Kingdom Hearts II E3 2005 Updated Impressions

The latest Kingdom Hearts II trailer features showy combat and a swashbuckling surprise.

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Square Enix showed off an all-new trailer of Kingdom Hearts II at its pre-E3 press conference, while promising that the game would feature two and a half times the content of its predecessor. The short snippets of footage revealed a whole bunch of keyblade combat, some new features, and an appearance by Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean fame. You read that correctly--this installment of Kingdom Hearts won't just pull from Disney's breadth of animated features this time, though those favorites are still here.

The initial part of the trailer featured the threatening visage of Anselm, the ultimate foe of the first Kingdom Hearts, followed by a scene with a young boy and girl seated at opposite ends of a long table. The girl, named Namine, starts to talk about how she is a witch who has been placed in charge of governing Sora's memories. Though she is blonde, she bears more than a passing resemblance to Sora's friend Kairi from the first game (she appeared in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories for the Game Boy Advance, as well), and the boy she is speaking to is the spitting image of Sora himself. It looks as though the realm of Sora's memories will continue to be an integral part of the storyline of the series, much like it was in the GBA prequel.

The trailer featured a montage of characters of both Final Fantasy and Disney origin that will be making an appearance, and as we mentioned before, the world of Pirates of the Caribbean will be part of the adventure. A scene in the video placed Sora, Donald, and Goofy with Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow (the first sighting of which elicited cheers from the crowd), with the former characters keeping the cartoonish look of the normal Kingdom Hearts world, while Sparrow was rendered in a realistic style. He fought with the group against a mob of undead pirates in a cavern taken straight from the movie, and the look was definitely surreal but also quintessential Kingdom Hearts crossover craziness. Mulan and her dragon pal, Mushu, from the animated film Mulan also join the Disney lineup, with returning characters like Belle and Beast from Beauty and the Beast and Jack Skellington of The Nightmare Before Christmas.

The combat in some cases showed Sora and his friends going up against very large numbers of foes--great milling masses of Heartless that the group scattered into the air with keyblade swings and other attacks. Sora appears to have gained some new abilities. In his fight against a three-headed Cerberus, Sora leaped at the beast and balanced himself between the left and right heads with a foot on each, before jumping again in the air to strike at the middle head. Linked attacks with special characters seem to have returned as well, as the trailer showed Sora teaming up with Final Fantasy X's Auron and Beast (not at the same time) to go against bosses and other enemies.

The gummi ship is also back, but the gummi ship combat seems much more involved this time around, showing the little blocky vessel in lots of active shootouts with obstacles and opponents. The ship was able to move rapidly and showed off a good amount of firepower, though we weren't able to tell if the sequences were still on rails. Still, it seems that this part of the game has been punched up a bit, which is good news, since those sequences in the original were a little out of whack.

The trailer definitely left us wanting to get our hands on the game to see what other surprises could turn up. The addition of Disney's live-action property is a new element that looks like it absolutely works in Kingdom Heart's unique and wacky universe. We'll bring you as much detail on Kingdom Hearts II as we can from the show floor and beyond, so keep your eyes on this gamespace, you savvy?

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