In the festive spirit

There’s so much happening at E3 that it can be hard to try and see everything. Over on the Square Enix Presents E3 Channel, Kingdom Hearts co-director Tai Yasue answered questions sent in by fans about the upcoming Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX. With his team having worked on the original Birth by Sleep, as well as the more recent Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX, he shares all of the inside information.

When is the game being released?

December 2nd in the United States and 5th December in Europe.

One of the best parts of Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix was the mirage arena. Will the title's multiplayer aspect be present in the remix edition?

Tai Yasue: The team working on the 2.5 ReMIX are actually working simultaneously on Kingdom Hearts 3, so they want it to be made available as soon as possible. Sadly, multiplayer takes a lot of time, so the mirage arena will be single player only. To make up for the lack of online, however, the AI has been improved and challenge bonuses have been added to each of the missions. If the player manages to fulfil the special condition set, they will be able to earn bonus medals.

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Will there be a theatre mode?

There will be a theatre mode as we want players to be able to experience the story and get caught up ready for Kingdom Hearts 3. Kingdom Hearts Re:coded will be around three hours long, with two hours being original content created exclusively for the title. We wanted all the story to be covered rather than just using existing cutscenes. There will also be a new story added to Re:coded which covers a bit of the back-story on the other titles, even though it's meant to be a secret currently.

Will game mechanics change from the original titles?

The game mechanics themselves were fine and beloved by many fans so no changes were made to them. Time instead was spent concentrating on the game's graphics and sound, especially with Birth by Sleep so it could be better experienced on a full size TV.

What were the biggest challenges faced compared to the 1.5 HD Remix?

The programming side wasn't that difficult as we had experienced it all before when doing the 1.5 HD Remix. The experience was different, though, as we wanted to push ourselves to upgrade them more than previously. Because Birth by Sleep would be appearing on the big screen for the first time, textures and models needed to be reworked. Kingdom Hearts 2 having been a PS2 title, had some of its colour pallets changed because of the more vivid colours that could be experienced through the PS3.

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Most was the most important part of the remix's development?

The most important part was that we didn't change the game's system for either title as they are both special and work for each of them. We also want to create a PS3 experience that would exceed the fan's expectations.

What was the most enjoyable part of the game's development?

The most enjoyable part was working alongside fellow programmers. Many of them are really funny and made the experience much more enjoyable. Being able to see the game's on the big screen for the first time with play-testing was a highlight too, and becoming emotional over just how much the game has improved.

What Disney world was your favourite?

My favourite world is Cinderella’s Castle of Dreams and was also the first level I designed. I enjoyed being a small mouse and running around, collecting all of the pieces of Cinderella’s dress to put it all together. I also enjoyed how the level itself had you exploring vertically instead of just horizontally like most other levels.

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What is your favourite thing about bringing the titles to fans old and new?

Birth by Sleep was the first title I helped create, so it is very close to me compared to others. However, both KH2 and BBS are fan favourite titles from the series, so being able to bring both in one package is an enjoyable experience.

Any there any mechanics you wish you could implement but were unable to?

In Birth by Sleep, we experimented a lot with mechanics, with the shot lock system as well as the command list, so we are pretty satisfied. One mechanic we are finally being able to implement is controlling BBS better with the use of the dual analogue sticks on the PS3, allowing the camera to be rotated in a much easier fashion.

Are there any Final Fantasy or Disney worlds that you wish could appear?

I actually wanted Vincent Valentine from Final Fantasy VII to appear in BBS, but there was no setting in the game that would suit him so he couldn't be included. As he has guns and is a cool character, he would make an awesome enemy to face.

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What are your favourite Disney worlds?

I've already said that Cinderella's world is one of my favourites as you get to run around as a small mouse, but I do also like the Timeless River, the black and white world with the steam boat. It was a very special world as there was a lot of imagination in cartoons those days. The Lilo and Stich world, Deep Space, is another fun one, as we got to play around with the gravity gimmick in it.

How many people does it take to make the game?

While you may think it wouldn't take many people to make a remake, it has actually taken over 70 people. Within the staff there were about 35 cut-scene animators and loads of artists. Some of the team, however, is overlapping with the Kingdom Hearts 3 production, so they are working on both at the same time.

How far is the game through the development process?

The game is currently in the final stages of production, otherwise I wouldn't be here. Currently we are putting the finishing touches on cutscenes, debugging, as well as touching up the Trophies.

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Will there be any features included in the Remix not available in the original versions?

There isn't any extra content except for the upgrades. The Final Mix versions of the titles however were never available outside of Japan, so there will be plenty of new content.

What will the audio quality be like in the game?

The songs for the games have been re-recorded using a live orchestra. The original songs in Kingdom Hearts 2 were not made using real instruments, so you can really hear the difference. Birth by Sleep was strained by the capabilities of the PSP itself. One of the things added is sound effects, so if you walk up close to a fountain, you will be able to hear gurgling noises of the water you wouldn't have been able to experience in the original.

Finally, what Disney movie do you wish made it to previous games?

It's just my own personal opinion and has nothing to do with game development, but I went to see Frozen in the cinema with my daughter and thought it was really special. Personally, I love all the blizzards, ice, and snow effects.