Why Kingdom Hearts II is one of the greatest games ever made

It seemed like the silliest crossover in history, didn’t it? Square Enix’s Final Fantasy series, full of emotional and (relatively) mature protagonists clashing with Disney’s historically kid-friendly characters didn’t make a lick of sense at first – honestly, we feared that both companies involved had lost their minds. But once Kingdom Hearts released in 2002, this concept proved to be remarkably fruitful for fans of both parties. The pairing turned out to be absolutely wonderful and – dare we say – magical.

But it had its issues. The combat was a little bit sloppy, the story wasn’t  up to Square’s high standards, and the means of traveling between the different Disney worlds, called the “Gummi Ship,” was a flawed game mechanic that took away more than it added. These problems and more were completely solved when Kingdom Hearts II came out, just four years later, fixing all of the our gripes while expanding Kingdom Hearts from an adorable mash-up into its own, remarkable series, earning it a spot on our list of the 100 best games ever.

Kingdom Hearts II’s greatness comes through not just its witty inclusion of Disney characters or its perfect selection of Final Fantasy tropes (though they certainly helped), but in its boldness. Square and Disney could’ve just said “yeah, so, more cartoons,” but that didn’t happen. Instead, they expanded on the story of the original, pulling in new Disney and Final Fantasy characters, and adding some of their own, too.

One of the most controversial, and important, introductions was the misunderstood Roxas. Square, who had spent the entirety of the first game allowing gamers to fall in love with protagonist Sora, outright replaced him for the game’s first act, sending some into an indignant rage. But there was a purpose to swapping out the hero for a blonde newcomer – he was part of the longer play to evolve Kingdom Hearts, a theme that permeated the entire story.

It wasn’t merely a small, fun journey through Disney settings – it was a massive, epic story that was complex enough to spawn five handheld spin-offs without breaking a sweat. Though it was hard to wrap our heads around at first, the introduction to the new enemies and organizations of Kingdom Hearts are part of what made Kingdom Hearts II so good, and helped it become more than the sum of its (already significant) parts.


  • cassidy_harharhar - May 13, 2013 9:22 p.m.

    dear derek, RECYLED WORLDS. U WOT M8? 1v1 FITE ME. THIS GAME SUX TITTS. from, cassidy. p.s. lol, i jk <3 p.s.s. no butthurt plz
  • Trade-X - January 4, 2014 9:31 p.m.

    Shut up you damn moron. If you're gonna be a smartass, then first you need to be smart.
  • JTShiro - August 10, 2012 9:34 p.m.

    The answer is no, Kingdom Hearts 2 is not one of greatest games ever made in fact its not the best game of the series. Don't get me wrong it was a fun game, but on a gameplay level it wasn't great it was too easy and there were a lot of elements in my mind that they screwed up coming off the promising original. Granted a lot of the difficulty problems were solved in the final mix (it didn't make it one of the greatest games ever made, but it was far more challenging and had a rewarding post game experience). I can say without a doubt that Birth By Sleep and Dream Drop Distance both played far better and were more challenging games.
  • Nikku7 - July 29, 2012 8:06 p.m.

    The first kingdom hearts had failures in trying to be part platformer, which it was not. The second game tweaked the combat and leveling with awesome additions like the drive forms and the enemy sensitive action commands that made every battle not just a hack and slash with spells thrown in. KH2 is in about every way better.
  • Terrorrizor - July 27, 2012 2:02 a.m.

    KH2 sucked compared to the first one. The mechanics were slightly improved, but not enough to be deemed as better. The first one was better hands down. And Roxas and the Organization were just unecessary and didn't add much for me. Worst 15 bucks i ever spent.
  • ZidaneAlcor - July 26, 2012 11:11 p.m.

    Sigh... I'd very much like to see where everyone comes from in regards to KH. I don't doubt in the least that it's a great game, and have no hate to spew at it, but... I dunno... I just can't get into it. Sora and Riku and so forth are really cool, I honestly think that despite not having played the game, but the Disney characters... -groan- For some reason they just rub me the wrong way. If you'd allow me, good commenters and patrons of the game, a question though: Is the party in KH2 customizable? I think I was turned so sharply from KH1 because the party was locked as Sora, Donald, and Goofy... the latter two being among my least favorite of Disney's 'beloved characters.' Moral of the story, if my party doesn't require Donald and Goofy at all times, I can totally deal with the crossover and will endeavor to invest my time in this apparently stellar game posthaste.
  • soraace7 - July 27, 2012 1:46 a.m.

    The only time you could have a different party member in the games was when you visited another world and you could swap donald or goofy with that character.
  • Japanaman - July 26, 2012 8:59 p.m.

    Kingdom Hearts is one of the few games I have ever played where I don't feel like I am playing a game. Not like Stranglehold where it feels like a movie. Kingdom Hearts feels like a real world I just lost in.
  • lazer59882 - July 26, 2012 6:07 p.m.

    what a HUGE percentage of you assholes are failing to realize is that I'VE NEVER PLAYED KINGDOM HEARTS. it may very well be the best game of all time (doubt it, though). all i'm saying is that this is a completely shitty article, saying absolutely nothing. all i learned about this game from this article was that it's better than kingdom hearts 1, which, again, to someone who's never played either, is useless fucking information. by that logic, they might as well have written an article about why superman 64 is the best game of all time, but then only talk about the ways in which its better than it's 80's arcade predecessors. really, anyone who can't understand the validity of the point i'm making, i can only assume is just a hardcore fanboy of KH2. i didn't say anything bad about the game, just this article, but yet i still get replies from idiots defending the game, and saying i'm some variation on "retard". if you read my comments and your first instinct is to call me a moron and say KH is the best game ever, please, do us both a favor and fuck off. your comment is absolutely useless.
  • ParagonT - July 26, 2012 7:38 p.m.

    So... Your upset because this article isn't good enough for you? Or is "misleading"? Or are you upset because your not getting the big train of haters behind you ready with their pitchforks and torches? I see your point, but it's childish. You seem more occupied about your point being "accepted"/"acknowledged" than the point itself. You don't like the article? Good for you, but I do. So what? What do you want? Should the world burn or something from this grave injustice? But hey, what would you expect.... from a follower..
  • GR HollanderCooper - July 27, 2012 10:36 a.m.

    At the top of the page there's a tab for the review - if you're interested in a more technical breakdown you can head there. This is more about why the game was good, but also important - something that, a the time, couldn't be commented on.
  • Gamer_Geek - July 28, 2012 9:24 a.m.

    If GamesRadar has developed a Youtube or Facebook "Like" button then I would instantly like your statement. I've played like a level of Kingdom of Hearts a few years ago, and to be honest, there is nothing special about the game at all. In simple terms, the game is a pile of shit in which is very overpriced.
  • ACardAttack - July 26, 2012 3:01 p.m.

    They can't be serious? This was a disappointment of a game. Weak combat (weaker than the first), weak and disconnected story and recycled worlds. This was such a set back. The first is far superior in every way other than graphics. And I never had any issue with the camera either, I was fine with shoulder button controls. Rather have that and abilities like dodge roll which were stripped out. And then reaction commands, it is just bash triangle, why not make them actual Quick time events like God of War or Shenmue, make the player actually have to pay attention and think
  • tehtimeisnow - July 26, 2012 5:16 a.m.

    this gane is just garbege no one cares about stuped disney games for kids cuz we play real games insted seruoisely this is the kinds of games that is desotrying the game industy
  • JKHarleyQuinn - July 26, 2012 5:32 a.m.

    I'd be able to take you seriously if you could spell properly, and for the record I completely disagree with you. It's games like Call of Duty that are killing the games industry not Kingdom Hearts which actually has a storyline and heart-felt characters.
  • Rambo 11 - July 26, 2012 5:56 a.m.

  • gabrieliam - July 26, 2012 10:07 a.m.

    Ah yes. Hello again, tehtimeisnow. Back for another round? Gentlemen (And ladies), let me present to you a classic specimen of the Internet Troll. Loudmouthed, obnoxious, annoying, uninformed/misinformed, lazy, and just generally stupid. Now, since the general public seems to enjoy this, in my opinion, truly EXCELLENT game, clearly the contrary opinion is to badmouth it. However, this fine troll here can't simply insult the game in a coherent manner. Perish the thought! Instead, he (or she) simply has to insult the game in a way that not only provides no support or evidence towards their point, but also is detrimental towards the view others will gain of him/her as a result. Clearly that was an excellent use of a comment, tehtimeisnow. Bravo, sir (or madam), bravo. Also, people, (even though I'm not providing a very good example of this), just ignore the troll. That or just provide a rebuttal that is too solid to be rebuked with some poorly misspelled words and impotent rage over a computer screen.
  • slimjim441 - July 26, 2012 2:28 a.m.

    I'm not going to say KH2 is under appreciated, because it has a huge fan base and is an awesome game. But I will say that I have noticed the KH series, but mostly KH2, receives a lot of unwarranted hatred. I don't know what it is that sets people off, but... really, Kingdom Hearts 2 is f***ing sweet. Also, I can't wait for any kind of news on KH3. I'm hoping we get it before next gen.
  • NanoElite666 - July 26, 2012 12:36 a.m.

    Attempting to bring back the weekly features now are we?

Showing 1-20 of 93 comments

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