YMMV: Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep

  • 8.8: GameSpot gave the game a 7.5. Cue the angry mob.
  • Author's Saving Throw: The 2.5 Remix re-release adds in a small scene at the end of Terra's story where the Lingering Will sprouts a cape from its armor after defeating Xehanort, allowing continuity between this game and Kingdom Hearts II to be retained.
  • Best Boss Ever: Ventus gets to make Captain Hook's day a living hell. Several other boss fights stand out - Terra has Braig and is the only one to actually fight Master Xehanort, Aqua has Maleficent Dragon, Captain Gantu, and Braig.
  • Best Level Ever: While the 358/2 Days version of Neverland had a better theme, the Birth by Sleep version of Neverland is often considered to be the best one - in part because you actually get to go to Neverland instead of the outskirts.
  • Broken Base: There was a MASSIVE Internet Backdraft after it was revealed that Vanitas looked just like Sora, as at this point many have grown sick of Sora clones or counterparts.
    • Both Cloud and Leon's backstories got axed so that Organization XIII's original selves could get more screen time. You can imagine how well fans of the characters took that. This especially holds true in regards to Lea and Isa, who unlike the rest were never said or even hinted as coming from Radiant Garden, so Cloud and Leon could have very easily taken their place and the scene would still work.
    • There's also slight debate on the continuity of the novelization of the game concerning Vanitas's backstory that paints him in a much more Woobie Destroyerof Worlds light. Some people think that it doesn't make sense when compared to the actual character in the game and enter it under Fan Discontinuity, others accept it and think it fleshes the character out more. Then there's fangirls who take it as an excuse for Draco in Leather Pants towards Vanitas.
  • Character Tiers: Of the three characters, many feel Aqua is the best for taking on the after game, thanks to developing into a Lightning Bruiser in the end game and thus far better suited for the Bonus Bosses than Terra and Ventus, and her magical abilities easily out class her slight decrease in strength. Between Terra and Ventus though, people can't decide on who's better, as both have their positives and negatives.
  • Complete Monster: Master Xehanort started out with good intentions, but then uses Ventus to combine him with Vanitas in order to allow himself access to Kingdom Hearts, thereby gaining control of all worlds and plunging the multiverse into a second Keyblade War, which was what broke the worlds apart in the first place. The reason? he just wants to see what will happen as a result. Terra, meanwhile, is manipulated into succumbing to darkness, so he can provide a suitable new vessel for Xehanort to steal. He shows no remorse for his actions, even though his manipulations are responsible for pretty much everything that is wrong in the Kingdom Hearts universe.
    Eraqus: You would risk an apocalypse out of sheer curiosity!?
  • Disc One Nuke: D-Links are pretty handy when you're starting a new game. They only need two or three battles to reach full potential, give access to advanced abilities long before you can use them yourself, and some of their passive abilities (Aqua's Auto-Life, especially) can be a life-saver on a Low Level Run.
  • Disappointing Last Level: The final world is exactly three screens long. Enter it, pick up the treasure chests in the first screen, go to the second area and fight your way past some Unversed to get to the third area with a save point, shop, and no enemies. That's all there is to it, and if you're quick you don't need to fight the Unversed in the second area.
  • Ear Worm:
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Vanitas or Vani as many fans say is wildly popular, showing up often in fanart and getting shipped with even Sora or Riku.
  • Even Better Sequel: Or rather, Even Better Prequel. Many regard this game as one of the better in the series, if not the best, mostly due to its battle system (which is regarded as the most polished, refined, and just plain fun one yet), the interesting story and refreshing three-POV narrative.
  • Evil Is Cool: Vanitas.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Vanitas. You don't realize this until the end of Ven's story, when he unmasks himself and reveals that he looks just like Sora... except with a more muscular build, black hair, and gold eyes.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Many fans ship Terra/Aqua. Yep, for once a frequently-shipped pairing in this fandom that ISN'T a slash pairing (though Vanitas/Ven counterbalances this).
  • Foe Yay:
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Pretty much everything Zack says, from proclaiming he's going to be a hero someday to asking Aqua out after he becomes a hero. We do not know what happens to him later, but we have not seen him in games taking place later, and we know what happened to him in his series. The final end credits sequence shows he looks startled and then disappears leaving nothing but a single black feather. Three guesses who took him, and the first two don't count.
    • One of the things Goofy calls Ven when he's messing up the kiddo's name is Veggie. Take into account Ven's fate and that comatose people can be referred to as vegetables, and suddenly something so innocent gets cringe-worthy.
  • Game Breaker:
    • The Command Board and Mirage Arena are pretty much game-breaking mechanics. You can head to the Mirage Arena right after you complete the character's first world, start playing Command Board there to level up commands quickly without fighting, and use the medals you win to buy Synthesis items for fusing. You can even play the Command Board at your first Save Points, and if you know what to fuse and have the patience to keep playing the board you can get pretty much every high-level command in the game almost when you begin your journey. For example, buy an Abounding Crystal from the Arena and use it in a fusion of Blizzard and Aero. You'll get a Command with the EXP Walker ability, and for the rest of the game you'll now get EXP just by walking around. The Mirage Arena was nerfed for Final Mix by making the shop items tied to arena level and progress through the game, but that just means Abounding Crystals need to wait until you can go to Radiant Garden, which won't take that long.
      • The Command Board in turn is broken by the Stun command. It only needs one Attack Card to use, and stuns an opponent of your choice for one turn. However, there's nothing to stop you from continuously stunning one player over and over. Stack your deck with Attack Cards and you can immobilize opponents for turns upon turns in a row while you continue to move about the board freely. Also factor in when that playing in the Mirage Arena allows you to set the number of opponents to one, and actual playing of the board becomes a formality — even if you can't keep them stunned forever, they'll fall so far behind they can't hope to catch up.
    • As another example, level up three Fires and two Aeros, fuse two of the Fires into Fira, fuse that with the third Fire to get Firaga, fuse the Aeros into Aerora, and then fuse Firaga and Aerora into Fission Firaga. Now repeat the process with the Fires to get a second Firaga (or if you have the cash, just buy one from a Moogle), and fuse that with Slow to get Crawling Fire. Now fuse Crawling Fire with Fission Firaga. Congratulations, you just got Mega Flare before you even got to your second world. Mega Flare was Nerfed slightly in the Final Mix version, having a much longer cool down time, but it's still a powerful ability.
    • Rhythm Mixer is absurdly powerful and easy the best command style in the game. Its normal combos do massive damage, it's finisher can single-handedly knock several HP bars off of bosses, and it's activated by using Thunder commands; Thundaga and Thunder Surge are arguably some of the best commands in the game against groups and bosses, respectively.
    • Firewheel. With it equipped to Aqua, you can quite literally cartwheel your enemies to death while taking little damage yourself. Some of the more difficult Mirage Arena challenges can be beaten this way. And you can get it before ever leaving your first world note ! On the other hand, Firewheel lacks the invincibility frames granted by Cartwheel, making it a very bad ability against some bosses (such as Vanitas Remnant).
    • Magnega makes groups of enemies pushovers. It conveniently gathers all enemies in a circle overhead and does continuous damage, and few enemies are immune. The group of enemies makes it possible to obliterate the entire flock with a group attack like Thundaga, Fission Firaga, finishers, etc, and when the next wave spawns guess what, the Magnega field is still there to pull them in to set up for another blast.
    • Shotlocks. At max level they charge quickly, deal heavy damage, and you're invincible for the duration. A lot of bosses can be killed by spamming shotlocks, and such a strategy will work on most anything outside the Unknown and Vanitas Remnant. This is made even easier once you learn Damage Syphon, which recharges the Focus gauge when you take damage.
    • Zack's D-Link, for 2 reasons, both of which go hand-in-hand. Berserk, one of the D-Link's passive abilities, which increases the strength of Critical Hits, and the finisher, Hero's Pride, which is hands down, the best finisher in the entire game. Not only is it very powerful, easily taking multiple bars of health off pretty much any boss other than Unknown, but extremely difficult for enemies to avoid. Also, using Reprisals when D-Linked with Zack fills the Command Gauge much faster than normal, making it rather easy to spam.
    • Sliding Dash, not because of it having insane attack power or anything (it's actually one of the weakest commands in the game), but because of how insanely easy it makes Sequence Breaking in certain areas. With two sliding dashes, it's possible to reach the other end of most areas without losing much jump height. As such, it makes it incredibly easy to get to a lot of chests you're normally not suppose to get until the end game early, which in turn gives you access to a lot of end game commands almost as soon as you start the game.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Braig's much more popular in the US than in Japan. Maybe his Californian accent in the English dub has something to do with it.
  • Goddamned Bats:
    • The Mandrake Unversed, small plant-like enemies that shoot projectiles at you from a great distance and tend to spawn in trios, ensuring a constant rain of fire. They'll interrupt your attacks, stun you for other enemies to land hits, and will definitely annoy the hell out of you. They also attack outside of combat! And then when you approach them to kill them, they spray a mist that variably inflicts Confusion or Poison on you.
    • Tank Topplers are large red enemies that are very easy to damage, but when you hit them enough they turn red, become invincible, then roll around to distract you and eventually explode to damage you. The only way to prevent this is to hit them from behind, or to kill them so quickly they don't have time to turn red.
    • However, Terra can easily wipe them out with Zantetsuken, regardless of where he hits them.
  • Goddamned Boss: Considering who his Nobody was, Braig proves to be just as annoying a boss as his Nobody was in Kingdom Hearts II, with some even claiming he somehow manages to be even more annoying in this game than his Nobody was!
  • Good Bad Bugs: When Aqua's story is completed, you're allowed to save new data for the Final Episode. In the Final Episode, due to a boss waiting there, the battle level for Radiant Garden is higher. However, a glitch randomly causes the battle level for Radiant Garden to increase in any of the normal three stories you have saved, too. Battle level is basically how strong enemies are in a world, and the normal battle level for Radiant Garden is 6, but the glitch raises it to 9 or 10. This means Level Grinding is much faster due to the higher-level enemies, and Radiant Garden happens to have one of the best grinding spots in the game before the fact anyway. All in all, players were hoping this glitch happened to them, to save them time grinding levels for the post-end game Bonus Bosses.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: One of Master Xehanort's final lines in this game, "I swore I would survive to see what waited beyond the Keyblade War", has become this after the death of both Chikao Ohtsuka and Leonard Nimoy in early 2015.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Jason Dohring voiced Terra and sadly does so as a case of Dull Surprise. Then Master Xehanort commits Grand Theft Me, resulting in a Xehanort voiced by Richard Epcar, and Terra goes straight up to Large Ham.
  • Idiot Plot: The game's plot basically boils down to "Terra enters a world and blindly trusts the first person he sees that is Obviously Evil, Ven enters a world and hangs out with the characters with no real concern for what's going on, both of them fall victim to Nice Job Breaking It, Hero (if they do anything of importance at all), and then Aqua visits the world and tries to clean up the mess the two made while acting like a busy-body to them in person." The three heroes make no effort to work together, or even communicate what's going on, and it ends up destroying all they care about. Eraqus himself is also to blame, as a flashback near the end of Ven's story establishes he knows Xehanort is using dark powers and is seeking Kingdom Hearts, yet he trusts him when Xehanort says he's reformed and he never tells any of his pupils Xehanort might be dangerous.
    • Plot only really keeps going because the main heroes are idiots who, after the Mark of Mastery exam, don't seem to trust each other anymore. Terra and Eraqus are the worst examples, Eraqus even gets taken out for his role in starting the mess but Ventus and Aqua aren't much better. (The former mostly has denial issues and the latter is a little TOO willing to call Terra out.) By the time they wise up enough to take on the Big Bad, it turns out to be too late and their stupid decisions catch up to them leading to a Downer Ending.
    • To give one a view of the tree of lack of communication that keeps the plot going: Aqua immediately believes Maleficent's claim that Terra removed Aurora's heart, even though the person telling her that is, well, Maleficent note . Terra, we should note, believes in just about every Disney villain he comes across (save one or two exceptions), and has his journey driven by the words of Master Xehanort. You could say he isn't guilty of trusting Xehanort, and that is true, since Eraqus didn't give him any reason to not do so... but he should have; Eraqus for whatever reason never seems to mention that Xehanort kind of tried to commit genocide for shits and giggles, instead opting for presenting him to his pupils as a righteous, good Master. The plot moves along because the good guys never, ever seem to stop and tell each other why they are doing what they're doing, or what have they found out about their particular quests, which increasingly accumulates doubt and grievances among them. Predictably, it doesn't end well for any of them.
  • Iron Woobie: Regardless of the main trio's flaws, hardships or no, they all keep trucking. And while the end result is largely a disaster, they do manage to collectively derail most of Master Xehanort's plans, with the remaining pieces failing into place for Sora & co. to clean up a decade later.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Eraqus; yes, he's an anti-darkness Knight Templar, but it's hard to blame him when Xehanort uses darkness to ultimately ruin his and his students' lives.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Master Xehanort. He makes Terra run off and fight the Unversed, making his darkness stronger so Xehanort can take his body. He keeps Ven fighting Unversed and Vanitas, gets Terra to help him kill Master Eraqus, and then brings all of his plans together in one place. And they all almost worked!
  • Memetic Badass:
    • The Lingering Will, always accompanied by "Rage Awakened".
    • Aqua. There's a reason she's given the title "Master" at the beginning. Due to the timeline, Mickey hasn't quite reached this point, but he's getting there. Heck, Aqua's final battle aside from her REAL final one with Terranort has Mickey fighting alongside her. Memetic Badasses fight together!
    • Vanitas has been propelled to this title, alongside being crowned as a Memetic Molester.
  • Memetic Molester: Even. And as mentioned above, Vanitas.
    • Many fans raised an eyebrow in the ending when Ansem the Wise is walking in a dark corridor holding the end of a young Ienzo.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Thanks to the secret ending and perceived Narminess, it's become a meme to look up at the sky and say "Sora" as Dearly Beloved plays in the background.
    • About 80-90% of the fanart for Terra, Aqua, and Ven together has them sleeping.
    • A minor example: Because the Queen throws a green potion on the mirror, some fans joked that she threw Mountain Dew on the mirror and that it causes people to go crazy. (...Well, you'd get mad too if someone hurled Mountain Dew on you too.)
    • BOORAY!
  • Memetic Sex Goddess: Aqua has been declared the sexiest character in the series by many. The fact that she's older and breaks the Damsel in Distress patterns set by previous female protagonists probably helped a lot.
  • Mis-blamed: Yep, a few scenes were changed. Braig's telescopic scope was modified to look less realistic (and he's not shown attaching his guns into a sniper rifle) in the international release. But would you believe that some people are actually thinking that a scene in Dwarf Woodlands was censored? In the Japanese version, the Queen gets mad and grunts at the mirror, while her anger possesses it. In the international releases? She throws a potion (off-screen) at the mirror. The thing is, though, this was less of a censorship and more of a removal of a Narm moment (see below).
  • Moral Event Horizon: It's hard to tell when exactly Master Xehanort first crosses it, but one contender might be, chronologically speaking, forcing Ventus to fight Neoshadows in an attempt to awaken his inner darkness, and then after the Neoshadows win, ripping apart his heart to create Vanitas, nearly killing him in the process. He only gets worse from there.
  • Most Annoying Sound:
    Louie: "LATER ALLIGATOR!" "LATER ALLIGATOR!"
    • Spend any time at all at the Command Board and pretty much every character's quotes becomes this, since any time they do anything, they speak, and it's always the same one or two phrases.
    • If you decide to fully clear Fruitball, you'll get this:
      Dale: HERE YA GO! CHIPPER! HERE YA GO! CHIPPER!
    • During the battle against Vanitas:
      Vanitas: TOO SLOW! TOO SLOW! TOO SLOW! TOO SLOW! TOO SLOW! TOO SLOW! TOO SLOW!...
  • Narm: The scene in the Japanese version where the mirror sucks Terra in. The Queen gets mad, grunts, and her anger possesses the mirror. This was changed in the international version where she instead throws a potion on it.
    • After defeating Braig in Radiant Garden, he flees, but instead of running he hops away.
  • Narm Charm: The scene added to Terra's Story in the HD Remix version, where the Lingering Will sprouts a cape for no in-universe reason note  after defeating Terra-Xehanort. It's as ridiculous as it is awesome.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • Terra helped Maleficent by accident one time note , and now he's considered to have helped every single Disney villain in the game as a gullible loon, but really the only other occasion was Captain Hook, which is still an understandable mistake since Peter Pan really was trying to steal from him. He was suspicious of the Evil Queen, was considering not even going with Hades's advice, and didn't know enough about Stitch to know that Jumba was (technically) a villain. He's not that trusting of villains on sight.
    • The game's portrayal of Lady Tremaine, Drizella, and Anastasia would result in the fanbases for both Kingdom Hearts and Disney seeing them as not just Gold Diggers and sociopaths, but also Black Widows, as the attempted murder of Cinderella can prove.
  • Porting Disaster: A VERY mild case for the 2.5 remake. The game works flawlessly except for the Mirage Arena. In the original you are able to connect with other people to fight, race, play a board game, and if you're lucky, someone to form a potentially powerful D-Link with. Sadly, none of the multiplayer aspects were carried over to the remake, making several commands useless and leaving players to fight the bonus bosses alone. Of course, if you hated the Mirage Arena, this isn't that bad.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: Entering the menu out of combat cancels any Command Style you have active, even if you don't actually do anything in the menu. You're effectively being penalized for pausing when not in the middle of a fight.
  • Ship Tease:
    • There's a surprising amount of Terra x Cinderella.
    • Add to that Zack/Aqua, with the former asking out the latter on a date. It doesn't help that Aqua becomes flustered and needs to compose herself afterwards, with Herc commenting that her face is red. Let's hope the name "Zaqua" catches on.
    • Also, there seemed to be quite a bit of Ventus/Snow White. As well as some minor Ventus/Aurora.
    • And then there's plenty of Terra/Aqua to go around. Plenty. The biggest one has to be how she sends herself to the Realm of Darkness to save him.
    • Ventus/Aqua gets some noticeable teasing, especially during Aqua and Ventus's endings and the final chapter.
    • For some reason, there's quite a bit of Aqua/Cinderella.
    • And Zack/Terra — at one point, the camera takes Zack's perspective and stares at Terra's chest for a good few seconds. It's like Terra and Aqua were given the same romance options or something.
  • Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer: The Command Board is actually quite fun, as it's basically Fortune Street with the serial numbers filed off. Besides being a fun diversion, your commands level up and you can win new abilities, even if you don't win, so it's never a total waste of time. In fact, it's usually better for grinding abilities, and some powerful Commands like Ragnarok can only be attained there, while with luck ones like Firaga can be got there before you enter the first world.
  • That One Attack:
    • When he's possessed by Hades, Zack flips out and gets what is essentially Omnislash. It deals massive damage and stuns Terra for the entire duration once he's hit, requiring constant dodging. The biggest problem with this attack is that Terra cannot dodge attacks at all because he uses a slide. This means you have to get extremely lucky with you timing to avoid it, as guarding is not going to work.
    • However, when using Zack's D-Link, you can use this move yourself as a Finish Command. It's just as devastating when you use it, especially against bosses.
    • Whilst the Unknown's entire moveset is basically this, one in particular stands out: Collision Magnet, often called the Rape Rope. Simple idea: he jumps high into the air, latches onto you with his laser beams, drags you up into the air and slashes you. The catch? The attack will almost always take you down to 1 HP (kill you outright without Second Chance and Once More), and it actually stuns you briefly once you get hit. This means that it's entirely possible for him to follow it up with another Rape Rope, which you'll have no chance of surviving (although he more commonly uses Tornado or his Combos afterwards). To add to that, it has a fairly wide attack radius, it homes in on you, and it has a lingering hitbox so if you stop dodging for even a millisecond, it will catch you. So yeah, don't get hit, or else you're pretty much dead. Have fun beating him with Terra.
  • That One Boss:
    • Quite a few. Among them is the first boss of Ventus's story. He not only has a knee-jerk spin attack that makes getting close to it a dangerous proposition most of the time but is it even has an attack where it throws off a bunch of fruit that look like fire crackers. There are many more than you would expect. This is not helped by the fact that it's very unlikely that you'll have a Cure spell at this point. You do, however, have D-links, which act as a free heal on activation, and - if you're Terra or Ven - Aqua's D-link specifically, which has Cura right outta the box.
    • Zack, particularly the second time Terra fights him.
    • Vanitas can be quite hard the first few times you fight him.
    • Trinity Armor is quite tricky if you're unprepared, being made up of three parts, each of which has enough HP to be a boss on its own, and it has several attacks that can be a pain to dodge.
    • Master Eraqus hits ridiculously hard.
    • Terranort, any battle. 'nuff said. note 
  • That One Level:
    • The Mirage Arena's "Treasure Trove" mission takes place on a two-tiered battle field where the upper level is quite a ways directly above the lower area. The only way up there is to bounce off one of three bumpers and then steer your character on top (probably wrestling with the camera), and since it has no walls, it's easy to find yourself going off the edge as you bash enemies, necessitating another frustrating trip back up if they aren't nice enough to chase off after you. Did we mention that the enemy waves switch their spawning back and forth between the two levels several times throughout the mission?
    • Ventus' visit to Disney Town, thanks to the fact that you need to prefect the rhythm game there the first time through in order to continue his story. If you're normally terrible at rhythm games, good luck! And if you aren't, good luck getting the rather precise timing down, even by rhythm game standards!
  • That One Sidequest: Some people found it easier to unlock the secret movie from Kingdom Hearts II by playing the game on Proud mode. Birth By Sleep is much, much worse.
  • Tear Jerker: Any of the endings.
  • True Art Is Angsty: This is without a doubt the darkest Kingdom Hearts game yet, with Days coming in a close second. The response upon finding out the endings in the Japanese version? That Square Enix and Disney have finally grown up. Never mind that Square-Enix had made darker games in the past; even before they merged into Square-Enix, and that Disney has been plenty dark on many occasions.
  • Uncanny Valley: Unmasked Vanitas. Now, the "evil Sora" face can mesh with a bodysuit, but not with a Riku-esque battle stance. It just feels so... unnatural.
  • The Woobie:
    • There has been much fan-gushery about Ansem's youngest apprentice, Ienzo, who evidently lost his parents and is now being raised as another scientist in a house of thirty-somethings. Of course, it doesn't hurt that he will grow up into one of the series' biggest fangirl magnets, either... But considering that he is the one who convinced Ansem to pursue their studies on darkness in people's hearts, helped banish his own adoptive father to the Realm of Nothingness, and then became a member of Organization XIII, Ienzo/Zexion is even more of a Jerkass Woobie than Terra, in that you want to slap him for willful malice rather than from stupid naivete.
      • The button to open the secret room is just low enough for a child to reach, and the room we see in Co M has a child-sized bed. Riku and Ienzo/Zexion do have things in common. Once we see more of what exactly went down from the apprentices' perspective, then we can judge.
    • The novels tint Vanitas to be a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds instead of the unrepentant monster he appears to be in the game. In the novels, any anger he feels results in an Unversed being born from him, and no matter how many times he tries to destroy them, every time he does, he feels an unbearable pain as a result. The cycle continues, and it is hinted that his reason why he wanted to reunite with Ventus was more or less salvation for him. Again, this is only in the novel adaptations; in the game, there is never even a remote hint that Vanitas feels any sort of pain when spawning or re-absorbing Unversed (if anything, he seems to enjoy it when he's seen doing it! Then again, maybe he LIKES being hurt.)
  • Woolseyism: Aqua's famous My Name Is Inigo Montoya moment. In the Japanese version she only says "Return my friend's heart!", but leaving it at that would have created a Lip Lock moment. Instead, the English localization team extended it to match Aqua's lip movement, creating in the process arguably the biggest Badass Boast in the entire franchise.