“Kingdom Hearts” is one of my favorite games ever. Seriously. I love it. And I love it so much, it’s not even easy for me to write a post about it. There’s just too much I can rant on. The story is amazing, complex, and beautiful. The characters are wonderful. And the way they combine “Final Fantasy”, Disney, and original characters and locations is just… I don’t know how they do it. It just works. Disney and “Final Fantasy” don’t really seem like they’d fit, but Square managed to combine it all in a way that is just perfect, in a way I think few others could pull off. In short, I adore this game and the series as a whole, but there’s strangely not a whole lot I can say.
The game is simply perfect, or nearly as close to perfect as a game can get, and with the long-awaited “Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix” finally being released for the first time outside of Japan, I was so excited to play this beloved game again and finally get to see the extras I had been missing out on for so long. And so when I was thinking about what to write for this post, I thought this game needed something extra special to remember my time with it. Plus, if you haven’t played this game yet, I have no more to say except for, oh my gosh, what are you waiting for, go play it! And if you have already played it, you don’t need to hear me ranting about what you already know. So for this post, I will simply be discussing my experience with the most amazing “Final Mix”.
Even though I had already played this game twice before the “Final Mix” version was released in my part of the world, I had such a great experience playing this enhanced version of the game. Things started out rough at first, as there is this secret battle with someone called Unknown (I know it’s you, Xemnas…) that I wanted so badly to get to fight. I thought to myself, the easiest way to unlock this battle would surely be to play the game in Proud Mode, as there are fewer requirements than in Normal Mode. After all, the only time I got the secret ending of “Kingdom Hearts 2” was when I beat it on Proud Mode, because I just could not get 100% in the game on the regular difficulty. Surely the same method will work here, right? Wrong. Proud Mode turned out to be much more absurd than I expected, and when I was being completely annihilated in Traverse Town (Traverse Town! On your first visit!), I decided I’d never even get through the game like this, and so I started over in normal mode.
Things went much more smoothly this time, and I decided that I was going to try my hardest to fulfill the requirements for fighting Xemnas (sorry, Unknown…), but if I didn’t, I didn’t. At least, I’d be able to beat the game and see all the other secrets that “Final Mix” had to offer. So as I played the game, I worked to collect all the Dalmatians (in the end, I found all of them on my own except for the 70-72 set), found all trinities, and I was surprised to find that there were actually bosses that appeared in the original version of the game that were new to me, not to mention enemies that really were exclusive to this version. I guess I wasn’t very observant last time. And not being entirely certain of what exactly was needed to fight Xemnas/Unknown, and for the pure fun of it, once I got to the final location of the game, I went back and got to work getting everything I had missed.
After lots of leveling up, I kicked butt in Olympus Coliseum (the regular matches, where you have to fight a zillion things), but Sephiroth remained too difficult for now. I went back and defeated Kurt Zisa in the desert and beat the Ice Titan once I figured out how to actually hit him. It took a long time to get strong enough to beat the most terrifying Phantom, but I finally beat that thing, as well. (I loved that battle, though. I love fighting scary things. And I was down to almost no magic, with all my Ethers used up, when I finally dealt the finishing blow. How relieved I was.)
And all the while I worked on collecting items I needed for item synthesis (which I called my “Kingdom Hearts” grocery list) so that I could eventually obtain the Ultima Weapon, at the same time getting stronger and stronger so it would be easier to beat the bosses I couldn’t…beat. I had trials and tribulations sneaking around, trying to take out Sniperwilds before they spotted me, and I had quite a frustrating time attempting to get Mystery Goo from those darn White Mushrooms (they’re adorable, but sometimes I just wish they’d use their words), and I tried countless times in Deep Jungle to get the stupid Pink Agaricus to just give me a Serenity Power already! Eventually, I got the hang of all this and the Ultima Weapon was mine (I didn’t bother with Donald or Goofy’s better weapons, as I was so sick at that point of trying to get rare enemies to appear so I could get the items needed).
Even at this point, however, defeating Sephiroth seemed impossible, as I simply could not stop his Heartless Angel attack (it reduces your MP to 0 and your HP to 1, and then he attacks you before you can say “time out!”). I thought I’d perhaps fight random enemies a little longer and get Sora to level 100 to see if that would do it (even if that wouldn’t prevent Sephiroth’s most horrible attack, but hey, I had to try something). But first, just in case I can’t beat him, why not go and see if the battle with Xemnas is unlocked yet. To my surprise, it was (apparently defeating Sephiroth is not required to fight Xemnas, even though I heard it was), and you have no idea how excited I was to find that today was the day I was waiting for, when I could finally try that secret battle I had been working so hard for. Oh, glorious day!
After several tries, Xemnas was defeated during a battle where I just went berserk on him in an effort to beat him as quickly as I could, with the hopes that this would allow me to face his worst attack as few times as possible (it drains your HP and doesn’t allow you to heal until you press the right button at the right time, and it makes me rather sad, not to mention trying to avoid him while staring at the bottom left corner of the screen and waiting for the correct command to appear is not easy). Overjoyed, I then went ahead and got Sora to level 100, and I went to face Sephiroth again…and you know what? I beat him. Twice. (I mean, it would be pretty pathetic if I couldn’t beat him even at level 100, and a much better gamer would have done it much earlier, but hey, I was proud anyway!) Another bout of being a berserk lunatic in battle won the day against this one-winged monster, and my journal was complete.
And not about to waste time with the Gummi Ship missions (I hated the Gummi Ship levels; they were the only part of this masterpiece that was cheaply made) and lacking the will to try and collect rare items ever, ever again, I was as done as I was ever going to be. Not only did I get to see this version of “Kingdom Hearts”, new cut scenes and enemies and all, but this was also the first time I actually got the full experience, defeating all the bosses and finding all the lost puppies and the trinities and, yes, even tracking down items that made me tear my feathers out in wrath when an enemy I needed wouldn’t appear or that stupid Pink Agaricus refused to drop a Serenity Power yet again! It was time to beat the game, and I did, in a most-unsatisfying final battle, since it was no challenge because I was so darn strong at that point.
I love this game, even more now than I ever had before. This was my third time through, but I realized this time that I had never really played this game before, not really, as there was so much I was missing originally. There is so much more to experience than just the game’s main story. I left so much unfinished my first two times, and this was the first time I actually stuck it out and completed nearly everything I could no matter how tough it got. It was a whole new experience, and I guess you can say I kind of bonded with this game in a way I never had before. I had been through so much in this game. And so that’s why I wanted to share my experiences with this game with you, because it is not often you discover a masterpiece like this after having already played it.