts Orchestra World Tour, in which she’s writing a letter about her training with Lea.
“With the help of Merlin, she’s now in the sort of environment where there’s no limitation of time. So she can train, and focus on training, to become a Keyblade wielder,” Nomura said. “And so, in Kingdom Hearts III itself, also, it will be touched upon that those two are currently training.”
Unfortunately, there are no other details at this time about how Sora and Kairi’s relationship will evolve, nor how her potential to become a Keyblade master will be tested in the sequel.
Summons Are Returning and Are Separate From Attraction Flow
Nomura did confirm that character summons, which in past Kingdom Hearts games have allowed Square Enix to include cameos from Disney franchises not represented by full worlds, will return in Kingdom Hearts III.
Attraction Flow isn’t a replacement for that system, though if you’re wondering why the recent looks at Kingdom Hearts III haven’t included the new combat option, it’s because the developers worried they had shown it too often.
“When we first showed it in our earlier days, in our trailers, it was very flashy. [I feel] we’ve sort of pushed it a little too much, or we’ve shown it so many times. So we haven’t shown additional information beyond that,” Nomura said, though the team is hoping to showcase Attraction Flow again given the right opportunity.
There Was a “Deliberate Intent” to Focus on New Worlds for Kingdom Hearts III
Of the four worlds revealed so far for the sequel, only one, Olympus Coliseum, is a returning Disney franchise for the series. Big Hero 6, Tangled, and Toy Story all represent Nomura and his team’s efforts to delight fans with new experiences rather than offering something they’re overly familiar with.
“With Kingdom Hearts III, there was deliberate intent to kind of focus on the more newer titles. And then in terms of previous titles, we tried to balance it so that we have a good mix of some of the older IPs as well as some of the new worlds as well. But, yeah, with Kingdom Hearts III, there was a shift in that sort of thinking so we can focus on some of the newer titles,” Nomura said.
Nomura discussed the developer’s general approach to choosing Disney properties to transform into worlds, with the first being whether fans will actually enjoy the world. But the developers are also conscious, particularly with Kingdom Hearts III, of not including worlds that are too similar. Nomura used the example of if two jungle worlds were in contention, or if levels with similar themes were being considered, the developer would pare down to only include one.
Player Feedback Led to Kingdom Hearts III’s Form of Flowmotion
Flowmotion, first introduced in Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, allowed players to navigate worlds with a freedom that previous entries never allowed. And while it’s returning in Kingdom Hearts III, currently referred to as “Athletic Flow” in Japanese, the system has been tweaked in response to player’s response to it in DDD.
“With the previous Flowmotion…it seemed a little too free. And we did receive feedback from the consumers that it was – they didn’t know what to do with it, and it was kind of hard to control on their end. So we tried to refine it and it’s evolved into now what we call Athletic Flow,” Nomura said.
Nomura pointed to the D23 Expo trailer, which features footage of Sora hopping from rock to rock in the Olympus Coliseum world as an example of what the refined system will allow.
Worlds Will Have Their Own Unique Gameplay Experiences
The first look at Kingdom Hearts III’s Toy Story world included first-person mech combat, as Sora had the ability to pilot a toy mech in the Galaxy Toys store.
“That toy store is going to be sort of a very central focus of that arc of Kingdom Hearts III, and it’s in that section you see those robots being sold on the shelves,” Nomura said.
But those Gigas represent a larger philosophy in the world-building of Kingdom Hearts III. The mechs are one of multiple points in the Toy Story world of note that Nomura hopes will draw players interest as they vary up the standard gameplay.
“You can expect to see different sort of gameplay happening in each of the different worlds, and we have those specific points that we would love for the players to pay attention to,” Nomura explained.
Interview conducted via translation. Reporting by Terri Schwartz.
Jonathon Dornbush is an Associate Editor for IGN. Find him on Twitter @jmdornbush.
Source: IGN Video Games