Square Enix Inc. and Buena Vista Games hosted star-studded launch party at Wolfgang Puck in the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles on March 23, 2006, to ramp up for highly anticipated release of KINGDOM HEARTS II videogame, which ships on March 28. KINGDOM HEARTS II is the sequel to KINGDOM HEARTS, one of the top 10 best-selling PlayStation 2 titles of all time in North America.
Cars travelling along Melrose slowed down to catch the action as cameras photographed arriving guests in front of the landmark blue building before going inside for refreshments and a chance to play the new role-playing game while well-known DJ Charles Webster spun sounds and songs for the party. Many of the young cast members invited fellow kid and tween actors.
Celebrity guests included Haley Joel Osment, (THE SIXTH SENSE, A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE) as the main character Sora; Jesse McCartney (Summerland, recording artist, Beautiful Soul CD) as the mysterious boy Roxas; Hayden Hayden Panettiere (RACING STRIPES, RAISING HELEN) as Kairi; David Gallagher (SEVENTH HEAVEN) as Riku and Rachael Leigh Cook (SHE'S ALL THAT, JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS) as Tifa.
KINGDOM HEARTS II all-star ensemble voice cast also includes Brittany Snow (THE PACIFIER, AMERICAN DREAMS) as Namine, Christopher Lee (CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, LORD OF THE RINGS) as Diz; Steve Burton (THE LAST CASTLE, TAKEN) as Cloud, 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, 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 star voice actors are reprising their role, including Ming-Na (ER, FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN) as Mulan, James Woods (BE COOL), returning as the villain Hades and Zach Braff (SCRUBS) as Chicken Little.
KINGDOM HEARTS II follows Sora, Donald and Goofy on their continuing quest. Sora is looking for his lost friend Riku, while Donald and Goofy are searching for their missing king. They start off 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.
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.
Players battle in realtime, the graphics are vibrant and there is much more complex, responsive and fast-paced action gameplay.
The game features more than 100 Disney characters, and also introduces new 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 Final Fantasy VII, VIII, X and X-2. New Disney additions to the sequel include Chicken Little and Stitch, from Disney's Lilo and Stitch, well as one of Disney's favorite villains, Pete.
The sequel has a new and improved realtime battle system that provides an increased selection of commands, such as performing special attacks and cooperative attacks with members of your party. 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, where Sora absorbs the power of Goofy allowing him to use two Keyblades; the Wisdom Form, where Sora absorbs the power of Donald allowing him to increase his magic power; and the Master Form, where Sora absorbs the power of both Donald and Goofy and increases both his attack and magic powers.
Japanese pop artist Utada Hikaru (www.utada.com)returns to sing the games theme song "Sanctuary," the English version of its original Japanese release "Passion," was written specifically for KINGDOM HEARTS II.
"KINGDOM HEARTS is the perfect creative example of how BVG is growing and developing the Disney brand and relevance in video games worldwide," said Graham Hopper, svp/gm of BVG. "Our excellent relationship with Square Enix has once again resulted in a game that sets the artistic benchmark in developing video games based on popular entertainment intellectual properties."
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 Game Boy Advance. With the release of the Japanese version of KINGDOM HEARTS II in December 2005, the series has shipped in excess of 7.5 million units worldwide.
"The KINGDOM HEARTS series has given us the opportunity to showcase Square Enix's expertise in game design and development together with Disney's memorable worlds and characters, said Shinji Hashimoto, producer, Square Enix. This collaborative project is a situation most can only dream of and we are fortunate to have had this opportunity."
KINGDOM HEARTS II exclusively for the PlayStation 2 will available at North American retailers for a suggested retail price of $49.99. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has rated the title "E10+" for ages 10 and up. Additional information can be found at www.kingdomhearts.com.
Headquartered in Tokyo, Square Enix Co. Ltd. develops, publishes and distributes entertainment content, including interactive entertainment software and publications in Japan, North America, Europe and Asia. Square Enix brings two of Japan's best-selling franchises Final Fantasy, which has sold over 63 million units worldwide, and Dragon Quest, which has sold over 40 million units worldwide under one roof.
Square Enix Inc. (www.square-enix.com) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Square Enix Co. Ltd., with offices in Los Angeles and Seattle. It handles operations in North America, including development, localization, marketing and publishing of Square Enix titles.
Buena Vista Games, Inc. (BVG, www.buenavistagames.com) is the interactive entertainment arm of The Walt Disney Co. BVG publishes, markets and distributes a broad portfolio of multi-platform video games and interactive entertainment worldwide. The company also licenses properties and works directly with third-party interactive game publishers to bring products for all ages to market.