Initially, it seems like an odd combination. But when you see it in action, it just.... works.
Kingdom Hearts has gathered a massive fanbase by masterfully bringing the worlds of Final Fantasy and classic Disney properties together, so any new entry in the series has a substantial audience already established.
Enter Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, the franchise’s first venture on the Nintendo DS. This epic adventure not only brings the renowned charm and
familiar characters to a brand new demographic, it also offers fans a fresh adventure to enjoy while they wait for word of Kingdom Hearts III.
“There’s something in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days for both seasoned adventure game fans and gamers less familiar with the series too,” says senior product manager Adrian Arnese.
“Disney and Square Enix characters unite in a magical game world, exciting players with a gripping storyline, action-packed gameplay and imaginative worlds.
“The player explores several Disney worlds during the story that unfolds – including those from Alice In Wonderland, Aladdin, Hercules, The Nightmare Before Christmas and more – meeting and interacting
with many famous Disney characters along the way.”
Square Enix is confident the series’ tried and tested formula will prove to be a success once more. The game has already generated a great deal of interest amongst Kingdom Hearts fans and DS owners, indicating 358/2 Days should be a big hit for the publisher.
“Kingdom Hearts has always been incredibly popular and as the first new release into the franchise for three years, pre-orders are already way in excess of typical DS product,” says UK sales director Doug Bone.
“The strength of the brand, quality of the product and the perfect timing in the approach to Christmas all set Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days up as a star performer for retail over the peak period, justifying a Top Ten chart position throughout the duration.”
KING FOR A DAY
358/2 Days serves as a prequel to 2006’s Kingdom Hearts II, exploring the untold story of Roxas, a character connected with the series’ main protagonist Sora. The game not only explores his origins and the reasons for his eventual departure from Organisation XIII, it also reveals some of the secrets behind the mysterious organisation.
Starting the game with no recollection of his past, he joins the mysterious Organisation XIII and follows their orders as he is sent on a series of missions into various Disney worlds, many of which will be familiar to players of the PS2 version. As he continues his journey, he is joined by Xion, the fourteenth member of Organisation XIII, who proves to be integral to the plot.
Rather than taking the form of a long, sprawling adventure, the Kingdom Hearts formula has been tweaked to better suit a handheld platform. Players take on a series of missions, with the story progressing in between each one. Of course, that’s not to say the scope of 358/2 Days has been limited by the journey to the DS.
“Technically speaking, the Nintendo DS is being pushed far,” Arnese says. “The game boasts 3D graphics that more than do justice to the earlier PS2 iterations of the series, together with high quality music, CGI sequences and voice acting.
“Not only that, but this title is the first in the series to feature multiplayer gameplay, where up to four players
can co-operate and compete as the various members of Organisation XIII. Finally, a mission-based game structure allows handheld users to enjoy the game in short sessions – ideal for those on the move.”
GOOD OLD DAYS
While 358/2 Days is already making its impact with a high level of pre-orders, Square Enix is working hard to raise awareness of the game’s imminent arrival even further. An extensive marketing campaign has been drawn up that will promote the title over a longer period of time, starting a month before its release and running into the busy November period.
“Print media advertising will run for three months starting during September, via single page and double page executions in a range of specialist gaming and kids press,” says Arnese. “Also in print media will be a series of carefully targeted promotions towards the late tween and early teen audiences.
“Highly impactful online advertising on launch will feature various takeovers and rich media video on a range of gaming and kids websites.
“Online promotions with several key partners aimed at younger gamers and fans of the Disney properties are also expected to appear.”