News:Kingdom Hearts Union χ: Dandelion Meeting Coverage
- Dandelion Meeting featured series director Tetsuya Nomura and executive producer Shinji Hashimoto.
- New Kingdom Hearts III trailer reveals classic Disney cartoons-based minigames, several playable at event
- "Make your Mark" event gives chance to have your name in Kingdom Hearts III
- Upcoming new world in Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross] will be new exclusive to game.
The first ever Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross] event, Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross]: Dandelion Meeting, has come and gone. With it, the thrill of exciting announcements for the future of Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross] and even some for Kingdom Hearts III. While we weren't able to attend, we've got all the highlights from those who had that privilege here. If you were unable to attend the event, we've got you covered right here!
Art and Activities
The scene at the event was exciting. The hall at the House of Blues in Anaheim was filled with concept art from Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross], including art for medals like the Illustrated KH II Sora & Riku [EX] medal. There were also life-sized storybook sets featuring scenes from Dwarf Woodlands, Beast's Castle, Wonderland, and Agrabah. The stage for the panels themselves featured a large set based on Daybreak Town.
In addition to the beautiful art, the event floor also featured large screens where attendees could play Draw Battles in Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross]. A stamp card was distributed to each attendee, requiring stamps from at least five of seven stations in order to receive a special gift: a special set of eight stickers for each world revealed so far in Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross]. There was also a large wall for attendees to sign their names and messages on.
The event officially opened with series director Tetsuya Nomura and Shinji Hashimoto taking the stage and revealing a new Kingdom Hearts III trailer. The trailer featured several mini-games that would be a part of the upcoming title. One of them confirmed news from D23 Expo Japan in February that the classic Disney short "Giantland" would be part of the game. The trailer also reveals the return of Hayner, Pence, and Olette in Kingdom Hearts III, sporting brand new outfits.
Nomura revealed that there would be twenty such minigames would be part of the game, all based on various classic Mickey Mouse shorts, and several of those games were playable during the Dandelion Meeting.
Art and Design Panel
Art Director Tatsuya Kando took time to discuss the process of creating medal artwork for Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross]. He noted that he first receives a request for a medal, and will try to pose the character or characters in various poses before submitting to feedback. Afterwards, he and his team will go back and revise it, if necessary, before adding the border and effects.
Afterwards, NPC and Character Designer Mayumi Okamoto showed visuals from Kingdom Hearts Mobile's Avatar Kingdom, and explained how the avatar for Sora from that game evolved into the default male avatar design.
Miki Yamashita, the Character and Avatar Designer, showed off designs for Strelitzia and avatar designs from the New Years event in Japan a few months back. Sara Shimokobe, Heartless Designer, showed off several Heartless designs for Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross], and the process for designing each one, while Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross] and Kingdom Hearts III Keybalde and Heartless Designer Daigo Tsukada showed off both Heartless and Raid Bosses in the game. Finally, Cutscene Designer Megumi Yamamoto showed off scenes from the recent Enchanted Dominion update in Japan that show the process of transforming elements of the original movie (in this case, Sleeping Beauty) into the game, and the challenges from it. As part of the presentation, a cutscene from an future update was shown where the player is trapped in Maleficent's Castle right as Phillip escapes.
The Art and Design panel also featured a short Q&A at the end, which went as follows:
- What kind of different designs did the starting keyblade go through before it became "Starlight"? Are there any other original keyblades in the works?
- They wanted to embody the feeling of having light, or lux, be the main incorporation for the starting design. It went through several variations and ended up with the keyblade we know and love today!
- Have you considered making medals with KHUx characters with a CGI animation attack of some kind?
- It has been considered, but there are limitations to having this game be on a smartphone. We don't want to overburden phones with too much special effects, and are happy with the current medal effects.
- I think the outfits are too strictly gendered. I understand the idea of separating the boards and outfits for more options and for gender marketing but it’s rather frustrating that a female can’t wear pants and a shirt and a male can’t have a flower crown.
- We love that all outfits are desired by both men and women, and will reach out about making future outfits non-gender specific. No promises on this one though!
- Was there any stage of development where the game was drastically different than what we see? If so, any stories about different iterations?
- Kando-san proceeded to tell a story about how during the initial PC Browser version of the game, cards were used rather than medals. Once the idea to bring it to smartphones was made, medals were re-designed to have more of a magical feel to using them.
Toy Story Land Collaboration
Everyone at the event was automatically entered into a drawing for a trip for two to the opening of Toy Story Land at Walt Disney World resort in Orland, Florida. After the winner, Ashley Jimenez, was announced, Union χ[Cross] producer Hironori Okayama announced that there would be an upcoming collaboration event between the launch of Toy Story Land and Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross]. The event is to be exclusive to the global version of Union χ[Cross].
Development Panel with Tetsuya Nomura
Tetsuya Nomura, Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross] producer Hironori Okayama, and art director Tatsuya Kando were at the center of the Development Panel, where they revealed information about the development of Union χ[Cross] and about the recently-revealed trailer. The LCD games from the new Kingdom Hearts III trailer are being referred to collectively as "Classic Kingdom", and the minigames are built in Unreal Engine 4. As Sora journeys in Kingdom Hearts III, more minigames will become available. They also revealed that the Classic Kingdom minigames will be available within Union χ[Cross] in an upcoming update before Kingdom Hearts III launches, though an exact date was not given.
Player-vs.-Player mode was shown off during the panel, too, and it was explained that the battles would be three-turn battles with three sets, with the first to win two out of three times wins. The battles, as explained in Development Report #4, would not be live, but more like the current Data Organization battles that just started this week in Union χ[Cross]. Additionally, the 7-star medals that were also mentioned in the developer report were shown off, and while all medals can be evolved to 7 stars, they require specific synthesis items that can only be acquired in the Player-vs.-Player battles. No date for the release of either of these two features were given.
During the panel Q&A, Tetsuya Nomura was asked about the upcoming Union χ[Cross]-exclusive Disney world that was mentioned at D23 Expo Japan. While he didn't give any details, Nomura did say that a character from that world would be a summon in Kingdom Hearts III.
Finally, a new event was announced for Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross] that gives a chance to have a random player's name appear within Kingdom Hearts III. This new event would be similar in its result to the "Name-in-a-Game" contest that Square Enix held before the launch of the original Kingdom Hearts in North America, which resulted then with the challenging Kurt Zisa Heartless boss. The event was to be revealed at 9 PM PDT along with the week's weekly in-game notice, in order to be fair to those who didn't attend the event.
The Development panel also had a Q&A segment that is featured below.
- How do players in KHUχ carry around their medals?
- Nomura: Probably in their pockets?
- Kando: What? …How are they equipping them onto their Keyblades?
- Nomura: The Keyblade probably opens up and the wielders place the medals in them. It’s a function made possible by dreams and magic!
- Are there any worlds that you want to add in KHUχ?
- Nomura: We do plan to add a new world that will not be in KHIII. The hint for the world is that a character from that world will appear in KHIII as a summon. However, we haven’t revealed that character yet so I don’t think you’ll know which character or world I’m talking about. You might be able to figure it out if you carefully watch one of our future KHIII trailers.
- Why is "Guilt" localized as "Special Attack Bonus" (in the English version)?
- Nomura: Perhaps… "Special Attack Bonus" is abbreviated to “Guilt”?
- Are there any collaboration events that you would like to do in the future?
- Okayama: For me, it would be the Toy Story Land collaboration that we just announced earlier.
- Nomura: Kando will follow with a funny answer.
- Kando: What kind of pass is that!? …Do you want to collaborate with me? (smug expression)
- Kando: I knew this wasn’t going to go over well! How about you Nomura-san?
- Nomura: Since Japanese games do a lot of collaborations with other titles, I don’t think KHUχ needs to focus on that. This is just an example, but it might be interesting to collaborate with non-game content, like the LINE app or Twitter. Maybe a Twitter bird medal? Lol
- Kando: 7 stars?
- Okayama: He’s probably drunk so don’t take him seriously!
- Nomura: I didn’t drink anything and am not drunk! If anyone here wishes for a collaboration, please contact our official Twitter about it.
- Please tell us about the design and the reasoning behind the appearance of new Union leaders like Ephemera and Skuld.
- Nomura: You want to know more about them instead of their design right? There is a storyline in KHIII where you will sense their existence and influence here and there. I believe you will feel their presence more than the five Foretellers who are the previous Union leaders. The fates of these new Union leaders are already set, and there is a meaning behind everything, including their names.
- Okayama: By the meaning of their names, you’re also talking about how they’re spelled as well right?
- Nomura: Yes. There is a meaning behind everything. This includes Strelitzia, who is not amongst the five. Another new character will also appear as well, so the story of KHUχ will really become something that you can’t miss out on.
There sure is a lot of information, and a lot to be excited about for the future of the series! With Kingdom Hearts III coming soon, Nomura promised to be making the trip to the States more often in order to promote its release. The next major event is E3 in June, but who knows, perhaps another trailer or more information is revealed before then. What are you most excited about?