Interview with Director Tetsuya Nomura
—Please tell us about any points that gave you trouble or things you were fixated on achieving when it came to KH 1.5.
Tetsuya Nomura (hereon Nomura): For some titles, most of the data from back in the day was no longer available. I had the programmers search through the program manually, and from there they told me various places where raising quality would be impossible. I was fixated on remaking KH 358/2 Days as a video volume and putting the three titles leading to KH2 into one.
—Which particular scene would you recommend from the HD compilation?
Nomura: For those who have already played these games, I am sure that it’s not the prettiness of the graphics but rather the memories involved that will be powerful… Seeing as story-wise all scenes have been covered before, I think it will depend on everyone’s individual impressions. When KH Re:COM released on the PS2 the image quality wasn’t very good due to capacity issues, so perhaps seeing the high resolution product will be fresher than you realise.
—Please tell us about your concept for the box art, and any points you want to draw our attention to.
Nomura: I drew a similar design for the soundtrack of the first game, but seeing as it had little opportunity for exposure, I decided to channel the title itself and remake and remaster it. Also, I felt that having three titles meant I should have three separate images.
—A final message for gamers?
Nomura: As KH has become such a long series, I would be happy if newcomers, those who have only played some of the titles, and those who only played the numbered titles take this opportunity to try playing. I want to draw as many people as possible in time for the anticipated final battle.
Interview with Co. Director Tai Yasue
—How did you go about organising work on the HD remake? Had any of the staff worked on the original games?
Tai Yasue (hereon Yasue): As several projects related to the KH series, which I am working on as co. director, are currently running simultaneously, scheduling and organisation has been rather complicated. Five programmers in Osaka and a large number of planners and designers in Osaka and Tokyo were involved with KH 1.5. Not many staff had worked on the original version of KH Final Mix, but among them there were people like Oka (Masaru Oka, cutscene director of the KH 1.5 version of KH 358/2 Days), who have participated wholeheartedly, stubbornly, enduringly and lengthily in the KH series (laughs).
—Were there any points that gave you trouble or things you were fixated on achieving with this title?
Yasue: The controls and abilities were my sticking point. I referred to things that had worked well in other KH titles to revise many areas of KH Final Mix. However, as this was an already completed game, revising things had side effects… For example, there were some bosses that could not be defeated no matter how hard you tried if you played with the new EXPZero equipped. I ended up adjusting things to clear up all kinds of issues right up to the end of the debug period, suffering chilly stares from those around me the whole time. That was a point that gave me trouble (dry laugh).
—Was there something that left you with a deep impression during development?
Yasue: The two programmers that were pivotal to development, who were normally akin to characters from a duo comedy skit, left a deep impression on me when halfway through development we received a bug report from the testers that made them flip out, transforming them into characters with a Berserk status (laughs). Just like how in Final Fantasy the Berserk status ailment boosts attack strength, these two had a boost in C++ strength, and they got to correcting bugs with terrifying expressions on their faces. Since they were also giving off an aura comparable in intensity to that of a berserked FF character, I tried not to go near them out of fear. If I could have given them sound effects it would have been ‘vvvvrrrr! RRRRAAAAAAARRRRGH!!’ (laughs).
——Which particular scene would you recommend from the HD compilation?
Yasue: I recommend the scene in KH Final Mix, where Peter Pan tells Sora, ‘Fly, Sora! I believe you can!’ and Sora becomes able to fly, and goes to fight Captain Hook. Not only is the picture prettier, but flying about defeating Heartless is quite comfortable now that you can move the camera freely with the left stick. I remember that even in the original version I was moved by the nice link between the story developments and the battle, but I was moved all over again seeing it reborn in HD!
—A final word for our readers?
Yasue: While developing KH 1.5, I keenly felt how no matter how much hardware changes or techniques evolve, masterful worldbuilding, gameplay, plot and visuals do not lose their shine no matter how many years pass. The three titles included in KH 1.5 were all masterpieces in different ways. They are even more radiant now that they have been reborn onto the Playstation 3, so by all means play them and see!