Kingdom Hearts CoM – Falling Downhill with Friends

com-2015-11-02-18h44m30s579At the top of the Castle, the Organization members have noticed Riku is missing as well. Axel and Larxene blame Vexen, Larxene saying the “toy” isn’t following orders any more. Larxene even calls him “Vexie” in the GBA version, so you can see why he gets a little upset between that and Axel’s sarcasm. In Re:CoM, we once again have the characters being more open about being Nobodies, as Larxene remarks: “Men without hearts are so boring.” And yet, Vexen does seem to be getting riled. I guess “anger” doesn’t count as an emotion? I realize this is a relic of CoM when the concept of Nobodies may have been less refined, but c’mon, edit it out!

The fight is broken up when our hooded friend from the start of the game teleports back into the room. Hey man! I… almost forgot you were in this game! Where’ve you been? Vexen addresses this figure as “Marluxia,” which Re:CoM informs me is pronounced “Mar-loo-sha,” much to everyone’s surprise. Marluxia unhoods, to reveal a flowing set of bishounen locks, bright pink, complete with sakura petals flowing in the air, just in case you didn’t recognize him as being the guy from ten hours ago who also had a petal motif. You… do remember that the guy from ten hours ago had a petal motif, right? Marluxia’s powers are tied to flowers, which comes off as strange considering most of his flower-related powers are just decorative flourishes. He has a few flower spells, but he doesn’t summon Creeper Plants, he doesn’t use Cure (thank goodness)… The motif just seems to be here for the sake of being here?

com-2015-11-02-18h45m59s295Marluxia denounces Vexen’s project as a failure and then says not to disappoint them again (or “disappoint me,” in the GBA, emphasis added). Vexen is pissed off, and reminds Marluxia that “In this Organization, you’re No. 11! I’m No. 4 and I will not have you—” Marluxia interrupts him by drawing a massive scythe in another flurry of petals. This is the Graceful Dahlia, and if you’re wondering why I’ve been naming all the Organization’s weapons, it’s just a cool detail I like. Oh, wait, is Marluxia’s design going for a psychopomp angle? Maybe he’s meant to be an “anti-Cure.” I can buy that.

So the Organization has a numeric rank system, that’s interesting. I’m going to go ahead and spoil that Axel is Number VIII, and Larxene is Number XII. You won’t learn most of these numbers until KH2, but I don’t see any particular reason to sit on them. And it looks like Number IV came from the basement, with XI and XII manning the upstairs, so perhaps the basement is more important to the Organization?

com-2015-11-02-18h51m40s121But back to Vexen’s question: if Vexen outranks Marluxia, why is Marluxia acting like he’s in charge? Marluxia explains that Castle Oblivion and “the girl Naminé” were entrusted to him by the Organization. He’s in charge because the bosses say he’s in charge. Larxene reminds Vexen that defying the Organization’s representative would be treason, and is punishable by death. Or at least she does in the GBA version. Re:CoM has Quinton Flynn put on his awful exposition voice again to say “Traitors are eliminated.” Blechh.

In Re:CoM, Marluxia cautions Vexen to stop trying to kill Sora, saying it’s not possible to beat him. Wow, uh… that’s awfully generous from someone in good position to be the final boss. In the GBA version, it’s quite the opposite, and it’s going to be hard to explain why they made this change without you knowing how things go from here, but let’s give it a shot. *deep breath* Okay. Wind it back a few lines.

com-2015-11-02-18h53m00s148In the GBA version, Marluxia orders Vexen to kill Sora, threatening to report the failure of his project (Riku) to “the Superior.” Vexen stammers, wondering why Marluxia would want Sora dead, but Marluxia insists and Vexen heads out to do the job. Axel speaks to Marluxia, saying “He’ll really do it, you know. He has no choice,” and Marluxia says “Neither do we.” He then goes over to Naminé and says “What to do? Your hero is soon to be wiped from existence. But he made a promise to you, didn’t he?” And Naminé pauses before saying “…Yes.”

In Re:CoM, Marluxia tells Vexen that Vexen could never beat Sora, and Vexen takes umbrage, saying he’s stronger than he looks. Marluxia says to prove it, saying “None of us wish to be suspicious of a comrade.” Vexen says “Your insincerity is comforting,” and leaves.

With him gone, Axel says “You give a challenge like that to Vexen and he’ll seriously want to eliminate Sora,” and Marluxia says that that would be unfortunate. He then goes to Naminé and gives her similar instructions.

com-2015-11-02-18h54m35s354With the two scenes in comparison, it’s maybe a little more obvious what’s going on. While I think I prefer the straightforward version of Marluxia from the GBA version, it’s clear in Re:CoM that he’s trying to goad Vexen into fighting Sora without outright ordering it, and Vexen realizes it but can’t do anything to stop him since Marluxia has all the power here. What’s not clear is Marluxia and Axel’s  exchange in the GBA: “He has no choice.” “Neither do we.” Why do they have no choice?  That will become clear with time.

On the other hand, I feel Vexen’s character comes across a lot stronger in Re:CoM, as does Axel’s for all one line is worth, though I could do without them saying “eliminate” like 4Kids villains. Re:CoM ended up with a E10+ rating in the states and wasn’t released in Europe at all. Did that memo reach you too late to substitute in “kill?”

com-2015-11-02-18h56m08s335By the way, Naminé’s only said one word, but that’s well enough a reason for me to introduce her voice actress, Meaghan Martin. Martin was Bianca in the 10 Things I Hate About You TV series. In a circuitous Disney connection, she also played Wendy in 2010 mini-series Wendy, an alternate telling of the Peter Pan story. Re:CoM was her second role listed on IMDb, and I feel she does a good job when she isn’t being shackled by the lip sync issues.

One way or another, the Organization just sent a man to murder you, directly or indirectly. Great way to open the whimsical world of Winnie the Pooh, wouldn’t you say?

com-2015-11-02-18h55m43s710But before we can go in, we rejoin the quartet, where Jiminy Cricket remarks that they’ve lost ten floors of memories, and asks Sora if maybe they should turn back. Coincidence of coincidences, Sora just happens to remember his promise to Naminé (the one Marluxia just mentioned), saying he promised to always keep her safe. “I can’t believe I forgot something that important!” It’s kind of funny, it’s almost as though they’re deliberately taking the wind out of the earlier friendship speeches about never forgetting your friends! “But I can still make up for it now. From now on, I’m keeping my promise.” Donald, Goofy and Jiminy seem weary of the journey, but they’re willing to support Sora and carry on.

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100 Acre Wood is an unusual case among Kingdom Hearts remakes. It was actually completely done-over in the remake, to the point where only the barest plot structure remains. Sora meets up with Pooh, who says that his friends are missing, and Sora asks if they can go looking for them together. Sora adds that he’s looking for his own friends. Re:CoM changes a line here. In the GBA version, Pooh asks “Are they Pooh’s friends? Now, just a minute… I’m Pooh, not you,” and Sora introduces himself. In Re:CoM, he asks if the friends Sora is looking for are friends of his friends, and Sora addresses Pooh by name without prompting. It’s so surgical that I can’t help but wonder if it was deliberate. Back in KH1, Pooh and Sora promised to remember one another even if Sora left, so is it possible that they just… did? Or is it just a typo?

com-2015-11-02-19h01m32s737I’ll talk about the GBA version first – in fact, it’s going to take up the entire entry. This is a very strange sequence in the GBA. Going diagonally toward the bottom-left, the game starts scrolling along a combination obstacle course / puzzle zone, where you have to find Pooh’s friends and help them with minor puzzles. Doing so will unlock a series of valuable rewards. There’s no need to talk to anyone if you don’t care for their rewards – in fact, you could skip the entire world if you were in a hurry. In most cases, all you have to do to get a prize is lead Pooh to his friends without you or him running into obstacles. It’s not so much like the Pooh’s Muddy Path minigame from KH1 as it is like an extended and higher quality version of that stupid thirty-second sequence in KH1 where you were leading Pooh away from hunny pots on your way up a hill. Except this time, you’re leading Pooh towards hunny pots because he has a… health bar? A health/hunger bar that depletes gradually as you go, as well as in response to damage.  It’s a weird and unusual challenge. I’ve wanted to replay the GBA version just to get this version of 100 Acre Wood, but I know a lot of people don’t like it very much.

com-2015-11-02-19h02m33s524Your walk begins with an encounter with Rabbit, who is trying to stack vegetables in a cart.  Not much further down is another cart that serves silently as your first puzzle: should you and Pooh climb into the cart, you’ll see results at the far end of the track.  This is easily missed because the idea of puzzles hasn’t quite started yet.  To ease you into the challenges proper, the very next “puzzle” involves Piglet, who will give you the Confuse Sleight just for talking to him.  I’m not a fan of the Confuse Sleight, since there are better ways to stun Heartless (Stop, for example) and bosses don’t tend to cooperate with this sort of thing.  On the other hand, it is essentially free, and we’re just getting started.

Further down the hill, you begin to encounter new recurring features: holes, which will drop Pooh’s HP if he falls in them, and balloons, that Pooh will grab to no apparent consequence or benefit.  You can break up the balloons with the Keyblade if you’d like to avoid the delay, but you’ll need one of them if you want to gather all the prizes.  The idea is to grab a larger cluster of balloons in one corner, which are pinned below a tree where Owl is watching your progress.  If you do so, Pooh will fly off into the stratosphere, getting Owl’s attention to go rescue him.  After a brief conversation, Owl gives you your first Spellbinder Keyblade, one of the few elementally aligned (Thunder) Keyblades in the game.  Unfortunately, there are no enemies in the game that are all that prominently weak against Thunder, so the decision to include the Spellbinder seems rather odd, and probably geared towards multiplayer (say, a counter against anyone using an Enemy Card to become weak to Thunder).

com-2015-11-02-19h04m39s015Those holes hide a puzzle as well.  Typically, holes are obstacles, but a set of tracks leads you into one hole in particular to find Roo. Roo gives you your first Elixir.  This isn’t as good as the Megalixir you might get in a few worlds (as it doesn’t reset the reload counter) but who cares? It’s nearly the same for less cost, restoring all your lost non-Item cards.

Past the holes is an intermission between puzzles: a field of dandelions that sprout Moogle points and fluff as you walk through them.  Past the field you’ll find Tigger, who is hopping around a square of tree trunks.  Instinct might be to jump along with Tigger, but it seems to have no effect and you’re forced to carry on.  Immediately following this is a series of four holes in a vaguely similar pattern, which on my first playthrough led to me deliberately dump Pooh into each hole, taking damage with each fall.  I had to grab a nearby jar of honey just to hold him together.  This accomplished absolutely nothing, but I’m happy to share my humiliation with all of you.

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Welp, that didn’t work, time to give up entirely!

Next up down the hill is Eeyore, looking forlornly up at his tail, trapped up in a tree.  Any attempt to knock it down directly will fail – instead, you have to spot a beehive on the opposite side of the path, which blends in perhaps a little too well with the wall.  Leading Pooh here will cause him to knock down the tail, earning you the Bind Sleight.  I’m afraid to say that, like Confuse, I’m also not impressed with Bind, as it’s just another way of stunning Heartless.  I may be alone at that, since Bind was upgraded to a Room of Rewards card in Re:CoM, which means the devs had a much higher opinion of it than me.

com-2015-11-02-19h06m42s257Past the beehive you’ll find a group of treetrunks, with Roo in one corner if you happen to have rescued him from the hole.  You’ll probably notice, especially with Roo’s advice, that four of the treetrunks match the pattern from Tigger’s bouncing game up the hill.  Should you carefully mimic the game with Pooh by jumping around the trunks counterclockwise.  This is harder than it sounds, both because the trunks are too close for Sora to make easy jumps (Tigger’s were about the right distance for that, but I suppose Pooh can’t jump that far), and because Pooh is so hard to control to begin with.  If you pull this pattern off, Tigger will arrive and give you the Idyll Romp Sleight. This Sleight is an alternate Sleight for the Bambi Summon, which you… don’t have yet. You get Bambi for clearing the world. Bambi’s okay: he drops HP orbs like he used to drop magic in KH1, but Idyll Romp is just another way of causing Confusion. Didn’t we just get two Sleights with a similar delaying effect? It’s a good thing these prizes are nearly free, because outside of the Elixir, they’re not impressing me!

From here, it’s down the hill you go towards the finish line.  The next feature on the hill are a series of posts you have to pound into the ground Yoshi’s Island style (but with your Keyblade), which I presume are a part of the cart puzzle from earlier that you probably forgot about, though they don’t seem to have any direct impact on it.  Someone correct me if I’m wrong.  Rabbit’s puzzle finally comes to a head just afterwards, when Rabbit’s cabbages come rolling down the hill out of his broken cart, after which you have to knock all the vegetables to the side (and into a neat pile) with your Keyblade.  It’s a lot of work, stress and reflexes, but doing so will earn you the Synchro Sleight.  This Sleight is highly situational but I’m sure some players can find some use for it: it synchronizes the health bars of minor Heartless to that of your target, the idea being to synchronize them on a very low number. Re:CoM players have to find Synchro in a Room of Rewards.

com-2015-11-02-19h07m54s779After the encounter with Rabbit, Sora gets a guilt trip and you can head to the bottom-right, where touching a log will give you the option to leave the world… keep that in mind for later.  I’ll address the ending after we discuss the contents of 100 Acre Wood in the remake.  For now, we’re going to have to take a break, as the combined 100 Acre Wood posts ran a little too long together, not to forget that this is the end of the second set of World Cards!  It’s clear you’re going to have an encounter with Vexen right out the gate, but what could happen after that?

Prev: Kingdom Hearts CoM – Wind-Up Castle
Next: Kingdom Hearts CoM – The Ice Man Cometh!


This retrospective’s 2D screenshots come from RickyC’s longplay of the GBA version of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories at World of Longplays (YouTube), while 3D screenshots come from BlueGator’s longplay of the 1.5 HD version of Kingdom Hearts: Re: Chain of Memories at Temple of the Azure Flame (segmented version).

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