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Kingdom Hearts 2

     Kingdom Hearts II (Japanese: キングダムハーツII Hepburn: Kingudamu Hātsu Tsū?) is an action role-playing game developed by Square Enix and published by Buena Vista Games and Square Enix in 2005 for the Sony PlayStation 2 video game console. The game is a sequel to the 2002 Disney Interactive and Square collaboration, Kingdom Hearts, which combined Disney and Square elements into an action role-playing game, though it is somewhat darker in tone than its predecessor. The game's popularity has resulted in a novel and manga series based upon it and an international version called Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, released in March 2007.

Kingdom Hearts II is the third game in the Kingdom Hearts series. It picks up one year after the events of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories.Sora, the protagonist of the first two games, returns to search for his lost friends.Like the previous games, Kingdom Hearts II features a large cast of characters from Disney films and Final Fantasy games. Organization XIII, a group introduced in Chain of Memories, also reappears to impede Sora's progress.

The game was well-received, earning year-end awards from numerous video gaming websites. In Japan, it shipped more than one million copies within a week of its release. One month after its North American release, it had sold over one million copies and was the second best-selling game of 2006.As of March 31, 2007, the game has shipped over 4 million copies worldwide.


The gameplay of Kingdom Hearts II is similar to that of Kingdom Hearts, though developers made an effort to address complaints with the previous game.The player directly controls Sora from a third person camera angle,though first person perspective is available. Most of the gameplay occurs on interconnected field maps where battles take place. The game is driven by a linear progression from one story event to the next, usually told in the form of a cutscene, though there are numerous side-quests available that provide bonuses to the characters.

Like many traditional role-playing video games, Kingdom Hearts II features an experience point system which determines character development.As enemies are defeated, the player and allies gain experience which culminates in a "level up", in which the playable characters grow stronger and gain access to new abilities.As in the first game, Kingdom Hearts II allows a certain degree of character customization through a short tutorial found at the beginning of the game.

Combat in Kingdom Hearts II is in real-time and involves button presses which initiate attacks by the on-screen character. A role-playing game menu, similar to those found in Final Fantasy games, at the bottom left of the screen provides other combat options such as using magic, summoning beings to assist in battle, or executing combination attacks with other party members.A new feature is the "Reaction Command", special enemy-specific attacks that are triggered when the player presses the triangle button at the correct time during battle.Reaction Commands can be used to defeat regular enemies or avoid damage, and are sometimes necessary to complete a boss battle.In addition to the main character, two party members are usually present who also participate in combat. Although these characters are computer-controlled, the player is allowed to customize their behavior to a certain extent through the menu screen, such as attacking the same enemy Sora targets.

In response to criticism, the "Gummi Ship" feature of the first game was re-imagined to be "more enjoyable". Although retaining its basic purpose of travel, the previous system was completely redone to resemble a combination of rail shooter and "Disney theme park ride".In the world map, the player must now control the Gummi Ship from a top-down view and fly to the world the player wishes to enter. Worlds are no longer open from the beginning—the player must unlock the routes to them by entering a new level, controlling the ship from a third-person point of view, and battling enemy ships.After the route is opened, travel to the world is unimpeded, unless it is blocked again due to a plot related event.

Drive Gauge

One of the new features is a meter known as the "Drive Gauge". The Drive Gauge has dual functions: to transform into a "Drive Form" or to summon a special character. While in a Drive Form, Sora bonds with party members to become more powerful and acquire different attributes; most Forms also allow the use of two Keyblades. When a Drive is executed, Sora's combat statistics are heightened. Drive Forms also give Sora new abilities that can be used in normal form, called "Growth Abilities." Sora's first two Drive Forms only combine power with one party member; later-obtained Drive Forms require him to bond with both party members. When allies are used in a Drive, they are temporarily removed from battle for its duration. Unlike the HP and MP gauges, the Drive Gauge is not refilled at save points.
Like in the first game, Sora can summon a Disney character to aid him in battle. Summons will replace the two computer-controlled characters and fight alongside Sora for as long as the Drive Gauge allows, or until Sora's HP runs out. Instead of being limited to only one action, Summons now have a menu of their own and are capable of performing solo or cooperative actions with Sora. These actions are performed by pressing the triangle button. The Summon ability and each Drive Form are leveled up separately and by different criteria. Obtaining higher levels allows for extended use and in the case of Drive Forms, access to new abilities.


The setting of Kingdom Hearts II is a collection of various levels (referred to in-game as "worlds") that the player progresses through. As in the first game, Kingdom Hearts II allows the player to travel to locales from various Disney works, along with original worlds specifically created for the series. While in the first game, Disney-based worlds were primarily derived from the Disney animated features canon, Kingdom Hearts II introduces worlds that are based on Disney live-action films as well.Each world varies in appearance and setting, depending on the Disney film on which it is based. The graphics of the world and characters are meant to resemble the artwork style of the environments and characters from their respective Disney films. Each world is disconnected from the others and exists separately; with few exceptions, players travel from one world to another via a Gummi Ship.

Some worlds featured in the previous games reappear, but with new and expanded areas. There are also new worlds that are introduced, including the Land of Dragons, a fictionalized version of ancient China from the film Mulan; Beast's Castle, an 19th century-style French castle based on Beauty and the Beast; Timeless River, a past version of Disney Castle that features Steamboat Willie-style animation; Port Royal from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl; Pride Land, a great savannah from The Lion King; and Space Paranoids, a digital world based on Tron within Hollow Bastion's computer network. Twilight Town, an original world first seen in Chain of Memories, has a greater role as the introductory world. The World That Never Was is a new world that serves as the headquarters of Organization XIII.


The three main characters in the game are Sora, a 15-year-old boy who was chosen as a wielder of the Keyblade, a mystical key-shaped weapon with the power to combat darkness; Donald Duck, the court magician of Disney Castle; and Goofy, the captain of the Disney Castle guard. Both Donald and Goofy were ordered to find and stay with the "key", which was revealed to be the Keyblade. They befriended Sora during their journey in Kingdom Hearts and draw strength from this friendship. Other original characters include Riku and Kairi, Sora's friends from his home world, Destiny Islands; Roxas, a mysterious boy who can also wield the Keyblade; and DiZ, a man in red robes with a vendetta against Organization XIII.

As in the previous games, there are numerous appearances of characters from both Disney and Square Enix works. While some make a return from Kingdom Hearts, new characters from Disney fiction are also introduced, such as Scar from The Lion King and Scrooge McDuck. Pete appears as a persistent enemy who works with the resurrected Maleficent. Nearly twenty characters from Final Fantasy games appear, notably, Auron of Final Fantasy X, Tifa from Final Fantasy VII, and the return of Squall Leonhart, Cloud, and Sephiroth. It was stated that although the first game strictly stuck to characters Tetsuya Nomura designed, this time around they were going to "take some risks", implying that characters not directly designed by Nomura might make an appearance.Other new characters to series are Vivi of Final Fantasy IX, the Moogles from several Final Fantasy games, and Setzer of Final Fantasy VI.

The various worlds that Sora explores often have an optional party character from the film on which the world is based. Such party members include Fa Mulan, the woman who passes as a man in order to take her ailing father's place in the army; Jack Sparrow, a pirate who seeks to reclaim his ship, the Black Pearl; Simba, the self-exiled lion who is the rightful king of the Pride Land; and Tron, a security program in Hollow Bastion's computer network who seeks to end the dictatorship of the Master Control Program.

Organization XIII, a group of beings without hearts, was established as the main antagonists early on. Organization XIII controls the Nobodies, the bodies left over when a person with a strong heart is turned into a Heartless. Villains unique to the worlds are still prevalent and are often presented as challenges that Sora must overcome.


 Kingdom Hearts II begins one year after the events of Kingdom Hearts. Sora, Donald, and Goofy have been asleep in suspended animation for the past year to regain their lost memories. Meanwhile, Roxas, the Nobody of Sora, is trapped in a virtual simulation of Twilight Town created by DiZ so that he may merge with his original self to restore Sora's power, done as part of DiZ's revenge on Organization XIII. DiZ's plans are threatened when Organization XIII's Nobodies, led by Axel, Roxas' former friend in the Organization, infiltrate the virtual town, but Roxas finally merges with Sora. Sora, Donald, and Goofy wake up in the real Twilight Town and meet King Mickey and Yen Sid, who send them on another journey. Their goal is to find Riku and stop the plans of Organization XIII, who control the Nobodies—the body left over when a person with a strong heart is turned into a Heartless. Afterward, Maleficent is resurrected and joins with Pete to continue her quest for power.

Sora travels to many Disney-themed worlds, old and new, and resolves the troubles caused by Organization XIII, the Heartless, Maleficent, Pete and local villains. During a visit to Hollow Bastion, they again meet King Mickey, who reveals the true nature of Ansem, the antagonist of Kingdom Hearts. The Ansem whom Sora defeated was actually the Heartless of Xehanort, a student of Ansem the Wise, and that the leader of the Organization is Xehanort's Nobody, Xemnas. Organization XIII's plan is revealed: they seek the power of "Kingdom Hearts", the sum of all the hearts that Sora released by destroying the Heartless with his Keyblade. Sora then revisits the worlds to solve lingering problems and new complications, while seeking a path to Organization XIII's base of operations. Throughout his endeavors, Sora is secretly aided by a mysterious hooded figure whom Sora believes to be Riku.

Following a lead, Sora, Donald, and Goofy enter a passageway through Twilight Town and encounter Axel, who sacrifices himself to create a passageway to "The World That Never Was", the headquarters of Organization XIII, with Kingdom Hearts looming overhead as a heart-shaped moon. Sora finds Kairi and Riku, whose appearance has been changed by the darkness to that of Xehanort's Heartless; he also reveals to Sora the nature of his connection to Roxas. King Mickey meets DiZ, who reveals himself to be Ansem the Wise. Ansem uses a device that dissipates some of Kingdom Hearts' power, but a system overload causes the device to self-destruct, both engulfing Ansem and miraculously returning Riku to his original form. At the top of the Castle that Never Was, Sora and his friends battle Xemnas, who uses the remaining power of Kingdom Hearts to power his multiple forms. After Sora and Riku destroy Xemnas, the two are reunited with their friends at their home, Destiny Islands. The game concludes as Sora, Kairi, and Riku read a letter from Mickey, its contents hidden from the player


 Development plans for Kingdom Hearts II began around the completion of Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, but specific details were undecided until July 2003. Nomura noted several obstacles to clear before development could begin on a sequel. One such obstacle was the development team's desire to showcase Mickey Mouse more, which required Disney's approval.The game was developed by Square Enix's Product Development Division-1,with most of the original staff from the first game.To explain the loss of all the abilities from the first game at the beginning of Kingdom Hearts II, Nomura had Sora's memories scrambled in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories.
Many aspects of the gameplay were reworked for this sequel. Some changes were made due to user feedback and others were meant to be included in previous games but were omitted either because of time or technological constraints.The camera was switched to the right analog stick of the DualShock controller instead of the shoulder buttons and the Gummi Ship travel was reworked. The combat system was completely redone and did not use any animations from the first game. Because Sora had matured, Nomura wanted his fighting style to reflect that.Other changes included more integration between exploration and battles.The variations in combat styles associated with each Drive Form and the introduction of the Reaction Command were added to give players more choices in battles.The inclusion of worlds based on live-action Disney films was aided by technology that generated the character models from live-action pictures.


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