The second loop of worlds actually opens with two worlds at identical Battle Lvs, but I imagine most players will go to the world that’s closest to Radiant Garden, which turns out to be that Disney Town place we’ve heard so much about. This is also the first world in the second set on the official timeline, so I have no reservations about going with this order.
The first thing you’ll probably notice about Disney Town is…
…erm, what I mean to say is, once you arrive at Disney Town, you…
What I mean is, when you get right down to it, Disney Town is—
Come along and sing a song
And join the jamboree
When you get down to it, Disney Town is a world with a background track that is, in practice, 14 seconds long, playing ad infinitum and easily worse than Bibbity-Boppity-Boo. Oh, there’s some variation that stretches it out to around thirty seconds, but the repeating leitmotif drives me up the wall. You might think that’s as low as we could go, musically… but no, no, we can sink lower than that. Come with me on a magical journey, my friends.
As I was trying to say before I was rudely interrupted, Disney Town is a world of minigames, more of a fairground than a Disney park. There are three major minigames, each one highlighted in the story mode of each playable character, although you can play all three any time you wish (although you’ll have to clear your story to get full access to your characters’ highlight minigame). For the sake of brevity, I’ll cover each game during the relevant story character section rather than address all three at once, so today we’ll be focusing on Ven’s minigame, Ice Cream Beat.
Ven arrives in the town square at Disney Town, which just so happens to be right outside of Disney Castle. Curiously, should you later journey to the Town’s edges, you’ll find that the world seems to exist in a void made of grass rather than being walled like every other world in the series! But for the time being, you’re in town square, where Ven finds the place gussied up with decorations, though no one is there to enjoy them. That’s basically a given after KH2, but this time it’s intentional, since it’s part of a punchline where someone jumps out at Ven out of nowhere. Namely: a mysterious figure dressed in white spandex: Captain Justice!
Justice, voiced by Jim Cummings, is some sort of master of disguise mixed with a superhero. He is, in fact, so well disguised that there have been plenty of fan theories about his identity, but none have ever been officially confirmed by Square Enix. He announces himself and then very helpfully offers to solve all of Ven’s problems. Since Ven doesn’t really have any immediate problems, he just asks for a tour, and Justice skillfully describes the entirety of the fairground in under three seconds. Just packed with information, like the fact that this is called the “Dream Festival” and “you’ll have to see it for yourself.” During this conversation, Ven also introduces his new motivation: he’s travelling this set of worlds to find some friends. This is mentioned in basically every world to come, so the game does come out ahead of KH2, but I have to admit that the plotline won’t make quite as heavy an impact as Enchanted Dominion and Dwarf Woodlands, so I can still smell some of KH2’s “absent motivations” problems in the air.
As Captain Justice is about to disappear in a cloud of vainglory, both he and Ven hear voices coming from a nearby stage. There they find the three duck siblings, Huey, Louie and Dewey, alongside Queen Minnie, all working with a strange device and babbling about ice cream. It seems this overwrought contraption is some sort of ice cream machine they set up for the festival, but they can’t get it working.
Captain Justice gives it a shot, but doesn’t have any more luck than the others. When Ven offers, Justice valiantly attempts to save him the trouble, but Ven shrugs him off, willing to face the—
…The, uh… frustrations and horrors of a task…
…a task in futility… futility, and… geeze, did it get cold for anyone else all of a sudden? It feels like the grave in here. We were in a world of laughter and now we’re in a world of tears, like, from a world of hopes into a world of – god, it’s cold – world of fears? And I hate
that it’s too
late to quit
IT’S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL.
Ice Cream Beat is Kingdom Hearts’ first fully-formed rhythm game, featuring Huey, Louie, Dewey with empty ice cream cones, and you armed with a t-shirt cannon stuffed with frozen milk. Suspiciously in contrast with the cutscene, this “ice cream machine” is working just fine, and all you have to do is use it in the form of a rhythm mini-game. The ducks dance out a few steps and then you duplicate it with the ice-cream gun. There are only two actions: timed hits and rapid fire, so it’s simple as rhythm games go. If you do it right, you fire ice cream until each duck is carrying a huge stack of the stuff that the game will measure to determine your results! (Although I suspect that prizes are actually rewarded based on some other factor, not the “height” of the ice cream cones.) Most of the tracks available for play are from Kingdom Hearts itself (with “Destiny Islands” added for BBS international), and there’s a catchy new tune called “Dessert Paradise” also available for play. But that’s not what we’re focusing on today. To clear Ven’s Disney Town story, he has to play Ice Cream Beat to a familiar Disney tune. A tune that will go… unnamed.
Personally I do okay at Ice Cream Beat despite not being a rhythm game fan, but I know it’s a constant source of frustration for others. The difficulty of this game was dramatically reduced with the original international release, and this reduction was retained in all versions of FM, even if it still isn’t low enough for a lot of players out there! The game relies on chaining successes for a high score. You have to hit a minimum score to clear the song, which is all you need to advance Ven’s storyline, but let’s set that aside for a minute and discuss the mini-game once you come back to it after the story, or with other characters. Clearing the minimum score for each song will unlock the “Master” version of each song. That’s where the real prizes are, and only if you get the highest possible grade for the Master mode version. Many prizes are a waste of your time, and some noticeably so: for example the prize for “Blast Away! –Gummi Ship II–” is Blizzara, a demonstrably lesser prize than “Hand in Hand”‘s Blizzaga! Thankfully, earning a Fantastic for “Dessert Paradise,” earns you the Frozen Fortune Command Style.
Understanding the Frozen Fortune Command Style demands an understanding of an otherwise unrelated feature also available in Disney Town. You see, Huey, Louie and Dewey don’t just operate the Ice Cream Beat minigame: they also “sell” ice cream. Ominous use of scare quotes, right? The issue is: while they purport to sell ice cream, they actually can’t sell you a thing until you give them the ingredients, all earned from Prize Pods scattered about the game world. Should you assemble an flavour’s ingredients, the ducks will give you a free sample and then sell the ice cream for cheap, but you can always come back with more ingredients for more free samples. The ice cream items, once used, will automatically trigger one of your character’s Command Styles, which can save a lot of time and trouble in a pinch… even if I’m not particularly fond of wasting a command slot on items.
The Frozen Fortune Command Style, once unlocked, is highly unusual in that it can’t be triggered by commands, and doesn’t even have a dedicated ice cream item. Instead, it triggers randomly when using other ice cream items. I imagine it must be frustrating to get Frozen Fortune when you really, really needed something else, but Frozen Fortune is fairly powerful, so hopefully isn’t going to drive many players up the wall… hopefully.
Should you unlock every one of a character’s ice cream cones, the game also unlocks one additional prize: the Sweetstack Keyblade, an endgame Keyblade! Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait until the endgame to get it, since you’ll need to hunt Prize Pods from all over the game, including specifics rounds of Mirage Arena. This ice cream-themed Keyblade shows us something about the developers that we could only guess at before: they really, really didn’t count on walkthroughs. It was only a “maybe” before, but now it’s clear: the Sweetstack Keyblade is only hard to get if you don’t know where to find the Prize Pods, but if you do the process is simply tedious, not difficult. That’s an interesting bit of info, and I’ll have to think on it.
Returning to the plot (aka, after you win your first game of Ice Cream Beat), everyone is happy, except for Captain Justice, who righteously tries to take the ice cream machine to the trash. The others tell him off until he leaves the scene, and explain that they believe Captain Justice’s obvious righteousness is a ruse! Scandal! They say that the highlight of the Dream Festival is a humanitarian award called the “Million Dreams Award” and that they believe Justice is only doing what he does for the prize. As everyone talks about this, Ven gets a little maudlin and looks off into the sky thinking, “Wish somebody was lookin’ out for me.” Ho boy.
Like I said up front, you’re able to search Disney Town and play all three of the games if you want (the game makes this explicit with a text box when you leave), but I’m going to put off the other two minigames until their respective storylines. That said, we can still look around the world and find plenty of features just waiting for the player, some easily missed, too!
For starters, you can get Ven’s “Reversal Slash” ability from another room. This is an unusual and in my experience particularly hard to trigger ability where Ven uses Reversal (already hard to trigger) which allows you to attack immediately afterward! You can get a free “Friend” command here by busting up a poor cartoon mailbox with a full combo. This is Confetti, and it’s garbage. Confetti and its ilk exist as celebrations or “taunts” for use in the Mirage Arena. Sure, they give increased odds of a critical hit and build up the command bar without the need to hit anything, but that’s not something you’re going to need very often. No, the real use of these taunts (besides simply taunting and celebrating) was because the Mirage Arena awarded bonus medals for using at least one Friend command during a match in the PSP releases, and the taunts are cheapest available Friend commands. Now they’re useless.
(Speaking of the cartoon mailbox, you can also see a bit of polish in how you can hit a popcorn cart and the game’s usual “hit something” particle effects will change to popcorn!)
Since Confetti was such a bust, let’s talk about interesting things, like sewers! Sewers in video games are so novel! Unfortunately this isn’t a fun-filled video game sewer so much as it is a dry, underground tunnel, but it’s accessed via a manhole so I hope you’ll forgive my confusion. Down in the underground, the player will find a number of Unversed, as well as a of Thunder command in a chest. That might seem like an incidental prize until you come to an unpowered dynamo at the end of the path. The only way to activate this dynamo is to trigger a number of Thunder-aligned attacks in a row. This is easiest done using the Thunderbolt command style and then attacking the dynamo with your Thunder-aligned attacks. Too bad for Terra players, because he doesn’t have Thunderbolt yet! (This is a curiosity of Ventus’ progression: there are three basic command styles to earn, one per Final Fantasy element, but only Ven earns all three of them in his first set of worlds!) The dynamo annoys me by forcing you to activate it each time you visit the underground, meaning you may have to swap out your commands, wait for them to reload, then activate the dynamo, then swap in your regular commands… It really pays off to grab every prize you can during your first attempt, even though Ventus can’t grab every available prize at the moment. Seriously, what a pain.
While you’re wandering around here, you may have Ven’s first encounter with the Vile Phial, this game’s healing monster. The Vile Phial works differently than Green Requiems of the past: should you attack it, it will defend itself by poisoning you, will distract it from healing! A clever little change that makes it far more interesting as an enemy than the Requiems ever were, if you ask me. Bravo!
The Vile Phial isn’t Ven’s only new best buddy: if I’m not mistaken, this is also his first encounter with the Spiderchest, a Mimic-style Unversed that disguises itself as a large chest. They first appear in earlier worlds for Terra and Aqua, but I don’t believe Ven crosses paths with them until here in Disney Town (excusing the Mirage Arena), but please correct me if I’m mistaken. Spiderchests are completely harmless, mostly because they can’t hide like Cymbal Monkeys. Sure, they disguise themselves as chests, but only as big chests, and the fact is that BBS doesn’t have very many large chests means you’ll never be tricked (big chests are only used to hide Maps and a few other items). Once you learn that they exist, you’ll probably avoid large chests until all enemies are defeated, at which point the Spiderchest will be all alone and unable to use its missile attack strategy! The only time where Spiderchests are truly a threat is in the Mirage Arena when they spawn already active, and you’ll have to put up with their odd combination mortar attack and burrowing strategy.
Once you’ve triggered the dynamo, you activate what may be the most advanced platforming we’ve seen in the series to date. Rising and falling platforms, giant cartoon gloves as platforms, rotating gears… and you trying to grab all the stickers and chests that they lead to! Most importantly, the platforms also lead to the next room, where you’ll encounter the preposterous sight of a Captain Justice pinball machine where you play the role of the ball! The pinball machine hides a few chests, all incredibly valuable, and also an exit that you can only reach by hitting four “crown” bumpers in the pinball machine (though the real tricky part is getting to the door, which involves you moving “into” the background of the pinball game’s 2D perspective!).
(By the way, a glitch I discovered in this room, possibly a consequence of the pinball machine’s physics. If you defeat enemies in the hall leading to the pinball machine, they might drop D-Link upgrade stars just like any other enemies. The thing is, the stars never fall to the ground in this room, which caused me to lose one at least once because I killed an enemy too high in the air for me to retrieve the star!)
One of the prizes available from the pinball machine is the absurd “Break Time” Command, which causes your character to – I’m not kidding – start break dancing as an attack. The game even gives each character their own set of moves. This must have been someone’s baby because it evolved into a new bonus available in Final Mix, but we’ll talk about that further down the line. Frankly, the new feature from FM makes Break Time feel a little redundant, but what can you do?
After leaving through the exit door, one finds themselves outside on the street, specifically, in the room just outside Terra’s minigame. There, they can spot a far-away prize, with the strong implication that they should use mobility upgrades to get from here to there – god forbid you fall down and have to start back in the underground! For some characters, this is easier done, and it’s clear that the game didn’t expect you to be able to get Ven to the other side without a later mobility upgrade. The trouble is… you to totally can sequence break your way up there, thanks to Dash attacks in your command deck. To make matters worse, Ven’s prize is isn’t some small prize, but an upgraded version of the very mobility upgrade you were supposed to use to get to this platform in the first place, meaning you can grab it right now to sequence break even further!
You also unlock a Disney Town Command Board after clearing this world, which is an appropriate segue to our next and final prize for clearing the world, which is a little obscure and only available the International version and later. After clearing Disney Town in these versions of BBS, you unlock a new feature in Command Board. Since we haven’t covered Command Board yet, I’ll try to speak generally: after clearing Disney Town, a certain square in Command Board has a small chance of summoning Captain Justice (or his Terra-story counterpart, Captain Dark) instead of the square’s usual results. Should you do this outside of the Mirage Arena, and also not in the Disney Town “Toon Board,” (yeesh) you can win yourself a new D-Link featuring Captain Justice and a certain fellow mysterious stranger seen in Terra’s storyline, Captain Dark (Justice is the pre-upgraded version of the D-Link and Dark is the fully upgraded Lv 2 version). I’ll discuss the matter in further detail in our coverage of Command Board during Aqua’s storyline. The actual Captain Justice/Dark D-Link isn’t very good, but you’ll need it for 100%.