LOS ANGELES, Calif. (March 28, 2006) – Square Enix, Inc. (Square Enix), the publisher of Square Enix interactive entertainment products in North America, and Buena Vista Games, Inc. (BVG), the interactive entertainment arm of The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) announced today that the highly-anticipated role-playing game (RPG), KINGDOM HEARTS® II, has shipped to retailers nationwide. Exclusively for the PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system, KINGDOM HEARTS II is the sequel to KINGDOM HEARTS, one of the top ten best-selling PlayStation 2 titles of all time in North America (Source: The NPD Group, Dec. 2005).
KINGDOM HEARTS II features an all-star ensemble voice cast led by Haley Joel Osment (“The Sixth Sense,” “A.I. Artificial Intelligence”) as the main character Sora, joined by David Gallagher (“7th Heaven”) as Riku, and Hayden Panettiere (“Racing Stripes,” “Raising Helen”) as Kairi. KINGDOM HEARTS II will also feature the voice talents of Jesse McCartney (“Summerland,” Recording artist, “Beautiful Soul” CD) as the mysterious boy Roxas, Brittany Snow (“The Pacifier,” “American Dreams”) as Namine, Christopher Lee (“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”) as Diz; Steve Burton (“The Last Castle,” “Taken”) as Cloud, Rachael Leigh Cook (“She’s All That,” “Josie And The Pussycats”) as Tifa and Mena Suvari (“American Beauty,” “Rumor Has It”) as Aerith, all characters from FINAL FANTASY® VII; and Hedy Buress (“Boston Common,” “If These Walls Could Talk”), Tara Strong (“Fairly OddParents : Shadow Showdown,” “Teen Titans”) , Gwendoline Yeo (“Desperate Housewives,” “24”) as the popular female-trio Yuna, Rikku, Paine from FINAL FANTASY X-2. In addition, many of the original Disney film voice actors are reprising their role for this project, including Ming-Na (“ER,” “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within”) as Mulan, James Woods (“Be Cool”) as the villain Hades and Zach Braff (“Scrubs”) as Chicken Little.
Since its release in September 2002, the original KINGDOM HEARTS for the PlayStation 2 has shipped more than 2.6 million units in North America. Bridging the gap between the original and the sequel, KINGDOM HEARTS: CHAIN OF MEMORIES followed in December 2004 for the Nintendo® Game Boy Advance® system. With the release of the Japanese version of KINGDOM HEARTS II in December 2005 (1 million units shipped during the first three days after the release date), the series has shipped in excess of 7.5 million units worldwide.
The world of KINGDOM HEARTS joins classic Disney characters and worlds together with a new story filled with new characters and environments from the expertise of Square Enix. The result is a remarkable, innovative, original property that has captured the attention of both gamers and critics alike. In KINGDOM HEARTS II, players will travel through the worlds of Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Mulan, Pirates of the Caribbean, Steamboat Willie and Tron as well as revisit worlds from the original, including Aladdin, Disney Castle, Hercules, The Little Mermaid, Winnie the Pooh and Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. The game features more than 100 Disney characters, including the new additions of Chicken Little, Stitch from Lilo and Stitch and one of Disney’s favorite villains, Pete. The game also also introduces new, original characters such as Roxas, members of Organization XIII and the Nobodies, all designed by Square Enix’s Tetsuya Nomura, director and character designer of the KINGDOM HEARTS series. Nomura is best known for his creations in the top selling titles FINAL FANTASY VII, VIII, X and X-2.
“KINGDOM HEARTS II is a perfect demonstration of what can be created when two companies with astounding resources come together,” said Daishiro Okada, president and COO, Square Enix, Inc. “The result is an absolutely stunning video game that will engage gamers of all ages in multiple worlds both familiar and new."
“The creative collaboration between the Disney and Square Enix production teams has resulted in a game that is not only innovative but truly remarkable in scope,” said Graham Hopper, senior vice president and general manager, Buena Vista Games. “With the addition of new worlds from Mickey Mouse’s classic screen debut in ‘Steamboat Willie’ to the current film franchise ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’ KINGDOM HEARTS II covers the spectrum of Disney properties.”
KINGDOM HEARTS II follows Sora, Donald, and Goofy on their continuing quest, after the events of KINGDOM HEARTS. Sora is looking for his lost friend Riku, while Donald and Goofy are searching for their missing king. The story begins in Twilight Town, a quiet burg nestled between night and day. Sora and friends are joined by a vibrant new cast of characters, including the king himself. Together, they will encounter countless dangers in worlds both familiar and brand new.
KINGDOM HEARTS II features a new and improved real-time battle system which provides an increased selection of commands, such as performing special attacks and cooperative attacks with members of your party, adding strategy to the gameplay. Players can also perform the “Drive” to transform main character Sora into his various forms, altering his skills and abilities. Examples include the Brave Form, in which Sora absorbs the power of Goofy allowing him to use two Keyblades; the Wisdom Form, in which Sora absorbs the power of Donald allowing him to increase his magic power; and the Master Form, in which Sora absorbs the power of both Donald and Goofy and increases both his attack and magic powers. These new features bring additional challenges and excitement to players and further enhance gameplay.
Japanese pop artist Utada Hikaru returns to sing the theme song for KINGDOM HEARTS II. The song titled “Sanctuary,” the English version of its original Japanese release “Passion,” was written specifically for KINGDOM HEARTS II. More information on the artist can be found at http://www.utada.com .
The launch of KINGDOM HEARTS II is supported by a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign, driving the message “New Allies. New Worlds. New Adventures. The story is not over.” The campaign rolled out in mid-March and will continue for three months. The broadcast campaign began on March 27 and will run for four weeks. Both :15 and :30 spots will run on networks including Cartoon Network, Comedy Central, Fuel, Fuse, G4, MTV and MTV2. The print campaign includes Electronic Gaming Monthly, Game Informer, Official PlayStation Magazine, NewType USA and Disney Adventures. Online advertisements will appear in a variety of sites including 1UP.com, IGN.com, Gamspot.com, Neopets.com, AOL.com, MSN.com, and Yahoo.com.
BradyGames' KINGDOM HEARTS II Official Strategy Guide provides information to assist gamers in helping Sora successfully battle through every world in this highly acclaimed sequel. A comprehensive walkthrough with extensive coverage of all the worlds and detailed area maps with item callouts help players navigate through the game with ease. Players will also learn how to master every mini-game with uncanny efficiency and defeat evil minions with helpful tips and game-tested boss strategies. As an added bonus, a two-sided Gummi Ship foldout containing expert tactics to decisively win each Gummi Ship battle, plus cool artwork of the heroes in their alternate costumes, is provided. Players will also love the Gummi Garage, an all-inclusive list of blueprints and Gummi blocks, to aid them in constructing a top-notch Gummi Ship. The Official Strategy Guide, part of BradyGames' Signature Series, will retail for $19.99 US / $26.99 CAN and is also available online at http://www.bradygames.com .
And for die-hard fans, BradyGames is offering another collectible - a KINGDOM HEARTS II Limited Edition Strategy Guide. This exclusive product features a Signature Series strategy guide with one of four special cover designs-not available anywhere else. A copy of Jiminy's Journal is also included, for players to record their progress through the entire game. With more than 400 stickers, the Jiminy's Journal will help players keep track of characters, treasures and more. A deluxe jacket encases this limited edition package. The KINGDOM HEARTS II Limited Edition Strategy Guide will retail for $29.99 US / $39.99 CAN and is also available online at http://www.bradygames.com for a limited time only.
KINGDOM HEARTS II is available at North American retailers for a suggested retail price of $49.99 (USD). Additional information can be found at http://www.kingdomhearts.com . The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has rated the title “E10+” for ages 10 and up. For more information about the ESRB, visit http://www.esrb.org .