We talk to the 'Kingdom Hearts' director about the highly anticipated sequels.

Kingdom Hearts II (PS2) - story 1Die-hard "Kingdom Hearts" fans got their first taste of a "Kingdom Hearts" sequel at the end of the original "Kingdom Hearts" game. If you rescued all the Dalmatian puppies, locked every world, and finished the Hades cup at the Coliseum, you were treated to this enigmatic CG movie.

What did it all mean? Who's the guy in the hood with the dual keyblades? Who's on the roof? Who's the girl on the beach?

Finally, at this year's Tokyo Game Show, Square Enix announced not one but two new "Kingdom Hearts" games. Not content with mere trailers to drool over, "X-Play" decided to dig a little deeper. We ventured into Square Enix's offices in the heart of Tokyo and went straight to the director of "Kingdom Hearts," Tetsuya Nomura.

TechTV: Were you surprised by the worldwide success of "Kingdom Hearts"?

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (GBA) -s toryTetsuya Nomura: I knew I was going to make something that was going to be new and interesting and exciting, but to be honest I didn't think it was going to be as big as what it has become. I'm surprised by the acceptance of "Kingdom Hearts" in the North American market. Compared to Japan, it's actually been more well-received and a better seller in the States.
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TechTV: How much freedom did you have when it came to the Disney characters and worlds?

Nomura: Overall the process was quite smooth. There weren't any big restrictions or a set of guidelines we were given. Disney has its worlds already created, and there's no reason for us to change that, so it wasn't to a point where they had to lead us and take our hands. It was more us trying to bring out the best of what is already made as far as Disney characters go. The only thing we were careful of doing was staying within the characters' established roles and what kind of dialog these characters should have. That's something we all tried to stay within certain boundaries on.
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Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (GBA)TechTV: What type of game is "Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories"? What will the gameplay be like?

Nomura: We're currently still in the early stages of development, so we can't reveal all the details, but overall it will play very much like the original "Kingdom Hearts." There is a new element, a deck of cards, that we have revealed already that will closely intertwine with the way you play the game, but outside of that it will feel like and play like what you're used to in the original.
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TechTV: When does "Chain of Memories" take place?

Nomura: The story will start immediately after what you saw at the end of the original. Sora, Donald, and Goofy go out and continue their search for the king in a vast field, and that's where "Chain of Memories" will pick up.
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Take note, "Kingdom Hearts" fans. Skip "Chain of Memories" and you'll be missing a big chunk of the story leading up to "Kingdom Hearts II." Speaking of which...

Kingdom Hearts II (PS2) - story 2TechTV: Since "Kingdom Hearts" featured Disney worlds, will "Kingdom Hearts II" feature Disney worlds or "Final Fantasy" worlds or both?

Nomura: What I can say is that [of the] Disney worlds introduced in the original "Kingdom Hearts," a handful will be revisited in the sequel, and there will also be original worlds created for "Kingdom Hearts II," much like Hollow Bastion was in the original.
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TechTV: How long after "Kingdom Hearts" does "Kingdom Hearts II" take place?

Nomura: The story of "Kingdom Hearts II" begins a year after the end of "Kingdom Hearts."

TechTV: What does the future hold for "Kingdom Hearts"? Would you like to see it become a long-running series like "Final Fantasy," or do you have a finite vision for the series?

Kingdom Hearts II (PS2) - story 3Nomura: In the "Final Fantasy" series each installment has had a new set of characters and a new story, which keeps it going. But in "Kingdom Hearts" Sora is the main character. So obviously, with us only playing as one main character in this series, keeping that character alive and interesting will be a challenge. For every character there must be an end, although I don't know when or what the end of Sora's journey will be. In the future, sometime, there might be an end, but for now I will continue to explore Sora and his story.
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We had to ask about the three young characters in the "Kingdom Hearts II" trailer. Unfortunately, Nomura-san didn't have much to say about them yet.

Nomura: They are friends. Click here for video.

Looks like we're stuck playing the waiting game for now.