October 3, 2002

Kingdom Hearts - Preview

Release Date Publisher Developer Anticipation Players Price
22/11/2002SonyDisney/Square1$TBA

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Sora, the games lead character.
Imagine the potential of a game that blends the game development talents of Square with the character animations and personalities from many of Disney's movies. In late 2002 you won't have to imagine it, you can live it. Kingdom Hearts is the result of the deal between the two companies which was announced at the Playstation Festival in February 2000. It has taken another 18 months for the first screens and details to emerge and despite the dumbing down of many RPG elements this looks like a stunning game with plenty of humour and action to keep gamers happy.

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Some familiar Disney characters.
Kingdom Hearts follows the story of 14-year old Sora, who, while searching for his friends Riku and Kairi, in a strange and mysterious land, meets Court Wizard Donald and Captain Goofy, protectors of the Disney Castle. Donald and Goofy are on a mission to find King Mickey. The three learn of ominous creatures known as the Heartless - beings without hearts derived from an unknown dimension and the perpetrators of the devastating storm. Upon discovering the link between the Heartless, the storm and the disappearance of King Mickey, Sora, Donald and Goofy join forces to recover Sora's friends, return the King to his rightful position and save the universe from the Heartless

This game sees the heroes travelling through 9 different worlds. Each of these is based on a Disney property such as Aladdin, Tarzan, Pinocchio and The Little Mermaid. Square have stated that the game includes more then 100 Disney characters including "Court Wizard" Donald Duck, Dumbo the Elephant, Pluto and "Captain" Goofy as well as characters from the movies Aladdin, Tarzan, Hercules, Alice in Wonderland, The Lion King and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

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Simplified battles, but still fun.
Kingdom Hearts also includes several Square developed characters, many of which were designed for this game including the lead character Sora, a 15 year old boy, and his friends Riku, a 16 year old boy, and a young girl named Kairi. Other Square characters making an appearance include Cloud from Final Fantasy VII, Squall from Final Fantasy VIII, Tidus and Wakka from Final Fantasy X. There are also bound to be more then a few surprises.

Characters are harder to come by on the Disney side of the ledger but movies have already shown off "Court Wizard" Donald Duck and "Captain" Goofy who are on a quest to find King Mickey who has gone missing from Disney Castle. Other characters sighted to date are Tarzan, who looks particularly flash, Dumbo the Elephant and Pluto. Kingdom Hearts is also set to include several new Disney characters who have been developed by Tetsyua Nomura. As you would expect the game has some stunning animation on the characters and the video footage seen to date shows the game to be up to Square's usual high quality graphically.

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Typically gorgeous cut-scenes.
The English version of Kingdom Hearts is expected to be released by Christmas 2002 and Square are going all out to ensure the voice acting in the game is second to none. The company has enlisted Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense, A.I.) to voice the lead character, Sora. The other main voice actors include David Gallagher (Seventh Heaven) as Riku, Hayden Panettiere (Ally McBeal, Remember the Titans) as Kairi. Kingdom Hearts will also include the voices of Sean Astin (The Lord of the Rings, Rudy), Lance Bass (from *NSYNC), David Boreanaz (TV's Angel, Valentine), Mandy Moore (A Walk to Remember, The Princess Diaries) and Christy Romano (Even Stevens, Kim Possible). In addition, many of the original film star voice actors are reprising their roles for this project.

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Jaws, or is it Deep Blue Sea?
With a team of over 100 people developing this game for over two years now there is little doubt that this will be the biggest title released by Square in years. Behind their Final Fantasy games this is probably their most important development, and especially to secure the popularity of RPG's in America and Europe where sales still struggle. The game was released in Japan in early 2002 and although Square were expecting sales of only 500,000 units the game has already surpassed 850,000 units and looks to end it's shelf life close to a million sales. The American and European release is currently targeted at late November 2002, and Square are promising some additions and enhancements for our version, details of which remain secret. Don't be fooled by the graphics and characters, this is no lesser game then Square's recent smash hit, Final Fantasy X.