Kingdom Hearts is an action RPG developed and published by Square in 2002 for the PlayStation 2. The idea for Kingdom Hearts came about when producer Shinji Hashimoto met with a Disney executive in an elevator; Square and Disney had previously worked in the same building in Japan. The game began development in February 2000 and originally the beta focused more on the gameplay with a simple story to appeal to Disney’s target age range.
After executive producer Hironobu Sakaguchi told director Tetsuya Nomura the game would be a failure if it did not aim for the same level as the Final Fantasy series, Nomura began to develop the story further. Some content that did not make it into Kingdom Hearts was later added into Kingdom Hearts II.
The “Pride Land” from The Lion King, for instance, was infeasible because an additional program was required to process movement on four legs—a necessity since Sora would become a lion in that world. Due to time constraints, the developers left out an optional boss battle, similar to the Sephiroth battle, against Tifa Lockhart. She was later included in Kingdom Hearts II as a more developed character. [Info from Wikipedia]
In a beta trailer from 2001 you can see many differences between the beta build and the final build. Such as Sora roaming around Disney Castle. In the final build, you do not go to Disney Castle, but there is an image of it on the world map, but it is never selectable.
More differences, as spotted by YT users:
- The logo’s different
- Goofy’s cloth is different
- Sora’s beta hair color
- removed scene with Riku on the Clock Tower
In an interview with Nomura, we can read that:
“Actually,” he continues, “the first weapon I showed Disney was a chainsaw. It was this chainsaw-like weapon that I had a rough sketch of when I first showed my concepts to Disney. Everyone got this scrunched-up look on their face and nobody said a word in the entire room. Dead silence. And I thought ‘No, I guess this wouldn’t work, huh?'”
Shadowdorothy also noticed:
- In the beta Riku didn’t have his black gloves he does in the final release
- Kairi’s skirt is longer in the official release.
- The opening monologue by Sora went through a major change, as in the commercial it appears that Sora is having a conversation with someone.
- The magic system was changed dramatically, as the magic system sub-menu originally opened on top of the action menu.
- The door was also removed, and by “the door” I mean that strange door on Destiny Island that you can’t see until Sora has a flash back that involves Riku and him being kids.
- It also appears that Sora, not Kairi, was the one that needed saving, as per some dailouge seen at the end of the com.
Some more info on the beta can be found on X-Cult!
Thanks a lot to Brad and Shadowdorothy for the contributions!