Kingdom Hearts 2
Kingdom Hearts 2 is an action role-playing video game for the PlayStation 2 developed and published by Square Enix in collaboration with The Walt Disney Company. It is the sequel to the 2002 game Kingdom Hearts. It was released in Japan on December 22, 2005 and in America on March 28, 2006.
There is also an updated version of the game known as Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix, which adds additional content which was released in Japan and wouldn't see a release in the West until it was included in Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix along with the Final Mix version of Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep for the PlayStation 3 on October 2, 2014 in Japan and December 2, 2014 in America.
The Final Mix version of the game was later re-released along with the Final Mix versions of Kingdom Hearts, and Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, and Kingdom Hearts: Re: Chain of Memories in the PlayStation 4 game Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix.
WARNING: SPOILERS. IT'S BETTER TO HEAD TO THE WHY IT ROCKS SECTION IF YOU HAVE NOT PLAYED THE GAME!
After the events of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, Roxas has been put in a simulated Twilight Town created by DiZ and Riku to protect him while Naminè manages to put the memories that Sora lost back in their place. However, during the week that Roxas passes in the simulated Twilight Town, he is tracked by Axel, who has been tasked by Organization XIII to bring Roxas back or dispose of him in case he should refuse. However, he is stopped by DiZ and Naminè, who tell Roxas to go to the old mansion outside Twilight Town, where Roxas ultimately defeats Axel, who leaves Organization XIII, and meets Sora, Donald, and Goofy, who have been in a deep sleep for one year under the mansion. Roxas merges with Sora, allowing him to wake up.
Shortly after waking up, Sora, Donald and Goofy meet King Mickey, who tells them to board a nearby train and leave Twilight Town. The train brings the three to the Mysterious Tower, where they meet Pete, a mysterious guy who is in control of the Heartless. The three drive him away, then meet up with Yen Sid, who tells them that while they have been sleeping a new threat has risen: Organization XIII and the Nobodies, empty vessels that don't have a heart and are born when someone with a strong will turns into a Heartless.
Before Sora leaves, Yen Sid gives him new clothes that allow him to merge with his friends to enhance his power and gives back the Gummi Ship to the group. However, due to their previous adventures, the pathways between the worlds have disappeared, while the worlds have created new pathways locked behind gates that can be opened with the aid of the Keyblade. Sora, Donald, and Goofy then leave, while the Mysterious Tower is attacked by Maleficent, who has survived after the events of Kingdom Hearts.
In the meantime, Sora, Donald and Goofy land at Hollow Bastion, where they reunite with Leon, Aerith, Yuffie, Cid, and Merlin, who have been working to restore the world to its former glory and for this have formed the Hollow Bastion Restoration Committee, whom Sora is accepted in as an honorary member. However, Hollow Bastion is attacked by Organization XIII, and their members mistake Sora for Roxas. Sora, unaware of the fact that Roxas is actually his Nobody, thinks that they've tried to deceive him, then leaves for other worlds.
Sora travels to other worlds, both old and new ones while reuniting with his old friends and meeting new ones. However, Sora, Donald and Goofy receive a message from Disney Castle which says that the castle has been attacked by the Heartless. With Merlin's help, the three discover that the Cornerstone of Light, a magical stone with the power of keeping the darkness away from the castle, has been stolen. To recover it, Merlin sends Sora and his friends through a portal to the Timeless River.
In the Timeless River, the three meet again Pete, who, however, don't remember who they are. In the meantime, the real Pete is sent by Maleficient to the river, where he spreads Heartless around and reveals to Sora that the Timeless River is actually Disney Castle before the castle was built, and thus Merlin's portal led him and his friends to the past. Pete also says that the guy they met before was Pete from the past. After defeating Pete and driving his Heartless from the River, Disney Castle returns to normal.
Shortly after, Sora returns to Twilight Town, where he discovers that his friend Kairi has been there, however she has been kidnapped by Axel and brought away. Back at Hollow Bastion, he discovers that while he was away, Cid managed to gain access to Ansem the Wise's computer. Sora and Donald manage to enter the computer's operating system by pressing random buttons, where they discover that a program called the MCP, short for Master Control Program, seized the computer and is looking for something known as the DTD, which is guarded by seven passwords. The group leave the computer and meet King Mickey, who helps them to uncover what the DTD really is and what are the passwords: the seven princesses of hearts' names. However, Hollow Bastion is attacked by both Heartless and Nobodies, and the four leave to battle them.
While fighting, they meet Xemnas, the leader of Organization XIII. Mickey then reveals that the Ansem that they defeated was just Xehanort' s Heartless, one of the real Ansem's apprentices, and Xemnas is his Nobody. Sora and the group then meet Saix, Organization XIII's second in command, who reveals the Organization's true goal: gather enough hearts to complete Kingdom Hearts, the heart of all worlds, so that they could return to their original selves; to do so, they have been secretly manipulating Sora in defeating as much Heartless as possible so that he could extract their hearts with the Keyblade. While trying to stop him, Sora is stranded in the Realm of Darkness, where he finds a box containing a picture of Roxas and his friends Hayner, Pence and Olette (whom Sora already met the other times he's been to Twilight Town) near the Old Mansion in Twilight Town, and a sea-salt ice cream. Sora leaves the Realm, then aids Cid and the others in erasing the MCP from Ansem's computer. Upon doing so, he finds an old photo of Hollow Bastion before being attacked by the Heartless. Upon seeing this photo, everyone remembers the world's true name: Radiant Garden.
Sora and his friends then leave for Twilight Town, where they meet Hayner, Pence, Olette and King Mickey, who have discovered the existence of the virtual Twilight Town. In the Old Mansion, they find Ansem's secret laboratory, but they can't gain access to his computer because the latter is protected by a password. Sora, however, has a lead: the ice cream that he has found in the Realm of Darkness and Ansem's favorite food. Upon entering the password, Sora and the others unlock the gateway to the virtual Twilight Town, where they find a portal that leads them to the Betwixt and Between, the inside of a Corridor of Darkness, the pathways that members of Organization XIII use to travel from a world to the other. There, Sora, Donald, Goofy and Mickey meet Axel, who, after helping them fending off an assault of Nobodies by concentrating most of his strength in one powerful attack, uses the last bit of his powers to open a Corridor of Darkness that leads the group to The World that Never Was, Organization XIII's stronghold, where they discover that Kingdom Hearts is almost complete thanks to Sora's actions.
Sora and his friends ascend the World that Never Was, while Riku helps Kairi (who was held captive in there) escape. The three meet at the Hall of Empty Melodies, where Sora discovers that Riku gained the aspect of Xehanort's Heartless due to him releasing the darkness inside his heart and reveals that Roxas is actually Sora's Nobody. The group ascends the World that Never Was while battling the remaining three members of Organization XIII. Near the top, they meet DiZ, who is actually the real Ansem the Wise and built a device that is supposed to absorb Kingdom Hearts and turn all the hearts into data. However, the device overloads, sending Ansem the Wise in the Realm of Darkness and restoring Riku to his original self and appearance.
While the hearts that composed Kingdom Hearts fall in a giant pit under the World that Never Was, turn into Heartless and assault the world, the group chase Xemnas to the top of the world, where they meet Maleficient and Pete, who offer themselves to fend off the closing Heartless invasion while the group face Xemnas. Kairi and Mickey are left behind, while Sora, Riku, Donald and Goofy battle Xemnas and defeat him. However, since the door that they've used to come is sealed, they can't leave. At that moment, Roxas and Naminè, who is actually Kairi's Nobody, appear and open a portal that leads them to the Destiny Islands. However, Sora and Riku remain there and they're attacked by Xemnas, who has turned into a giant beast in a last desperate attempt to defeat Sora and Riku. The two face him in the skies of the World that Never Was and defeat him, however, they find themselves in the Realm of Darkness.
In the post-credits scene, Sora receives a message by Kairi sent to him at the beginning of the game, which reveals to be the portal to the Realm of Light. Upon crossing it, Sora and Riku arrive at the Destiny Islands, where they reunite with Kairi, Donald, and Goofy, who say that they have received a letter from Mickey, setting up Kingdom Hearts Re: Coded.
Why It Rocks
- Sora gains the ability to use Drive forms, such as the Anti-Form, Valor Form, Wisdom Form, Limit Form (only in Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix), Master Form, and Final Form. Each form changes Sora's combat patterns and requires and removes either Donald or Goofy from the fight while active, or both (except for Limit Form, which can be activated at any time). These forms make Sora much more powerful, and when activated completely restores Sora's MP and HP. You can also upgrade the forms by repeatedly performing tasks to gain experience while the form is in effect, which increases the amount of time Sora can stay in the form and also allow you to use the ability of that form without requiring to activate it (although it's more powerful if you activate that ability's form)
- Reaction commands are also introduced and are a new way to defend against or counterattacks from enemies.
- Characters from classic Disney movies and franchises crossover with characters from the Final Fantasy franchise. A different selection of franchises is included, including debuting franchises such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Beauty and the Beast, and the old Disney cartoons.
- Soundtrack is still awesome, courtesy of Yoko Shimomura (who had also composed for games like Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Street Fighter 2, and the Mario and Luigi series, and has composed for every game in this series since). The music is also remixed in the PS3 and PS4 versions of the game for a less MIDI sounding soundtrack.
- Abilities enhance Sora, Donald Duck, Goofy, and other characters by giving them additional abilities. You can increase Sora's combo length, for example. Additional abilities can be obtained by upgrading Sora's Drive forms.
- Each Keyblade keychain now has an ability associated with it.
- Many Disney characters have their voice actors reprise their roles, such as Jonathon Freeman as Jafar.
- Fight against various Disney Villains, both new additions to the series and old ones too.
- Customize your own Gummi Ship to travel to other worlds.
- Great Gummi Ship battles which are improved from the first game which play like the flight levels from Star Fox 64.
- An optional super-boss is Sephiroth, the main villain of Final Fantasy 7 who returns from the first game and it has been made a little easier.
- The synthesis system from the first game returns and is changed slightly, and is still accessed by talking to Moogles, which are now found in most of the worlds and sell and buy items as well. The most powerful Keyblade, the Ultima Weapon is made by doing this as in the previous game.
- Sora is able to work alongside several Disney heroes like the Beast, Jack Sparrow, and more.
- A good story that follows up from Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories.
- The CGI opening cutscene is amazing for the time and it still looks nice today.
- The problem with the character that is not being in the party not gaining abilities on leveling up is fixed, meaning that you can now safely swap out Donald and Goofy of the party without requiring the use of the EXP Zero ability to prevent being locked out of abilities. In fact, throughout the game, the characters are swapped out and you're not allowed to swap them back in until a certain event occurs.
- HP and MP upgrades are not obtained by leveling up and now are only obtained by defeating bosses, which will give bonuses such as upgraded HP and MP, magic spells including upgrades to already obtained ones, abilities, and additional Drive power levels for Sora, instead of giving experience points.
- You can now change party members during gameplay instead of choosing while in a menu.
- Lots of great and unique boss fights.
- Mickey Mouse now revives Sora if he gets knocked out in some boss fights.
- Limit attacks are introduced. Party characters can help Sora out in battles giving him the ability to activate a Limit attack to damage the enemy. Limit attacks use all of Sora's MP (except if he uses one of his Limit Form Limit attacks, where he instead uses attacks), usually protect Sora and the other party member from all damage, and gives Sora or the other character a powerful attack which can be used repeatedly which then leads up to a final, very powerful attack that does massive damage but ends the Limit.
- Chicken Little's Limit, called FPS Mode, makes the game turn into a first-person shooter as you control him in battle.
- A nice touch is added to the HUD, the Commands menu changes appearance to match the theme you're currently in, for example, Christmas lights are added to the Christmas zones of the The Nightmare Before Christmas world. You can change this so that it looks like the one from the first Kingdom Hearts game if you like though.
- The Final Mix release adds many new features:
- A new difficulty setting called Critical Mode which gives a good challenge for very experienced players. Another ability called No Experience which is only available in Critical Mode disables the obtaining of experience, allowing for players to play through the game at level one for an additional challenge.
- The puzzle sidequest, where you need to obtain puzzle pieces that must then be used to complete a puzzle. When a puzzle is complete, a special powerful item is obtained.
- A new dungeon called "Cavern of Remembrance" where you can fight again against the members of Organization XIII, who have been made much stronger.
- Five "Absent Silhouettes", the antagonists from Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories that you can fight again.
- A boss battle against Terra, one of the protagonists from Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep.
- A second ending that you can unlock with a different method that depends on the difficulty of the game and tells you about Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep.
- Many technical issues from the 1st game have been fixed like the camera control is now mapped to the right analog stick. There is also an option to restore the old control system, which has been improved, too.
- Some areas that return from the first game are much bigger than their original counterparts.
- Unlike the first game, this game has post-game and post-game content.
- Improved magic system from the first game, with a Magic Points system more similar to Final Fantasy, with the difference that if your MP completely drain, you can enter a "Charge MP" phase, where your MP recharge and abilities like MP Haste now increase your MP recharge speed.
- Sora's moveset has been greatly enhanced from the first game. Instead of just being able to roll and gliding, he now can roll, glide, sprint, double-jump or perform a second jump when he's knocked in mid-air to recover momentum.
- The game is known to have a convoluted story and does not explain certain elements of the story, with the game expecting you to have played games such as Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep (by the way, that game was released four years after Kingdom Hearts 2) for the complete story to be revealed. At first, this caused confusion as Chain of Memories was not considered as a spin-off that was not part of the main story because it was not a numbered title in the series and the different gameplay styles in the game compared to the original.
- The prologue is drawn out and lasts about four hours if you don't skip any cutscenes.
- The personality of Final Fantasy characters don't properly match the personalities in their actual games, and some elements about them are not properly emulated in this game, such as a character saying that Sephiroth is actually a dark part of Cloud which is not the case. Seifer went from being Squall's rival to becoming nothing more than a schoolyard bully.
- Using Peter Pan's Limit attack will show screenshots of his encounter in the first Kingdom Hearts game over the screen obscuring part of the screen.
- A glitch can occur in the original PS2 version of the game where equipping a non existent item (listed as red in the menu) above items you have in the items menu for Sora, then switching to the abilities menu and exiting causes the item type to not be selectable in the Commands menu, which may screw you up in a fight where you need those items to succeed.
- The game crashes in all versions of Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix when Sora dies in the boss fight against the Experiment. Also, in the PS3 and PS4 versions of the game using Limit Form during the Memory's Skyscraper boss fight to destroy the blocks then using the Reaction Command crashes the game.
- Sounds and voice clips are bugged in Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix on PS3 and PS4 and don't play sometimes, such as in the boss fight with Jafar where he says "All shall pend to my will. The world is mine to control," he doesn't say the second sentence of the line.
- The PS3 version of the game has long annoying loading times, and the long load times affect the Drive Forms making it take longer to transition into a Drive Form which affects gameplay because the stagger effect caused by switching to a Drive Form does not last long enough to account for the long loading times, thus causing enemies to be able to attack freely when Sora finishes transforming instead of being set up for an attack combo for Sora to perform like it is supposed to be. To counter this you must now pause the game to let it finish loading while paused which was not intended by the original developers. The PS4 version is much better on the loading times which are actually faster than even the PS2 version of the game. Also, during the battle against Sephiroth in the PS3 version, his attack Meteor makes the game lag.
- The Tech points system from Kingdom Hearts is removed in this game.
- The stage of Atlantica was heavily criticized for diverting from the typical gameplay of the series in favor of a rhythmic game approach.
- Chicken Little being a summon was criticized by many critics and audiences as the self-titled movie was considered to be the worst Disney movie of all time.
- Demyx Despite being popular in the fanbase as a character is an annoying boss mostly because of the time limit in destroying the water clones, his data fight is even worse mostly because of the 99 water clone attack at the end.
- Port Royal was one of the least liked worlds in the game as it was criticized for things by critics and audiences.
- The graphics felt inconsistent with Sora Donald and Goofy having the exact same rendering when they don't change their appearances to protect the world order, which clashed with the aesthetics of the world, and it made Sora Donald and Goofy feel out of place.
- Everyone's voice acting was spot on and well performed, but James Arnold Taylor's performance as Jack Sparrow was very bland, and it barely sounded like a replication of Johnny Depp's performance.
- Like most of the other worlds, the world's plot was just a watered-down retelling of Curse of the Black Pearl.
- Young Simba's faces in the flashback when you enter the Pride Lands, are very weird, as he looks like he is always smiling, even when he sees the stampede, he looks like he's trying to frown, but can't.
- The opening song, Sanctuary, if played in reverse, spells out an entirely different song.
- The game was censored in many parts outside of Japan. For example, during the Xigbar boss battle, there was a scene where he merged together his two guns in one bigger gun, wherein the European and North American versions he just reloads them. This scene was restored in the PS3 and PS4 versions of Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix.
Kingdom Hearts II has received numerous awards and high ratings. It tied with Resident Evil 4 for the best game of 2005. In the highly regarded Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu, it received an almost perfect rating: 39/40. The game also received a 9.5/10 in the North American Game Informer magazine. G4 awarded it Best Soundtrack and Best Voice Work. The gameplay aspect of the game was criticized, as many did not like the AI system or the fact that the game was so much easier than its predecessor; but still, many commented that the game was fun. As of yet, it remains the highest-selling game in the franchise.
- When Stitch is summoned into the battle, he very gradually restores Sora's HP, which will bring him from 1 HP and reactivates his Second Chance and Once More abilities so he can be protected from dying at 1 HP. Another, the more obvious benefit is that he randomly restores Sora's MP over time.
- There is a challenge that requires to obtain a high score at Olympus Coliseum. The best option is to summon Stitch, who will cause extra point spheres to appear, increasing your score.
- Use the Peter Pan summon to gradually restore Sora's HP over time and allow him to revive after losing all his HP once.
- It's wise to use the Drive Forms in critical situations as a last resort:
- During the 1000 Heartless battle. Turn on the Limit Form and use its attack Ars Arcanum to take out the Heartless faster. Keep in mind that it consumes twice as much MP compared to other Limit Form attacks.
- During Demyx's Data battle (Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix only). Activate Wisdom Form and use Firaga to instantly Kill his water clones.
- The Final Form only appears randomly in the World that Never Was. To increase the chance equip the Keyblade Accrossing Two, then turn into Anti-Form thrice. The next time that you activate a Drive Form, you will turn into the Final Form instead.
- You need to have the Drive Forms at the max level to complete the Cavern of Remembrance since some obstacles can be cleared with the Drive Forms' abilities (e.g: High Jump, Air Slide and Glide) at the maximum level.
- When playing at the higher difficulties, it's better to choose your Keyblade for its ability rather than for its stats. In fact, the first weapon, is already a good choice, since it halves damage when your health is low.