2019/6/22 Nomura Direct Interview with Famitsu.com

A direct interview with Tetsuya Nomura, who works as the director for FFVII Remake and the Kingdom Hearts III Re:MIND (DLC).

For Mr. Tetsuya Nomura, who works alone as the director for FFVII Remake and Kingdom Hearts III Re:MIND, the related announcements [to these titles] became a large topic of conversation. After the Square Enix Live E3 2019 presentation on June 10th, 2019, we [at Famitsu] asked the impossible of this extraordinarily busy man to allow us some time to talk about each of these titles, including the just-announced FFVIII Remastered.

- Regarding FFVIII Remastered and KH3 Re:MIND

Q: At "Square Enix Live E3 2019", apart from FFVII Remake and KH3 Re:MIND, the sudden announcement of FFVIII Remastered caused quite a large reaction.
A: Since there was especially great support [for this title] overseas, we were able to get a large reaction. Ever since the loss of the original data, up until now we weren't really able to remaster it, but this time around we were finally able to announce it.

Q: I get the impression that it's become quite beautiful. You're changing out the character models and all.
A: Before the project began, we were shown textures that had been fixed up and made better-looking, but it was very difficult to do so [in actuality]. When you think about the fact that all of the other numbered titles apart from FFVIII that feature 3D character models have been given a remaster already, a suggestion was made to go one step further and give it a fresh start. We decided to change out the models of the main characters and got the main modeller who worked on the original game to help us out, and although there are some limitations on what can be done, we're touching it up.

Q: KH3 Re:MIND, which was first announced at "Square Enix Live E3 2019" (note: officially), also gained a big reaction. What exactly does the "remind" in the title mean?
A: It's because I'm always contacted by the person in charge of promotion like "This is a reminder.". It's meant to mean "please check this again", but at the same time it's pushing me for a response [laughs]. It just so happens that it fits perfectly with the content I was thinking about as a sort of double meaning. Just as it says, it means "to make you recall"; "to check again"; and, it can be said, "the restoration of a heart".

Q: In the logo, there's an unfamiliar mark between the "Re" and "MIND" parts, isn't there.
A: I think the meaning changes depending on whether that is meant to "connect" or "sever". Until now, the use of "Re" has been pretty common, but I thought to start having the following part include some symbol that also has a meaning, and as I thought about how to have one symbol convey something, I chose "vide" and "coda" as suitable symbols from music. (note: "vide" draws your attention to a specific thing, especially a part of a text, and "coda" is a music symbol that brings a piece or movement to an end.) With that included as the basis of the meaning, I thought it could make [people] consider various things.

Q: The fact that the player can control Riku, Aqua, and Roxas was a pleasant surprise. Is that during a Limit Cut Boss?
A: No, it's different. This trailer mainly showed elements of the additional scenario, and nothing related to the Limit Cut. The part at the end showing Sora with the new Oathkeeper form will be released as free DLC alongside the paid DLC.

Q: Then, does that mean being able to control Riku and the others happens during the additional scenario?
A: The player was able to control Riku and Aqua in the base game as well, and in the additional scenario, similarly, when you're partway through there is a screen where you will be able to select the playable characters.

Q: We were able to see a situation [unfolding] that looked similar to one during the final stages of the base game...
A: Yup [laughs]. The additional scenario is a stand-alone, and is something you can enjoy after beating the base game.

Q: The parts with the Master of Masters and Young Xehanort, as well as Luxord and Xigbar, are scenes from the additional scenario, aren't they.
A: Yes. The conversation between Luxord and Xigbar will occur at the start of the additional scenario. Since it's called an "additional scenario" and all, there's going to be a lot of cutscenes. I rewrote the scenario twice, and the final draft was quite a bit bigger, so the amount became way more than I thought.

Q: By the way, is Demyx...
A: At least, he's going to show up [wry laugh].

Q: That's great! [laughs] I'll be glad if he shows up in the Limit Cut too.
A: I can't say much about the Limit Cut Bosses just yet, but we're aiming for there to be about as many as in Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix.

Q: What, that many?!
A: There are many more than you might expect. As a whole, there's the additional scenario, the Limit Cut Episode and Bosses, as well as a Secret Episode and Secret Boss, so there's plenty of DLC material, I think.

Q: I'll be waiting for information to come out about those points soon. The release date is "this winter", but does that mean within the year, or perhaps at the start of next year?
A: It's still under consideration by CERO (note: who decides game ratings in Japan), so there are still some unforeseen circumstances, but because of the opinion that it shouldn't come out too closely to FFVII Remake, I'd like to be able to release it as soon as possible.

- The story of FFVII Remake, which makes additions while at the same time sticking with the original

Q: The day after the Re:MIND release date was announced, the FFVII Remake release date was also suddenly announced. Both of them received very incredible reactions.
A: I figured everyone would be surprised. Our plans went awry after the leak happened, so it was an effect of us doing our very best to keep it a secret.

Q: In the promotional video that was made public, there is some story text that includes elements that weren't in the original version of FFVII. When Sephiroth appears in the video, he doesn't actually appear at that time, does he.
A: Right. Just as it says in the story, he's an illusion that appears in Sector Eight that we added in.

Q: The story text mentions something about the "Watcher(s) of Fate". Is that the foglike thing that wraps around Cloud and Aerith in the video?
A: That's right. It's a mysterious being that appears wherever the party goes, that has been newly added [into the story]. While thinking about what exactly the "Watcher(s) of Fate" is/are, I think even players who have played the original game will be able to enjoy the new elements.

Q: Is it different from the black mist that appears around the monsters in FFVII Advent Children?
A: It is different. At its deepest point, it's possible that there may be a connection...

Q: In the scene where the "Watcher(s) of Fate" appear/s, which is the scene where you first meet Aerith, in the original game you had the option to buy a flower from her or not. Is that choice still there?
A: It is. Quite a lot are, actually. Because of that, we had to individually create character responses and slightly different events based on the responses you choose, so there's a lot.

Q: That seems like a really large amount. By the way, as for the existing events, are you keeping them loyal to how they were in the original?
A: It depends. For example, the crossdressing scene at the Honeybee Inn is still there, but the establishment itself has been greatly rearranged to fit modern times. Actually, when we tried to recreate that space exactly as it was [in the original], it felt extremely uncomfortable and the general consensus was "this is no good...". In that sense, [other] parts that don't suit the visuals and the feel of the world [in the game] are also being adjusted.

Q: I see. From listening to what you've said, I get the impression that there are quite a few new additions and adjustments.
A: We're still following the original story, but there are a lot of new additions. Of course, the main story hasn't been changed, but many things that weren't in the original, like the scene in the promotional video where you're escaping on the motorcycle with Jessie, have been included. If that weren't the case, we wouldn't need 2 whole Blu-Ray discs [laughs].

- Concerning the character designs of Aerith, Tifa and Sephiroth

Q: Following that, I'd like to ask about the new appearances of the characters that we were able to see in the most recent promotional video. First of all, please tell us about the visual concepts for Aerith and Tifa in the game.
A: In the game, Tifa and Aerith take on the roles of double heroines, so visually we decided to separate them [as such]. We put emphasis on the fact that Aerith has a more Western-style, beautiful (elegant) look, while Tifa has a more Eastern-style, cute look.

Q: Do you mean that they've been clearly set apart by type?
A: Regarding their personalities, Aerith has more of a girlish sort of naivety. It ended up that you can really strongly feel that in FFVII Remake, and a gap between "beauty" and "innocence"—"outside" versus "inside"—was born. On the other hand, though clothing-wise Tifa is more revealing, her personality is less forceful, and she is a more reserved woman who doesn't put herself forward. Both of them have a divide between their outward appearance and their inner selves, which creates a certain charm, I think.

Q: I think their outfits have been refined?
A: This time around, visually speaking, we're going for a much more real feeling, so we referenced real-world clothing and accessories. For examples, for Tifa's suspenders we referenced military-grade ones, and for her gloves, we referenced hand to hand martial arts gloves or gloves used by bikers. Her complete silhouette remains unchanged from the original game, and the parts of her that were [changed] were done so with the intent of giving them more detail.

Q: Did you have to be mindful of the balance or the way the largeness of Tifa's chest was shown?
A: First of all, we wanted to define her abdominal muscles, so we gave her a more athletic style. There were also instructions from the company's ethics department that even during intense action, it shouldn't seem unnatural, so there was a need to adjust the chest portion. (note: the verb used here is 絞める which is to "constrict" or "strangle", but in this sense he doesn't mean they shrunk the size of her chest, it's more similar to "bind".) From there, we gave her a very simple top, black underwear (note: this is written in katakana but it's like underarmor), and a tank top that fits her body, to give her a sporty design that brings "fitness" to mind.

Q: What about Sephiroth?
A: Sephiroth was being adjusted up until just before the announcement. Sephiroth is as scary as he is beautiful, so it was necessary to make him bewitching. At the beginning of that scene, the lighting in the midst of the flames strengthens just the feeling of terror, so we went through a lot of trouble to get that nuance right. His clothes and accessories have increased too. For that, we referenced Dissidia FF. Also, we added minute details to his coat, and patterned the seams with the image of black wings.

- FFVII Remake's battles are a hybrid of action and command RPGs

Q: Please tell us the concept for the battles this time.
A: Until the direction of the battles is decided, it's just a repetition of "scrap and build" (note: this is written in katakana and means to replace old, obsolete things with new, modern things). Though the base is action, we also wanted to make it fun for people who were hoping for a command based RPG, so I decided to make it a hybrid of the two.

Q: So, technically...
A: In the action parts, emphasis was placed on making them feel real and exciting, and by using shortcuts you can battle without any stress. However, it's not like there's such high-speed action happening that you can never give your hands a break, so as shown in the promotional video, when using the ATB gauge or opening the command menu, the flow of time slows to give you "thinking time" much like a command-based RPG, which became one of the special features. The use of this "Tactical Mode" (in the Japanese version, it's called "Wait Mode") enhances the strategy capabilities.

Q: So "Tactical Mode" isn't just a method that was put in to help out players who aren't good at action games, is it.
A: The way it's used is up to the player's play style and skill. If you specialize in action, it can also be used in that way. I believe I've talked about it before, but in FF, there's a gauge that measures the amount of damage you do and your HP. By selecting a command, you can check resources like the damage you've taken, or your MP, so you can also manage it as it suits you.

Q: It looks like the switching out of characters is key to your strategy.
A: That's right. It's because in FF, the abilities of the characters are important, and there's also the characters' skills and their compability with the enemies. For example, the Guard Scorpion that shows up in the promotional video is pretty easy to understand—when it sticks close to the wall, short-ranged attacks won't work, so switching to Barret and attacking by shooting is a standard strategy. With Cloud, he can attack by using magic, but it expends MP. To replenish MP, you need to use an item, so managing that sort of thing becomes necessary.

Q: The magic you can use depends on Materia, doesn't it. Is the Materia system the same as the original game?
A: Fundamentally, it's the same. Just like in the original, putting something into the slots in weapons and armor also becomes part of your strategy. Since we've revamped the battle system [in the remake], new Materia has been added that matches [that system], and some Materia [from the original] has disappeared. Visually speaking, the equipped Materia will be displayed, which is a point to take note of.

Q: In the battles, enemies that appeared in the original game have become real-feeling without any sense of uncanniness, which was surprising.
A: In FFVII Remake, mainly enemies which appeared in the original game will appear, but in terms of level design, a few necessary places and enemies have been prepared to be added. Enemies that had a really crazy-looking design in the original game have become real-feeling and now they fit in [laughs]. Regarding the field, in the original game, there were many cases where the backgrounds were done in 2D with small 3D characters moving on them, so in one screen they could move an appropriate distance. In the case of the remake, the scaling is different since it's all in 3D, so in order to remove the uncanny feeling while keeping the distance things move the same, we had to pay attention to the placement and denseness of the enemies.

Q: Lastly, since the release date was announced, once again, could you tell us what kind of work this is going to become, and give a message to all of the users who are waiting?
A: FFVII is a title that is over 20 years old, so the majority of current teenagers have never played it, I think. Times have changed, and even if they play it now, the things they feel are likely going to be different from the way the players of that time felt. In order to give FFVII the feeling of "now", I think it's necessary to perceive the new FFVII, which was remade to suit the current era, as the latest mainline FF game. At the same time, I'd like for the players who have played FFVII before, and know what was shown in the latest promotional video, to reach out and feel the nostalgia within the new elements that have been packed in. It may be that there are those who once played FFVII with such burning feelings, and have now lost their passion towards games. With this as an opportunity, it would make me glad if you returned to Midgar once again.

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