Ven’s trip to Enchanted Dominion, the home of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, begins with him looking for Terra once again. He wanders around the castle from the film, where he comes across the sleeping Princess Aurora, where he is accosted by the three fairies: Flora, Fauna and Merryweather. They ask what he’s doing there sneaking up on their foster daughter’s bed, and he adds to Kingdom Hearts’ cringe-pile by saying, “It’s just, I’ve never seen anyone so beautiful.” Oh Ven, you creeper. This is a rare and dangerous Idiot Ball strategy known as “A point in the net, but also a serious foul.” (more…)
Back to the story. Here to stop you and your multitudinous strategies and confusing options is a new Unversed, the Shoegazer. This Castle of Dreams-inspired enemy is, just like it implies, an Unversed shaped like a boot (actually, it looks like Flood hiding inside of a boot). The Shoegazer’s most important power is that it can hide in the boot and become entirely invincible, even to the almighty ball of yarn. Ah good, at least one Unversed as a defensive strategy after all! While that doesn’t exactly stop you from rolling around the room on your unstoppable woolen war-machine, Shoegazers have a way of upsetting your regular combat at the worst possible time. As enemies go, they’re probably the most interesting we’ve seen so far, or will see for a while yet. Unfortunately. (more…)
So this section was something of a low point. It started off right at the bottom and set about calling for jackhammers. Mt. Nibel was an utterly miserable experience. It started with me going in circles due to confusion over the dungeon’s objective: to wit, the entire walk to the reactor from Cloud’s flashback is optional and returns no rewards, but I foolishly repeated it. Next came the pipe puzzles, wherein you entered a pipe ala Turtle Rock from Link to the Past and came out the other end, except these pipes were one-way (a logical, valuable and also infuriating addition to the Turtle Rock formula), and in the end was all but completely drained by innumerable enemy groups and fucking dragons. (more…)
After clearing out the first world of any characters’ story, you unlock both the other worlds in the first loop at the same time, one at a lower challenge level than the other. You also unlock a third world up in the top-left corner, which is all-but optional (more on that later) and doesn’t fit into the story per se. I actually considered covering that optional world right away, but I discovered only yesterday that Spazbo4 never went there (and there’s no recording from the mandatory segment I’m hinting at)! I’m going to have to rustle up an optional source of screenshots. In the meantime, let’s proceed with the story!
Castle of Dreams, the world of Disney’s Cinderella, is an unusual world for Ven in that it’s one of the only times he arrives at a world first, ahead of his siblings. Urm… sort-of-siblings. …Actually, you know what? Gonna go with “siblings,” both because it’s true and in active defiance of that line from the intro. Oh, and one other teeny tiny detail about Castle of Dreams: Ven has been turned into a teeny-tiny Ven, and he has been caught in a mouse trap. No explanation is ever officially given for this, which is part of what makes it hilarious (although, yeah, one can presume the Fairy Godmother is responsible).
It’s the night of the big ball, and Cinderella is stuck doing chores in hopes that if she gets them done on time, she can attend the ball. Cinderella is voiced by Jennifer Hale, who has had the role since House of Mouse (including both Cinderella direct-to-video sequels). We have an additional Disney connection via video game adaptations of Atlantis: The Lost Empire, and several minor roles in the Lilo & Stitch franchise and Sofia the First. She is also the voice of Aayla Secura in many Star Wars adaptations. Of course, you probably know her as the voice of Samus Aran. (more…)
Beyond the dwarfs’ cottage, Ven enters the spooky forest from early in the film, when Snow White flees from the huntsman and encounters all sorts of spooks and frights. Of course, we’re not Snow White, so the forest seems perfectly normal at first. There aren’t even any Unversed!
At the edge of the forest, you encounter Snow White, who is on her own and crying. As I look at her from this limited angle, I find myself surprised to notice that her blue and red sleeves resemble the face and tear-like eyes of a Vanilla version Unversed, namely a Flood or a Scrapper. That’s probably just a coincidence, but boy does it look similar! The tear-like eyes of the Unversed have drawn a lot of discussion in the past, but if they were just based on Snow White’s wardrobe in a salute to early Disney animation, that’s certainly cute but takes a bit of emotional wind out of them, doesn’t it? (more…)
To pick up where we left off, things are just like Barret said: mako energy is bad. Barret explained why he knew this in the following scene, saying that AVALANCHE had been founded in Cosmo Canyon, but you’d need a translation of Before Crisis to learn more about that. Aeris also remarked on learning about her heritage as an Ancient somewhere off-screen during her stay. Despite Aeris’ stronger sense of identity, everyone was pretty bummed, but no one more so than Red “That’s Not My Real Name, You’re Making Me More Depressed” XIII. He explained that this whole trip had renewed his dislike for his cowardly father, who had ran away from a battle against Cosmo Canyon in the past, which Red sees as a horrible betrayal. Bugenhagen, however, says that Nanaki has to come see something, and to bring Cloud and one other other person to round out the party. (more…)
After everyone takes off into their respective storylines, the game reveals a number of worlds on the world map. The world map in BBS functions largely like the free-roaming map in KH2, but with several very odd restrictions. The player-character (riding their Keyblade Glider) “sticks” to the edges of the worlds and the Lanes Between them, but by holding down the accelerate button, you can break away and fly freely. Why this arbitrary restriction when KH2 had already illustrated an easier way to do a map screen? It’s impossible to say, unless they were trying to tie the mechanics to the narrative about “Lanes Between” in a way that only hinders the player to no measurable advantage. What a great first impression we’re giving here! (more…)
It’s here where the game finally brings you to character selection. The characters appear in a pseudo Dive to the Heart, in the recommended order Terra -> Ventus -> Aqua. But like I said, we’re going to be taking Ventus -> Terra -> Aqua, and we’ll be starting with the events that start the story off by combining the three introductions, as there’s so much overlap that I feel we’re better off filling in the small holes.
The next day, Aqua and Terra are standing at attention in the room from the opening sequence, with the elaborate stained glass window. They are standing in front of three thrones, two of which are occupied. A new character sits in the throne to the left. The chair on the right is occupied by the old man from “Birth by sleep” and the Destiny Islands sequence. The chair in the centre is empty. Ven is standing to one side of the room and he and the old man exchange looks, Ven’s one of curiosity and the old man’s inscrutable. Just then, the man on the left stands to address the two Keyblade wielders. (more…)
Content Warning: Suicide.
Back to the present. One odd feature in New Corel was a gondola that led up to the high-in-the-sky casino and gaming place, the Gold Saucer. For some reason, despite being almost literally coated with gold, the Gold Saucer couldn’t be arsed to tidy up its front gate in Corel Town, which I think was an artistic shame as a jazzed up gondola station right next to a ruin of a town would have really shown how bad the town looked by contrast and what dicks the people in the Saucer were for ignoring them. In any event, the Saucer was our next destination, so we rode the gondola and paid its exorbitant entry fee and gained access to its many, many, many many many services. (more…)
After another time skip, we find Ven now healthy and secure in his own room in a world we’ve never seen. We later learn that Ven has no memory of the events on the island. This appears to be Ven’s bedroom on this new world, and lining his walls are books and what I can only describe as magical homework: a boy’s scribblings of planetary/alchemical signs. A close observer might spot the books “Kingdom Hearts,” “Birth by Sleep” and “Ultimania” on his shelf (Ultimania being the Japanese-only strategy guides released by Square Enix). Oh, you cheeky game, you!
Ven is woken up in the middle of the night, and we discover that yes, he sleeps in full clothes: a black and white Batman Forever Two Face cosplay that I’m sure won’t have any symbolism at all. Like the other two members of our trio, he also has a pauldron – a piece of shoulder armour – but only on one shoulder, which looks like a piece of his armour from the KH2 trailers. (more…)