24 December 2010

JR Late Night Video Game Review: Kingdom Hearts 2 (Part 1)

JR's Video Game Rating: 9.5

(choose one from below)


Name of the Video Game: Kingdom Hearts 2
Date of Public Release: March 28 2006
Genre: Action Role-Playing Game
Platforms: PlayStation2
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
IGN Score: 7.6
ESRB Content Rating: E10+ for Everyone 10+
Parental Advisory: Mild Blood, Use of Alcohol, Violence
Tagline: "The Story is Not Over."

Kingdom Hearts II is the sequel to Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, and like the two previous games, focuses on Sora and his friends continued battle against Darkness. It also offers a number of improvements over the original with many new features, most notably Sora's Drive Form function, an improved camera, and in-battle options called Reaction Commands.
It is the third game in the series and the fifth game in the timeline after Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, and Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days.

One year after the events of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Sora, Donald, and Goofy awaken in Twilight Town. Bent on his quest to find Riku and King Mickey, the three set off on another adventure. However, they soon discover that while they have been asleep, the Heartless are back! Not only that, but Sora, Donald, and Goofy must face new enemies: The Nobodies and Organization 13! They set off on a quest to rid the world of the Heartless once more, uncovering the many secrets that linger about Ansem and Organization 13.



(1) Kingdom Hearts II begins where Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days left off. Sora and his companions have been asleep for about a year, regaining their memories. When Sora awakens, he eventually arrives in Twilight Town, the place where a mysterious boy, Roxas, lived before he suddenly left. Gaining new clothes and powers, Sora began his journey anew, unaware of the events that have taken place in Chain of Memories. Sora continues his quest by unlocking paths to new worlds, learning of Nobodies and fighting the Heartless, as well as facing the remaining members of the mysterious Organization XIII. As the game progresses, Sora learns about Roxas and how much they have in common.

(2) The story begins with the player in control of Roxas in Twilight Town. Roxas has recurring dreams of Sora's adventures while increasingly mysterious activities began taking place in Twilight Town during Roxas's summer vacation. After obtaining the Keyblade to defend himself from the Nobodies, Roxas comes in contact with a young man in black named Axel. Axel appears to know Roxas, through Roxas has no recollection of him. Roxas eventually makes his way into an abandoned mansion where a girl named Namine informs him that he is a Nobody, although he did not quite know what a Nobody was at that time. Finally, confronted by a mysterious, red-cloaked man called DiZ, Roxas discovers Sora, Donald, and Goofy sleeping in the hidden basement of the mansion. Roxas seems to merge with Sora. As Sora, Donald, and Goofy awake from their year-long slumber. Jiminy Cricket, who had previously chronicled the trio's adventures, find that his journal is now completely blank, save for the note: "Thank Namine" (which was written by Jiminy himself during Chain of Memories).

(3) After meeting Pete, a new villain, and speaking with Yen Sid, the party is informed that they must once again visit many worlds to protect them from both the Heartless and the Nobodies in an attempt to stop Organization XIII. These include both old but greatly changed places, like Hollow Bastion, and brand new worlds the party has never encountered before. In the course of their travels, the Heartless, headed by a revived Maleficent and the Organization regain power, eventually forcing Sora to battle a massive army of a thousand Heartless that are attacking the restored town.

(4) After the battle, Xemnas, the head of the Organization, reveals their ultimate goal: the Nobodies plan to create another Kingdom Hearts, a doorway to the heart of all worlds that will presumably allow the Nobodies to get their hearts back. After confronting and defeating more members of the Organization, Sora goes to the World That Never Was to settle the score with the Organization for good; he also finally reunites with his friends Riku and Kairi. Sora learns the truth about Roxas as well; he and Namine are, respectively, Sora and Kairi's Nobodies, created when they lost their hearts in the original Kingdom Hearts game.

(5) In the end, only Xemnas is left of the original thirteen members. Sora and Riku unite to defeat him, and his new Kingdom Hearts is closed. Sora and the others are returned to their homeworld of Destiny Islands. Although Sora has to say goodbye to Donald and Goofy, he knows in his heart that true friends are never gone. However, sometime later, Sora, Riku, and Kairi receive a letter from King Mickey after the credits. They proceed to read the letter, but the contents are left unrevealed.

1. New worlds based on Disney movies
2. Continuation of the KINGDOM HEARTS storyline
3. FINAL FANTASY cameos including Cloud, Squall, Tifa, Aerith, Yuna, Rikku, Paine, Yuffie and Auron.
4. Returning voice actors include Haley Joel Osment (Sora), David Gallagher (Riku), and Hayden Panettiere (Kairi)
5. New voice actors include Christopher Lee, pop sensation Jesse McCartney, and Rachel Leigh Cook.

1. Yen Sid is Disney spelled backwards.
2. Apart from being called Kingdom Hearts II, this game is actually the third installment of the series. The second game being the GBA game, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (2004).
3. Allusions to deceased Organization members in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories(2004), are made in this game. These members are No.4 Vexen, No.5 Lexeaus, No.6 Zexion, No.11 Marluxia and No.12 Larxene.
4. This was Pat Morita's last work prior to his death. He provided his voices as the Emperor of China in the Mulan level.
5. The poem Sora reads from Kairi at the end is, word for word, from the original trailer of Kingdom Hearts (2002).
6. During its first week of availability in Japan, Kingdom Hearts II sold over 727,591 copies.
7. A teaser for "Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep", for the PlayStation Portable, can be seen if the player accomplishes certain tasks.
8. When "X" is removed from Xemnas and the letters are rearranged, you get the name "Ansem." Applying this to Roxas and Xehanort gives "Sora" and "no heart," respectively. This is applied to all members of Organization XIII, as their names are their real names rearranged and an X added, however only the original names of Ansem the Wise's 6 apprentices [Xemnas, Xigbar (Braig), Xaldin (Dilan), Vexen (Even), Lexaeus (Aeleus) and Zexion (Ienzo)] are given in the game.
9. The topiary sculptures in Disney Castle are based on scenes from the classic Mickey Mouse short The Band Concert (1935).
10Besides typical English translation and localization, the English version of Kingdom Hearts II differs from the original Japanese version, in the content of game play and several scenes. The Hydra boss in Olympus Coliseum has its green blood from the Japanese version changed into black and purple smoke in the English version. An earlier cut scene retains the green blood. The World That Never Was boss Xigbar's telescopic sight view has been edited from the Japanese version to replace its cross-hair with three circles and remove the black shading around the sides that implied a telescopic sight. An attack animation was also altered; in the Japanese version, Xigbar combined his two hand-held guns to create a sniper rifle, which was used to snipe the player's party during the telescoping sight sequence. In the English version, Xigbar's animation does not combine his guns, instead twirling them around, and shooting at Sora with a single gun. Port Royal contains the most content edits. Cutscenes have been edited to remove some of the violence such as Barbossa's sword sticking out of Jack Sparrow's chest in one scene. Another edit has William Turner not aim his gun at his head as he threatens to commit suicide. Undead pirates, who act as enemies at certain times, do not catch fire when affected by Fire magic in the English version, unlike the Japanese version. Furthermore, the pirates' muskets have been slightly modified so to resemble crossbows, though they still fire with an audible shooting sound effect, and Sora's reaction command in response to this is still named "Return Fire".
11. The original reason to include the character of Chicken Little as a summoning was to promote the movie in Japan.
12. Tetsuya Nomura included the worlds of The Lion King and Tron because there were his favorite Disney films.
13. Stitch was included because a survey said that Stitch was the second favorite Disney character in Japan.
14. Each member of Organization XIII has an 'x' in his/her name.
15. In the map know as Proof of Existence, 12 lighted tiles are on the floor representing the weapons of all the members of Organization XIII bar Xemnas, with blue denoting living, and red denoting deceased. Each member is represented by their weapon and their title, except for Ienzo. His tile was deliberately put in as destroyed, so as to hide what his weapon really was.
16. When Keiji Fujiwara was chosen for the role of Axel in the Japanese version, the makers of the English version wasted no time casting Quinton Flynn, as both voice actors played the role of Reno in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
17. All of the Final Fantasy VII character voices are the same actors from the Advent Children movie, with the exception of Yuffie, who was played by Christy Carlson Romano in the movie, but was played by Mae Whitman in the game. On a similar note, Yuna, Rikku, and Paine are voiced by the same actresses as their respective game(s).
18. A handful of actors did not reprise their roles from the first Kingdom Hearts: Billy Zane as Ansem, David Boreanaz as Leon, Mandy Moore as Aerith, Lance Bass as Sephiroth, Christy Carlson Romano as Yuffie, and Sean Astin as Hercules. Some fans highly disapproved of the use of such people playing the voices of the Final Fantasy characters, particularly Mandy Moore and Lance Bass. Interestingly, Sean Astin was replaced by the actor who originally voiced Hercules in the movie, Tate Donovan.
19. Each mirror in Yen Sid's Tower talks about each form that Sora takes in Fusion Mode.
20. Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom and Geoffrey Rush were unable to reprise their roles from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) for the scenes in the world based on that film, because they were busy filming Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006).
21. Gaston's absence from the "Beauty and the Beast" world (Beast's Castle) makes him the only Disney villain so far not to appear in the Kingdom Hearts series with a world based on his movie featured as a playable level.
22. This is the first we ever hear Yen Sid speak as he was silent in 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice'.
23. Even though she returns in this game, there is no boss fight with Maleficent.
24. There are a total of four boss fights with Pete in this game.
25. Twilight Town, Hollow Bastion and The World That Never Was are the only three levels in the game that do not exist in any Disney movie, with the exception of Space Paranoids..
26. There are two different ways to unlock the Theater Mode in this game. You can either complete Jiminy Cricket's journal on Normal Mode or beat Proud Mode at least once.
27. This game takes place one year after Kingdom Hearts: Chain Of Memories.
28. The members of the Hollow Bastion Restoration Committee are: Merlin, Leon, Yuffie, Aerith and Cid.
29. Atlantica is the only level in the game that is a minigame instead of an actual level.
30. Axel is the only Organization XIII member you do not fight against with Sora, even though he teams up with you in Twilight Town.
31. Development plans for this game began around the completion of Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, but specific details were undecided until July 2003.
32. Atlantica, Halloween Town, Pride Lands, Timeless River and Space Paranoids are the only five levels in the game in which Sora, Donald and Goofy change their appearance.
33. Mickey, Sora, Roxas, Kairi and Riku are the only five main characters in the game to have a costume change.
34. Mulan, Beast, Belle, Jack Skellington and Ariel are the only five Disney characters to have a costume change.
35. Christopher Robin is the only Winnie-the-Pooh character to not appear in this game.
36. King Mickey and Queen Minnie both have bigger roles in this game.
37. The Oathkeeper, Kingdom Key, Oblivion and Ultima Weapon are the only four keyblades that appear in all three games.
38. The spells of Aero and Gravity get replaced by Reflect and Magnet in this game.
39. Hollow Bastion's true name is Radiant Garden.
40. The password to Tron's DTD is: Snow White, Jasmine, Belle, Cinderella, Aurora, Alice, Kairi, which are the Seven Princesses of Heart used to open the Door to Darkness.
41. Ariel is the only Disney character that does not team up with you.
42. Axel is the only Organization XIII member you fight against with Roxas.
43. The boss fight with Ursula is the only one in the game that is a minigame.
44. Sora, Riku, Kairi, King Mickey, Donald and Goofy are the only six main characters to appear in all three games.
45. Wayne Allwine, Tony Anselmo, Bill Farmer, Haley Joel Osment and David Gallagher are the only five voice actors to be involved in all three games in the series. Kairi was voiced by Alyson Stoner in Kingdom Hearts: Chain Of Memories.
46. The 100 Acre Wood is the only level in the game in which the 'Attack' option is changed to 'Hit'.
47. There is a total of seven Orichalcum+ in the game.
48. Save The Queen and Save The King are the only two ultimate weapons that can be upgraded.
49. The boss fight with Luxord is the only one in the game that is based on time.
50. Genie is the only summon in the game that has more than one form.
51. Kairi, Belle and Jasmine are the only three Princesses Of Heart to appear in all three games of the series.
52. Leon, Yuffie, Aerith, Cid and Cloud are the only five Final Fantasy characters to appear in all three games of the series.
53. Maleficent, Jafar, Oogie Boogie, Hades and Ursula are the only five Disney villains to appear in all three Kingdom Hearts games.
54. Aerith is the only Final Fantasy character that does not team up with you during the Heartless battle at Hollow Bastion.
55. Genie and Tinkerbell are the only two summons to appear in all three games. Even though Peter Pan is with Tinkerbell in this game it still counts.
56. Disney Castle and Olympus Coliseum is the only worlds featured in this game, that exists exactly as it appeared in Kingdom Hearts (2002). Even though Disney Castle was not a playable world in the first game, the corridors and rooms look exactly the same. The Hades portion of Olympus Coliseum was not in the first game, but otherwise the Coliseum lobby, trophy room, and training grounds are exactly the same. The worlds of Agrabah, Halloween Town, Hollow Bastion, and Atlantica also appeared in both games, but their appearances from the first and second games are drastically different.
57. The costumes of the Final Fantasy VII characters of Cloud, Yuffie, and Aerith have changed from how they appeared in Kingdom Hearts (2002). In the first game, their costumes mirrored the ones they wore on FFVII, but in this game, their costumes mirror the ones they wore in the movie Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (2005).
58. Each world has a unique symbol that appears on-screen during a scene transition when Sora moves from one area to the next. The symbols are the following: Twilight Town is a keyhole, Disney Castle is Mickey's head, Hollow Bastion/Radiant Garden is a crown, Land of Dragons is a Chinese window or emblem, Beast's Castle is a rose, Olympus Coliseum is a Zeus's lightning bolt, Atlantica is a large musical note with 2 smaller ones, Port Royal is a skull & crossbones, Agrabah is a magic lamp, Halloween Town is a jack-o-lantern pumpkin, Pride Rock is Rafiki's wall painting of young Simba, 100-Acre Wood is a honey pot, Timeless River is a simple circle, Space Paranoids is Tron's disc, and finally, The World that Never Was is the Heartless symbol (heart with an X) similar to the heart that appears on the game's title
59. The four Crystals from the Trophy in Twilight Town represent the four basic spells found in most RPG's: Blue = Blizzard, Red = Fire, Yellow = Thunder, Green = Cure. Interestingly, these also equate to the 4 main and Huge Materia from Final Fantasy VII (Support, Summon, Command and Magic respectively). Also, there is actually a whole level of magic that is not in Kingdom Hearts: Aja.
60. (SPOILER): The producers of the game made a poll to see if Maleficent should come back for the game. The poll numbers reached 95% for "Maleficent to come back", so her return was added to the game. 


1Factual Errors: Organization members Xigbar, Xaldin, and Lexaeus' real names are misprinted in the English version of the game as Bleig (Braig, Xigbar), Dilin (Dilan, Xaldin), and Eleus (Eleaus, Lexaeus).
2Factual Errors: In the Journal, it is said that Goofy made his first appearance in Two Weeks Vacation (1952). That first appearance was actually twenty years earlier in Mickey's Revue (1932).
3Errors Made by Characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): In Land of Dragons, after the Captain finds out Ping is really Mulan, he tells the rest of his troops "Move out!" He then leads the group away. However, after all the troops have passed by, you see the Captain following behind them at the back of the group.
4Errors Made by Characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): After the Heartless damage the Winnie the Pooh book, Sora enters the book again. Pooh starts his "stoutness exercises". He first touches his toes, then lifts his right foot. The angle changes, and you see him from the back. Pooh touches his toes, and lifts his right foot again. It is obvious from the next few exercises he does that he should be switching feet.
5Errors Made by Characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): Right before you play the "1,000 Heartless Challenge", there is a cut scene in which Mickey runs after Xemnas, leaving Sora, Goofy, and Donald behind. The trio is then surrounded by Heartless. There is a shot of Sora, who looks over his shoulder at Donald and Goofy. The shot then changes to Sora again, who runs to attack the Heartless. In these scenes, each character has their most basic weapons they start with in the beginning of the game.
6Errors Made by Characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): In the ending when Sora is reading the letter from Kairi, they spell the word "starting" wrong. It is written "Now I will step forward to realize this wish. And who knows. stating a new journey may not be so hard."
7Continuity: In the trophy room at Olympus Coliseum, upon examining the Phil Cup Trophy and Pegasus Cup Plaque, it reads "Phil Cup Plaque" and "Pegasus Cup Trophy", which should be reversed.
8Continuity: When you finish "100 Acre Woods" the cover of the Pooh book changes, however when you look at the book from Merlin's house it's still the old and damaged cover.
9Continuity: In the Aladdin cut-scene where Jafar has Jasmine chained to the door, Sora, Goofy and Donald appear with Aladdin. Sora, Donald and Goofy hold weapons and shields. However after Jafar zaps Iago with his staff, everyone runs over to him, and they are all now empty handed.
10Continuity: After the Organisation XIII scene, just before Sora takes out his member card, Goofy's shield just disappears from his hands. Many other times during cut-scenes, weapons and shields just vanish from hands as well.
11Continuity: When you go and talk to Sephiroth for the optional fight, Donald and Goofy are there in the cut-scene, however, when the fight starts, the two of them are now absent without any explanation at all.
12Miscellaneous: When you investigate the seven rumors in twilight town, the word "bag" is spelled wrong after you let the dog out of the bag.
13Continuity(SPOILERS) When Kairi and Sora finally meet again, Kairi hugs Sora. In the first shot, Kairi's arms are over Sora's. However, in the next shot, her arms are under his.


(United States Version) 
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: March 28, 2006
MSRP (USD): $49.99

Final Mix +

Final Mix + (Limited Package Version)


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Story = 10/10
Game Design = 24/25
Minimal Glitches = 18/20
Graphics = 23/25
Sound = 20/20

I. STORY (10/10)
The story concept of Kingdom Hearts 2 is the updated and continued story of Kingdom Hearts. Kingdom Hearts 2 is the mash-up of the storyline of the Final Fantasy video game series and the hidden lives of the characters of Disney. The concept of Kingdom Hearts is not just made for the fun of kids but also made to the enjoyment of every teen and adult. Even through the story has a little bit of cartoon violence, any individual will truly remember the game in their hearts and minds. They would not mind of the violence but the concept of the story of the video game. The story will make any individual laugh and cry.

The game design of Kingdom Hearts truly improved in the Kingdom Hearts 2 video game sequel. The game graphics and the game videos were brought up to the next level since it beaten up those of Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories. Also, the video game had new worlds and characters that was thoroughly designed and created. You would not see any character or heartless that are not figured properly. The worlds are also new and much more enjoyable to play. 

No glitch that may affect the over-all gaming of an individual. The video game has a total of 13 goofs and glitches according to the Internet Movie Database. To get the score for this category, JR considered the total number of goofs and divided it by 5. The resulted number will be subtracted from the over-all score. So, 13 divided by 5 is 2 (rounded from 2.6). Making its minimal goof score 18 out of a possible 20.

IV. GRAPHICS (23/25)
The graphics of Kingdom Hearts 2 has improved comparing it from the first Kingdom Hearts video game. The video game characters were truly made for each other; considering the combination of Final Fantasy and Disney. With this being said, the planning of the game graphics can be seen throughout the making of the whole game. Others might think that Disney and Final Fantasy are not a match made in video games, but this was disproved by the game graphics of Kingdom Hearts 2. 

V. SOUND (20/20)
Kingdom Hearts 2 is one of the video games where its music and sounds can be recognized by its players even when played on the radio or television. The sounds used in Kingdom Hearts 2 are being used by certain television shows in the whole world. The sounds in the video game are cool and unique. There is no doubt that Kingdom Hearts is one of the video games with the best sounds.

Sorry to the first Kingdom Hearts, but Kingdom Hearts 2 is JR's Favorite PlayStation 2 Game of All Time. Kingdom Hearts 2 has one of the best story concepts I ever played with. Through the journeys I had in Twilight Town, to my timely visits to Disney Castle, until my final battle with Ansem in The World That Never Was, I will never forget my experience playing Kingdom Hearts 2. Actually, I still wish that there will still be another Kingdom Hearts sequel in the PlayStation 2 console. However, I am already contented with Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (Nintendo DS) and Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep (PSP). If I were to recognize and award one video game series, I would mention Kingdom Hearts.


To Be Continued,
JR Video Game Review: Kingdom Hearts 2 (Part 2)
- Kingdom Hearts 2 Worlds
- Kingdom Hearts 2 Characters
- Kingdom Hearts 2 Keyblades
*December 24 2010 (1PM)*

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December 24 2010 (1AM)

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