Terra arrives at Olympus Coliseum directly into the “Town Near Thebes,” where he discovers young Hercules attempting to challenge a group of Unversed. Herc is clobbered by a Buckle Bruiser, so Terra runs into fight on his own. Herc must have been hit pretty hard, too, because he doesn’t even participate in the fight to follow even though he easily could have been coded in, but that was probably a narrative decision.
After clearing the Unversed, Terra helps Herc up, and Herc asks Terra if he’s here for the games, directing him there just before Phil calls him off to go train somewhere else. Terra decides he could use the tournament to help gauge his strength, so off he goes. I admit, I’ve quested for less.
When Terra arrives at the coliseum, Hades just happens to be heading out. Hades is monologuing to himself about the poor prospects in the games (none of whom you will ever see), as it seems that he’s looking for a hireling to do… something… to help with his schemes. I guess the particulars aren’t important.
Hades spots Terra and likes what he sees, and goes over to give him a little chat. He somehow recognizes that Terra is trying to repress his inner darkness, and urges him to stop, saying that darkness is natural and that darkness will not only work for him if he respects it, but is actually more likely to hurt him if he rejects it. That’s an interesting approach, and might serve to explain why poor Terra falls back off the wagon from this point on despite his success in Disney Town, but one element of the scene isn’t selling it to me: Terra’s reaction. Both Terra’s animations and Jason Dohring’s delivery suggests constant distrust around Hades, and he just doesn’t seem to be taking anything Hades is saying seriously, much less like it’s getting into his head! Nevertheless, he follows Hades’ only real piece of advice, either because he really, genuinely believes the guy preaching about the joys of evil, or because he’s trying to show Hades up, and I’m afraid to say it’s probably the former, not the latter. Hey Terra? Seeing which world we’re on, I’d like to say: I once gave a nickname to Zack Fair, and I think it would be even more appropriate to you and your theme. So that’s why I’m going to formally pass it on to you full time! You dumb, dumb sack of rocks.
Hades suggests Terra enter the Games and follow his advice while participating – advice Hades will not actually give, which also seriously undercuts this entire plot. Yeah, Olympus Coliseum is not exactly Terra’s narrative high-point in my eyes. Hades signs Terra up for the games, which includes a fourth wall joke about Terra’s name, and that’s it! On we go to the games, with all thought of Darkness entirely behind us!
BBS’ “Games” take their lead from KH1’s “Games,” but not the kind most people actually played. Oh no: instead of taking influence from the main tournaments, BBS follows the Olympus Coliseum time trial model from KH1. Unlike KH1, where the time trial was across the entire tournament, in BBS you have to clear each round with its own time trial, and the timer is very, very short. Fail at any point and you have to restart the entire thing! Some of the more dangerous waves include: a wave of Shoegazers whose temporary invincibility can ruin your 15 second timer; a wave of fliers right after that with a generous time but less-than-generous opponents that prefer to dodge; semi-final rounds full of Buckle Bruisers, Mandrakes and Chrono Twisters; and the final round, which is against a smaller version of the Jellyshade swarm that ended Ven’s trip here.
For winning the world, Terra gets Sonic Impact, a command that can be used to upgrade his Slide and Air Slide mobility skills to cause light damage if they impact any enemies.
There’s still one round to go after clearing the Jellyshades, but we get a save point break into between. After triggering the final round by talking to Hades, Hades waits until Terra goes into the arena and begins to complain how Terra isn’t turning to the darkness after all. Wow, after you put in all that zero effort? Luckily for him, Terra’s opponent arrives moments later: a once-again helmeted Zack Fair. You know, it’s funny: Zack is masked when he first appears in Ven and Terra’s storyline, but they don’t even bother with Aqua’s. You can make fairly strong arguments for starting BBS with Terra or Ven’s story, but Aqua’s seems to have been pretty solidly designed to be third and damn the consequences of anyone (like me) who tries to start with her!
Hades calls out to Zack, and the scene fades to black, fading in on the arena, where Ven enters and begins his fight with Terra, Zack identified by the Information box in the corner as “a mysterious soldier.” Boo! Boooooo! Reference jokes aside, Zack can be pretty tricky if you’re underlevelled. He has several area attacks, and a fireball to complicate any attempts to run and heal. On the flip side, he doesn’t have much HP and can even be stunned at random, like some kind of early-game KH1 boss minus the health orbs. Not so difficult overall, and the ease comes in a way that suggests parts of his AI aren’t fully refined (it’s incredibly easy to stunlock him in a corner, and Terra will outright call him a “pushover” in just a few seconds), which means it’s not very surprising when he reveals a second form.
Zack collapses, dropping his helmet in the process, and Terra just turns and goes to leave, the dick. Just then, Zack gets back on his feet, glowing with darkness. He nearly overwhelms Terra, but when their blades are locked, Zack is able to communicate that he’s being controlled. Hades arrives to brag about the power of darkness, offering it to Terra once again. Terra promises to never give into the darkness (yes, for a second time), and Zack begs Terra to fight him in order to free his heart, because that’s how we solve things in video games.
Dark Zack immediately opens the fight with a Limit Break of some sort, but despite BBS’ pretty clear attempt to cross-promote Crisis Core, I don’t recognize it as any of Zack’s Crisis Core Limits. There are quite a few it definitely isn’t, since Zack only uses his sword for some of his limits, but it doesn’t quite look like any of the exceptions, either, like Octaslash. Zack simply teleports around the arena (making it fairly hard to avoid all of his attacks) after which he ends with an area attack on the ground. It can be very hard to survive after being hit by the Limit, so if you’re having trouble, it pays to go off and learn Once More from Command Melding. Once the Limit Break is over, he’s sure to repeat it after a while, so it pays to be alert for it. The ideal way to avoid the attack is with a lengthy Shotlock, which will be of no comfort to anyone who didn’t bring a lengthy one in the first place! Thankfully, Zack is stunned after the Limit Break, giving you a brief opening in which to attack or heal.
Once the Limit Break is over, Zack will attack with a mix of his old attacks and a few additions, including a modified version of one of his Crisis Core limits, Meteor Shots (the Limit Break associated with Cloud). Despite all these high-powered attacks, Zack only as much HP as in the first round, so the fight won’t last long. Clearing the battle gives you another Deck Capacity upgrade, assuming you are playing below Critical difficulty.
After the battle, Terra gets cheers from the ghost crowd as the game makes the baffling decision to zoom out and briefly show the empty stands. Hades leaves in a huff, and Terra and Zack get to talking, one sack of rocks to another. They introduce themselves, and Zack declares that Terra is his new role model as a hero. When Terra tries to refuse the title of “hero,” Zack points out that “hero” isn’t a title you choose, but one that’s given to you by a crowd of invisible ghosts and their visible confetti. The only possible criteria. Finally, Zack laments that he never got to fight Terra fair and square (even though, poor guy, we’ll later see that he would have performed no better than he did under mind control in phase 1), and Terra says that he’s sure they’ll get another chance someday.
First off: now that you’ve cleared the world, don’t forget to play Break the Urns like Ven did during his story to get a free copy of Sonic Blade!
The Unversed challenge here is the Jellyshade swarm again, 300 Unversed strong, and you don’t even get a good prize for it, just a copy of Stopga. Old enemies, old prizes… In any event, the KHWiki recommends the Goofy D-Link, saying it will have done 280/300 kills by the time it ends, but only two of the three characters get Goofy, so the one character who doesn’t (ahem) should use Cinderella instead.
Such a letdown.