Review by ChickenBot

Reviewed: 10/16/06

Submit this game to your PS2! And play it, of course...

A unique game.... just plain unique. Kingdom Hearts II is the third (miscellaneously fourth) collaboration between RPG masters Square-Enix and our favorite cartoon creators Disney. People call this game kiddy due to the fact that we're playing games with Winnie the Pooh, Mickey Mouse or Goofy. This game, through my experience with it, isn't kiddy. It's for all ages, where gamers young and old alike can take part in a journey through the Disney universe. Whether competing to be a hero in the Olympus Coliseum or pitting your instincts in the Pride Lands, or even just enjoying the scenic graphics of Twilight Town, Role Playing and Action/ Adventure gamers will appreciate every moment of this fantastic game. The difficulty level from the original, has, dropped, but doesn't make the game stupid. The Graphics are awesome and the music tracks get stuck in my head.

The graphics are just plain awesome. Hollow Bastion's ruined castle standing in the distance, Twilight Town's sun, the heart-shaped moon in the final world, (I'd rather not spoil more), everything looks downright amazing. Beast's Castle, the Land of Dragons, Agrabah, nothing feels the same. The enemies each have their own unique qualities, some are overweighted, others are slim and agile, some are graveyards, and others can shift their shape into swords, shields, or winged creatures. In Port Royal, the world for Disney's Pirates of the Carribbean, it was hard to tell that those characters were pixels and not real. The cutscenes there were like watching the movie itself, reduced by only 2%, yes, two percent, of its graphics. Tron's world is no different. Great graphics grow, consume it, such as its nature. Then again, don't judge everything by Graphics. The dubbing was great from Japanese to English, don't get me wrong, but the mouth movements were flawed in the Pride Lands, where Japanese dialogue was evidently much longer. You could tell the difference, but nonetheless, the game has great graphics.

Sora, chosen wielder of the Keyblade, continues his journey after waking up from sleeping after a year after the events of Gameboy Advance's Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories with no memories of it whatsoever. Sora has helped Kairi return to their home of Destiny Islands, but has still not found Riku, his best friend. Sora journeys alongside his friends Donald and Goofy, who search for their king, King Mickey Mouse. Sora, Donald and Goofy get Sora some new duds to replace his somewhat clown-like attire from the original Kingdom Hearts, which he has outgrown. With the new ability to Drive, Sora, Donald and Goofy set out to open pathways to worlds as they continue their search for their friends. But of course, we're talking Square-Enix here. We are told of the mysterious boy Roxas in the beginning and play as him for the first four or five hours. We then see him entering an old mansion in his home of Twilight Town. Inside the mansion, we find Sora after a heated battle with Axel. We wonder about Roxas as we journey more and more thru the Kingdom Hearts universe, now controlling Sora. There's a catch, of course. Darkness exists in every heart, and if this resumes, Heartless will continue to exist. We are also told of Organization XIII, and don't underestimate them with their raincoats. They have an evil plan. But what is it? You'll have to find out for yourself. With friends like Mulan, Beast, Simba, Jack Sparrow and even Final Fantasy X's great warrior Auron at your side, (not to mention Donald and Goofy) Sora's on to save the world!

All in all, a good story, but I just feel that the "save the world" stuff is becoming WAAAYYY too repetitive everyday.

The game has improved in many ways: You could love it because of the new weapons that Sora, Donald and Goofy can use, or for the new more helpful Accessories, or the new magical Reflect and Magnet spells. You also have a greater arsenal of abilities at your fingertips. While this game has a standard difficulty even on Proud mode, it can still have you sit in front of the TV for who knows how long. It's got lots of attack combinations, abilities, and control over how your party members aid you. You can set the party members on whether they should act freely, or attack Sora's target, or go knock the skulls of targets other than Sora's, or even have them stand side by side with Sora and only support him by healing him. You also have a much more easy to use battle system. You can switch party members in battle this time, have the ability to use Limits (powerful co-op moves for Sora and another character) and Drive into a powerful form, where you can specialize in Strength, or Magic, or a balance of both, or a master of all abilities. However, Drive too much and Sora might be overpowered by darkness...

This sequel also gives you the ability to use Reaction commands, special attacks that only apply to certain enemies. These are executed by pressing the Triangle Button. You can slide past a Dusk and get behind it, dodging its attacks that go forward, reverse the electric shockwaves of Bolt Towers back at them, grab a Tornado Ride in the midst of its spin to go around in a rapid circular motion that makes sure enemies coming in contact are not unscathed, or even battle it out one on one against a Samurai. Boss battles have their own unique Reaction commands. You can back away from Barbossa, then strike when the time is right, shoot balls of light at Hades to make him vulnerable, or struggle against Scar wild cat style while rolling around. This game also features "Information" that appears at the top to aid you when in battle. If you start out on the series in this game, you could be somewhat confused. My friend played this before the original Kingdom Hearts and got his butt kicked by Twilight Thorn on Beginner mode. Sadly, the Trinities and Dalmatians are gone. I loved hunting for them in the original. Another thing I miss is Dodge Roll, now replaced with Air Dash. You’ll see why soon enough. Nonetheless, there are lots of side quests, and the game is WAYYY longer, but a bit easier. The game also has a good variety of enemies: Fortunetellers, bats with hooks for tails, oversized bandits, armed dragoons, shape-shifting beasts and interestingly, candy dispenser machines. There are also a bunch of minigames that took off too much disk space, leaving us with only one optional boss: Sephiroth. Sephiroth is a headache and an even bigger ache is the Hades Paradox Cup, where you fight a horde of Heartless coming at you. For two hours you’ll be sitting with your controller in hand, mashing X and Triangle and whatnot. And in Round 49, an assault will wipe you out. If you die here, you’re going thru the Paradox again. Beat the game 100% on Standard or beat all worlds on Proud mode and be open-jawed by the secret ending. Hard to understand head or tail, huh?

The Audio for this game is great, and themes like "Dance to the Death," "Working Together" and "Tension Rising" get stuck in my head for a long while even after ceasing to play the game. I'll have to say, though, "Sanctuary" wasn't as good as the original's "Simple and Clean." One of the coolest parts of the sounds are that you can perfectly hear Sora, Donald and Goofy's footsteps, and the footsteps are distinct for sand, wood, grass, etc. You can pretty much hear everything realistically. PLUS it's got a bunch of big-shot Voice actors: Haley Joel Osment as Sora, David Gallagher for Riku, Jesse McCartney as Roxas, Steve Burton as Cloud, James Woods for Hades, Ming-Na for Mulan and a lot more! Good old Tigger is voiced by Jim Cummings, one of the Disney-helping major VAs. James Arnold Taylor also imitates Johnny Depp's voice extraordinarily. Kingdom Hearts II has also won best soundtrack in July, 2006.

Playtime/ Replayability
If you're only finishing the story, the playtime should be 15: 00 to 20: 00. If you attempt to get every treasure chest, break every minigame record and etc. the playtime could shoot up to 30: 00 to 70: 00, depending on the gamer. It is also one of those games that are not boring to play over and over again.

Should I Buy It?
Yes. Play it on Proud mode or Standard mode for maximum fun. Seriously, playing on Beginner mode is like eating cake. This game is great for people who Action, mild violence, and Role playing. If you don't like this type of games, I still recommend renting it to give it a try. Don't get your hopes up, though. It might not appear fun to many. It's a strategical battle to some (pressing Square for an Aerial Knock, timing Magic, Driving at the correct time), and a button masher to many (mash X, then mash some more). Yes, the game is easy, but it's still got some enjoyable yet spamful cutscenes, great soundtrack and great graphics. Kingdom Hearts II is a great game for both existent and non-existent gamers alike!

Final Rankings/ Summary

Graphics: 9/10
Story: 8/10
Gameplay: 9/10
Audio: 9/10
Playtime/ Replayability: 7/10
Should I Buy It?: Yes
Final Score: 10/10.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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