Days 75-79: Inseparable
At the start of Day 75, Roxas and Xion go to ask Saïx to pair them up. Saïx’s furious, given that half the Organization has been wiped out only a month ago and you’re asking to narrow their resources even further. Our teen heroes look like they’re going to give up on the spot, and are only saved from instantaneous retreat by Axel, who says “Put two half-pints together and you get a whole.” Roxas follows his lead by saying that with the two of them together, Saïx can assign them to harder missions. This also has no gameplay effect, but maybe it’s time I stop harping on that.
Nevertheless, Saïx seems to like the idea now, though he has a caution: “You had better prove that two people can work like three, or this arrangement comes to an end.” I love that threat. And with that, you’re off.
That is, you’re off unless you really want to get on Saïx’s good side, in which case you can do a little more brown-nosing first. If you speak to Axel you’ll find he has a sidequest for you: finish the Bonus Gauge on Days 51-54. If you do it (or better yet, have already done it), Axel will arrange for you to get a bonus mission from Saïx. From a player’s perspective, the bonus mission is obviously new content and new rewards, but it even makes sense from Roxas’ perspective, as you’ll be doing extra work to prove to Saïx that you deserve to work together with Xion! A good way to introduce our first bonus mission, even if it was a complete accident!
Generally, if you don’t want to do every sidequest the Org members are offering, you can tell if there’s a Bonus Mission ready to be unlocked by checking Saïx’s list. The mission is often in the middle of the list and you can easily spot it by seeing if the mission number “skips” ahead. And when it’s not in the middle of the list (that is to say, when the bonus mission is at the end of the block), you can easily tell by the fact that the Bonus Gauge doesn’t add up with the normal missions. All the same, I recommend doing sidequests first whenever you’re willing, just in case. If you miss the sidequest that gives you a Bonus Mission, the mission is added to your Holo Mission docket later in the game, but I’m not sure exactly when. I thought it was after you clear the mission block, but I later saw evidence suggesting that you might have to wait until the end of the game! That said, if you don’t mind getting prizes comically late, the only thing you lose by delaying a Bonus Mission is the chance to fully control how that mission is applied to the Bonus Gauge.
Like the last Bonus Gauge we saw, this one only goes up to the doubler, however you’ll be able to double two missions this time around. In my opinion, the best prize to double is the Cure tile attached to Mission 25 (plus a new synth ingredients, an Aerial Tech). As for the second doubler, you can add your choice of offensive magic from either Mission 24 (Blizzard) or 26 (Fire Recipes with a Fire token if you can land a tricky 100%). Some might prefer to double the new synth ingredient, Iron, attached to Mission 27, but Iron becomes so common later on that I don’t feel it’s worth the effort.
Mission 24, the first of two mandatory missions, sees Roxas and Xion to Agrabah. Your orders are to finally the Cave of Wonders and work out what use the Cave could be for the Organization. Roxas fills Xion in on Pete, and they head towards the Cave, but before they can reach the secret passage they find Abu being harassed by a Scarlet Tango. Roxas and Xion discuss whether or not they should break their cover to help Abu. He is just a monkey, and couldn’t exactly rat them out, but on the other hand, he is just a monkey. They choose to rescue him, though it’s hard to say if Roxas is being heroic or just rationalizing that the Org wants them to defeat Emblems anyways. You clear out the swarm of Tangos, Xion stuck on permanent magic duty without her Keyblade (unlike her first mission, the game does seem to have switched her AI to magic-only mode).
Abu runs off, but after the fight, Xion spots a jewel on the ground that Abu must have stolen. Curiously, this “jewel” is the size of a fist and is probably worth more than your house. The Organization has no real need for money in the traditional sense (though I’m sure the Moogle would be interested), and it’s clearly stolen property, so Roxas considers leaving it behind. Luckily, Xion is a good video game protagonist who gets how this stuff rolls, and she take the jewel with her. Good. Grab everything that isn’t glued to the environment, my minions! Every scrap and nail!
You cross the desert, seeing a Static of Sora doing the same, which is odd, considering Sora didn’t necessarily walk across the desert in KH1 (I believe you could do so by walking outside of town before meeting up with Carpet). Eh. After the walk, you arrive in the Cave to find the pillar and box where you (presumably) left them at the far side of the hall, thank goodness. As you approach the door at the back, Xion notices that odd keyhole thing by the door, and recognizes an indentation in it the size of her jewel. Oh, video games, you never fail to please. By placing the gem in the niche, she triggers the three domino tiles you might have spotted during your first trip, and you’re going to have to visit them in the order written on the dominoes. Specifically, that means you first go to one in the corner of the pillar room, then the one you have to drop down to from the upper-level pit to find the second domino block (god help you if you haven’t worked that out about the pit, like I hadn’t), and lastly you have to hit the one in the room with the pit itself. This essentially means crossing the pillar room twice, much to my annoyance. Finishing this simple puzzle raises those stairs we were looking for over the pit: all you have to do now is hit the winch and race up the steps before the gate shuts. All and all, I like this quest, as it’s a return to the exploration I’ve been craving since KH1, though I wish they hadn’t combined the pillar chamber with mandatory backtracking!
(While you’re in Cave’s entrance room, the investigation might draw your attention a prominent crack in the wall of the main chamber. It’s an obvious door-to-be, but you can’t seem to do anything to open it…)
Past the gate, you find… a rather unimpressive final room, if you ask me. It’s just a square boss platform over a pit, with one of those monkey statues from the film at the far end. You weren’t given any caution on a boss from Saïx, but it’s still not very surprising that you get into a fight all the same. Specifically, you run into Pete. Wait, how long has Pete been in here? For the past 1-3 days? And how did we get ahead of him again?
Pete figures you’re there for the magic lamp, so you start fighting, and as DJ Firewolf’s script puts it, Pete “loses badly.” This fight is no real challenge and I’m not really sure it was meant to be. Pete’s strategy is a variant of the one he had in KH2: he jumps and stamps, he has a basic combo that’s new, he rolls large, single, exploding balls though there’s no sign of his smaller ones. His only half-decent attack is a rush attack reminiscent of KH2’s Large Bodies. Pete’s problem is that he has good strength but a terrible turn speed, maybe the worst in the game. My Fire Plant strategy (hell, it’s not my Fire Plant strategy, it comes from the enemy section of the journal!) works even better here. Stick just slightly to Pete’s left or right and you’ll have no problem!
After the battle, the mission is functionally over, with nothing but a long series of cutscenes between us and an automatic RTC. Pete throws a tantrum, and either the tantrum or the fight causes one of Agrabah’s infinite, tiring self-destruct mechanisms to trigger. The three of you flee the Cave, and run into the desert, our duo losing track of Pete in the mess… but they run into someone new.
Both Carpet and Genie are outside the cave (Carpet provokes a Static of Sora meeting Carpet as well). Unusually but I suppose true-to-character, Genie plays this canned “ta~da!” sound effect to punctuate his own visual gags! According to KH2, Genie was supposed to be on vacation at this point in the story, so the game explains why he’s here very quickly: he was missing Aladdin and wanted to check up on him. The only reason he stopped to see you was because… well, he’s easily distractible, let’s be honest here. We’ll see he still hasn’t talked to Aladdin days later. But he also stopped because Carpet claimed to have recognized “a friend.” It’s clear from Genie’s dialogue that Carpet confused Roxas for Sora, but of course there’s no sign of Sora as Genie knows him.
The rest of the conversation has to do with Genie talking about how he and Aladdin were “inseparable” friends. Genie is sort of overplaying things, considering he and Aladdin were only really together for under an hour in KH1, but not only do I think we can excuse that as an innocent adaptation kludge, but honestly Genie sounds like the type that would exaggerate his friendship with Aladdin to begin with. Roxas asks why Genie felt the need to check up on Aladdin, since for all he knew, Aladdin was fine and nothing was wrong. Genie explains that it’s natural to worry about your friends. Taken in isolation, this Saturday morning life lesson might seem like another example of Roxas acting like a child, buuuuuut in this case the line of questioning has an excuse: Roxas and Xion are just making up questions to distract Genie from asking them who they are.
The need to keep Genie distracted leads to Roxas revealing that the city’s been having sandstorms, but that Aladdin wanted them to rebuild it themselves. Genie isn’t happy to hear this, but accepts his friends’ wishes… but only as far as the repairs are concerned. He uses his magic to stop the sandstorm instead, and while he does so, Roxas and Xion slip away.
Back at the Tower (wow is this a lot of cutscenes in one block for a Days Mission), Xion and Roxas fill Axel in on the events of the day, and discuss people how people need their space sometimes. This discussion transitions to a second discussion about “best friends,” where the film suddenly wakes up from its stupor with a few groggly mumblings and a bottle of rum on one hand. The two versions handle the conversation differently: the game transitions off of Genie’s use of “inseparable,” while the film doesn’t acknowledge the Disney plot at all (this is typical of the film) and so defines best friends by saying they’re a “notch above just plain friends.” Roxas asks Axel what it’s like to have “a best friend” (the film uses “any best friends,” a pluralization you can imagine is going to be important) and Axel says he doesn’t have any, which is… actually harsher than it might sound to a new player, however much it’s honest. Roxas looks a little hurt.
Mission 25, the one with that tempting Cure panel, is an Organization emblem race. One thing to keep in mind with emblem races is that, if you’re assigned a partner like Xion here, that partner is a complete liability, as they might kill precious Heartless when you don’t need a ring renewed. I guess Roxas did ask for it this time, but it’s not the last time it’s going to happen. It’s best to turn Xion’s AI off in the menu for the duration.
In this mission, set in the Tram Common, Heartless are few and far between as usual and are most of them are insanely durable Poison Plants, so it can be hard to renew the rings around the emblems if you mess up (though there is a single, fragile Cymbal Monkey near the path to the Sandlot). You can’t 100% this mission during your first attempt… hell, you can’t 100% this mission until the end of the game, as one of the Org emblems is too high for Roxas to reach without certain upgrades, no matter what sequence-breaking tricks you use (actually, you may need to be in the post-game, but I believe the end-game will suffice). The Luck Tech the mission is offering for 100% is certainly endgame material, though it’s hard to say if it’s worth the trouble in-and-of-itself. It’s not as though it’s an uncommon endgame material, after all. The speedrun Challenge is almost as awful, even though you don’t have to get 100% on the mission bar as per usual. It just brings back flashbacks of Poster Duty from KH2, is all that’s bothering me.
Mission 26 is Shadow Globs in Agrabah, where you can use magic to get around the fact that many are out of your reach. The 100% prize is simply a Fire tile, so it was clearly expected that you would use magic to hit the Shadow Globs rather than come back later in the game when a single Fire tile isn’t worth your spit. Watch out for the three Large Armours in the Market, but this mission hardly demands you acknowledge them. Ironically, the sandstorm is still outside the city gate in this mission, even if Genie should have already cleared it! This is because you could have done these Missions 24 and 26 in a different order, but it still looks very silly.
Missions 27 and 28 see a return to Beast’s Castle, and in Mission 27, a mandatory mission, the Organization wants you to finally investigate the new world. Xion and Roxas get started, finding numerous signs of life in the castle, as well as signs of battle. While the player (certainly a KH2 player) will recognize that many of these scratches and pawprints here were made by the Beast, Roxas and Xion attribute them to the Heartless, figuring they “got restless.” You have to wonder why the Heartless don’t do more damage on an average day, but if the characters say this is unusual, then maybe it is? You run into multiple Sergeants in the main hall, their big clawed hands really do seem like a reasonable cause for the gash mark, so credit to the devs on that mark.
In the West Hall, the duo comes across their first castle occupant: Lumiere. Of course, our heroes can’t believe their eyes, and extra credit to the devs for making this reaction sound just as real even if you’ve already run into Cogsworth in Mission 28, and vice-versa. Since Lumiere mentioned “the master,” Xion and Roxas deduce that Lumiere is one of the castle’s servants (sadly, this is repeated in 28, when I’m sure they could have sidestepped it), and they conclude that they need to learn more about the Master.
Roxas proposes they sneak past Lumiere, which means it’s time for the return of the sight cones. Multiple times in Beast’s Castle you’ll run into Lumiere or Cogsworth, who will pace a pre-defined path down the hall, and you’ll have to search for an opening. At this point in the game, your best friend is Air Slide, which speeds you up considerably compared to walking. I can’t claim to have worked that out myself: I worked it out by listening to the Xion do it whenever she fell behind me! The AI tends to gain mobility upgrades at the same time you do (with one brief exception), ergo since you have Air Slide, so does your partner.
As you near the Beast’s chamber, you find an ugly surprise waiting for you: Snapper Dogs. These oversized Bad Dogs have enough HP to be problematic, quite unlike their porcelain cousins, though they are weak against magic (Xion can be very helpful here). Here’s the catch: their barks are a Moon-aligned attack, which inflicts Silence, preventing you from casting that magic. Simple but efficient!
Once you’ve cleared out the Heartless, you’ll notice the damage done to room is far more extensive than in other rooms, even more so than in KH2. The Beast is inside when they arrive, shocking them both. Thankfully, he’s in the middle of a convenient rant that informs our heroes that he’s the master. He’s also upset because Belle refused to have dinner with him, though he doesn’t mention her by name, and so the duo ignores the fact that he’s talking about someone and save their discussion for the Beast himself.
Roxas and Xion discuss the possibilities in a brief, multiple-choice sequence (Roxas gets a hilarious dialogue box here where you can suggest “He is the castle’s master” or “He ate the castle’s master.”). Xion says “I guess he must be the Beast. Beast’s Castle? Makes sense.” Wait, does she know the name of the world? What, did she see the title card phase in front of her vision during her first trip to the place? Saïx can’t have told them: he sent them here to learn this shit!
(Ed. Starting in KH0.2, the characters do address worlds by their in-game names! That makes this the first retroactive sign of this behaviour, but I feel my complaints stand. Indeed they apply to KH0.2 as well!!)
Learning about the Beast fulfills the mission’s minimum requirements, though you can do a little extra for 100% and an Iron. This involves checking some doors in the main hall, overhearing a number of other servants. One of them mentions Belle, though our duo once again ignores that and focuses instead on the fact that the castle is full of enchanted objects. It’s not much of a breakthrough, but it’s apparently enough for full credit!
Bonus Mission 28 has you coming to Beast’s Castle on a heart hunt. By the way, did anyone else notice you often collect more hearts off of story missions than you do from heart-hunting missions? That said, this mission does have some story. You run into Cogsworth in the main hall, as I’ve implied, where he’s mumbling to himself about Beast being rude towards Belle and that being the reason she refused his dinner plans, or worse. While he’s not hard to walk past him, you actually have to hunt a pair of Soldiers at the extremes of his vision, pretty much the only time a task like this ever comes up!
That’s the end of the mission block, but since this page was a little short, I’m going to talk about a Mission Crown prize you can probably earn around this point, even without grinding. 60 Crowns gives you the Mystery Gear, which is the cousin to the gag weapon Casual Gear, though the Mystery Gear is only half gag weapons. Some highlights: Xigbar’s “Trumpet,” which is a pair of Trumpets that shoot sound waves; Vexen has a “Snowman” shield that looks like an plastic ad board for frozen deserts; Lexaeus’ Monolith, which is a giant Moai head on a stick; Saïx’s “Bunnymoon,” which features a cutesy little rabbit in reference to the Japanese “moon rabbit” legend; Demyx gets a broom (the “After School,” a reference to detentions in Japan); Marluxia gets a sprig of “Dainty Bellflowers”; and Larxene gets a… a light bulb called the “Ampoule” (all of Larxene’s Foudre knives are named in French).
As I said, not all the Mystery Gear weapons are gags: Xemnas’ Absolute, which bears an altered version of the “empty heart” symbol often associated with Heartless; Axel gets Yuffie’s Ultimate Weapon from FFVII, the “Conformer”; and Roxas, the most prominent character of all, gets the “Aubade,” which doesn’t seem to be a gag or reference to anything!
Excusing the laugh you’ll have sending Demyx’s sitar and Xigbar’s trumpets to Twilight Town like a rogue marching band, the Mystery Gear is a genuinely nice grab, since it’s essentially a mid-game Gear and you’re still markedly in the early game, meaning there’s a serious incentive for you to go and unlock it as early as possible (the Aubade has a +80 attack boost, while the Gears you unlocked at your last promotion have between +45-60). The Aubade is also the last Mission Crown Keyblade you can unlock simply by grinding for Mission Crowns, as all others are locked until later promotions (indeed, most of them are post-game). Unfortunately, the Aubade only has two Panel slots compared to the three slots you’re going to have by the time most weapons reach the +80 attack range, and its abilities, 1. Striker and 2. Grand Slam aren’t at the top of my list (they’re both SOS abilities: Striker is basically Berserk from previous games, or in other terms, a Strength-related counterpart to Defender. Grand Slam increases Critical Hit odds when your HP is low). Ultimately, the Aubade’s biggest advantage is that you can get it early, so if you’re willing, take it!
This retrospective’s screenshots come from RickyC’s longplay of the DS version of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days at World of Longplays (YouTube), and from Brian0451’s recording of the 1.5HD cinematics of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days at World of Longplays (YouTube).