Elsa, Anna, Rapunzel, and Kairi make up four of the new Princesses of Heart. Come theorise who the last three Princesses will be!


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Who do you prefer to play as in Kingdom Hearts 3D?

Sora - 100%
Riku - 0%

Total votes: 1, but the poll doesn't work yet

Ask the Kingdom Hearts Team! - Official U.S. Playstation Magazine

The following Q&A was published in the 61st issue of the Official U.S. Playstation Magazine, released in October 2002. Participants included Tetsuya Nomura (Director), Jun Akiyama (Event Planning Director + Scenario Writer), Tatsuya Kando (Animation Director) and Yuichi Kanemori (Battle Planning Director). 

Any particular favorite characters that the team particularly enjoys?

Akiyama: My favorite world is Halloween Town from Nightmare Before Christmas. I was already a fan of the original story, and I was extremely excited when I realized I was able to walk around that world! But the most difficult character was Genie from Aladdin. He’s a very chatty and fast-talking character, so I wanted to provide tons of dialogue. However, when we actually had to create the events, I already saw myself having a hard time because of it. That was quite a dilemma.

Kando: Goofy was fun to work with. Maybe that’s because the character’s personality is much like mine. Tarzan and the Beast were difficult – with Tarzan, it was matching up his hair movement with that of his body, and with Beast, it was the movement of his cape. I assigned one animator just to be in charge of the Beast’s cape and its movement.

Kanemori: In terms of boss battle, I tend to like forceful bosses such as Cerberus. Cloud and Sephiroth, both from Final Fantasy VII, are making cameo appearances, so I have very special feelings for them as well.

Nomura: In this game and in the films, it’s different. Outside of Kingdom Hearts, my favorite is Simba from The Lion King and the Nightmare Before Christmas world and characters. In this game specifically, is Donald and the Beast.

The gameplay looks Zelda-inspired. What keeps it fresh and prevents it from turning into a hack-‘n’-slash?

Kanemori: The biggest feature is that the battle system merges the real-time game progression of an action game with the command/select style that’s representative of RPGs. I think that this system successfully combines both aspects – a well-paced game progression in real time and a multitude of action elements from the command selection. This takes on a very important part of the game structure, not just for the battles but also for the entire game.

Why Haley Joel Osment?

Nomura: Finding the right Japanese voice was a very extensive process, especially for Sora, Riku, and Kairi, the main three characters. We had many, many auditions to find the perfect people to fit those three characters’ images. Even with some of the other characters, we looked for the perfect matches, and we would call back actors several times to read the lines again. For the U.S. version, even before the Japanese Sora was cast, I already had Haley Joel Osment in mind. I hoped he would play the role, and I’m very happy he has done it. For the other characters, it was more of matching up their voices to the Japanese voices – to be as similar and to be as close as they can in English to the Japanese voices. When foreign movies, especially Hollywood films are shown in Japan, Japanese people can’t really judge the skills of actors and actresses from U.S. But his [Haley Joel Osment’s] skills are very apparent; it’s very clear that he’s a very good actor. I’m a big fan of his work.

What part wound up on the cutting-room floor that you most wanted to see make the game [character, level, gameplay idea, etc.]?

Nomura: A lot! In the very beginning, we were thinking about 30 worlds. In my mind, it’s natural that you have a larger piece to work with, then go through the elimination process. So 30 might sound like a lot, but if you think about it, in the end, you really have to cut out a lot of things. If there was a small number from the very beginning, you never know how many worlds you’d end up with.

One world we cut was Atlantis. It would have been a great opportunity to actually promote Atlantis itself. But the movie has a lot of vehicles, and we just have the Gummi Ship. So it wasn’t really a good fit in this game, because it would only be to place those vehicles or robots and fight with them. There was no good connection to the other worlds, and the story just didn’t fit that well.

What was the thought behind bringing back Aerith?

Nomura: Yes, she died in Final Fantasy VII, but there’s no real relation to where she was at or what role she played in FFVII. There’s no relationship from FFVII to the Kingdom Hearts stories. But if you play Kingdom Hearts, toward the end, some of the questions about the relationship between Cloud and Aerith in FFVII might be answered. It’s sort of like a side story, and this was an extra bonus that I wanted to give to players.

Were there any Final Fantasy characters that were going to be in the game but were scratched off?

Nomura: The Final Fantasy characters weren’t in place from the very beginning stages of the game’s development. Rather we had open roles and we picked whoever fit that role in that particular environment. Even toward the end of development, certain characters were replaced because we didn’t think they fit the roles. Specifically, Wakka replaced Irvine and Yuffie replaced Rikku.

Were there any ideas from Disney or Square that the other group didn’t agree with?

Akiyama: We had quite a bit of freedom crafting the storyline by combining various worlds through a theme, but one rule we had to go by was that characters from independent stories do not cross over with each other – meaning Aladdin would not meet Tarzan. Within the game, each world is depicted like a planet floating in space and Aladdin would not travel with Tarzan [Goofy, Donald, and the Princesses of Heart were the exceptions]. However, there were a few ideas in the early scripts that got rejected – they all had to do with the “bathroom”. I don’t think there were any other strict guidelines other than that.

Nomura: I wanted to include Walt Disney in the game, but that got rejected!

Issues of the Official U.S. Playstation Magazine also came with a demo disc filled with video footage hosted by the Playstation Underground, which includes "Behind the Scenes", "The Vault" and other content. Below is a transcript of interviews with key staff members.

—The staff's favorite worlds...

Takeshi Endo (Stage Planning Director): In the beginning of the game, Sora starts his journey from his home while at the same time, Donald and Goofy begin their journey. The three meet in Traverse Town and travel to different Disney worlds, including Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Tomohiro Kayano (Character Model Director): My favorite is the Nightmare Before Christmas world. It has a more unique look than the others. The rest of the game is made using animation cells, but the Nightmare world is made from actual photographs. We achieved an interesting look with combinations of the 3D game world and real photos. I'm really pleased with the results.

Tatsuya Kando (Animation Director): I think the Peter Pan and Aladdin worlds are very interesting, especially [with] the Battleship fight in the Peter Pan world.

Tetsuya Nomura (Director and Character Designer): My favorite is Destiny Islands, because when I designed it, I wanted to get away from work and go to a tropical island. This island looks very relaxing. At the same time, this world contains many keys that help you solve problems later in the game; it's a very important location.

—Regarding the Keyblade...

Endo: One of the main items Sora will carry is the Keyblade. It is not only a weapon to defeat enemies, but it has a symbolic purpose of locking the door to each world.

Nomura: The Keyblade's appearance and abilities change depending on what kind of chain is attached. These keychains alter Sora's attacking ability in different ways. For example, one of them will raise Sora's attacking ability while at the same time drastically reduce his magic points.

—On similarities between Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts...

Nomura: Well, since the core staff of this game has worked on Final Fantasy games in the past, we thought it was about time we tried something different. I like RPGs because they are the type of game that players get deeply involved in. Sometimes RPGs have a hard time including action elements into the game, so we incorporated lots of action into Kingdom Hearts, to the point where some may call it an action game.

Like Final Fantasy, this game also has experience points. The difference is that you can earn EXP during battles, whereas you earn them after you finish each battle in Final Fantasy. For example, if you dodge an enemy's attack, you earn a point. As your character's EXP go up, your character becomes stronger. Since action is heavily incorporated into this game, a skilled action game player may move up to different stages without having a substantial amount of EXP normally needed.

Some characters from the Final Fantasy series that will appear are Tidus, Wakka, Selphie, Yuffie, Cid, Mog, Squall, Cloud and Aerith.

—About the game's music...

Yoko Shimomura (Composer): I tried not to use any music that already exists. My concern was to compose music that flows nicely and matches the mood. I did use some original Disney music, but tried to blend it well so that listeners would not feel awkward when my original music is mixed in. 

There are 76 tracks, which is more than usual. I usually use 50-60 tracks. We used a full 100-piece orchestra to record the theme song. I think a lot more people participated in this music process compared to our usual work.

—The Gummi Ship

Endo: After finishing a world, the characters get a saving point where there are entrances and exits to each world, and the characters can cross the space between each world in the Gummi Ship. The Gummi Ship is owned by King Mickey, and Chip and Dale are the engineers who lend the ship to Donald and Goofy to use on their quest. Sora joins them and is allowed to fly on this ship.

The Gummi Ship is not only a vehicle, but also a way to obtain items. Users can customize the shape and type of the ship to whatever they choose. By using the Gummi Ship, Sora and his crew members travel freely between different worlds. Because each Gummi Block comes with different features such as an engine or a laser, the ship's capabilities change as you add or remove different blocks.

—Any hints to help get through the game?

Nomura: People just asked me questions about Aladdin yesterday, like "Where should I go" or "I can't open one of the doors", etc. There are always hints hidden somewhere in the game. I personally don't like including conversation that is totally irrelevant to the story or interrupts the flow of the game. Unlike many other RPGs which lets you obtain information from the same character over and over, you need to concentrate on listening to each and every word any character says in this game, otherwise you may miss very important hints and get yourself in deep trouble. Yesterday I told the person who was looking for hints in Aladdin to remember what other characters were saying. Then he seemed to understand.

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