Review by Menji

"You never know who you'll run into next"

With the overgrowing rise of fans of the first game and the outbreak of a manga. You can only expect Kingdom Hearts to produce a sequel. Thus Kingdom Hearts II is born. And for a once, a sequel is done right. I can't stand it when other sequels are made and they retain no similarities to the original. Or is so similar you think you're playing the same exact game. Kingdom Hearts does neither of those. Square takes a little dab of KH here and there and adds some action combo moves a la God of War. But with such a high demand for a sequel does it live up to the expectations? No, it exceeds them!

The game starts off with an alarmingly long intro. I was beginning to think the game would let me play for a minute then explain the next part for five minutes. But that was just for the beginning. You retrace the path that Sora went through in the first game and witness some new beings, such as a man clothed in red. And a strange group of hooded figures known as Organization XIII who has control over these new enemies dubbed “Nobodies”. Think of it like this, when a human is transformed into a heartless, the excess body that is left behind is the white Nobody. And yes, despite what you may have done in the first game, the heartless are back and more numerous than before.

You wake in control of young boy named Roxus who had just had a dream with Sora and Kairi (how peculiar?). You're a boy who lives in Twilight town and are enjoying your last week of summer vacation with your friends. The town appears bigger than Traverse town and they even threw in a skateboard for you to ride on a bust some tricks. (Quite possibly the worst skateboard engine I have ever seen). Over the course of the next few days (game time) you meet up with another group containing Vivi and Seifer, a nice Final Fantasy addition right at the beginning. And various other missions that involve you gaining money, searching the mysteries of the town and lastly participating in a tournament of STRUGGLE! For those who have played Final Fantasy VI, you're in for a nice cameo appearance.

But I thought I played as Sora, who is this Roxus loser?
Just keep playing

If there was one thing people didn't like about the first, it would have to be the gameplay part. Mashing the X button and getting blinded by the horrendous camera. Well I can't that is exactly fixed but it has been lowered. Now instead of only mashing X to attack, you can use the newly added “Reaction” button. If you've played God of War, it is similar to that. Certain times during the course of a battle (normally boss) you get the option to press triangle and depending on the circumstances you can do things like reversals and special attacks. If you happen to be fighting some huge enemy, you can gain a special sequence after a bit of hacking away at his head. You press triangle and it will continue to light up when you need to press it again to finish the sequence. These are simply insane maneuvers that really gets you pumped up and standing before you know it.

A lot of the gameplay parts are back from the original; level ups occur the same, abilities still here, the game screen moved a bit and your magic has its own bar. Building on the RPG aspect, you now get a new attack known as a Drive where you move faster, stronger, change your clothes, and sometimes can wield another keyblade. Other than that you got the same spells as before and some new summons including some from new Disney movies, this time round though, you can level them up and make your skill great.

What really brought the original to the level of ‘Great' were the engrossing Disney worlds. So did the producers use up all the good movies in the first and we're stuck with some bad ones? Good grief no, there are actually some great Disney movie and characters that weren't mentioned at all. Plus a few key worlds return as long as opening up a larger world from some of the smaller cameos of the first. All I can say is that these are truly magnificent designs and voice acting. There are some truly great Disney characters that they left out, remember Mickey's master Yensid in Fantasia? Well look for him to appear. However, KH2 biggest problem is that the stories are no longer original. They don't just follow the move storyline, they downright copy it. I don't want to go through the movie again!

Last in the gameplay section is the new and improved Gummi Ship. Unlike in the last game where you have to fly on a certain path (how's that flying anyway?) this game lets you fly wherever you choose as long as you complete the areas that block it off. And the whole way ships go about being made is different. You can now easily find blueprints to past FF Airship (Falcon, Invincible, Highwind) that you automatically build. Much easier than the first.

As for graphics, they have slightly improved, nothing worth giving a Grammy for but like all Squarenix games, the FMV sequences are simply eye boggling. But the cartoonish look goes with the Disney characters and allows everything to mesh accordingly.

This is easily one of my favorite games of all-time, definitely in the top ten and I still need to explore it all! I strongly recommend you buy it BUT make sure you've played the first one before this so things make sense. If the first was too easy or way to hard. There are now three difficulties for you to explore and find the one for you.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/31/06, Updated 04/23/09

Game Release: Kingdom Hearts II (US, 03/28/06)

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