Everyone knows that a sequel to the first game was coming. This was first teased by the unlockable trailer in Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts Final Mix. A Japanese video game website,Quiter also published an ‘insider rumor’ that the sequel was being made for the Sony Playstation 2. It was not until September 2003,during the Tokyo Game Show the rumor was confirmed by Square with the announcement of Kingdom Hearts II for the Sony Playstation 2 along with the announcement of Kingdom Hearts:Chain of Memories for the Gameboy Advance. Both of the games will be directed by Tetsuya Nomura,the director from the first game and will be produced by Shinji Hashimoto and coproducer Yoshinori Kitase. Shinji Hashimoto hinted that all the questions from the first game will be answered in the second game during Square-Enix E3 conference the following year.Fans were all aboard the hype-train that year.
Kingdom Hearts II was developed by most of the original staff members,which formed Square Product Development Division 1. A lot of changes were planned for the second game. Nomura planned to improve on a number of aspects that
were thought lacking . The battle system was improvised by introducing a couple of new elements such as the Drive System which allows Sora to change forms and increased flexibility of the summoning system. The battle animation of Sora was reworked completely, abandoning the previous battle animation. Nomura said that it was to reflect the maturity of Sora for the second game. The camera controls were mapped to the right stick (hooray for common sense!) and improvements were made to Gummy ship minigame . Reaction commands were now introduced to the game,depending on the circumstances during fights with the enemies. All these changes were made to reflect the scope of the sequel while addressing some of the complaints from the first game.
Kingdom Hearts II was released in Japan on December 22nd,2005 and on March
28th the following year in North America. The game takes place a year after the events of Kingdom Hearts:Chain of Memories. The game still follows the plight of Sora (which has lost most of his abilities due to the event in KH:COM) searching for his two best friends,Riku and Kairi. However, the game starts with a new protagonist ,Roxas who has more connection to Sora more than he can ever predicted. New villains and monsters emerged,such as the shrouded in black Organization XIII from KH:COM and nobodies(a shell from the Heartless) from the first game. The tone for this game is sligthly darker compared to the first game.
There are some noticeable differences between the Japanese and the English version. Some of the contents were edited,this is due to Disney’s decisions that they are deem inappropriate for the western market.For example,the original scene where Axel sacrificed himself in the game ended with him getting burned alive with his power. Shockingly cruel for a Disney game. The English version replaced that scene with Axel slowly fading away after using up all his power.
Unsurprisingly, the game sold extremely well. The game was the second best selling game for 2006. By the end of March 2007,the game has shipped 4 millions copies worldwide.Critics lauded the improvement in graphics and gameplay,and gaining an aggregate of 87% in metacritic. The game won several awards such as Sattelite Award in 2006 and Famitsu ‘s Game of the Year Award for 2005. Based on the quality of the sequel,fans could not contained their excitement for Kingdom Hearts III..
To be continued to part 4…