Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Kingdom Hearts Shines Its Light on PC Soon https://www.gameskinny.com/gpovp/kingdom-hearts-shines-its-light-on-pc-soon https://www.gameskinny.com/gpovp/kingdom-hearts-shines-its-light-on-pc-soon Thu, 11 Feb 2021 16:16:02 -0500 Josh Broadwell

Kingdom Hearts is coming to PC on March 30, exclusively on the Epic Games Store. Square Enix made the announcement as part of the Epic Games Store Spring Showcase event. 

It's not just one Kingdom Hearts game on PC either. The entire Seeker of Darkness saga, a total of 11 Kingdom Hearts games, is landing on the EGS on March 30. They're split up over the following bundles:

Kingdom Hearts 1.5+2.5 Final ReMix ($49.99)

  • Kingdom Hearts Final Mix
  • Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories
  • Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (HD Remastered cinematics)
  • Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix
  • Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix
  • Kingdom Hearts Re:coded (HD Remastered cinematics)

Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue ($59.99)

  • Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance HD
  • Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep –A fragmentary passage–
  • Kingdom Hearts χ Back Cover (movie)

Kingdom Hearts 3 + Re:Mind DLC ($59.99)

Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory ($59.99)

Bringing Kingdom Hearts to PC has been a long time coming. Producer Ichiro Hazama said:

Our collaboration with Epic Games is one that stretches back to the development of Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, and as part of this ongoing relationship, the team at Epic Games have been incredibly supportive in helping us make this a reality.

I’m incredibly excited for so many new players to discover and enjoy the action, magic and friendship of Kingdom Hearts on PC.

Those who purchase the Kingdom Hearts 3 + Re:Mind bundle will receive the in-game Elemental Encoder Keyblade. All Kingdom Hearts games on PC are available for pre-order now. On top of the news, there's a pretty good sale going on over at EGS, too. 

[Source: Epic Games]

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Re:Mind Seems Like the Most Kingdom Hearts Kingdom Hearts Has Been in A Long Time https://www.gameskinny.com/usgrd/remind-seems-like-the-most-kingdom-hearts-kingdom-hearts-has-been-in-a-long-time https://www.gameskinny.com/usgrd/remind-seems-like-the-most-kingdom-hearts-kingdom-hearts-has-been-in-a-long-time Mon, 30 Dec 2019 13:12:01 -0500 Josh Broadwell

Ask Kingdom Hearts fans and detractors alike whether the Final Fantasy-meets-Disney mashup is convoluted, and you'll get answers ranging the spectrum from "absolutely not" to "I lost track of things after the first game."

It's not hard to see why. The series' plot is a gloriously tangled mess of time travel, MacGuffins, big villains with even bigger villains behind them, body switching, and a million other contrivances only possible in fantasy and video games — and I love every bit of it.

However, there's no denying the Kingdom Hearts we have now is vastly different from the first Kingdom Hearts that graced our screens on the PlayStation 2. The focus not-so-gradually shifted from telling the growing up stories of three conflicted children to losing sight of the same characters — and brands — that made it shine once.

After getting a glimpse of what Kingdom Hearts 3's DLC, Re:Mind has in store for us, though, it looks like the storytelling pendulum might be swinging back in the other direction again, focusing on the characters and their challenges as a way to lead us into the next chapter of the Kingdom Hearts saga.

Once Upon A Time...

Once long ago, we were introduced to a gaggle of children living free from adult supervision on an island. Because that's normal.

One day, a great darkness arrived on the island and seemingly devoured everything there. Sora escaped somehow, but in the process, he lost contact with Riku and Kairi.

Thus began Sora's fairly straightforward journey to find his friends again. He uncovered a mysterious plot to kidnap pure-hearted princesses, because Disney. He learned of the precarious balance that held all the worlds he visited, and came face to face with the one who wanted to redefine that balance in favor of darkness and so gain the power of Kingdom Hearts — or so he thought.

Along the way, Riku had fallen victim to his inner darkness, while Kairi remained pure as ever and dangerously close to being renamed Plot Device.

In other words, the original Kingdom Hearts was a relatively simple plot following the usual RPG narrative beats made unique thanks to the unlikely combination of Final Fantasy and Disney characters and concepts. Those were special combinations, but the personal stories and struggles, the universal appeal of friendships strained by envy and new feelings, were the game's backbone. And the game knew that too, because that's what it chiefly focused on.

Lurking Darkness?

In a way, Kingdom Hearts is a lot like Star Wars. What started out seemingly simple grew in unexpected ways and drew on an increasing number of plot devices and MacGuffins to develop its narrative, a story that vastly overshadowed the original, even while there are hints of that bigger picture from the start.

For example, the dark Ansem boss at the end of Kingdom Hearts means there has to be some force that created the darkness, a real Ansem, and, thus, a bigger story than Sora — and we — could possibly realize. It's just like A New Hope. Because it's "The Empire," there has to be an emperor ruling it somewhere, a story about how he seized power, and a big black chair waiting for him to retire to later. We just didn't see it at first.

Because frankly, I wouldn't be too surprised if there was a huge change of mind (or heart?) regarding the series' direction after the first Kingdom Hearts released.

Following this analogy further, Kingdom Hearts Final Mix is basically like George Lucas' special editions of the original Star Wars trilogy, adding in new ideas that weren't really sticking to the original ideas but reflected later thinking that fit with the overall whole. We see the hooded folks who would become Organization XIII and play a big role — but not for long — and the Kingdom Hearts that opens up is way different from the one Sora encounters in the first game.

Memories

Chain of Memories kickstarted this process of change by introducing some of Organization XIII without really setting its significance in stone yet outside the existence of Nobodies. Then we get to Kingdom Hearts II. Suddenly, the Princesses of Heart aren't important because you can apparently get to Kingdom Hearts by just releasing a lot of hearts. Kairi's still important, now because of Namine, which means Namine is important.

We learn the truth about Ansem and meet Xehanort — well, one incarnation of him — find out what Nobodies really are, and see how Riku grew.

Only Riku. Kairi herself gets demoted to damsel in distress because Disney, and Sora sort of gets sidelined by the various conflicts his friends and the Nobodies are dealing with. Development in general takes a backseat to plot, and hoo boy, does plot start to take some big turns.

Another New Story

So far, we've got two Kingdom Hearts and two people who are and aren't the same wanting to get it for different but similar reasons. Then Birth by Sleep happens. Now we've got the real mastermind behind the masterminds who manages to manipulate people throughout time to try and restore his youthful self to its real power and claim the power of worlds — yeah, like Star Wars.

The three heroes have stories, but more importantly, they have plots that mirror the three original heroes, and that turns them into types more than characters.

On top of that comes supernatural body snatching, time travel (which is never a good thing) the three new protagonists get connections to the original three heroes and the new ones introduced in the Organization XIII stories, and villains with yet another changed end-goal. First Princesses of Heart, then Emblem Heartless, now the X-Blade. Only the X-Blade has its own twisted history and story that you absolutely cannot convince me the team had in mind when Kingdom Hearts was created, and it's the latest Big Important Thing that will surely, this time of all times, help the baddies unlock Kingdom Hearts or something.

Now the Princesses' light dwells in 7 others, including Sora of course, and it's balanced by 13 bits of darkness that are actually just bits of Xehanort. There's a big war from the past that Kingdom Hearts 3 tells us will probably get repeated again, but we still can't play as Kairi, and the Nobodies are surprisingly mobile and alive for being, well, fused with their hosts and/or dead (or both) before hopping in some Replicas.

There is internal logic here, but it's starting to seem like Kingdom Hearts re-invents its plot and core ideas in each iteration without satisfactorily finishing off any of the previous ideas, all with gradually less of what made the first game so addictive and charming. Kingdom Hearts 3 is the biggest offender of the bunch.

Not only is there less Final Fantasy than ever before, but there's the MacGuffin of traveling around the worlds to regain Sora's strength again, gathering the bearers of light again, lots of convenient Replicas, followed by the (hugely satisfying) event of everything coming together at the end to finally destroy Master Xehanort. We guess. Who knows, he might be back later because Master Xehanort v.2 is really the Master of Masters with more Replicas in tanks and a fleet of Death Star Destroy... wait.

Anyway, while all this plot is happening, and people are waking up from the past, fighting specters, and trying to tie up lots of story threads, these same people are getting lost in their own action. It's hard to see the emphasis on the power of light and hope as genuinely significant when it's just light and hope, the same as we see in countless other RPGs.

Apart from the ending with Xehanort suddenly deciding he'd been a bad boy, take Aqua for an example of this. Aqua's story is one of the most intriguing that also gets the least attention until it matters at the end. Even then, we only get a surface look at the reason her darkness is so strong until Sora restores her heart's light because he's Sora.

Assuming you've played Birth by Sleep, you can connect the dots and realize why she might feel the way she does, including the fact that the Mouse Himself was a bit of a dirtbag to her, but still. Her troubles just vanish like that because someone re-introduced light to her life. Why? Seeing her work through them and feeling that anguish and frustration would make all the difference here.

Re:Mind — Kingdom Hearts Comes Full-Circle?

It boils down to this: Along the way, Nomura and his narrative team seem to have been caught up in the excitement of action and big plot points, forgetting the characters are what drive our interest in that story to begin with.

Enter Kingdom Hearts 3's DLC, Re:Mind. It's supposed to follow Sora's journey into the unknown as he travels the connections between the seven hearts of light and learns the stories behind the people who helped him save the world — again. Plus there's Aerith.

That's pretty important stuff and it hearkens back to what made the original so good, with plenty of opportunities to examine some of the thornier issues that got swept under the rug along the way, i.e. what it means to be alive, how the heart works, and how one overcomes one's own darkness. Kairi will hopefully get more of a story and more of a starring role in her own story, not to mention us getting more insight into Riku's and Aqua's respective troubles.

It will, without doubt, add so much more significance to the game's ending not just by tying together loose ends KH3 couldn't deal with, but because it helps everyone involved seem more human. I care much more about a developed character engaging in a thrilling final battle capping off their tortured character development spanning in-game decades than I do a plot device smacking another plot device with a key until he decides he really prefers light over dark.

It also seems significant there's going to be Final Fantasy in Kingdom Hearts again at long last as well. It could just be fanservice, but Aerith and Yuffie were with Sora from close to the beginning in his original adventure, so there must be some kind of something planned by re-invoking these figures from the past in the quest to find Sora and understand the hearts of the heroes.

If Square Enix is actually taking Kingdom Hearts in the direction of Shin Megami Tensei and bringing it to some version of the real world like the secret ending suggests, these changes will probably be pretty important.

Characters from each arc — Ventus, Riku, Aqua, Sora, etc. — are all hinted at having more trouble to deal with in the future. And it seems like that trouble could very well relate to a mix of our world and other Final Fantasy titles, assuming references to FFXIII Versus and The World Ends with You really are what they seem.

What better direction for Kingdom Hearts to go than taking these characters we finally got to see deep inside of on new, difficult journeys alongside Final Fantasy characters? It's essentially what the original Kingdom Hearts promised us before the story veered off into another timeline anyway.

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9 Plot Points Kingdom Hearts 3 Needs to Resolve https://www.gameskinny.com/hdo1q/9-plot-points-kingdom-hearts-3-needs-to-resolve https://www.gameskinny.com/hdo1q/9-plot-points-kingdom-hearts-3-needs-to-resolve Fri, 11 Jan 2019 17:19:15 -0500 Josh Broadwell

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Balance Between Light and Dark

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Speaking of Xehanort’s motives, the concept of balancing light and dark needs some more detail.

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While having a world focused more on light doesn’t initially seem like a bad idea, you soon begin to see that a light-only world turns into something more like the Destiny Islands — a haven from reality that can’t last forever. It’s like an Ursula Le Guin setting, lovely on the surface, with something lurking underneath.

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In fact, ignoring the darkness led to Ansem’s original quest for knowledge and paved the way for Master Xehanort’s insatiable desire to know more. How correcting the balance between light and dark might affect the worlds is, of course, unclear — though it’s easy to guess that Master Xehanort’s methods probably aren’t the best ways to achieve this particular goal.

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Since almost everyone, good and not-so-great, has undergone some form of trial and has had to face the darkness in themselves and others, it’s not very likely the world can go back to the way it was before.

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All of the characters are more self-aware and work to incorporate balance in themselves and the world around them.

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---

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What are you hoping to see resolved in Kingdom Hearts 3? Let us know in the comments.

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Master Xehanort's True Intentions

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It’s not a stretch to say that the villain’s ultimate goal — and even the villains themselves — change in every Kingdom Hearts game.

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There was the fairly simple fight between light and dark in the original, which changed to the more complicated machinations in Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts 2, with the inclusion of Nobodies and their individual goals plus Xehanort’s goal of remaking the universe.

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Then Birth by Sleep shattered the relatively standard RPG trope of being god by including the X-Blade and Master Xehanort’s desire to remake the worlds, addressing an imbalance between light and dark. It featured, again, in Dream Drop Distance, but there’s yet to be any concrete discussion of why.

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Granted, explanation doesn’t always happen in RPGs, but for a series spanning over a decade now, it seems unlikely it’ll end without delving deeper into the particulars.

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Master Xehanort probably won’t be one of those misunderstood villains — he’s done too much bad for that — but the core idea of balancing light and dark has gradually become more prominent as the series has progressed, especially with Terra’s and Riku’s character arcs.

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Hopefully, there’ll be some more world building and plot exposition on the subject to help explain what Master Xehanort originally wanted.

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Time Travel

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Whenever time travel pops up in a story, it causes problems. How is it possible? Why is it necessary? How did it not completely skew everything else that happened?

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It’s not an altogether unexpected development in KH, since the plot gradually becomes more complicated as the games progress anyway, but it still raises some questions.

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Xehanort isn’t the only one who turned into a Heartless, so can others who have been Heartless at one point or another travel through time as well? If so, does that mean Nobodies can travel back to before they had their hearts removed and interact with their hosts?

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Perhaps it has some bearing on why we’re seeing dead Nobodies like Marluxia return in KH3. But even more importantly, it might relate to Terra’s redemption. He’s not exactly Heartless, but he’s fused with Xehanort’s heart, and he would still have a version of himself in the past.

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It would make sense.

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Typically, villains have some part of their grand schemes come back to bite them, but that hasn’t happened yet for Xehanort; he’s long overdue for some delicious irony.

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What about Namine?

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Namine is an interesting character. Based on KH lore, she shouldn’t really exist. Well, no Nobody should exist, but Namine isn’t even really a Nobody.

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That's because Kairi has no darkness in her heart; the Ansem Reports even comment that Namine is a curious Nobody, especially given how she was formed.

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Her existence adds a lot to the mystery to Nobodies and further suggests there’s more to them than just Heartless shells. More importantly, it makes Namine’s fusing with Kairi a bit confusing.

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Kairi never lost part of herself, and Namine — though not whole — wasn’t lacking anything noticeable. Instead, she gained a substantial bit of power over her surroundings and Sora.

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There’s always the possibility that Kairi harbors some sort of hidden darkness (despite being a Princess of Heart), suggested in Namine’s jealousy, and that’s how Namine was formed to begin with.

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It wouldn’t disqualify Kairi from being one of the Light bearers (just look at Riku) and it would play into the theme of balancing light and dark.

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But perhaps she’s simply a living metaphor for the personification of light, and that’s why she still interacts with her surroundings. Regardless, Namine must still have some work to do, else she wouldn’t feature on the box art as much.

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Roxas and Xion

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You would think Roxas’ and Xion’s arcs were finished. Xion disappeared into Roxas, and Roxas had to sacrifice his consciousness for Sora. But the KH3 box art says otherwise, and it’s not too difficult to see why.

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Many of the remaining plot threads revolve around sorting out the messes made of various characters’ hearts. This, of course, includes dealing with the Russian doll-type scenario of having more than one personality in a given body.

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Roxas is too important a character to leave “disappeared,” especially since he ties in with Ventus. However, if something happens with Roxas outside of Sora, then it follows that something will happen with Xion, the littlest doll in this set.

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From an emotional satisfaction perspective, it would be nice to see each of them develop their own, distinct personalities and live happy lives from there on.

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Yet it seems there might be some character resolution between Roxas and Sora necessary for either of them to move on. If Nobodies are the dark side of a person, and Roxas is Sora’s Nobody, then there’s some darkness in Sora that hasn’t yet been dealt with.

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Given Roxas’ chief desire at the beginning of KH2, it would probably be something to do with Sora as reluctant hero. If Sora satisfactorily deals with this, maybe Roxas can be put to rest like Axel, though what it means for Xion is anyone’s guess.

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Radiant Garden

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Radiant Garden is where it all began, and, as such, it features heavily in Kingdom Hearts' lore.

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Before the first game’s events, Maleficent and her horde of minions overtook the world, transforming it into the bleak and forbidding Hollow Bastion that players visit during one of Sora’s lowest points.

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It’s the exact opposite of Radiant Garden: home to terrors, darkness, and loneliness. But after the massive battle in KH2, efforts are underway to restore it to its former glory.

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That’s fine and dandy, but it isn’t until Birth by Sleep that you realize why Radiant Garden was so important to begin with. It was basically the home of everything good in the game — Kairi, Mickey, light in general, and the meeting ground for the forces of good.

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But as goodness is want to do, it gave birth to the darkness as well.

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Radiant Garden is essentially the KH universe’s barometer — thriving during the time of light, barren after darkness overtakes it, and striving for something better during Sora’s trials.

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What happens to Radiant Garden will largely reflect what happens in the story and characters, whether it’ll still be the symbolic center of the universe, or if it even should be, is another matter entirely.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/k/i/n/kingdom-hearts-returning-characters-kingdom-hearts-larxene-k-c1bed.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/k/i/n/kingdom-hearts-returning-characters-kingdom-hearts-larxene-k-c1bed.jpg","type":"slide","id":"193333","description":"

Dead Nobodies?

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Nobodies are confusing; we’ve already got that down. But what’s even more confusing is how — and whether — they die.

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Sora and Co. have dispatched quite a few Nobodies over the course of their adventures, most notably in Kingdom Hearts 2. Kingdom Hearts 3’s early trailers threw a bit of a wrench in their deaths, though, since notable Nobodies like Larxene and Vexen have apparently returned from the dead.

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Some of them have been “norted” (Oxford English Dictionary acceptance pending), which leads one to think Master Xehanort somehow revived their shells with his heart in them.

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Are these are the same Nobodies as before, or were their fledgling hearts just overrun with darkness?

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Thing is, some haven’t been and are now siding with Sora. Axel already proved it’s kinda hard for a Nobody to die, but it still leaves us wondering why.

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It could be some tie with their host that keeps them tethered to empty existence until they can be reunited once more.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/k/i/n/kingdom-hearts-nobodies-kingdom-hearts-what-nobody-2b2c4.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/k/i/n/kingdom-hearts-nobodies-kingdom-hearts-what-nobody-2b2c4.png","type":"slide","id":"193334","description":"

Image via The Arcade

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The Nature of Nobodies

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Nobodies are the most confusing and interesting aspect of Kingdom Hearts lore.

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Originally, they seemed fairly simple: empty, heartless shells of strong-willed people, some evil, some marginally less evil. But that changed slightly with Kingdom Hearts 2 introducing Roxas’s background and following Axel’s changes. This was before 358/2 Days chucked it completely by focusing on the very human side of Nobodies.

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With Axel disappearing into Lea again, Dream Drop Distance raised the biggest question: what makes a Nobody a Nobody  and how do they stop?

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Axel already developed human emotions and a will, but he was still a Nobody. If reuniting with the host was all it took, why didn’t all the Nobodies jealous of humanity and tricked into Xehanort’s plans fuse back with their hosts?

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It could be there’s some Persona going on here.

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Nobodies are like Shadows, dark fragments of their hosts, but it takes realizing what’s important to them — and on the host’s side, it takes understanding their own darkness — for transformation to happen. What you’re left with then is something new, like with Riku: not the old self, but not the dark self either.

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What Happens to Ventus, Terra, and Aqua?

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Aqua, Ventus, and Terra are three of KH’s most important characters, taking part in all of the background events that influenced the entire series. Their fates have yet to be resolved, though.

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Despite a dream version of Ventus making itself known here and there, the real Ventus remains asleep in Castle Oblivion. Terra is still trapped inside Xehanort, and Aqua remains lost in the Dark Meridian.

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Terra’s body is rather significant for plot purposes, so it’s likely something will happen to him, but whether that’s a good something — like getting his life back — or a bad something isn’t certain.

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The same goes for Ventus, but with a twist. If his heart is with Sora, how can Ventus be revived? And if Vanitas has something to do with it, will Ven be mostly darkness?

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Square Enix already said Aqua isn’t playable in KH3 and isn’t a major character; instead, the developer teased that she’s fallen under Master Xehanort’s influence. With the yellow eyes and all, it’s not a surprising turn of events.

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Aqua remained trapped in the Dark Meridian, while others like Mickey, Sora, and Riku could travel away from it, likely because they had conquered the darkness in their hearts.

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Having failed to save her friends can only have strengthened the darkness in Aqua, making her both an easy and a pitiable victim for Xehanort’s machinations. Whether she’s one of the 7 Guardians of Light, after all, remains to be seen.

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The Kingdom Hearts series spans multiple games, includes near-infinitely important characters, countless plot points. Unsurprisingly, it gets pretty confusing at times (thank you, Birth by Sleep).

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A series that needs entire games and decimal releases to set the plot up for the final game will naturally have some dangling plot elements that need some tidying up. Kingdom Hearts 3 is the last game in the Xehanort saga, so it's the ideal entry to set everything straight.

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We’ve put together a list of the nine plot threads we think are most important — things like what Nobodies really are, whether there’s logic in Master Xehanort’s plans and, of course, questions about fates of major characters, like Aqua and Namine.

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Many of these plot points will have to be resolved for the story to proceed, while others may forever remain a mystery. Naturally, we are about to venture into spoiler territory; proceed at your own risk. 

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8 Unforgettable Moments from the Kingdom Hearts Series https://www.gameskinny.com/ttp20/8-unforgettable-moments-from-the-kingdom-hearts-series https://www.gameskinny.com/ttp20/8-unforgettable-moments-from-the-kingdom-hearts-series Mon, 24 Dec 2018 14:00:02 -0500 Josh Broadwell

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Moment 1: Battle of 1,000 Heartless

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Game: Kingdom Hearts II
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It’s impossible to talk about great moments in Kingdom Hearts without talking about the Battle of 1,000 Heartless. It’s a fantastically epic conflict perfectly suited to KH2’s increasingly darker tone, and it offers several memorable moments.

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The first is seeing King Mickey in combat, where connections between the mouse warrior and Yoda, that other diminutive, semi-omniscient weapon master, cannot be avoided. It's a bit of fun in the middle of a serious battle for the world's fate.

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Then there’s the encounter with Sephiroth. The original KH threw this in as a big surprise, but it didn’t really have much story impact. Here, though, it’s the equivalent of Satan working against Sora and friends. Sephiroth is in his darker form, he’s got a purpose, and that purpose is, well, pretty much the same as in FFVII — destroy everything. More importantly, he fights against Cloud, making this one of the better Final Fantasy tie-ins throughout the many KH games.

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But the most memorable part of this battle is, without a doubt, Goofy. The game plays a terrible, dirty trick on the player and actually makes you think Goofy dies — the equivalent of Square Enix taking your favorite childhood pet and killing it in front of you.

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Obviously, he doesn’t really die, but it’s a heavy, emotional moment and adds a lot of impact to the remainder of the battle on whole, with almost tangible relief when Goofy eventually comes around.

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Those are our top Kingdom Hearts picks, but let us know in the comments what your most memorable KH moments are!

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Moment 2: Goodbye, Summer

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Game: Kingdom Hearts II
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Speaking of Roxas’s fate, that’s another standout moment in several ways. Kingdom Hearts 2 starts out deceptively, especially if you didn’t play Re: Chain of Memories. No Sora, no Donald and Goofy, but you do get Roxas… and Seifer. Unfortunately, though, he’s balanced by some more welcome cameos from FF favorites like Setzer and Vivi.

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You also get another set of rather frustrating, KH Destiny Islands style tasks to complete before you can do anything at all.

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Annoying as these tasks are, they ease you into what seems like Roxas’ normal life. He’s an average kid who wants to enjoy his summer with friends, hanging out around town and just being kids. Naturally, that can’t last for long; it ain’t called Twilight Town for nothin’.

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Part of Roxas’ summer adventures takes him into the mysterious Old Mansion, where he learns his true identity. For the game to proceed, Roxas has to accept his nature and disappear as an individual being. It’s a sad moment in itself: this kid who just wanted to have fun with his friends suddenly realizes he’s literally Nobody and has no real purpose in life.

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But it also provides the necessary emotional foundation for understanding the other sub-villains’ motives once they appear later in the game. Like Roxas, they just want a reason to live.

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Moment 3: Xion Fades Away

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Game: Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
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A lot of people would say the most memorable part of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days is when it’s finally over. That’s not far off the mark, but not for the same reason.

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True, the game has some (big) flaws, but the final reveal where Roxas (and you) learn the truth about Xion packs quite the punch and makes the series' lore even more complicated.

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Up to that point, there’s plenty of speculation about Xion, and it’s pretty obvious she isn’t a regular Nobody, but then it all comes out: she’s yet another aspect of Sora, albeit an artificial one. Apart from some interesting Persona-like commentary on the various aspects of individual identity, it shatters the usual Nobody schtick from Kingdom Hearts II.

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Nobodies and their hosts aren’t mutually exclusive, since Xion regained some of Sora’s memories and combined them with elements of Roxas. More importantly, she wants to save Roxas, implying affection, and Roxas wants to save her; in other words, Nobodies and hollow replicas can feel emotion after all, something you eventually find out applies to more than just Roxas and Namine.

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The scene also serves as a tragic foil to Sora’s various moments of reuniting with Kairi. Where Sora always saves Kairi somehow and manages to find his way back to her, Roxas watches as his sort-of Kairi disappears in front of him. The sense of loss and isolation pack an emotional punch on their own, but it’s an interesting foreshadowing of Roxas’s own eventual fate as well.

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Moment 4: Hollow Bastion

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Game: Kingdom Hearts
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Hollow Bastion is an important place in Kingdom Hearts lore, but it’s where the first game becomes more serious, and Sora gains a glimpse into something much bigger than his journey to find his friends. It’s also the first non-Disney world since Traverse Town, and that alone gives you an idea that something big’s about to happen.

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Of course, that's the fight with Riku, where all the tension and jealousy hinted at on Destiny Islands finally releases. Sora’s friends leave him for a time because of this fight, in a turn of events rather shocking the first time around. Suddenly, Sora is alone and friendless once more, all talk of loyalty and the ties that bind gone.

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Of course, the situation doesn’t last, and he gets his friends back, but then you see what happened to all the princesses. The sight has more impact for Disney fans, naturally, but it’s an important step forward in the games’ overarching plot, something you don’t really get the significance of until playing the other games.

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And then there’s Hollow Bastion’s crowning glory, the fight with Maleficent’s dragon form. Suddenly, the terrifying beast from your childhood cartoon days manifests in front of you, and it’s so.damn.tough to beat, yet so satisfying once it’s finished.

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Moment 5: Traverse Town

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Game: Kingdom Hearts
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You’ve made it through the enigmatic opening sequence, and you survived Destiny Islands and its occasionally frustrating platforming moments. But Traverse Town is where Kingdom Hearts really begins, for a number of reasons.

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It’s where Sora meets Donald and Goofy for the first time, and the player gets a better idea of how Keyblade combat works. But more importantly, it’s where the franchise’s key gimmick first shines through.

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Seeing Final Fantasy X’s side characters on Destiny Islands is nice, but little more than a cameo, really. Sora’s fight and subsequent conversation with “Leon,” plus seeing Cid working alongside Huey, Dewey, and Louis, forces the player to wrap their heads around how the KH world works: characters from everywhere end up together, fighting against the darkness that destroyed their homeworlds (even if that homeworld isn’t actually FF related.)

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It tells the player to leave behind their notions of Disney and Final Fantasy because despite merging both, this is something completely different. And centering their respective plights around Sora’s own journey means it works and works well.

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Traverse Town is a metaphor for the rest of the game and series — Sora’s first adventure, and the franchise as a whole, is seemingly simple on the surface, with a lot more going on underneath.

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Moment 6: Re: Beast's Castle

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Game: Kingdom Hearts II
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Backtracking in a non-Metroidvania game risks killing it completely in most cases for one reason or another. A lot of times, it’s just padding, and KH2 gives the impression that’s what the game’s second half will be like.

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Mulan-land wasn’t very fun to begin with, and going back there doesn’t change much, so when you first get to Beast’s Castle again, there isn’t a lot to hope for. Sure, it was a challenge the first time around, and the story necessitates it, but it still leaves you feeling a bit bored. Until the end. This is where Sora first fights Organization XIII (outside Castle Oblivion, that is), and it’s a fight to remember.

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In fact, it’s one of the game’s most noticeable difficulty spikes, and depending on your playstyle, the potential need for grinding beforehand is enough to make it memorable. Xaldin is a whole new kind of boss, fast, deadly, and resilient. The encounter makes you think on your feet, throwing in some Mega Man-style pattern recognition and avoidance as well.

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And it sets the tone for the game’s second half — darker, harder, and more demanding — while kicking off some major lore dumps as well, where you finally get a slight understanding of what’s really going on.

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Moment 7: Aqua's Finale

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Game: Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep
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If you had to point to one moment where Kingdom Hearts started getting a bit complicated, it’d be the entirety of Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. It’s also where Kingdom Hearts starts to resemble Star Wars in a few ways — prequels, ancient catastrophic warfare, Jedi…er, Keyblade Masters, and so on— but unlike Star Wars, this prequel is actually necessary, and no spot is more important than Aqua’s finale.

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The build-up to her confrontation with Xehanort takes the focus on bonds and friendship to a completely different level. Sora might not get to spend much time with Kairi after finding her again, and Riku’s got his own problems to sort out, but they’re all still together; they work through their problems and come together when it matters.

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Not so for Aqua. Not only does she have to sacrifice herself at one point to rescue Ventus and hopefully find some way of saving Terra, but it’s completely hopeless. Ventus slips into a seemingly endless slumber, while Terra loses himself completely to Xehanort, becoming his vessel and, by extension, the source of conflict in the mainline games.

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Friendship didn’t save the day here. Even if it provided the means by which hope could be restored in the future, it still left one main character broken in the end, and that’s something you don’t see much in Kingdom Hearts.

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Moment 8: Lea's Keyblade

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Game: Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
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Poor Axel. Like Roxas, he just wants a purpose for living, even if that purpose happens to be eating bright blue ice cream on a rooftop with friends. Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance finally gives him a purpose, but not what you'd expect.

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Despite working for some form of good throughout the series, everything ends up going badly for Axel. He’s torn between protecting one friend or another,  loses them both, potentially develops some feelings for Kairi—possibly because of her connection with Xion — but naturally can’t act on them, all before having to give up himself and his memories so Lea, the "real" Axel, can be revived.

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His extensive history in the series gives the player a lot more investment in Lea than would otherwise have been the case, so the lead-up to this moment is much more engaging than it would be for your average NPC. Lea ends up responsible for saving Sora yet again, for rescuing Queen Minnie, and basically for keeping the entire world from falling apart.

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That he finally gains a Keyblade for his trouble is a fitting reward for his actions and all Axel endured, but it also means he can fight to right the wrongs done to him and all of his friends, Nobody and normal, finally starting to tie up the many, many loose ends KH dropped all over the place.

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Sixteen years ago, if you said a mashup combining Final Fantasy and Disney centered around a large-footed child wielding a key as a weapon would be a smash hit and spawn multiple sequels and spin-offs, with the final game being one of 2019’s most anticipated games, people probably would have laughed at you. 

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On paper, it’s a crazy idea, almost fanfiction-y in nature, and yet it worked fantastically. While we’re all anxiously awaiting Kingdom Hearts 3’s debut next month, now's the perfect time to indulge in some nostalgia and consider the franchise’s finer moments.

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There are a lot of them, big and small, but we’ve managed to distill them down to the nine most memorable moments. As would be expected with a list like this, there will be some big spoilers for the games mentioned, so if you haven't played them yet, read at your own risk. 

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The Tea: This Kingdom Hearts Project Turns a Let's Play Into Art https://www.gameskinny.com/0wkts/the-tea-this-kingdom-hearts-project-turns-a-lets-play-into-art https://www.gameskinny.com/0wkts/the-tea-this-kingdom-hearts-project-turns-a-lets-play-into-art Fri, 20 Jul 2018 16:09:30 -0400 Jackson Ingram

Remember when Kingdom Hearts was just “Disney meets Final Fantasy”? Who knew that would be as simple (and clean) as it’d get. Spanning nine titles and nearly as many platforms, KH has built a franchise the way I might build a cake: foregoing the advice of actual bakers to add layer after layer until I have a deliciously unstable cake-tower, loosely held together by candy-sweet frosting and regret.

Call it complexity or convolution, but we’re like seven “side games” from calling KH coherent. It’s a growing pain Square-Enix has been scrambling to alleviate with PS4 remasters of the entire series, all in the hopes that new fans can theoretically get up to speed before the long-long-long-awaited release of Kingdom Hearts III next year.

But let’s be real: who has time to replay all those games? Better question: who actually wants to keep playing Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross]? Yes, there are now official recap videos, but this story’s been brewin’ for 15 years. How can a cutscene compilation do it any justice?

Enter Marco, better known as Everglow, who’s made a bit of a name for himself among KH diehards for his playthroughs, Union χ[Cross] story translations, and, of course, the 30-min extended KH tracks that have quickly taken over my music playlists. À la Jiminy Cricket, Everglow’s been a steady KH chronicler since 2012, but this past April, he launched his most ambitious project to date: retelling the entirety of the Kingdom Hearts saga. In video. Chronologically.

At first glance, Everglow’s Kingdom Hearts Timeline (KHT) might sound deceptively simple, but don’t be fooled into thinking this is just another playthrough. KHT lines the very scattered pieces up in the exact order they occur. So like, Aqua is chugging through the Realm of Darkness while Sora is making his first (of so, so many) trips through Agrabah. Untangling 15 years of interwoven plot threads would be a huge undertaking on its own, but KHT takes it several Sora-shoe-sized steps further by setting out to retell the KH saga as effectively (and affectingly) as possible.

Top and above: Most episodes pull from several titles to realign the story chronologically.

We’ve seen cutscene compilations before, of course, but even Nomura-certified ones, like the Days and Coded “movies”, fall flat because video games, by virtue of their medium, tell the bulk of their stories through first-hand experience. With this in mind, Everglow creates each episode with a balanced mix of cutscenes and gameplay, carefully curating a unique rhythm that gives viewers a full experience without getting bogged down with wave after wave of button-mashing.

It’s Everglow’s unique blend that sets KHT apart, and, in my opinion, the franchise should look to this style and pace of storytelling as we take our first uncharted steps into whatever the hell they have cooked up after the Xehanort Saga.

[Re]Birth by Sleep

The Timeline begins, of course, by taming the international cash cow that is Kingdom Hearts χ (including its browser title, the mobile game before and after its rebranding, and the almost nonsensical CGI movie) into a story that not only makes sense, but means something. As impressive a feat as that is, however, it’s when we hit Birth by Sleep that the Timeline really begins to shine.

To be quite honest, I’ve never been a huge BBS fan. It’s whole ~thing~ back in 2010 was having three player-characters, which is conceptually dope as hell. The less dope part was that the tri-pronged approach made you play through the same events through three different perspectives, in three separate playthroughs. And let me tell you, Disney Town’s happy-go-lucky minigames weren’t any more charming the third time around than they were the first.

The pacing goes to hell almost immediately, and the characterization goes with it. We spend about 15 hours with each of the main protagonists -- Terra, Aqua, and Ven -- and get told over and over what a special friendship they have, but we never see it for ourselves because the gameplay demands that they stay isolated until the game's climax (which KH2’s secret movie spoils almost in full).

That makes it really hard to care about them as a fractured friend group, instead of just seeing a handful of whiny young adults who could use some communication counseling. Stop telling me about your problems! Talk to each other! Geez!

Everglow braids these three separate threads into a much stronger, united story. Instead of running the level gauntlet one keybearer at a time, we stick around in each world for complete, cohesive, well-paced arcs (typically starting with Terra accidentally screwing something up, Ven wandering around like a dope, and Aqua trailing after them, picking up the pieces).

The dissonant highs and lows of their friendship begin to harmonize.

More Than a Let’s Play

The way I see it, there are two types of people: those who ask, “Why would anyone want to watch a video game?” and those who backlog their Watch Later playlist with Let’s Plays. Like it or not, video games have carved out a cultural moment in which Mario Tennis is as much a spectator sport as its real-life counterpart. It’s a thing.

And while I’m truly allergic to obnoxious YouTuber culture, I often power through the bad jokes and running commentary because there are some games that I want to experience even when my bank account won’t let me. It’s kind of like having to go over to an annoying friend’s house to play something, and they almost ruin it by never shutting up.

With the Timeline, it’s all the joys of Kingdom Hearts with none of the usual Let’s Play detractions. In fact, I’d almost rather watch Everglow’s videos than play the games myself. His gameplay is so masterful and so artistic that it quickly becomes an integral part of the storytelling.

Birth by Sleep has one of the most robust ability systems in the franchise, filling out each character’s deck with individualized skillsets with which Everglow makes every fight dynamic. Some of the larger beats of each boss battle I’m sure he planned out in advance, but because this is a video game, he also has to choreograph as he goes, tweaking and improvising so that the finishers goes off like clockwork, leaving the most lasting impact every step of the way.

Like a painter in front of three distinct color palettes, Everglow uses Terra, Aqua, and Ven's moves to engineer cinematic moments on the fly, all while incorporating stylized touches to evoke their distinct personalities. Watching him, it’s almost like seeing an actor embody a character onstage.

Ever-patient Aqua takes her time in battle, often letting her opponent strike first and, in the climax of the story, shows serious restraint in some of the fights against her own friends. Meanwhile, Terra rushes in, fitting for his impulsive nature. And the way Ventus breezes around the arena, the fights are as much a carefree game to him as they are to the player.

It’s these tiny, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it details that elevate the gameplay to an art form I’ve never seen in Let’s Plays before.

Check out the 16:00 mark for an excellent example of how Everglow blends gameplay and storytelling.

Perhaps the best example of this project’s thoughtful innovation is its use of Trinity Limits. While the Trinity Limit has been a staple Kingdom Hearts attack, Birth by Sleep uses it specifically to evoke the bond between Terra, Ven, and Aqua. When Everglow deploys his Limits at key moments, he ups the emotional stakes by editing in character voiceover that best illustrates the complex dynamics between the three.

Let me tell ya, the "dynamic" in question is not always unconditional love, which makes it all the more interesting. I honestly thought I’d get bored of them toward the end, when there was at least one Trinity Limit per episode, but because of the nuance behind the chosen dialogue and the Limit’s use as a finisher to critical boss fights, Everglow makes each of them feel just as fresh and impactful as the first.

The cutscene edits and in-game characterization truly work wonders together, fittingly coming to a head at the climax of the game in “Episode 30: Destiny is Never Left to Chance,” whose montage (recapping the Wayfinder Trio’s friendship amidst its collapse) actually left me breathless.

Fandom Freak-Out

This week’s entire column is technically the the Fandom Freak-Out, but it’d be wrong of me to (rightfully) laud the Timeline as the greatest multimedia contribution to the Kingdom Hearts fandom without giving mad kudos to some of the brilliant contributors to the "A" side of this AV masterpiece.

Beginning around Radiant Garden in the Birth by Sleep leg of the Timeline, Everglow begins incorporating several of Project Destati’s acclaimed orchestrations at key moments. My favorite so far has to be the inclusion of Riku’s theme from their first full-length album Light at the part of Birth by Sleep in which he inherits the keyblade from Terra.

Project Destati made waves this past March with the long-awaited release of their second album, Darkness, and have already hinted (through their surprisingly robust social media presence) at a third in the works (because the best things in KH come in threes).

Project Destati describes themselves as “a celebration of the rich musical score of the Kingdom Hearts games.” Outside the context the cutscenes and boss battles, the music tells a story itself, constructing impressive and moving arcs that flow across their discography. In this sense, Project Destati pairs perfectly with Everglow’s project, both succeeding telling a tale (as old as time) in a completely new way.

I can only imagine what the Timeline will do with Darkness’s 10-minute "Xion" track once we hit Days. I’ll keep tissues on-hand for that one.

The Final Swallow

I can't say it enough: Everglow’s Kingdom Hearts Timeline is a gift. If you’re a newbie trying to machete your way through the lore before KH3 or an old fan looking to experience the story in a fresh light, this project is for you.

Right now, Everglow’s still working his way through KH1 (which plays out interspersed with Aqua’s journey in 0.2), and the parallels are bananas good. Don't believe me? Check out what he did with Neverland. If you start now (and watch pretty much non-stop for three days), you should catch up right before KH's climax, which promises to be a hell of a show.

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That's all for this week, folks. In the comments below, tell me about your Let's Play experiences. What are your favorites? Why do you watch them? Let's get talkin'.

The Tea (never timely, always hot) is a weekly column steeped in gaming culture and the fandom experience. Tune in Thursdays for another cup of content!

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Here's Everything That's Included in Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix https://www.gameskinny.com/cx4vc/heres-everything-thats-included-in-kingdom-hearts-hd-15-25-remix https://www.gameskinny.com/cx4vc/heres-everything-thats-included-in-kingdom-hearts-hd-15-25-remix Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:00:01 -0400 Jerline Justo

Imagine a game that combines both Disney and Final Fantasy -- yup, that is Kingdom Hearts for you!

With Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix, following with Kingdom Hearts 2.8, fans will be understand the whole plot before the release of Kingdom Hearts 3. This collection does contain previous games, but it also comes with special bonus that is not included in the original released.

Kingdom Hearts

Kingdom Hearts Final Mix

When Square Enix released Kingdom Hearts on the PS2, the game introduced Sora, a keyblade wielder, and his companions, Donald and Goofy. On their Gummi ship, they travel to various world and meet different Disney and Final Fantasy characters while fighting the heartless. The gameplay involves the player controlling Sora and a command system to attack or use magic against the Heartless. In the Final Mix, it features new cutscenes that explore Riku’s story, new weapons for Sora, Donald, and Goofy, and new bosses, including Organization XIII leader, Xemmas, and Sephiroth.

Kingdom Hearts

Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories

Chain of Memories falls right after the events of Kingdom Hearts where Sora, Donald, and Goofy explore Castle Oblivion and Organization XIII while alongside Mickey’s help, Riku attempts to escape the lower floors of the castle. Fans first played Chain of Memories on the Game Boy Advance in 2004, and the game was later remade on the PS2 in 2007. The gameplay remains the same deck card combat that correlate different actions during battle mode; the difference is the transition from 2D to 3D graphics.

Kingdom Hearts

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (HD Remastered Cinematics)

358/2 Days happens after Kingdom Hearts and during Chain of Memories where fans see how Roxas’s story under Organization XIII and his friendship with Axel and Xion develops. Square Enix released Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days on the Nintendo DS in 2009, and the game features a similar gameplay, but the player’s magic is limited. The HD Remastered Cinematics is the movie version where it shows the original cutscenes as well as unseen scenes not featured from the game.

Kingdom Hearts

Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix

Following right after Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, Sora wakes up a year later with Donald and Goofy, and the trio faces a new enemy, the Nobodies and Organization XIII. The game was launched in 2005 on the PS2, and the gameplay introduces Reaction Commands during battle. In Final Mix, the game includes more elements to challenge fans, like new bosses, specifically all the Organization XIII members and Birth By Sleep's Terra, a new drive form that features previous moves from the first game, a new difficulty level called critical mode, and other side quests.

Kingdom Hearts

Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix

Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep happens before Sora’s journey 10 years ago, exploring a different trio of friends, Terra, Aqua, and Ventus. The game was first released in 2010 on the PSP, and fans can experience playing each character to see how the events falls into Kingdom Hearts storyline. The gameplay presents a different type of command system such that players can create a deck of special abilities and magic based on their fighting preferences. In the Final Mix, it includes new missions in the Mirage Arena, new command style for each character, and a secret episode where Aqua explores the realm of darkness.

Kingdom Hearts

Kingdom Hearts Re:coded (HD Remastered Cinematics)

Re:coded falls right after Kingdom Hearts II where Sora's friends, Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and Jiminy, explores the mysteries of two hidden messages inside Jiminy’s journal. Square Enix first made this game for mobile phones but later remade it for the Nintendo DS in 2011. The game includes a multiplayer system for other players to play with each other. Like 358/2 Days, this remaster is a movie version of the game itself with new cutscenes not from the original DS versions.

Kingdom Hearts

On top of the new side quests and cutscenes within this collection, it also includes better graphics and gameplay improvements, which fans noted from the PS3 complications. Square Enix also mentions that the game will be running 60 frames per second than the usual 30 frames per second, giving fans the best gameplay experience, as seen in the video below.

For 15 years, Square Enix continues the Kingdom Hearts series, and since 2002, the series adapted into different platforms, from PS2, PSP, and Nintendo 3DS. With this release, fans, or new players, can either revisit or jump into the entire series on one console. 

Time to get on that Gummi ship and go against the darkness!

Kingdom Hearts, goofy, daffy duck

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5 RPG Mini-Games We Need on Tabletop for Board Game Night https://www.gameskinny.com/s9wtn/5-rpg-mini-games-we-need-on-tabletop-for-board-game-night https://www.gameskinny.com/s9wtn/5-rpg-mini-games-we-need-on-tabletop-for-board-game-night Tue, 20 Dec 2016 15:53:27 -0500 StraightEdge434

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1. Tetra Master (Final Fantasy IX)
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Very similar to Triple Triad, but with a new twist: cards that are adjescent or diagonal to opponent cards, are able to attack them! That means that this time around, cards have HP, ATK, and DEF to support them. How does that effect your potential game board night? Well, let's just say that there will need to be a bit more strategy. Just think of this game as a buffed (or more strategic if you prefer) version of Triple Triad. 

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Again, two deck of cards and a 3x3 board should do it, for a duel between two players.

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What other mini-games would you like to see become tabletop games? They don't necessarily have to be from RPGs...any game genre will do! Feel free to share in the comments!

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2. Triple Triad (Final Fantasy VIII)
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This card game is very similar to Tic-Tac-Toe. However, here, players place cards on a 3x3 game board, and if two cards are next to each other, their stats are compared (that is if one card is yours, and the other one is your opponent's). If the card with higher stats wins, it "takes over" the weaker card. The winner is determined based on how many of their cards remain on the board at the end (rules in a nutshell).

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Needless to say, the potential is there for a fun card game. Two decks, a simple 3x3 grid, and of course, two players. Strategy and placing the right cards will be key to victory. 

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3. Command Board (Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep)
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Monopoly, with style! This is what Command Board is essentially. Since its similar to Monopoly, you basically have to spend cash to buy colored blocks, and eventually improve them. Needless to say, the more of the same color you own, the more "land" you have, and thus, the more money you earn.

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There is a reason why we think it's close to Monopoly -- the goal is very much similar, if not the same! Turn it into an actual board game (which can be done), and you'll have quite an experience the next time it's board game night!

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4. Voltorb Flip (Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver)
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Did you ever play Minesweeper? You know, click on the tiles to uncover them, and making sure that you do not uncover a bomb? Voltorb Flip is very similar to that, except that it also incorporates some aspects of Sodoku. The whole point is to flip all the cards, making sure to avoid those that have Voltorb on the other side.

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This can easily be a mini-game if done with cards. Have a bunch of cards (those that have Voltorb on them and those that have numbers on them), shuffle them, lay them out, and have either yourself or another play try and figure it out. What'll make it even more fun is if you add more cards into the mix, making the potential board game more fun and challenging!

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5. Chocobo Races (Final Fantasy VII)
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This can make for a quite unique board game if modeled after Hot Wheels. Just use your imagination for a moment. The Chocobos can be the cars, and the race track can come with the board game itself. Best part is, the race track can be completely customize-able! That way, it's a new race experience every time!

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Simple, and to the point. Having up to six players, and the Chocobos being "charged" up on a ramp before the race, this will certainly prove to be a fun, worthwhile board game night experience! 

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Mini-games, can spice up your journeys in video games. Tired of questing or traveling across the lands, and just want to take a break at the local tavern, casino, or any other entertainment landmark? That can be done!

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Gwent from Witcher 3, is on its way to becoming an actual tabletop game (well technically, it already is if you pre-ordered the DLCs in the past. It's going to become a standalone game like Hearthstone) . What other RPG mini-games deserve that treatment and would make fun games to play on board game night? The following list talks about some mini-games that have the potential to become great tabletop games.

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The 8 Best Worlds of Kingdom Hearts https://www.gameskinny.com/6m6tp/the-8-best-worlds-of-kingdom-hearts https://www.gameskinny.com/6m6tp/the-8-best-worlds-of-kingdom-hearts Sun, 29 May 2016 10:56:23 -0400 Noor Sami

Rumor has it that Square Enix will reveal a brand new trailer for Kingdom Hearts III at E3, and hype for the series is building up again. We have learned a bit about the new worlds that may show up, including ones inspired by Tangled and Big Hero 6. However, there's still no official release date. To tide us over until we get some real news, let's take a trip down memory lane and look at the best worlds we've gotten from the series so far. 

 8. Destiny Islands

The Destiny Islands show up in a number of games, but they’re only playable in Kingdom Hearts. They serve as an introduction to Sora, Riku, and Kairi, and when the game starts, all they want to do is get away. It’s a relatively simple world, enjoyable as you engage in friendly competitions and try to build a raft to run away. There’s the added mystery of the door, surrounded by their childhood drawings. The world is mostly memorable because when Sora leaves, he misses it. Along with Riku and Kairi, the Destiny Islands are mentioned again and again. There are times when all Sora wants is to find his friends and go home, when in the beginning all they wanted was to leave and find adventure. That’s a little bit like life; maybe that’s why it resonates so much.

7. The 100 Acre Wood

Cute. That’s probably the best way to describe the 100 Acre Wood. The fact that you enter it through a book is cool enough, but the best part: no fighting. It’s an entirely game-based world that serves as a nice interlude between tougher, battle-oriented worlds. You can help Winnie the Pooh get unstuck from Rabbit’s door after he eats too much honey, or race against the clock to see how many of Rabbit’s vegetables you can push into the ground by Tigger-hopping all over them. Not to mention the neat addition of the animation that mimics the 2D appearance of a storybook until you hop into a scene. It’s a mostly lighthearted world, and that’s nice—at least until Winnie the Pooh decides to spout something philosophical.

6. Timeless River

Timeless River of Kingdom Hearts II, accessed through the Hall of the Cornerstone in Disney Castle, is a cleverly-designed world. Entirely black-and-white, it’s made to look like you popped right into a cartoon from the 1920s, complete with starburst effects every time Sora hits something with his Keyblade. The games Sora and friends are subjected to are rather bizarre and vaguely trippy, if we’re being honest, with a different scene taking over every time you jump through a window. Overall, it’s a unique and memorable world that inspires a certain nostalgia for traditional animation (although Pete, originally from Steamboat Willie, gets pretty annoying pretty fast).

5. Neverland

Three words: you can fly. The world of Neverland from the first game is enjoyable enough without that particular addition. Its pirate ship setting boasts plenty of trapdoors and a snazzy captain’s cabin. Battling pirate Heartless and later Captain Hook himself, with his spinning and jumping, is a fun challenge. But it’s the flying that really makes this world memorable. You can glide to the highest rafters and around the ship’s deck, making you a good match for Captain Hook, who might as well be flying with how quick he moves. The ability to fly makes battles that much more interesting. Plus, there’s the lovely addition of the Clock Tower and its hourly treasures at the end, as well as the Phantom Heartless you can return to fight later.  

 4. Space Paranoids

When talking about the best worlds of the Kingdom Hearts series, Space Paranoids cannot be left out. Found in a Radiant Garden computer in Kingdom Hearts II, they’re modeled after the movie Tron. They boast a gorgeous soundtrack and some fantastic battles. The Game Grid, where Sora races and battles on a Light Cycle, is particularly memorable. Tron and the MCP are enjoyable characters. Ultimately, it’s a clever setting that holds a lot of surprises for the player.

3. Olympus Coliseum 

Olympus Coliseum is an incredibly fun world to maneuver. The battles with Cerberus in both Kingdom Hearts I and II are fairly enjoyable, as is the Hydra and its regenerating heads in the latter. The best part of the world, of course, is the tournaments. Returning to Olympus Coliseum over and over to test your battle skills by facing old and new enemies really pushes you to improve (even if only so you can receive the tournament rewards). The larger extent to which you can explore different parts of the world in Kingdom Hearts II and Birth by Sleep makes it even better. And the fact that Auron from Final Fantasy X temporarily joins your team in the former is the cherry on top.

2. Twilight Town

Twilight Town shows up in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, as well as Kingdom Hearts II. It’s a scenic, sleepy town that absolutely bleeds nostalgia. The entire introductory period of Kingdom Hearts II is spent playing around with Roxas and his friends, earning money for a beach trip that never happens. Throughout the time spent there, you’re acutely aware that it’s not permanent—not only through the brief glimpses of the so-called DiZ and Ansem discussing the fact that Roxas’s Twilight Town is only a virtual creation, but also through Roxas and his friends themselves. Summer is ending and they are hit with the sudden realization that they won’t be together forever. The constant sense of impermanence lends itself to the overall beauty of the world. (And let’s not forget you can hop on conveniently-placed skateboards whenever you’re too lazy to walk.)  

 1. The World That Never Was

And finally, The World That Never Was. Kingdom Hearts II’s The World That Never Was boasts some of the most gorgeous music of the entire game. Aside from its lovely soundtrack, the setting of the Dark City with its empty buildings and bright signs is oddly haunting. Sora finds his way up to the Castle That Never Was, another setting with a number of passages and rooms. As a culmination to the game, this world hosts a number of difficult and distinctive battles with well-known enemies. Not only is the world’s storyline fascinating, the soundtrack and setting are striking, making it one of the most memorable worlds of the series.

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The top 10 Kingdom Hearts Moments [Spoilers!] https://www.gameskinny.com/8jb9j/the-top-10-kingdom-hearts-moments-spoilers https://www.gameskinny.com/8jb9j/the-top-10-kingdom-hearts-moments-spoilers Mon, 24 Aug 2015 02:30:01 -0400 Larry Iaccio

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1. Sora's Sacrifice

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Kairi is asleep, and Sora doesn't know how to wake her up. He sees Riku's keyblade lying on the floor and uses it to unlock his own heart to save Kairi. This means basically stabbing himself in the heart and dying in order to free his friend's heart.

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Donald and Goofy pleading with Sora to rethink his actions coupled with his reassuring smile right before he does it is emotional to say the least. The waterworks really start flowing when Kairi wakes up to see the remnants of the man who just saved her disappear.

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The focus then suddenly shifts to a very prominent heartless figure for some reason, but who knows why.

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Many people may disagree or have different moments, but these are the ones that I can vividly remember that either surprised me the most or evoked the most emotion. If you disagree or have any other moments, let me know in the comments below!

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2. Battle of the 1000 Heartless

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Maybe it's a little unfair for me to split up Goofy's death and this battle since they basically feed into one another, but I feel that both were huge surprises for fans.

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This is an all out war and it is glorious. This game pushed the PS2 to its limits and actually taking on these 1000 heartless made you feel like an invincible god in the best way possible. Although this battle can be beaten fairly easily with the help of certain enemy types, taking out your anger on the things that almost killed your friend makes this one of the most memorable scenes from the series.

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3. Goofy's Death

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After all of the insane-looking monsters this guy has fought, we see him get taken out by a boulder to the head. That's right, in an effort to save King Mickey's life, Goofy pushes Mickey out of the way and ends up getting clobbered with a boulder that appears to kill him.

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Donald and Mickey are pissed, and it's the perfect reaction to their long-time friend getting killed. This was honestly one of the most heartbreaking moments in the entire series, and makes the ensuing battle that much more satisfying.

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4. Sora vs Roxas

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In keeping up with the theme from my 5 pick, number 4 features the inevitable clash between Sora and his Nobody, Roxas. 

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At the time the battle takes place, Sora has no idea who Roxas is or the significance this battle has, only that this guy in the hood is 'evil' and claims to have defeated Riku before.

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On the reverse side, the audience and Roxas understand just how important this battle is. And while Sora may be the hero, you can't help but empathize with how hopeless Roxas is feeling, since all he was trying to do was understand his existence.

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Besides the emotions that come along with this battle, the battle itself is a good challenge and yields some impressive cutscenes.

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5. Ventus vs Vanitas

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Vanitas captures and threatens the life of Aqua and Terra. The only way for Ventus to save his friends is to meet Vanitas in the only place that the the x-blade can be forged: the Keyblade Graveyard.

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Ven knows that the destruction of Vanitas and his x-blade means the destruction of himself since they were forged from the same heart, but he engages in order to save his friends anyway. Ven emerges victorious, but that of course means he will pass as well. Ventus's heart is able to find its way into Sora's, though, allowing him to wield a second keyblade.

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6. The True Organization XIII

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After the Organization is basically obliterated during the events of Kingdom Hearts II, it seemed all but destroyed. Xehanort seemed to have other plans, though.

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He reveals in Dream Drop Distance that the Organization was originally made up of Nobodies so that each one could house a piece of his heart. This has been the plan since the beginning of Kingdom Hearts so that he could obtain true power of the keyblade and control Kingdom Hearts. He plans on using Sora as his last vessel, but Mickey, Riku, Donald, Goofy, and Lea interrupt him perfectly setting up the events for KHIII.

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7. Sora loses the keyblade...and his friends

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In a shocking turn of events near the end of the original Kingdom Hearts game, Riku shows up to confront you and Beast in the world of Hollow Bastion. Claiming that there can only be one keyblade master, Riku then somehow takes possession of the keyblade, and Sora is left with nothing more than a wooden sword. He falls down in defeat. Just as we think things can't get any more crushing for our hero, his two faithful companions for the entire game leave him.

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Donald and Goofy leave a defeated Sora since he no longer has the keyblade and no longer serves his purpose for their mission. It was a cold and heartless act that really made me feel alone in the game.

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8. Starting Kingdom Hearts II as Roxas

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After the events of Chain of Memories, it almost seemed as if the game would mean nothing more to Kingdom Hearts story than a mere dream. When we started Kingdom Hearts II, we quickly found out that this is not the case.

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Starting the game off as Roxas was a bold decision for designers to make, as players were very attached to Sora by that point, but it was a decision that paid off. This made Roxas's story hit home that much more and the game made you grow just attached enough to the character before ripping him away from you to allow you to control Sora again.

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9. Closing the Door to Darkness

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After finally defeating Ansem and thinking this guy just needs to give up, he pulls one last trick out of his sleeve and tries to open the door to Kingdom Hearts. Darkness starts spewing out of it, and basically everything looks like it's gone to hell until Sora kindly reminds Ansem that Kingdom Hearts is "without a doubt" light.

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Ansem gets swallowed up by the light, but the door remains open. Sora, Donald and Goofy are desperate to close it before all of the Heartless escape. Having a hard time closing this door, a restored Riku lends a hand to try and close it from the inside, but quickly gets surrounded by very powerful Heartless. King Mickey appears on the inside where Riku is and reassures Sora and the gang that there will always be a door to the light. Eventually they push the door closed and Sora and Mickey lock the door for good.

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Shortly after, we see Sora briefly reunite with Kairi before having to depart to find Riku once again. The two people who you have been after the entire game were literally in arm's reach of you and you had no choice but to let them slip away.

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10. Kingdom HeartsISecret Ending: "Another Side, Another Story [deep dive]"

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Kingdom Hearts was a fairly long game, and unlocking this ending was no easy task. You needed to conquer the Hades Cup, find all 99 dalmatian puppies, seal every keyhole, and complete Jiminy Cricket's journal - but boy was it worth it.

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Not only was this beautiful to look at, but it set up so many pieces of the story that would later become so crucial to the entire Kingdom Hearts franchise that left us completely dumbfounded back then. And let's be honest, seeing this hooded figure dual wielding keyblades was nothing short of bada$$.

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The Kingdom Hearts series is filled with incredible moments. The storyline has gone from relatively simple to incredibly complex, with dozens of characters' fates interweaving and affecting one another in subtle yet important ways. With all of these characters and games in the franchise, narrowing down the top 10 best moments in the series was no easy task, but these are my picks.

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Ladies in Gaming: Kingdom Hearts' Aqua https://www.gameskinny.com/mo2kd/ladies-in-gaming-kingdom-hearts-aqua https://www.gameskinny.com/mo2kd/ladies-in-gaming-kingdom-hearts-aqua Wed, 19 Aug 2015 02:30:02 -0400 Jackson Ingram

I love Kingdom Hearts. I love that the series is an unholy union between Disney and Final Fantasy. I love how every other line either includes the words "friendship" or "darkness." I even love how the overarching plot is so ridiculously complex that we need countless analysis blogs and forums to even begin lining all the pieces up.

Kingdom Hearts is my problematic fave, and not just because it's silly and takes Mickey Mouse way too seriously and sometimes the dialogue sucks. 

KH is problematic because it doesn't know how to write female characters.

This isn't the first time I've gotten vocal about this. Whether I'm fuming over Kairi's frustrating characterization or exploring Xion's narrative through the lens of Queer Theory, there's always a common denominator: I have to dig deep to interpret female representation in Kingdom Hearts because there isn't a lot of female representation to interpret.

I have to dig deep to interpret female representation in Kingdom Hearts because there isn't a lot of female representation to interpret.

There are dozens of original characters populating the Kingdom Hearts multiverse. Guess how many are female. 

Stop guessing, I'll just tell you. Six! Only six. And of those six, three have the exact same facial features, one is a minor character, another is a supporting antagonist for a side game, and the last one is Aqua, the selfless martyr of Birth by Sleep.

The Misguided Master

On paper, Aqua appears to be a KH feminist's dream. Finally, a female protagonist who is playable during a whole section of the story, not just thrown into a cheap multiplayer mode. After years of waiting on Kairi and rooting for Naminé and crying over Xion, we were getting the heroine we had been waiting for.

In her debut in the secret film alone, Aqua is not only a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield, but is also shown as a caring friend. For once, physical and emotional strength might not be mutually exclusive in a female character. It all seemed too good to be true.

A fragmentary passage

Thanks to the developers' questionable decision to split Birth by Sleep into three completely separate storylines, the so-called "Wayfinder Trio" spends a lot of time alone. Aqua, in particular, is shown to be even more fiercely independent than her peers.

Terra, Aqua, and Ventus from Birth by Sleep

In many ways, this is fantastic. Aqua doesn't need anyone. Terra and Ven would obviously be lost without her and she's basically the right hand of Master Eraqus. They all need her, but if she wanted to, she could hop on her glider and ride off into the stars and she would be just fine without them.

In fact, she probably would have been much better off.

Aqua is no sidekick. She's Batman.

Whenever women are finally given active roles, they are often delegated to the sidekick position, the support. Arkham's Oracle does computer stuff for Batman. Princess Zelda has her magic arrow deal in final boss battles with Link. Even Cortana's technological omnipotence plays second-fiddle to Master Chief's giant, um . . . gun. But Aqua is no sidekick. She's Batman.

At least on page, she is. When you look a little deeper, you see that Aqua actually spends 100% of her storyline catering to her male companions. Terra and Ven get these huge sweeping narratives. They've been chosen to play a grand role in an ancient struggle. They have destinies. They have designated antagonists. They have plot relevance.

Aqua has none of that.

According to Xehanort, she's just a back-up in the whole X-Blade thing, which comes off as a thinly veiled excuse to include more Vanitas scenes. Even Kairi had a more defined role in a 'Nort Scheme. And according to Master Eraqus, Aqua's a glorified social worker. He takes a look at all of her experience and talent and tells her that her place is looking after her angsty "brothers."

Wayfinder Trio in Birth by Sleep

Additionally, when Aqua displays the Mark of Mastery (apparently a pretty big deal in-universe), no one really cares. They're all too busy consoling Terra for failing. Aqua doesn't get a moment to be proud of herself. And when the trio is finally reunited, Ven literally calls her terrible and tells her that her title is going to her head. No one ever defends her, making Aqua spend most of the game apologizing for her own ambition.

This all adds up to one conclusion: despite Aqua being billed as the main hero of the game, Birth by Sleep isn't really about her.

Despite Aqua being billed as the main hero of the game, Birth by Sleep isn't really about her.

She doesn't grow. She doesn't develop. She doesn't even get to explore her own relationships. We get a whole lot of Terra and Ven being the "weirdest brothers." And Xehanort being the worst creepy uncle ever to the boys. We get a pretty clear picture of the broken bond between Masters Xehanort and Eraqus. And if they made the "father-figure" relationship between Eraqus and Terra any more heavy-handed, we'd have to saw it off at the wrist.

What about Aqua? Did Eraqus think of her as a daughter? Did her success damage her relationship with Terra before the Mark of Mastery? Has she even spoken to Xehanort? No one knows. She doesn't get to explore any of that.

One good thing about Aqua's loner status is that the writers don't force her into any unnecessary romantic situations. Her dynamic with Terra is so underdeveloped that it can barely be called a "friendship," let alone a relationship and Ventus is (thankfully) underage. Aqua's too busy to care about boys anyway, especially dorky wannabe-heroes like Zack whose advances make her visibly uncomfortable. The most romantic thing she does the whole game is help Cinderella down the stairs. Aqua loses her voice to other characters constantly. The last thing she needs is a significant other to silence her arc completely.

"Sometimes you are such a girl."

"But Jackson," you are undoubtedly thinking as you read this, "Aqua is the first legitimately playable female character in the series. Doesn't the importance of that inclusion kind of negate all these complaints?" No. If anything, we should be even more critical than usual. Square-Enix has kept the KH ladies on the sidelines for years. Aqua was their chance to prove to their fans that they could write a playable female character at a title's forefront.

And they did . . . alright, I guess. Aqua's characterization is certainly better than Kairi's, but following Xion's impressive depth and plot-relevance, she ultimately falls flat.

Aqua and Terra in the opening cinematic.

Still, I might be more willing to overlook a lot of these issues if the writers didn't bog down her character with lazy and unnecessary stereotypes. It's very clear that she's supposed to be the "team mom." The responsible one. All of her actions lead right back to this one personality trait. Granted, her co-protagonists don't have it much better. Ventus is just a single shade of naïve and Terra is made of only two parts gullible and brooding.

I'm not saying maternal instincts are a bad thing. Not at all, especially when found in a nuanced character. Aqua just gets to be maternal though, with no nuance. While none of trio gets much substance, Aqua is the only one who gets pigeonholed into a gendered role.

We can let her be the "mom," but let her be more too. Let her recognize her flaws (she has many) and then have her learn from them. And for God's sake, can you give her more to do besides clean up after Terra and Ven?

Okay, so Aqua is far from perfect, but she's not a lost cause. It's worth noting that she's by far the most powerful of the trio and, even if she follows the "magical girl" trope as the resident female mage, she's also a highly capable swordfighter. True to her namesake, her fighting style is agile and adaptable, arguably giving her the most engaging combat of the franchise.

Aqua in front of stained glass - opening cinematic Birth by Sleep

Despite Terra and Ven acting as sympathy sponges, Aqua emerges as the true heart of Birth by Sleep. Its her unwavering sense of justice and loyalty that really carries us into the Final Episode, letting her finish strong after hours of an unremarkable personal narrative. Is she an amazing, fleshed out character? Nah. But it's definitely hard not to like her and admire her drive.

"There's always a way."

With Aqua (alongside Naminé and Xion) all but confirmed to reappear in Kingdom Hearts 3 and Kairi on deck as a Guardian of Light, the series still has hope for redemption. Birth by Sleep was first released on the PSP back in 2010. We'll just have to wait and see if half of a decade will be long enough to learn from past missteps.

Did you find this analysis to be a little too harsh? Or maybe I overlooked something crucial? Tell us your thoughts on the best (and worst) of Aqua's characterization in the comments below.

Ladies in Gaming will be back on Friday, September 4th. Until then, try to keep your dumb "brothers" out of apocalyptic trouble.

Ladies in Gaming - Goodbye

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7 Annoying Kingdom Hearts worlds https://www.gameskinny.com/3cmm7/7-annoying-kingdom-hearts-worlds https://www.gameskinny.com/3cmm7/7-annoying-kingdom-hearts-worlds Thu, 20 Aug 2015 02:30:01 -0400 Samantha Wright

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There you have it!

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What Kingdom Hearts worlds did you dislike? Can you make an argument for one of the worlds I included? Let me know in the comments below.

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Atlantica/The Little Mermaid

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This one may have been a no-brainer. I hated this world with a burning passion. 

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Kingdom Hearts
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In the first game, the swimming controls were rather terrible. It was difficult to move properly and when you're supposed to be fighting Heartless, Ursula, or a combination of the two, lack of good control is not something you need. Fighting giant Ursula highlighted the lack of proper control even more. Now that boss fight was a pain.

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Kingdom Hearts 2
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Don't even get me started on Atlantica in the second game. I could go on for days about how much I hated it in Kingdom Hearts 2, so let me keep it short. I wanted a Kingdom Hearts game, not a musical simulator.

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The only plus to this world may be the fact that it was optional in the final mix of the first game. Well, that and the fact that Sora makes a good merman.

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Twilight Town

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Kingdom Hearts 2
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Twilight Town was a bad combination of Traverse Town and Destiny Islands. There were introduction quests like there were in Destiny Islands, but they were even more lackluster. Frankly, I don't care about The Seven Wonders of Twilight Town. I don't want to have to make all this money doing stupid jobs just to have it stolen. I don't care about the Struggle Tournament either. Not to mention, the characters were a lot less interesting to me. Hayden, Pence, and Olette were annoying and did nothing for the storyline. At least Cid, Leon, Yuffie, and Aerith in Traverse Town were useful for the overall plot. They helped you fight and gave you new information and abilities.

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This world felt unnecessarily large as well. There were so many different areas and most of those were only necessary for one small moment in the very beginning. There was no reason to return to Sunset Terrace, the seven wonders area, after finding the wonders. The sewers were only good for the Organization XIII mushroom. There were two separate parts of the marketplace. There was the entire Old Mansion. Then there was the train station, the sandlot, and the Mysterious Tower which was only accessible through the train station. So much of the world could have been cut out.

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Kingdom Hearts 385/2 Days
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The sole purpose of this world was to watch Xion, Roxas, and Axel eat sea salt ice cream atop the clock tower. There was a brief glimpse of Roxas turning down an offer to join Organization XIII, but soon Axel sweeps in and convinces Roxas to become friends with him. This world was nothing more than friends bonding. As endearing as that is, could they not have picked a change of scenery every once in a while? You can bond in more than just one world, after all.

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Monstro/Pinocchio

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Level design
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I have a terrible sense of direction. Thus, the maze that was Monstro did not appeal to me, especially as a child. I found myself wandering around for hours just killing Heartless because I had no idea where I was going. That being said, once you figured out where you were going, this world was ridiculously short. You went through a couple of chambers, met up with Riku, and got through the two phases of the boss battle. That was it. There was nothing more to it.

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Random spawning
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In Kingdom Hearts, Monstro was also very annoying just because of the fact that sometimes it would gobble you up and sometimes it wouldn't. If you needed to go back to collect missed trinities or missed treasure chests, sometimes you would just be out of luck. That little feature definitely made this world more of a nuisance than it needed to be.

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You get nothing! Good day, sir!
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After beating the Parasite Cage and saving Pinocchio you receive the grand prize of nothing. That's right. At the end of Monstro, you didn't get a single reward. No new Keyblade. No new abilities. You traversed that maze and saved Pinocchio for nothing. Talk about a just reward. I really did lose.

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At least in Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep you could kill Monstro. You had a chance at some revenge for his annoyance.

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Space Paranoids/The Grid/Tron

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Outfits
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The costumes are stupid. They look ridiculous, like the designers just strapped a whole bunch of blue lines on a grey suit and called it quits. Not to mention, that head gear does not go well with Sora's hair. It makes him look like a crazy scientist. Just give him a purple vial with smoke oozing out of it and he would be planning to over take the world.

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Kingdom Hearts 2
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The games were horrible. They dragged on forever. I was fighting Heartless on motorcycles for much longer than I would have liked. Not to mention, the controls for the section were a little weird. If they had given you some time to practice, it would have been fine, but they just dropped you in there without a word. Chances were you were dying on your first try and it would take you a while before you figured out exactly what worked in the games and what didn't so you could make it to the end. Considering the rest of the level was a breeze, this brief moment of difficulty just got all the more annoying.

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Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
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The Grid was based upon Tron: Legacy. I'll admit I'm biased to this one because I hated that movie and all the characters from it, but The Grid focused primarily on the games. As mentioned, the games were annoying in Kingdom Hearts 2. I didn't want them to make a reappearance. 

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100 Acre Wood/Winnie the Pooh

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Mini-games everywhere
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I don't hate mini-games, but too many of them and they can get annoying really quickly. 100 Acre Wood was a world full of nothing but mini-games. When you take into account how many other mini-games were in Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts 2, this just felt like overkill. As much as I love Tigger, I didn't want to bounce around with him. I didn't want to swing Pooh. I didn't want to help find Piglet. Please. Just no.

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Torn Pages
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You couldn't get this world out of the way either. In order to complete the world, you had to find all of the Torn Pages first. Those were scattered across every other world you had to go to, including the final ones. If you were interested in completing this world, you had to wait until the very end. Basically, this meant you had to do a huge collection quest and then spend about 45 minutes doing mini-games. It was a whole lot of boring thrust into one world.

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Beast's Castle/Beauty and the Beast

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Kingdom Hearts 2
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Xaldin. Xaldin was by far my least favorite boss in Kingdom Hearts 2. Not only did he have a weird reaction command that I still haven't figured out, his ultimate move that he spammed at the end of the fight was basically unavoidable. He was going to kill you and he was going to kill you a lot. It didn't even really matter how many times King Mickey stepped in to help out. Xaldin was going to laugh in your face and there was nothing you could do.

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Kingdom Hearts 385/2 Days
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This world just felt pointless and dragged out. You had to help Xion regain her Keyblade abilities and thus fight with a wooden stick, which is never fun if you recall the beginning of Hollow Bastion in the first game. Then you had to fight a giant Heartless which turned out to be an incredibly hard fight, for me at least. Yet the level still continued. You then had to track down Xaldin to figure out why he had yet to return to Organization XIII. That would be all well and good if we didn't already know the reason why Xaldin was there. Kingdom Hearts 2 was released over three years prior to Kingdom Hearts 385/2 Days. At that point, all the fans should know why he's there.

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Olympus Coliseum/Hercules

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Olympus Coliseum had some cool concepts that fell short. And then crashed and burned.

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Kingdom Hearts
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The level is small. There's three areas you can enter and that's it. In the movie, there's Mount Olympus, the human world, and the Underworld. We get a very small glimpse of only one of those areas. It felt very underwhelming.

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The training in this level was annoying too. It wasn't too hard once you figured out what to do, but it was poorly timed. Olympus Coliseum comes after Destiny Islands, Traverse Town, and Wonderland. You could do this world even later than that if you wanted to. At least four worlds into the game, and just now you're giving us training? The player figured out how to fight properly ages ago. It was needed to kill the numerous bosses already fought after all.

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Kingdom  Hearts 2
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They made the level longer! We get to explore the Underworld! How underwhelming. The level was not designed well. All the areas looked exactly the same, just grey walls with some smoke here and there. It wasn't that great.

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The story for the level wasn't great either. The first visit was nothing but a collection quest, trying to retrieve the Olympus Stone. You do that and fight the Hydra, a disappointingly easy boss. In the second visit, you do another collection quest (big surprise), getting Auron's voodoo doll. Then you fight Hades. The level ends. 

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Kingdom Hearts 385/2 Days
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Roxas trains with Phil. He has memories of Sora. He then fights some Heartless and a Guard Armor. It's dragged out and it gets really annoying having to continuously go back. 

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Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep
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As much as I appreciate Square Enix taking the beginning of the Hercules movie into account, it was poorly done. Ven just fights some Unversed. Terra has a moment of fighting the inner darkness with Hades obviously edging him along. Aqua continues her quest of trying to find Terra and Ventus and then fights Hades (like we hadn't fought him a million times before). The level design is very short, and, as before, a little useless.

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Tournaments
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The tournaments were pretty cool. It was a nice test of ability and fit well with the feel of the world. It even gave us a chance to fight cool bosses like Sephiroth that didn't really fit anywhere else in the universe. However, the tournaments got annoying and felt very useless. Most didn't net you any experience points. I'm fighting all of these Heartless, Nobodies, or bosses and I'm not getting EXP. It was a bit of bummer really. I know I got some weapons here and there for completing the tournaments solo or with a time limit, but that didn't make it any less disappointing considering how many enemies you had to fight. 

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You also had to wait around for them to spawn. I'm not a patient person. I want them available to me from the beginning.

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No Mythology
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Hercules centered around Greek mythology. Kingdom Hearts takes none of that into account. You fight the Rock Titan. You fight the Ice Titan. You fight Hades. Can you not see or talk to Zeus? Can you not explore Mt. Olympus? What about Hermes? At least add them into the tournaments as bosses so we have more to fight than just Heartless, Nobodies, and the same bosses over and over again.

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Image source

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I've seen a lot of lists when it comes to Kingdom Hearts and almost all of them revolve around the worlds. They're someone's favorite worlds or the most anticipated worlds or the worlds that someone most wants to see in Kingdom Hearts 3. I've decided to put a negative spin on it. These are some of my least favorite worlds out of the entire Kingdom Hearts series. I don't want to see these coming back.

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Warning: On the off chance you are reading this list prior to playing the Kingdom Hearts games, there are some very minor spoilers that you may want to avoid.

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Image source.

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Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep: Aqua's Ultimate Command Deck Guide https://www.gameskinny.com/96m7g/kingdom-hearts-birth-by-sleep-aquas-ultimate-command-deck-guide https://www.gameskinny.com/96m7g/kingdom-hearts-birth-by-sleep-aquas-ultimate-command-deck-guide Mon, 13 Jul 2015 09:09:08 -0400 Jackson Ingram

With each new installment, Kingdom Hearts likes to spice up its gameplay with a few shiny new mechanics. Chain of Memories had the card thing. Kingdom Hearts II made us use all those reaction commands. And Birth by Sleep introduced Command Decks, ever-present menus that keep all of your most powerful abilities at your disposal.

After Terra sets off after Master Xehanort and Ventus chases after Terra, Aqua is tasked with looking after both of her friends, following them amidst ancient plots across countless worlds. Among the trio, Aqua is the resident mage, boasting well-balanced stats and powerful magic-based attacks. Slower than Ventus, but faster than Terra, her moves are fluid, yet focused, arguably giving her the most nuanced and dynamic gameplay of the title. Here are the handiest commands to keep Aqua's juices flowing.

Attack Commands

Barrier Surge

Aqua - Barrier SurgeOne of the first things you'll notice about Aqua is that she uses Barrier instead of Block, giving her 360 degrees of protection. Naturally, you'll want to weaponize this. With Barrier Surge, you can surround yourself with a bubble-like shield and then slam into your enemies. You can pick it up super early in the Castle of Dreams Foyer or meld it.

Easiest recipe: Fire Dash + Barrier

Fire Dash can be found through Command Boards (if you have the patience for it) or melded with Confusion Strike + Fire, Sliding Dash + Fira, or Sliding Dash + Fire. You can also swap Fire Dash out for Stun Edge in the original recipe. Stun Edge can be melded with Thunder + Strike Raid.

Sonic Blade

Easy to obtain, easy to use, Sonic Blade has become a staple of the franchise. This move will send you and your keyblade rocketing at the enemy, shooting into them over and over with a series of button prompts. Each member of the trio can pick up Sonic Blade in Olympus Coliseum after beating Hercules in the Break the Urns mini-game. If you're looking for a little extra challenge or mabe space to impliment Crystals, try your hand at melding.

Easiest recipe: Air Slide + Blitz.

After obtaining Air Slide in Olympus Coliseum, you can buy a copy of it from a Moogle. You can find Blitz in Deep Space's Turo Prison Block, or just meld it with Barrier Surge + Wishing Edge, Quick Blitz + Slot Edge, or Slot Edge + Stun Edge. The only other recipe for Sonic Blade that'll work for Aqua is Thunder Surge + Fire Dash. Thunder Surge can be melded with Thundara + Fire Dash, Freeze Raid, Stun Edge, or Confusion Strike. Check out the Fire Dash recipe under the Barrier Surge outline above.

Time Splicer

Aqua - Time SplicerStop nearby enemies in time and teleport from one to the other, dealing out an onslaught of quick strikes. While it won't stop bosses, it'll still keep you nipping at their heels. You can pick this one up in Neverland's Rainbow Falls, or you can meld it if you need it sooner.

Easiest Recipe: Aerial Slam + Stopga

This is the only one with a 100% success rate. Stopga can be easily melded by combining leveled up Stop and Stopra commands, while Aerial Slam can be found in Pete's Rec Room. The only other viable recipes are Stun Edge + Slot Edge (10% success), Barrier Surge + Wishing Edge (10% success), or Stopga + Barrier (20% success). Please love yourself and just do the 100% certain recipe.

Magnet Spiral

It's like Magnega, but more violent. Pull in surrounding enemies for a single powerful spin attack. While there's a chance you can pick this up by defeating Deep Space's Blobmob, the chances are pretty slim (like 1%). You're better off melding.

Easiest recipe: Binding Strike + Collision Magnet.

Binding Strike is easy. Just combine Bind and Strike Raid. Collision Magnet (which can be replaced by Magnega in the original recipe) can be melded with Zero Gravira + Magnet. Those are your safest options. For a 20% success rate, try the aforementioned Collision Magnet recipe, Stun Edge + Magnera, or Quick Blitz + Magnera.

Magic Hour

Aqua - Magic HourAqua's ultimate attack command is an homage to dual-wielding Roxas's Limit Break in 358/2 Days. Teleport around the battlefield, diving down onto your enemies with devastating pillars of light. This one can't be found just anywhere and needs to be melded. Like seriously, please meld this one. It's awesome.

Easiest recipe: Barrier Surge + Aeroga

Scroll up and check out the Barrier Surge outline earlier in this guide for that command. As for Aeroga, you really just need to keep leveling up Aeros and Aeroras and meld them together until you max out with Aeroga. Your only other recipe option for Magic Hour is Zero Graviga + Blitz. Zero Graviga's melding process follows Aeroga's. Blitz, on the other hand, can be picked up in Deep Space's Turo Prison Block, or melded with an easy recipe like Slot Edge + Stun Edge.

Magic Commands

Triple Firaga

What could be better than a fireball hurling towards your enemies? Try three fireballs. For those of you with Final Mix, you can pick this one up in the Secret Episode at the very end of the game. Most of us won't feel like waiting that long, so let's look at melding.

Easiest recipe: Fira + Firaga.

Pretty simple. Meld two Fires to make a Fira. Meld Fire + Fira to make a Firaga. You could also do Firaga + Firaga or Firaga + Blitz.

Triple Blizzaga

"Hmm . . . I wonder what this one does," said no one. It's Blizzaga cubed. You can't find this one in a chest, so get melding.

Easiest recipe: Blizzara + Blizzaga.

Same thing as before, just with Blizzard this time. You can also try Blizzaga + Blizzaga or Blizzaga + Blitz.

Thundaga Shot

Aqua - Thundaga ShotIf at first you don't succeed . . . Shoot your enemies in the face with a blast of lightning. This move takes the ranged mechanics of Firaga and applies it to Thundaga. If it connects, it can even shock nearby foes. 

Easiest Recipe: Thundaga + Strike Raid.

You know the drill for Thundaga. You can pick up Strike Raid in Radiant Garden's titular Garden, or meld it with Quick Blitz + Sliding Dash. If you want to make your life more difficult, feel free to replace Strike Raid with Freeze Raid or Firaga in the original recipe.

Seeker Mine

Just like Mine Shield and Mine Square, Seeker Mine lets you summon a host of magical traps that will explode in the faces of your enemies upon contact. The only difference is that Seeker Mine's traps . . . well, they seek. They'll zero in on Unversed and chase them down. 

Easiest Recipe: Mine Shield + Mine Square

You can pick up Mine Shield in Peter's Hide Out in Neverland, or just meld it with Fira + Zero Gravity. Mine Square can be melded with Fira + Stop or Barrier. You can also modify the original recipe by taking either ingredient and pairing it with Magnega.

Energy Magnet

By far the most useful of the stylized Magnet commands, Energy Magnet lets you suck the HP Prizes right out of your enemies. Just like a dementor. Or capitalism.

Easiest Recipe: Cure + Magnera.

You can also swap Cure with Cura, if you're an insufferable over-achiever who wants to make melding needlessly complicated. It's up to you!

Firaga Burst

Aqua - Firaga BurstConjure a mini sun overhead that will shoot out a host of homing fireballs. It's kind of like a mothership with a bunch of smaller ships flying out to destroy your enemies. Except everything is on fire. You can find this hottie in Neverland's Mermaid Lagoon.

Easiest Recipe: Fira + Aeroga.

This one doesn't really have an "easiest" recipe because all six of your options only have a 20% success rate. I would recommend saving first and then trying to meld this one. If you don't succeed, just quit without saving and try again. You can also try Firaga + Aerora, Aeroga, Slow, Stopra, or Stopga. Just remember that patience is a virtue.

Glacier

Freeze surrounding enemies with a devastating full arc of Blizzard magic and then shoot them off in every direction. Basically, you create exploding Unversed popsicles. For such a simple command, the recipes are surprisingly complicated.

Easiest Recipe: Deep Freeze + Blizzaga.

Deep Freeze is handed out to those of you who not only took time to look at the Sticker Album but also earn 110 points on it. Since the Sticker Album looks pointless and stupid though, we're going to focus on melding. Take Blizzaga and pair it with Binding Strike, Freeze Raid, or Triple Blizzaga. Pick your ice-cold poison. You can also meld Glacier by swapping Blizzaga for Triple Blizzaga if you're into tripling the required effort.

Ice Barrage

Similar to Terra's Quake, Ice Barrage summons a trio of ice crystals that burst out of the ground and knock enemies into the air. Once you have High Jump, you can mosey your way back to Enchanted Dominion and pick this up in Maleficent's Dungeon. If you're not quite that far yet, you'll just have to suck it up and meld.

Easiest Recipe: Mine Shield + Blizzaga.

You can also swap Mine Shield for Mine Square. The former is only technically easier because you can pick it up for free in Peter's Hide Out. Although, if you're already in Neverland, you'll already have High Jump, making melding fairly pointless. At any rate, Mine Shield can be melded with Fira + Zero Gravity, while Mine Square can be obtained with Fira + Stop.

Raging Storm

Aqua - Raging StormFIRE TORNADO. Sort of. Summon three pillars of flame that will orbit you as you float around the battlefield like the Angel of Death. That sounds cooler than "Fire Tornado."

Easiest Recipe: Fission Firaga + Firaga Burst

This is the only one with a 100% success rate. We've already covered Firaga Burst, so let's tackle Fission Firaga. You can go back and find this explosive command in Dwarf Woodlands' Courtyard after you have High Jump and Air Slide or just meld it with Aeroga + Fira, Aeroga + Firaga, or Aerora + Firaga. Your other (less reliable) options include: Fira + Fire/Fira/Fire Dash, Firaga + Blitz/Fira/Firaga, or Fire Surge + Cartwheel.

Mega Flare

Ka-BOOM.Set off a blindingly white explosion that'll deal Fire damage to every enemy onscreen. This one's useful for just about anything.

Easiest Recipe: Fission Firaga + Crawling Fire

We already went over Fission Firaga under Firaga Burst, so let's move onto Crawling Fire. All of its recipes have an 80% success rate, with a 20% chance of transforming into Firaga Burst, which is also awesome, so don't sweat it. Just take Firaga and pair it with Slow, Stopra, or Stopga.

Transcendence

Suspend your enemies in anti-gravity fields and then send them flying off in all directions. It's the most convenient way to take out the trash these days. For those of you with Final Mix, you can wait until the Secret Episode to pick up this bad boy, or you can enjoy your life and meld it way sooner.

Easiest Recipe: Magnet Spiral + Zero Graviga

Check out the Attack Commands section above to obtain Magnet Spiral. As for Zero Graviga, just follow the standard rules for basic magic leveling. Your best bet is to meld two Zero Gravities together to form Zero Graviza, level that up, and finally meld it with Zero Gravity. Easy as pie. Pie that is floating freely through the vacuum of space.

Choosing a Deck

Let's be real here: Aqua has all the best commands. Now you need to mix and match your favorites to find out combinations that work best for you. Decks that excel in one part of the game might put you in hot water during another, so be prepared to adapt as you go along.

In terms of crowd control, you'll usually want to bring the fight to you. Gather your enemies into a convenient ball of evil with Magnega and then literally put them at the center of a giant fireball with Firaga Burst. Wide-ranging commands like Glacier and Seeker Mine are also pretty safe bets when you're surrounded.

If you want to focus your attacks on one bad guy in particular, then choose your moves carefully. While Mega Flare is sure to hit your target, it might not faze some of hardest bosses, leaving you open for attack while the screen is still white. If you have a clear shot, try a different projectile-based attack like Triple Firaga or Thundaga Shot. If you're getting desperate, it's never a bad idea to bust out a game-changer like Magic Hour.

And don't forget that "ultimate" attacks are what you make of them. Even if your favorite command didn't make the cut for this guide, don't be afraid to utilize it, especially if you can pair it with another ability for a combo. Maybe you're super into Wishing Edge and want to keep it in your Deck at all times. Who am I to (publically) judge you? Do your thing, Master Aqua. You know those two boys are lost without you.

[Terra Command Guide]

[Ventus Command Guide]

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Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Guide: Ventus's Ultimate Command Deck https://www.gameskinny.com/k34rs/kingdom-hearts-birth-by-sleep-guide-ventuss-ultimate-command-deck https://www.gameskinny.com/k34rs/kingdom-hearts-birth-by-sleep-guide-ventuss-ultimate-command-deck Tue, 07 Jul 2015 09:46:05 -0400 Jackson Ingram

Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep was the first of the franchise to use Deck Commands, specialized abilities that can turn the tide in a battle. While the game is kicked off by Terra setting off on his own journey, Ventus's story begins shortly thereafter. Though several commands are shared amongst the three playable protagonists, the most powerful moves are specialized and exclusive to each unique character.

As Ventus is the quickest and most agile of the main trio, his moves capitalize on his speed. His fighting style is also intentionally reminiscent of Sora's, striking a balance between physical and magic-based attacks. Here are some the best commands to keep in Ven's deck.

Attack Commands

Sonic Blade

Easy to obtain, easy to use, the Sonic Blade has become a staple of the franchise. This move will send you (keyblade first) right at the enemy, shooting into them over and over with each successive button prompt. Each member of the trio can pick up Sonic Blade in Olympus Coliseum after beating Hercules in the Break the Urns mini-game. If you want a little extra challenge or mabe space to impliment Crystals, try your hand at melding.

Easiest recipe: Air Slide + Blitz.

After obtaining Air Slide in Olympus Coliseum, you can buy a copy from a Moogle. You can find Blitz in Mermaid Lagoon, or just meld it with Quick Blitz + Slot Edge or Slot Edge + Stun Edge. The only other recipe for Sonic Blade that'll work for Ventus is Thunder Surge + Fire Dash. Thunder Surge can be melded with Thundara + Fire Dash, Freeze Raid, Stun Edge, or Confusion Strike. Fire Dash can be found through Command Boards (if you have the patience of a monk) or melded with Confusion Strike + Fire, Sliding Dash + Fira, or Sliding Dash + Fire.

Spark Raid

Spark Raid - VentusArguably the peak form of the Strike Raid command, Spark Raid wraps the keyblade in light before being thrown at enemies. Once it makes contact, it'll shoot out devastating beams of light in all directions.

Easiest Recipe: Magnega + either Freeze Raid or Treasure Raid

We'll cover Magnega in the Magic section, so don't worry about that yet. Freeze Raid can most easily be made by combining Strike Raid and Blizzara. Treasure Raid is found on Neverland's Cliff Path, or melded with Slot Edge + Magnet, Magnega, or Slot Edge. Spark Raid also has a 20% chance of being melded by Thunder Roll recipes Dodge Roll + Stun Block, Thundaga, or Thunder Surge. 

Ars Arcanum

Also translated as "Final Arcana" or "Last Arcanum," the Ars Arcanum sends Ventus into a powerful 13-chain combo.

Easiest recipe: Aerial Slam + Blitz.

This is the only recipe certain to get you Ars Arcanum. Aerial Slam can be found in a chest in Pete's Rec Room (the giant pinball platformer in Disney Town), while Blitz can be found in Mermaid Lagoon or melded with Slot Edge + Quick Blitz or Stun Edge. The rest of Ars Arcanum's eight recipes have very low success rates. 10% chance from an Aerial Slam recipe: Aerora + Fire Strike. 5% chance from Slot Edge recipes: Cura + Blizzard Edge or Poison Edge. 5% chance from Blizzard Edge recipes: Quick Blitz + Blizzara or Blizzard, Sliding Dash + Blizzard or Blizzard. And finally 10% chance from a Blitz recipe: Quick Blitz + Slot Edge.

Time Splicer

Stop every nearby enemy in time and teleport from one to the other, dealing out an onslaught of quick strikes. While it won't stop bosses, it'll still keep you nipping at their heels.

Easiest Recipe: Aerial Slam + Stopga

This is the only one with a 100% success rate. Stopga can be easily melded by combining leveled up Stop and Stopra commands, while Aerial Slam can be found in Pete's Rec Room. The only other viable recipe for Ven is Stun Edge + Slot Edge, which has a meager 10% success rate.

Tornado Strike

Tornado Strike - VentusLaunch a series of powerful whirlwinds that will send your enemies flying. While you can eventually go back and pick this one up in Enchanted Dominion's Dungeon, you might have an easier time melding it.

Easiest recipe: Aeroga + Binding Strike or Confusion Strike.

Aeroga can be easily melded by combining Aero and Aerora. Binding Strike can be found in Radiant Garden's titular Garden area or melded with Strike Raid + Bind. Confusion Strike can be melded with Strike Raid + Confuse.

Magnet Spiral

It's like Magnega, but more violent. Pull in surrounding enemies for a single powerful spin attack. While there's a chance you can pick this up by defeating Deep Space's Blobmob, the chances are pretty slim (like 1%). You're better off melding.

Easiest recipe: Binding Strike + Collision Magnet.

Binding Strike is easy. Just combine Bind and Strike Raid. Collision Magnet (which can be replaced by Magnega in the original recipe) can be melded with Zero Gravira + Magnet. Those are your safest options. For a 20% success rate, try the aforementioned Collision Magnet recipe, or Stun Edge + Magnera, or Quick Blitz + Magnera.

Salvation

Salvation - VentusSomewhat reminiscent of Roxas's powerful finisher in his Kingdom Hearts II boss battle, Salvation sends Ventus into a powerful spinning attack that summons devastating columns of light all around him and even restores a portion of his health. Unless you obtain 100 points in your Sticker Album (110 in Final Mix), your best bet is melding.

Easiest Recipe: Wind Raid + Curaga.

This is Salvation's only recipe. Wind Raid can be found in Keyblade Graveyard's Twister Trench or melded with Aeroga + Treasure Raid or Freeze Raid. Curaga can be melded with leveled up Cure and Cura.

Magic Commands

Transcendence

Suspend surrounding enemies in a powerful anti-gravity field and then hurl them in all directions. It's a win-win. For you, that is. The unlucky Unversed won't fare so well.

Easiest recipe: Magnet Spiral + Zero Graviga.

Check out how to obtain Magnet Spiral under the Attack Commands section. Zero Graviga can be melded with Zero Graviza + Zero Gravity.

Curaga

You will need Curaga if you want to win the game. It's a nice renewable option compared to all those annoying potions. You can't pick this one up in any chest, but the game will give you all kinds of Cures and Curas, so obtaining it will be pretty easy.

Easiest recipe: Cura + Cure.

You could also do Cura + Cura. I should note that, if you're wanting more health, you shouldn't meld Cure commands with a Soothing Crystal. They'll generally only give you item boosts.

Faith

Faith - VentusKind of like Salvation, but a little more organized, Faith will summon pillars of light to swirl around you before shooting out at your enemies and restoring a portion of your health. Faith can only be made through melding.

Easiest recipe: Wind Raid + Break Time

Wind Raid can be found in Twister Trench or melded with Aeroga + Treasure Raid or Freeze Raid. Break Time is a unique resting command that can be found in Pete's Rec Room.

Mine Square

Like Mine Shield, this magic command summons explosive traps that stun enemies when triggered. Unlike Mine Shield, this one puts the traps surrounding you instead of just in front of you. Pretty easy to meld and super useful in a pinch.

Easiest Recipe: Fira + Stop.

Your only other option is Aerora + Ignite.

Magnega

Magnet's ultimate form. Create a vortex that will draw your enemies in, dealing damage and making them super vulnerable (and convenient) to attack.

Easiest recipe: Magnera + Magnet.

You can also do Magnera + Magnera, if you're an over-achiever. This pattern can be repeated for most "pure" magic forms (e.g. Fire to Fira to Firaga, Thunder to Thundara to Thundaga, etc.).

Tornado

Tornado - VentusCreate your own personal twister that can be directed around the battlefield, sweeping up enemies in its wake. 

Easiest recipe: Aeroga + Magnega

Tornado only has one recipe with a 100% success rate. The rest are abysmally low by-product recipes for Aerora or Aeroga. They include Aero + Aero, Aerora, Quick Blitz, or Thunder, and Aerora + Aerora or Quick Blitz.

Mega Flare

Boom. Shoot off an explosive, screen-whitening fireball that deals damage to every enemy onscreen. 

Easiest Recipe: Fission Firaga + Crawling Fire

That's the only recipe. Fission Firaga can be obtained by melding Aeroga + Fira, Aeroga + Firaga, or Firaga + Aerora. Crawling Fire can be melded with Slow + Firaga, Stopga + Firaga, or Stopra + Firaga.

Choosing a Deck

Now that you have all of Ven's best commands laid out nice and pretty, it's time to figure out which ones work best for you. Do a little experimenting, test out different combinations, and know that different approaches work for different situations.

If you're looking to do a little crowd control, either use attacks with a wide range or bring the baddies to you. One particularly lethal approach is to gather your enemies with Magnega and then destroy them with something totally awesome like Faith, Salvation, or Tornado.

If you're focusing on one target, either decimate the whole battlefield or just one specific part of it. If your aim isn't exactly true, you might try an attack that can't miss, such as Mega Flare. For those of us who prefer to get close and personal, give the boss all you've got with something like Ars Arcanum.

And, as always, remember that any command can be "ultimate" if you put it to good use. Even if your favorite attack didn't make this list, don't feel like you have to drop it. Simple commands like Strike Raid can make all the difference when paired with something that has a little more firepower. Embrace the trials. Embrace the errors. And forge the X-Blade. Go get 'em, "kiddo."

[Terra Command Guide]

[Aqua Command Guide]

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Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Guide: Terra's Ultimate Command Deck https://www.gameskinny.com/vqujl/kingdom-hearts-birth-by-sleep-guide-terras-ultimate-command-deck https://www.gameskinny.com/vqujl/kingdom-hearts-birth-by-sleep-guide-terras-ultimate-command-deck Wed, 01 Jul 2015 20:55:13 -0400 Jackson Ingram

Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep introduced the command deck, a system of organizing and implementing attacks, magic, items, and abilities that has reappeared in Re:Coded and Dream Drop Distance and is rumored to return for Kingdom Hearts III. By melding commands together, you can create powered-up attacks and spells that could mean all the difference in the midst of battle. Terra is a very physical fighter, so most of his best commands are attack-based, rather than magic-based. Here's how you can load your deck while playing as him.

Attack Commands

Meteor Crash

Meteor Crash - Terra Birth by SleepRemember Meteor from Final Fantasy? Forget Meteor. Meteor Crash is that attack x10. Leap high into the air and bring your keyblade down with a cluster of meteors that explode around you and into your opponent.

Easiest recipe: Fire Strike + Brutal Blast

You can find Fire Strike in a chest at the Coliseum gate, or meld it using Fira + Poison Edge or Stun Edge + Fire. Brutal Blast can be found in a chest in Deep Space's Turo Prison Block, or melded with Mine Square + Binding Strike or Stun Edge + Mine Shield, though both of these have a 30% chance of turning into Quake upon melding.

Geo Impact

Arguably Quake's more forward sibling, Geo Impact brings the keyblade down on a single target, sending an upshot of rock formations in a single direction. If you don't care about melding, you can find this gem in a chest tucked away in Neverland's Mermaid Lagoon.

Easiest Recipe: Brutal Blast + Brutal Blast is the only recipe.

To reiterate, Brutal Blast can be found in a chest in Deep Space's Turo Prison Block, or melded with Mine Square + Binding Strike or Stun Edge + Mine Shield. You'll need two of these to make Geo Impact. If you find the one in Deep Space, you could bypass more melding by purchasing another Brutal Blast from a Moogle.

Zantetsuken

After a short buildup (during which you'll be vulnerable), execute a blindingly fast and powerful strike that will wreck anything in your path. Obviously, this is a powerful one, so getting it won't be super easy. If you're against melding, you can purchase Zantetsuken from a Moogle after clearing five worlds (for 1700 munny), or get it from the Mirage Arena's Medal Shop (for 1000 medels).

Easiest recipe: Stopga + Sonic Blade.

Stopga is the culmination of Stop command meldings, while Sonic Blade is handed to you after you best Hercules at breaking urns. The other recipe, however, replaces Sonic Blade with Dark Haze, which is infinitely cooler. You still get to charge your enemies, but now you have a chance to "doom" them, Marluxia style. Dark Haze can most easily be found in Mermaid Lagoon. Both of these recipes for Zantetsuken have a 20% chance of creating Ars Solum.

Ars Solum

Terra - Ars SolumThis one is just plain vicious. Beat your enemies relentlessly with a powerful string of combos that can be extended by hitting the triangle button when prompted. The simplest way to nab this one is to find it in one of the Neverland's Skull Rock chests. If you want it by melding, you're going to have to work for it.

Easiest recipe: Sonic Blade + Dark Haze, Stopga + Dark Haze, and Stopga + Sonic Blade all have just a 20% success rate. See Zantetsuken for more info on getting these ingredients.

The last four recipes sit pretty on 5% success rates: Confusion Strike + Thundara, Thundara + Strike Raid, Thunder + Sliding Dash, and Thunder + Strike Raid. Don't get your hopes up.

Windcutter

Create a whirlwind that'll sweep up enemies and send them flying. Windcutter can't be found in a chest until Keyblade Graveyard's Twister Trench, near the end of the game. If you want it before that, you'll need to meld.

Easiest recipe: Aeroga + Confusion Strike and Aeroga + Binding Strike are at about the same level of difficulty.

Confusion Strike can be melded with Confuse + Strike Raid, while Binding Strike can be melded with Bind + Strike Raid. Pretty simple.

Limit Storm

Summon a white light, do a fancy spin attack, and shred the enemies around you with waves of energy. Crafty players can get this command by earning 60 points (70, in Final Mix) in the Sticker Album. Everyone else? Get melding.

Easiest recipe: Binding Strike + Brutal Blast and Confusion Strike + Brutal Blast are at about the same level of difficulty. See Windcutter for more information about melding these two types of strikes.

Interestingly, Limit Storm's light glows red and executes faster if used right after Sacrifice.

Sacrifice

Terra Sacrifice commandWho needs health when you can have a single devastating keyblade slam? Sacrifice, as the name implies, gives up HP to perform a powerful attack. Also known as "Soul Release," which is kind of creepy and sad when you think about Terra's fate. If you're one of those players that actually liked the Command Board minigames, you can purchase Sacrifice on the Honeypot Board. Or you can enjoy your life and meld it instead.

Easiest recipe: Warp + Poison Edge.

Warp is a tricky command to obtain. Your best bet is to try Thundara + Zero Gravira, Zero Gravira + Zero Gravira, or Zero Gravira + Zero Gravity. Those all have a 20% success rate. Good luck. Poison Edge is a lot easier. Just use Quick Blitz + Poison. Poison Edge can also be replaced with Dark Haze, found in Mermaid Lagoon.

Magnet Spiral

It's like Magnega, but more violent. Pull in surrounding enemies for a single powerful spin attack. While there's a chance you can pick this up by defeating Deep Space's Blobmob, the chances are pretty slim (like 1%). You're better off melding.

Easiest recipe: Binding Strike + Collision Magnet.

Binding Strike is easy. Just combine Bind and Strike Raid. Collision Magnet (which can be replaced by Magnega in the original recipe) can be melded with Zero Gravira + Magnet. Those are your safest options. For a 20% success rate, try the aforementioned Collision Magnet recipe, or Stun Edge + Magnera, or Quick Blitz + Magnera.

Chaos Blade

Terra - Chaos BladeOh boy. This is the big one. Teleport to your target and wail on it, dealing Dark damage and possibly inflicting Bind or Blind. Press the triangle button when prompted, rinse, and repeat.

Easiest recipe: Sonic Blade + Dark Haze is the only recipe.

To reiterate, Sonic Blade is given to you after the "Break the Urns" minigame with Hercules, while Dark Haze can be obtained in Mermaid Lagoon, or by melding Fire Dash + Blackout, Zero Gravira + Fire Dash, or Zero Gravity + Fire Surge.

Magic Commands

Dark Firaga

Terra - Dark FiragaIt's like Firaga, but . . . darker. It'll follow your target around, scorching them, dealing Dark damage, and potentially blinding them. 

Easiest recipe: Firaga + Blackout.

The game practically hands you Blackout in a chest found in Radiant Garden's Aqueduct. If that's too simple for you, swap it with Dark Haze in the original recipe, again found in Mermaid Lagoon or created by Fire Dash + Blackout, Zero Gravira + Fire Dash, or Zero Gravity + Fire Surge.

Firaga

This is the highest tier of pure Fire magic, and totally easy to obtain. While Terra can pick up Firaga itself on Neverland's Cliff Path, it'd be more beneficial to you if you melded it.

Easiest recipe: Fira + Fire.

You can also do Fira + Fira or Fira + Fire Dash. Pretty simple. The game will hand you dozens of these. All you have to do is take the time to level them up before you meld them.

Thundaga

Same basic idea as above, I'm only including this because it can be super useful to have Thundaga's accuracy in a boss battle. Unless you manage to hit the top of Neverland's totem pole, you'll need to meld this one.

Easiest recipe: Thundara + Thunder.

You can also do Thundara + Thundara or Thundara + Binding Strike.

Curaga

You will need Curaga if you want to win the game. It's a nice renewable option compared to all those annoying potions. You can't pick this one up in any chest, but the game will give you all kinds of Cures and Curas, so obtaining it will be pretty easy.

Easiest recipe: Cura + Cure.

You could also do Cura + Cura. I should note that, if you're wanting more health, you shouldn't meld Cure commands with a Soothing Crystal. They'll generally only give you item boosts.

Mine Square

Like Mine Shield, this magic command summons explosive traps that stun enemies when triggered. Unlike Mine Shield, this one puts the traps surrounding you instead of just in front of you. Terra can find this one in Deep Space's Machinery Access Bay, or just meld it.

Easiest Recipe: Fira + Stop.

Your only other option is Aerora + Ignite.

Deep Freeze

(Obviously) an ice-based command, Deep Freeze attacks surrounding enemies with Blizzard magic, potentially freezing them in blocks of ice. Unless you want to brave the Toon Board (you don't), you're better off melding it.

Easiest Recipe: Binding Strike + Blizzaga.

You can substitute Binding Strike with Freeze Raid, but that'd be kind of silly seeing as how Binding Strike is already an ingredient for melding that command, when combined with Blizard Edge. You can also form Freeze Raid by using Strike Raid + Blizzara.

Quake

Terra - QuakeIf you didn't already get the idea from the name, Quake lets you shake the ground a bit, kicking up several massive boulders that can send Unversed flying. It can only be obtained through command melding using one of five recipes.

Easiest recipe: Either Brutal Blast + Magnega or Brutal Blast + Zero Graviga. Both have a 10% chance of turning into Meteor.

The last three are generally Geo Impact or Brutal Blast recipes that have a 30% chance of giving you Quake: Brutal Blast + Brutal Blast, Mine Square + Binding Strike, or Stun Edge + Mine Shield.

Mega Flare

Boom. Shoot off an explosive, screen-whitening fireball that deals damage to every enemy onscreen. 

Easiest Recipe: Fission Firaga + Crawling Fire

That's the only recipe. Fission Firaga can be obtained in the Dwarf Woodlands courtyard, or by melding Aeroga + Fira, Aeroga + Firaga, or Firaga + Aerora. Crawling Fire can be melded with Slow + Firaga, Stopga + Firaga, or Stopra + Firaga.

Choosing a Deck

There you have it. All of Terra's best commands. You'll have to experiment around to see which ones work best for you. As to be expected, different commands work better than others in different situations.

If you're just trying to do some crowd control, choose commands that have a wide attack range, dealing damage to multiple targets. For example, Magnega is a good one for bringing targets together, followed up with Meteor Crash to finish them off.

If you're just after one target, pick focused commands, like Zantetsuken or Chaos Blade. If you're worried about opening yourself up for attack, choose quicker commands. Also be prepared for bosses to be impervious to most negative status effects.

And remember that just because a command wasn't "ultimate" enough to make this list, all of the attacks in BBS have their merits. If you want to Quick Blitz your way to victory, more power to you. Every player is different, so just keep trying new styles until you find one perfect for your fight against the Unversed.

[Ventus Command Guide]

[Aqua Command Guide]

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13 fan-made Kingdom Hearts musical arrangements that will break your feels https://www.gameskinny.com/yd94d/13-fan-made-kingdom-hearts-musical-arrangements-that-will-break-your-feels https://www.gameskinny.com/yd94d/13-fan-made-kingdom-hearts-musical-arrangements-that-will-break-your-feels Fri, 26 Jun 2015 10:58:05 -0400 Jackson Ingram

[{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/244da6e380046985433fae2d0d91e59f.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/244da6e380046985433fae2d0d91e59f.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"6228","description":"

14: "Xion's Theme"

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And that concludes our- Wait, what? Isn't this thing only supposed to have 13 arrangements?

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Well, just like the enigmatic Organization, this set of 13 contains a surprising 14th member. Xion's theme, also known as "Musique pour la tristesse de Xion" ("Music for the sadness of Xion"), is one of the most popular character themes of the series, quickly garnering the attention of fan-arrangers everywhere even before the English release of 358/2 Days.

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What this brings us back to . . .
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This song plays during what is arguably the most heart-breaking scene of the series: Xion's death. After spending the entirety of the game grappling with the question of her existence, Xion decides to do what she believes is right and return to Sora. Knowing that she and Roxas cannot coexist, Xion engages him in battle, forcing him to absorb her.

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As a memory-based replica, Xion's destruction means erasing every memory of her. Though Roxas immediately begins to forget Xion after the battle, he pulls his memories together long enough to cradle her dying body. Needless to say, Roxas wasn't the only one crying as Xion's form iced over and dissolved into the sunset.

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Do you have any fan-made arrangements to add to the list? Or maybe these pieces reminded you of a different classic Kingdom Hearts moment. Tell us about it in the comments below!

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/5df05ebd828d21ccb2ab220af9123d0c.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/5df05ebd828d21ccb2ab220af9123d0c.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"6227","description":"

13. "Dearly Beloved" - Kingdom Hearts III Version

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"Dearly Beloved" is no doubt returning as the title theme for Kingdom Hearts III. It's even appeared in the most recent trailer. Prior to that, however, we had no idea how composer Yoko Shimomura would top herself. Sam Yung took it upon himself to arrange a potential version for the long-awaited finale to the Dark Seeker Saga, incorporating several well-known character themes into this classic KH number.

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What this brings us back to . . .
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Nothing. Yet. But it definitely gets us hyped for the destined clash between the 13 Seekers of Darkness and the 7 Guardians of Light by reminding us of how far we've come.

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Midway through the song, Xion and Roxas's themes hit us hard. While Sora, Riku, and Kairi may have made it home relatively unscathed, many other characters didn't fare quite as well. As illustrated in the secret movie "Blank Points," several people with whom Sora's heart connected are still waiting, lost in pain and darkness. A major part of KH3's plot is going to be finding a way to save them.

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/8cd57e8c9fe4e10a02c0a05ddcb3f2dc.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/8cd57e8c9fe4e10a02c0a05ddcb3f2dc.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"6226","description":"

12. "Passion"

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Also known as "Sanctuary" by English-speaking fans, "Passion" is Utada's second gift to the series, notably replacing "Simple and Clean" as the main theme for Kingdom Hearts II. Kyle Landry's arrangement, first released in 2003, has become a fan-favorite among his uploads and reappears as the finale in his Kingdom Hearts medley.

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What this brings us back to . . .
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"Passion" and "Sanctuary" are both love songs, be it romantic, platonic, or both.

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"In you and I, there's a new land . . . Where fears and lies melt away."

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When you're with this person (or these people), you're safe. You're home. They are your sanctuary.

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This is illustrated perfectly by KH2's ending, one of the only happy ones of the series, in which Sora, Riku, and Kairi are finally reunited on Destiny Islands. A new version of the song, subtitled "After the Battle," plays as they feel secure and complete for the first time since their journey began, back before keyblades, and heartless, and the darkness. Nothing is the same. They've changed. The worlds have changed. But they still have each other, and that's all they've ever needed.

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/7df25c2b4f563ebec2343535d446d4a6.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/7df25c2b4f563ebec2343535d446d4a6.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"6222","description":"

11. "Duet of the Keyblade Masters" or "Darkness of the Unknown"

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"Darkness of the Unknown," the song that plays during part of the climactic battle with Xemnas at the end of Kingdom Hearts II, is also known as "Duet of the Keyblade Masters," so-named for the perfect harmony exercised by Sora and Riku during the fight.

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What this brings us back to . . .
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Despite how easy it would be to attach Sora and Riku's tender moment on the Dark Margin to a title like "Duet of the Keyblade Masters", "Darkness of the Unknown" feels like its significance remains firmly tied to those deemed unworthy of existence. Xemnas's boss music is highly reminiscent of the "13th" series ("Struggle"/"Dilemma"/"Reflection") that is used for the other members of the Organization. Xemnas manipulated them all, using them like the emotionless tools he led them to believe they had become. It seems fitting that his theme, only heard after every other member had been finished off in one way or another, is the culmination of all their final dirges.

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Throughout the series, the effects of these manipulations are shown on a variety of characters, particularly Roxas, Axel, and Xion. Several scenes show the trio grappling with orders given to them by the Superior. In one such instance, Axel has to retrieve Xion, who is about to go rogue. As he agonizes over the situation, he is forced to deal with three different ideas of what is "right," coming from Xemnas, Xion, and of course, Axel himself. In the end, he fights Xion and brings her back to the castle, not knowing if he had undone the friendships he had managed to build.

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/ec243953474b2bcbdba07fc5562a282a.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/ec243953474b2bcbdba07fc5562a282a.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"6221","description":"

10. "Hikari" (Piano Duet)

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What's better than one piano playing Utada's smash hit "Hikari"? How about two? With an extra eighty-eight keys to capture every nuance of the original song, Project Destati's cover is just as clean as its one-piano counterparts, but it's anything but simple.

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What this brings us back to . . .
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We've already talked about how "Simple and Clean" is a song of separation, but "Hikari"'s translated lyrics have a slightly different meaning. Check out these translated lyrics and ask yourself: who are you reminded you of? "I'm just alone / Destiny forgotten"? I think of Naminé, Sora being the "light" that awakens her, and her guardians, the abusive Marluxia and Larxene, being the "family," with which she sarcastically hopes Sora gets along. "And about the recent promises, is it just that I'm so anxious? / A wish that's wanting to be said, but shall be repressed"? This is literally the plot of Chain of Memories. I could go on, but let's get to the scene.

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Throughout CoM, Naminé is forced to manipulate Sora, who she secretly hopes will be her salvation from the Organization. In the end, she turns against her captors to help him, but the damage is already done. Sora is given the choice to either keep the false memories of Naminé or allow her to repair his memories, thereby forgetting her and his time in Castle Oblivion. You can see her heart (that, according to Xemnas, doesn't exist) break as he chooses the latter. As "Hikari" plays over the credits, we're reminded that Naminé gave up what she perceived as her one shot at happiness to set things right. In this way, she has a lot in common with her eventual ally, Riku.

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/5315d00fa975fbb183b27e67be604913.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/5315d00fa975fbb183b27e67be604913.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"6216","description":"

9. "Riku" (Orchestral Version)

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Backer Ruth fills out Riku's theme beautifully with a driving beat and a variety of additional instruments. Its steady and persistent style is perfectly suited for Riku's journey towards self-redemption.

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What this brings us back to . . .
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Riku's theme is utilized particularly effectively during 358/2 Days, in which Riku works behind the scenes, trying to orchestrate Sora's awakening in collaboration with DiZ and Naminé. Most prominently, it appears as Riku defeats Xion outside of Beast's Castle midway through the game.

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Riku's story arc runs on his tenacity. He's willing to do whatever it takes to make things right again. Along the way, he's forced to make several sacrifices to save Sora. Xion's very existence becomes a major moral conflict, as her absorption of Sora's memories makes it impossible for him to awaken. In this early scene, Riku, dressed in an Organization cloak, remarks that Xion's keyblade is a sham. When Xion asks him who he is, he answers that he "is the biggest nobody of them all." Cue spine-chilling Xion scream of frustration.

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This scene, and the accompanying track, are so important to Riku's character because it isn't just Roxas and Xion's existences that he has to contend with. Riku essentially gives up his own life and future to fix what's been broken. Whatever it takes "to make sure [his] best friend sleeps in peace."

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/0372a856258496413463531a500090b3.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/0372a856258496413463531a500090b3.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"6212","description":"

8. "Enter the Void"

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While this number only appears in the Vanitas Remant battle of Birth by Sleep Final Mix, "Enter the Void" has quickly surged in popularity among the fandom. HypochondriacPiano returns to bring the piece to life, and her performance is anything but "Unversed" with our ears.

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What this brings us back to . . .
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While "Enter the Void" is technically one of Vanitas's themes, its energy and direction follow the unraveling of the Wayfinder Trio (Terra, Aqua, and Ventus). Throughout Birth by Sleep, these three find themselves manipulated as pieces in an ancient game of light against darkness. In many ways, Vanitas fares no better, being created and valued specifically because of his potential to forge the X-Blade. While Master Xehanort may have been playing Terra when he described Vanitas as an "abomination beyond hope of salvation," its pretty clear that the old man thinks of Vanitas as no more than a tool.

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The paths of the these young people converge at a crossroads in the Keyblade Graveyard. "Enter the Void," a song encapsulating the process of losing oneself completely, is particularly apt for this moment. Ventus' words still give me goosebumps every time I hear them. 

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"I'm asking you, as a friend. Just . . . put an end to me."

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"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/9f1a6dff227d49c27f73ce23e2fa2861.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/9f1a6dff227d49c27f73ce23e2fa2861.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"6211","description":"

7. "Kairi"

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Project Destati takes Kairi's short, sweet refrain and elevates it into a masterpiece. Each movement artfully pulls the listener through all the emotions that Kairi hasn't been allowed to fully express in-game.

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What this brings us back to . . .
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Not that I'm salty, but Kairi hasn't exactly been the poster child of positive female representation in the series. She's constantly pushed to the side, captured, or forgotten. This song reminds me of all of her best moments, like when she dives right into Axel's corridor of darkness, or when she shows Riku's true form to Sora, or even back in the original game when she shoves her way through a group of Heartless to save Sora after he turns into a Shadow.

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It also gives me hope for Kairi's future. If her theme can express complex emotions, or just be active and engaged in general, maybe Kairi can too.

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/9a14bd55ad4807f36ea12a108b7f8823.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/9a14bd55ad4807f36ea12a108b7f8823.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"6210","description":"

6. "Terra's Theme" (Violin Loop Cover)

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Autumn Raine brilliantly uses pedal-operated recordings of himself playing every part to pull together Terra's theme from Birth by Sleep.

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What this brings us back to . . .
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Terra kind of gets the shaft within the fandom. Yes, he's pretty gullible. Yes, he made a ton of bad decisions. That doesn't make his path into the darkness any less tragic.

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There's no doubt that Terra reaches his lowest point while fighting his father figure, Master Eraqus, in the Land of Departure. While he fought to protect his friend Ventus, Terra was also being manipulated by Master Xehanort, who struck Eraqus down after Terra gave into the darkness and won the match.

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Terra's theme builds in parallel to his rising feelings of guilt, envy, and anger that eventually overtake his heart.

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/763167e432ece4184f17130c2966284d.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/763167e432ece4184f17130c2966284d.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"6208","description":"

5. "Roxas's Theme" (Violin and Piano Duet)

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Piano powerhouse Lara6688 and incredibly gifted violinist Taylor Davis team up to weave together a masterful rendition of Roxas's theme, as featured in Kingdom Hearts II.

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What this brings us back to . . .
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When it comes to sad moments, Roxas has an endless supply. It's hard to choose just one when his theme seems to capture the full range of his experiences throughout the series. For this reason, Taylor and Lara's performance reminds me most of the end of Roxas' seven days in the simulated Twilight Town.

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As Roxas returns to Sora and realizes his "summer vacation is...over," his theme undercuts the brutal heartbreak of gaining some semblance of a normal independent life before losing it all to those who consider him to only be a "a tool," at best.

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/242e0f7003fb51795f56ddc0ffd0c065.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/242e0f7003fb51795f56ddc0ffd0c065.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"6207","description":"

4. "Destiny Islands"/"Missing You"

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HypochondriacPiano brings us back to Sora, Riku, and Kairi's home on Destiny Islands, taking the soothing tropical number and easing down its tempo. About two minutes into "Destiny Islands," the key and the listeners drop somberly into "Missing You." The transition is seamless and chilling.

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What this brings us back to . . .
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The arrangement arguably puts us in Kairi's shoes between the events of Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II. She has returned to Destiny Islands, her home, and everything's been left unchanged...except for her. The Kairi that finds the paopu fruit addition to the drawing in the secret place is not the one that drew Sora in the first place. She's back, but it feels like an empty homecoming. The choice to slow down "Destiny Islands" represents Kairi's reflections on these feelings.

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And then, of course, there's the question of whether or not Destiny Islands even feels like home to her anymore without Sora and Riku. "Missing You" is full of her longing to be with them again.

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/f9f4ec8bc424f39eb17fbe10314db3e2.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/f9f4ec8bc424f39eb17fbe10314db3e2.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"6202","description":"

3. "'Twas a Sunset of Marmalade"

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While they admit that coining titles isn't their strong suit, dreadjoker10 has certainly found their niche at the piano. Combining Twilight Town favorites "At Dusk, I Will Think of You" and "Lazy Afternoons," they've created a bittersweet lullaby that's equal parts heartwarming and breaking.

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What this brings us back to . . . 
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"Day 352: Us and the Sunset

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Me and Xion and Axel had ice cream. The sunset was beautiful.
I don't have to write anything else down, because I'll never forget this day."

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That was one of the last excerpts from the diary Roxas kept throughout 358/2 Days. This piece feels specifically connected to that last sunset they were able to share together. While nostalgia for the old days was enough to briefly bring Roxas, Axel, and Xion back to the clock tower amidst the Organization's foreboding plots, their time together was increasingly tainted with sadness, mistrust, and anguish.

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"'Twas a Sunset of Marmalade" is their time together. It may have been twisted by secrets and impossible decisions, but it still pulled at emotions they didn't know they could even experience. This arrangement beautifully orchestrates the deep sadness permeating Roxas's time with Organization XIII.

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/8f34fab5d4d5e631eb499d207ecbbfdb.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/8f34fab5d4d5e631eb499d207ecbbfdb.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"6199","description":"

2. "Dear to My Heart"

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Combining classics like "Simple and Clean"/"Hikari," "Dearly Beloved," and "Hollow Bastion," "Dear to My Heart" is an eight-minute ride through Sora's first adventure in the original Kingdom Hearts.

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What this brings us back to . . .
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Obviously, this arrangement is an homage to the first game, and it seems to be pulling us right into the climax. The scene it most directly embodies is Sora's confrontation with (the then Ansem-possessed) Riku before the Princesses of Heart are used to unlock the Final Keyhole. After spending the whole game scattered across the worlds, Sora, Riku, and Kairi are physically reunited, but still hopelessly disconnected.

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"Simple and Clean" itself is a song about falling apart. This relationship that was once complete and nurturing is now filled with uncertainty, miscommunication, and fear. "Don't get me wrong I love you, but . . ." is an accurate summary of Sora, Riku, and Kairi's friendship in the first game. What was whole is now crumbling. And so Sora reaches this place, this Hollow Bastion, a twisted imitation of something that was once beautiful, and finds his friends - one lifeless and missing her heart, the other estranged and jealous - both so far gone from their time together on the islands.

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But Sora, being the optimistic little scamp we've grown to love, knows that his friends are still somewhere in his heart (quite literally, in Kairi's case). After all: "Regardless of warnings, the future doesn't scare me at all. Nothing's like before."

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/057f59f6a3287c0689c45a57c40890cd.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/057f59f6a3287c0689c45a57c40890cd.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"6205","description":"

1. "Dearly Beloved 2014"

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Since the original Kingdom Hearts dropped back in 2002, "Dearly Beloved" has been used as the backdrop of the title screen, setting the tone for the series before you even press "New Game." With each new game in the series, "Dearly Beloved" returns, usually having evolved in complexity, not unlike the central plot. 

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Popular YouTuber and pianist Kyle Landry has done covers of countless video game songs, but "Dearly Beloved" has fittingly captured his attention to warrant a revised arrangement every year. Counting his first cover of "Dearly Beloved" back in 2008, and his most recent rendition this year, Landry has released seven versions of this iconic opening number.

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What this brings us back to . . .
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Rather than a specific scene from the series, Kyle Landry's "Dearly Beloved" takes us back to our first Kingdom Hearts game, whichever title that might have been. Sitting there, controller in hand, we were welcomed by some spiky-haired character and this sweet, simple melody, suggesting that there would be more to this quirky amalgamation of Disney and Square Enix than first meets the eye.

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In-game, the song seems to represent a simpler time that has since been lost. Usual spots where friends could meet and share thoughts or feelings - a crooked palm tree, a clock tower, the edge of a fortress wall - now empty. "Dearly Beloved" is the music of a self-made home.

"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/d/4/d/d4d1e82e50607f0fa5006274a339da85.png","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/d/4/d/tiny_d4d1e82e50607f0fa5006274a339da85.png","type":"slide","id":"71383","description":"

The music of Kingdom Hearts is known for being both beautiful and emotionally destructive. With the brilliant minds of people like Yoko Shimomura, Kaoru Wad, and Utada, the most poignant moments of the series are made far more impactful by the gorgeous soundtracks cradling them.

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Naturally, Kingdom Hearts' dedicated fanbase has spent a good portion of the past decade learning, covering, and sharing these iconic numbers. Here are 13 fan-made arrangements to bring you back into the raw emotions of the series and break your heart all over again. 

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Warning: this slideshow contains major spoilers for the series.

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Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix Collector's Edition Offers Nearly the Entire Series For $100 https://www.gameskinny.com/mqqb7/kingdom-hearts-25-hd-remix-collectors-edition-offers-nearly-the-entire-series-for-100 https://www.gameskinny.com/mqqb7/kingdom-hearts-25-hd-remix-collectors-edition-offers-nearly-the-entire-series-for-100 Wed, 05 Nov 2014 22:02:26 -0500 Michael Falero

If you were planning on buying Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix right when it comes out on December 2nd, you might want to reconsider.

The official PlayStation blog revealed Wednesday that Square Enix will release a "Collector's Edition," which will include Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix in addition to the new Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix, both for the PlayStation 3. (See below for a video advertizing the collection.)

Collector's Edition Game and Merch Breakdown

Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix, originally released in 2013, includes three separate titles rendered in HD: Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, Chain of Memories (redesigned for the PlayStation 2), as well as 358/2 Days in "Theater Mode," where players can watch the game's nearly three hours of cinematic cut-scenes.

Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix likewise will include three HD-remastered titles: Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix (previously only available in Japan), Birth By Sleep Final Mix, and Re:coded in "Theater Mode."

These six games comprise nearly all of the Kingdom Hearts franchise, save for Dream Drop Distance  

These six games comprise nearly all of the Kingdom Hearts franchise, save for the latest new title, 2012's Dream Drop Distance for the Nintendo 3DS. Besides the two CDs, the collection includes a Steelbook case with artwork by Kingdom Hearts director Tetsuya Nomura, a Shadow Heartless plushie, a collectible Sora/Mickey pin, and a 30-page book of Nomura sketches and other artwork for the franchise.

Square Enix's pre-order page for the Collector's Edition indicates that the offer will have a limited supply and retail at $99 plus shipping. Considering the Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix will retail for $40 standalone, diehard fans who missed out on 1.5 HD might find the $100 deal worth it, especially with the included Nomura artwork. Others might want to eek as much playtime as possible out of these titles during the yearlong wait for the title everyone really wants.

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Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix Collector's Edition Announced https://www.gameskinny.com/dzi8s/kingdom-hearts-hd-25-remix-collectors-edition-announced https://www.gameskinny.com/dzi8s/kingdom-hearts-hd-25-remix-collectors-edition-announced Wed, 05 Nov 2014 10:55:17 -0500 Brian Spaen

Square Enix has announced the Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX Collector's Edition for the PlayStation 3, which includes the remaster of the first two games and multiple collectibles.

The KH HD 2.5 ReMIX already includes the Final Mix edition of Kingdom Hearts II and Birth by Sleep Final Mix. Both were exclusive to Japan previously. The DS game, Kingdom Hearts Re:coded, is also remastered and included in the package.

Here's what's all included in the Collector's Edition:

  • Both Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX and Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMix game discs.
  • Collector's steelbook case which holds the discs and has exclusive artwork from Tetsuya Nomura, the series director.
  • 9.4-inch Shadow Heartless plush toy, the classic Kingdom Hearts enemy encountered in the game.
  • 1.68-inch metal Disney collectible pin that has Sora and Mickey Mouse back-to-back.
  • 30-page artbook and dust jacket that includes a foreword for Kingdom Hearts II and has other various artwork from the game.

The Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX Collector's Edition is currently available for preorder at the price of $99.99. The collector's edition will release December 2nd, 2014, but those that preorder the game by the end of the day on November 24th will be sure to receive it on release day.

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Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix Debut Trailer https://www.gameskinny.com/8ai06/kingdom-hearts-hd-25-remix-debut-trailer https://www.gameskinny.com/8ai06/kingdom-hearts-hd-25-remix-debut-trailer Mon, 14 Oct 2013 04:51:45 -0400 Courtney Gamache

If you're a big fan of Kingdom Hearts, you'll be excited to know that Sony has released a début trailer for Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix and a 2014 release date. This game will definitely be impressive, since the ending credits of Kingdom Hearts 1.5 Remix showed video clips from past Kingdom Hearts games in HD.

Those games include: Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix (a PS2 Japan Exclusive), Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix (a PSP Japan Exclusive), and Kingdom Hearts Re:coded. They were shown in HD which was a great foreshadowing that they were to make a 2.5, which they have confirmed is in development, and set to be a PS3 exclusive.

If you haven't been able to get your hands on Kingdom Hearts, you definitely should. The game is great for all ages, and features a variety of Disney characters. As you can see from the trailer above, the game comes to life with the animations, so you can expect the game to amaze you on every turn.

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