Back in the real world (and the sequence that I hate), Sora fills Leon in. Leon says the obvious, in the most censored way imaginable. “But you’ve already defeated Ansem…” Oh well if we’ve only defeated him then everything should be fine!
Leon calls this a “wild goose chase,” which, while it sounds perfectly serviceable, is actually a change in localization! The original Japanese has Leon saying something about a “cloud,” which heralds the return of Tifa. Get it? So they made it so now she’s on a wild goose chase? Not bad, not bad. Tifa’s glad to see the computer room, and seems to take it as a sign to… not search the computer room but to go back to the study and search that for a second secret door. She’s doing a comedy thing right now, so I’m not even going to try to follow the logic.
Everyone decides to search the study for the password, but it’s Tifa herself who makes the biggest discovery: a diagram written straight onto the wall behind Ansem’s portrait. She gives up after that and wanders out. The trio are left to examine the diagram, which includes some partially erased text that looks suspiciously like a computer’s file path. They make out the words: “Hollow [Bastion] Main Security,” “Tron” and “Door to Darkness.” These are written in English, so it’s not really surprising that originally-Japanese Donald has to slowly enunciate them. As Donald is speaking, Sora happens upon a rare moment of brilliance with the help of the half-erased text: the initial letters of “Door to Darkness” aren’t faded at all, and spell out “DTD,” like the name of the dataspace. Kudos to the art team. I’m always surprised by Kingdom Hearts’ willingness to deign to English with words like “Heartless” just to keep word games alive.
Just then, a voice from the door: “Say, fellas, did somebody mention the Door To Darkness?” And I… I’m just laughing. Against all odds, it’s King Mickey himself, finally present in the real world with everyone else, and he’s introduced himself with a line that sinks to the bottom of credulity when read in isolation. Mickey’s opening line here has become internet-famous around the release of 2.5, and I understand why though I don’t entirely agree. Yeah, it’s a weird line, but Wayne Allwine’s delivery is fine, it’s fine in context, and to make an important point: this sequence and world are full of stupider lines from Mickey. Way, way stupider. I guess this line just serves as a convenient encapsulation.
Donald and Goofy rush to hug Mickey, as Sora stands back, for a rare moment no longer the centre of attention. He seems a little left out, but with the whole series focusing on him, I don’t feel very sorry for him. Mickey is happy to see everyone, but like Leon before, he shushes everyone when they try to address him by his title. He closes the door and finally we get an explanation for his strange behaviour: he and Leon are worried the Organization may be listening in somehow, given that they are in Ansem’s former HQ. Nevertheless, he seems willing to talk after they shut the door and start using their indoor voices. I guess we have to move the scene on somehow but I think I’d have felt a little better if they had cast a magic spell or something?
Mickey asks why they’re talking about the Door to Darkness, and Goofy explains they’re looking for a password without providing much additional context. And now we get to watch as Allwine, a man in his fifties at the time of recording with years of voice-acting experience, still can’t pretend that Mickey Mouse has never heard the word “password.” Because it’s the dumbest thing he or I have ever heard. Leon even cocks his head like he’s going “aw, that’s so cute,” to underline that they gave Mickey a particularly rancid Idiot Ball to make that joke. Isn’t it cute how no one in the modern world could have sold that line? Unfortunately Mickey being confused is a minor plot point and the conversation wouldn’t progress without it. Like I’ve said: the idiot ball, like informed abilities, serves a purpose, it’s just an awful way to write. (Ed. Ryan explains in the comments that Mickey was originally confused by this line because the cast was using the English word “password” rather than a Japanese word. Really? Japanese wordplay in a series with an international audience? Of course, on the same note: really? English wordplay in a series with an international audience? (Heartless, Nobody))
Mickey decides that a “password” is a kind of code. That’s not wrong, but now that Mickey is thinking of codes he starts thinking of riddles (is anyone else having trouble following the logic? It’s not just me?). He notes that the real Door to Darkness from KH1 could only be opened by the seven princesses, and Leon realizes the names of the princesses must be the password. Leon goes off to type it, despite not knowing… well several things, actually. What order to put the names in, whether to use their nicknames or their real names, first names or full names, whether or not to put spaces in their names where applicable… This is better than nothing, but even if the password field has seven separate slots instead of one (FM+ will later imply that it does), all you’ve done is dropped things from infinite possibilities to tens or hundreds of thousands. What I think we needed was a scene where Tron uses his computer speed to type in the password, or something like that, but that’s not how things seem to play out. As familiar as I am with this kind of computer illiteracy in the writing of a TV show, I’m shocked to see it in a computer-driven medium like a game. Unless, again, you assume it’s happening because the designers lacked respect for the audience.
Now that they have the password (in a manner of speaking) everyone is able to fill Mickey in on the fact that it will help them reach Ansem’s data. He declares that “that means you might be able to find out where he is!” When Sora reminds Mickey that Ansem is dead, Mickey implies that’s wrong somehow, but they’re interrupted when Leon reminds them that Tron needs their help. Mickey insists they do thy help Tron out, and he’ll fill them in later. He says he’s not going anywhere, which is hard to believe because this scene is written exactly like you’d expect of a scene that would get rid of him, but you’re going to have to trust.
Just before you leave, Mickey announces that he’s going to give “your clothes” some new powers, referring to a new Drive Form. I know that’s correct but it’s just such weird phrasing! This upgrade gives you your third/fourth Drive Form, Master Form.
Nominally, Master Form combines the strengths of Valour and Wisdom Form. Ignore this summary entirely, as it will just mislead you. Besides the fact that Master Form has its own Keyblade for dual-wielding like Valour Form, it’s not like either of the other forms. I think the best way to put it would be to say it’s one of the better minor enemy killing Forms, while not being particularly good against the average boss whatsoever. Its basic combo ends with a sloooow drawn out tornado area attack, which can save you from attack so long as you’re willing to waiiiiit it ooooooout, which can be hard to do on a timer (say, in the Cerberus Cup, where you’d think a minor enemy killing form would be ideal!). It also has the ability to cast magic on the move, often over a wide area, making it in many ways better at magic than Wisdom Form, depending on your situation. All things considered, I think of Master Form as a defensive transformation, something I’m more likely to do in a panic. Magic clears the board, and the tornado keeps survivors off my back.
Master Form’s mobility upgrade is the misleadingly titled “Aerial Dodge.” Aerial Dodge can be used to dodge in the air ala Dodge Roll, but moment-to-moment, you’re going to be using it as a double jump. Aerial Dodge doesn’t upgrade quite as dramatically as High Jump. For example, if Sora has Aerial Dodge at at least level 1, and you still can’t get a certain puzzle piece, you’ll probably have better luck upgrading High Jump a second time than you will upgrading Aerial Dodge a second time. Nevertheless, it’s still an essential part of the FM+ puzzle-finding arsenal. Master Form’s secondary ability is Air Combo Plus, which means air combo enthusiasts can finally put away the damn Star Seeker. One obvious downside to Master Form is that, despite having Aerial Dodge, Master Form itself lacks basic movement commands, like Aerial Recovery, and that makes it all the more irritating to use. This is true of all the forms but since Master Form also lacks High Jump and Quick Run, its paltry double-jump feels particularly sluggish and grounded, and missing abilities like Aerial Recovery will really begin to bite you.
Master Form levels up in a way that, like I said above, suggests it’s meant to be used against minor enemies. It gains EXP whenever you pick up a Drive Orb when in Master Form, 1 EXP for a small and 3 for a large. While you can break objects in the environment to find these things from time to time, this mostly means you have to pick and choose your opponents for grinding. Morning Stars drop plenty of large orbs, for example, while Nobodies never drop Drive Orbs at all. Master Form levelling best done combined with synthesis hunting, though most Vanilla players just gave up and used a handy trick in that version. FM+ removed that trick (more in the post-game section) but added a new ability called Drive Converter to increase the drop rate of drive orbs (at the cost of Munny) and attached it to an upcoming Keyblade. You can combine that ability with Jackpot to get even more “converted” Munny. Sadly, Dream Rod players will have to wait until Level 99 to gain the ability for Sora himself.
Unlocking Master Form also unlocks Master Form for the Genie Summon. This is probably my preferred Genie Limit, “Final Arcana.” If that’s a mis-translation of a KH1 attack like Genie’s other Limits, I’m not aware of it (though it does, oddly enough, show up as the name of a default attack for the game’s final Drive Form?). This area limit does a great job of clearing the field. Unfortunately, it costs more Drive Bars than Genie’s Valour and Wisdom Form Limits.
As you head back to the computer, you’ll probably spot the huge chest that’s appeared on the walkway for no reason. This holds the Ukulele Charm, a means of Summoning Stitch. Stitch is a pretty handy Summon. When Summoned, he perches outside of the game, on the top layer of the player’s TV screen, and interacts with the game from there. He can fire his laser pistol at baddies and can play a ukulele to cause them to be stunned and drop HP balls. Best of all he will intermittently lick and restore your MP bar, giving you nearly infinite MP if you pace yourself. Stitch can heal you directly like every other Summon (thanks dlppictures) but it’s very small. Thankfully, the HP orbs and MP recharges will more than suffice.
Stitch’s Limit, Ohana, lets Sora join him on the GUI where you can use Stitch’s laser and ukulele on command, targeting as many enemies as you can catch on-screen with the camera at one time. Ohana is the key to scoring easy points in the Underdrome at Olympus Coliseum. Instead of dropping HP orbs, Stitch’s ukulele causes enemies to drop point orbs while in the arena, so with Ohana’s direct control it becomes easy to reach Jiminy’s arena objectives after only a few minute’s bother. Too bad Stitch can only be used in half of the tournaments!
Also in the computer room, Tifa is still talking about Cloud. Is no one going to tell her we saw Cloud on the way in here? I know we don’t know where he is now but you’re just being jerks! C’mon jerks, time to be vaporized by a giant computer laser, that’s the punishment for jerks.
Sora walks up to the keyboard and calmly instructs it to teleport him into the computer, implying that Sora could have calmly interacted with the computer all along. And as he disappears into the system, I’m told that if you look very closely, you can make out the rotten tomato I just chucked in his direction.