Kingdom Hearts II
"The story is not over."
Kingdom Hearts II is the third title in the Kingdom Hearts series, and the direct sequel to Kingdom Hearts. It follows the journey of Sora, Donald Duck, and Goofy as they search for King Mickey and Riku, one year after the events of the first title.
Kingdom Hearts II was first announced at the 2003 Tokyo Game Show alongside Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories on September 26, 2003. It was released on December 22, 2005 in Japan, with international releases throughout the following year.
Story[edit | edit source]
Roxas, a young man who lives in Twilight Town with his friends Hayner, Pence, and Olette, begins to dream of a boy with brown spiky hair and his friends. Now on their last week of summer, Roxas and his friends begin to witness several mysterious events. First, white creatures begin to attack him, and he suddenly gains the ability to wield mysterious weapon he learns is called the Keyblade. He later is robbed by a man in a black hood who his friends never see, and then meets a girl in white named Naminé. The whole time, a mysterious man in red observes from a computer room somewhere.
During Twilight Town’s Struggle tournament, time suddenly freezes and Roxas is confronted by someone in a black hood named Axel, as well as the man in red, though his calls for his friends somehow allow time to flow normally again. That afternoon, Roxas seemingly falls of the top of the Station Tower in Twilight Town. During his fall, his heart attempts to contact Naminé and instead contacts Kairi’s, a girl he can only identify as the girl that the boy in his dreams likes. When pushed for a name, another voice responds only by saying it starts with an “S”, and Roxas awakens in his room, unsure how much of it was real. Kairi, meanwhile, beginning to remember the name, sends a letter in a bottle into the sea.
In the end, Roxas learns that he holds half of what Sora, the boy from his dreams, is, and that his whole world is actually a data simulation. He is again confronted by Axel, who he remembers only as a friend from his past, and fights him before facing Sora, who continues to sleep, and finally accepting to return to him.
Sora awakens with Donald and Goofy in Twilight Town, a world they’ve never been to, but that Sora strangely remembers. They soon meet Hayner, Pence, and Olette, who inform the trio that someone in a black coat and huge, round ears was looking for them at the station. Concluding it to be King Mickey, Sora, Donald, and Goofy hurry to the station, but soon find themselves surrounded by mysterious enemies in white. They’re suddenly saved, however, by the King, who appears to finish off the mysterious enemies, instructing Sora and friends to get on the train. They do so after a tearful goodbye to Hayner, Pence, and Olette, who see them off, and arrive at the base of a looming tower. There, they find a bumbling bad guy named Pete, who reveals that the person who lives in the tower is Master Yen Sid, the King’s teacher. Sora and the others run in, where they meet Master Yen Sid, who explains to them the King’s journey and the new enemies in white, called “Nobodies.” He also reveals to them information on Organization XIII, a group of powerful Nobodies with an unknown goal. Now caught up with what had occurred while they were asleep, Sora, Donald, and Goofy set off on their new adventure.
Sora, Donald, and Goofy journey to various worlds, meeting new and old friends, and regularly running into both Organization XIII and Maleficent, who has mysteriously returned and is being aided by Pete. While the Organization’s true plans remain unknown, they learn that Maleficent is still trying to expand her dominion, and Pete is trying to recruit people to her cause.
Meanwhile, having recovered her memories of Sora, Kairi waits in Destiny Islands for his and Riku’s return when she is suddenly approached by Axel. Initially, she escapes with the help of Pluto and arrives in Twilight Town, where she meets Hayner and the gang. After telling them her story, Axel appears again and kidnaps her. Sora returns to Twilight Town soon thereafter and, upon hearing what has happened to Kairi, determines to rescue her from the Organization.
Sora and the gang then return to Hollow Bastion, where they had first run into the Organization, and work with Leon, Yuffie, Merlin, and the others to gain access to Ansem’s computer. As they do so, they finally catch up with the King, who reveals that the Ansem they fought the year prior is actually an imposter, the Heartless of Xehanort, an apprentice to Ansem the Wise, the real Ansem. The King also reveals that Xehanort’s Nobody is the leader of Organization XIII. In the midst of a large fight against the Heartless and Nobodies in Hollow Bastion, Sora and his friends encounter both the leader of the Organization, named Xemnas, Axel, who had kidnapped Kairi, and Saïx, who they had encountered in Twilight Town. Sora learns that the Organization is actually using him: as he defeats each Heartless with the Keyblade, the Heartless release their captured hearts, which gather together to form Kingdom Hearts. With the help of Maleficent and a man in a black hood, Sora, Donald, and Goofy escape Hollow Bastion and the Heartless surrounding them. Despite the Organization’s plan, they decide it better for Sora to keep fighting the Heartless to protect those who the Heartless attack.
Eventually, Sora, Donald, and Goofy return to Twilight Town, where they find Hayner, Pence, and Olette trying to find an alternate Twilight Town, believing that they may find Kairi there. With the help of King Mickey, they find a computer in the basement of the Old Mansion and a transporter. Sora, Donald, Goofy, and King Mickey use the transporter to arrive in the alternate Twilight Town, the simulation that Roxas was living in, and find there a corridor to the Organization’s stronghold. However, as Sora, Donald, and Goofy travel through, they are soon surrounded by multitudes of Nobodies. They are soon rescued by Axel, who sacrifices himself to give them passage. Before he fades away, he apologizes to Sora, explaining he kidnapped Kairi to find Roxas, but that the Organization had since captured her and was holding her in the castle basement.
Sora, Donald, Goofy, and the King arrive in the Organization’s stronghold, The World That Never Was. The King runs ahead, while Sora is soon faced by a hooded young man, Roxas, who challenges him. After being defeated, Roxas cryptically tells Sora that he makes a good other, but only Sora ever sees and hears him. Sora, Donald, and Goofy finally arrive at the Organization’s castle, but can’t get to it from the cliff’s edge where they are at. Meanwhile, Kairi, who is being held in the castle basement, escapes with Pluto with the help of Naminé, who arrives through a dark portal to help her. That action causes a path to open for Sora and his friends to enter the castle. Once inside, they start climbing the castle, looking for Kairi, while the King runs ahead. Kairi and Naminé, meanwhile, try to escape but are soon caught by Saïx. However, before he can capture Kairi, Saïx is attacked by a man in a black hood, whom Naminé identifies as Riku. After Saïx escapes, Kairi stops the hooded man and reveals his face, the face of Ansem. Sora, Donald, and Goofy soon are confronted by both Saïx and Xigbar, and while being attacked, they notice that both Kairi and Ansem are fighting together against the Heartless. They soon defeat Xigbar and climb the castle to get to them.
All the while, the King finds and rescues the man in red, DiZ, who reveals himself to be Ansem the Wise, the real Ansem. Ansem the Wise explains that in order to help Sora awaken, they needed to capture his Nobody, Roxas, and that as a result, Riku had given in to the darkness in his heart and taken the form of Ansem, the seeker of darkness. The King and Ansem then continue to climb the castle and, standing at a ledge facing the heart-shaped moon that is Kingdom Hearts, aim Ansem’s contraption, a device designed to encode Kingdom Hearts into data, at it.
Sora, Donald, and Goofy finally catch up to Kairi and Ansem and are reunited. Kairi then reveals that that Ansem is actually Riku, and Riku explains that he had avoided being found because he had given in to the darkness. Together, the group climb further up the castle, defeating the Organization members Luxord and Saïx and catching up to the King and Ansem the Wise. By then, however, the encoder begins to malfunction. Xemnas, the final member of the Organization, appears, and taunts Ansem the Wise for his now-failing device. Ansem the Wise, however, counters that Xemnas does not truly know the heart, and apologizes to both King Mickey and Roxas before the encoder explodes, taking him with it. In the aftermath, Riku regains his appearance.
Sora and the others finally arrive at the top of the castle and face Xemnas after receiving some help from Maleficent and Pete in dealing with the Heartless now surrounding the castle. There, Xemnas enters Kingdom Hearts, and Sora, Donald, Goofy, and others get in through a door that the worlds provide. There, they face and defeat Xemnas. After a short celebration, a dark corridor opens, courtesy of Naminé, for them to go home, though only Sora, Kairi, and Riku see her. Now joined by Pluto, the King, Donald, and Goofy enter through the corridor, while Roxas and Naminé encounter their original selves and return to them. However, as Kairi enters the corridor, Xemnas returns and attacks again. Sora and Riku, now trapped within Kingdom Hearts, challenge Xemnas. They finally face him in a white void, where they finally defeat Xemnas. Though they are then surrounded by Nobodies, Riku exerts all his strength into defeating them, leaving him depleted.
Sora and Riku are then led by a light to the Dark Margin, where they sit down on the shore, resigning themselves to being in the realm of darkness. Riku then finds a bottle containing Kairi’s letter and gives it to Sora. That letter and Kairi’s light opens the door to light, allowing Sora and Riku to enter and return home, where Kairi, King Mickey, Donald, and Goofy await.
Sometime after returning home, Sora asks Riku what the light was, to which Riku responds by pointing at his heart. Kairi then appears with a letter in a bottle, signed by the King, and Sora eagerly retrieves the letter from the bottle for them to read.
Worlds and Characters[edit | edit source]
Gameplay[edit | edit source]
Kingdom Hearts II uses the same free-roam style gameplay and hack-and-slash style combat featured in the original Kingdom Hearts. While Sora is again the main playable character, Kingdom Hearts II features Roxas as a playable character during the prologue, a short scripted battle where Riku is playable near the end of the game, and special segments in certain boss battles where King Mickey is playable if Sora is defeated. Sora is again accompanied by Donald and Goofy in his party, but they can be replaced with certain characters when visiting certain worlds. Mulan, the Beast, Auron, Jack Sparrow, Aladdin, Jack Skellington, Simba, Tron, and Riku can each replace a member of the party when visiting their respective worlds, with Auron in Olympus Coliseum and Riku in The World That Never Was. The party's AI can be customized again in the Menu.
Sora's movement is controlled with from a third-person camera angle, while the camera is now controlled with the . Sora's actions are controlled by pressing on the highlighted option in the Command Menu. The default option is always Attack, with options in the menu to use magic, healing items, and summonable Disney characters. The Command Menu also has new combat options, including the ability to use drive forms, limit attacks, and the ability to switch out any of the party members from the menu. Additionally, special reaction commands, activated by , allow Sora, Roxas, Riku, and King Mickey to perform special actions, including team attacks with other party members, unlocking chests, interacting with the environment, and certain scripted actions. Sora and his party each have a certain amount of hit points (HP) and magic points (MP), measured by green and blue gauges around each character's avatar in the heads-up display, which measures each character's health and magic respectively. Sora additionally has a yellow drive gauge, filled by collecting yellow drive orbs and which allows the use of summons and drive forms.
Each character gains experience points (EXP) as enemies are defeated, which translate into levels at which the characters gain strength, magic, defense, increase their HP or MP, or learn new abilities. Unlike in Kingdom Hearts, each character levels up together in a set order, starting with the fourth party member, then Goofy, then Donald, and finally Sora. Each enemy defeated by each party member counts towards the overall experience total required for the next level. Abilities are learned as Sora and the party gain experience. Once unlocked, they must be equipped in the Menu. Abilities consume ability points (AP); as a result, not all abilities can be equipped simultaneously throughout most of the game. Sora also gains Growth abilities by using drive forms. Experience points are gained for each drive form in different ways, depending on the form, and these points translate into levels which unlock special abilities for Sora that, among other things, improve his mobility.
Equipment is once again equipped in the menu, and each equipment item changes stats for Sora, Donald, and Goofy. Sora, Donald, and Goofy can acquire new weapons that have greater strength or magic. In Sora's case, the keychains he can equip to the Keyblade also have an additional support ability. Sora acquires keychains mostly as the story progresses, while Donald and Goofy can obtain new weapons at shops.
The story of Kingdom Hearts II moves linearly. The story progresses as Sora, Donald, and Goofy complete certain events in each world. Once a world's story is completed, one or more worlds are unlocked. Additionally, there are numerous side-quests available, some with additional story content and bonuses.
While the gameplay is largely the same throughout the game, two worlds feature special gameplay mechanics: the world of Atlantica, which features its own unique, rhythm-based gameplay; and the world of the Pride Lands, which features Sora as a lion cub. Each episode of Atlantica features a song where certain button prompts appear. Hitting the buttons at the correct time earns different points, depending on the song, while missing the button prompts or not hitting the at the appropriate time usually detracts points. While in the world of Pride Lands, Sora's abilities and movement changes to reflect that fact that he's a four-legged lion cub. He's noticeably faster, but cannot use drive forms, summons, or limit attacks with anyone else but Simba.
Kingdom Hearts II features the return of the Gummi Ship. To travel from one world to another, Sora, Donald, and Goofy again employ the gummi ship. Unlike in Kingdom Hearts, the Gummi Ship is only required once to unlock the next world, and is not required to return to any of the worlds once visited. The Gummi Ship routes, however, are shorter and faster-paced, represented on the world map by doors. On each Gummi Ship route, the ship is controllable with , while the camera generally moves automatically. The ship's cannons are fired using and . The objective again is to defeat enemy ships, both Heartless and Nobodies, and avoid obstacles as you travel through space. The heads-up display again features a green gauge for the ship's health, but no other gauges. Completing the Gummi Ship route unlocks three missions that can be completed at any time. Completing world stories unlocks more Gummi Ship routes.
Development and Release[edit | edit source]
Plans for a sequel to Kingdom Hearts were made by the completion of the first game's Final Mix release. However, certain obstacles, such as the request to feature Mickey Mouse more needed to be settled with Disney before development could begin. The team behind the original title within Square Enix's Production Department Division-1 returned to make Kingdom Hearts II. The team set out to create a deeper, more mature story set in the Kingdom Hearts universe, intentionally including more complicated and darker concepts such as Nobodies, beings of nothing. The combat was revamped to display Sora's maturity. The engine was built from scratch to create a game free from the technological restrictions of its predecessor. Such advances include the ability to form change in battle, and to play as a quadruped as in the world based on The Lion King. Complaints targeted towards the first game, such as the camera and difficulty, were addressed during production. The gummi ship sections were also entirely revamped to match the faster pace of the title.
Development of Kingdom Hearts II was confirmed in August 2003 at the Games Convention. It was officially unveiled at the Tokyo Game Show in September 2003 alongside Chain of Memories. Kingdom Hearts II was first confirmed for a 2005 release in Japan by Weekly Jump Magazine in June 2004. In August 2004, Square Enix held an event in Japan covering Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts II, including the first public demo of the latter, and new trailers for both. The game's official Japanese website was launched in May 2005, followed by the English website in December of that year. There were two years between the game's announcement and reveal of the release date, from September 2003 to 2005. Tetsuya Nomura admitted it was announced too early regarding months of silence about the title.
The international version of the game features various notable changes compared to the Japanese version in addition to the game being translated. During the battle with the Hydra in Olympus Coliseum, dark purple-black smoke was released whenever Sora attacks the Hydra instead of green blood. In Disney Castle, Daisy tells Donald off for missing a date instead of pounding his backside. Port Royal has the most changes. When Will Turner threatens to take his own life, he holds his gun at his side instead of aiming it at his own head. Additionally, the undead pirates do not catch fire when attacked with fire magic, and their muskets were replaced with crossbows. The sword Barbossa uses to stab Jack Sparrow in the Japanese version is removed, and the blood on the cursed medallions is removed. In Twilight Town, Axel no longer bursts into flames during his suicide attack. In The World That Never Was, Xigbar no longer comgines his guns into a sniper, and his scope heads-up display is changed from a cross-hair and dark vignette to three glowing circles.
Kingdom Hearts II was released in Japan on December 22, 2005, in North America on March 28, 2006, and in PAL regions in September 2006. As of March 2007, Kingdom Hearts II has shipped four million copies worldwide.
Re-releases[edit | edit source]
Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix was released exclusively in Japan on March 29, 2007 in alongside Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories as part of the two-disc compilation Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+. It was re-released in 2014 as part of Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX, which was then re-released as part of Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX and Kingdom Hearts -The Story So Far-.
References[edit | edit source]
- GameSpot: "Kingdom Hearts II's Tetsuya Nomura Q & A"
- KHInsider: "Kingdom Hearts II Ultimania Main Nomura Interview"
- Dengeki Online: "【TGS】スクエニ第1開発事業部新規タイトル発表会、詳細レポート！" (in Japanese).
- Final Fantasy 2000: "Kingdom Hearts II"
- KHInsider: "Playstation.com Europe May 2005 Interview!"
- 1UP: "E3 2005 Kingdom Hearts II Interview"
- KHInsider: "GMR Nomura Interview 2004!"
- IGN: "Tetsuya Nomura Q&A"
- RPGFan: "Kingdom Hearts II Heading For a Late 2004 release"
- IGN: "Kingdom Hearts II Details"
- Gamespot: "TGS 2003: Square Enix announces new Kingdom Hearts games"
- Gamespot: "2005 release for Kingdom Hearts II"
- Kingdom Hearts Ultimania: KH Premier Party Report
- IGN: "Kingdom Hearts II Website"
- Gameinformer: "Kingdom Hearts II Official U.S. Website Launched"
- IGN: "Kingdom Hearts II Dated in Japan"
- IGN: "Tetsuya Nomura on Final Fantasy VII"
- Square Enix: "2007 Profile"