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Kingdom Hearts 2 Casted and Dated
Company: Square Enix
Product: Kingdom Hearts 2
Square Enix, publisher of Square Enix interactive entertainment products in North America, and Buena Vista Games, the interactive entertainment arm of The Walt Disney Company announced today the all-star voice cast and North American release date for Kingdom Hearts II, the highly anticipated action role-playing game (RPG) exclusively for the PlayStation 2. 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.

The all-star ensemble voice cast is led by Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense, A.I. Artificial Intelligence) as the main character Sora and is joined by David Gallagher (7th Heaven) as Riku, and Hayden Panettiere (Racing Stripes, Raising Helen) as Kairi. Kindgom Hearts II will also feature the voice talents of Jesse McCartney (Summerland, Recording artist, Beautiful Soul CD) as the mysterious boy Roxas, Brittany Snow (The Pacifier, American Dreams) as Namine, Christopher Lee (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Lord of the Rings : The Fellowship of the Ring) as Diz; Steve Burton (The Last Castle, Taken) as Cloud, Rachael Leigh Cook (She?s All That, Josie And The Pussycats) as Tifa, 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 Odd Parents: Shadow Showdown, Teen Titans) , Gwendoline Yeo (Desperate Housewives, 24) as the popular female-trio Yuna, Rikku, and Paine from Final Fantasy X-2. In addition, many of the original Disney film star voice actors are reprising their role for this project, 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 will ship to North American retailers on March 28, 2006. 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 the Nintendo Game Boy Advance. With the release of the Japanese version of Kingdom Hearts II in December 2005 (1 million units shipped during only three days after the release date), the series has shipped in excess of 7.5 million units worldwide.

"We have enjoyed success with the Japanese release of Kingdom Hearts II this past December and cannot wait to roll out this title in March in North America. North America is where Kingdom Hearts all began," said Tetsuya Nomura. "The entire team has been working day and night to perfect the North American version and we hope the gamers will find it even more exciting than the original."

"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, senior vice president and general manager, Buena Vista Games. "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."

"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. This collaborative project is a situation most can only dream of and we are fortunate to have had this opportunity," said Shinji Hashimoto, producer, Square Enix. "Kingdom Hearts II is packed with even more excitement and amazing adventures and we cannot wait for gamers to experience it for themselves."

Kingdom Hearts II features a new and improved real-time battle system which provides an increased selection of commands, such as performing special attacks and cooperative attacks with members of your party, adding strategy to the gameplay. 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. These new features bring additional challenges and excitement to the players and further enhance gameplay.

Japanese pop artist Utada Hikaru returns to sing the theme song for Kingdom Hearts II. The song is titled Sanctuary, and the English version of its original Japanese release, Passion, was written specifically for Kingdom Hearts II.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker
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