|The Square Enix and Disney sequel is coming to the PlayStation 2... eventually. Check out the latest on this anticipated title.
Hey, folks. It's been awhile since we've updated our preview on the site, so I took it upon myself to provide some new details on Kingdom Hearts II, which now has an official US release date of March 30th. So count the days until you get another taste of Square Enix/Walt Disney RPG goodness. Yes, it's shaping up to be good.
Of course, we've talked about Drive Mode, the mode in which you can merge members of Sora's party (including a prepared Goofy and somewhat angry Donald Duck) into a powerful new character that can put the hurting on enemies. But here's a bit more detail on it. There's different forms you can put together depending on who you merge with. Go with the power of Goofy and you'll find the ability to use two Key Blades in battle, kind of like a mad samurai (well, a mad samurai with keys); merging with Donald, believe it or not, gives you better magic power over your enemies; and merging with both of them together increases all your powers, physical and magic, to help put a devastating hurt on foes.
Also, we haven't yet touched base on the number of Disney franchises and characters that will be put into the sequel. This time out, it looks like the programmers are going all out to put members of the Disney world into play, even moreso than the first game.
Of course, you'll notice the Disney castle that's pretty apparent to find in the Walt Disney theme parks. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. The game will feature several appearances by characters past and present, from Winnie the Pooh (complete with honey pot!), Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas, Chicken Little, the Little Mermaid, and even some live-action characters, like Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean and the digital people from the old 80's flick Tron. This means a number of new locales and challenges with enemies to defeat, and they're all looking diverse and terrific thus far. I'm just shocked that Stitch somehow made the cut, with his ravenous (yet cute) nature. And Tron? That's just a trip. I want to race a light cycle!
With that, Square Enix is also drawing in some big-name talent to help boost the game for its US release. Japanese pop artist Utada Hikaru will be making a return to do the theme song for the game, titled "Sanctuary". The voice cast will also see some happy returns, along with a few surprises. Haley Joel Osment, David Gallagher, and Hayden Panettiere will return as Sora, Riku, and Kairi, respectively. Coming on board for the sequel will be Christopher Lee, bringing his booming presence as Diz; Ming-Na, reprising her lead role in Mulan; James Woods as the wisecracking Hades; and Zach Braff as the title character from Chicken Little. There's also a few surprises thrown into play, including some familiar faces from the Final Fantasy VII and X-2 games. Cloud (voiced by Steve Burton), Tifa (voiced by Rachael Leigh Cook), and Aerith (voiced by American Beauty's Mena Suvari) will stop by, along with Yuna, Rikku, and Paine (voiced by Hedy Buress, Tara Strong, and Gwendolne Yeo). So Square Enix is sparing no expense in making sure the game sounds as strong as it looks.
(By the way, for your Square Enix fans, here's a side note- Burton, Cook, and Suvari will also be voicing these respective characters in the US dub of the movie Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, finally arriving this April on DVD and UMD.)
Kingdom Hearts II has a lot of heart and drive going into it, and it should be a remarkable RPG experience when it arrives this March. Look for us to be back with a full review, along with some rather weak impersonations of Chicken Little. Man, every time I try to do the voice I sound like Richard Simmons. Scary.