Kingdom Hearts II is an action role-playing game that mashes up the Disney and Final Fantasy universes. You play as Sora, an optimistic young man who goes on a search for his friends with the help of his keyblade.
Pro Heartfelt story about the bonds of friendship
The story in Kingdom Hearts is strong because of how well it features the characters. The main protagonist, a young boy named Sora, initially goes on a quest to find his friends, Riku and Kairi, while meeting Donald and Goofy along the way, who are looking for King Mickey.
Throughout Sora's journeys with Donald and Goofy, the three of them meet more friends who either stick with them and aid their quest, or turn against them in unexpected ways. Each of the characters' reasons for their choices and actions all revolve around friendship, usually with losing friends to the darkness in their hearts that they must somehow overcome. It's a touching narrative that knows how to pull on your heartstrings.
Pro Wonderful soundtrack
The soundtrack is incredible. The music goes above and beyond to convey any given tone or theme wherever it plays.
Battle and boss themes are catchy even in their classical influences, with epic final boss songs that tell a story about the main villain through music. Songs for Disney worlds stay true to their original material and are sure to make longtime fans nostalgic for their favorite movies and characters. Even the song that plays on the title screen, "Dearly Beloved", is a quiet but emotional song that stays in your heart. The composer Yoko Shimomura does a fantastic job with the music across the series, putting her background in classical music to use here in the best ways possible.
Pro Fun real-time action combat with keyblade swords
The combat is a lot of fun with the unique keyblade weapons: swords that are shaped like keys. Attacking enemies with your keyblade feels swift and smooth, with plenty of abilities to help you dash quicker, jump higher, and more. Elemental magic spells are snappy and pretty to look at; leveling up unlocks cooler and more powerful spells, with giant flare explosions, thunderstorms, and blizzards with detailed particle effects. You also get rewarded for using certain magic spells, letting you chain faster, flashier keyblade attacks where you're practically invincible until the effect wears off. Combat is really enjoyable, especially as you unlock new skills over time.
Pro Tons of Disney worlds to play in
There are many authentic Disney levels in the game. They look like they were pulled straight out from the movies in how recognizable they are, too. Places like the Pride Lands from the Lion King, Mulan's version of China, and Tron's futuristic setting are all fully-playable. Playing around with Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and everyone else from the 100 Acre Wood of Winnie the Pooh, for example, is a great storybook adventure that feels like you're part of the cartoon itself. Experiencing these authentic worlds with their characters is great and feels true-to-life.
Pro Interesting premise of combining Disney and Final Fantasy characters in one universe
The idea of putting Disney and Final Fantasy together seems like it would never work, but it actually does here. While each of the settings are in many of the Disney worlds, the characters you meet along the way are from both Disney and Final Fantasy. Seeing Donald and Goofy interacting with Cid, Cloud, and Yuffie from Final Fantasy VII, for example, is entertaining because of how novel it is. Even villains like Maleficent have screen time with other Disney characters they'd normally never speak to in the canon lore, like Pete. The whole experience is surreal in a good way, with plenty of possibilities for cameos from both franchises.
Con All of the Kingdom Hearts lore can be hard to keep track of
It's clear that the writers didn't plan on the whole series from the start, making things hard to follow or remember over time. Plotlines get introduced out of nowhere in sequels and characters get retconned left and right. For Kingdom Hearts II especially, if you only played the first Kingdom Hearts game, you will be lost right from the start, since this game continues from where Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories left off. Despite how well-executed the storylines are on their own, as a whole, everything is a jumbled mess and would take a long time to explain. If you're thinking of jumping into the Kingdom Hearts series, be prepared to be confused.
Con The game has a slow start
In the prologue, you don't play as Sora, but instead as another young man named Roxas who lives in Twilight Town. The story takes a long time to pick up, usually about two hours. All the while, you run around town with Roxas' friends, doing summer jobs to earn money, and discovering the secrets of your surroundings. While this prologue is very important to the story and ends up making quite an emotional impact by the end, it takes too long to get to the point.
Con Some annoying JRPG tropes get in the way of the story
There are some JRPG tropes that bog down the storytelling. The most prominent one is the idea of the characters coming together to defeat gods with the power of friendship. There are a few other ones that will only get on your nerves depending on how much you either tolerate or enjoy the tropes.