Kingdom Hearts II
Description official descriptions
Sora, Donald, and Goofy are back in the third installment (second for PS2) of the Kingdom Hearts series, continuing where Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories left off. The trio awakens from their sleep and goes to Twilight Town. When the game begins, you will first have control over a boy name Roxas who wields a dual-Keyblade. He is trying to enjoy the remainder of his summer vacation with his friends but he keeps having flash-backs of someone else's memories.
When he meets up with Sora, the two learns they have a special connection with one another. Afterwards, the group will continue their search for King Mickey and Riku. This time, they will travel to new worlds and work with various characters from the Disney and Final Fantasy universes. This includes worlds from not only Disney's animated movies but other movies as well like Pirates of the Caribbean and TRON.
In Kingdom Hearts II, Sora and his friends will battle various enemies including the Heartless from Kingdom Hearts, but also a group of enemies called Nobodies. Nobodies are "nonexistent beings" who are under the control of Organization XIII - a group of 13 members in black coats that Sora and his friends have reduced down to just half.
Gameplay is very similar to Kingdom Hearts: the player controls Sora with Donald and Goofy helping with their magic and attacks. Sora can use various magic powers as well as use Summon which will call upon the aid of special Disney characters that will temporarily fight alongside him. A new feature of combat are "Reaction Commands". Some enemies will leave themselves open during attacks, and if the player presses the Reaction Command button when prompted Sora will take advantage of the situation, either turning an enemy's attack against them, striking from a defenseless side for extra damage, or avoiding an otherwise unavoidable attack. As the trio levels up and progresses in the game they will gain new abilities that they can equip. Also, after Mickey meets the party, if Sora is KO'd the player will have the option of controlling Mickey and defending Sora until he can recover.
Another new feature is the Drive gauge. When filled and activated Sora absorbs the strength of his allies and gains new powers, like long range magical bullets in Magician form or the ability to use two keyblades in Strength form. Using Drive forms will power them up, unlocking new abilities and allowing them to be used for longer periods of time.
The Gummi Ship returns, but the speed of combat during Gummi Ship level has been greatly increased. While the path of the Gummi Ship is still out of the player's control, the ship can now attack enemies to the front, sides, and behind. Gummi Ship levels can be re-challenged at different difficulty levels, with different levels offering greater challenge and new enemy patterns. Achieving high scores in these levels rewards new Gummi Ship parts and plans.
- キングダムハーツII - Japanese spelling
Credits (PlayStation 2 version)
750 People (678 developers, 72 thanks) · View all
|Director + Concept Design|
|Planning Director: Map|
|Planning Director: Event|
|3D Modeling Direction: Map|
|Art Director: Texture|
|Art Director: Interface|
|Art Director: VFX|
|Supervising Dialogue Editor|
|[ full credits ]|
Average score: 85% (based on 47 ratings)
Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 72 ratings with 8 reviews)
Let me start off by saying that the first problem I mentioned in my review of the first game, has been fixed. Back then I addressed that I was not really a fan of young characters and even though Sora, Kairi and Riku weren't that bad, their childish behavior sometimes ticked me off. In this game all the main characters are slightly older and let me just say that they aged well. The best part are their voices, which are now fantastic and really professional. The design is a lot better too: Kairi now wears some more decent clothing and Sora no longer looks like he got his clothes from the bin outside the circus tent. To summarize it: This was a very minor detail, that vastly improved the presentation for me.
Also quite enjoyable is the fact that while the first problem I addressed was solved, the first praise I handed out is also still present. The fighting in Kingdom Hearts 2 is simply fantastic, it's fluent, fast and just a lot of fun. The addition of "Reaction Commands" is also very nice, the idea is that by pressing the triangle button and the correct time (such as in the middle of a specific enemy attack), Sora performs a cinematic ability that does a lot of damage. The best part about this quick-time event, is that you are not severely punished for messing up. You take damage instead and only rarely does it instant-kill you.
The biggest selling point to people however is likely not how fluent the combat is or how the characters have improved slightly, but the fact that there are a ton of new and nostalgic Disney movies to visit. The level progression is also very nice, instead of starting with old familiars, you get to do some completely new worlds first. Eventually you do find your way back to Agrabah and Halloween Town, but there are completely different stories going on there, so it feels a bit fresh again.
Aside from some levels you might have anticipated, such as Ancient China from the Mulan movie and Beast's Castle from Beauty and the Beast, there are also some levels that came as complete surprises to me. I was, for example, completely shocked when I suddenly found myself walking around the freaking Pride Lands as Lion Sora. I'd love to go into more detail, but hey, they wouldn't be surprised if I'd spoil them.
Graphic-wise the game has also improved, which is especially sweet since I already called the first game "one of the best, if not the best, looking game on the ps2". The most notable update are the faces, which on reflection looked kind of uncanny in the first game. The HUD is also a bit different and by default it changes in theme based on the level you are in, which is a nice little touch. There were also some levels that had a different kind of animation than the standard Disney style, one of which was originally live-action, and these were also neatly presented to us.
KH2 also provides us with a good update to the enemy roster. Not only do the ever as lovely Heartless get a lot of new units, but there is also a whole new faction to fight. "The Nobodies" might not have as much charm and variety as the Heartless, but they are still fun to fight in a different way and their more Humanoid leaders proved to be intriguing villains. Unless you plan to grind, you won't find yourself killing a lot of the same enemies over and over again, and that is a real good thing.
One thing that Kingdom Hearts 1 never managed though, was to provide me with scenes that genuinely got my adrenaline pumping. Some parts were frustrating and the final boss had me quite tense, but I was never really 100% immersed into the game. While Immersion is definitely not the strongest part of this series, there were a few moments and the Battle for Hallow Bastion in particular, where so much story-events were happening at once that I lost complete awareness of my surroundings and could only notice the game itself and my heart pounding with excitement.
The Gummi flights which earned some vicious beating from me in the past, have really been improved in this game. In the first title, they were just kind of bland and thoughtless. You just had to go forward in your insanely slow ship and hold down X to kill everything. This time around however, the flights are fast, filled with different enemies and even challenging. Flying around feels more like Starfox 64, but mixed with the races from F-Zero. I also like how you unlock new blueprints by doing well in these flights, so you don't have to make your own ships or buy blueprints if you don't want to.
Unlike the flying sections though, the overall gameplay had its difficulty turned down a notch, which is an improvement you can only grasp if you actually played the first game. KH1 was plagued with some downright insane boss-fights that were preceded by long cut-scenes that you had to watch every time you died. I managed to beat this entire game and every main boss by simply going through all the story missions, I never had to stop and grind for hours on end or waste brain cells trying to comprehend the Synthesis mechanic.
Finally, I'd like the praise the journal in this series. I never really talked about it before, mostly because I forgot it was there in the first game (as with Jiminy as a whole), but this time I did stop and take a look every once in a while. The book nicely records your overall progress in each world, which is especially useful after picking the game up after a long break from it. The book is also slightly out-universe, so it describes events and characters in more detail than you actually discovered and in some cases Sora didn't even discover at all (such as some things that Roxas did).
Let's start off where the game does to, the opening cut-scene. Seriously Square Enix (and Disney), these opening songs are starting to get booooooooooooooooooooring. I am not a big fan of JPop, but I could respect the opening montage in the first game to a certain extent. Now that i have played every single game in the timeline (up until KH2 and with the exclusion of Birth By Sleep), these songs are starting to get incredibly grating. I just want to start playing and seeing as how these scenes have little to no relevance to the actual story (though this around they do show some scenes from Chains of Memories).
After that we open the game with Roxas and boy does this mean the start of the four most boring hours of your life. As Roxas you don't really get to do much, you are no longer a badass member of Organization XIII, you are a boy on summer vacation. While there are a few scenes where you fight stuff, the three and a half hour that are left are spend doing chores for some money, making homework and learning just how much Twilight Town sucks (if that wasn't already apparent after 358/2 Days). And after four hours where does all this stuff lead to? NOTHING, you just trade Roxas with Sora and only two or three events you took part in are ever addressed in the rest of the game.
I am sorry, but I just can't get over it how much this game made Roxas suck. He has some scenes after the opening hours, but the damage was long done. I also warned people back in my review of 358/2 Days that I was going to bitch like hell if Xion was not addressed anywhere in the story and 'lo and behold, she is nowhere to be found. The series has this weird habit of making the entire universe forget about characters when they die under certain conditions and this is just shooting yourself in the foot because characters having to deal with the death of a friend is much more interesting than characters not remembering a fellow character and therefore not giving a damn.
Okay, so you might wonder what, besides the first four hours of the game, is wrong in Kingdom Hearts 2. The answer is: Relatively little, but let's go over it anyway.
Story inconsistencies are nice to start with because there are a lot of these. I won't go over all of them, but the one that bothers me the most is how Maleficant is brought back into the story. She is dead at the start of the game, but then she is brought back because. and I am serious here, some people remembered here. This wouldn't even be catastrophic if she wasn't mentioned and thus remembered a hundred times before this happened. Another thing that doesn't really work me is the Destiny Islands because now there is suddenly a whole mainland just off-shore, granted this was mentioned briefly when Sora sees Kairi's and Riku's boat, but give me a break, the world was called "The Destiny Islands" and everybody referred to the world as an island. Finally, there is the "Proof of Existence", which is a room that shows which members of Organization XIII are still alive. A nice idea, if it wasn't for the fact that it was a big deal that some members MIGHT have died during an operation in 358/2 Days and nobody knew who.
Whoever is in charge of designing the weapons and armor also needs to learn how descriptions work. The statistics of all the items are there, but most weapons have a side-effect that is often more important than the actual strength and magic points. However, these descriptions are just too ambiguous to help you decide which one to use. Quick lesson here: "Activates during a critical moment", among a lot of other similar statements, means absolutely nothing. If it is open for interpretation, then you have clearly failed describing such an essential part of the game.
Early in the game and quite a few times afterwards, there was the tendency to throw a lot of tutorials at me, none of which I ever remembered. Not only does a pop-up filled with text take me out of the experience, but it's also a terribly way to get me to memorize it. Throw in some visual hints during gameplay and let me play out the tutorial instead. I was just very annoyed when I wanted to do something like switching the magic spells on my quick-select and not knowing how to do that, or having to shut off the system in the middle of a boss-fight because I needed a character I didn't have in my party and I couldn't remember how the swap characters mid-battle.
Organization XIII is an interesting group of characters and because they are so colorful, it would have been a lot more fun if we got to battle all of them in one solid game. Some of the really cool ones, like Marluxia and Vexen were already taken out in Chains of Memories, which is even worse because Chains of Memories is barely playable. However, I would not have minded if we didn't fight them at all either. What I mean is that I never really figured out how the Organization is in any way evil, they are just a group of people with a common problem, working towards fixing it and improving their lives. Their methods might not always be very ethically correct, but nobody is going to tell me that Demyx and Luxord were genuine bad guys. I also never really saw where Sora made the connection that XIII is bad and judging by some of the lines, it seems more like unintended racism to me (as in the writers accidentally wrote out racist scenarios).
The Bottom Line
There is a lot to say about Kingdom Hearts 2, but in the end I can only say that it's a really solid game. While the game has a really tough time getting started, once it's moving forward, it becomes a very enjoyable whole. The overall story and the stories in each individual world are really interesting to follow, gameplay has remained just as fluent as the first game and has even improved slightly and graphically its all very good. There are some nitpicking issues with the story in the game and series as a whole, but most people will likely ignore or not even notice these.
While a lot of people might be attracted to a story about travelling to different Disney Worlds, the audience for this game is cut down severely due to the fact that the game is fairly entrenched in the Kingdom Hearts lore. Some themes get barely any explanation and Jiminy's journal doesn't have any sort of summary for the previous games in the timeline. However, if you liked the first game, then you will almost certainly like this one. I can practically guarantee that!
PlayStation 2 · by Asinine (957) · 2012
Kingdom Hearts II brings back the set of playing characters that made the original fun. The story line fits in well with what happened before, but if you have not played the original, the story seems to run all right on its own (more or less).
The battle system and controls are pretty much just like before with a few new add-ons. This makes it fairly easy to get up-to-speed.
The new worlds are probably the best new thing in this game. As can be seen from the square soft website, you'll get to see some new characters from Disney movies pop up. There are some surprise worlds and new villains to cope with that definitely made me smile.
Traveling between worlds on the gummi ships is a lot more fun this time round. There are a lot of challenges and rewards that are associated with traveling through the asteroid fields multiple times. Plus you can now zoom between unlocked worlds which decreases one of the biggest pains in the original Kingdom Hearts.
The CG cut scenes are really nice and quite well done.
Where the game falls short is that it just seems to play very sequentially. You kind of get to a world and follow on a more-or-less well defined path.
Absent are really spatially challenging worlds where getting to treasure chests takes a whole lot of careful planning and maneuvering. There just isn't the same level of challenges in this game. You don't get to fly around or really swim that much.
Battles are pretty much unchallenging IMHO. You sort of get in one, mash the X button until you get the job done. And unlike the original, most boss battles and level clearing challenges are pretty easy to get through the first time.
Also the new add-ons don't seem that useful. I only used a summon twice in the game, and that was only to figure out what it did. Team-ups tend to be annoying because you tend to call them up accidentally when you meant to do a reaction command on the same button.
The Bottom Line
This sequel is something a lot of Kingdom Hearts fans will jump on. I just had to have it. If you are like me then you'll like some of the new things but also feel like you aren't challenged enough for most of the game.
Nice CG, okay story, fun worlds with some nifty surprises, boring challenges and battles.
PlayStation 2 · by Yuzo Kanomata (3) · 2006
The "sophomore slump" is a colloquial term used to describe works in media which do not live up to previous debut work, either in the same franchise, by the same author or artist, and in many cases, both. "Kingdom Hearts II" is a perfect example of the "sophomore slump". It is not as fun, charming, or epic as its predecessor, and in many ways feels like a step back compared to the original "Kingdom Hearts".
"Wait a minute" , I hear you cry, this can't be a sophomore slump because it's the third Kingdom Hearts game. And you are correct: A "bridge" game was released on the Game Boy Advance in 2004 titled "Chain of Memories", which was meant to link Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2. However, COM follows a different style of gameplay compared to the console games, so technically, KH2 is the second game to have the gameplay style of KH1. I would still have to consider it a slump, regardless if it's a sophomore or junior slump.
Anyways, back to the game at hand. Kingdom Hearts II, at first glance, seems like the perfect sequel. You have more characters, new worlds, a brand new story, and even some new gameplay features to spice it all up. However, a closer inspection of all of these elements reveals that they aren't as perfect as you would want them to be, especially if you were a fan of KH1.
Let's get the positives out of the way: the production values are still as good as they were, and in some areas, even better. The graphics are more detailed and fleshed-out this time around, and the game can have much more enemies and characters on-screen than before, as demonstrated by a mid-game battle sequence where you fight 1000 creatures at once. Again, the voice acting and music is as good as it ever was. Finally, I absolutely loved the Lion King themed world. In this world, Sora is, for some reason, transformed into a lion cub and holds the Keyblade in his mouth in order to attack. In lion form, Sora can run EXTREMELY fast, and can even drift around corners as if you were playing an arcade racing title. This is a great twist on standard KH gameplay.
Where did this game go wrong? Too many areas, but I'll start.
The story is incredibly confusing. The player doesn't even start off as Sora, they start off as a character named Roxas, who is voiced by the pop star Jesse McCartney (no relation to Paul). In these scenes, you will do such fun things as work random jobs and explore a boring city that's always at sunset. Then, in a "Matrix" style plot twist, you find out that none of what you are playing through is even real, but rather a computer simulation. The reason that you actually were in the computer is too confusing and unsatisfying to even remember. When you go to Hollow Bastion, there's a little town there that wasn't even mentioned in the original game. The game's ending is extremely unsatisfying. The story overall lacks the charm and joy of the original game.I will say, however, that the story did "get" me for one brief moment when it appeared that a major character had accidentally died, but the darkness of that moment soon, and suddenly turned back to light far too quickly.
There's more. For gameplay, a new mechanic called "Reaction Commands" was added. Basically, a Reaction Command is a context-sensitive special attack that is activiated in battle by pressing the Triangle button. You then execute the attack, by watching the cutscene of Sora attacking and pressing the Triangle button when the game tells you to until you are done. Here's the problem: That's all you do. All you are pressing for the entire duration of the event is Triangle. You can't screw up the event by pushing something else, but you can miss the cue and press it too late. Had they programmed the events to where you were forced to press different buttons at the correct points in time, then there would have been an element of risk and strategy involved in using the commands. Instead, you'll end up mashing the triangle button as much as the X button. This "feature" makes the combat almost insultingly easy compared to the first game.
Finally, the level designs have seriously gone downhill. In the first game, the levels were more explorable, and you had to look at the map in order to figure out where you were supposed to go next. Here, however, there's rarely any places where you can branch off of the beaten path and explore on your own. It is essentially a straight shot from beginning to end, and as a consequence, the worlds feel smaller than they were in the first game. This, combined with the combat, makes the game an absolute push-over in the difficulty department. I could probably count the number of times I died playing this game on one hand.
Finally, I absolutely hated the POTC themed world. Not only is it based on a franchise I don't particularly care for, it's based on a live-action movie as well, which causes the visuals in the world to take a dramatic hit compared to the more animated areas in the rest of the game. It's just so uncomfortable to see Jack Sparrow realistically rendered alongside a cartoon Sora and Goofy. There was also a world that consisted entirely of rhythm-based minigames, and while I LOVE rhythm games, the reward for completing this world was pretty useless.
The Bottom Line
KHII ultimately is not as good as the first game. The first title had a freshness about it, a certain "magic", if you will, that this followup, try as it might cannot capture. With its poor level design, easy gameplay, and lackluster story, I'm honestly surprised as to how anyone could see that this sequel is better than the original game.
PlayStation 2 · by krisko6 (813) · 2011
In the Olympus Coliseum world, there is a Heartless, one of the game's main enemies, that goes into a T-stance (a pose characters are in during development). This glitch could possibly be due to bad placement, meaning that it could have moved a short amount from where it originally spawned.
The Rock Titan, from the Disney movie Hercules and an optional boss in the original Kingdom Hearts, is seen only once in the entire game (Olympus Coliseum's intro). It's not possible to see or fight him at any other time in the game by normal means. The Ice Titan, who was also in the first game and Hercules, makes no appearance at all.
Two Behemoth Heartless, the huge, purple, mammoth/bull-like creatures from the original Kingdom Hearts were going to be in the 1000 Heartless War, but were cut for unknown reasons.
In the Japanese release of the game, in the level Port Royal, the character Will Turner points his gun to his head and attempts to commit suicide. For obvious reasons, this was removed from all other versions of the game, although another cutscene, which depicts a sword pierced through someone's chest, was left intact. Other changes for the American and English versions of the game include differences in the battle with Xigbar, on the final level, where his "shooting scope" is brighter and more accurate to see.
- 2006 – Best Role-Playing Game of the Year
- 2006 – #3 Best Original Soundtrack of the Year
- 2006 – #7 PS2 Game of the Year
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Game added by monkeyislandgirl.
Game added April 7th, 2006. Last modified August 16th, 2023.