Tetsuya Nomura was adamant from the get go that a conclusion wouldn’t work without Pixar properties.
One of the biggest draws of the Kingdom Hearts franchises is its crossovers with various different Disney properties with each new game, and as the culmination and conclusion of the saga, those expectations are heavier than ever with Kingdom Hearts 3. While it features various Disney worlds from properties such as Frozen, Big Hero 6, Tangled, and Pirates of the Caribbean, Kingdom Hearts 3 also serves as the debut of Pixar properties in the franchise, with Toy Story and Monsters Inc.
According to game director Tetsuya Nomura, his biggest priority with the upcoming RPG was to ensure the inclusion of Pixar properties, especially Toy Story. While speaking in an interview in the February 2019 issue of EDGE (Issue 328), Nomura revealed that he directly told Disney before the development of Kingdom Hearts 3 even began that if he couldn’t include Pixar properties in the game, he wouldn’t be interesting in making it.
“After we were done with Kingdom Hearts II and were starting to consider III, we started talks with Disney, I remember saying, ‘If we can’t use Pixar, then we can’t have a third game,'” said Nomura. “It’s that important to the game series. The whole world loves Toy Story – everybody feels the appeal of that story and those characters. So yeah, at the very beginning I directly said to them, ‘If we can’t get this, I don’t want to do it’.”
He then went on to discuss the process of working with Pixar itself, and about how much more collaborative the process was than it has been for previous titles in the series. “I wrote a general outline of the story and I submitted it to Pixar, It took them several years to okay the story and the character designs,” Nomura said. “Previous to Kingdom Hearts III, I think these companies kind of saw it more as like, secondary rights permissions. They saw it more as a product like you would a branded toy or something.”
“This time, it was creator to creator,” he continued. “It was somebody who had made this animation, and somebody who was making this game. We were communicating with each other, myself and these people, so that added an extra level of complexity because each creator has their own desires, ideas, and concepts.”
If you’re wondering whether there are even more Disney worlds in the game beyond the ones that have already been revealed, it was recently confirmed that that wouldn’t be the case. Read more on that through here. Kingdom Hearts 3 launches on January 29 for the PS4 and Xbox One.