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Kingdom Hearts (PS2) Ships September 17

by Thomas on Aug. 6, 2002 @ 7:33 p.m. PDT

Square Electronic Arts the exclusive publisher of all SQUARESOFT products in North America, and Disney Interactive announced today that "KINGDOM HEARTS" for the PlayStation2 computer entertainment system will start shipping to retail stores nationwide on September 17, 2002.

"'KINGDOM HEARTS' will deliver a unique interactive gaming experience that melds Square and Disney entertainment legacies of animation, design, story-telling and character development," said Jun Iwasaki, president of Square Electronic Arts. "'KINGDOM HEARTS' represents a truly unique role-playing game experience, combining more than 100 Disney characters and new and familiar Disney worlds in one game. We are also excited to offer new elements in the North American version that are not available in the Japanese version of the game."

"We are excited to launch 'KINGDOM HEARTS' in North America, which combines the magic of Disney and game development expertise of Square in one adventurous game," said Jan Smith, president of Disney Interactive. "This innovative new game will be a unique experience for both Disney and Square fans alike."

New Disney characters making their debut in "KINGDOM HEARTS" - Sora, Riku, Kairi and the Heartless - are designed by Square's Tetsuya Nomura, director and character designer of "KINGDOM HEARTS," best known for his creations in the breakthrough titles FINAL FANTASY(R) VII, VIII, and X.

"KINGDOM HEARTS" is the story of Sora, a 14-year-old boy whose world is shattered when a violent storm hits his island-paradise home, and he is separated from his two closest friends, Riku, a 15-year-old boy, and Kairi, a 14-year-old girl. The storm scatters the three to different and unknown worlds. While searching for his friends in a strange and mysterious land, Sora meets Court Wizard Donald and Captain Goofy who are on a mission to find the King of the Disney Castle, who has also mysteriously disappeared. The three learn of ominous creatures known as the Heartless, who collaborate with Disney villains to realize their devious intentions. Sora, Donald and Goofy join forces to recover Sora's friends, return the King to his rightful position and save the universe. In "KINGDOM HEARTS," the player will journey into multiple Disney worlds and interact with their favorite Disney characters.

The North American release of "KINGDOM HEARTS" features an all-star voice cast that includes Haley Joel Osment ("The Sixth Sense," "A.I. Artificial Intelligence") as Sora, while David Gallagher ("7th Heaven") and Hayden Panettiere ("Ally McBeal," "Remember The Titans") will voice Riku and Kairi, respectively. Other voice talents featured in the game include Sean Astin ("The Lord of the Rings," "Rudy"), Lance Bass (member of *NSYNC), David Boreanaz ("Angel," "Valentine"), Mandy Moore ("A Walk to Remember," "The Princess Diaries"), Christy Romano ("Even Stevens," "Kim Possible"), Steve Burton ("The Last Castle") and Billy Zane ("Titanic"). In addition, many of the original star Disney voice actors are reprising their roles for this project.

"KINGDOM HEARTS" received strong, positive reviews from the gaming industry's top publications during this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles. In addition, the title won several awards on top gaming sites, including Winner for Best Overall Game, Best Role-Playing Game, and Best Presentation on IGN.com's Best of E3 Awards as well as Winner for Best of E3 PlayStation2 and Best In-Game Cinematics on Gamespy.com's Best of E3 Awards. Comments from the media include:

"We knew to expect something special from the long-awaited Square and Disney Interactive collaboration - but having now actually played it has left us in awe." (Official PlayStation Magazine)

"Square and Disney teaming up to make an RPG? Has the world gone mad? The idea sounded weird at first but now that it's nearing completion, Kingdom Hearts is looking seriously exciting." (GamePro)

"In PS2 romp Kingdom Hearts, Walt Disney family jewels such as Donald ... plus more than 100 other of the studio's animated characters, find themselves in engaging new roles." (E3 Show Daily)

"The best of show so far is Kingdom Hearts ... Stunning to look at and fun to play, `Kingdom' incorporates many of the elements that made the `Final Fantasy' series so popular." (Chicago Sun Times)

An action-packed game, "KINGDOM HEARTS" features a real-time battle system that incorporates innovative new elements with traditional RPG elements found in other Square titles. The North American version of "KINGDOM HEARTS" features two modes, "Normal" and "Expert." Players will be able to select the mode when first starting the game. The North American version also features additional bosses, including Sephiroth, Ice Titan and a boss that carries the name of the "Name In Game" sweepstakes winner held earlier this year on http://www.kingdomhearts.com. These new features bring additional challenges to the players and further enhance gameplay.

The launch of "KINGDOM HEARTS" will be supported by a multi-million dollar marketing campaign, which includes advertisements across broadcast, print and online media. In addition, trailers of "KINGDOM HEARTS" will be featured on a variety of upcoming Buena Vista Home Entertainment video releases beginning this summer. "KINGDOM HEARTS" will also be showcased at Innoventions, an attraction in Tomorrowland at Disneyland Park in Southern California and Walt Disney World in Florida. Theme park guests will have a chance to demo the game starting September. Additional promotions, events and special campaigns to support the launch and the holiday season will be announced at a later date.

"KINGDOM HEARTS" will be released on DVD format and is compatible with the DUALSHOCK(R)2 analog controller. The game carries a suggested retail price of U.S. $50 and is rated "E" (Everyone). Additional information on the title can be found at http://www.kingdomhearts.com.

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