Today, Tetsuya Nomura took the stage at D23 and wowed fans with a new world reveal for Toy Story. This marks the first Pixar property ever in a Kingdom Hearts game, and Pixar and Square Enix worked together to create a completely original storyline for it. During my interview with director Tetsuya Nomura today, I asked him for some more details on the world and what he hopes to achieve with it.
Nomura took interest in Toy Story for the strong mark is made on the CG world, calling the movie “iconic.” Ever since Kingdom Hearts II, he longed for it to make an appearance in the series. “Just looking at the trailer, I feel Sora really fit in and matched well with that world, and it’s something I always personally wanted to see – that image of Buzz and Woody coming face to face with Sora in his toy form. I had been imaging that in my head, and to be able to execute that into the game is something I’m really excited for and I’m hoping fans feel the same way I do.”
He also noted that the process of Toy Story’s inclusion was different than previous Kingdom Hearts worlds. Usually, the series follows along with the original film, pitting Sora and company right into that adventure. However, when the creative discussions came about, Pixar had a request. “[Pixar] preferred for us to not follow the film directly,” Nomura explained. “They said, ‘Please create something original to Kingdom Hearts,’ so we did not draw any inspiration from the films. It is completely original and exclusive to Kingdom Hearts, so you can almost say it’s a sequel of some sort.”
This doesn’t mean it won’t make sense in the Toy Story timeline, however. Nomura and his team considered all of the films in the series and made a decision about where to place it. “We placed the narrative in Kingdom Hearts some place after Toy Story 2.” He said he worked very closely with Pixar to get its approval on the new story for the game. “So many rounds of review! I couldn’t believe how many back and forths I had,” he laughed.
As we saw in the trailer, Sora teams up with Buzz and Woody to search a new locale called Galaxy Toys, and Nomura wasn’t shy about sharing details of what you can expect. “Galaxy Toys is going to be your primary stage where a lot of the action is going to be happening in this world,” Nomura said. “Because Sora, Donald, and Goofy are toys and very small, the playing field is going to feel very large. We also have multiple floors and each section has its own personality, so to speak.” The narrative in this stage revolves around searching for Andy, who has gone missing, but also figuring out why Organization XIII has appeared in that world. “Sora will be looking for members of Organization XIII in the toy store,” Nomura revealed.
Depending on how you want to navigate the world, your time in it can vary, so Nomura was hesitant to say how many hours it will take to complete. “Rather than having multiple different little worlds, we wanted to make sure we’re providing rich gameplay in an individual world, so we put in a lot of effort and allocated a lot of resources to create these worlds, and it would be sad for players not to enjoy the world and breeze right through it. Therefore, we made sure that each of the worlds is designed so players can take their time and enjoy the gameplay that’s available.”
Nomura used the example of the mechs (called Gigas) that we saw in the recent trailer for how the team is putting extra fun things in the world. “You saw some mechs in the middle of the trailer, and you don’t necessarily have to board them in order to fight the enemies in that area, but I mean, mechs! You can ride a mech! You want to ride it, right?”
Seeing Nomura perk up when discussing the mechs, I couldn’t help but ask what inspired them. “I wanted to showcase that there’s nothing that’s impossible at this point,” he explained. “Previously, we couldn’t have Sora ride on different things to fight and now we can. We wanted to showcase that with the specs of the current generation hardware, it is possible. We’re hoping there’s a surprise element with each new mechanic that is introduced with Kingdom Hearts III, and we’re going to be revealing more information as they become available.”