Kingdom Hearts II (Japanese: キングダムハーツII Hepburn: Kingudamu Hātsu Tsū) is a 2005 action role-playing game developed and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation 2 video game console. The game is a sequel to Kingdom Hearts, and like the original game, combines characters and settings from Disney films with those of Square Enix's Final Fantasy series. The game's popularity has resulted in a novel and manga series based upon it and a Japan-exclusive re-released version of the game featuring extra content, 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 while battling the sinister Organization XIII, a group of antagonists previously introduced in Chain of Memories. Like the previous games, Kingdom Hearts II features a large cast of characters from Disney films and Final Fantasy games.
The game was critically acclaimed and earned 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. By April 2007, the game had shipped over four million copies worldwide. The game has been included by gaming publications in lists of the greatest video games of all time.
|Kingdom Hearts II|
Packaging artwork for Kingdom Hearts II, featuring the game's protagonists[a]
|Developer(s)||Square Enix Product Development Division 1|
The gameplay of Kingdom Hearts II is similar to the action RPG and hack and slash gameplay of the first Kingdom Hearts game, though developers made an effort to address some of the complaints with the previous game. The player directly controls Sora from a third-person camera angle, though first-person perspective is available via Select button. 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 via cutscenes, though there are numerous side-quests available that provide bonuses to 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 culminate experience to "level up", in which the playable characters grow stronger and gain access to new abilities.
Combat in Kingdom Hearts II is in real-time and involves heavy hack and slash elements with button presses which initiate attacks by the on-screen character. A role-playing game menu on the screen's bottom left, similar to those found in Final Fantasy games, provides other combat options such as using magic or items, 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 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. The player may also gain new Gummi Ships from completing routes, which is also a new feature from the first game.
One of the new features is a meter known as the "Drive Gauge". The Drive Gauge has dual functions: to transform Sora 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; all but two 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.
Kingdom Hearts II begins one year after the events of Kingdom Hearts and Chain of Memories. The game's setting is a collection of various levels (referred to in-game as "worlds") that the player progresses through. As in the first game, the player can travel to various Disney-based locales, along with original worlds specifically created for the series. While Disney-based worlds were primarily derived from the Disney animated features canon in the first game, 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 (based on Mulan), Beast's Castle (Beauty and the Beast), Timeless River (Steamboat Willie), Port Royal (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl), Pride Lands (The Lion King), and Space Paranoids (Tron). 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 protagonists of the game are Sora, a 15-year-old boy chosen as a wielder of the Keyblade, a mystical key-shaped weapon that can combat darkness; Donald Duck, the court magician of Disney Castle; and Goofy, the captain of the Disney Castle guards. Both Donald and Goofy are under orders from their missing king, Mickey Mouse, to find and stay with the "key", which refers to Sora and his Keyblade. Other original characters include Riku and Kairi, Sora's friends from his home world of Destiny Islands; Roxas, a boy who can also wield the Keyblade and is playable in the game's beginning sequence; and DiZ, a man in red robes with a vendetta against Organization XIII, who is later revealed to be Ansem the Wise, the mentor of Xehanort.
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 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 powerful Nobodies—the "empty shells" left over when a strong-hearted person becomes a Heartless—introduced in Chain of Memories, is established as the primary group of antagonists early on. Xemnas, the leader of Organization XIII, serves as the main antagonist and final boss of the game. Villains unique to the worlds are still prevalent, and are often presented as challenges that Sora's group must overcome.
Sora, Donald, and Goofy have been in suspended animation for the past year as Naminé works to undo the damage she caused to Sora's memories and those he interacted with. However, Naminé's guardian DiZ believes the existence of Sora's Nobody Roxas is prolonging the process, having Riku capture Roxas and place him within a virtual simulation of Twilight Town to be gradually absorbed back into Sora. DiZ's plan succeeds despite the interference from Organization XIII's Axel who attempted to reclaim his friend after he left their group. As Riku entrust Naminé's safety to a now freelance Axel upon learning DiZ's intent to dispose of her once the deed is done, Roxas regains some of his memories prior to the virtual Twilight Town before merging back into Sora. Sora, Donald, and Goofy awaken in the real Twilight Town and meet King Mickey and Yen Sid, who send them on another journey to uncover the Organization's plans while finding Riku. Afterward, Maleficent is resurrected and is joined by her right hand Pete to rebuild her forces.
Sora travels to familiar and unfamiliar worlds, where he resolves several problems caused by Organization XIII, the Heartless, and various local villains. During a visit to Hollow Bastion, they reunite with Mickey, who explains that the Heartless "Ansem" they defeated is an imposter named Xehanort, whose Nobody Xemnas is the Organization's leader. Organization XIII's plan is also revealed: they seek the power of Kingdom Hearts, creating one from the hearts Sora has released from the artificial Emblem Heartless with his Keyblade, to regain their lost hearts. To make matters worse, Axel unknowingly helped his former allies in the Organization by providing Kairi as a hostage to force Sora into complying with their demands. Sora 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 hooded figure whom Sora believes to be Riku.
Following a lead, Sora, Donald, and Goofy enter a passageway through Twilight Town where Axel sacrifices himself to give them safe passage to the World That Never Was, Organization XIII's base of operations as Kairi was freed by Naminé who is revealed to be her Nobody before merging into the girl's body. Sora defeats Xemnas' right hand Xigbar before being reunited with Kairi and Riku, the latter of whose appearance has been changed to that of Xehanort's Heartless as the result of capturing Roxas. Mickey encounters DiZ, who reveals himself to be the true Ansem, Xehanort's mentor. 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. While getting surprising help from Maleficent and Pete, the company race to the top of the Castle That Never Was, where Sora and company battle Xemnas as he used what remained of the artificial Kingdom Hearts to fight them. After Sora and Riku destroy Xemnas, the two are reunited with their friends at their home, Destiny Islands. A post-credits scene shows Sora, Kairi, and Riku receiving and reading a letter from Mickey, the contents of which are 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. The game was originally supposed to have been released after Kingdom Hearts. Nomura had planned for the sequel to take place a year after the first and originally intended for the events of that year to be left unexplained. To bridge the gap between the two games, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories was developed. 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.
Like the first game, Kingdom Hearts II features music by Yoko Shimomura and Hikaru Utada. The Original Soundtrack for Kingdom Hearts II was composed by Shimomura and released on January 25, 2006. The opening orchestration and ending credits theme were arranged and orchestrated by Kaoru Wada and performed by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. The main vocal theme for the original Japanese release was "Passion", written and performed by Utada. The English version of "Passion", "Sanctuary", was used in the Western releases. Utada's involvement was announced on July 29, 2005. According to Nomura, the vocal theme ties in even more closely with the game's story than "Hikari" ("Simple and Clean") did with Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. The CD single for "Passion" was released on December 14, 2005 and "Sanctuary" was first previewed on MTV's official website in early 2006.
Kingdom Hearts II features well-known voice actors for both the Japanese and English versions. Many of the original voice actors from the first Kingdom Hearts reprised their roles; Miyu Irino and Haley Joel Osment as Sora, Mamoru Miyano and David Gallagher as Riku, and Risa Uchida and Hayden Panettiere as Kairi. New voice actors included Kōki Uchiyama and Jesse McCartney as Roxas, Iku Nakahara and Brittany Snow as Naminé, and Genzō Wakayama and Christopher Lee as DiZ. A special effort was made to preserve the official voice actors from the Disney movies used in Kingdom Hearts II. Many actors reprised their Disney roles for the game, including Ming-Na as Mulan, James Woods as Hades, Bruce Boxleitner as Tron, and Zach Braff as Chicken Little. Some voice actors from the related television series or direct-to-video sequels were chosen over original voice actors where applicable, such as Robert Costanzo as Philoctetes rather than Danny DeVito or Cam Clarke as Simba instead of Matthew Broderick. Some characters were given new voice actors in the English version; Ansem, Aerith, Leon, Sephiroth and Hercules, who were originally voiced by Billy Zane, Mandy Moore, David Boreanaz, Lance Bass, and Sean Astin respectively in the first game, were voiced by Richard Epcar, Mena Suvari, Doug Erholtz, George Newbern, and Tate Donovan (Hercules' original voice actor), and newcomer Tifa was voiced by Rachael Leigh Cook.
Besides English translation and localization, the international version of Kingdom Hearts II differs from the original Japanese version in the content of gameplay and several scenes. The Hydra boss in the Hercules-themed world Olympus Coliseum had its green blood from the original Japanese version (which was taken from the film) changed into black and purple smoke in the English version. In one cutscene, Hercules fights the Hydra and uses his sword on its head, which eventually releases green blood from its mouth in the Japanese version; this was later changed into drool in the English version. There is also a scene in Disney Castle where, after chasing Donald around for missing a date, Daisy Duck pounds him on the backside in the Japanese version, whereas she merely tells him off inaudibly in the English version.
Xigbar's telescopic sight was changed from a crosshair and black shading around the sides to three glowing circles. An attack animation was also altered; in the Japanese version, Xigbar combines his two hand-held guns to create a sniper rifle, which is used to shoot the player's party during the telescoping sight sequence. In the English version, Xigbar does not combine his guns, but twirls them around and shoots at Sora with a single gun. The death of Organization XIII member Axel was slightly edited; in the original, he bursts into flames during his suicide attack, while in the English version he simply fades away after using up all of his power.
Port Royal, based on Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, contains the most content edits. Cutscenes were edited to remove some of the violence, such as William Turner threatening to commit suicide while aiming a gun at his neck, as in the film. Unlike the Japanese version, the undead pirates do not catch fire when affected by Fire magic, and their muskets were modified to resemble crossbows, though the crossbows still fire with an audible musket shot sound effect.
An unlockable trailer in Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts Final Mix hinted at the possibility of a sequel. Rumors for a sequel on the PlayStation 2 were spurred in Japan when the video game website Quiter stated that "an internal (and anonymous source) at Square Japan" confirmed that development of Kingdom Hearts II had begun. It was not until Kingdom Hearts II was announced, along with Chain of Memories, at the Tokyo Game Show in September 2003 that rumors were confirmed. Initial details were that it would take place some time after Chain of Memories, which takes place directly after the first game. Other details included the return of Sora, Donald, and Goofy, as well as new costumes. Information about Mickey Mouse's involvement was kept to a minimum.
At the 2004 Square Enix E3 Press conference, producer Shinji Hashimoto said that many mysteries of the first game would be answered. Square Enix launched the official Japanese website in May 2005, followed by the English website in December 2005. The websites featured videos and information regarding characters and worlds. Commercials were aired in Japan which highlighted the numerous Disney characters in the game. Although the game was announced in September 2003, a release date for the game was not set until two years later. Nomura admitted that the game was announced too early and information regarding the game was not released until a debut period was in sight.
Within a week of its Japanese release, Kingdom Hearts II shipped one million copies, selling almost 730,000 copies. The NPD Group reported that Kingdom Hearts II was the highest-selling console game in North America during March 2006 with 614,000 copies. In the month after its release in North America, Kingdom Hearts II sold an estimated one million copies. GameStop listed the game as their best-selling title for the first quarter of 2006. The game was also on IGN's "Top 10 Sellers in 2006". By December 2006, over 3.5 million copies of Kingdom Hearts II had been shipped worldwide with 700,000 in PAL regions, 1.1 million in Japan, and 1.7 million in North America. By March 31, 2007, Square Enix had shipped over 4 million units worldwide.
Kingdom Hearts II received critical acclaim upon release, garnering positive reviews. The game received numerous awards and high ratings among reviews including a Satellite Award in 2006 for "Outstanding Game Based on Existing Medium". It tied with Resident Evil 4 as Famitsu's "Game of the Year" 2005. Famitsu's readers ranked the game 29th on their "All Time Top 100" feature, ten places below Kingdom Hearts. It was ranked number one on IGN's 2006 "Reader's Choice" for PlayStation 2 games. Eurogamer ranked it 34th on their "Top 50 Games of 2006" list. Video game magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly awarded it "Best Sequel" of 2006, and Game Informer listed it among the "Top 50 games of 2006". VideoGamer.com featured it 10th in their article "Top 10: Role playing games". GamePro named it the 25th best RPG title of all time. Kingdom Hearts II also received a near-perfect score, 39/40, from the Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu.
Critics commended many aspects of the game. GameSpy praised the quality of the voice acting and cited the graphics as "on par with the best of Square's productions to date." They also commented on the realistic and accurate character models for the characters from Pirates of the Caribbean. IGN rated the graphics a 9/10 and stated that the "worlds look very much like their filmed counterparts." Japanese gaming site Gpara.com also praised the look of the worlds. G4 awarded Kingdom Hearts II "Best Voice Over" and "Best Soundtrack" in their 2006 G-Phoria awards show.
Like its predecessors, the gameplay received mixed reviews. Many compliments were directed at the new camera controls and combat interactions between party members. GamePro stated that the beginning was "sluggishly slow", but praised the action-oriented combat. GameSpot said that the fixed camera system and new gameplay dynamics improved the experience, but they felt the game was far too easy and that there was too much button-mashing. IGN also commented on the button-mashing aspect of the gameplay and criticized the party member's artificial intelligence, citing it as "absolutely terrible", but praised the story, presentation, and new battle features. Gpara.com had positive comments about the ease of combo attacks and complimented the steady pacing of the story and gameplay.
Kingdom Hearts II has been released in four different versions. The first three are the normal regional releases in Japan, North America, and PAL regions, which only differ nominally in content editing and localization. The European and Australian PAL releases were reformatted to run at 50 Hz to fit the definition size of PAL encoding systems. The fourth version has additional content and was released under the title Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix. Like the previous titles, both Square and Disney released numerous types of merchandise before and after the game came out. Merchandise ranged from toys and figurines to clothing items and books. The game has also been adapted into both manga and novel series. Prior to the game's release, an Ultimania book titled Kingdom Hearts Series Ultimania α ~Introduction of Kingdom Hearts II~ came out. It provides extended information on the first two Kingdom Hearts games, as well as information on the unreleased Kingdom Hearts II. After the release of the game, Kingdom Hearts II Ultimania, which focuses on the game itself, came out. Another book, titled Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+ Ultimania, was released after the Final Mix version came out. Released along with Final Mix, Kingdom Hearts -Another Report- was a hardback book which includes game information, visuals by Shiro Amano, and a director interview. In North America, BradyGames published two strategy guides—a standard guide and a limited edition version. The latter version was available in four different covers and included a copy of Jiminy's Journal along with 400 stickers.
Because the first game was re-released, there was speculation whether Tetsuya Nomura would do the same with Kingdom Hearts II. In a Weekly Shōnen Jump interview with Nomura, he expressed interest in a possible international version of Kingdom Hearts II, although there were no definite plans. He said that should a "Final Mix" version arise, he had a "trump card" in mind, with such features as the Mushroom Heartless found in the first Kingdom Hearts game. In September 2006, Square Enix announced Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, featuring new scenes and gameplay elements. Like the first re-release, this version would combine English audio with Japanese text and also use the "Sanctuary" theme song instead of "Passion". New cutscenes, however, used Japanese voice acting, as they mostly featured Organization XIII members from Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories who did not yet have English voice actors; these scenes were later re-dubbed into English for the HD 2.5 Remix release.
Kingdom Hearts II was re-released in Japan on March 29, 2007 as a 2-disc set titled Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+. The first disc contains Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix with a new secret movie and additional battles and items. The second disc contains Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories, a 3D PlayStation 2 remake of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories with extra scenes and voice acting. The battle system maintains the card gameplay, with the addition of Reaction Commands from Kingdom Hearts II. Like the first game's Final Mix, the two games serve as a canonical update to the series. The book Kingdom Hearts -Another Report- was included along with the game for those who reserved a copy. Based on Amazon.com figures, Final Mix+ was the number one PlayStation 2 game in sales during the week of its release in Japan. Nomura cited the presence of Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories to explain why Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+ was so popular. Nevertheless, in a Famitsu poll in July 2011, Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix was voted the most popular entry so far.
A manga series based on the game started its serialization in the June 2006 issue of the magazine Monthly Shōnen Gangan, published by Square Enix. The artist is Shiro Amano, who also did the Kingdom Hearts and Chain of Memories manga series. The first volume was released in Japan in December 2006. As a result of Amano working in the Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days manga, the series has been on hiatus and resumed publication in October 2012. Tokyopop licensed the manga and released volume one in North America on July 3, 2007. The second volume was released the following year.
The game has also been novelized by Tomoco Kanemaki and illustrated by Shiro Amano. The first volume, titled "Roxas—Seven Days", was released on April 22, 2006 and covers Roxas' story to when Sora wakes up and leaves Twilight Town. The novel depicts extra scenes that were added in the Final Mix version, such as interaction between Organization XIII members and between Axel, Naminé and Riku. The second book, "The Destruction of Hollow Bastion", was released on July 16, 2006, the third book, "Tears of Nobody," revolving around Roxas' past, was released on September 29, 2006, and the fourth book, "Anthem—Meet Again/Axel Last Stand," came out in February 2007.
In the credits of HD 1.5 Remix, clips of Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix were shown, hinting at its inclusion in another collection. On October 14, 2013, Square Enix announced Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix, a second compilation exclusively for the PlayStation 3 after HD 1.5 Remix, that includes both Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix and Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix in HD and trophy support. Additionally, the collection includes HD cinematic scenes from Kingdom Hearts Re:coded and was released in Japan on October 2, 2014, North America on December 2, 2014, Australia on December 4, 2014, and Europe on December 5, 2014.
King Mickey's Note: Donald. Sorry to rush off without sayin' goodbye, but there's big trouble brewin'. Not sure why, but the stars have been blinkin' out, one by one. And that means disaster can't be far behind. I hate to leave you all but I’ve gotta go check into it. There's someone with a "key"—the key to our survival. So I need you and Goofy to find him, and stick with him. Got it? We need that key or we're doomed! So go to Traverse Town and find Leon. He'll point you in the right direction. P.S. Would ya apologize to Minnie for me? Thanks, pal.
DiZ: At last... The Keyblade's chosen one. / Roxas: Who're you talking to? Me, or Sora? / DiZ: To half of Sora, of course. You reside in darkness. What I need is someone who can move about the realm of light and destroy Organization XIII.
Roxas: Sora. You're lucky. Looks like my summer vacation is...over.
King Mickey: Welp, the man in the photo is definitely the one who tried to take over Kingdom Hearts—the one you fellas defeated. But, what you actually fought was his Heartless. You see, he wasn't really Ansem; he was just goin' around tellin' everybody that he was. / Sora: You mean... / Sora, Donald & Goofy: ...Whaaaaaat!? / Sora: You mean we went through all that trouble just to defeat an imposter!? / King Mickey: Yep, a fake. But he still had to be stopped. [...] / Goofy: I'm kinda confused. If he's a fake, then what happened to the real Ansem? / King Mickey: Welp, that's just what I've been trying to figure out.
Saïx: Pitiful Heartless, mindlessly collecting hearts. And yet, they know not the true power of what they hold. The rage of the Keyblade releases those hearts. They gather in darkness, masterless and free, until they weave together to make...Kingdom Hearts. And when that time comes, we can truly, finally exist.
Ansem the Wise: It's been too long, my friend. / King Mickey: Ansem the Wise. Why didn't you come to me before things got so bad?
Aqua (Japanese: アクア, Hepburn: Akua) is a fictional character from Square Enix's video game franchise Kingdom Hearts. First making cameo appearances in Kingdom Hearts II and its updated version Final Mix, Aqua is one of the three playable protagonists who is introduced in the 2010 prequel Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep. She is one of the Keyblade apprentices training under Master Eraqus alongside her friends Terra and Ventus. As the only one among her friends to obtain the rank of Keyblade Master, Aqua is assigned to monitor Terra and Ventus as she combats dark creatures known as the Unversed. She has also appeared in other Kingdom Hearts titles, most notably Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue in the playable episode Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage.
Aqua is the only protagonist in Birth by Sleep whom Tetsuya Nomura did not have a point of reference to design from, and thus was designed from scratch. Later in the design process, Nomura became concerned that Aqua would not be popular, which drove his decision to make her more distinct in her personal bravery and combat abilities. Aqua is voiced by Megumi Toyoguchi in Japanese and Willa Holland in English. The character received mixed reviews from game critics upon her debut, citing boring plot lines and unenthusiastic voice acting combined with weak combat skills. However, her role in Kingdom Hearts 0.2 has been more positively received, with critics favoring her stronger characterization over previous depictions.BD Wong
Bradley Darryl Wong (born October 24, 1960) is an American actor. Wong won a Tony Award for his performance as Song Liling in M. Butterfly, becoming the only actor in Broadway history to receive the Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Clarence Derwent Award, and Theatre World Award for the same role.
He has since gained more notability for playing the roles Dr. George Huang on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Father Ray Mukada on Oz, Dr. John Lee on Awake, Dr. Henry Wu in the Jurassic Park franchise, and Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme in the film Seven Years in Tibet.
As of August 13, 2017, Wong is the host of the new HLN medical documentary series Something's Killing Me with BD Wong. As of the Season 3 premiere of USA Network's program Mr. Robot, Wong has been upgraded to a series regular. He was nominated for a Critic's Choice Television Award for his role as Whiterose in Mr. Robot, also earning an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series.
Wong has also done extensive voiceover work and stage acting. The most well known of his voice acting roles is that of Captain Li Shang from the Disney animated film Mulan. He would later reprise this role twice, most notably for the video game Kingdom Hearts II. Beginning in 2016, Wong appeared in the TV series Gotham as Hugo Strange.Characters of Kingdom Hearts
Kingdom Hearts is a series of action role-playing games developed and published by Square Enix (formerly Square). It is the result of a collaboration between Square Enix and Disney Interactive Studios. Kingdom Hearts is a crossover of various Disney settings based in a universe made specifically for the series. The series features a mixture of familiar Disney, Final Fantasy, The World Ends with You and Pixar characters, as well as several new characters designed by Tetsuya Nomura. In addition, it has an all-star voice cast which includes many of the Disney characters' official voice actors.
The series centers on Sora's search for his friends and his encounters with various Disney and Final Fantasy characters along the way. Players primarily control Sora, though there are numerous characters that join Sora's party as computer controlled members. The majority of the characters were introduced in the original game Kingdom Hearts. Subsequent installments have featured several new original, Disney, and Final Fantasy characters, Dream Drop Distance introduces characters from Square Enix's The World Ends with You, while Kingdom Hearts III introduces characters from Pixar's Toy Story series and Monsters, Inc..Various types of merchandise modeled after the characters' likeness have been produced, including figurines and jewelry. The characters have garnered praise from several video game websites and magazines for the quality of their voice acting and visual style. Comments have focused on the accurate presentation of Disney characters, the unique visual style of Square Enix characters, how well all the characters blend together, and the consistent quality performances from voice actors.Kingdom Hearts
Kingdom Hearts (Japanese: キングダム ハーツ, Hepburn: Kingudamu Hātsu) is a series of action role-playing games developed and published by Square Enix (originally by Square). It is a collaboration between Disney Interactive and Square Enix, and is under the direction of Tetsuya Nomura, a longtime Square Enix character designer.
Kingdom Hearts is a crossover of various Disney properties based in a fictional universe. The series centers on the main character, Sora, and his journey and experiences with various Disney, Final Fantasy, The World Ends with You and Pixar characters. The heroes of the series clash against the multiple incarnations of the primary antagonist, Xehanort, throughout the series. The Walt Disney Company owns almost all characters and worlds of the Kingdom Hearts franchise.
The series consists of thirteen games available for multiple platforms, and future titles are planned. Most of the games in the series have been positively received and commercially successful. As of February 2019, the Kingdom Hearts series has shipped more than 30 million copies worldwide. A wide variety of related merchandise has been released along with the games, including soundtracks, figurines, companion books, light novels, cards, and comic series.Kingdom Hearts (video game)
Kingdom Hearts (Japanese: キングダムハーツ, Hepburn: Kingudamu Hātsu) is a 2002 action role-playing video game developed and published by Square for the PlayStation 2 video game console. It is the first game in the Kingdom Hearts series, and is the result of a collaboration between Square and The Walt Disney Company. The game combines characters and settings from Disney animated features with those from Square's Final Fantasy series. It follows the adventures of Sora, a cheerful teenager who fights against the forces of darkness alongside Donald Duck, Goofy and other classic Disney characters.
The game was a departure from Square's standard role-playing games, introducing a substantial action and hack and slash element to the gameplay. Kingdom Hearts has an all-star voice cast and includes many of the Disney characters' official voice actors. It was longtime Square character designer Tetsuya Nomura's first time in a directorial position.Kingdom Hearts was praised for its unusual combination of action and role-playing, as well as its unexpectedly harmonious mix of Square and Disney elements. It was a large presence in the 2002 holiday season, receiving numerous year-end game awards, and went on to achieve Sony "Greatest Hits" status. The game prompted numerous sequels, and the Kingdom Hearts series has gone on to ship over 30 million copies worldwide. Kingdom Hearts is the tenth best-selling PlayStation 2 game of all time as well as the most commercially successful entry in the series to date and is considered by some gaming publications to be one of the greatest video games of all time. The game's success resulted in a Japan-exclusive re-release of the game featuring extra content, Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, released in December 2002.
The Final Mix version of the game was re-mastered in high definition and released globally in 2013 as a part of the Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix collection for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep
Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep (Japanese: キングダム ハーツ バース バイ スリープ, Hepburn: Kingudamu Hātsu Bāsu bai Surīpu) is an action role-playing video game developed and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation Portable, serving as the sixth installment in the Kingdom Hearts series. The game was released on UMD in Japan on January 9, 2010, in North America on September 7, 2010 and in the PAL regions on September 10, 2010. An international version of the game titled Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix was released in Japan in January 2011 featuring the changes made in the non-Japanese versions.
The game utilizes an overhauled battle system different from previous games in the series with new elements. It is a prequel to the original Kingdom Hearts, taking place ten years before. The game centers on the journeys of Terra, Aqua and Ventus, characters briefly featured in Kingdom Hearts II in their quest to locate the missing Master Xehanort, and protect the worlds from creatures known as the Unversed. The player has access to the three characters' different scenarios when playing.
Development of the game began in June 2005 with parts of the game Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix meant to bring clues of Birth by Sleep. The game was directed by Tetsuya Nomura and co-directed by Tai Yasue. Nomura has referred to the game as "Episode 0" (and later "Episode 0.1" following the release of Kingdom Hearts χ) saying that the game is on the same scale and plays as big an importance as Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II. The game has been well-received, selling 1.27 million copies worldwide as of November 2010, and receiving positive comments by video game publications. Critics praised the gameplay, graphics, music, and storyline of the game, with criticism reserved for the level design and the characters. A high definition version of the Final Mix edition was released for the PlayStation 3 in 2014 and PlayStation 4 in 2017 as a part of the Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix collection.Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix is an HD remastered collection of three games in Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts series: Kingdom Hearts II, Birth by Sleep, and Re:coded. A successor to the series' HD 1.5 Remix collection, it was released as a PlayStation 3 exclusive in Japan on October 2014 and internationally two months later.
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix includes Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix and Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix in high definition and with trophy support. Additionally, the collection features a cinematic remake of Kingdom Hearts Re:coded that features remastered cutscenes from the original game as well as new content. A third collection, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, was released in 2017. 2.5 Remix was re-released along with 1.5 Remix on the PlayStation 4 in March 2017.Kingdom Hearts III
Kingdom Hearts III is an action role-playing game developed and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It is the twelfth installment in the Kingdom Hearts series, a sequel to Kingdom Hearts II, and the final chapter in the Dark Seeker saga. Set after the events of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, returning protagonist Sora is joined by Donald Duck, Goofy, King Mickey and Riku in their search for the seven Guardians of Light and the "Key to Return Hearts" as they attempt to thwart the restored Xehanort's plan to bring about a second Keyblade War. Their journey has them cross paths with characters and visit worlds based on different Disney and Pixar intellectual properties.
Concepts for the game began as early as 2006 after the release of Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix in Japan, with the game not being announced until 2013, following years of rumors and speculation. Kingdom Hearts III sees many returning gameplay features from the series, while expanding parties to five characters total, introducing new "Attraction Flow" attacks that incorporate various Disney Parks attractions, and minigames inspired by classic Walt Disney Productions Mickey Mouse cartoons in the style of 1980s LCD games. The game was built using Unreal Engine 4.
Kingdom Hearts III was released worldwide in January 2019. Upon release, the game was met with positive reviews from critics. The game sold over 5 million copies worldwide one week after release.List of Kingdom Hearts media
Kingdom Hearts is a series of action role-playing games developed and published by Square Enix (formerly Square). It is the result of a collaboration between Square Enix and Disney Interactive Studios, combining characters and elements from Square Enix's Final Fantasy series and multiple Disney franchises. Currently the series includes seven video games released on various platforms, a manga series, a novel series, video game soundtracks released on audio CDs, and a collectible card game.
The video games provide the canonical story of the series. The manga series is adapted by Shiro Amano and the novels are written by Tomoco Kanemaki and illustrated by Shiro Amano. The stories follow the events that take place in the video games with differences to account for the loss of interactivity that a video game provides. The manga and novel series are both divided up into three series based on each of the three main video games. Each series is further broken up into multiple volumes. The manga was originally serialized in Japan by Square's Monthly Shonen Gangan, but has since been released worldwide. The manga was released in the United States by Tokyopop near the end of 2005, but was discontinued in 2008.Music of Kingdom Hearts
The music of the Kingdom Hearts video game series was composed by Yoko Shimomura with orchestral music arranged by Kaoru Wada. The original soundtracks of the games have been released on three albums and a fourth compilation album. The soundtracks to the Kingdom Hearts games feature several musical pieces from both Disney films and Final Fantasy games, including such pieces as "Mickey Mouse Club March" by Jimmie Dodd, "This Is Halloween" by Danny Elfman, and "One-Winged Angel" by Nobuo Uematsu. They also feature several vocal songs, the most notable being the two main theme songs, "Hikari" and "Passion". The two themes were written and performed by Japanese American pop star Hikaru Utada; in addition to Japanese, English versions of both songs were produced, titled "Simple and Clean" and "Sanctuary", respectively.
Although the majority of the music has been released only in Japan, the first soundtrack was released worldwide and tracks from the Kingdom Hearts series have been featured in Video Games Live at multiple venues. The music has overall been well received and several tracks have received particular praise. The two main themes were well received by both video game and music critics, and did well on Japan's Oricon Weekly Singles chart.Organization XIII
Organization XIII (Japanese: XIII機関, Hepburn: Jūsan Kikan) is a fictional group of characters featured in Square Enix and Disney Interactive Studios' Kingdom Hearts video game series. The group comprises thirteen beings without hearts called "Nobodies", formed when a person's body fades from existence upon losing their heart and transforming into a "Heartless".
The concept of the Organization was originally introduced in Kingdom Hearts Final Mix within a bonus ending titled "Another Side, Another Story [deep dive]", where their Japanese name was translated as the "Thirteenth Order". The group was later introduced as the "Organization" in the game Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, where they serve as the main antagonists, and returns in the same role in Kingdom Hearts II. Organization XIII is prominently featured in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days as characters available for play, along with a new female member named Xion. Several members, prior to becoming Nobodies, appear in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, return following their restoration in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, and have returned in Kingdom Hearts III.
The group was moderately well received by reviewers. Comments focused on their difficulty as adversaries and mysterious nature, which fueled expectations of future titles. Roxas specifically received press comments, focusing on his introduction in Kingdom Hearts II.Passion (Utada Hikaru song)
"Passion" is a song recorded by Japanese singer Utada Hikaru, taken as the fourth single from her studio album Ultra Blue (2006). It premiered on December 14, 2005, in two physical formats and for digital consumption, distributed by EMI Japan and EastWorld. "Passion", alongside its English counterpart "Sanctuary", were used as the national and international theme songs to the Square Enix video game Kingdom Hearts II (2005); both tracks serve as the successor to "Hikari", which is found on Kingdom Hearts.
The creator of the Kingdom Hearts franchise, Tetsuya Nomura, sought to collaborate with Utada as she previously wrote "Hikari", alongside his prospects for her to break into foreign and international markets. The conception of the two tracks were to emphasize a "dusk"-like vibe to the game, in comparison to "Hikari" which she described as the "dawn". Musically, "Passion" has been described by music commentators as a multi-genre tune, noting elements of alternative rock, ambient and ethereal music. The song's lyrics delve into themes of nostalgia, and discuses the circumstances of past, present and future.
Upon its release, both songs received critical acclaim from music critics, who strongly opined her musical departure and the Utada's progression in production and singing. Additionally, several publications ranked the songs on their year-end lists of 2005–06 and soundtrack lists. Commercially, "Passion" was successful in Japan, peaking inside the top ten on the Oricon Singles Chart and TBS's Count Down TV chart; despite this, "Passion"'s sales were much lower than her previous releases. However, it was certified Gold in three categories by the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ).
An accompanying music video was directed in China by her then husband Kazuaki Kiriya, which depicts Utada in a dreamscape filled with animated clouds, figures and a cathedral-like architecture. The clip was inspired by numerous anime films and aesthetics, along with the atmosphere portrayed in Kingdom Hearts II. The music video for "Passion" was generally well received, but critics questioned the lack of footage from the video game. In order to promote the single, Utada performed the tracks on television shows such as Music Station and Hey! Hey! Hey! Music Champ, and has appeared on one concert tour: Utada: In the Flesh 2010. Since its release, "Passion" and "Sanctuary" have been widely considered as two of the best songs in video game history and has been recognized as a major factor in Utada's commercial rise in the western market.Roxas (Kingdom Hearts)
Roxas (Japanese: ロクサス, Hepburn: Rokusasu) is a fictional character from Square Enix's video game franchise Kingdom Hearts. First revealed during the final scenes of the 2004 title Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Roxas is a "Nobody", who was created from the series' main character Sora who briefly loses his heart during the first game of the series. Kingdom Hearts II reveals that Roxas is a member of Organization XIII, a group of Nobodies who need him as he can wield the Keyblade, a weapon that allows him to capture hearts. As a member of the organization, Roxas bears the title "Key of Destiny" (めぐりあう鍵, Meguriau Kagi, lit. "Serendipitous Key"). He is also the protagonist of the video game Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, which revolves around his origins. In the Japanese games, Roxas is voiced by Kōki Uchiyama, while Jesse McCartney takes the role in the English versions.
Since his cameo appearance, director Tetsuya Nomura has said that Roxas is an important character in the series, and in order to explain his back story in more detail than was done in Kingdom Hearts II, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days was created. Since his introduction in Kingdom Hearts II, Roxas has received positive critical response from video game publications with most of them focusing on his development in 358/2 Days. Various types of merchandise based on his character has been produced.Sora (Kingdom Hearts)
Sora (Japanese: ソラ) is a fictional character and the protagonist of Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts video game series. Introduced in the first Kingdom Hearts game in 2002, Sora is portrayed as a cheerful teenager who lives in the Destiny Islands and has been best friends with Riku and Kairi since childhood. When they plan to go on a journey to see other worlds, they are separated by creatures known as the Heartless, with Sora obtaining a weapon called the Keyblade. Donald Duck and Goofy then recruit him in their journey across various worlds to aid King Mickey while Sora searches for his friends. Along the way, the trio protects the worlds they visit from various villains. In Kingdom Hearts II, Sora searches for Riku and fights against Organization XIII, who attempt to seize Kingdom Hearts for their own. Sora has also made supporting appearances in other games from the series, and reprised his role in manga and light novel adaptations of the games.
Sora was originally designed by Kingdom Hearts series director and character designer Tetsuya Nomura during a discussion between Disney and Square about who should be the protagonist of the series. Wanting an original character, Nomura made various sketches of Sora until the design met the approval of Disney. Nomura came to regard Sora as his favorite character that he had designed, and pushed for the character to have a leading role in the Kingdom Hearts story in spite of the character's youth. Throughout the series, Sora has been voiced by Haley Joel Osment in the English version and Miyu Irino in the Japanese version. For his depiction as a child in the prequel Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, Sora was voiced by Luke Manriquez and Takuto Yoshinaga in English and Japanese, respectively. Sora's character has received generally positive critical response due to his warm personality and adventurous spirit. His personal and martial growth in the series also received praise, especially in his appearance in Kingdom Hearts II. Additionally, Sora has ranked high on various video game character popularity polls.Terra (Kingdom Hearts)
Terra (Japanese: テラ, Hepburn: Tera) is a fictional character from Square Enix's video game franchise Kingdom Hearts, prominently featured in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep as one of the game's three playable protagonists. He appears in-game as a pupil of Master Eraqus who trains alongside his friends Aqua and Ventus to become a master of the Keyblade weapon. Terra's storyline highlights his struggle to tame his inner darkness, a negative attribute that serves as a source of both power and corruption for him. Prior to Birth by Sleep, he had a cameo appearance in a secret ending of Kingdom Hearts II and its re-release Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix; the later game included an optional boss fight against the Lingering Will (留まりし思念, Todomarishi Shinen), a hollow armor containing Terra's mind.
Series director Tetsuya Nomura designed Terra's character when preparing the secret endings of Kingdom Hearts II and Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix. He was developed to be reminiscent of series antagonist Xehanort as he appears in previous titles, as well as having a connection with Riku, one of the series' main characters. Ryōtarō Okiayu has done the voice of Terra in Japanese and Jason Dohring in the English version. Video game publications gave mixed responses to Terra's character, with many noting his similarity to the Final Fantasy VII character Zack Fair, and later commenting on his naive portrayal in Birth by Sleep.Tetsuya Nomura
Tetsuya Nomura (野村 哲也, Nomura Tetsuya, born October 8, 1970) is a Japanese video game artist, designer and director working for Square Enix (formerly Square). He designed characters for the Final Fantasy series, debuting with Final Fantasy VI and continuing with various later installments. Additionally, Nomura has helmed the development of the Kingdom Hearts series since its debut in 2002 and was also the director for the CGI film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.Universe of Kingdom Hearts
The Kingdom Hearts video game series, developed by Square Enix in collaboration with Disney, is set in a universe consisting of numerous self-contained worlds based on intellectual properties from both companies. Many of these worlds are based on animated Disney movies, though Kingdom Hearts II introduced worlds based on live-action Disney films as well. In addition to the Disney worlds, a number of original worlds appear over the course of the series.
The series centers on the character Sora, a boy who searches for his lost friends and encounters Disney and Final Fantasy characters as he travels between worlds. In the first game, Kingdom Hearts, Sora fights against the villains of the series known as the Heartless and seals each world he visits to prevent their return. In Kingdom Hearts II, Sora helps the residents of these worlds again in search of his friend Riku. The Kingdom Hearts games have been both critically acclaimed and commercially successful and the design of the worlds has been praised for its faithfulness to the source material.Ventus (Kingdom Hearts)
Ventus (Japanese: ヴェントゥス, Hepburn: Ventusu), commonly referred to as Ven (ヴェン), is a fictional character from Square Enix's video game franchise Kingdom Hearts. Having first made cameos in Kingdom Hearts II and other related titles, Ventus was introduced in the 2010 prequel Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep as one of the game's three playable protagonists. In its story, Ventus is introduced as the youngest apprentice of Master Eraqus who trains him alongside his best friends, Terra and Aqua, to become experienced warriors with the Keyblade. When Terra goes on a mission to find Master Xehanort, Ventus follows him, having also become concerned about his fate. As Ventus journeys through various worlds and battles dark creatures called the Unversed, he learns about his own origins as well as his relation to Xehanort's apprentice, Vanitas.
Ventus was designed by director Tetsuya Nomura who wanted to create a character with an important connection with the series' main character Sora. Ventus bears a strong resemblance to the character of Roxas, both of whom are voiced by Kōki Uchiyama in Japanese and Jesse McCartney in English. After Ventus's first cameo, Nomura had to clarify that both of them are different characters, and that the reason for such connection would be revealed in Birth by Sleep. Video game websites also commented on Ventus's first appearance, initially confusing him for Roxas during the development of Birth by Sleep, but has since been well received.