At this point, I’m going to address late-game content that appears in all of the three characters’ folders. Bear in mind that these sorts of things should be done before moving on to the Final Chapter that I mentioned briefly earlier in the Retrospective. While the Final Chapter does have some access to main-game content, including the Mirage Arena, I don’t actually recommend that any players do any optional play in the Final Chapter, as it’s an invitation to disaster. Should you do grinding, or questing, or anything of any substance in the Final Chapter, only to discover too late that you’re locked out of some post-game bonus because its criteria is no longer available in the Final Chapter, all that work will go to waste. Ideally, players should use the Final Chapter to follow the Final Chapter’s story and nothing else.
Yes, this does mean that I recommend you get this kind of post-game stuff done without the Keyblade you earn in the final chapter. Frankly, there arguably better top-tier Keyblades lying around in the main game anyways. Anyone looking for the best Keyblades available at this point can use the characters’ evolved final blade (Ends of the Earth, Lost Memory, Rainfell) for a generally balanced option. If you prefer specialization, I’d recommend the Pixie Petal for a magic-focus, the Sweetstack for a strength-focus (the Chaos Ripper for Terra). Once you complete some of the late- and post-game challenges, you can earn even better Keyblades, and those will almost certainly take priority, unless you’re really fond of the Chaos Ripper, you warrior of darkness, you!
Flashback screenshots today.
There is an exception to my “No Final Episode” guideline. If you feel you need to grind to complete the post-game challenges, I recommend you beat the Final Episode first, as doing so will raise the Battle Lvs on every world in every other completed folder – I’ll discuss the particulars after the Final Episode itself. But a word of warning: the Battle Lv-increasing code is poorly implemented, and you’ll get bad results if you open your Terra, Aqua or Ven save files after creating the Final Episode file but before clearing it. If you want to make sure the trick works, make sure to create a new Final Episode file after opening the old files, and preferably to overwrite the original. Again, details later.
We’ll start with the requirements to unlock a better ending. BBS has several levels of narrative content that you can unlock. Please, please contact me if you’re certain any of this is incorrect. The sheer obscurity of BBS’ ending requirements, plus the changes brought on by BBS:FM, have left the internet riddled with misinformation and I’d like to be as accurate as possible.
The first is the easiest: to unlock the Final Chapter, find all the Xehanort Reports. Most are acquired via the story and can’t be missed. Here’s a quick list of the optional ones and where to find them:
- Xehanort Report 1 – Ventus: Found in a chest on the Deep Space Launch Deck. You must turn on Low Gravity to reach this.
- Xehanort Report 3 – Aqua: Found in Merlin’s house.
- Xehanort Report 5 – Terra: Complete the Mirage Arena match “Sinister Sentinel.”
- Xehanort Report 12 – Ventus: Found in the opening room at the Keyblade Graveyard, the Seat of War. Note that there’s no way to fast-travel to this location after you first enter the world, so you’re going to have to go back through the tornados if you missed this.
That’s it, just those four. The Final Episode takes the form of a new save file that you write to your memory card/hard drive. If you unlock the Final Episode after beating the game for the first time, the game will offer to create a new Final Episode file when you next save the game. This prompt is also presented when you clear the game with all reports, for the first time or even on later attempts. This method can be used to to “update” your Final Episode file. You may need to if you want to unlock other post-game bonuses, like the secret ending!
The next narrative content you can unlock is the game’s secret ending, which might more properly be described as its actual ending, because Walt help anyone that has to go without it. In the original, Vanilla game, the requirements were as follows. In Proud and Critical (remember, only the International release had Critical), you get the ending by completing the Final Episode, so the only unlock requirements are those of the Final Episode itself. In Standard, however, you also have to complete the reports of all three characters, which is bullshit, and I’m saying it’s bullshit from an informed perspective because I did it. Thankfully, finishing up these reports doesn’t force you to fight the game’s superbosses or even find all the game’s Keyblades (saving you from, say, having to do the worst of the Arena challenges, or Disney Town’s version of Rumble Racing). Unfortunately, you will have to find every single Command in the game, forcing you to do a lot of walkthrough-diving for commands (god help you without). You also have to beat most of the Mirage Arena’s challenges, get a maxed Arena rank which involves beating every Command Board with every character and then some, and also beat Rumble Racing with every character just for good spite. It takes ages, most of it wasted in the Arena on identical challenges, and a fair chunk of it in Command Board, where there are no distinctions between the three characters whatsoever. Enjoy watching your life trickle away. If you want to duplicate this challenge in 2.5 HD, 2.5 has Achievements for it, so say hello to the cold chill of death for me.
BBS:FM has new secret content for you to unlock, but unlike KH1 and 2, you don’t get the old secret ending for free. Instead, you unlock both the new and the old content via the same criteria, which I’m going to go into now. Bear in mind that 2.5 BBS’ secret ending unlock requirements are radically unclear, so I’m relying on this post by bilingual KHI member Kazr, who conveyed information from some Japanese sites in this post here.
In Critical, you simply have to beat the game to get the secret endings. In Proud, you have to beat the game while also having a perfect score on each character’s Sticker sheet by first finding the Stickers and then by putting them into the right spots. This is honestly so easy, that unlike KH2:FM+, you don’t see very many players playing on Critical just to get easier secrets! They just play on Proud like they’d prefer to do anyways! In Standard, you have to do the Sticker thing and also win the Keyslinger Trophy. This is an in-game achievement that originated on the PSP. Keyslinger is unlocked by killing 9999 Unversed across all folders, which is at least a brainless task if nothing else. I mean they’re not twisting your arm here, just go fight in the Arena for a few, uh, days, if necessary. Extra bonus: because the in-game Trophies are attached to the game’s system data, you keep them in all subsequent playthroughs so long as you don’t erase the system data, which means that once you unlock Keyslinger, you never have to do it again!
Beginner can also unlock the secret endings in BBS:FM, but we don’t actually know what you have to do. Kazr’s post suggests to me that someone did try doing the Standard mode requirements in Beginner and didn’t get the endings, so there must be something more, but we don’t know what it is. Not many walkthrough-writing players play in Beginner, after all, especially once they learn that Kingdom Hearts secrets are unlocked in easier ways on higher difficulties!
Since we’re on the subject of Stickers, I should talk about the ultimate prize on each Sticker sheet in BBS:FM, the Rhythm Mixer Command Style, which was even given its own ice cream. This is the most powerful Command Style, a Level 2 that is common to all characters and that many players consider broken. Unfortunately you’ll have to unlock it to get all the game’s secrets if you’re playing below Critical, so if you’re bothered by its broken mechanics it’s only going to rub your face in it. Sorry about that. I suppose you can try to avoid triggering it? BBS is at fault for not just letting you turn these Styles off in the first place, like you can D-Links. In any event, Rhythm Mixer’ final mimics Break Time and many of the games’ D-Link finishers with a brief Rhythm game finale.
Now, let’s get started on BBS’ other late-game challenges. Let’s start with the remaining Mirage Arena challenges. There’s only one Mirage Arena challenge left that was included in the original Japanese Vanilla release, and that’s Villains’ Vendetta, available at Arena Level 30 in Vanilla releases but only 25 in FM. There are no minor enemies in this tournament, not even for a break. Your opponents are bosses only, including appearances from nearly all bosses found in the Arena, excusing the Mirror Master, Zack and Hades. Yes, that means you have to re-fight all four Iron Imprisoners, and that’s hell on earth. Your prize is worth the effort, at least: the Ultima Weapon Keyblade, which is the most powerful balanced Keyblade in the Vanilla game at +7/+6, long length and an extremely high crit rate. It was ultimately topped as a balanced blade by an FM addition, but can be very helpful when it comes to the other late-game challenges!
Two more rounds were added to the Mirage Arena in BBS:FM, and taking them on in single player will be… difficult (and you must in 2.5 HD!). Both of the new rounds feature a single round of combat against a single superboss, ala the Gold and Platinum Matches in KH1. The first challenge is Light’s Lessons, available at Arena Level 28. This battle puts you against none less than the “Armour of Eraqus,” which is emulating Eraqus in his previously unseen Keyblade Armour. Don’t think to hard about it – this is some kind of video game facsimile that we shouldn’t try to explain. Fought to a remix of the Land of Departure’s theme, “Master, Tell Me the Truth,” the Armour of Eraqus is not messing around. In fact, good news everyone! I’m here to tell you that none of BBS’ superbosses, nearly without exception, are fighting in any way we’d describe as “fair.” You basically need to fight them, die repeatedly to learn their patterns, and learn the absolute perfect timing to dodge, block and attack. And quite often the best time to dodge and block is “constantly” and the only time to attack is “fuck I don’t even know.” It’s really just… awful boss design. While the two FM arena bosses might be somewhat justified by the fact that they were supposed to be fought by teams of players and not a single opponent, this is not the case for other bonus bosses, one of whom is probably the worst example of all!
In 2.5 HD, the Armour of Eraqus has 200 less HP, which was the only reduction in difficulty they were willing to allow to make up for the lack of multiple teammates. Did they even try? It may also be that he was made vulnerable to shotlocks like the next boss, which would be nice, but I can’t confirm whether or not he was previously invulnerable to them in the PSP FM to begin with? I don’t exactly have a copy of the Japanese SP FM to test it out. Your prize for winning is a teeny HP upgrade.
If you thought that was tough, wait until you get to the new Arena Level 30 challenge, Peering into Darkness, which puts you up against No Heart. This is the Armour of Master Xehanort, aka the armour you already fought when Xemnas was wearing it in KH2. “No Heart” is a sort of reverse-Nobody-style anagram that you can make out of “Xehanort” by removing the X instead of adding it. Also valid: “Rat Hone.” For when you need to sharpen your rats.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking things will be as easy as they were with Xemnas. The fight, which takes place in the Land of Departure’s throne room with No Heart sitting on the throne, opens with you fighting Xehanort’s Keyblade itself as it forms a barrier against you. This is a neat idea, and easily the simplest part of the fight. Oh, hey, remember how all 2.5 HD arena challenges have an achievement-style challenge for extra arena points? This one’s a speed run! Guess how long they estimate it will take you to beat this boss? Twenty-five minutes. Actually, if you know what you’re doing it will take more like ten, but fuck everything about this, who thought this was a good idea? The battle theme here is “Forze dell’Oscurita,” a mix of “Forze de Male” from KH1 and “Darkness of the Unknown” from KH2. Personally I find it to be a bit too busy for my taste.
I couldn’t even begin to walk you through this battle, I just can’t handle it. No Heart and his Keyblade both have reduced HP, at a much more notable 250 for the Keyblade and 500 for the master, and as I already discussed they’re vulnerable to shotlocks when they didn’t used to be. Your prize here is the Royal Radiance, the best Keyblade in the game. All the post-game rewards pale next to it, even though there are several left to discuss, but that’s how I’ve chosen to structure this shindig.
Of course, the Arena’s not the only place to meet new people, find love, duel with swords, that sort of thing. All versions of the game include two post-game bosses as well, but as they’re post-game (one is unlocked in all folders after you clear the Final Episode, and the other is unlocked by that previous boss), I’m going to put them off until later. Onward then, to the Final Episode that isn’t the final episode!