Interview: Director Tai Yasue on Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix

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Stevivor was fortunate enough to sit down and talk with Tai Yasue, the Co-director of Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix and the upcoming Kingdom Hearts III at E3 this year.

Yasue spoke of the process of bringing more Kingdom Hearts titles to the PS3 later this year alongside other quirks of the franchise.

Shane Wall, Stevivor: What improvements were you able to make with the titles included in Kingdom Hearts 2.5 compared to their original versions?

Yasue: For Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix we remade Kingdom Hearts II and Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep and also Kingdom Hearts Re:coded as a theatre cinematic were you can see the cutscenes. We were much more used to making a PS3 game after doing Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix so we had a lot more time to redo a lot of the graphics and a lot of the sounds, so quality-wise it has gone up. I guess that’s one of the big changes and also I guess for Re:coded we got some feedback about Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. Fans told us they wanted us to include more battle scenes so for Re:coded we added a lot of battle scenes and totally remade them into cutscenes.

Stevivor: With this new collection of games is there any chance you will combine the two collections into one?

Yasue: That’s definitely a possibility; no decision has been made yet though. In Japan we are doing a starters pack [with] 1.5 plus 2.5, but so far we haven’t made a decision on what we will do in the American and European market. I guess in the future that is something we can think about.

Stevivor: The games are pretty big. Are there any plans to expand them through DLC?

Yasue: DLC is a difficult thing. We can’t announce anything yet, DLC-wise, because we really concentrated on the PS3 package this time around with 2.5 and obviously a lot of new games are doing DLC so that’s another avenue for us to think about.

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Stevivor: These games would be perfect for the PlayStation Vita. Will we see them on the vita in the next few years?

Yasue: When we were making 1.5 and 2.5 we really wanted to put them all on the one console. A lot of our players wanted to play because they were all over the place; PSP, DS, PS2. So we really wanted them together in one console. Vita is another option, were not really thinking about it just yet but I guess there are a lot of consoles right? It’s something to think about in the future it’s not something were are doing right now but it’s a possibility I guess.

Stevivor: Same thing with the PS4?

Yasue: Yeah same thing I guess. It’s definitely a possibility for PS4 but we haven’t come to a decision yet.

Stevivor: What kind of difficulties did you encounter bringing three games all from different consoles to one?

Yasue: With Birth by Sleep obviously the PSP spec-wise made it difficult to recreate it for PS3. We had to redo a lot of the characters, the models the environments and also the sounds. We added a lot of sounds; the PS3 has a lot more capacity memory wise so were able to make the sound a lot richer. In Cinderella’s Castle you can actually hear fountains gurgling and that sort of thing that we weren’t able to do in the vita version. For Kingdom Hearts II the biggest problem was the screen. The aspect ratio wasn’t 4/8, it’s 16/9, so we had a wider screen. A lot of the stuff on the side when we just ported it initially stopped animating and the effects weren’t really appearing. But in the end when you play with the wider screen you can see a lot more and it really helps in the battles.

Stevivor: Will you unlock anything for Kingdom Hearts III by playing through 2.5?

Yasue: No, you can’t really unlock anything for Kingdom Hearts III. The plan with 2.5 was to let the user know more about the Kingdom Hearts series with the cut scenes telling the backstory of the other Kingdom Hearts titles but its not going to unlock anything for Kingdom Hearts III. That’s not really something we thought about.

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Stevivor: What took more time to make, Kingdom Hearts II or Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep?

Yasue: We have a number of programming teams that would split up for development. There were two for Birth by Sleep and two for Kingdom Hearts II and one kind of overseeing everything. Really both took a lot of effort, we had to change more for Birth by Sleep but Kingdom Hearts II was more vast with a lot more data we had to change so I guess overall it was about the same just for different reasons.

Stevivor: Was it ever planed to bring Re:coded and Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days to the collections as playable games?

Yasue: It’s a time thing and I guess it’s difficult with the DS and the touchscreen on the bottom. If you want to make it playable you have to rethink all the game design. Without the touch screen it wouldn’t be Re:coded it would be a different game. Right now we are simultaneously making 2.5 and Kingdom Hearts III and we don’t want to slow down the development for Kingdom Hearts III so yeah I guess it was mostly a time thing.

Stevivor: Thanks for now slowing down Kingdom Hearts III. I know there are a lot of fanatic fans out there that have been waiting a long time for it.

Yasue: No problem, we have a Keyblade here if you’d like to get a photo?

Stevivor: That would be amazing. I’ve been staring at that thing since I walked in the door.

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Mr Yasue said I should try and get a photo with the Keyblade in an action pose. I decided this was a challenge I was up to and wanted a shot in mid air.

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Please note the classic Sora pose down to the feet splayed out in front of my body. In case you’re worried for my safety, I know it doesn’t look like it’s possible for me to land on my feet from this position but I made it back to earth safe and sound.