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Kingdom Hearts II is an Action RPG published and developed by Square Enix in collaboration with Disney, and the third game in their Kingdom Hearts series, first released for the PlayStation 2 on December 22, 2005 in Japan, March 28, 2006 in America, and September 28/29 in Europe and Australia.
Taking place about a year after the events of the first Kingdom Hearts and Chain of Memories, a new breed of enemy has emerged from the shadows: Nobodies, the reanimated husks of the people whose hearts were stolen by The Heartless. Driven by an instinctual urge to be reunited with their hearts, the Nobodies are swarming over The Multiverse like a plague and leaving devastation in their wake. Behind this invasion is a group known as Organization XIII: the most powerful and self-aware Nobodies in existence, who plan to unseal the Heartless and take their hearts back by force, uncaring of the collateral damage this will cause.
Sora, the young Keyblade wielder who was once victorious over the Heartless threat, has recovered from his previous encounter with Organization XIII in Castle Oblivion and awakens from a long slumber, and is led by King Mickey to the tower of Yen Sid, who gives him a new mission to stop the remaining members of the Organization from carrying out their ultimate plan. Like before, he must travel through The Multiverse with Donald and Goofy at his side, and use his Keyblade to protect the worlds that are being invaded by the Heartless and Nobodies. But as he travels, multiple questions plague him: just who or what was responsible for ensuring his recovery from Castle Oblivion? What has happened to Riku and Kairi while he was asleep? And just what is his connection to Roxas, a blond-haired boy whose cozy life fell apart as Sora's was being rebuilt?
The trio revisits a few expanded/remixed worlds from the first game (based on Winnie the Pooh, Hercules, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin (loosely adapting the sequel, The Return of Jafar), and The Nightmare Before Christmas), as well as all new ones (based on Mulan, Beauty and the Beast, Classic Disney Shorts (most prominently Steamboat Willie), The Lion King, and even the live action films Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and TRON).
This installment is also the one where the series’ infamous Kudzu Plot starts to kick into high gear, with a lot of new elements and Retcons introduced here. Even though it becomes more and more convoluted over time, the story remains internally consistent. The game was followed by three prequels (Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, and Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep -A fragmentary passage-) and two sequels (Kingdom Hearts coded and Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance]), which more or less cleared up the confusion of the plot in preparation for the eventual release of Kingdom Hearts III.
In terms of gameplay, Kingdom Hearts II returns to a style more reminiscent of the first game after Chain of Memories made a number of alterations to be better suited for handhelds, though there have been significant changes. The platforming and exploration elements have been done away with in lieu of a more combat-focused game, with Sora's arsenal being much more diverse. A variety of combo modifiers, Combination Attacks with allies called Limits, and the ability to power up with Drive Forms provide many new ways to approach battles. Optional quick-time events called Reaction Commands also allow Sora to use special techniques against his enemies, making for even more flashy combat and allowing for cinematic moments during boss encounters.
Like many Square games, Kingdom Hearts II's was re-released in Japan with English voices plus extra content as Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix (included in a bundle called Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+ alongside an Video Game Remake of Chain of Memories titled Re:Chain of Memories). Later, in December 2014, Square Enix released Kingdom Hearts HD II.5 ReMIX for the PlayStation 3, another bundle containing HD versions of both Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix and Birth By Sleep Final Mix along with the cutscenes of Re:coded and Trophy support. This same bundle was later re-released alongside the preceding HD I.5 ReMIX compilation (containing HD versions of Kingdom Hearts I Final Mix and Re:Chain of Memories along with the cutscenes of 358/2 Days) on a single disc for the PlayStation 4 initially and later the Xbox One with 60fps support. That compilation, alongside Kingdom Hearts HD II.8 Final Chapter Prologue, Kingdom Hearts III + Re Mind, and Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory, was available for Windows PC via the Epic Games Store on March 30, 2021.
Kingdom Hearts II has its own manga adaptation, which at certain points goes even Darker and Edgier than the game, as well as a novelization.
Pilot the Gummi Ship to travel to the following trope subpages:
Angels in flight… (…wonk uoy naht noitceffa erom deen I)
My sanctuary, my sanctuary…
Where fears and lies
Music will tie… (…wonk uoy naht noitceffa erom deen I)
What’s left of me
What’s left of me now…