Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep Roundtable Q&A

We get cozy in a roundtable interview with Square Enix designer Tetsuya Nomura and chat about Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep for the PSP.

by

Six journalists, three translators, one developer, and a 30-minute countdown clock do not make for a very effective roundtable interview, but that's exactly what we got during our Square Enix session with Kingdom Hearts designer Tetsuya Nomura at this year's E3 2010.

The sixth title in the series, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is set 10 years before the events of the original Kingdom Hearts game. Unfortunately for fans of the series, this means Sora will not be the game's main character. Instead, the story will follow three keyblade apprentices--Terra, Ventus, and Aqua--on their journey to search for their missing master, with each character taking a separate path through the game. The title was released in Japan earlier this year and is set for a September release worldwide on the PSP.

In our Square Enix roundtable, Nomura talked about the game's overhauled battle system, developing for handhelds, and the future of the Kingdom Hears franchise. GameSpot was only allowed to ask two questions, which have been marked below. We've also kept in the other questions and have included Nomura's answers.

GameSpot: How was KH: Birth by Sleep received in Japan?

Tetsuya Nomura: After its release, Birth by Sleep was praised as the best KH title on the PSP. I think the reason for this is because it was developed in an environment similar to the original Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II, and thus, the gameplay reminded players of the feel and sensation of those games. Of course, some players regretted that Sora was not featured as the main character, but that's the way we wanted to do the game.

Question 2: What are the differences between console development and handheld development?

TN: The touch and feel of the PSP is similar to that of the PS2, so in that sense, developing for the PSP wasn't all that different. In fact, that's what we intended. The focus with this title is good, solid gameplay.

Question 3: How did the stories for the Kingdom Hearts games evolve? Were they planned from the beginning or did they evolve alongside Sora as a character?

TN: My typical approach is not to develop a unique story right from the beginning. When I wrote the story for Kingdom Hearts, I was already planning a story for the sequel, and so on. I try and think ahead and then elaborate on my ideas when writing the story for the next game in the series.

Question 4: Handhelds are evolving rapidly. Do you find that you are no longer constrained by what a handheld can do? Do some things simply work better on handhelds than consoles?

TN: The difference between consoles and handhelds is data capacity. Kingdom Hearts is the kind of title that requires a lot of data since all the games feature big environments and lots of CG movies. So in that sense, we are constrained on handhelds.

Question 5: One of the biggest complaints of previous Kingdom Hearts games was that they controlled poorly and had a bad camera, which restricted gameplay. What have you done to improve this?

TN: I don't have complaints in mind when I design games. Can you give me an example where you thought the controls and camera were bad? We're always working on improving the game, but this depends on the limitations of the platforms.

GameSpot: Can you give us an overview of the re-hauled battle system in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep?

TN: Yes. Players will find two major differences. The first is the addition of a shooting lock-on system, which we found was the only element in previous KH titles that hadn't yet been upgraded. The new lock-on system will be used when characters perform special attacks, and I find it's a lot better to play. The second change is something called command style, which will see characters leveling up and receiving new sets of attack moves each time they fulfill certain gameplay requirements.

Question 7: It's been a while since we've seen a new generation of Kingdom Hearts titles. There have been a lot of handheld and mobile version, but no console versions since the PlayStation 2. Are you thinking about making a next-generation Kingdom Hearts? Or do you prefer working on handhelds?

TN: All I can say is that if there were to be a Kingdom Hearts III, then it would be on consoles. I have a desire to create this game, but it's just not the right time. I'm under pressure from KH fans, Disney, and Square Enix, and they all want Kingdom Hearts III. I know this, and I don't hide my desire to make this game. The biggest problem we're facing is our main developer on the franchise is busy with Final Fantasy, and the Birth by Sleep team is busy making Kingdom Hearts for the Nintendo 3DS. But we'll do it when the right time comes.

Discussion

197 comments
lucariomew
lucariomew

@goku33339 takes one to know one :)

goku33339
goku33339

@lucariomew jesus christ, cant anyone make a small joke without anyone else going "deerrrr, youre wrong! it's cuz of *insert logical stuff that IS common knowledge*" i really dont care how knowledgable you are about kingdom hearts, FREAK

youngsexynerd
youngsexynerd

yeah i think birth by sleep is definatley gonna be the main tie in for kingdom hearts 3!

Kou-Nurasaka
Kou-Nurasaka

Its good that Nomura can admit that he is facing pressure from both SE, Disney and the fans. That shows how strong the series has become; considering that Disney apparently has no problems greenlighting it. My best Nomura, and more power to you!

Morokoo
Morokoo

@RyuuMasato Most of the "spin offs" most likely will have something to do with kh3.

RyuuMasato
RyuuMasato

Aight man w.e. I dont even care no more just finish your KH re:coded and KH3D and get on with FFvs13 and KH3 Jesus Christ, I mean dang I understand they feel the need to make KH3D because well you can also play as Riku but re:coded? that's just a fancy word for "we are now making a game that takes place between KH1 and COM"...Will I buy these two games? Maybe if it came with something like Collectors Post Cards like Re:Chain of Memories did. Shoot, spending all these time on spin offs and reviews psh I would rather they write a Manga or Anime.

homsarrunner3
homsarrunner3

this preview was linked from the page for kingdom hearts Re:coded. Why? Perhaps it should be kept on the page for birth by sleep, and not be allowed to mislead people like this?

lucariomew
lucariomew

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Lisandro_v22
Lisandro_v22

@StarkFlame: I thought my statement would suffice but obviously I must explain it a bit. Believe it or not I know KH wasn't the first Real Time RPG, I can name Action RPGs dating from the 80s but Kingdom Hearts was the first game in years of turn based JRPGs to play fully in real time and show that the concept was economically feasible. If somebody says Mario invented platformers, he obviously doesn't mean that it was the first but with a perfect execution and a lot of sales, it set the conventions for the whole genre, the same happens with KH. KH showed that full real-time role playing was profitable and told everyone "this is how you do it". I hope that statement is found more technical and less funny.

StarkFlame
StarkFlame

@Lisandro_v22 KH invented the action RPG genre Lol no there where many before it

Lisandro_v22
Lisandro_v22

They controlled poorly?? KH invented the action RPG genre, the camara had some problems in 1, and KH2 practically played for itself but I don't think anybody said they "controlled poorly"

lucariomew
lucariomew

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

lucariomew
lucariomew

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

lucariomew
lucariomew

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

lucariomew
lucariomew

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Morokoo
Morokoo

@Ninja_Tri the reason is because he has something to do with sora who knew? And it wasn't that much sarcasm. It's kinda common logic.

Ninja_Tri
Ninja_Tri

@lucariomew was such sarcasm really necessary? calm yourself down, and just wait for the game to release, I'm sure everything will be cleared once it does.

lucariomew
lucariomew

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

goku33339
goku33339

the only reason vent looks like roxas is because....old tetsoya ran out of character models.

Morokoo
Morokoo

The reason why he is making them on handheld is most likely because he does not want to make one on the next gen systems yet, and not many people have ps2 anymore.

LINO-X
LINO-X

I bought a ds just to play KH358 cuz i like roxas more than sora but now its ven that look like roxas... tetsoya namura should stop creating kh in handheld or else i wll die

Coolyfett
Coolyfett

Looks like this is the game that everyone is waiting for!!!!

guidedblue
guidedblue

mostlikely get one because of the upcomming games

guidedblue
guidedblue

no psp but A DS should i get a psp

davonas
davonas

This game seems really cool but I don't own a PSP, DS or any other hand held games what ever yeh does call it these days.

MMOPlayer22
MMOPlayer22

It's a shame I don't own a PSP, I'd really like to play Birth By Sleep.

Morokoo
Morokoo

I really hope this has a lot of replay value :/

wilford88
wilford88

Now this is something to look forward to. Too them long enough to make a new Kingdom Hearts game.

lucariomew
lucariomew

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Kingdom_fighter
Kingdom_fighter

I think that Ventus has a connection with Sora and Roxas because ventus appear in kh 358 2 days .

Morokoo
Morokoo

@lucariomew Finally you get a keyblade for defeating him..

detectivepbert
detectivepbert

They should scratch the DS version to free up the developer's time for KH3, and develop the latter as a PS3 exclusive.

lucariomew
lucariomew

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

lucariomew
lucariomew

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

lucariomew
lucariomew

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Morokoo
Morokoo

@lucariomew Interesting.. I wonder why they are weakening it?

lucariomew
lucariomew

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

lucariomew
lucariomew

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Morokoo
Morokoo

@sirmilad this will most likely be one of the best games on PSP. @guidedblue I have played everyone of them many times too but like he said It's confusing what's going to happen next. That is what makes it good :P

sirmilad
sirmilad

all of psp gamers should get this game when it comes

lucariomew
lucariomew

@guidedblue gee so have i have, even coded (i just didn't own it) . by confusing i mean gueesing what's gonna happen in every new game and how it's gonna relate to the current games is confusing.

guidedblue
guidedblue

not to me i played all of them in order so for me it is not confusing

lucariomew
lucariomew

@Morokoo "I swear kingdom hearts is so confusing, that's why we keep buying them" ahahahahahaha, i know right :)

Morokoo
Morokoo

@lucaruiomew Hmm let's see, I just don't know.. no one has info on KH3D.. on the Square Enix website they said KH 3D was not It's official name but had something in the name that would hint.. I swear kingdom hearts is so confusing, that's why we keep buying them.

lucariomew
lucariomew

@Morokoo as to who Mr. Secret boss is, there are some interesting theories: 1. a clone 2. a time traveler of you know who. 3. a time traveling Riku 4. Master Xehanort's nobody or unversed. 5. a previously failed apprentice extraction or the former owner of his previous container (assuming that his old body wasn't his own). 6. Ven's nobody or nobody like being (technically Vanitas is a heart swallowed by darkness / is missing part of his heart) 7. the next monster: 1) being heartless, 2) Nobodies, 3) Unversed, 4) Hooded guy

lucariomew
lucariomew

*KH Coded / Re coded spoiler* in the end Sora gets a letter from Mickey, also seen in KH2 ending scene, saying that their are still some people: Aqua, Terra, Ven, Xion, Roxas, Axel, Namine and Ansem the Wise, and possibly master Eraqus, who are still enduring torment and only Sora can save them. naturally this confuses me because in the end of KH2 Roxas and Namine go back to their original selves so how they can be enduring torment is still beyond me. but it might explain the seen that shows when Riku met Ansem which neither jiminy nor his Journal can explain because they weren't present for that event.

lucariomew
lucariomew

@Morokoo actually since he is the secret boss that does have a relation to KH 3D then he may be a flashback to KH1 FM secret boss or Terranorts nobody from KH2 or one of the other characters, like Riku who have a relation to him, from a parallel world. if they are going for a parallel world that is . that's what i came up with based on the info they released so far.

Morokoo
Morokoo

@lucariomew it has to be him or a clone of some sort.. but I don't know what he would mean about it, because every well hidden secret boss like the Hooded Man in KH1FM And Terra in KH2FM.. but I think it could have something to do with KH3D.