In 2002, video game companies, “Square Enix” & “Disney Interactive” released “Kingdom Hearts” on PlayStation 2 or PS2 for short. It received positive reviews from critics & gamers alike. In addition to warm reception, the game was also profitable success. Both video game companies immediately developed a midquel titled, “Kingdom Hearts: Chain Of Memories” on the “Game Boy Advance” which came out in 2004. It earned mixed to positive reviews. Chain Of Memories was remade on the PS2 console & this version is also included in a compilation linked to the series known as “Kingdom Hearts: The Story So Far.”
Kingdom Hearts II was released in early in Japan in December 22, 2005. The English version of the game officially came out in March 28, 2006. Like the first game, it received critical acclaim from critics & fans alike, selling many copies worldwide.
Now that the long awaited Kingdom Hearts III has been out since January 2019, I want to share my real thoughts on Kingdom Hearts II, which is my personal favorite game of the series.
The following review contains no crucial SPOILERS related to the story. Feel free to read my non-spoiler article if you have not played this game, Chain Of Memories & the original.
Positive & Negative Aspects
Positive: The Main Cast from the original game such as Haley Joel Osment, David Gallagher & Hayden Panettiere reprise their roles and they all did an excellent job for their respective performances.
Newcomers to series including Jesse McCartney, Brittany Snow, Richard Epcar, (replaced Billy Zane) Paul St. Peter & the late Christopher Lee all did a fantastic job for their respective performances.
Notable Disney Actors like Dan Castellaneta, Jim Cummings, Tony Anselmo, Bill Farmer, Chris Sarandon, Ming-Na Wen, Scott Weigner, Jodi Benson, Gilbert Gottfried, James Woods & the late Wayne Alwine all did a great job for their respective performances.
Old worlds from the first game returned such as “Halloween Town,” (my favorite from the first) “Olympus Coliseum,” “Hollow Bastion,” “100 Acre Wood,” “Agrabah” & “Atlantica.”
New worlds are introduced to the Kingdom Hearts series such as “Twilight Town,” (has nothing to do with sparkling vampires) “Beast’s Castle,” “The Land Of Dragons,” “Space Paranoids,” “Pride Lands,” “The World That Never Was” & my favorite world “Port Royal.”
Once you enter a specific world, a guest party member will aid you in your journey.
Characters from the Final Fantasy franchise return in prominent roles.
Character Development involving the main characters. As the game progresses, they will understand what happened after Chain Of Memories ended.
Disney Villains & members of Organization XIII serve as bosses. The latter villains are replayable to fight in the Final Mix version.
Organization XII members were interesting and serve a purpose. My favorite member of Organization XIII is Xigbar. I’m giving him an Extra Point for making me laugh using his catchphrase. I’ll give you a hint, it’s a quote from the movie “Clueless.” I would assume this movie is Xigbar’s favorite.
The game is filled with twists and turns. If you haven’t played the whole thing, I refuse to tell you what happened you’re gonna have to play for yourself to find out.
The game is set after the events of Chain Memories. If you own the game, you probably understand the ongoing story arc.
Graphics for the game retains its 3D animation to resemble a Disney animated film. Once you enter a world like Port Royal, the format changes like the environment. Character Models remain normal for each specific character.
Combat System from the first game is heavily upgraded giving you the ability to use “Reaction Commands” to attack specific enemies or tough bosses standing in your way. You can equip a truckload of combat moves to give gain the upper hand with your trusty Keyblade. “Drive Forms” temporary give you boosts, each one is unique like one or two allows you to dual wield for a limited time.
Gameplay Mechanics are retained from the first game including worlds to explore, a variety of abilities you can equip to boost Sora’s stats alongside Donald, Goofy & an additional party member from his/her world, Gummi Missions are revamped as a throwback to rail shooters, summon a character to defeat enemies in special situations, treasure chests also return & the leveling system maximum cap is 99 which is too gosh darn high!
The Heartless are back and better than ever. Each variation has their own combat tactics, strengths & weaknesses that’ll help you learn to beat them.
Besides The Heartless, a new type of enemy called, “The Nobodies,” are a welcome introduction to the second game. They’re as tough as The Heartless.
After each world is completed, you can change your Keyblade to increase your strength/magic.
Final Mix edition adds exclusive content such as Heartless located in various worlds, tough boss battles, collecting puzzle pieces to unlock a specific item & a secret room to test out your abilities if you’re up for a challenge. Once you make it to the secret room, you get to replay boss battles but are extremely difficult.
The second game has a memorable music score. Every time I hear random battle music, I get pumped up to beat a truckload of enemies standing in my way.
The theme song for the game is “Sanctuary.” It’s played during the opening scene & end credits.
If you beat the game, a secret boss fight is unlocked. It was painfully excruciating to beat this guy. I couldn’t handle him anymore after one walkthrough to help me conquer this battle.
It took me 40 something hours to complete the game. There’s still more things to do yet I tried to beat almost every exclusive boss fight but I got pummeled one at a time.
When the end credits are over alongside an ending setting up “Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance,” a secret ending sets up a prequel called, “Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep.”
Negative: The Tutorial has a slow pace before the actual plot commences. I didn’t mind the slow pace, because it’s similar to the first game’s buildup. I’ll let this flaw slide.
To be honest with you guys & gals, I couldn’t find nothing wrong with this game, I’m giving Disney & Square Enix an Extra Point for developing this game as flawless as possible.
The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!
Kingdom Hearts II remains as my favorite game of the series. Some of the positive things I’ve listed, indicates why this game deserves my highest grade. If you want to refresh your memory before playing Kingdom Hearts III, go ahead and buy all the Kingdom Hearts games on PS4 labeled as a compilation titled, “Kingdom Hearts: The Story So Far.”