We picked up the game outside the Dwelg village, and headed west to the twin Western Towers. There, Kyle stumbled on the only treasures we really wanted (a Fire stone and the Crystal segment of the final Mystic Sword) in under five minutes. In fact, this was so fast that I don’t think he worked out what was up with the Towers and I forgot to tell him! Here’s the deal: the Towers are linked at the top by a bridge, and past that bridge is a device that actually reverses gravity and puts you on the Towers’ ceilings. The Fire Stone is at the top of one tower (a room you might miss if you head for the obvious bridge door), and the Crystal is on the ceiling of the first floor of the other tower. I’ve always been impressed with how well the low-res platform communicates this gimmick but it probably helps if you stick around long enough to check it out! Maybe if there had been a third valuable item on the bottom floor of the second tower, instead of a Cure3 potion. (more…)
After beating the first of the original two worlds, you actually unlock a third, but we’re going to go strictly in order here in the Retrospective. That means it’s on to the second world, which features a tall, dark castle on the map and nothing else to tell you which film it’s from. This visual shorthand is accurate after a fashion, as there is nothing outside the walls from here until KHX, despite this world appearing in multiple games (and even in KHX, we only see forest!). Stop questioning the existence of things outside the walls. We have always been at war with Time Warner. (more…)
Buzi abandoned us almost the moment after we lost our sweet ride, and the rest of us limped north to Talonsburg, a town that had been constructed by the advance team from our World. Unsurprisingly, it was just a small base and a runway, but since so many people seem to know about it, it’s confusing that it hasn’t been taken out yet. Inside, we found Dr. Quacer, who told us that the last member of the party, Borgin, had already gone ahead to Goht, the continent housing the final Masters. Unfortunately, Goht was guarded by a Barrier that was keeping the Talon2 out, and Borgin had only gotten in through the magic of NPC immunity to roadblocks. Quacer learned the Talon had been destroyed, but didn’t seem that pooped about it, since he simply launched his artificial copy, the Talon2, and we were back in business! It’s like the original ship never even crashed.
No, really, they pretend like it never happened most of the time, even calling it the “Talon” for the rest of the game. (more…)
In a clever bit of writing, no one noticed that you were gone and just assume they missed you in the chaos of the fight, which avoids any unnecessary discussion about military procedure and allows the plot to move on without any major discrepancies. Well, discrepancies on your side, since Shan-Yu is once again moving away from mainland China and back up the mountain. Sora suggests Shang look for the villagers (sigh) while “we’ll handle this.” Sora: I know you can, and you know you can, but saying that to a guy who just fought an army of Heartless and lost is bound to raise some eyebrows. Mushu continues to walk around in the open in front of Shang, and I’m not sure if he’s supposed to be hidden anymore? Later, Shang will act totally unsurprised when he sees Mushu but a lot of other context clues (many of them from the original film) suggest Mushu wasn’t supposed to be seen?
By the way, before you leave: giant Chien-Po says that “A falcon even captured some of us!” …H-how? (more…)
With Dion revived, we all bundled into the Talon and hit the Unit X-Plane to travel to Pureland, hoping to chase after the team that had somehow invented the Unit on their own without leaving a copy or schematics to make a new one and yeah, I’m going to keep complaining about that. Before we left, we flew around for a bit, Kyle commenting that the Talon was too shitty to even fly over mountains with its two engines. He must have been thrilled, then, when we hit X-Plane and arrived in Pureland, only to be informed that Units X-Plane and Hover had broken, meaning that the Talon not only couldn’t fly over mountains, but that it couldn’t fly over water. Truly we were living the airship dream.
(I’m not certain why they break X-Plane as well. It wouldn’t have been so bad to teleport back to the original world and then back to this starting point in Pureland. It’s not like this game is so advanced that we’d expect dialogue on the original world to change up to match recent events. I mean, the Elder in Dharm was still talking about Lara coming to stay with him!) (more…)
Before we head out of camp to do army work, I want to mention something that probably slipped you by: saving here is weird! No, seriously: count on your hands the number of games where save point are the only form of saving, but there are no save points in a “town” (this military camp is functionally a “town”). It just doesn’t happen. The reason KH2 prevents you from saving in the encampment is because there was already a save point in the bamboo thicket, one room away, and it would be redundant to have two. But it still stands in the face of 20 years of RPG tradition, and accidentally feels like some kind of Illusion of Gaia setup where the narrative is nudging you to realize your character has to hide before you can save. That was true in Illusion of Gaia (in fact, it’s one of my favourite bits of detail-work in IoG, but we’ll talk more about that when I get to my upcoming Soul Blazer Retrospective), but here? (more…)
Chaos had two Units: Future and Hover (the second engine), which we took back to the Talon and then headed to the Future, where the world was flooded beyond recognition. This makes navigation a nightmare, as there are so few landmarks. An observant player might realize that the only surviving land had previously been surrounded by mountains, but be honest: do you really remember which parts of the map those were? Including ones that weren’t relevant before now? With navigation thrown out the window, I took over from Kyle, since I knew all the shortcuts. A new player might notice that Dharm is now gone, and would try to head to Elan, but since Elan largely only has directions, it’s possible to skip it for the time being. I started by going to South Tower, where our Ifram Tree informed us that the Dharmites had moved to an island to the east, and had disguised their hideout as a graveyard. Unfortunately this advice was not really needed, since we were playing on the Gameboy Player (a GBA). That meant the game was colourized the way monochrome games were on the Game Boy Color, and foreground sprites like the moveable grave were coloured differently (pink) than background sprites like the regular graves (transparent). Through no fault of the developers, it’s obvious which grave you have to check! Whoops! (more…)
While the fact that Twilight Town has vanished is notable, it’s time to move on with our lives and into the actual game. There are now two worlds in bottom-right side of the map, plus a third one also covered in a hemisphere of darkness (you can see Twilight Town’s hemisphere at the top of the attached screenshot, and the second hemisphere peeking out at the bottom-right edge). Unfortunately, to get to the new worlds, you’re going to need to complete a few Gummi segments, which are indicated on the map via doors that appear between each world. Once a “door” is opened by clearing the Gummi segment, you never have to do it again, which is a huge relief to me after the original game. If you do choose to play the Gummi segments again, there is the option to do new “missions.” These aren’t the simple challenges from KH1: KH2’s Missions are often whole variant stages for you to take on, and if you want the secret ending in FM+ on Standard, I’m afraid to say that completing Gummi missions is now mandatory. Higher difficulties (and players of Vanilla KH2) can breeze by as ever.
In any event, let’s begin a Gummi Mode expose. (more…)
We travelled to Elan, Kyle finding it in only a few seconds! The town was underground, and built inside the high mountains west from the North Tower. There we first learned that Sol was “sleeping” on Floatland, which was not very reassuring to anyone. We could also find the town’s elder, “Granny,” who was hiding out in a hidden magic shop with little to say that you couldn’t learn elsewhere and nothing worthwhile for sale, making her hidden status all the stranger.
While in Elan, we bought some Bronze armour and new weapons and visited Cronus, who explained the purpose of the Radar (not that we couldn’t have worked that out by using it) and gave us Unit Past, which would allow the buried Talon to jump 15 years into the past where we might have better luck finding the other Units. Cronus reasoned he could keep looking for Unit Future while we were gone, which once again shows an awful understanding of time travel. (more…)
You make your way to follow Leon and find yourself at the Bailey, a line of defence between the town and the Heartless and Nobodies. Someone in the fandom recently brought up why they use the Bailey when Heartless and Nobodies seem to be able to teleport into the town just fine. It’s a fair question: I’m once again of the opinion that the Heartless and Nobodies are only teleporting to the location of the Keyblade when they appear in the town and otherwise they couldn’t do so, but it’s hard to say.
Leon tells you that the only things standing between the good guys and the restoration of Hollow Bastion are the Heartless and Nobodies. He points both out from the Bailey, and we get our establishing shot of Villain’s Vale. Leon calls Villain’s Vale as one of the big problems stalling the restoration of Hollow Bastion, though he offers no explanation as to why. Remember: Pete and Maleficent just got back. He probably means that the Heartless are hanging out there, but I can’t help but it hear it like Leon has a problem with zoning regulations. (more…)