After those two short gimmick worlds, it’s time to douse our heads in cold water and wake up again, because it’s back to a proper-sized world in the form of Deep Space. That said, it’s sure to confuse the average player, because for the first and only time, Ventus is going to end a Disney story instead of start or continue one. Let’s get started. Urm… finished?
The world of Deep Space, which is technically neither a world (as in “planet”) nor open space, actually starts out in open space! Specifically, it starts in the Lanes Between, where Ventus is attacked by an Unversed boss while on his Keyblade glider! This is the Metamorphosis, yet another cnidarian-looking Unversed to compliment the Jellyshades. This leads to a battle in the Lanes, where you learn that each character actually has a full set of Keyblade Glider combat controls used exclusively here in Deep Space. Or rather, exclusively here and in one other room of Deep Space, but hold that thought until the next storyline, as Ven can’t go to that room.
Despite it being a quick skirmish and also no measure of the player’s ability, winning this slap fight with the Metamorphosis earns you nothing less than one of Ven’s level 2 command styles, Wingblade! This powerful command style summons a number of magical blades to assist Ventus’ attacks, and is a handy physical attack style, filling in the gap left by Terra and Aqua’s equally powerful Lv 2 style, Bladecharge.
After a brief battle (that goes entirely against you, if I can speak freely), the Metamorphosis flees the scene and arrives at the proper Deep Space “world.” The “world” of Deep Space is a bit like KH1 Neverland, in that it’s not so much a world as a vessel travelling the gap between worlds. In this case, it’s a giant (Monstro-like?) ship, here from 2002’s Lilo & Stitch. We won’t be seeing any of Lilo in this, I’m afraid, but we will be seeing a lot of the supporting cast.
We cut inside the ship, where Captain Gantu is keeping Experiment 626 (Stitch) imprisoned in a room of the ship. Gantu is voiced by his original voice actor, Kevin Michael Richardson, whom we’ve been seeing in the role of Sebastian the crab from Atlantica. Gantu informs Stitch that two oversized rocket-launcher looking devices are “locked onto your genetic signature.” Just then, an alarm sounds, presumably as Ventus or the Metamorphosis board the ship. Gantu leaves to attend to the alarm, and 626 uses some of his spit (featuring some of his “genetic signature”) to escape the prison through a wall.
Fun fact: despite having left Disney in 2007, Chris Sanders returns to voice Experiment 626/Stitch for Birth By Sleep (2010), and would continue to voice him from here on out. During his absence, he was temporarily replaced for the Stitch! anime, where Stitch was voiced by Ben Diskin, a voice actor that would later come to Kingdom Hearts in a very different capacity…
Elsewhere on the ship, Gantu tracks down Ventus. Ven tries to announce himself as chasing after the Unversed, but Gantu isn’t hearing it, at least not until a voice comes over the speaker regarding another intruder in the Machinery Bay. It’s at this point where I should probably mention that there are no less than three voices credited in miscellaneous Deep Space roles. I’m going to have to make a few guesses as to who is who. This speaker is presumably Jennifer Hale (Cinderella, Aurora; credited as “Deep Space Operator”), the only woman credited in these three Deep Space roles, but the two men will be a little trickier to place.
Left on his own, Ven decides to go to the Machinery Bay himself, but is interrupted by the arrival of Experiment 626. 626 takes one look at Ven and to his surprise addresses him by name, followed by the names of Terra and Aqua. It’s now clear that some of Ven’s friends have been here before him. 626 then takes out what appears to be a Wayfinder made of pieces of scrap and says: “Fren… Circle!” It’s unclear what this means, and Ven is about to ask when Jennifer Hale speaks up again saying the Unversed is causing serious damage. Ven runs off without 626.
Unfortunately, poor Ven doesn’t know the layout and follows Gantu out of the room. The funny thing is, if he allowed the player to guide him, he could easily gone to the Machinery Bay in just a few rooms by turning around and going in the other direction! Unfortunate it just isn’t allowed, nor are you allowed to go through the teleporter pad in the previous room until you outright clear the world. Being unable to access the teleporter pad is an extra shame, because the room beyond has a slew of chests, both of which are available to Terra and Aqua on their first trips! This is revenge for Ven’s low-challenge Olympus Coliseum run, isn’t it?
Just out of the hall, you end in a room called the Ship Corridor, where you can hear a soft klaxon in the distance. Should you travel too far into the hall (and you must), some blast doors will slam shut, trapping you inside with the Unversed! Whoa, KH2 flashbacks! But it’s not so bad, seeing as how this is the first and last time the game has really done something like this. Here you’ll probably encounter the only unique Deep Space Unversed, the Sonic Blaster. This UFO-themed Heartless has a long “tail” that transforms either into a satellite dish or a ray gun as it swaps between search and attack mode. You could probably compare these to the Search Ghosts from KH1, except much more dangerous, but you’ll probably never even notice their search mode. Why? Because the rooms and spawn zones in this world are so small! When are you ever going to be far enough away from the Sonic Blaster’s spawn point that it needs to search for you, but not so far away that it outright despawns? That only ever seems to happen in the Mirage Arena (where Unversed do not despawn) and one upcoming room in Deep Space! I usually end up catching sight of the Blaster’s search rays at the corner of my screen just seconds before they find me or leave. Ultimately, the enemy is more notable for its being a durable flier than for any AI effort.
After the corridor, you’re given a cutaway to another room, where we find Experiment 626 examining its Wayfinder. Unfortunately, Gantu arrives and shoots the Wayfinder (no doubt aiming to shoot Stitch), destroying it. 626 looks crushed, and ignores Gantu until Gantu begins threatening him again, saying he doesn’t believe 626 has feelings beyond destroying everything he touches. The scene ends here.
Through the corridor and past a save point, and you’ll reach one of the most memorable rooms of Deep Space, the Ship Hub. This is a tall room with very high platforms that you can’t seem to reach, giving you no choice but to go down and trap yourself. There, after a long fight with the Unversed, you’ll find a console. When activated, this console lowers the gravity in the room so that you can jump up to the higher platforms! On the downside, most of the chests in the room will fly up when you do this, forcing you to puzzle out how to reach them when the gravity is off. A higher console exists for exactly this purpose, and is worth futzing with, since Ven can get a Shotlock out of it with a careful jump or two.
Unfortunately, the Ship Hub’s interesting jumping puzzles make for nasty combat, mostly in how knocking an enemy off a ledge forces it to despawn and respawn at max health. Maybe if the game had stocked the room with fliers, things might have worked, but all the fliers we find here in Deep Space fly at a height relative to the ground. This means that if they’re knocked off the platforms in this room, they “fall” all the same! This ruins what could have been a saving grace!
The last major room on your walk to the Machinery Bay is the Launch Deck, which features a number of sentry guns that will take pot shots at you while you’re here. These can be especially dangerous if they happen to stunlock you, which in this case refers to shooting every time you attempt to jump. This can happen very easily with the two close-positioned guns near ground level. Once you’ve destroyed or evaded this pair of guns, you can reach the console the guns were protecting to activate low gravity in this room as well. This is essential, as it causes a number of blocks to rise up so that you can access a large chest on the second level, which contains one of the very few optional Xehanort Reports in the entire game!
Xehanort’s Report 1 (the first report in the game after Xehanort’s Letter to Eraqus from the start of Ven’s story) details how Xehanort came to be a Keyblade apprentice, curiously noting that he came to his master rather than his master coming to him. He discusses the nature of the Keyblade as well, and how it frustrated him that he could never find a satisfactory answer as to its “purpose,” never believing the master’s speech about the Keyblade being designed to protect the world of Light.
Once you’re done reading the Report, it’s back to the real world, where you’ll have to raise the gravity back to normal so that the boxes you used to grab the report will stop blocking your exit. You may also want to fight some of the locals, which might include a rare monster called a Blobmob. The Blobmob is a giant jellyfish, our third jellyfish so far, and is a classic action game “splitter” enemy. After taking enough damage, it splits first into two smaller Blobmobs, and then each half splits into two more, and so on, until you’ve fought eight Blobmobs from one original. Thankfully (in fact, dully) the Blobmob isn’t that dangerous a monster to begin with.
Oh well. So much for one cndarian and on to another. You restore the gravity and leave the room, arriving in the Machinery Bay, which appears to be some kind of Star Trek-styled engine room, complete with glowing engine core. The Metamorphosis arrives and soon after it, so does Experiment 626, snarling and furious after the loss of his Wayfinder. The fight begins with 626 as your companion.
The Metamorphosis isn’t that dangerous a boss. It’s quick on its feet, and it can turn invisible from time to time, but it does so rarely and isn’t very effective at attacking in any event. No, the real threat here is the fact that the Metamorphosis might attach itself to the ship’s engines and begin damaging the engine’s life bar in the corner, which leads to game over! One of the easiest ways to deflect it if you aren’t already on-scene is to use a team-up command with Stitch, Astro-Strike, which will allow you to launch Stitch like a baseball into your opponent. This is key for the final phase of the battle, where the Metamorphosis will turn invisible and go to the top of the Engine, forcing you to rely on Stitch to stall until you can turn down the gravity and get up there yourself! Fortunately, the battle is mostly over by the time you have to do anything of the sort, and will likely end moments later.
After the battle, 626 is still raging. This is meant to imply that he’s reverted to his base instincts, but it’s honestly kind of hard to sell it coming from such a fluffy creature. Ven tries to restrain him, only to be tossed off, though 626 calms down after he realizes what he’s done. Ven asks what’s the matter and 626 shows him the pieces of the Wayfinder, which are superimposed over Stitch’s hands without the effort required to make them actually sit in Stitch’s hands. I’ve included a screenshot below, but it’s not perfect, as the problem only really comes into view in motion. Ven remarks that friendship is more than an object and 626 repeats that: “Fren-ship… Cir…cle?” Yes, I’m sure that makes a lot of sense to the poor little guy. Just nod along, Ven.
Gantu interrupts before the two can say any more to one another, and now that Ven realizes what 626 is up against, he has Stitch’s back through and through. Gantu tries to take a shot at 626, but Stitch makes the first move and the two new friends flee the scene, Stitch somehow getting ahold of his escape craft from the movie. Ven follows on his glider, and we get a brief retelling of how Stitch accidentally triggered the hyperdrive and escaped the ship. During this sequence we hear two more voices that must be the other two voices credited for IMDb in Deep Space, although whether I’ve got them in the correct role or not, I can’t be certain. Stitch’s escape ship’s computer has one voice, whom I expect to be Stephen Stanton (“Deep Space System”), the voice of Happy the dwarf. Meanwhile, you’re tailed by patrol ships, one of whom is voiced by André Sogliuzzo (“Deep Space Patrol”), a wildly experienced video game voice actor. His only Square Enix connection I can spot is as Bartholomew Estheim in FFXIII and FFX as Zuke, and the only Disney connection as various Star Wars voices, but don’t let that undermine an impressive CV.
Just like in the film, 626 is rocketed away, off to become “Stitch” and presumably take part in the events of the film, TV shows and sequels. Goodness knows how he got from there to KH2, but it would be undermining the fun of Stitch to question that sort of thing. See you around, blue buddy!
There are a number of other rooms to explore in Deep Space that unlock after clearing the world with all characters, but I’ll discuss these rooms during their first appearances in other characters’ stories.
Your prizes for this world start off with a Deck Capacity upgrade (if you’re playing below Critical), and a Command Board. Next comes the Hyperdrive Keyblade, which is an unremarkable balanced Keyblade, and a D-Link with Experiment 626, which is primarily identified by its Thunder commands and Stitch’s absolutely useless, time-wasting Finish attacks. The starting Finish attack is a laser that locks your character’s facing in their current direction and refuses to let you turn or move until you run out of ammo. The upgraded version features a ukulele solo that takes so long to complete that you’ll have wandered off to get a drink in the middle of it. What’s with these D-Links and their borderline unusable finishing attacks? What a waste.