A brand new Kingdom Hearts game is set to appear on the PSP in 2009 entitled Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. It is a prequel to the first game, taking place ten years earlier.
This would mean that it would be highly unlikely to feature Sora and Kairi from the previous games, as playable characters due to their age, but Donald and Goofy may appear.
A closed screening in Japan showed characters that bore more than a striking resemblance to Zack from Final Fantasy 7 and Crisis Core and Roxas from KH2. There will be a different enemy presence that will not be the Heartless or the Nobodies.
The gameplay battles will use a similar card system to that in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories but it will be considerably improved from the Game Boy Advance title.
There will be three playable characters, who are Keyblade apprentices searching for a missing Keyblade master. The series director, Testuya Nomura said: “The gameplay and feeling for each of their playthroughs will be different. It will feel as if three games were made.”
When asked about the order to play through each characters scenario he said: “I believe it would be better if we gave the players a freedom of choice. However this is still being talked about, but I believe it would be better to choose whoever you want out of the three.”
Nomura also confirmed that the cutscene at the end of the Kingdom Hearts 2: Final Mix (Japan release only) is actually a scene from the PSP title. It shows a bald man dressed in black (hence he’s evil) absolutely batter two younger Keyblade wielders with his own Keyblade in a landscape littered with fallen warriors and their Keyblades.
Most notable by their absence so far in any leaked footage are any Disney characters. However the game will return to some locations from previous games so you can probably expect to see them at some point.
The director would not be drawn when asked about detail of possible multiplayer options but did say: “There will be some features that will be taking advantage of the PSP.”
Expect to hear more details in the near future after Square-Enix releases their long awaited Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII in June and can then focus on Birth by Sleep.