February 7, 2012
Pap the Disney Gamer Presents A
Year Long Celebration...
Ten Years of
Hearts, Keyblades and Disney Magic: A Kingdom
Hearts 10th Anniversary Celebration
Last time on the Kingdom Hearts retrospective...
'Disney is awesome! Square
Enix is amazing! Elevator rides! We should
totally make a game together! HISTORY IS MADE!'
Part 2: Evolution of Concepts
Disney and Square Enix have
finally met and agreed to make a game together.
Just what kind of games did they have in mind
when working on such an ambitious collaboration?
The possibilities seemed endless. The exact
details regarding the various game concepts for
the dubbed Disney RPG are not fully known,
It is believed that the one game
concept that went the furthest was a Disney RPG
in which you played as the Disney Princes out to
rescue their princesses in worlds based on
various Disney movies. At the end of each world,
the Disney Princess was there waiting to be
rescued, after a battle with the appointed
Disney villain. It was going to be a concept
that would be aimed towards a very young set of
gamers. But then one very vital Square Enix
player stepped in and made a bold suggestion
that would change the course of development, and
the franchise as a whole, forever.
'Sorry Prince Philip, but your princess is in another castle'
Enter Hironobu Sakaguchi. Who is
he exactly? He is a video game producer,
director and game designer best known for
creating Square Enix's flagship Final Fantasy
series. He worked on many Square games prior to
creating Final Fantasy, a game that ended up
saving the company after many failures on the
Famicom (the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
as it was known in Japan). For years he worked
on the first ten entries in the series,
switching between being the roles of director
and producer, working on the storylines and
overseeing the development of the battle
systems. In 2004, Sakaguchi left Square to work
on his own company, which he called Mistwalker.
He brought his Final Fantasy expertise on games
like The Last Story for the Wii and Blue Dragon
for the Xbox 360 (which featured character
designed by famed anime and manga artist Akira
Toriyama, who also does designs for Dragon
Quest, another of Square Enix's famous
During the development of
Kingdom Hearts, Sakaguchi suggested that the
game should be made as a serious role playing
game rather than a game strictly for children.
In other words, make the game for the same
audience that loves and supports the Final
Fantasy series. Clearly a very risky move as
even with the strong legacy and nostalgic value
Disney has on people all over the world, the
chances of a Disney game being successful and
adopted by a hardcore RPG audience were small.
For a long while, development of
the game took place in North America, until they
decided to mash up the two worlds (the Disney
world and the Final Fantasy world) to create a
different kind of Disney game. And just who was
going to helm the game down this new direction?
None other than Tetsuya Nomura. Nowadays,
Tetsuya Nomura has been established as the man
behind the Kingdom Hearts phenomenon as we know
it, but that wasn't always the case. He first
joined Square Enix in 1990 as a debugger on
Final Fantasy IV for the Super NES (Fun Fact:
In North America Final Fantasy IV was known as
Final Fantasy II. It would take the release of
Final Fantasy VII so that the game would obtain
its original Japanese title). Nomura began
to get noticed in 1997 when Square Enix released
their groundbreaking game, Final Fantasy VII. He
designed the characters, which were very unique
in comparison to previous Final Fantasy games.
The grand success of Final
Fantasy VII lead Nomura to gain bigger roles in
other Square Enix projects. Some of these
include character designer for Final Fantasy
VIII, X and X-2, directing the CG motion picture
film sequel to Final Fantasy VII, Final
Fantasy VII: Advent Children and becoming
Kingdom Hearts' director in charge of story,
character design and gameplay.
The decision was made. The
Disney RPG project went from being a game only
children would appreciate to a massive
collaboration that yielded an incredible fantasy
mythos. The men to be in charge have been
picked, and now it came time to work on the most
important aspect of any video game effort: the
Gameplay. Just how Kingdom Hearts' signature
gameplay came to be? Stay tuned next month for
part 3 as I detail how Kingdom Hearts' battle
system served as the stepping stone other
Kingdom Hearts games would follow.