Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep lit up Japan's game software sales charts upon its debut on the PSP in January, selling some 445,000 units within its first week on the market. Soon, stateside gamers will be able to learn what the fuss is all about, as the publisher today announced that Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep will arrive in North America exclusively on Sony's portable this summer.
The fifth installment in Square Enix's 14-million-unit-selling collaboration with Disney, Birth by Sleep actually serves as a prequel to the events of the 2002 original. The game follows three young keyblade-master novitiates--Terra, Ventus, and Aqua--who must learn to use their weapons to save their world and those linked to it.
The PSP game introduces a number of new locales from the Disney universe, including Sleeping Beauty's Enchanted Dominion, deep space from Lilo & Stich, and the Dwarf Woodlands, as seen in Snow White. Birth by Sleep also includes updates to previously seen worlds, such as Peter Pan's Neverland.
Birth by Sleep will maintain the game's action role-playing mechanics, though Square Enix has updated the game's combat system with a variety of new features. The game will also include four all-new multiplayer modes: Versus, Arena, Command Board, and Rumble Racing. Square Enix will be giving North American gamers a handful of exclusive features as well, such as an extra boss encounter and additional multiplayer options.
For more information, check out GameSpot's previous coverage of Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. You can also catch a glimpse of the game at the very end (8:47) of the episode of GameSpot's Import Friendly shown below.