Director Tetsuya Nomura was candid in an interview with US Gamer about his collaboration with Disney and which Disney franchise was difficult to adapt in Kingdom Hearts 3.
Nomura has about 15 years of collaboration with Disney since he and his team started working on the first Kingdom Hearts. Many things has changed, particularly when Disney had acquired new properties, such as Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars, to their portfolio.
At first, Disney didn’t want to Square Enix to put a Pixar world in Kingdom Hearts for unknown reasons [Nomura has wanted a Pixar world for a long time]. But Nomura believed the situation had changed that Square Enix and Disney was able to negotiate successfully, and Disney finally agreed to allow Pixar in Kingdom Hearts 3.
To receive approvals and feedback from Disney, Nomura recounted how difficult it has gotten.
I can say that it has actually been increasingly difficult to get approvals from Disney. That’s mainly because in the past Kingdom Hearts titles, the creator wasn’t around anymore or the team that used to create those titles wasn’t there anymore. There was just this one person that we would just have to go to and they would approve it and we’d be fine and good to go. But because we’ve been featuring recent titles, they still have existing teams for existing creators that are still working in Disney and still working on a certain title.
To make things for more difficult for Nomura and his team to handle the newer Disney franchises, each Disney creator/creative team has different set of rules and guideline to follow and to work with. Something Nomura didn’t have to worry about back then.
For Pixar world, the desires that [the Monsters Inc. and Toy Story teams] had for their titles were really strong. We had a lot of guidelines to abide by in terms of how they appear. Comparing the two worlds, Monsters Inc. had more guidelines that we had to follow, and were a little more clear cut in the details. The coloration, for example, or whether a character only had one eye. When we took a look at those guidelines and figured out what we had to do, we felt that Donald should look this way and then Goofy should look this way. We also had a lot of input from the Pixar team that worked on Monsters Inc. We did pretty much follow their guidelines as well as their feedback for those characters.
Out of all the newer Disney franchises, Nomura was very honest that Frozen has the most guidelines than Monsters Inc. and Toy Story.
It has been about 12 years since Kingdom Hearts 2 was released, and the wait for the final installment of the Dark Seeker Saga is almost over. Kingdom Hearts 3 is releasing on January 25th in Japan and January 29th in the West to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.