Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is a prequel to the Kingdom Hearts series set 10 years before the first game. The game's story focuses on the efforts of the three main characters—that is, Terra, Ven, and Aqua—to find the missing Keyblade master, Master Xehanort, and his apprentice, Vanitas. The story is split into three separate scenarios, each focusing on one of the characters' efforts to locate Master Xehanort and Vanitas. While the characters will be alone most of the time during their journey, there will be times when the characters' paths will cross (a storytelling gimmick previously used by Squaresoft in Treasure of the Rudra and Threads of Fate).All three of the characters are equally important story-wise. The game focuses on several main themes such as Ven's identity and connection with Sora as well as the mystery behind the memories of the original series' primary villain, Xehanort. Each character's story takes between 8 and 15 hours plus additional prologue and epilogue chapters, for a total of at least 30 hours of gameplay.The player can play the three different routes in any order they so choose, but the recommended route (and the route that makes the most sense story-wise) is Terra, Ventus, then Aqua.
This game provides examples of:
Aborted Arc: What kick-starts the plot is the rise of the Unversed and the threat they pose to the Princesses of Heart. The three worlds with the Princesses are visited first, but once you hit Radiant Garden they're forgotten and subsequent worlds focus solely on fighting the Unversed. Fittingly, Radiant Garden is where the three begin to follow their own agendas. Terra believes himself a failure and is charmed into becoming Xehanort's apprentice. Thereafter, he's focused on trying to find Vanitas and put an end to him. Ventus never had the mission, and is intent on finding Terra, and Aqua is essentially scrambling to find the both of them and keep them together.
Absurdly High Level Cap: The game contains the standard level 99 cap. Just playing normally without any Level Grinding will have you beating each character's story with their levels in the 30s. This results in it being very easy to be over-leveled without realizing it — if you backtrack through the worlds to get the items you missed, you may end up being around Level 40 or higher, at which point most of the final bosses are incredibly easy to beat.
Plan to beat the Bonus Bosses? Anywhere in the level 50-60 range will do fine. The Final Mix ones in the Mirage Arena? More, like in the 90's.
Acceptable Breaks from Reality: Despite that the Unversed all died at the end of Ven and Aqua's episodes with the "death" of Vanitas, in the Final Episode, you can still fight them. You can use the experience.
Take Your Time: Nothing ever starts until you get there. There's a part early in Aqua's campaign where Cinderella is attacked by a massive Unversed. No problem; just head to the save point and play on the Command Board until you're ready, she's not getting burned up! That said, this particular instance comes after several scenes and another sequence where you have to escort Jaq to a mouse hole. You can skip the cutscenes, but not that. This may be slightly justified at the end of Terra's story, given that Master Xehanort needs him to be the vessel for his Grand Theft Me scheme.
In-universe example: Pete dresses up as a hero called Captain Justice, or a darker counterpart of him called Captain Dark. It's all part of a scheme to win a popularity contest in Disney Town. None of the other Disney characters are fooled.
Maleficent, the Evil Queen, and Lady Tremaine are all voiced by the same actress, Susanne Blakeslee. It's to be expected with Maleficent and Tremaine, whose original film incarnations also shared a voice actress in Eleanor Audley.
After the End: The Secret Episode, which takes place at least a year after Ventus goes into his deep sleep, Aqua is trapped in the Realm of Darkness, and Terranort is taken in by Ansem the Wise. It has Aqua traversing the Realm of Darkness, and eventually finding the Castle of Dreams trapped their thanks to Xehanort.
Also, the Blank Points cutscene, which at the end has Sora, 11 years after the events of Birth By Sleep, resolving to take the Mark of Mastery in order to save the BBS Trio and the others connected to him.
All Your Powers Combined: The Bonus Boss Unknown seems to gather the best attacks from the series: he's got Meteor, Tornado, Sonic Rave, Doom, Vanitas's X-shaped projectile attack, Mega Flare, Raging Storm, and Restore Barrier.
Alternate Company Equivalent: Master Eraqus is pretty much the Square equivalent of Disney's Master Yen Sid. While Yen Sid is based off of Walt Disney, Eraqus is based off of Hironobu Sakaguchi: former president of Square, creator of the Final Fantasy series, and an executive producer of Kingdom Hearts.
Plus, just as Yen Sid spelled backwards says "Disney", Eraqus's name almost-backwards is "Square".note The "qu" was not reversed, presumably to preserve can-be-pronounced-ness.
Alleviated slightly by the fact that Master Xehanort's stuck in the exact same way. At least he's got someone to taunt.
And Now for Someone Completely Different: Briefly, and not completely different, but: At the end of Terra's story, you stop directly playing as Terra, and fight against the body that Xehanort just committed Grand Theft Me on... with the Lingering Will, the suit of armor that Terra left behind. Although the Lingering Will does have Terra's memories and motives, essentially making it the remains (or a new incarnation) of the original Terra. Whether this trope applies or not is a matter of personal taste.
Animated Armor: When Xehanort takes over Terra's body, his armor, still possessing Terra's memories and part of his spirit, fights him. 2 of the Bonus bosses are similar. And, in the Final Story, Aqua temporarily animates her armor to get Terra out of the Realm of Darkness.
Antihero: Terra, who allies himself with Disney Villains in his drive to find Xehanort, and later on, embraces Xehanort's words about Darkness being safe to use, in the hopes of being a Master in someone's eyes. Aqua and Ven worry about him Jumping Off the Slippery Slope. However, he doesn't generally follow the villains except when he is tricked by them into thinking that they are trustworthy. Which is often.
Armor Is Useless: Well, more specifically, it only plays a role in story rather than in gameplay. It's designed to protect you from the power of darkness and basically acts like a space suit when the three protagonists travel through the void of space to other worlds. It has no apparent effect on your actual defense stat. Of course, that doesn't stop the trio from activating it for the finale because it looks awesome!
Expecting this trope to be averted, Terra becomes slightly Wrong Genre Savvy when Master Xehanort tries to take over his body. Not only is the darkness of Xehanort's heart so great, but Terra's heart has been weakened by the dark powers he embraced.
Artificial Stupidity: The objective of the Command Board is to acquire a pre-set amount of GP by circling the board earning GP and buying tiles, then be the first person with that amount of GP to make it back to the start panel as quickly as possible. AI opponents will frequently earn enough GP to win and keep circling the board like normal. AI opponents always rarely make decent use of their cards, either using them very rarely or using them too much and thus being unable to buy panels.
Exceptions are Peter Pan on the Skull Board and Tigger on the Honey Board. Both make liberal use of Magic cards to roll two or three dice at a time, but conserve their other cards.
The AI also doesn't pay attention to Special Squares, which usually activate some helpful effect to boost GP. In particular, the Secret Board and Keyblade Board Special Squares let the person who landed on them warp to any square they like. The AI player rolls, comes to a fork, going one direction takes them to the path the next checkpoint, going the other direction takes them to a Special Square that lets them warp there immediately. They'll still ignore the Special Square.
There's also a bit with the Vanitas's Lingering Spirit and a rare positive example. You can run behind the rock and he'll keep trying to run through the rock to you. In theory, as long as you keep him there, you can cherry tap him to death with raids, or use this as an opportunity to lick your wounds since you're allowed potions.
Artistic Age: There are flashbacks where, given that Aqua is approximately 18-20 in the main story, she can't be older than 14-16. Not that you would know that from her character model, which is unchanged. The characters do seem to act younger, at least. Ven, however, has a somewhat younger looking model.
In a sense: Xigbar didn't play too large a role in Kingdom Hearts II, but his original self, Braig, gets more screentime and figures heavily into the villain's plans. Then again, much of his role in Kingdom Hearts II was Foreshadowing for his role in this.
Cinderella, Snow White, and Aurora also fit this role seeing as how they didn't have voices in the first Kingdom Hearts and were barely even mentioned in Kingdom Hearts II.
The No Name and Void Gear keyblades in Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep. By the time you get them, you've already beaten the game and there are only a handful of enemies worth using them on. Aqua's and Ven's Infinity Minus One Swords are also a bit more suited for them, anyway, and Aqua gets a weapon that better suits her for the True Final Boss. They can still be quite useful for the Mirage Arena, unless you've already cleared that out, too. Which, by the way, earns you another Keyblade: Ultima Weapon, which is between the two extremes offered by Void Gear and No Name. If you have all three of those, congratulations! You'll never need them again.
In Final Mix, three more Bonus Bosses were added that were designed to be so strong that it's recommended you don't fight them in groups of less than three, so you'll probably want any edge you can get for those fights. When you beat them as well, you get yet another Keyblade, Crown Unlimited, which matches both the Void Gear and No Name's best stats, while also filling the Command Gauge faster. By this point, you've trounced every enemy that could possibly pose a threat and probably grinded to the level cap to do so.
Also in Final Mix, the Secret Chapter is where the Crown Unlimited would see some actual use, given that it's a fairly lengthy area filled with Pureblood Heartless that can and will kill you, especially on Critical. You can't use it because the game locks you into Master Eraqus's Keyblade, the Master Keeper.
Transcendence as well. While it can be synthesized by melding a random chance Rare command with an -aga level spell, which is pretty impractical to begin with, in Final Mix Aqua can pull it from a chest in the Secret Chapter. Basically it creates an impenetrable bubble area and shoots all enemies around inside it For Massive Damage. The one battle it would seem to be incredibly useful where the game is constantly spawning Heartless. Since they can become invincible for a short period and escape the initial gravity effect, they can kill you since the spell locks you down until it completes, like most other dual-slot spells/commands.
A few moves are just better for taking out mooks than they are for bosses. Most of them don't hold still long enough for you to use Salvation or Glacier.
Speaking of Salvation (Ven only), it's not useful considering that you still do take damage when you charge for it (meaning that it's possible to be killed) and it can get interrupted... although it's still good for clearing out trash mobs. It's still useful; just not on the enemies you'd like to use it on. (However, it is possible to use it to recover HP on Vanitas Remnant)
Reversal and Teleport. They allow you to get behind the enemy by pressing Square when it's about to attack, but most of the times you'll want to block instead. Many attacks, such as the Bruiser's shockawaves, can be blocked but are not avoided by teleporting behind him, so they're kinda useless.
Faith. Another ability for Ven. Faith is like a magic-based Salvation and much much faster than Salvation is. Actually, it is almost instantaneous, being very rarely interrupted either by bosses or regular mooks, with a large attack circumference that is great against bosses that will not sit still, and it heals you. A lot. At the beginning of the attack, instead of at the end, like Salvation. Very satisfying to use in Vanitas fights.
The Shotlock "Meteor Shower": Gives you a maximum of thirty lock-ons, bonus hits if you get all thirty, has a super-fast lock-on time. The result: Massive damage per use and invincibility from any attacks during the duration.
In fact, most of the shotlocks are this. You're invincible through the whole animation once locked on, and if you get Max lock ons, you get extra hits. And since you can level them up like Commands and Action Commands, you can get them to have more hits, and do more damage. Not to mention, the Magic stat helps make them stronger aswell, which is useful for a Mage based character like Aqua.
Badass Grandpa: In Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix's secret trailer (which turned out to be the penultimate scene in everyone's scenario), Master Xehanort makes a mountain out of nothing and smacks around the trio with a Keyblade tornado. It takes half the video for Terra and Ventus to even get to him and when they do he kicks their asses in about ten seconds. He manages to hold down Terra, the strongest of the trio, without even straining. All with that little grin on his face.
The secret ending also implies that Terra and Master Xehanort will be doing this in Terra's mind indefinitely.
During the battle with Terra-Xehanort, Aqua herself can briefly enter Terra's mind (somehow). If she can evade Xehanort's guardian familiar and make it to a comatose Terra (without attacking him) in time, she can join him for a Combination Attack meant to purge Master Xehanort's heart out of Terra's body. It doesn't (fully) work, although it can be a One-Hit Kill if done correctly.
Beam-O-War: Ventus and Vanitas, at the very end of their final fight.
Be as Unhelpful as Possible: Terra's chasing after any number of things, Ven's chasing Terra, and Aqua's chasing after both of them. In this massive amount of chasing around, there's quite a bit of bystanders from Disney worlds who can be questioned for assistance and many of them are quite unhelpful. The Magic Mirror? Speaks only in riddles. The Seven Dwarfs? Openly hostile to Ven even after he saves Snow White! Maleficent? Takes every opportunity to sow seeds of discord between the ¡Three Amigos! she gets, just for the evil of it.
Veeeeery slightly averted when Aqua asks Scrooge McDuck for information on Terra's whereabouts. Scrooge answers as helpfully as he can, but because her description of Terra was so vague note she had even called him a boy, instead of a young man, Scrooge sends her after where he last saw Ventus instead of Terra.
Because Destiny Says So: Even at age four Sora is able to see the light in darkness. The secret ending also ends with it implying that it is Sora's destiny to unite all hearts.
From Ventus's perspective, when he's about to be destroyed by Master Eraqus, Terra comes out of NOWHERE.
Mickey does this twice. First to protect Ven when he's outmatched by Vanitas, and again when the Vanitas-possessed Ventus is about to strike down an unsuspecting Aqua with the χ-blade.
Terra does this for Captain Hook and Smee in his entrance to Neverland.
Big "NO!": Ventus, which, combined with his defrosting himself through sheer willpower and the pace-quickening of Vanitas's battle theme, stops Vanitas from killing Aqua.
The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In: The Keyblade Graveyard consists of thousands of keyblades stuck into the ground or the surrounding cliff walls. Every single one is driven point down in the earth; not a single one is lying on its side.
Blatant Lies: A real-world example - Tetsuya Nomura said Birth By Sleep may not see a Final Mix re-release, depending on how much extra content was added to the Western release. Did anyone really believe him? (To his credit, he said "may not", not "will not.")
And yet four more bosses in the Final Mix version: in the Mirage Arena, Monstro, Armor of the Master note seemingly Master Eraqus' armour given form, and the Strongest one, No Heart note a Keyblade-wielding armour which appears to be Master Xehanort's armour; it resembles Xemnas' armoured stages in II's final battle, but wields Master Xehanort's Keyblade. The Secret Episode has "Red Eye", who Aqua fights in the Realm of Darkness post-game. Mercifully, none of them are quite as relentless as the Unknown, though Nomura mentioned that they were intended to be multiplayer bosses. That said, No Heart is definitely harder then Unknown when you fight him alone, due to his incredible strength, speed, and attacks. But, there is alot of reprieve when you have 2 other players fighting alongside you.
Sonic Blade can quickly turn into this, considering that you can even get Vanitas during the final battle with it, even Xehanort and Terranort, assuming they hold STILL.
Thunder Surge is another one. Technically, it's even weaker than Sonic Blade, but it racks up quite a bit of damage while covering ground, fills up the Command Gauge alot plus it triggers the Thunder Bolt command style with all three characters, and it recharges fast enough to be spammed all over the place. This is one of the more effective ways to defeat the Unknown and No Heart.
One of the most efficient ways to kill hard bosses, especially in Terra's campaign, is to just wait for them to attack, block it, and then counter with Counter Hammer. It doesn't send him flying across the field like Ventus and Aqua, and deals a lot of damage. Some bosses, like Eraqus, are almost trivialized by it with how predictable their attacks are; and the final form of the final boss more or less requires you to exploit this.
Good ol' Ragnarok is easily one of the best early shotlocks that are available to all three characters, despite it being essentially the same attack that it was in the first game.
Boss Remix: The Mirage Arena Bonus Bosses added in Final Mix each get one—Armor of the Master remixes the Land of Departure battle theme, Monstro remixes the first game's Monstro battle theme (interestingly, the remix is slower than the original), and No Heart gets a mashup of Dark Mode Riku's battle theme from the first game and Xemnas's third battle theme from KH2. Inverted with Terra's theme, which is a slower version of Rage Awakened. It comes full circle when Xehanort steals Terra's body, Lingering Will forms and its theme kicks in.
Boss Rush: The final Mirage Arena match in the Non Final Mix versions, Villain's Vendetta.
Bowdlerise: Braig got his sniper rifle removed, again. Then again, adding it back at this point could only cause confusion.
A scene was also changed from the Japanese to the English versions...then again, what were they censoring? In the Japanese version, the wicked queen somehow gets angry at the mirror and her anger possesses the mirror. In the international versions, she throws a potion at the mirror that makes it go berserk.
"My friends are my power, And i'm theirs!!" - Ventus.
From the true final boss (Xehanort) fighting JUST like Xehanort's Heartless first form (Guardian and all). Also, when Master Xehanort possesses Terra, his first lines are the "His heart has returned to darkness" speech Xehanort's Heartless gives Sora before you fight him in KH1. Xehanort is full of these.
Vanitas's suit resembles Riku's Heartless suit (minus the Heartless emblem on it, natch), they share a fighting stance, and the demonic appearance of his Void Gear closely mirrors that of Riku's Soul Eater. In the intro FMV, Vanitas and Ven re-enact the scene from the FMVs of I and II where Riku outstretches his arm and Sora runs after him.
And, in one of the opening scenes, a young Master Xehanort stands on the shore of Destiny Island and says 'This island is like a prison'.
Xehanort wears the Org XIII coat in one of the opening scenes, and in his normal clothes he wears the same boots that Ansem and Org XIII wear (you get to see them in Terra's story, at least).
Near the end of the opening scene with Ventus at the Station of Awakening where he talks with newborn heart Sora, mention is made that they will "open the door", something that is told to Sora by a mysterious voice in KHI. What makes it double as Foreshadowing is that if you listen closely when Ven says the line, you can hear Sora's voice speaking alongside his.
It's not all serious stuff, either. Aqua waking up Ven the same way Kairi woke Sora up in KHI, complete with "Gimme a Break, Aqua.", and Terra saying "Come on, Ven. I thought you were stronger than that.". The beginning scene also mimics KHII, where Ventus wakes up in the same manner as Roxas.
In addition to Terra's line, Ventus-Vanitas says "What's wrong? Giving up already?" as a Call Forwardand a Call Back!
Terra (inside his mind/heart, conversing with Master Xehanort): "Wrong. You're going to get shown the door, old man."note And as we all know, in KH 1, when the door to darkness holding Kingdom Hearts is opened, Xehanort's nobody, Ansem, is destroyed by the immense light coming from the door, since Kingdom Hearts is pure light.
From Aqua's meeting with Sora and Riku at Destiny Islands:
Aqua (to Sora): "So then, if something happens, and Riku is about to get lost—or say he starts wandering down a dark path alone—you make sure to stay with him and keep him safe."
Camera Screw: Occasionally, the camera will end up behind your target instead of you, which will have you running the wrong way. More annoying, however, is when the Lock-on will randomly unlock, potentially making you attack and guard in the wrong direction. Usually (but not always) the camera only unlocks after you get a certain distance from the target but it also shows no ability to realize whether it's locked onto a barrel or an enemy. This can make fights in some areas a headache if you can't switch targets quick enough.
Cap: The damage cap against bosses prevents them from losing more than 25 Hit Points per hit. Meaning, you can't obliterate most of their health bars in mere seconds like you could in KH 2.
At the part where you choose who you want to play as, Ven's description notes he holds his Keyblade backhand. This might not seem important at first. However, at the end of Aqua's story, Ven gets possessed by Vanitas. When this happens, Possessed!Ven holds his Keyblade out in front, showing that he isn't really Ven.
At the start of the game, Aqua, as the newest Keyblade Master, is "entitled to certain knowledge", that the player doesn't get to see, even when playing as Aqua. You finally find out what she was told in the Final Story: that being the true nature of the Land of Departure, its significance as a world of balance, and how to turn it into Castle Oblivion.
Cherry Tapping: Subverted for the Sweetstack Keyblade, which is actually very powerful despite being designed around ice cream. note It has an Attack stat of 6 and a Magic stat of 4, though it's real power comes from it's 100% Critical hit rate
Arguably, The Command Board. Most notably Tigger, who can go from 2000 GP below you, to 2000+ above you in a grand total of one turn. Tigger seems to understand how to play the Command Board better than anyone else, which is funny, given how he is normally.
Averted by Pooh himself, who can't seem to process what's going on, which is pretty par for the course with him.
Which makes it kind of baffling when he wins.
The computer will almost always get the best rolls. On numerous occasions, you can attempt to get several consecutive tiles on the command board, only to watch as suddenly, your opponent manages to get just the right roll to get in between you, whereas you'll be lucky to get it.
Normally, the Confusion effect causes you to randomly pick a direction whenever you get to a crossroad, rather than being able to choose which one. However, the AI's have an annoying habit of getting the direction they were going to go anyway more often than not, making the effect a lot less useful on them than on a human player (though still potentially devastating when it does work).
It also seems like that once Captain Dark/Justice becomes available as a random special panel event, the computer seems to get Captain Justice far more often than Captain Dark, while the reverse mostly applies to you. Thankfully you can just leave Captain Dark to harrass other computer opponents if you're close to them and steal their Captain Justice the same way.
Credits Medley: The "complete" credits sequence after you beat all three scenarios features one of these. It combines Terra's, Aqua's, and Ven's leitmotifs with the battle themes from Never Land, Enchanted Dominion, Castle of Dreams, and Dwarf Woodlands and "Dearly Beloved".
Cutscene Incompetence: Oh sure, you'll kick their asses in the actual fights, but in the final cutscenes Xehanort and Vanitas utterly own Terra, Ventus, and Aqua.
Cutscene Power to the Max: Averted by Master Xehanort. Blasts of ice, a storm of Keyblades, raising plateaus of earth? Those are all things he does when you fight him.
Damn You, Muscle Memory: Spend ten or more hours playing as Terra and you'll take quite a bit of getting used to the style of the next two characters. Especially Aqua.
There's a reason why the player characters are ordered Terra, Ventus, Aqua. Terra is all physical, with poor magic stats on his exclusive Keyblades and not a lot of exclusive magic to use. ALL of Aqua's exclusive commands are magic, due to her heavily relying on spells. Ven is the halfway, plus speed.
Dark Reprise: The battle against the Armor of the Master uses one of "Future Masters", the Land of Departure's battle theme. It is fittingly called "Master, Tell Me the Truth."
Darker and Edgier: This installment plays on the darker elements of the disney movies it's adapting a little more. Particular note is the game's version of Cinderella: After she tries on the glass slipper and is taken to the castle, Lady Tremaine and the Stepsisters attack and try to kill her using the Unversed, but after Aqua saves her, they die instead, complete with death screams. Not only is that a significant step away from [[Disneyfication]], it removes any possibility of the sequels being adapted.
Death or Glory Attack: Ven's Tornado can be used to incapacitate and deal massive damage to almost any enemy in the game, Vanitas included. However, the spell also leaves him a sitting duck for the duration with no way to cancel out, so any enemies not caught in it are free to retaliate with impunity.
In Maleficent's Castle is a ledge in the corner with a chest on it, normally requiring Glide/Air Slide to reach it during endgame. However, a simple jump and Sliding Dash in midair will get you there on the first visit. It contains either Tornado Strike or Ice Barrage, both ultimate 2-slot commands.
With proper playing of the Command Boards and a bit of luck, you can easily acquire high level commands very early. For example, if you play the Boards to level them up, you can meld commands to create a second-tier spell like Blizzara or or Thundara, then meld that with something else to get the third-tier command. This can be done in the first world you visit as soon as you can access a Save Point. All you need is patience and knowledge of what commands can create what.
As detailed on the YMMV page, if you know what commands you need for it, you can get Mega Flare and EXP Walker as soon as you can access the Mirage Arena, which occurs after you complete the first world in each story. Mega Flare is the Word Of God acknowledgedGame Breaker that kills pretty much everything in sight instantly, and EXP Walker grants you experience for walking around, a huge boost to level grinding.
Also, in Ventus's story, you can get Super Glide before you're even able to access Glide just by jumping and using Slide Dash twice to get to a ledge in Disney Town that should only be accessible via Glide.
Disproportionate Retribution: The Conclusion to the Festival in Disney Town. After Pete loses to The Trio in a threeway tie, Queen Minnie sends him to the Realm of Darkness for being a bad sport about it, effectively Retconing earlier statements that Mickey had banished Pete for severe wrongdoing. Afterwards, he is recruited by Malefecent to be her Right Hand man. Yeah, Nice going Queen...
Of course, "being a bad sport about it" included assuming a battle pose as though he was going to attack Minnie, and Minnie wasn't going to leave him there forever, just until he "calmed down" and thought about how he was behaving. But it's still kind of drastic to banish someone to the Realm of Darkness.
Doomed by Canon/Shaggy Dog Story: Considering the many events hinted to happen in this game and the conspicuous absence of a Keyblade-centric order in the other games, it's pretty much to be expected.
Doppelgänger Spin: The Unknown. The Spirit of the Magic Mirror pulls this off multiple times, too (which should be expected, given it's a mirror.)
Double Entendre: Arguably, Vanitas' battle quotes, "What's yours is mine!" and "Show me anguish!" The former is supposed to Foreshadow Vanitas being Ven's dark half, and the latter is just there to show what kind of person he is, but if you know what anguish means...
Downer Ending: Implied, like the rest of the "prequel" Kingdom Hearts games, by virtue of the fact that none of the main characters are seen in the present time. Especially with the "old" worlds known to be devoured by the heartless as early as the first game. Let's just say that none of the trio come out that well, either.However,the secret ending heavily implies that Sora will eventually gear up and set out to save everyone who's met with a terrible fate, twisting the series resolution to a likely Earn Your Happy Ending status at the end.
Shaggy Dog Story: As of 3D, although all of the protagonists survive and are implied to play a role in the plot later on, the failure with Vanitas reminded Master Xehanort that he was creating the X-Blade wrong, resulting in the entire rest of the series and the pain brought to the worlds as a result of Xehanort's incarnations' combined Xanatos-Gambit.
The Dragon: Not just Vanitas to Master Xehanort; it's implied that Xehanort recruited Braig for his efforts, possibly in advance for after Xehanort successfully pulls off his Grand Theft Me gambit, which would certainly go a long way towards explaining Xigbar becoming No. II in Organization XIII.
Dramatic Unmask: Vanitas. The visor of whose helmet just sort... of melts away when he pulls this off. Note that he's previously been shown with the entire helmet off (and with his face off-screen, natch).
This is Terra's standard reaction to just about everything he encounters. Although this seems to be more to do with the nuances of Jason Dohring's acting method rather than Terra's characterization.
Willa Holland (Aqua) dabbles a bit in it too. That being said, both characters can emote, but Terra is usually subtle about it (if his friends and later on, Xehanort are the subject of choice, then Terra starts to break out the passion).
Hackers have found remnants of an unfinished world based on The Jungle Book, the one completed room being King Louie's temple, along with a few partially unfinished jungle rooms including the edge of the man-village. They also found Mickey's Kingdom Key D◊, which seems to have been an exclusive Keyblade for Ven.
The final Mix also includes graphics related to the Kingdom Hearts 3D Demo (most strikingly the title card). The 2 best guesses to why they're there so far is that they either used BBS graphics as a placeholder for the actual game or they intended to have some sort of demo for Dream Drop Distance.
Earn Your Happy Ending: While the game's normal ending is a Downer Ending, the secret ending implies that this is what will eventually happen to the main characters. After all, although they lost, the three really fought like lions and they DID manage to derail most of Xehanort's scheme by destroying the χ-blade and Vanitas. I mean, come on, all that effort should be rewarded.
Easy-Mode Mockery: If you play the game in Beginner mode, you won't get to see the secret movie.
Elemental Powers: Terra and Ven get powerful exclusive Earth and Wind based abilities and spells, curiously however, Aqua doesn't get a powerful Water spell or ability, other than her starting Bubble Blaster Shotlock. That's because she kicks ass with Fire, Lightning, Ice, Time, and Light.
Enemy Without: As the tutorial prologue shows, Ventus literally has a broken heart; all the darkness got ripped clean out of it, and he'd have died of this if not for the outside intervention of a mysterious force. Things get a little more sinister when it becomes clear that his shadow didn't just go away, either...
Escort Mission: Each character has to clear one in the first batch of worlds.
Evil Counterpart: Vanitas is a copy of Ventus made from the darkness in Ventus's heart.
Evil Is Deathly Cold: Xehanort and Vanitas both have prominent ice powers; poor Ven gets almost totally iced over at one point.
Evil Laugh: Vanitas does a couple throughout the game. Captain Hook gets a glorious one too.
Evolving Attack: Every character has Finish Commands that level up and unlock new Finish Commands in a branching system. Their exclusive Finish Commands unlock stronger versions of themselves—Ven gets Air Flair that evolves up to Level 4, then to Stratosphere as his Level 6 finisher, while Aqua gets Magic Pulse 1-4 with Teleport Spike as her Level 6. Terra's break the naming pattern, Rising Rock 1, 2, then Dark Star 1, 2, then Demolition, but essentially they're still powered-up versions of each other.
Terra somewhat resembles Zack Fair, and both of them are tragic heroes. He is also quite similar to Riku, hence the shared name meaning, though due to his older age and maturity, in his delving into darkness he rises from his angst and jerkass-itude faster than Riku did.
The number of similarities beween Terra and Cloud and striking. Tricked by Hades? Check. Uses Darkness powers? Yep. Not very people friendly? Pointed out for both by Hades. With almost the same line. Claims he's not a hero? Uh-huh.
Eye Scream: At his first canonical appearance, Braig still has two functional eyes. At the end of the game, he's wearing his famous eyepatch. Figure out what happens.
Fan Translation: With the Final Mix version of this game. Like KH 2 FM, BBSFM was translated to English, this time thanks to Key To Truth. You must patch the game itself in order to play it in English, which you can do with either an ISO(for Emulation) or with an actual game cartridge.
That said, it's been confirmed by Nomura that he is making another KH HD Collection for PS3, and since the ending credits to 1.5 had images of II FM, BBSFM, and Re:Coded, its being assumed that the next collection will contain those games, and will be brought to the U.S., meaning that BBSFM will get an official translation, making the previous one null and void.
Fashionable Asymmetry: Terra, Aqua and Ventus, since they all wear a single chunk of armor on one arm, but Ven thought he'd go for the gusto.◊ There's actually a reason they wear it like that: touching the shoulder pad will activate their full armor.
Fastball Special: Aqua is both the thrower (with Stitch) and the... throwee (with Prince Phillip). Ven follows the same pattern with Stich and with Hercules.
Field of Blades: The Keyblade Graveyard. The ruins of many keys who took on the powers of their masters are here in the place, where there was a fight between light and darkness.
Fighter, Mage, Thief: The three playable characters. Terra's the fighter, Aqua's the mage, and Ven's the thief.
Flash Step: Master Xehanort and Vanitas use these liberally, as do Bonus BossesVanitas Remnant and the Unknown. Some special attacks usable by the player also make use of them, like Teleport and Magic Hour. Aqua's Command Style Ghost Drive ramps this up to insane levels —every normal attack she uses in this mode is a Flash Step, to the point of Teleport Spamming.
Foregone Conclusion: The game takes place only ten years before the first Kingdom Hearts, where none of the protagonists are anywhere to be seen. All of them can be expected to meet an untimely fate, it's just a matter of finding out what each of their unfortunate ends is.
Watch the ending of the introduction movie closely. After Ventus descends from his Awakening and transforms into a ball of light, if you look real close at the next scene, you can see him enter Sora.
At the beginning of the game, we see a younger Master Xehanort, who looks very much the present day Xehanort, as well as Terra. He even appears to be voiced by both Ryotaro Okiayu and Jason Dohring (who voice Terra). When Terra picks Riku to be his successor, we see a brief silhouette of Young!Master Xehanort and then Riku circa KHII.This should make you cringe, as when Terra performed the Keyblade Rite of Succession, he didn't intend for Riku to end up being body snatched by Xehanort like he was.
For Science!: Xehanort's plans: 1: Forge the χ-blade to summon Kingdom Hearts and get Keyblade wielders fighting over it. 2: Possess Terra to live through to the end of the new Keyblade War, and watch the universe be destroyed. 3: See what happens next.
Fun with Subtitles: We probably wouldn't be able to understand half of what Jaq says without it. Made even more funny when you occasionally do catch what he's saying and realize they are translating his strange way of speaking and verbal tics into normal English.
Game Breaker: invokedWord Of God admitted Mega Flare was one, doing high damage to all enemies over a wide area, executing quickly, and doing the damage over a period of several seconds so it could hit waves of spawning enemies as they appeared. As a result it was nerfed for the Final Mix release by doubling its reload.
Genre Blind: Just about everyone in this game. Come on... Xehanort is obviously evil. Yet everyone's trusting him, even Master Eraqus, who even TRIED to kill him in the past but failed. More to the point Master Eraqus knew that Xehanort had used the darkness to grow stronger than Eraqus and wanted to recreate the Keyblade War and yet Eraqus still never saw fit to warn anyone about any of this leading directly to a situation that could have been avoided if he had just bothered to give some information.
Hades gives Aqua a once-over and a rather suggestive leer. See here.
When Phil offers to train Aqua, Hercules protests he had to beg Phil to train him. Phil's response is "Sh, pipe down kid! You and she ain't got the same attributes, if you know what I mean."
Tinker Bell Panty Shots. Consistent with her original design, anyway, that one-piece has a really short skirt.
Maleficent gets to keep the line "See for yourself all the powers of hell!" "Hell" typically isn't a swear word if you are talking about the biblical place, but this deserves special mention. (Even when she used it in the movie, it was rated "G".)
One of the seven dwarfs remarks he will miss Snow White's 'dapple lumpkins - er, apple dumplings.'
During Ven's Boss fight with Hook, if you use any sort of fire command, it will go right towards his butt. (Even if you aim for his face!) He will immediately start smacking it crying out "Hot, Hot, Hot!" And then there's the not so bad thing of his randomly crying out, "I will send you to the Lord!"
Glass Cannon: A Bonus Boss has only one bar of HP, but dishes out One Hit Kills without remorse. However, it also averts No Cure for Evil by healing to full HP whenever the player uses Cure (items don't seem to trigger this, mercifully) so really it's no more of a Glass Cannon than you are.
Vanitas (the original version of said Bonus Boss) is like this too. He has the speed and strength of a Lightning Bruiser, but his defense is somewhat poor. Of course, his aggressive, No-Holds-Barred Beatdown-styled attack pattern makes it somewhat hard to notice this.
As opposed to Terra and Ven, Aqua grows into this mold by endgame. She's quick (although not quite to Ven levels) and possesses deadly magic, but due to her low HP, she cannot take a hit. Ever. Good luck with Ventus-Vanitas and Terra-Xehanort!
Melding commands. Oh, sure, you can find or purchase items that let you see what you'll get ahead of time, but even then...
The Xehanort Reports. Most of them are available by playing through the story, but Terra has one only available in the Mirage Arena, Aqua has one only available from a treasure chest and Ven has two.
The two Critical Hit stats of Keyblades - the rate of criticals and their damage multipliers. They're described in relative terms, but you'd have probably given second thoughts to the Keyblades described as having high critical rates if you knew that usually meant as much as seventy-five percent.
The locations of the Prize Pod enemies, which you'll need to hunt down if you want all the ice cream recipes, can take forever to find without a guide since whether or not they'll spawn at the designated point is mostly random and if they don't spawn, you need to leave the world and come back, which might take ages if they're far from a savepoint.
Hammerspace: Besides the Justified Keyblades, Lea's weapons come from nowhere and Ven somehow manages to carry a full size wooden toy keyblade with him for 90% of his story.
Hard Mode Perks: If you begin a game on Critical, you start with five command deck slots for attacks, instead of the three you start with on the lower difficulties.
Harmless Freezing: Nope! Ventus getting frozen is certainly not harmless, as it clearly hurts a lot and nearly gets him killed. For that matter, getting frozen in itself causes a lot of damage in gameplay and sets you up for even more (both you, and the enemies).
Heroic BSOD: During the credits, Mickey blames himself for all the crap that happened and tries to turn in his Keyblade. Yen Sid won't have any of that.
Aqua would have gone suicidal in the epilogue had it not been for the timely appearance of Terra and Ventus's Keyblades giving her a renewed sense of hope and the will to smile again.
Heroic Resolve: Ventus: As he lies frozen and helpless on the ground, Vanitas strikes Aqua down and prepares to finish her off. Through nothing more than sheer willpower, Ven thaws himself out just in time to stop him and engage him in combat.
Terra: After Master Xehanort commits Grand Theft Me on him, he begins to walk away, when a barrier suddenly surrounds the plateau. The camera pans over and we see Terra's armor has reformed itself, through what is apparently his lingering emotions and will. Terra's Lingering Will proceeds to battle Xehanort on its own, giving us a very satisfying This Cannot Be! moment.
Xehanort: Your body submits, your heart succumbs— so why does your mind RESIST?!
The Heartless: The Unversed, who were the Heartless before the Heartless, so to speak. Instead of devouring whole hearts they feed off of stray emotions. Pureblood Heartless in the form of Neoshadows and Darksides show up at significant points in some cutscenes, however. (A tad consistent with some of the Ansem Reports; reporting shadowy creatures.)
Hollywood Spelling: Averted and lampshaded with the χ-blade. When it is first mentioned, Ventus mutters "Key...blade?" in confusion, and Master Xehanort explains how the spelling is different and the origins of the χ letter. He even notes, "Some say 'kye', but the meaning is the same." Played straight with Terra and Aqua, though, who have it spelled correctly in their subtitles and don't seem at all confused.
Hot-Blooded: Vanitas's battle taunts certainly sound as if his VAs had fun with the role. Miyu Irino and Haley Joel Osment were obviously enjoying themselves playing a character who looked like Sora but was his exact opposite in terms of personality.
How We Got Here: Sort of—the cinematics before the final battles in the three storylines are the same as the original trailer for the game at the end of Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, with some scenes changed up and voices added. Birth By Sleep is the story of how things built up to this battle.
Infinity+1 Sword: The protagonists get a third version of the Ultima Weapon, which includes nods to both of its previous (future?) designs. There's also the Void Gear and No Name, both rewards for defeating one of the Bonus Bosses. Between them the Ultima Weapon has well-rounded stats, the Void Gear has a higher Strength boost but lower Magic boost, the No Name has a higher Magic boost but a lower Strength boost. In the Final Mix, defeating No Heart gives you the Crown Unlimited; the supreme Keyblade, with Void Gear's attack and No Name's magic.
Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence / Broken Bridge: Out in full force, with certain areas in worlds being blocked to exploration from certain characters or until certain conditions are met. Sometimes there's a barrier, other times the character just decides "there's nothing important this way" and won't go any further.
Jiggle Physics: Aqua has some, but it's not too noticeable unless you look closely. Apparently, it was enough for the ESRB as they label the game having "Mild Suggestive Themes" because of this. (Or maybe a few things that got listed as "getting past the radar" didn't quite do what we thought it would).
Defeat the Unknown and you'll get yourself a Laser Keyblade called "No Name", akin to the laser blades it wields.
Last Lousy Point: Looking for a Focus Block to complete Terra's Command Collection? It's only found on the Castle of Dreams Command Board, either as one of the Bonus Panels (which don't appear if you're playing from the Mirage Arena), or as one of the Commands Cinderella can lay down.
Several of the Shotlock commands that you can only obtain on the Command Board can be this (ex: Ragnarok).
Terra, Aqua, and Ven all get their own. One shared between Xion, Roxas, and Axel from 358/2 Days also makes an appearance when Ven and Lea meet for the first time.
Nomura has stated that Mysterious Figure's battle theme is also this. It takes cues from Rage Awakened (Terra's Lingering Sentiment), Darkness of the Unknown (Xemnas's final battle theme in Kingdom Hearts II), and Lord of the Castle (Marluxia's final battle theme in Re: Chain of Memories).
Lethal Joke Item: Sweetstack, an ice-cream-themed Keyblade that just so happens to have a 100% critical rate.
Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Only partially played; while everyone can learn some really powerful magic like Meteor (Terra), Tornado (Ven), and Glacier (Aqua), it's Aqua who gets the best and most practical ones like Triple Blizzaga, Triple Firaga, Seeker Mine, etc. Also, everyone is technically really powerful, but Aqua's the most due to story purposes and this trope. As you can bet, Terra's final boss is super hard, especially if you didn't take the time to find out all the useful abilities like Second chance and EXP walker. Aqua meanwhile is VERY fragile in the beginning until you get her some useful early-game abilities (like Barrier Surge and Wishing Edge) or even the Disc One Nuke (Which is naturally deadliest in Aqua's hands thanks to her magic stat) Course everyone is powerful at the end though; just at their different things.
Loads and Loads of Loading: You're going to spend a lot of time staring at that spinning blue heart. The game also frequently freezes to load when you activate a Command Mode or D-Link. You can install the game onto your PSP Memory Stick to help with this, which drastically lowers the loading times, and removes it all together in some places.
Lost Forever: As Terra and Aqua, be sure to return to Land of Departure as soon as you can. Though you can still pick up any lost chests after Xehanort sends it to the darkness. You just have to beat the Unknown first.
Magic Knight: The three protagonists qualify, although Aqua is the straightest example.
Magic Missile Storm: There are generally three types of Shotlocks — fire several projectiles in waves, fire a barrage continuously, or perform dash attacks. Many of the former two categories fit this trope.
Malevolent Architecture: The Land of Departure lies directly between the light and dark realms. Word Of God clarifies that the castle houses a mechanism that transforms it to invoke this trope should it fall into the wrong hands, and that's how Aqua made Castle Oblivion.
Eraqus sheds a single tear before locking blades with Terra.
Terra also when he almost kills Master Eraqus and realizes what he has done.
May the Farce Be with You: More of a homage than a parody, the story outside of Ven and Vanitas has significant parallels to Episode III of the saga, with several character parallels.
Terra, a Keyblade apprentice, is refused the rank of Master due to his lust for power and lack of discipline in spite of outstanding talent. Xehanort plays on his insecurities about his skills and his master, tempting him to use the powers of darkness to his advantage instead of rejecting them as he has been taught. At this time a crisis ensues that forces Terra and Aqua to depart from Eraqus
Xehanort is kidnapped by Braig and Terra channels dark powers to rescue him, but it turns out Braig is working with Xehanort and the kidnapping was staged to lure Terra to darkness.
Xehanort tricks Terra into fighting Eraqus, weakening him so Xehanort can kill him, and he reveals his true colors to Terra as he destroys the Land of Departure.
Aqua hears from Yen Sid about what's become of Terra and sets out to find him, finding him under Xehanort's possession and consumed in darkness. The two do battle, Aqua being lost in the Realm of Darkness while Terra is "reborn" as the new Xehanort.
Marathon Boss: No Heart from the final mix. Nine hit point bars and nonstop attacks.
Medium Awareness: The Symphony Master boss seems to conduct in time with the battle music.
Mirror Boss: After possessing Terra, the new Xehanort uses his fighting style instead of that of his old body. He can even block, counter and heal.
Mood Whiplash: Terra and Aqua enjoy a peaceful break at Destiny Island before things go bad: After she leaves the islands, Aqua finds a weakened Mickey and heads to meet Yen Sid who tells her Eraqus is dead. As for Terra, he leaves the islands only to be contacted by Xehanort, who sets him up to kill Eraqus shortly after. Ven avoids this—his visit to the islands is just as traumatic as the events that occur after and before it.
Mook Maker: Vanitas is the source of ALL the Unversed. He's been visiting every world he can and spawning as many Unversed as he can, like a Walking Wasteland. This is actually a pretty impressive power and just hammers home that he's really Made of Evil.
Mundane Made Awesome: Opening of large treasure chests comes with swinging camera angles and dramatic Keyblade swings to open the chest.
Whenever Zack gets excited or pumped up about something, he starts doing squats, a reference to his habit of doing so in Crisis Core which was in itself a reference to his characterization in Final Fantasy VII, as seen in the Nibelheim flashback.
Xehanort's speech when he first appears is the same speech Ansem gives at the end of the first game.
In Sleeping Beauty, Aurora fell under Maleficent's spell of sleep when she was drawn into the pathway Maleficent created behind the fireplace in the castle. In this game, you can go through the fireplace in the Enchanted Dominion's castle to find... the Sleep spell. Appropriate.
In the Dwarf Woodlands as Aqua, you can also find Poison near the cottage.
Necessarily Evil: Master Eraqus really doesn't want to kill his student, but he sees no other alternative to keeping Xehanort from getting the χ-blade.
Nerf: The base reload time of Mega Flare was doubled from 25 seconds to 50 in the international release. It's still very effective at clearing the room.
Here's one nerf that most players are actually glad for: in Final Mix, the Bonus Boss Unknown has had some of the hitstun removed from its Collision Magnet attack, allowing players to escape it before being hit again. This was done to make the two new Bonus Bosses look even stronger.
Aerial attacks were slowed down considerably compared to how they are in other games, so if you're one of those people who like to SHFFL your aerials to get extra damage on enemies, weep.
Never Say "Die": Surprisingly inverted—Master Xehanort uses "die" rather frequently, most explicitly in one of Ventus's flashbacks: "you would rather die than use the power?" At the same time, though, the three heroes tend to use euphemisms (examples, Aqua talking about how Eraqus was "struck down", Ventus asking his friends to "put an end" to him, though he says the idea of the χ-blade "scares him to death" in the same scene.). However, both instances could be attributed to not wanting to use the actual word under the circumstances. Disney characters still use the verb as well, such as the Queen telling Terra to kill Snow White, or the three good fairies in Enchanted Dominion chanting "evil die and good endure".
It also might be the sign that Master Eraqus has gonetoofar: "Let the darkness die!"
No Cure for Evil: Averted by the first Bonus Boss, who heals himself whenever you use Cure, and by Terranort, who can use cure spells when fighting the Lingering Will or Aqua. The second Bonus Boss has access to Restore Barrier, which lets him regain health if you attack while it's up. He also has the ability to reverse time when he's hit, undoing the damage.
No Flow in CGI: The original previews for Birth By Sleep (which were pre-rendered movies) depicted the Keyblade Armor with capes. They were removed in the game itself because rendering them used too much processor power.
Non-Combat EXP: The game has the EXP Walker ability, giving you Exp just for walking around.
Master Xehanort. Justlookathim. It wouldn't be so bad if he wasn't a well respected character by the good guys.
His apprentice, Vanitas is even worse. And worse still, Terra allies himself with The Evil Queen, Maleficent, Hades, and Captain Hook (though he does at least plan to double-cross a few of them. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't).
Bret Iwan replacing the late Wayne Allwine as Mickey. Surprisingly averted by Chris Sanders, who still reprised his role as Stitch despite now working forDreamWorks Animation, Disney's primary rival in animated films, following behind-the-scenes conflicts on Bolt.
In the Japanese Version, Captain Hook is voiced by Naoya Uchida instead of Chikao Otsuka, presumably because the latter voice actor was also voicing Master Xehanort.
Palette Swap: The Unversed get different color schemes in Final Mix for the sake of variety, and and Unversed forms assumed by theIllusion spells have a yet another palette.
Parental Abandonment: Despite that the three see Eraqus as a replacement father, and he even sees himself as one, Terra, Aqua, and Ven don't seem to have mentioned any of their parents. Even Sora had his mom... sorta appear in the first game.
Poor Communication Kills: The primary source of the heroes' troubles come from the fact that nobody can talk straight to anybody, allowing the villains to sow discord and turn them against one another. By the time the truth finally comes out, it's too late to do anything about it.
Power Copying: This is roughly how the new Dimension Link system works. The protagonist makes a personal connection with another character, and this allows them to temporarily shift their moveset to something approximating what that other character uses. Terra, notably, gets to D-Link with Maleficent (and all three heroes can D-Link with Pete in the PAL / Mix versions). In his final boss battle, Ventus has a one-off D-Link with Vanitas.
Power Gives You Wings: One of No Heart's attacks involves turning his Keyblade into a pair of wings which he uses to fly around.
The Exclusive Wingblade Command Style for Ventus. It's considered one of his strongest Command Styles, and it gives him 6 Blades of Light that act like Wings for him, and he attacks with them relentlessly.
The Power of Friendship: Quite possibly the definitive example of this trope in this series is the powerful bond between Terra, Aqua, and Ventus. Aqua might be more of a Friendship Freak than Sora. Expect tears to flow like the Nile and hearts to be warmed... sometimes in rapid succession.
The Power of Hate: This is how Lingering Sentiment comes to be in order to battle Xehanort for Terra's body.
Power Up Letdown: Terra's Sonic Impact, which adds a second dash to his normal Slide ability that carries him farther and can deal damage...which is actually not helpful at all, for several reasons: it does little damage, the second slide doesn't provide temporary invincibility like the first one does (which is the whole point of the dodge abilities), and the recovery from it is longer than the first Slide. Just to throw some Guide Dang It into the mixture, you get it right before Terra's battle with Zack; he has an attack that is extremely difficult to dodge any other way than just mashing Square to keep dodging — which you can't do if Sonic Impact is equipped. This isn't to say it is completely useless (it's good in the "Defeat countless Unversed" sections, for instance), but leaving it unequipped will allow you to dodge a far greater number of deadly attacks with ease.
That said, it is quite amusing to take out the first two of Terra's three final bosses by headbutting them.
In fact, all of the powered up dodge moves seem to be hit by the same issue in that while they do let you deal damage, it comes at the cost of the invincibility frames you had with the originals which are FAR more useful.
Precision F-Strike: Though not the kind you're thinking of—Aqua snaps "You freak!" when Vanitas breaks Ven's wooden Keyblade. Considering this is Disney, that's about as extreme as the language can get so the effect is the same.
"χ-blade". As in, the Greek letter. Chi Blade. And Chi is pronounced as "Key" in Japanese.
Vanitas was picked not only because it means "Emptiness" in Latin, but also because it sounds like "Ventus" and the kanji for sora (空) means both "sky" and "emptiness".
Pure Is Not Good: Despite being born of pure "darkness" Vanitas still has the ability to wield a Keyblade and, more specifically, the χ-blade.
Master Xehanort explained this when he told the trio that Keyblades of Light and Darkness fought during the Keyblade War. So, ignoring the fact that he started out using a Keyblade of light, it is just as possible for pure darkness to wield a Keyblade. They don't seem to be very picky.
Reasonable Authority Figure: As in the Stitch movie, the Grand Councilwoman is extremely reasonable. She may still want Stitch locked up, but she has more than blind rage to back up her reasons, like Gantu, and she's willing to hear Aqua out.
Terra to Xehanort at the end. "You will pay, Xehanort! Was my Master—no, my father, Eraqus not enough for you? Leave my friends alone!"
And then there's Ven's speech to Vanitas immediately preceding their battle. "At least I have some [friends]! I've become a part of their heart, just as they've become a part of mine. My friends are my power... and I'm theirs!"
An evil variation occurs with Master Xehanort and Vanitas: MX is the Blue, Vanitas is the Red.
Retcon: Donald and Goofy knowing about the Keyblade (when they didn't in the original game) and actually being present at Yen Sid's Tower (Donald's reaction to the tower in Kingdom Hearts II: "Master Yen Sid lives HERE?!") As explained by Nomura, the tower's floors have been constructed differently.
There's also another one - well, almost... In Kingdom Hearts II, Goofy says that "His Majesty (meaning Mickey) banished Him (Pete) to another dimension a long time ago." yet in Birth By Sleep, Minnie banished him; this is averted by neither Donald nor Goofy actually being present at the time.
Regional Bonus: The international version features something called Crown Stickers, an extra boss, Critical difficulty mode, more cutscenes, more songs for the Ice Cream Beat mini game, more Keyblades, more types of enemies, altered battle balance, and additional multiplayer options. As per usual with the Kingdom Hearts series, this was expanded to a Japan-onlyFinal Mix.
Retired Badass: Master Yen Sid is retired from keyblading, with Mickey taking his place, but he still keeps in contact with Master Eraqus and Master Xehanort.
The last leg of the game for the rest of the series—Castle Oblivion was created by Aqua from the remains of the Land of Departure to protect Ven's sleeping body inside the Chamber of Waking. Oh, and Terra and Master Xehanort merge to become the Xehanort the fans know, Terra chose Riku and Aqua accidentally marked Kairi as future Keyblade wielders, Ven's heart enters Sora's body and resides there which causes the Keyblade to choose Sora over Riku in Kingdom Hearts 1 before Sora gained the power to wield his own keyblade in Hollow Bastion, and having Ven's heart also allows him to dual-wield the Keyblade, and is also why Roxas looks like him and has the same skill, and more. Really, pick any given plothole in the series. Odds are the game takes at least some steps towards explaining it.
Within the game's story itself, Master Xehanort revealing his true intentions directly after killing Eraqus, as well as Vanitas's true identity: a physical form of the darkness within Ventus that looks like a black-haired Sora. This last one doesn't mean that much to the characters because Sora isn't 15 years old yet, but this definitely hits the player hard.
Rubber Band A.I.: Very apparent in Rumble Racing. If you pull ahead of your opponents, they'll speed up until they're on your tail again, and often even get a burst of speed to pull out in front of you. You don't get any such mercy if you fall behind, but fortunately the rubber band is removed on the final lap. If you don't fall behind too much before then, that's your chance to secure your victory.
The keychain for the χ-blade as well as the crest on the lower half of its blade mirror the symbol for the "Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven". Also, χ, pronounced as "Chi", is often used to substitute Christ. That's where "X-Mas" comes from! This leads to some awesome Fridge Brilliance: the Kingdom Key and Kingdom Key D (read: Mickey's Kingdom Key) are a silver key with a gold handle and a gold key with a silver handle, and together they can open the door to Kingdom Hearts. The Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven are often shown as a gold and silver key crossed over each other.
That's not even the weirdest part: Read this. Gold keys and silver keys are possessed by St. Peter, and the former are representative of the gate to Heaven, silver it later states, are associated with birth. That is, silver represents gates to the physical world and gold represents the spiritual world. Think of the implications for Sora and Mickey.
Adding to the Christianity symbolism: Ven (as a result of having a heart of pure light) is the only character that has access to a version of the Holy spell. And his exclusive Command Style, Wing Blade, can be seen as a reference to the seraphim, six winged angels who were closest to God; each sword of light that floats behind Ven's back can be considered a wing.
In The Bible death is said to be simply a deep sleep, and that the dead will only awaken when Jesus returns for his Second Coming. Basically, Sora and by extension, Ven is KH!Jesus.
On the lighter side, the Million Dreams Award is a unique flavor of icecream that is customized to best represent whoever wins the award. Terra's is reminiscent of the series staple Sea-Salt ice cream, while Ven's and Aqua's resemble Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, respectively. Note that you would have to play through two character's storylines twice to see all of them in the game.
Save the Villain: Justified. Aqua saves Xehanort, who is possessing Terra. Since Aqua's not going to leave a friend to die and Terra is showing signs of Fighting from the Inside, this was the logical choice. Too bad it blew up in her face and caused the events of the rest of the series to occur.
Say My Name: In the Secret Ending of Birth by Sleep: regardless of their state of existence, Naminé, Roxas, Axel, Xion, Ven, Terra and Aqua pray to Sora's name across time and space. Can be a strong Tear Jerker or complete, utter Narm.
This may be a case of Lost in Translation. Roxas, Xion and Axel suddenly look up as a group to watch the sunset, and Terra and Ven are just noticing a shooting star when they say Sora's name. So, for those two groups, it's possible they were calling attention to the sky (sora) in the Japanese version, which loses its double meaning in English.
Senseless Sacrifice: Aqua gives up her armor and her Keyblade to save Terra. While she turned out fine, she has to spend the next decade stuck in a hostile world at a serious disadvantage and saving Terra turns out to set most of Xehanort's evil deeds in motion.
Sentai: Pete, of all people, is dressed like a reject from a Toku series. Two of 'em, actually!
The series is known for this with their secret endings, but this time really takes the cake. Sora's ready to go on another journey to save all the hearts connected to him—including this game's main trio, Roxas, Xion, Axel, and Namine.
The Final Mix adds a nightmarrific one for Birth by Sleep -volume two-, but that project was unfortunately scrapped.
Set Bonus: Collecting all of the tiles in a color block in Command Board results in a 50% increase in all tiles of that color's value.
Sexy Backless Outfit: Aqua, so much so that the designers covered her up more because they thought it was too revealing.
Upon accessing the Trinity Archives after unlocking the Dairy Devotee trophynote by entering the Frozen Fortune command style 30 times, which happens randomly when eating ice cream, the game proudly proclaims "You are a WINNER!"
Significant Anagram: In addition to Yen Sid being Disney backwards, Eraqus is an anagram of Square.
Xehanort without the X can be re-arranged to become "No Heart, and Another". note No Heart also means Heartless, and Xehanort's heartless is Ansem. Another obviously is talking about Nobody, and Xehanort's Nobody is Xemnas. With the X, his name can be rearranged to "X No Heart", the X being a staple in the names of the Organization.
Single Tear: All over the place. Master Eraqus sheds one before fighting Terra, Aqua does as well in the secret ending when she is given her first glimmer of hope and recognition that all she did wasn't entirely in vain after eleven years lost in the darkness, and Sora is completely baffled by the sudden appearance of one when he unconsciously picks up Ventus' heart, getting hit vicariously by the full force of the Tear Jerker ending.
Spell My Name with an S: Due to differences in Japanese pronunciation, fans in the western world initially believed the Unversed were going to be called the "Unbirths". Erakwusu was also instantly recognized as a counterpart to Yen Sid by the fandom and a fair-sized faction assumed it'd be a straight Sdrawkcab Name (Erauqs); turns out it's Eraqus (the slight scrambling might be a parallel of the space in the middle of Yen Sid).
Standard Status Effects: You can inflict blindness, poison, confusion and sleep upon enemies, and they can inflict a few of these on you as well. Doesn't work equally though (see "Useless Useful Spell"). Hilariously enough, Vanitas is affected by Sleep.
Start of Darkness: We get to see how Xehanort (in Terra's body) becomes Ansem's apprentice, setting the events of the series in motion.
There's also the origins of Pete and Braig, aka the man who would be Xigbar. Turns out Braig's a lot more important then at first glance, and likely more dangerous.
Supernatural Gold Eyes: Master Xehanort has yellow eyes. Braig's remaining eye becomes golden after being blasted in the face with a beam of darkness (and around the same time, he's developed darkness-related powers to back up his gun skills). Not to mention Terra's turned yellow at the end of the secret movie in Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix. And Vanitas has them as well. Gold eyes are usually associated with someone who's been exposed to the power of darkness and/or uses it (in his guise as DiZ, even Ansem the Wise had them). As do The Heartless (the ones that aren't The Faceless anyway,).
Superhero School: The Land Of Departure, where the main trio seem to have spent most of their lives training for the Keyblade.
Super Mode: Filling up the Limit Break meter with certain attacks transforms your character, changes your movelist, and grants a new Limit Break. Filling the new meter a certain way grants a higher tier super transformation and all that it entails.
Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Yeah their backstories are different, but could you really tell the difference between an Unversed and a Heartless if they didn't have symbols on them?
Swiss Army Hero: The "Illusion" set of spells to be added in Final Mix allow the player to transform into various Unversed, such as a Tank Toppler, a Mandrake, or a Shoegazer.
Vanitas. Friggin' Vanitas. This extends to Vanitas Remnant too.
The Unknown uses both his blades to perform a crossed one, similar to Vanitas' Sword Beam.
Sword of Plot Advancement: The χ-blade, a BFS that is the ultimate Keyblade and can open the door to Kingdom Hearts. Unfortunately, it's wielded by Vanitas who acquires it by fusing with Ventus, merging Ven's heart of pure light with Vanitas's heart of pure darkness. Ven faces Vanitas wielding an incomplete version of the Keyblade, while Aqua and Mickey face him with the completed version.
Sword Plant: The Lingering Sentiment drives his keyblade into the ground after he wins his battle.
Talking to Himself: Averted in the case of Captain Hook due to The Other Darrin (Naoya Uchida, who in fact is the usual Other Darrin for the Japanese Hook); in the rest of the series and in the Japanese dub of Peter Pan, Hook is voiced by Chikao Ohtsuka. Ohtsuka's in this game, but is playing Master Xehanort. And even if Ohtsuka did voice Hook here, the pirate and Master Xehanort do not cross paths anyways.
Played straight in the English dub by David Ogden Stiers, who plays two of the seven dwarfs (Doc and Happy); Russi Taylor, who plays Minnie, Huey, Dewie, and Louie, as well as the Fairy Godmother and Drizella (though the two don't have any scenes together); and Jim Cummings, who plays Pooh and Tigger. And that's just naming the characters who share worlds together! The actors mentioned (and a few not mentioned) play other characters as well, though those characters aren't even in the same world as each other.
Team Dad: Terra. While he's more of a Big Brother Mentor to Ven (this relationship later escalates into a Knight Templar Big Brother complex during the last fourth or so of Terra's scenario), there are quite a few times when the dynamics between Terra, Aqua, and Ven resemble that of two parents (Terra and Aqua) and a child (Ven). More mature and reserved than his friends, Terra can come across as strict, while still intending the best for them. And his Big Damn Heroes moment to save Ven and the subsequent battle against Master Eraqusdefinitely qualifies Terra as a Papa Wolf.
It's even lampshaded in the Japanese version of the game, where Ven hands Terra and Aqua the Disney Town passes and says that he was told to bring "his parents" ("two grown-ups" in the American version).
Team Mom: Aqua to her friends and also to Peter Pan and the lost boys.
Theme Naming: The trio's names mirror the "sky, sea, and land" theme of Sora, Kairi, and Riku (ventus/wind, aqua/water, terra/earth)
Theme Song Reveal: Vanitas's battle theme takes cues from Sora's AND Roxas's themes. As well as Ven's, although such to be expected, considering The Reveal. There's also a small snippet from Xion's theme.
Trailers Always Spoil: The opening movie borrows a few scenes from the original "Birth by sleep" video that played at the end of Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix. This scene is actually of the trio's final confrontation with the Obviously Evil Xehanort and Vanitas. How things got to that way, though, and what lies beyond, are thankfully unspoiled.
On the other hand, a few trailers did contain lines from the secret ending, including the page quote and some descriptions of Sora as the savior of people's hearts.
True Final Boss: Completing the three scenarios, as well as collecting all the Xehanort Reports, unlocks the Final Episode, in which Aqua battles Terra-Xehanort which in the Final Mix unlocks the Secret Episode where Aqua fights an "alpha heartless."
Ungrateful Bastards: The Seven Dwarfs in Ventus' story. He saves Snow White's life and is responsible for bringing her to them in the first place, but they still treat him with scorn and distrust, telling him to get out. By the time Aqua comes around, the time they've spent with Snow White has mellowed them out considerably though (especially Grumpy, as in the original movie.)
Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Ienzo, Lea, and especially Isa, which has made several fans wonder why Saïx's eyes are yellow in 358/2 and II. And where he got the scars...
Useless Useful Spell: Inverted and reversed, believe it or not. They can affect you, too, but they're more of an annoyance than anything. On the flipside, status effects work for quite a bit of enemies. It is VERY easy to destroy enemies with Mini because all you need to do is just stomp on them. Magnet and Zero Gravity are very easy ways to get the command gauge filled up. And even bosses are affected by status ailments. Ven can put Maleficent to sleep, and Slow or even stop Captain Hook (With Twisted Hours, most reliably). You can use Aeroga to shut down almost anyone. Also, need a breather from Vanitas? No problem—just inflict Sleep or use Zero Gravity on him.
Vague Age: Terra, Aqua, and Ven are never given official ages, unlike Sora, Riku, and Kairi. Though if you take some things into consideration, such as Ventus being physically identically to fifteen-year-old Roxas and Word Of God telling us that Xemnas is about thirty, it's not that much of a stretch to assume that Ven is fifteen and Terra is nineteen. All we get for Aqua, though, is that she's younger than Terra and older than Ven.
The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The Keyblade Graveyard (though, while it is ominous, it's actually pretty short). Oddly, though, Terra and Ven visit it multiple times for cutscene purposes (and, in Ven's case, to fight Vanitas the first time) before the endgame. However, they don't actually visit the titular graveyard itself, but part of the world surrounding it, which is apparently called "The Badlands".
Villainous Breakdown: The one time Master Xehanort loses his cool, by all appearances, he's already won, having taken Terra's body. But then a force-field surrounds them, Terra's armor rises up to face him, and he snaps. "Your body submits, your heart succumbs—so why does your mind resist?!"
Weaksauce Weakness: The Unknown Bonus Boss is very vulnerable to Thunder Surge, a comparatively weak command. What makes it so effective is that it deals multiple hits and makes the user invincible for the duration, allowing the player to not only do decent damage but allowing them to attack through the Unknown's own attacks, potentially halting them, and it hits all around the user so any doppelgangers he has out will be dispersed. And to boot it recharges fairly quick and has fair range for a melee attack. With Terra especially since he's a Mighty Glacier and Thunder Surge is a physical command, he can knock off half an HP bar with one Thunder Surge if all potential hits land.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Once he realizes Ven's importance to Xehanort's scheme, Eraqus tries to kill Ven to save the universe.
The Final Mix Secret Ending qualifies as well... as it shows that the worlds aren't quite destroyed when consumed by the darkness...
What Happened to the Mouse?: We never see the Dwarf Woodlands' Queen's final fate. Her profile in Aqua's episode implies she met the same end as her movie counterpart, but off screen.
What the Hell, Hero?: Happens several times. During the trio's reunion in Radiant Garden, Aqua calls Terra out for his alliances with Malificent and the Evil Queen. Later, when you get to Disney Town, Terra is greeted by this for stepping on the racing track.
Ven's Dwarf Woodlands boss, the Mad Treant. It's basically a thematic combination of the evil queen's poison apple and the trees Snow White believed were attacking her.
And also, When Pumpkins Attack, when the Unversed combine with the Wicked Stepfamily's hatred to create a twisted version of the pumpkin carriage that lobs pumpkin bombs. That didn't go well for the Tremaines.
Who's on First?: In the Dwarf Woodlands, Terra is hired by the Queen to kill Snow White and bring back her heart in a box. This causes Terra to think that the Queen is also after the Hearts of Light when in reality, she really means her heart, no metaphors. When Terra asks her if she is after the Hearts of Light, the Queen clearly has no idea what he's talking about and just claims that she had enough of Snow White's light.
Aqua is the only one of the trio who qualifies to become a Keyblade Master. Ventus is too inexperienced to apply, and Terra has too much darkness in him, partially because of circumstances outside of his control. As a further example, take the Deep Space world. Both Terra and Ven have to constantly evade detection by the ship's inhabitants as they clear out unversed and help Experiment 626 (better known as Stitch) escape, which includes being attacked by the ship's defensive turrets. Aqua, on the other hand, simply walks up to the nice lady in charge and explains why she's there. Of course, that could have been just luck; if the Grand Councilwoman wasn't there and it was just Gantu in charge, Aqua would've gotten herself tossed in the brig even faster than Terra.
Yin-Yang Bomb: The χ-blade can only be created when pure light and pure darkness clash, which is why Master Xehanort ensures that Ven and Vanitas are set up against each other from the start.
During Terra's story, Master Xehanort preaches the virtues of this idea to him, telling him that Eraqus's complete opposition of darkness is as bad as succumbing to darkness, and that the proper way to protect the worlds is to wield both in equal measure. He's full of crap. He just wants to get Terra to give into the darkness and feeds him this line of thought to encourage him down that road. There may be some truth behind what he's saying, but as they say, the best lies are the ones made out of truth.