Kingdom Hearts II PS2 Review

Being a Disney/Square-Enix collaboration, Kingdom Hearts was the strangest of unions, a coming together of two giants from separate entertainment categories. Characters from both Final Fantasy and an array of Disney films were featured along with some of the most famous of Disney worlds for the player to explore. It should never of worked but by god it did!

Kingdom Hearts II continues the exploits of the trio of Sora, Donald and Goofy as they battle the evil heartless in their attempts to restore balance to the many Disney worlds. It must be noted that players who have experienced the GBA title: Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories are likely to get more out of the game than those that haven’t, as there’s a surprising amount of references to the “apparent” spin-off in the game, not least of which is the return of the shadowy organization XIII who were introduced in said game.

Many of the worlds from the original game make a welcome return, but it’s the brand new locations that players of the original game will be most keen to see. Highlights include a level set in Mickey Mouse’s first real cartoon, Steamboat Willy, it’s a level that is devoid of any colour and sees Goofy and Donald redrawn in their original 30’s style along with Sora himself. Another sees you transverse Port Royal (featured in Pirates of the Caribbean) whilst battling undead pirates.

Like the original title, Kingdom Hearts II is an action RPG, but this time with far more control over the camera afforded to the player and battles that are best described as flamboyant and – due to all the pretty effects filling the screen – often confusing too, but thankfully always bloody good fun!

The combat system remains largely as good old fashioned button bashing fun, with the only respite for the X button being an occasional push of the square button to defend yourself or a stab of the triangle button to perform a “new reaction command“, which sees Sora performing a variety of actions, based on the enemy he is facing.

In a new feature, Sora (the central character) can merge with Donald and/or Goofy to gain new abilities, such as granting him the ability to shoot fireballs out of his weapon or even the chance to wield two key blades, which is absolutely fantastic! Like the individual characters, these “forms” can too be levelled up, granting new abilities and allowing you to use them for longer periods.

Limits, meanwhile allow you to use special attacks in conjunction with Donald, Goofy or any other character that may currently be in your party. Doing so, results in a powerful and flashy attack, but leaves you dry of magic for a while, which is a fair enough trade off, if you ask us.

Many locations return from the first game, but are significantly smaller here, the same goes for any of the brand new locations in the game. This more compact level design, means you won’t be able to get lost, like you oftentimes could in the original. But to be honest, we miss the sense of exploration and would welcome the return of bigger areas for the third instalment.

It would have been nice if we could have played as characters other than Sora too. This seems like a missed opportunity, especially as the game features such popular characters from both Disney and Square-Enix’s own Final Fantasy universes. Unfortunately there‘s also few diversions from the main quest, and what there is, is nowhere near as compulsive as the 101 Dalmatian searching in the original game.

Kingdom Hearts II, doesn’t quite reach the level of quality that its predecessor did. Regardless of this it’s still a great game, that should – and very much deserves to – be played by fans of Final Fantasy, Disney, RPGS and of course its excellent predecessor.