Kingdom Hearts fans have been raising their Keyblades triumphantly over the past year, with Kingdom Hearts III releasing on Nintendo Switch, protagonist Sora debuting in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and most recently, the announcement of Kingdom Hearts IV. It’s a great time to be a fan, and a perfect time to hear from the head of the franchise.
Game Informer recently had a very interesting and in-depth conversation with Kingdom Hearts series director Tetsuya Nomura, who kindly shared many details on the upcoming Kingdom Hearts IV, the franchise’s past, present, and future, and an interesting tidbit about how the miraculous inclusion of Sora in Smash came to be.
Ultimate fans were clamoring for Sora to be added to the roster long before he was officially introduced to the game, though many feared that such a feat would be difficult to pull off due to complications around Disney licensing. As a matter of fact, Nomura reveals that he was the one being picky about Sora’s inclusion, while Disney was always very receptive to the idea.
“Obviously, I was very happy that we were able to have Sora make an appearance in Smash Bros. Ultimate. Most of the feedback when Sora was [announced] for Smash Bros. Ultimate was, ‘I can’t believe Disney okayed for him to be in this game.’ Behind the scenes, I was actually the one being very picky about his appearance in Smash Bros. Disney was the one that was like, ‘Go ahead! This is a great opportunity.’ I thought it would be tough to pull off because it might clash with the established lore in Kingdom Hearts and the Disney worlds, so it was an opportunity I had to consider very carefully. After seeing how happy everybody was in welcoming Sora to Smash Bros., I feel like the end result was really great.”
Super Smash Bros. Director Masahiro Sakurai revealed last year that Sora’s addition came about following a chance encounter he’d had with a Disney representative. Nomura previously revealed that he was similarly hesitant when it came to introducing Sephiroth to Ultimate, another Square Enix character (as well as Sora) that he designed.
On the topic of popular characters from unnumbered Kingdom Hearts titles such as Birth By Sleep and 358/2 Days, Nomura confirmed that they will not be stealing the spotlight from Sora in Kingdom Hearts IV.
“The story for Kingdom Hearts IV is focused more on Sora’s disappearance. I’m not quite sure if there will be room to really explore the other characters’ stories as much, but I’m aware and the team is aware that these characters are very popular and people want to see more of them. So, if possible, it would be great to include more of them or continue to share more of their story in future opportunities.”
Nomura also addressed the lack of Final Fantasy characters in the more recent Kingdom Hearts games and what this means for the next installment.
“With Kingdom Hearts III, since we did have so many original Kingdom Hearts characters, it was hard to find room for including more Final Fantasy characters. We’re trying to find a good balance for that. I know that some fans were concerned about that and weren’t too happy and wanted to see more Final Fantasy characters. That’s something we definitely are thinking about. But just with the sheer number of original characters that we have now, it’s hard to say what the exact balance is going to be and how it will play out in Kingdom Hearts IV.”
The rest of the interview contains other tidbits – everything from Nomura stating that the franchise is unlikely to ever replace Sora as the primary character in mainline games, teasing the antagonists that will be prominently featured in Kingdom Hearts IV, noting that the upcoming installment may feel “slightly different” from previous games, that Disney elements will remain, confirming that the integral new, realistic setting called Quadratum will be the “initial base within the game” and that players can expect to spend a “good amount of time” there, and more. You can check out the entire interview on Game Informer’s site.
Kingdom Hearts IV currently has no release date or confirmed platforms, but we’ll keep you posted if a Nintendo Switch version is confirmed.
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