Legendary character designer and Director of the Kingdom Hearts franchise Tetsuya Nomura is lending his talents to the upcoming RPG Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Nomura, who is currently directing both Kingdom Hearts 3 and the Final Fantasy 7 Remake, is also designing characters in the Monolith Soft sequel. The official Japanese Twitter account for Xenoblade Chronicles 2 confirmed Nomura’s participation several weeks back, but now Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Director Tetsuya Takahashi has shared why he recruited Nomura and how it was possible.
The reason why Tetsuya Nomura was invited onto the project is rather surprising. It doesn’t have anything to do with discontent with Xenoblade Chronicles 2’s current art or the need for a unique style in certain parts of the game. The reason he was asked to help is simply because of a missed connection almost 20 years ago. Xenoblade Chronicles 2‘s director Tetsuya Takahashi was prevented from working with Nomura previously and has wanted to ever since. He finally got his opportunity.
Speaking to Time, Takahashi explained that Nomura was at one point in time going to work with him on Xenogears. Takahashi was looking forward to it, but ultimately Nomura ended up working on Final Fantasy VII instead. Here Takahashi explains his thoughts since:
“But I’ve always wanted to work with him. And this idea of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 came up, and I thought I’d love to work with him again. After our discussion with Nintendo went through and this project was a go, I went directly to Square Enix, thinking that I’d be denied, asking if I could work with Tetsu. To my surprise, it was approved, and that’s how it happened.”
Skipping over the fact that Nomura almost worked on Xenogears instead of Final Fantasy 7, it’s a rather romantic story to hear. Two game directors coming together after almost 20 years to finally create that project that could have been. Obviously Nomura is much too busy to dedicate his full time to another game, but his willingness to freelance his time for a completely different company says everything.
— ゼノブレイド２ (@XenobladeJP) June 21, 2017
According to the Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Twitter account, Nomura will be working as a sort of counterpoint to Xenoblade Chronicles 2‘s current artist Masatsugu Saito. Saito will be doing a majority of the character designs in the RPG, reportedly taking the game’s direction towards a more animated and “chibi” design. This is Saito’s first game doing character designs. Nomura will then provide the character designs for characters within what’s being named the “Torna Organization.”
While Nomura has only able to provide so much due to his limited time, the characters he designs are certain to be memorable for fans of both Final Fantasy and the Xeno franchise. It will be a taste of something that could have been.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is planned to launch exclusively on the Nintendo Switch starting later this year.