Last week's E3 in Los Angeles was the occasion for Square to unveil their latest little surprise: Kingdom Hearts, a PlayStation2 RPG developed in collaboration with Disney Interactive. The game will of course feature a number of Disney characters, such as Goofy and Donald, visible in the first screen shots, but also three original characters, Sora, Kairi and Riku, created by Square's star character designer Tetsuya Nomura (Parasite Eve, Final Fantasy VII, VIII, X, The Bouncer...) who is also directing the game. The story begins when a violent storm hits the three friends' home island, which will lead 14-year old Sora to start a quest to rescue his friends with the help of Goofy.
Some of the first announced villains are Jafar from Aladdin, Ursula from the Little Mermaid and Clayton from Tarzan, and the game will incorporate nine worlds from Disney movies such as Tarzan, Pinocchio, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid and Peter Pan.
Little is known about the game's system, but the Square regulars will recognize the traditional spells and commands from the Final Fantasy series - Fire, Blizzard, Thunder, Cure, and Fight, Magic, Item, etc.
Kingdom Hearts will be released in Winter of 2001 in Japan, although North American and European gamers will have to wait until fall of 2002 to get their hands on the game. Until then, we've got 23 screen shots and three high-res pieces of Tetsuya Nomura artwork for the game.