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LEVEL article about Kingdom Hearts- the history, the creators and Tetsuya Nomuras thoughts!



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Multi_Skyscraper

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Hello all! Once again I come (more than a little bit late) with the translation of the LONG Kingdom Hearts article in LEVEL magazine issue 53. I recently translated the review, but there was also an article there that has now turned into a behemoth of nine pages in Word and over 4000 words. I don't know if the forums will even allow something that big to be posted, so bear with me if I have to redo the post.

At any rate- I should warn you here that this article is mostly based on the interviews Nomura gave at this year’s E3, so there's not exactly a whole lot that's new about the article. One can say that it's a VERY good introduction/explanation of the whole Kingdom Hearts phenomenon to a newcomer or just someone who's curious about Kingdom Hearts, but the average KH Insider goer who greedily devours every scrap of information that comes out will probably already have seen most of this. Still, it's an interesting read and does feature some opinions of Nomura that at least I have yet to read, so for those who just want to read what Nomura has to say I've marked his quotes in italics. Hope you'll enjoy...

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When worlds come together.
It began as a meeting between masters, but led to something even bigger than that. In this openhearted interview about the successful franchises past and future Kingdom Hearts director Tetsuya Nomura tells all about chainsaws, Lost-storytelling and what you can accomplish if you just trust in your heart.


It was like a bomb of pure commercial power had exploded. Disney and Final Fantasy in the same game. Two of the worlds largest brands all categories in a meeting for the history books. A company directors wet dream, a constellation that made market analysts jump from joy. Disney was a multi-billion conglomerate with animation history's greatest characters in their portfolio, several theme parks below their belt and dozens of Oscars as proof of critical acclaim and love. And Square Enix RPGs had become so popular that Japanese authorities forced them to release all new titles on weekends so that people wouldn’t skip school or ditch work.




But even though Kingdom Hearts mere concept has meant an almost guaranteed success in homes worldwide series creator Tetsuya Nomura never settled with cashing in his checks and resting on his laurels. The world-famous character designer behind Square Enix most loved Final Fantasy characters had practically no experience with game design when he started working as the director of the series, but despite this he was determined to transform the unique cooperation to something more than just a simple license game.


When LEVEL meets Tetsuya Nomura at E3 2010 it’s a jet-lagged but enthusiastic producer that remebers the time of the first games release 2002 with a smile on his lips.
-Many Japanese gamers are only interested in the very biggest series and that colored Squares catalogue at that time, he explains. There were some in the company who thought Kingdom Hearts was an unneccessary gambit, that we should have put the resources into new Final Fantasy games. I didn’t see it that way. The Disney cooperation gave us an opportunity to adress completely new audiences, and I thought that if you can get new players interested in RPGs it could never be a bad thing.


Nomuras job would turn out to be an ungrateful one. The two universes he was working with were considered impossible to merge. To unite Zanarkand with Agrabah, find a tie between Yoko Shimomuras melodious midi-beats and Alan Menkens romanticized musical soundtracks or for that matter make his own spiky hairdo's and asymmetrical belts feel natural side by side with Walt Disneys 1930-s fashion with red button shorts and sailor shirts would be a challenge.

-I’m not someone who loves to analyze the game industry but I do definitely believe that if you make a fun game people will want to play it, he explains with a laugh. It was that philosophy I had for Kingdom Hearts. I think that with our game mechanics the series would have gotten just as big even without Disney and Final Fantasy.


Nomura’s got a point. With each new game Kingdom Hearts mythology has only grown, and the need of their famous pull has lessened as Sora have made the acquaintances of new friends and enemies. Disney is still an important part of the experience, but today Kingdom Hearts has grown into something much more than a gimmicky cooperation.


But how could an illustrator without any considerable experience with game design prove the doubters wrong and create one of the 21st centuries biggest franchises all categories?


Mickey, Donald, Cloud.

Unexpected cooperations is nothing new in the game industry. Street Fighters Ryu has fought duels against both Wolverine and Terry Bogard. Gears of Wars soldiers recently shot aliens in Lost Planet 2. Even former arch rivals Sonic and Mario have ran marathons in digital Olympics and beaten each other senseless in Super Smash Bros Brawl.


The ever present problem for crossovers is about creating a natural symbiosis between the two brands. And even if the series on paper had an unbeatable concept Kingdom Hearts road was never an easy one. Despite 14 million sold copies all in all it’s a franchise that has struggled against the tides. In many gamers eyes it is and remains a travesty, a greedy milking of the Final Fantasy franchises popularity worthy of Scrooge McDuck himself and an attempt to sell Hironobu Sakaguchis grim universe to Mickey Mouse-worshiping grade schoolers. Gamers who always treated their interest as an escape from gray reality suddenly had to deal with their beautiful tales of magical crystals and enchanted swords being invaded by angry ducks, quarreling chipmunks and a whole army of ultra-cute comic relief-animals from 60 years worth of animated movies. Tetsuya Nomura himself just laughs when we ask how he feels about the somewhat strange combination of brands.


-I have never understood those who say that Disney and Final Fantasy do not fit together, he says. Just like Final Fantasy, Disney is not just one touch but several. Each movie is a whole new world, just like with the Final Fantasy series. When you combine lots of Disney worlds I personally think the Final Fantasy parts stick out less than, let’s say, Nightmare Before Christmas and Pirates of the Caribbean-worlds.

But not everyone agrees with the famous designer. Master meetings and crossovers often start with typical coffee break based nerdphilosophising, heated discussion about which Marvel hero really has the best superpowers or who in Nintendos stable of icons could win a grueling fight. After these ideas fester and grow on the Internet for a few years the result are crossover games that might as well be shipped under the label of ”fan service”.


But Kingdom Hearts based itself, unlike other remixes from Square Enix such as Ehrgeiz and Dissidia, not in those kind of questions. No one had ever wondered who would win a street fight between Cloud Strife and Mickey Mouse. Fortunately the Square of 2002 had no intentions of answering that particular question.


War of the worlds.
Kingdom Hearts first sprouted in the mind of Square producer Shinji Hashimoto when he by random chance bumped into a high ranking Disney executive in an elevator. The two companies had earlier been located in the same building and Hashimotos short talk with his former office neighbor made him start considering the commercial potential of an RPG based on the worlds of Disney. By this time Square desperately needed new blockbusters to keep up with their then competitor Enix, so some weeks later he called to an improvised meeting to discuss the idea.


-There were a couple of us talking, Nomura tells us. It was Sakaguchi, myself and some others. Hashimoto was trying to sell a cooperation with Disney, and since I had long held an idea of my own for an action-RPG I raised my hand and asked them to give me the project. All of the mechanics were already mapped out in my brain at that point, so all I needed to do was to find a way to get Disney on board with my idea.
Square quickly secured the rights, but the discussions regarding which of Disneys characters who were to participate in the game soon ran wild.


-Squares management wanted a game where you played as Mickey Mouse, since he is very popular in Japan. But Disney thought it would be better with Donald Duck in the main role. I didn’t feel either of those suggestions so I started to negotiate with both sides. My plan was to have a lot of worlds and characters from Disney, as many as we could possibly fit in! And when everybody liked that idea thoughts slowly began to grow about taking the project one step further and put elements of Final Fantasy there, to lure an even wider audience.


On paper Kingdom Hearts looked like a surefire winner. Not only would it merge two of popular cultures most beloved sets of characters, Square also contracted Japanese superstar Hikaru Utada to sing the games leitmotif and before the American release hire Hollywood stars like Haley Joel Osment, Angela Lansbury, James Wods and Hayden Panettiere to do the voices.

But despite, or maybe because of, Square doing everything to maximize Kingdom Hearts commercial potential the fans did not believe in the game. It was first and foremost the collision between the two brands that worried them. To have Sephiroth beat up Goofy was something that for natural reasons was seen as strange rather than cool. It was like someone had let loose a moody Ingmar Bergman-ensemble in a bombastic Jerry Bruckheimer-production, or Sigur Ros being forced to record an album with Toto covers. Nobody, absolutely nobody, thought Square could make the meeting between worlds feel natural.


(Translators note: Sigur Ros is a, from my brief searches on Youtube, an Icelandic band that uses orchestral instruments and plays slow, melodious and very soft songs. Toto is an American rock band that uses lots of synths and mixes and matches musical genres with reckless abandon. Point is that they sound very different).



Chainsaw massacre.
It’s hard to put ones finger on exactly why Tetsuya Nomuras directorial debut succeeded so well, but everyone who doubted the romance between the two companies was true love went quiet immediately when Kingdom Hearts was released 2002. The game was a stellar success in the US and Japan and a whole world was charmed by Squares cozy interpretation of Disney. The premise was deceptively simple- the hero Sora was a young boy in clownshoes and classic Nomura outfit who together with Donald Duck and Goofy visited magical places like Wonderland, Halloween Town and Agrabah. He met Pinocchio in the belly of a whale, hung out with Squall and Aeris, gathered 101 Dalmatians and had an epic battle with Sleeping Beauty-witch Maleficent in a castle.

In theory the series crossover concept might have seemed somewhat illogical and silly, but in reality it became heartwarming and disarming in its naivety. Despite an average Kingdom Hearts-title containing more cameos than the entirety of Entourage Tetsuya Nomuras universe felt more coherent than most RPG-worlds. When we ask him how he managed to tie such an overflowing sack together he leans back in his chair and answers with a mixture of pride and humility in his voice.


-To work with Kingdom Hearts is actually not so different compared to other RPGs. Most developers start by making lists of what kind of worlds they want in their games, such as ”a lot of plants and trees”, ”futuristic city” and so on. That’s how we do it, only difference is that we then investigate which of our suggestions that can be matched to Disney-movies. In the first game we wanted a jungle-world, so we could pick between either Tarzan or the Jungle Book. That’s really all there is to it.


Disney have proudly proclaimed that they have given Square Enix full creative license, but Nomura reveals that a certain amount of self-censorship has always been there.
-Some ideas just didn’t work. Actually Soras keyblade was first a chainsaw, ha ha. I thought it was an awesome idea when I first came up with it, but when I showed my sketches to Disney everyone got a pained expression in their face and the room went absolutely silent. You could hear a pin drop. It was back to the drawing table for me.


On in it’s own legs.
The major difference between Kingdom Hearts and other fan service projects is that the series mythology has grown beyond all expectations over the years. Because Nomura took great care to give his game a universe of it’s own early on the franchise has come to take a position right beside the franchises it was once designed to pay tribute to.


-During development of the first game it was since long planned that we, considering Disneys target audience would make the story very simple, Nomura explains. Defeat the witch, save the princess, the end. But one day I got a call from Hironobu Sakaguchi. He thought we were wrong and explained that if we didn’t aim as high as Final Fantasy we would never reach the same success as his franchise. That made me think a little. Design wise I changed nothing, but I redid the script from the top to make Soras story more involving and complex.
The Disney-look aside the series has with its epic confrontations and surprising turns always had more in common with other Japanese RPGS than with classic children's movies as far as storytelling goes. While it once relied on the popularity of Mickey and Cloud, Kingdom Hearts has today established Sora, his friends Kairi and Riku as well as the mysterious Organization XIII as just as recognizable Square Enix stars as any Final Fantasy ensemble out there.


-I have always had an overarching feel for where I want to take the series in its next installment, Nomura tells us. Now it’s grown so large that it’s getting difficult to get an overview of it. After Kingdom Hearts 2 we’ve told the stories from the villains perspective in 358/2 Days, followed up side stories in Coded and now with Birth By Sleep we’re going back to what happened in the games universe before Sora entered the picture. It’s getting rather straggly.

The advanced story is something that has given the franchise a very special role in todays RPG-world. Nobody denies that Nomuras characteristic design with crazy hairdoes and fashion-accessories is unique, in some eyes even genius. But considerably less pays any attention to how skilled his directing has gotten.
-As a director my most difficult task is keeping the player interested. When I read through the script for a section I sometimes get halfway and feel like God, this is so predictable. I always try to go back then and twist that part of the game up, so it will feel new and fresh again, with a twist or a cameo that nobody expected.


Nomura has also successfully used one of the franchises major differences compared to Final Fantasy- a shared universe for every part of the franchise. Ever since he hid a secret sequence from Kingdom Hearts 2 at the end of the first game Nomura has been a master in getting the fans speculating around the series many detours, and for every answer he gives the fans he always makes sure to ask at least two new questions. Some call Nomuras storytelling technique a quick fix-narrative, as he constantly hints that major secrets wait around the next corner but then only serve tiny fragments of the bigger picture. It is the exact same model that made the tv-series Lost to a world encompassing Internet phenomenon, where every episode was analyzed in blogs and on Twitter by tens of thousands of people.


-It’s really important that a game lives on in your head once you’ve finished it, says Nomura. If the fans continues to speculate around my games it means they won’t grow old, but instead continue to give people lots of entertainment.
Like Lost, Nomura has sprinkled his series with mysteries over the years, but instead of polar bears and black clouds of smoke they’ve often been about mysterious anime-men with crazy hairdo's and ring wraith-like cloaks, as well as character names that are always some form of clever anagram. Something as simple as a broken gravestone at the end of Kingdom Hearts 2 has given birth to thousands of forum posts with advanced conspiracy theories. Throughout the years the series mythology has been hashed through by game sites as well as social networks and it’s really only Metal Gear Solid that has given birth to as many intense discussions as Kingdom Hearts.


-I will never understand games where everything is explained at the end and the curtain falls, says Nomura. When I read manga like that as a child I always thought it was dull that you didn’t get more room to use your imagination. No matter if it’s about games, anime or manga you must always leave room for speculation. I hate giving answers to the players. If it was up to me I’d never reveal a single secret.
(Translators opinion: Kazushige Nojima, I take back everything bad I’ve ever said about you. Thank GOD that it’s not all up to Nomura).



A portable awakening.
Today Kingdom Hearts is a cornerstone of Square Enix’s market plan. Despite having only released two main games in the franchise they have already produced four portable asides, with the soon to be released in Sweden PSP-game Birth By Sleep as the latest. That the series has gotten so many installments on the portable consoles is partially because of how wide-spread portable gaming is in Japan after games like Brain Training, Monster Hunter and Pokemon have turned into gigantic social phenomenon. But according to Nomura it’s just as much about how he in the smaller formats have more room to experiment.


-When you produce a main-game in a franchise as large as Kingdom Hearts you have certain expectations on you, he explains. You can’t transform either the gameplay, the style or the story-telling technique too dramatically since the fans expect a certain kind of continuity. But when we make spin-offs like 358/2 Days I dare do things that differs more from what people expect. When I can use my creativity without limitations I sometimes come up with ideas that are so good they sometimes make it into the main-series.


Nomura was however according to rumors strongly opposed to ever releasing the first portable aside, Chain of Memories. He thought that Gameboy Advance could not do the originals polygonal graphic justice, but changed his mind when he heard some friends tell him their children dreamed about playing Kingdom Hearts on the train. It’s a decision he’s never had to regret. Today Birth By Sleep has become one of the biggest PSP-titles in Japan and continued the series march of success on the portable consoles.


(Translators note: In other words, you can thank a random Japanese child for giving us Naminé!... And Naminé can blame that random Japanese child for her horrible life. )



-People constantly ask me if Birth By Sleep is the ”real” sequel to Kingdom Hearts 2, Nomura tells us. Let’s put it this way- when we release the next main part of the franchise you will see a NUMBER in the title. Probably a 3 unless something goes really weird.
Nomura laughs a little until he clarifies:
-No disrespect meant to the PSP, but I don’t think todays portables are really, really as good as it takes to handle the game that we proudly could call Kingdom Hearts 3. I do think that it’s perfect to explore different asides in the portable games, like in Birth By Sleep. It’s about what happened before the earlier games, so in a way it’s like a prologue to the whole series. The games three main characters are really important to the series and their fates will be woven together with Sora, Riku and Kairis in a way that I think we pulled off well.


With a coming Kingdom Hearts-game to Nintendo 3DS and a remake of the earlier Japan-exclusive Coded on it’s way to DS it looks like more portable adventures are to be expected in the franchises future. What most fans would really rather have the answer to is when Soras never ending journey will finally continue in a proper stationary big-budget game. Nomura tells us that Square Enix right now has begun planning out Kingdom Hearts 3, but that the team must first finish production on their Playstation 3 debut Final Fantasy Versus XIII.


-To make stationary console-games these days take so much more time and manpower than portables, Nomura explains. As soon as HD-graphics are involved it’s simply not realistic to start thinking of simultaneous production of several major titles. That’s why there’s no chance that Final Fantasy Versus XIII and Kingdom Hearts 3 will be able to be produced at the same time, we would have perished then.


But good things come to those who wait. Nomura mentions in the same breath that the next game in the franchise will finish the current storyline and that Sora will once again play the main role. And- it seems as if Pixars worlds can find their way into Kingdom Hearts, now that Disney owns the legendary animation-studio. Soon you may see Donald Duck swim around with Nemo and help Wall-E clean up the gigantic garbage-towns. Whatever Disneys last year purchase of Marvel will mean for the franchise, we can only dream of.


The power of the heart.
In many ways it’s not nice to be Tetsuya Nomura. No matter how much he and his team works Kingdom Hearts never seems to escape the critics sharp pens. Today nobody doubts that Disney and Final Fantasy is a combination that works, but instead voices have been raised concerning everything from the series long-suffering camera issues to Nomuras love for sentimental goodbye scenes. It’s in many ways an indication of a growing debate regarding terms such as high-and low culture within the Japanese RPG-genre, where Kingdom Hearts emotional storms are seen as too naive for the experienced RPG-gamers.


Certainly Kingdom Hearts is in a way sentimental and exaggerated in it’s pretensions, a guilty pleasure-game that you’d rather hide in the back of your shelf. But it also succeeds perfectly in offering comfortable nostalgia-trips to all those who’ve grown up with Disney, while it introduces a whole new generation to the American titan of animations complete works.


Instead of, like so many others, falling into the licensed trap Square Enix has used Disney-rights to fill their games with tons of different ideas. The result is variation that has no equal- visits in conventional Disney worlds such as Beauty and the Beast, Tarzan and Mulan are mixed with sequences from Tron and Pirates of the Carribean, or black and white 1920’s tributes in worlds based on Steamboat Willie and Walt Disneys first experimental Mickey Mouse-shorts. Winnie the Pooh’s Hundred-Acre Woods becomes a carnival of mini-games and the little mermaids sea-kingdom is turned into one big stage for dance and sing-a-long adventure. Gameplay-loans from Lylat Wars and Shenmue is matched with aesthetic loans from Blade Runner and A Clockwork Orange. And with a battle-system that’s been inspired by Secret of Mana there is also a highly interesting connection game-history wise for the retro audience.


-I think that KingdomHearts is the kind of franchise that has become a bridge between genders, age and interests, says Nomura. It often happens that I hear ”My six-year old son plays Kingdom Hearts” or that ”people in their 60’s love your games”. And among the traditional audience the series is huge.


But beyond the unexpected mixture of American animation history and Japanese RPG-classics, beyond chainsaws that became keys and beyond a flood of portable asides Kingdom Hearts is first and foremost a classic tale of growing up. Soras adventure is as simple as a journey towards instincts about what really matters in life, like an Odyssey throughout Disney-history. And despite all the discussions of impossible franchise-combination that is in the end the real secret behind Nomuras success.


-Much of what Disney’s done is about growing up, he explains. To leave childhood behind you and learn to take responsibility. It’s a theme that is also used a lot in Japanese RPG’s, and it’s something that everyone can understand no matter where you come from or who you are. What Kingdom Hearts has always been about for me is the power of the heart, how strong the relationship between two people can be even if they are separated from each other. It is something that goes beyond Disney, beyond Final Fantasy. It’s rather about being human.

These following excerpts are basically just sideblurbs with extra information, not part of the main article.


All the kings men.
Beyond the historical cooperation between companies Kingdom Hearts is still a franchise made by people. Here are the personalities that have left the biggest impression on Square Enix’s superfranchise- right in the spotlight, behind the scenes and from beyond the grave.


Tetsuya Nomura.
Role: Director, character designer, scriptwriter.
Beyond his work with Final Fantasy Nomura has made a startling journey from insecure background designer from the boondocks to one of the Japanese game-industries most influential foreground people. With European Vogue as his biggest source of inspiration the creative engine behind Kingdom Hearts may seem like an unlikely spokesperson for Disney, but he claims that the American company's timeless character design is interesting from a fashion-perspective. His favorite movie from Disney is the Lion King, because he “likes animals”.

Kazushige Mojima.
Role: Scriptwriter.
Where Nomura is the one who draws up the main aspects of the Kingdom Hearts story, Nojima is the one who fills in the blanks. The freelancing writer is a good friend of Nomuras and is often considered as his right hand, but despite this and heavy scripts such as Final Fantasy 7, 8 and 10 as well as Super Smash Bros Brawl on his CV he is one of the lesser known men of Square Enix. Claims he was introduced to franchise mainstay sea-salt ice cream by Nomura.

Shinji Hashimoto.
Role: Producer.
If it hadn’t been for Hashimotos random meeting with a Disney-executive Kingdom Hearts had never seen the light of day. Even if he for the latest years have mostly had supervising roles in Square Enix with responsibility for planning, marketing and economy he is one of Square Enix’s most important producers with several of the Final Fantasy and Front Mission-games behind him. As a thank you for his help with the brilliant Jupiter game The World Ends With You he cameos in one of the games chapters.

Walt Disney.
Role: Cartoonist-genuis.
The worlds most famous animator and founder of the Disney empire passed away 1966 in the aftermath of his lung cancer. By then he had already created Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Goofy and hundreds of other carton superstars, as well as win both 25 Oscars of his own and the love of a whole world of children. A long lasting legend states that his body was cryogenicly frozen and buried beneath a ride on Disneyland.

Final Fantasys Finale?
As Kingdom Hearts has grown larger and larger many now claim that Disney was just a vessel for the franchise, a known brand that Square Enix has relied on less and less as their own world has grown. The truth is rather that Tetsuya Nomura has always been faithful to the Mickey Mouse-empire. Instead it’s the Final Fantasy-elements that have more and more been treated as the gimmick they have always been. While having Sephiroth as a hidden super boss, redesigning Tidus to a whiny chibi-form and letting Auron snark at a cynical Hades was fun while it lasted, Square Enix legendary franchise has also been given less and less room as Nomuras own characters have grown in popularity. In Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep the Final Fantasy-quota is close to zero with a certain black haired PSP-star as the only glimmer of light. Moogles do of course have a cemented position within the series, but on the other hand they have always been so cute that they could have fit as funny sidekick/potential Happy Meal-toy in the Disney-film of your choice.

So there you had it! Hope you enjoyed it even if it was really long, and that it helped the unbearable wait for BBS! As I'm European I'll be getting it a few days after you guys, so this is probably the last post I make here before I go into hibernation mode... just five more days left for me now. Five more days...
 

Multi_Skyscraper

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That I did- took me ages to make it sound halfway decent in English. Also, now I'm wondering if maybe I should have posted this somewhere else but the Birth By Sleep section, since this really concerns Kingdom Hearts as a whole more than just Birth By Sleep... oh well. Maybe the mods can move the thread to it's appropriate place, if it's in the wrong section?
 

ChaoticHeart

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fair duce man, that is a bollock load of text, i'd say it did take ages, im trying to find a japanese night class or weekend course around where I live but there are no decent ones,
and if you're worried about it being in the wrong section ask one of the mods, it may even make the main page :-D
 

KB

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or Sigur Ros being forced to record an album with Toto covers.
In other words, you can thank a random Japanese child for giving us Naminé!... And Naminé can blame that random Japanese child for her horrible life.


This made me laugh, ahaha.
 
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marcoreo

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Awesome find Man. Im also european so i feel thé pain with you. I havent read thé whole article yet but this is perfect reading as we are only days from thé release date i lové finding out everthing about famés i like and this is perfect stuff thanks alot


-Some ideas just didn’t work. Actually Soras keyblade was first a chainsaw, ha ha. I thought it was an awesome idea when I first came up with it, but when I showed my sketches to Disney everyone got a pained expression in their face and the room went absolutely silent. You could hear a pin drop. It was back to the drawing table for me.

evev tho i Heard this already it mâkes me laugh every Time i read it ;p
 
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rawpower

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Interesting read. Explains a lot. I'm so sure though that if the PSP had that extra analog stick there wouldn't be any camera problems in BBS.
 

Ikkin

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To make stationary console-games these days take so much more time and manpower than portables, Nomura explains. As soon as HD-graphics are involved it’s simply not realistic to start thinking of simultaneous production of several major titles. That’s why there’s no chance that Final Fantasy Versus XIII and Kingdom Hearts 3 will be able to be produced at the same time, we would have perished then.

...is that confirmation that KH3's going to be a full HD experience...?
 

Ovafaze

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But it also succeeds perfectly in offering comfortable nostalgia-trips to all those who’ve grown up with Disney

That is so true. That was the only reason I played the game. I didn't care about the final fantasy characters, I just wanted to fight alongside Donald Duck and Goofy.

On paper Kingdom Hearts looked like a surefire winner. Not only would it merge two of popular cultures most beloved sets of characters, Square also contracted Japanese superstar Hikaru Utada to sing the games leitmotif and before the American release hire Hollywood stars like Haley Joel Osment, Angela Lansbury, James Wods and Hayden Panettiere to do the voices.

That James Wods, what a wonderful voice actor he is.
 
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