Sora, the hero of Square Enix’s Kingdom Hearts series, was added to Nintendo’s mash-up brawler Super Smash Bros. Ultimate last October, earning the distinction of being the final addition to the game’s massive roster. It was a heartwarming announcement for a fighter who’s actually kinda cool to play. While many thought it surprising that Disney approved of the crossover, it was actually Nomura, not the House of Mouse, that had reservations about Sora’s inclusion. Maybe those big-ass feet were cold.
In a Game Informer interview, Nomura talked about Square Enix’s Kingdom Hearts IV, the lack of Final Fantasy personalities in the game, the popularity of original Kingdom Hearts characters, and how Sora ended up in Ultimate.
Nomura was asked his feelings on Kingdom Hearts’ surge in popularity after Sora was added to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate last year. Nomura said that while he was “very happy” to have the big-shoed hero make an appearance in the fighting game, he had actually been “very picky” about Sora’s inclusion.
“Obviously, I was very happy that we were able to have Sora make an appearance in Smash Bros. Ultimate,” Nomura said. “Most of the feedback when Sora was [announced] for Smash Bros. Ultimate was, ‘I can’t believe Disney okayed for him to be in this game.’ Behind the scenes, I was actually the one being very picky about his appearance in Smash Bros. Disney was the one that was like, ‘Go ahead! This is a great opportunity.’ I thought it would be tough to pull off because it might clash with the established lore in Kingdom Hearts and the Disney worlds, so it was an opportunity I had to consider very carefully. After seeing how happy everybody was in welcoming Sora to Smash Bros. Ultimate, I feel like the end result was really great.”
This runs counter to what many suspected would’ve been the biggest roadblock in bringing Sora to Smash: Disney itself. Many assumed that because Disney has a vice grip on its IP, there’d be no way for the Keyblade wielder to fight alongside Nintendo icons like Bowser and Mario. Even Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai said in an October 2021 edition of his Weekly Famitsu column that the barriers for getting Sora in the brawler were “quite high.” Yet, here we are. Sora’s in and consistently ranks among the top of the tier list.
Nomura also touched on other aspects of Kingdom Hearts in the lengthy interview. He admitted he was blown away by how popular characters from entries like 358/2 Days and Birth By Sleep were, saying it’s possible their stories may continue “in future opportunities.” Just not now, since Sora is the main protagonist of both Kingdom Hearts IV and the franchise as a whole. He also expounded on the lack of Final Fantasy personalities in recent Kingdom Hearts games, explaining that those Final Fantasy characters were primarily included in earlier entries because they helped fans get to know and understand the original Kingdom Hearts characters better.
“Now, there are so many original characters from Kingdom Hearts that are so well-loved, and people want to see more of those characters,” Nomura said. “With Kingdom Hearts III, since we did have so many original Kingdom Hearts characters, it was hard to find room for including more Final Fantasy characters. We’re trying to find a good balance for that. I know some fans were concerned about that and weren’t too happy and wanted to see more Final Fantasy characters. That’s something we definitely are thinking about. But just with the sheer number of original characters we have now, it’s hard to say what the exact balance is going to be and how it’ll play out in Kingdom Hearts IV.”
There were a few other details Nomura shared about Kingdom Hearts IV, including seeing Sora’s “day-to-day routines,” the possibility of Kingdom Hearts II’s reaction command system coming back, confirmation that “there will be Disney worlds” in the upcoming game, and his favorite cliffhangers. (It’s OG Kingdom Hearts’ ending and Luxu’s reveal in Kingdom Hearts III.) Nomura also said that if fans want to learn more about Kingdom Hearts IV, they should consider checking out the mobile game Kingdom Hearts Missing-Link, which will get a closed beta for Android and iOS this year.
“The easiest way to get more new information and hints about Kingdom Hearts IV would be first to play Missing-Link,” Nomura said. “There will also be some more mysteries, not related to Kingdom Hearts IV specifically, but just throughout the series in it. Also, some figures that appear in Missing-Link are tied to Kingdom Hearts IV. That’s all I can really say now.”
If you’re a fan of Kingdom Hearts and wanna know what’s up with the next entry, you should read that Game Informer interview. It’s pretty fascinating.