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"That would be the last night we ever spent beneath the same stars..."
Terra, Ventus, and Aqua, at the end of the tutorial/prologue

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is the fifth game in Square Enix and Disney's Kingdom Hearts crossover franchise, released on the PlayStation Portable in 2010. It is a prequel that takes place 10 years before Kingdom Hearts I.

Terra, Aqua, and Ventus are three young friends who are training together to be Keyblade Masters: chosen warriors of light tasked with protecting The Multiverse against the corrosive powers of darkness. After years of hard work, Aqua is successfully able to earn the title; however, Terra fails the final examination after he is unable to control his inner darkness, and Ven is too inexperienced to even take the test. Aqua's first assignment is to track down a missing Keyblade Master named Master Xehanort, whose sudden vanishing coincides with the appearance of mysterious monsters called "Unversed". Eager to prove himself, Terra embarks on his own investigation, and Ven follows after a shadowy figure convinces him that his friends are in danger.

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. 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.

Birth by Sleep: Final Mix was released in the HD 2.5 ReMIX collection in 2014. Aqua's story after the events of this game's Secret Episode continues in Birth by Sleep: A Fragmentary Passage, a playable episode note  included in the PS4 collection Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 ReMIX: Final Chapter Prologue, to help lead into Kingdom Hearts III.

Birth by Sleep marks Bret Iwan's first performance as Mickey Mouse, replacing Wayne Allwine since his death in 2009. It is also one of the last two games in which Alan Young voiced Scrooge McDuck before his death in 2016, the other being the 2013 remake of DuckTales, and is the final time David Ogden Stiers would ever voice Jumba Jookiba before his death in 2018.


This game provides examples of:

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    A - G 
  • A.I. Breaker: When fighting the Vanitas Remnant, running behind the large rocks in the battlefield will cause him to try to run through them to you without attacking. As long as you keep him there, you can cherry tap him to death with Strike Raid and its variants without retaliation since they go through the rocks, or heal yourself with Potions.
  • 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 each character's focus shifting to their own agendas. It wouldn't be until Kingdom Hearts 3D that the arc would be picked back up, revealing that Xehanort was setting up a backup plan for making the χ-blade with the Princesses.
  • Absurdly High Level Cap: The game has a level cap of 99, though it can easily be beaten before you reach Level 40.
  • Acting for Two: In-Universe. Pete dresses up as a hero called Captain Justice, or a darker counterpart of him called Captain Dark, in an attempt to fool the citizens to vote for him to win the Million Dreams Award. Nobody is fooled by the disguises, though a few people still vote for him anyway.
  • Adapted Out: Deep Space is based on the first part of Lilo & Stitch that takes place before Experiment 626/Stitch reaches Earth, so the entirety of the human cast is absent. Because of this, Terra, Aqua, and Ven teach Experiment 626/Stitch about the meaning of friendship instead of Lilo teaching him about the meaning of family.
  • 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.
    • Armor of Eraqus is a more specific example to the three protagonists of this game, as he can use special attacks based off each of their signature Command Styles and their most prominent unique commands.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: Master Eraqus is 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. Just as Yen Sid spelled backwards says "Disney", Eraqus's name is an anagram of "Square".
  • 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.
  • Animated Armor:
    • The Lingering Will is Terra's armor, possessed by Terra's mind and burning hatred for Xehanort after the latter takes over Terra's heart and body.
    • Two of the Final Mix-exclusive Bonus Bosses—Armor of Eraqus and No Hart—are the armor belonging to Eraqus and Xehanort, respectively.
  • Animation Bump: In the original Japanese release of the game, Yen Sid and the future Destiny Islands trio have limited facial animationsnote . However, the international and Final Mix versions of the game give them fully animated expressions.
  • Another Side, Another Story: There are three playable characters (Terra, Aqua, and Ven) that have their own playstyles and follow their own stories. All three stories intertwine, making playing all of them necessary to fully understand what's going on.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The Mirage Arena prior to Final Mix had a 999 cap on how many medals you could win from events. Final Mix removed that, making it much easier to farm medals and thus buy the rather expensive items for sale.
  • Armor Is Useless: Well, more specifically, it only plays a role in story rather than in gameplay. It's designed to protect its wearer from the power of darkness, and basically acts like a space suit when the three protagonists travel through the Lanes Between that connect the 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.
  • Art Evolution: Every character who appeared in Kingdom Hearts got a new, much prettier model. It's most obvious in Aurora, who goes from having Tareme Eyes to having Tsurime Eyes.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The computer simply sucks at the Command Board.
    • 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 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. Additionally, AI opponents will always use Joker cards for Joker's Fortune/Golden Fortune, depending on how many they receive at once (mostly because you can't place Jokers on panels).
      • Altered somewhat in ReMIX (and possibly Final Mix) with the addition of another "personality": Experiment 626 knows how to hoard Jokers and use Golden Fortune when he has enough. Most other AIs will still use Jokers immediately, however, only using Golden Fortune in the rare event of drawing three Jokers at once.
    • The AI 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. This means there will be times when the AI character rolls and comes to a fork, where going one direction takes them to the path to the next checkpoint, and going the other direction takes them to a Special Square that lets them warp to the checkpoint immediately. They'll still ignore the Special Square.
    • Aqua's AI will irrationally avoid the Keychain of the Keyblade Board, despite one of the Checkpoint squares and a Special Square being located there.
    • The AI will rarely, if ever, buy out your panels to add to your own. Of course, as the main point of the Command Board is to level up your commands by placing them on panels, this may be meant as an Anti-Frustration Feature.
  • 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.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Xigbar didn't play too large a role in Kingdom Hearts II, only showing up in a few cutscenes and was never implied to more important than most the other Organization members. His original self, Braig, gets more screentime, is revealed to be Xehanort's right-hand man, and helped guide the (seemingly) amnesiac Xehanort.
    • Cinderella, Snow White, and Aurora also fit this role, seeing as how they didn't have voices in Kingdom Hearts I and were barely even mentioned in Kingdom Hearts II.
    • Stitch, who only appeared in a few cutscenes and served in as a summon in Kingdom Hearts II, plays a bigger role in this game. He gets to appear in his home world as his story is finally explored.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • 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 shockwaves, can be blocked but are not avoided by teleporting behind him, so they're kinda useless.
    • Trinity Limit does a huge amount of damage over a wide area, but it takes up three Deck Command slots out of the maximum of eight, and is only effective if two other people help the user. The only time in the story that this is possible is during the Trinity Armor fight when you're teamed up with the other two Player Characters, but by that point you'll only have five total slots (seven if on Critical Mode) and you have to grind for medals at the Mirage Arena to purchase it in the first place.
    • For playing the Command Board, Golden Fortune. You need to use three Joker Cards to activate it, and the reason you save up three is that Golden Fortune has a chance to activate Zone Capture, which instantly captures an entire color zone, stealing enemy panels in the process if they have any there. However, every other option on Golden Fortune is the same as the ones activated on Joker's Fortune, so while Zone Capture is awesome if you can get it, every other result means you just wasted two Jokers. There's also the problem of hoarding your Jokers to get three in the first place.
  • Background Music Override: The Keyblade Graveyard, which is The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, has no designated battle music. If you get into a fight with some Unversed in Twister Trench, the world's normal background music will just continue to play.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind:
    • Ventus and Vanitas's final showdown.
    • The secret ending reveals that Terra and Master Xehanort have been at this throughout the entire series ever since the latter took over the former's body.
    • 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 can potentially do this in the second phase of their final fight if both use the Dark Link Shotlock.
  • 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.
    • Downplayed 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 vaguenote , 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.
  • BFS:
    • Terra's Keyblades are the largest of the three to go with his heavy-hitting playstyle. The biggest ones are nearly as long as he is tall.
    • The χ-blade is a huge blade made up of two Kingdom Keys crossed together and a transparent blade that connects to the top of the keys. The handle alone is larger than one's head.
    • The Bladecharge Command Style for Terra and Aqua cloaks their Keyblades in a light purple aura that greatly increases their length and width. The blades are noticeably longer than they are tall and are as wide as their bodies near the hilt.
  • Bifurcated Weapon:
    • Braig can combine his arrowguns into a single one to snipe opponents, though this was removed from the English version of the game.
    • The Unknown combines his blades during combo finishers and lunges and even combines them into a Whip Sword.
  • Big Bad: Master Xehanort.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • From Ventus's perspective, Terra comes out of nowhere to save him when he's about to be destroyed by Master Eraqus.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: Implied. It's revealed that several future Organization XIII members, such as Braig (Xigbar), Dilan (Xaldin), and Aeleus (Lexaeus) were guardsmen in Ansem's castle before Xehanort overthrew him, implying that Xehanort convinced them to turn against Ansem.
  • 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.
  • Bonus Boss:
    • The Vanitas Remnant, accessible only after playing through every character's storyline and obtaining all the Xehanort Reports.
    • A new one exclusive to the international releases and Final Mix is dubbed the Unknown, a man in a black coat who dual-wields reverse-gripped laser blades that he can combine to result in a lance and Whip Sword. Wordof God stated that the fight is canon, despite the random setting, the reason for which is revealed in the next game.
    • Four more bosses are added in the Final Mix version: in the Mirage Arena, we have Monstro, Armor of Eraqusnote , and No Heartnote ; and in the Secret Episode, we have Dark Hide, a Heartless fought by Aqua in the realm of darkness.
  • Bonus Dungeon: The Secret Episode exclusive to Final Mix takes place in the Realm of Darkness.
  • Bookends:
    • The game starts and ends with a battle between Aqua and Terra, though the circumstances between the two encounters are vastly different. The first time, it's a friendly sparring match for the Mark of Mastery test, while the second time it's Aqua in a fight for her life against Xehanort in Terra's body.
    • The game begins with Ventus linking with Sora's heart to survive the damage Vanitas had inflicted on the way out. Ven's story ends with him returning to Sora's heart to once again in response to injuries Vanitas has inflicted.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • The Surge commands have simple animations and deal moderate damage, but they also provide invincibility during the attack animation, and have decently fast reload times.
    • Sonic Blade is a basic one-slot command that does okay damage, but it can stunlock enemies and recharges decently fast.
    • Shotlocks, any shotlock. They make you invulnerable while you're firing them, they do lots of little hits so they aren't crippled by the damage cap on bosses, and recovering your Focus Gauge is remarkably easy.
  • Boss Corridor: On all story paths, the Point of No Return is a narrow, dark valley in the Keyblade Graveyard, with the massive "crossroads" of dead Keyblades visible in the distance.
  • Boss Remix:
    • Vanitas' battle theme is a more tense remix of Sora's and Roxas' respective themes. Conversely, the final battle theme against Vanitas is, itself, a more darker remix of this exact same battle theme.
    • The Mirage Arena Bonus Bosses added in Final Mix each get one—Armor of Eraqus 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 "Forze del Male"note  and "Darkness of the Unknown"note . 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 "Villain's Vendetta" match in the Mirage Arena involves fighting eight of the game's bossesnote  without any breaks between them.
  • Bound and Gagged: Master Xehanort, when captured by Braig, though he's merely chained to a pipe. We later learn that it's a Faked Kidnapping.
  • Bowdlerise: In the Japanese version, Braig combines his arrowguns into a sniper rifle to shoot at Terra from a distance. In the English version he does not combine them, and the sight when aiming is less realistic. This was retained in the Japanese Final Mix release on PSP, and in the PS3 and PS4 collections.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: The Bonus Bosses Vanitas Remnant, Unknown, and No Heart each grant the player a extremely powerful Keyblade on defeat. They all happen to be the hardest bosses in the game, so once you've gotten those Keyblades, you don't really need them.
  • Breaking the Fellowship: At Radiant Garden, the trio fractures. For varying reasons, they all depart that world feeling like their friendship is fraying, if not broken. Ven's plot for the later half of the Disney worlds is to make new friends in response.
  • Brick Joke: ...all share the same sky...
  • Breather Episode: Disney Town. No boss battles, nothing connected to the overarching plot. Just some fun minigames to relax with.
  • Broken Aesop: The whole Balance Between Good and Evil message is especially egregious here. Master Xehanort, the most vocal supporter of it, is the absolute worst example of Dark Is Evil in the entire series. Eraqus, who actually has plenty of Properly Paranoid reason to dislike Darkness, is painted as a Light Is Not Good Knight Templar (granted, his actual decision-making is still poor). The Fairy Godmother tries to convince Aqua not to use Light to fight Darkness, despite (A) that being the primary objective of just about every single game — including this one — and (B) the would-be Asshole Victims ending up dying anyway soon afterward. And in the end, each of the main trio gets a Downer Ending via Darkness-related circumstances, while each one's surviving Light is what keeps him/her from being completely lost.
  • Butt-Monkey: Captain Hook is in this game - and naturally Square-Enix gives you so many opportunities to make his day into a living nightmare just like in the first game. And among them, you can knock him into the water where the crocodile will bite him.
  • Cain and Abel: Xehanort mentions in one of his reports that he sees Eraqus as his brother. Now consider what Xehanort ends up doing.
  • Call-Forward: This being a Prequel to the whole series, there are a few Call-Forwards to the original game.
    • Ven, who looks exactly like Roxas and therefore has some mysterious connection to Sora, says "My friends are my power!" which is something Sora shouts to Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, in Kingdom Hearts I.
    • The fact that Xehanort himself is Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, is hinted by the former's fighting style and when he recites the "Darkness is the heart's true essence" speech from the first game after he possesses Terra's body.
    • In the secret ending, Terra says that Xehanort is going to get "shown the door." At the end of Kingdom Hearts I, that's exactly what happens with Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, who is Xehanort with Laser-Guided Amnesia.
    • Aqua — who has a connection with Kairi — wakes up Ven — who looks exactly like Roxas, Sora's Nobody — at the beginning of the game in the same way that Kairi wakes up Sora in the original game. Moreover, Terra — who has a connection with Riku — says "Come on, Ven. I thought you were stronger than that," which is something Riku says to Sora in the first game.
    • Xigbar notes that Ventus has a pretty good "angry look." When he first meets Sora in Kingdom Hearts II, he jokes about how "someone" used to give him the same glare as Sora.
    • Tinker Bell meets Ventus in Neverland and she meets Roxas in Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days. She treats Roxas as though she's met him before, even though the player had no idea why until Birth by Sleep came out.
  • 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 KH2.
  • Cats Are Mean: Lucifer, the cat of Lady Tremaine of Cinderella is a boss. This might not seem like a challenge except that you happen to be the size of a mouse at the time.
  • Chained by Fashion: The Secret Episode's final boss and the Iron Imprisoner.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • 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.
    • The Wayfinders are given a lot of focus throughout the game, Aqua's in particular getting a lot of screen time. Said Wayfinder becomes the keychain for her Infinity -1 Sword during the final chapter when she fights Terranort.
  • Cherry Tapping: Subverted for the Sweetstack Keyblade, which is actually very powerful despite being designed around ice cream. note 
  • Combo Breaker: The Payback moves allow the player to do this, to some extent, by retaliating immediately after being knocked back by an enemy.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard:
    • Most A.I. players in The Command Board. Most notably though is 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.
    • In Rumble Racing, the computer players are able to catch up to you regardless of how far ahead you are.
    • In the wrap-up sparring matches for the Tutorial battles, Terra has Counter Hammer a full three worldsnote  before the player can get at it.
    • Terra-Xehanort's version of Ars Solum goes by twice as fast as Terra's own.
      • Terranort also uses both Dark Volley and Ultima Cannon in the same fight, while the player can only ever have one Shotlock equipped at a time.
  • Conspicuously Light Patch: The corner of a balcony in Maleficent's castle is colored darker than the rest. It gets broken apart during Aqua's escape with Phillip.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: Many bosses are immune to anything like Magnet and Zero Gravity that'd move them around unwillingly, most Standard Status Effects, and the One-Hit Kill spell Warp.
    • Zig Zagged, actually - while a lot of bosses are immune to standard status effects, some actually aren't, and they can really shut them down in their tracks.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: Xehanort's Report 7 implies that someone besides Xehanort had, in the past, attempted to create a version of Kingdom Hearts by amassing hearts.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: It's sad how badly the trio get beat down in their cinematic final battle against Xehanort and Vanitas.
  • 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".
  • Crosshair Aware: When Braig is sniping Terra, the camera shift to Braig's view so the player can he where he's aiming.
  • Crush the Keepsake: Vanitas is revealed to have obtained Ven's wooden keyblade. He snaps it in half right in front of Aqua while dissing her.
  • Crutch Character:
    • Or command. In any case, if you go out of your way to make it early on, Mega Flare is an absurdly powerful screen nuke for all characters, but on Terra, it's only really useful early on and the mid game. Late game, it starts to fall behind thanks to Terra being a Mighty Glacier and his magic stat beginning to slow down in growth with each level up. Additionally, he gets a Keyblade during the end game that boosts his attack stats to sky high lengths, but decreases his magic stat as well, making Mega Flare even less useful. By the time you get to the end game areas, it'll be very unlikely that Mega Flare will even take half the HP off of most enemies there as a result.
    • D-Links are very useful early on when you only have access to a limited amount of commands, with Aqua's in particular being useful because it gives access to cure commands without having to level it up first, unlike Terra and Ven's D-Links, which have to be maxed out before you can access their cure commands. However, once you reach mid-game and start getting better commands, D-Links quickly fall behind because the commands they offer are usually under-powered in comparison to the commands you can fuse at that point.
    • Of the three protagonists, Terra has by far the easiest early game thanks to being a Mighty Glacier while Ven and Aqua have to deal with Early Game Hell, thanks to being a Fragile Speedster and Squishy Wizard, respectively. However, as the game goes on, Terra slowly begins to fall behind as Ven develops into a Jack-of-All-Stats and Aqua becomes a Lightning Bruiser, while he more or less stays the same. With a lot of end game bosses dealing high damage regardless of a characters defense, and a lot of Bonus Bosses being able to one-shot all the characters regardless, Terra quickly falls behind them in terms of handling the after game, to the point certain Bonus Bosses are nigh impossible with him because of how slow he is.
  • Cutscene Incompetence:
    • In any cutscene where the heroes confront a villain, they're completely ineffectual. Special mention to Ventus' first battle with Vanitas, which is a Hopeless Boss Fight. Even if you're effortlessly crushing Vanitas, once the fight stops and the cutscene plays, the story treats Ven as being helpless against him and it's only through Mickey's intervention that he's saved. And of course there's then the final cutscenes, where the heroes fail to even get close to Master Xehanort and Vanitas and are thrashed as they try.
    • Expect this from anyone cutscene-attacking Master Xehanort, really. Braig, Eraqus, Terra, and Ven? It's less of him legitimately dominating them... and more of them predictably Leeroy Jenkins-ing him with basic attacks and stupidly leaving themselves open to his magic, Combat Pragmatism, etc.
  • 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.
    • Players who import Final Mix after putting in a lot of hours on the international version will take a while to get used to using Circle to attack and confirm, and X to jump and cancel, instead of the other way around. Switching those two buttons is pretty standard when localizing PlayStation-series games.
    • Players who get Final Mix and go to Birth By Sleep right after KHII will inevitably take a while to get used to hitting X to open chests, speak to NPCs, and interact with objects as opposed to Triangle.
  • 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 about to be taken to the castle, Lady Tremaine and her daughters give into their hatred towards her and try to murder her with an Unversed called the Cursed Coach, but after Aqua saves her, they seemingly die or get turned into Heartless (most likely the latter) when the Unversed accidentally drops a bomb on them.
  • 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.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Downplayed in that all 3 playable characters are clearly protagonists but new players will assume Ven is the true hero of the group as he's the "Sora" of the trio and the character players control in the prologue. He's closer to the Tag Along Kid being less trained and "supposed" to be waiting at home Terra to a lesser extent since he's the cool edgy one with plenty of drama, being the Riku of the group as well as being the one to start each world's plot and the "First" character in the suggested order. He's already caught in the villian's trap before the game even begins The true hero is Aqua, the static character of the group and Kairi's counterpart. She's the one that brings each world's story to it's proper conclusion. She's the only one left standing at the end of the three stories and the only one able to acess the Final (And in Final Mix), Post Game, chapter. Also she has her own smaller scale game now.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Master Xehanort can't be anymore antagonistic looking if he were to wear a sign on him saying "I'm evil, nyahahaha!"
  • Developers' Foresight: The Exp Walker ability gives your experience just by walking around. A common exploit players found is using tape or an elastic to fix the analog stick in place so your character runs in a circle, then just let the game sit. Except, the devs anticipated that and programmed a failsafe - if you just walk in one direction without pressing any buttons, after about a minute your character will stop moving.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: On her trip to Olympus Coliseum, Aqua is forced to fight the Physical God Hades and his Ice Colossus as part of the final round of the Games. She beats them both despite being outnumbered.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Master Eraqus dies in Terra's arms, sort of, after their battle. Even though Terra wounded him, it was Master Xehanort who killed Eraqus.
  • Disc-One Nuke: Birth By Sleep has the most of any game in the franchise:
    • Sliding Dash, one of the most basic starting commands, allows access to an enormous number of areas that are supposed to be unavailable without Air Slide or Glide, both lategame abilities. Ventus in particular can get Superglide the moment he enters Disney Town, four worlds before he gets the Glide ability that it's supposed to be an upgrade from. Magnet, whose animation has the character thrust their Keyblade vertically, can similarly be used to get some stickers that are supposed to require High Jump.
    • The Command Board allows easy access to a surprisingly large number of commands through melding. It's possible to have -aga magic even before entering the first world. Upon clearing the first world and unlocking the Mirage Arena, even more options become available such that it's possible to go into the second world with Mega Flare in one's deck.
    • The Mirage Arena unlocks all of the Command Board and Rumble Racing stages for all characters as long as they've been unlocked with any character before, allowing the other two characters to quickly raise their Arena Level and collect large amounts of Medals without having to see combat. While Abounding Crystals can't be purchased with Medals until the first three worlds are cleared, every other Crystal type can be, allowing a player who knows what to meld and what Crystals to use to enter their second world with an enormous advantage in both commands and abilities. Unfortunately the commands found on the lategame Boards aren't available in the Arena versions, but the player can still easily level up their existing commands for melding purposes.
      • Better yet, the Arena versions of the Boards count for unlocking the Secret Board, which is packed to the brim with high-quality commands and even the lategame Lightning Ray Shotlock. A player can easily unlock the Secret Board for their second and third characters before entering the second world.
    • D-Links, once the player understands their somewhat unusual leveling mechanics, contain much more powerful decks than the player will have early on without considerable time spent at the Mirage Arena, along with adding special abilities such as Haste that aren't available anywhere else. While the D-Link decks are swiftly outshone by the player's own, during the early game they can prove invaluable assets.
  • Disney Death: The secret ending reveals Ansem the Wise's Heroic Sacrifice in Kingdom Hearts II to be this.
  • Distant Finale:
    • The Secret Episode in the Final Mix version is set a year after the end of the game. It shows Aqua traversing the Realm of Darkness, where she eventually finds the Castle of Dreams trapped there thanks to the release of the Heartless.
    • The "Blank Points" secret ending takes place a bit after Kingdom Hearts II, which itself takes place 11 years after this game. Aqua finds Ansem the Wise (who survived the explosion of his machine) in the Realm of Darkness, and they talk about Sora.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: Terra, Ven and Aqua are a Mighty Glacier, Fragile Speedster and Squishy Wizard, respectively, but at the beginning of the game they all play more or less the same. As you proceed through the game you unlock their unique abilities a bit at a time, and come the final world their unique playstyles are firmly established.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The relationship between the three characters is certainly... interesting, to say the least. While the "trinity" motif of the series has been around since Day One, this game in particular has the three heroes constantly demonstrating their faith and friendship with the others. Overall, the dynamic between the trio seems more like a family slowly crumbling, rather than some friends having their friendship challenged. In the Japanese version of the game, when Ventus gives Terra and Aqua their passes to Disney Town, it was because he was told to "bring his parents" ... yeah.
  • Doomed by Canon: The game takes place ten years before the first Kingdom Hearts I, 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.
  • 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.)
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Draw Aggro: Taunt will cause Unversed to attack the user instead of their allies.
  • Dual Boss:
    • Aqua takes on Hades and the Ice Colossus at the same time during her visit to Olympus Coliseum.
    • Terra's final boss sequence begins with him fighting Master Xehanort and Vanitas, but Vanitas does most of the attacking and it ends automatically after you do a certain amount of damage.
    • One of the Mirage Arena matches, A Time To Chill, pits the player(s) against Zack and Hades in the 4th round.
  • Dual Wielding: The Unknown.
  • Dub Name Change:
    • 13 of 14 Keyblades' names were changed, although some were pretty minor (e.g. "Mark of Hero" vs. "Mark of a Hero"). 12 of 35 enemies also had their names changed.
    • Some of the Command Styles also had their names changed, such as Aqua's "Magic Wish" becoming "Spellweaver", Terra's "Fatal Mode" becoming "Critical Impact," and a few others.
    • Most of the Trophies had their names embellished, going from titles like "Step Trophy" or "Munny Trophy" to "Power Walker" or "In the Munny."
  • Dull Surprise:
    • 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).
  • Dummied Out:
    • 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 the Light Seeker, a Keychain for Ventus that resembles Mickey's Kingdom Key D. It can still be accessed using cheat codes, but only in the Japanese version.
    • Pleakley was originally going to appear in Deep Space. An untextured model for him remains in the game's code.
    • Certain cutscenes which appeared in early trailers - shown at events such as the Tokyo Game Show and Jump Festa - were later altered for the game's final release. For example, the scene in which Master Xehanort reveals his plan to forge the χ-blade to Ventus was originally meant to appear in Olympus Coliseum, rather than the Keyblade Graveyard. A scant few scenes were also omitted, including one where Terra watches a young Sora and Riku partake in a swordfight, as well as individual lines, such as Terra telling Aqua that searching for the light Master Xehanort is after will lead them to him or Ventus at Destiny Island telling Aqua to erase him.
    • The Final Mix version contains character models from the then-unreleased Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance and a graphic from the title card.
    • A texture for a large Treasure Chest for the Land of Departure appears in the game files, but does not appear in-game.
  • Early Game Hell: You start off with a very small pool of deck commands, limited funds to buy new ones (and a small number of new ones to buy anyway), and low stats. It is very likely for the first boss in each story to curbstomp you if you aren't familiar with the game and its mechanics, even on normal difficulty. Fortunately once you get deep into your second and third worlds, all of these problems begin to go away and the game hits its stride in time for Radiant Garden.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: Save files set to Beginner Mode cannot unlock the "Blank Points" secret ending.
  • 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: Vanitas is the darkness of Ven's heart that was stripped out by Master Xehanort a couple years before the events of the game.
  • 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 finishers break the naming pattern, Rising Rock 1, 2, then Dark Star 1, 2, then Demolition, but Dark Star 1 is still a powered-up version of Rising Rock 2.
  • Exclusive Enemy Equipment: You can obtain a black and white version of Vanitas's Keyblade, called Void Gear.
  • Expy:
    • Ventus looks like Roxas and it's been said by the creators that Ventus, while having some of Sora's characteristics, has Roxas's seriousness. So in personality, he's a mixture of both, like his duds.
    • Vanitas is basically an evil Sora with black hair and yellow eyes (and the same voice; only deeper and more sinister), and he is Ven's Enemy Without.
    • 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 between 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: Braig loses an eye to Terra, leading to him wearing an eye patch for the rest of the series.
  • Faked Kidnapping: Braig appears to capture Master Xehanort, but it was all a set-up to get Terra to further trust in the latter.
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: Terra and Ventus, since they both 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 Stitch and with Hercules.
  • Feminist Fantasy: The game stands out from the rest of the franchise for not only providing the first playable Heroine, but turning classic Disney films on their head a little with how she fits into their narratives. The story begins with Aqua earning the rank of Master, and being charged with locating and bringing home her True Companions when they go astray. She spends much of the game struggling to save Terra and Ventus from the darkness threatening them, and is the sole protagonist of the Final Chapter. An equal balance of Lady of War and Lady of Black Magic, she is an exceptionally skilled warrior and the most level-headed among the Power Trio. When encountering classic Princesses, she is the one who actively facilitates their happy endings — escorting Cinderella during her escape from Lady Tremaine, defeating the Magic Mirror and the Evil Queen to help save Snow White, and rescuing Prince Phillip from Maleficient's castle before they face down the sorceress-turned-dragon together. In the Final Chapter, it is revealed that she was the one that laid many significant pieces of groundwork for the main story — providing Kairi with the power of the Keyblade, creating Castle Oblivion to protect Ventus, and foiling Xehanort's original plan by destroying the x-Blade and leaving his new host (Terra) without memories. She was also the one to first encourage and warn Sora to watch over Riku, and never give up on him should he go astray in the future.
  • 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.
  • Fighting Your Friend: Possessed versions of both Ven and Terra serve as Aqua's two different Final Bosses.
  • Finish Him!: Lampshaded in the final battle with Vanitas with Ven. Given that the "information" is likely to be the POV of the player character, it was likely the joke was not lost on the translators.
  • Fire/Ice/Lightning: The non-character-specific Command Styles are Firestorm, Diamond Dust and Thunder Bolt. There's also a second ice-themed one, Frozen Fortune, except it's ice-cream themed.
  • Flash Step: Master Xehanort and Vanitas use these liberally, as do Bonus Bosses Vanitas 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.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Xehanort wears the Organization XIII coat in the opening scenes and his normal boots are the same as what the members of the Organization wear. He fuses with Terra in this game and the fused body loses his heart, which creates Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, and the leader of Organization XIII — Xemnas.
    • Near the beginning of the game, Ventus is at the Station of Awakening and he talks with Sora's newborn heart. Ven says that they will "open the door," and as he does so, the voice of the newborn heart speaks alongside his voice. There's also the imagery of Ventus — as a ball of light — entering Sora. It's later revealed that Ven's heart eventually will enter Sora's body to recover after the events of this game.
    • At Destiny Islands, Aqua muses "One Keyblade is enough for any friendship... I wouldn't want to wish our lives on all of them." This game explains how Sora, Riku, and Kairi got to be Keyblade Wielders.
    • When the Mastery exam goes off the rails, Aqua tries to order Ven to go wait in his room which he refuses to do. This is how all their interactions over the first 3/4s of the game go, Aqua telling him to go back home and him not doing so.
    • Kingdom Hearts HD II.5 Re MIX's opening features certain changes from the original opening, namely Aqua sporting white hair, which Aqua eventually revealed to have fallen to darkness, having her hair turned white and her eyes turned gold.
  • 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.
  • Fragile Speedster: Ven. The quickest of the three, yet not as resilient as Terra and Aqua.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Look closely on Ven's bookshelf in the scene where Vanitas corners him. One book is titled Birth by sleep, another is Kingdom Hearts, and a third is labelled Ultimania. Ven's been reading the strategy guide!
  • 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: invoked Word 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.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: It’s an explicit part of the villains’ plan to have the heroes grow in power from fighting the Unversed, just like how the player has been leveling up throughout the game.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • Each world has events beyond what one character sees. Often there's a Broken Bridge stopping a character from exploring an area, but another character will fix that bridge. However, chronologically, this should mean if that first character comes back to the world after the in-game timeline says the second character has visited, the bridge should be fixed for them too, right? Wrong. Generally, if a character somehow unseals a sealed area in their story, that area will probably remain sealed for the other characters. However, this is sometimes subverted — in Ven's story, returning to the Enchanted Dominion after completing it will reveal some balconies in Maleficent's castle have been destroyed, because Aqua visited the Enchanted Dominion after Ven and destroyed them during her escape. Curiously though, the trope is played straight for Terra, who throughout the game will have his path to Maleficent's castle blocked by flames, but they're dispelled in Ven's story and stay that way through his story and Aqua's.
    • After Aqua discovers King Mickey Mouse passed out in the Lanes Between, it is still possible to D-Link with him if you visit another world before taking him to the Mysterious Tower.
    • If you go visit any of the worlds during the Final Episode, the Unversed all are still around even though their source (Vanitas) has been destroyed.
  • Game Within a Game: The Command Board is a full version of Square Enix's long-standing Itadaki Street series, rules and all.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Theme Naming aside, Terra is still a female name on a male character.
  • Genre Blind: Come on: Xehanort is a textbook example of Obviously Evil... and yet everyone still keeps trusting him until it's too late. For example: Eraqus, specifically his scars? Given to him by Xehanort during a past argument where he flat-out revealed his desire to create his very own Keyblade War. And yet Eraqus still not only invites him to overlook Terra and Aqua's Mark of Mastery exam, but also unhesitatingly invokes You Are Not Ready upon Terra for demonstrating a never-before-seen bout of noticeably uncontrollable Casting a Shadow power... and never even remotely suspects Xehanort as a potential saboteur.
  • "Get Back Here!" Boss: Braig is somehow even worse than his Nobody counterpart. See here. Played with since one of the strategies to beating him is to simply use Block to reflect all of his regular attacks right back at him and to dodge every attack that can't be blocked.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • 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".)
    • Doc 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!"
    • In the Final Mix version, the Belly Balloon transformation's sole Deck Command is called Bloody Bounce.
  • Getting the Boot: At the end of the game, Lea and Isa are caught trespassing Hollow Bastion by Dilan and are kicked out.
  • Glass Cannon:
    • Vanitas. He's extremely quick and aggressive, but his defense is somewhat poor. His No-Holds-Barred Beatdown-styled attack pattern can make it difficult to notice how poorly he takes a punch, though.
    • The Vanitas Remnant has only one bar of HP, but dishes out One Hit Kills without remorse.
    • 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! 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.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Hey guys! Let's stop trying to destroy the Unversed and race with them instead!
  • Gory Discretion Shot: What happens to Cinderella's step-mother and step-sisters is downright brutal.
  • Graceful Loser: The Servant of the Mirror, to Aqua.
    The queen is gone, my service done.
    Adieu, oh victorious one.
  • Grand Theft Me: Master Xehanort takes over Terra's body at the end of Terra's story, which explains how he appears as Ansem's apprentice.
    • Not to mention what Vanitas did to Ventus. Didn't last, though.
  • Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: Zero Gravity. Upgrade it to get Transcendence, which traps its helpless victims and bounces them around like rag dolls.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: One of the motivations behind Lady Tremaine and her daughters attacking Cinderella after she's freed from their tyranny. Also, the reason why Braig has allied himself with Master Xehanort, since he wants a Keyblade for his own.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Some commands can only be obtained through Command Melding, but the game never tells you the recipes for the rarer commands and you're forced to either experiment or look at a guide.
    • 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 area or room you're in and come back, which is something you wouldn't normally do unless you knew where they're supposed to spawn.
    • The mechanics of the final battle against Vanitas as Ven are in no way intuitive. You are using a D-Link with Vanitas, meaning your commands are replaced by his. To beat him, you have to use a finisher on him and the only way to build up the finish gauge is to counter his moves with the same move he's using against you.
    • Getting all twelve Xehanort Reports. Each character gets three of them, and for Aqua and Ven, all four of them are rewarded for completing story milestones or opening large chests. But getting Report number five in Terra's story requires one to go the Mirage Arena, raise their arena level to three, and fight the Sinister Sentinel. It isn't a painfully long process, and a total cakewalk by the time you're at the endgame, but it's still strange that a single report would be tied to the Mirage Arena.

    H - Q 
  • Hammerspace:
    • During a cutscene, Lea pulls his frisbees from what appears to be from out of nowhere.
    • Ven carries a full-size, wooden toy Keyblade with him for most of his story. It's never seen until the plot requires it, and it's never explained how he carries it around since it doesn't have the Summon to Hand magic that is inherent to real Keyblades.
  • Hard Mode Perks: Save files set to Critical Mode start with five Deck Command slots instead of three.
  • 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).
  • Hartman Hips: Aqua's suit of armor.
  • Hero Antagonist: Gantu's either this or a type of Knight Templar.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.:
    • During the credits, Mickey blames himself for everything 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 due to how the word is pronounced. Master Xehanort then explains the spelling is different despite the identical pronunciation, and produces an image of the χ letter as he explains its origins. 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.
  • Holy Hand Grenade: Ven's exclusive skills Faith and Salvation.
  • Hot-Blooded: Vanitas's battle taunts certainly sound as if his VAs had fun with the role. Both 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.
  • Hypocrite: Sure, Xehanort has a point about Eraqus being too Light-biased, but Xehanort himself is clearly too Darkness-biased. In particular, he initially mentions that "Darkness cannot be destroyed", but much later ultimately vows that "the last Light within {Terra} will die!" — a clear double standard.
  • If I Can't Have You...: Cinderella's evil stepfamily would rather have her murdered than married to a prince, but only because they hate her.
    • The journal entry for the Symphony Armor claimed that it was created from the Tremaine family's hatred towards the "unknown girl" at the ball. This implies that the trio were going to use the Unversed to murder everyone at the ball because neither Drizella or Anastasia were picked.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Aqua vs. both Ventus (possessed by Vanitas) and Terra (possessed by Xehanort).
  • I'm Crying, but I Don't Know Why: Young Sora in the ending. It's actually because of his connection to Ven's heart.
  • Incoming Ham: The moment that Terra-Xehanort talks and you hear those familiar tones of Richard Epcar, you immediately understand that he is going to be hamming it up... and is going to do it with aplomb.
  • Informed Kindness: Xehanort's Obviously Evil Kick the Dog streak certainly calls into question whether or not he really is the Fallen Hero that both the narrative and his Reports keep painting him as.
  • Infinity -1 Sword: Chaos Ripper (Terra), Brightcrest (Aqua), Lost Memory (Ven). Sweetstack also qualifies for all characters, being easily obtained if you know how and providing a 100% Critical Hit rate.
  • 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 Royal Radiance; 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.
  • Interface Screw:
    • The Confuse status effect flips controls.
    • The Blind status obscures most of the screen in darkness and prevents auto-locking onto enemies.
  • Invisibility: Vanish makes the user invisible for a short period of time, preventing enemies from being able to get a lock on the player.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Master Xehanort is a bad guy who uses darkness for evil. But he does make sense saying that light isn't automatically good just for being light. This leads to the downfall of Eraqus.
    • He's also right that Terra shouldn't fight the darkness, but learn to control it instead - that's what Riku does in the future and it works.
    • Ironically, this applies to Eraqus as well. Irrational decisions aside, he's mostly right to be so averse to Darkness; the stuff's repeatedly proven to be dangerous and life-ruining (including here), and Xehanort's such a blatant Hypocrite that it's no wonder he can't convince Eraqus otherwise.
  • 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).
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: You have to play as all three characters to get the whole story.
  • Joke Character: The Final Mix exclusive Illusion abilities let you turn into the various Unversed that you win them from and they're all next to useless in battle.
  • Just Between You and Me: Vanitas does this without shame, confident there's nothing the heroes can do about it. And he's right, more or less. Well everyone except Aqua who proceeds to kick his ass and derail Master Xehanort's scheme, but even then she winds up becoming inadvertedly responsible for Xehanort being able to make his ''other'' schemes work.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Master Xehanort. Past major Kingdom Hearts villains tended to be portrayed as formerly benevolent people who became villainous as a result of accidentally delving into darkness and/or wanting a heart, only to be defeated by the hero in the end. While Master Xehanort is also a formerly benevolent character who became corrupted by darkness and still threatens a global apocalypse like past villains, the sheer degree of personal cruelty he inflicts on the heroes goes way beyond characters like Ansem or Xemnas, while pretending to have their best interests at heart only to betray them, culminating in subjecting them to horrific fates and essentially getting away with it all.
  • Kung-Fu Wizard: No Heart, who turns his Keyblade into armour and kicks / punches you with it.
  • Lampshade Hanging: When Braig confronts Terra in Radiant Garden, he comments on his Keyblade, saying that "it seems like everyone has one of those things these days."
  • Large Ham:
  • Laser Blade:
    • The Blade Charge Command Style (Aqua, Terra) forms a huge one around the Keyblade, Squall-style. Ven's Wingblade style gives him SIX of these, which by default float at his back like wings.
    • Aqua, via the lucky charms she made for herself and her friends, creates one to defeat Ventus-Vanitas wielding the χ-blade.
    • 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).
  • Leitmotif:
    • 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 Will), 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.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Terra briefly becomes one during his Sonic Shadow Shotlock.
    • Terra-Xehanort. The physical prowess of Terra plus the dark powers and Keyblade of Master Xehanort equals one very imposing opponent.
  • Like a Son to Me: Eraqus, to Terra - and probably Aqua and Ventus as well, though he never says it out loud.
  • Limit Break: Filling up a meter in gameplay allows each character to unleash one of these. More can be learned as the game goes on.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: A Final Mix, of course.
  • 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. The PS3 2.5 port, however, has no such install option.
    • Thankfully, loading screens are significantly lessened or even done away entirely with on the PS4 1.5+2.5 port.
  • 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.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Well, hello, Maleficent! She plays a whopping blinder on Terra. As soon as he arrives, she twists words and plots and plans and manipulates Terra into the right place to steal Aurora's heart, and she's literally just met him. No wonder she succeeded in basically ruling the worlds for nigh on a decade! She's excellent at being evil.
  • Makes Just as Much Sense in Context: The game's very odd title is spoken by Ansem the Wise in the "true" ending, but the line itself is still quite difficult to narratively interpret:
    "So many are still waiting for their new beginning, their birth by sleep. Even me...and even you.
  • Malevolent Architecture: The Land of Departure lies directly between the light and dark realms. It was later clarified 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.
  • Manly Tears:
    • 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 Star Wars Episode III of the saga, with several character parallels; Aqua is Obi-wan, Terra is Anakin, Xehanort is Palpatine, and Eraqus is Mace Windu.
    • Terra, a Keyblade apprentice, is refused the rank of Master due to his pursuit of 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, and Terra begins to trust Xehanort over Eraqus and see him as a mentor.
    • 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, who takes drastic actions to stop Xehanort's plans that cause Terra to turn on him. Terra stops from killing Eraqus, but Xehanort finishes him off, and reveals his true colors as he destroys the Land of Departure.
    • Aqua hears from Yen Sid about what's become of Terra and sets out to locate him. She finds him consumed in darkness and under Xehanort's control, and the two do battle. Though Aqua is victorious, she is lost in the Realm of Darkness while Terra is "reborn" as the new Xehanort.
    • Their final hope resides in the young children/babies who will later on play an important role in the "sequels".
    • Additionally, Eraqus advises Terra "Fear leads to obsession with power, and obsession beckons the darkness," mirroring Yoda's famous advice to Anakin about fear leading to the dark side of the Force.
  • 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.
  • Mighty Glacier: Terra swings his Keyblade in slow, wide arches. He hits like hell.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: Master Xehanort does this even more than the modern one—watch those fingers coil.
  • Mind Screwdriver: This game is this for the previous ones, but the effect doesn't last.
  • Mirror Boss:
    • After possessing Terra, the new Xehanort uses his fighting style instead of that of his old body. He can even block, counter, dodge, and heal.
    • The Mimic Master can summon copies of the player by (non-lethally) absorbing their energy into its book. These copies can use basic combos and some Deck Commands.
  • 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.
    • Terra’s visit to Radiant Garden is a pretty somber affair, with him learning his friend has been spying on him and he takes a big step closer to fully immersing himself in darkness. The next world he visits is Disney Town, where the Unversed are polite enough to stay on the race track and not bother anyone and the Aesop Terra learns is that he doesn’t have to break the rules to be successful.
  • Mook Maker: Vanitas is the source of all the Unversed. They spawn from the "negative emotions" that resulted from his unnatural creation.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Opening of large treasure chests comes with swinging camera angles and dramatic Keyblade swings to open the chest.
  • Musical Assassin: The Symphony Master, though it has nothing on Demyx.
  • Musical Spoiler: Vanitas' battle theme is a remix of Sora's and Roxas' respective themes while the character is voiced by Sora's voice actor. Ventus looks like Roxas and is voiced by his voice actor. Put those things together, and you'd realize the fact that the music's spoilering The Reveal that Vanitas is Ventus' evil counterpart.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Both Terra and Eraqus do this after fighting each other to near death, and the latter additionally for nearly killing Ven. Then Xehanort finishes the job.
  • My Name is Master Aqua. Now return my friend's heart or pay the price!
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling: Yen Sid experiences this throughout the game. Sora and Riku also experience this, during the ending. This leads to Sora accepting Ven's damaged heart into his own.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Zack asks Aqua on a date, like he did when he first met Aerith in Final Fantasy VII.
    • 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. They're also not proper squats, but rather what counts as a squat in said game.
    • 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.
  • Nemesis Weapon: Ventus's Keyblade, Wayward Wind, and Vantias' keyblade the Void Gear, Ventus is part of an elemental theme with his peers and friends, Terra and Aqua, while Vanitas' Keyblade represents emptiness. Given that they both were once the same being and Ventus' belief in The Power of Friendship, there is a definite connection there.
    • Master's Defender and No Name, the Keyblades of Eraqus and Xehanort, are nearly polar opposites of each other. Master's Defender is spartan as far as Keyblades go, with the blade and hilt being little more than painted metal. No Name, on the other hand, is wonderfully ornate and detailed. Additionally, Master's Defender is personalized to Eraqus, with the Keyblade's only ornamentation being the teeth forming an "E", whereas No Name has been revealed to be an Ancestral Weapon.
  • Nerf:
    • The base reload time of Mega Flare was doubled from 25 seconds to 50 in the international release.
    • The Unknown has had some of the hitstun removed from his Collision Magnet attack in the Final Mix version, allowing players to escape it before being hit again.
    • Aerial attacks are slowed down considerably compared to the previous games.
  • Never Say "Die": Unusually for this series, completely averted. Master Xehanort and Vanitas say die and use synonyms for death often (Vanitas threatens to "choke the life out of Terra and Aqua" for instance), and the Disney characters also use, such as the Three Fairies chanting "evil die and good endure." It's played straight by the three protagonists, but when they talk about death late in the game, it's concerning Terra killing Eraqus and Ventus feeling he has to die to stop Xehanort's plans, so it's only because they don't want to say the word outright.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Terra passing the power of the Keyblade to Riku and Aqua casting a protective spell on Kairi which will later whisk her to Destiny Islands suddenly occur without any earlier implication they had those powers. The ability demonstrated by Terra is lightly explained later on; Aqua's ability continues to be completely unique without any elaboration from later games.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • Master Eraqus' attempt to kill Ventus fuels the final part of Terra's corruption, leading to Xehanort being able to use his body as his own.
    • Aqua saves the amnesiac Terra-Xehanort from becoming trapped in the Realm of Darkness during the Final Episode, allowing him to roam free and eventually redo his plans.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Eraqus was based off of Hironobu Sakaguchi, the former president of Square.
  • No Cure for Evil: Averted
    • Vile Phials will often heal themselves or other Unveresed.
    • Terra-Xehanort can use Curaga to heal himself, though unlike the player's version it doesn't completely heal him.
    • Vanitas Remnant will fully heal himself if the player uses a Cure spell (and variants) at any time.
    • The Unknown's guard will heal him for a small amount of HP if you hit him during it. Occasionally, he may undo one hit you just dealt to him by rewinding time, healing back the damage from that hit in the process.
  • No Flow in CGI: The game's pre-rendered previews in Kingdom Hearts II depicted the protagonists' Keyblade Armor with capes, but they were removed from the game itself because rendering them caused FPS issues. Averted for one cutscene in the HD 2.5 ReMIX version; the Lingering Will suddenly acquires a cape after beating Terra-Xehanort.
  • No-Sell: Braig, angry about losing his eye to Terra, shoots at Master Xehanort from behind during a cutscene. An invisible barrier prevents the uncaring Master Xehanort from taking any hits.
  • Non-Combat EXP:
    • The EXP Walker ability grants 1 point of experience every time a step is taken.
    • Deck Commands can be leveled up by playing the Command Board minigame instead of entering combat.
  • Non Standard Game Over: Each character has to do a different minigame in Disney Town. Doing poorly means getting sent automatically to a Game Over screen.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Sure, Xehanort, flat-out tell your Heterosexual Life-Partner about your Apocalypse How-worthy desire to force Balance Between Good and Evil, then permanently scar him with a Casting a Shadow blast just for good measure. Surely that will get him to reconsider his stance on Light and Darkness, right?
  • Not His Sled: Cinderella wins her freedom, alright. But this time, her evil stepfamily attempts to murder her out of nothing but pure hatred, which triggers their Laser-Guided Karma in the form of either death or Heartless transformation.
  • Obviously Evil:
    • Master Xehanort. Just look at him. 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).
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: The Final Episode boss theme "Dismiss". Though for being a remix of "Destati", it's really Ominous Italian Chanting.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: Used in "Beyond the Door".
  • One-Winged Angel: Averted in all three storylines, which may be a first for this series. Unless you count Terra-Xehanort calling the Guardian in the Final Episode.
  • Paint It Black: Vanitas falls into the Evil Twin variation, being a black-haired, pale-skinned Sora.
  • Palette Swap: The Unversed get different color schemes in Final Mix for the sake of variety, and and Unversed forms assumed by the Illusion 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.
  • Permanently Missable Content: 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.
    • Players who wish to challenge the Unknown as Aqua should be careful to keep their starred save file from the end of her storyline; while you need to complete the Final Episode first to unlock the the bonus bosses, and the first boss can be accessed from the Final Episode, the Unknown can only be accessed from the main portion of the game (for obvious story reasons). delete or save over Aqua's end game file, and you're out of luck.
  • Pinball Zone: Pete's Rec Room.
  • The Plot Reaper: Aqua falls afoul of this. Her battle against Terra-Xehanort doesn't actually accomplish anything. Xehanort already had his amnesia from his loss to Terra, and his being not unconscious in the fight just gives Braig an excuse to bring him into Ansem's circle. Whereas Aqua gets removed from the picture by being trapped in the Realm of Darkness.
  • 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.
    • One notable example is the climax, in which Master Xehanort and Vanitas respectively lure Terra and Ven to the Keyblade Graveyard by telling them that they will kill the other two members of the Power Trio there. Aqua herself winds up there when she locates both Terra and Ven there thanks to Yen Sid. Effectively, it's a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
  • Post-Climax Confrontation: The True Final Boss battle, which takes place in the town square of a darkened Radiant Garden (where Aqua had previously fought Vanitas), and comes after the climax in The Keyblade Graveyard.
  • 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.
    • The Bonus Boss Armor of Eraqus is implied to be doing this, changing its arsenal of attacks depending on who you fight it as, said arsenal resembling a cross between the current player character's fighting style and Master Eraqus'.
  • 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: An oddly neutral approach for this series. While members of the trio draw great power from their friendship, D-Links being an explicit part of this, that same friendship is one of the main ways Xehanort and Vanitas manipulate them. A big portion of their plan depends on the heroes refusing to leave their friends behind.
  • The Power of Hate: This is how the Lingering Will comes to be in order to battle Xehanort for Terra's body.
    • Also, Lady Tremaine and her daughters hate Cinderella so much, that said hatred created two Unversed; one to kill everyone in the ball because the Prince danced with an unknown girl; the other to directly murder her because she is now freed from their tyranny.
  • 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.
  • Practical Taunt:
  • 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.
  • Properly Paranoid: Sure, Eraqus is a Knight Templar whom firmly believes in Black and White Morality, but given nearly all instances of Casting a Shadow in the series being Dark Is Evil — with only a handful of rare exceptions — he doesn't exactly have any real reason to believe in the Balance Between Good and Evil that Xehanort keeps trying to sell. Xehanort himself being a textbook example of Not Helping Your Case really doesn't help matters, either.
  • Pun: Hades remarks that Terra's name is a bit "earthy".
  • Punny Name:
    • "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.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The 3 heroes stop Xehanort from getting to Kingdom Hearts, but they all meet terrible fates. Terra's body was stolen by Xehanort and what's left of his mind is trapped in his armor at the Keyblade Graveyard, Ventus' heart was shattered by Vanitas' defeat and his body is comatose, and Aqua gets trapped in the Realm of Darkness after she saves the amnesiac Xehanort from being trapped there himself.
    R - Z 
  • Rage Against the Mentor: Terra takes on Eraqus when he catches him trying to kill Ven. It goes too far, but that's mostly Xehanort's fault.
  • 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.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • 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!"
  • Recurring Boss: Expect to fight Vanitas in every story mode.
  • Recurring Riff: Bits of "Rage Awakened" can be heard in a few other songs.
    • Fate of the Unknown (KHII Final Mix Secret Ending Music) is heard multiple throughout the game, most noticably in Terra and Aqua's themes
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • Terra is red, Aqua's blue.
    • An evil variation occurs with Master Xehanort and Vanitas: MX is the Blue, Vanitas is the Red.
  • Regenerating Mana: Spell uses restore themselves.
  • Regional Bonus: The international version features a new Crown Stickers sidequest, a new Bonus Boss, the Critical Mode difficulty, the EXP Zero ability, more cutscenes, more songs for the Ice Cream Beat mini game, 2 new 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-only Final Mix.
  • Retcon:
    • Donald and Goofy know about the Keyblade, which isn't the case in Kingdom Hearts I.
    • In Kingdom Hearts II, Donald does not recognize the Mysterious Tower and is surprised that Yen Sid lives in it. Here, Donald and Goofy are seen hanging out at the completely identical Tower while waiting around for King Mickey.
    • A Secret Report in Days written by Xigbar compares Xion to an unnamed Ven, saying everything about them, including the way they use the Keyblade, is the same. In this game. Ven has a distinctive and to this point unique fighting style that Xion doesn’t even come close to imitating.
  • Retired Badass: Master Yen Sid is a retired Keyblade Master, with Mickey taking his place, but he still keeps in contact with Master Eraqus and Master Xehanort.
  • The Reveal:
    • The last leg of the game shows that 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.
    • Terra and Master Xehanort (and, secretly, Eraqus) merge to become the Xehanort that caused the events of the first and second games
    • Terra chose Riku and Aqua accidentally marked Kairi as future Keyblade wielders.
    • At the end of the game, 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.
    • 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.
  • Reverse Grip: Ventus and the Unknown.
  • Rewatch Bonus: One that can be easily missed, as it’s in the tutorial prologue that can be skipped on subsequent playthroughs. Ven says it felt like he’d been in the place he’d dreamed of, with Aqua saying it can’t be because he’s always lived at the Land of Departure with them. This is a lie, trying to shield him from what she has good reason to believe is a traumatic past.
  • Rocket-Tag Gameplay: Near mid to late parts of each characters story become this. Even Terra can't take all that many hits from a lot of late game story bosses, but in turn, bosses in this game have the far lowest HP of any KH game, as well as the main characters themselves. As a result, it often comes down to a match of who can kill who quicker, especially if you haven't figured out how to synthesize Leaf Bracer, Once More, or Second Chance yet.
  • 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.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • 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.
    • A heroic person betrays their master and all their allies until they eventually become one of the greatest evils the world has known. Am I talking about Lucifer or Master Xehanort?
    • 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.
  • Sad Battle Music: Tears of the Light plays when Terra defends Cinderella who is crying about her ruined dress from Unversed.
  • 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.
  • Scenery Gorn: The Keyblade Graveyard.
  • Schrödinger's Gun: The only part of the game dependent on what order you play each of the three characters as is the cutscene where the Million Dreams Award is given out within Disney Town - the cutscene will only play for the third character you play as within the town, with it altering accordingly depending on who said character is (with The canonical version of said cutscene being Aqua's).
  • Secret Test of Character: Subverted. Phil tells Zack and Herc he will watch their match then decide which of them he'll train. Herc abandons the match to help Ven, which Phil says proves he has the heart of a hero and so he gets to stay Phil's student. When Ven presses him, Phil admits he wasn’t really going to stop training Herc, but the situation served as good motivation for him.
  • Sentai: Pete is dressed like a reject from a Toku series. Two of 'em, actually!
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike: After the other games had begun to rely on Button Mashing, Birth by Sleep takes a step back to make things more strategic. The game does not hand overpowered attacks and abilities to you in progress with the story; you need to use Command Melding to get them. You have to construct your Command Deck with a strategy in mind because which commands you use affect when Command Styles you can use, which significantly changes how the characters fight; and thanks to reload time, you can't spam your Command Deck attacks continuously. Further, bosses can blink out of stunlock combos, they're smart enough to just avoid finishers and Shotlocks, and most bosses are immune to effects that would stun them. The game is not all that difficult, but it is significantly more challenging than previous Kingdom Hearts games.
  • Sequence Breaking: There's several items that the characters normally need advanced movement commands to get, like High Jump, Glide, etc. However, the basic Sliding Dash command lets players bypass this need by using Sliding Dash in midair to get to these places.
  • 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.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The protagonists' efforts only delay Xehanort's plans and teach him to be more patient. Meanwhile, all three heroes are put out of commission: Ven is rendered comatose due to his lost heart, Terra loses his body and his possessed armor is implied to not be able to leave the Keyblade Graveyard, and Aqua is trapped in the Realm of Darkness.
  • Shaky P.O.V. Cam: Used in the Secret Episode's boss battle.
  • She-Fu: Aqua's version of the Dodge Roll has her doing cartwheels. It works, making her completely invincible once the skill is maxed out as long as the player is spamming the square button.
  • Shirtless Scene: Ventus in his awakening.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Upon accessing the Trinity Archives after unlocking the Dairy Devotee trophynote , the game proudly proclaims "You are a WINNER!"
    • Terra's first Shotlock command is called "Sonic Shadow".
  • 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 
  • 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.
  • Sky Surfing: Ven's Keyblade Glider.
  • Slasher Smile: After Aqua battles the hybrid Ven and Vanitas, Ven-hijacked-by-Vanitas flashes a surprisingly eerie one at her. Twice.
  • SNK Boss: Any Bonus Boss, leaving players very little time to move, less to heal, and even less to attack.
  • Spanner in the Works: Again, the entire trio, although Aqua did the best job of screwing with Master Xehanort's grand schemes. However, Xehanort is Crazy-Prepared, so...
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • Maleficent's crow, Diablo, isn't turned into stone by Merryweather like in Sleeping Beauty.
    • Due to being one of the primary antagonists of Kingdom Hearts I, Maleficent isn't slain when stabbed in the chest by Prince Philip's sword like in Sleeping Beauty.
  • 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. Hilariously enough, Vanitas is affected by Sleep.
  • Start of Darkness:
    • This game explains how Xehanort became Ansem's apprentice. He took Terra's body to regain his youth and (apparently) lost his memory after being defeated by the Lingering Will and later Aqua. Ansem finds him in the Radiant Garden after the fight with Aqua, setting the previous games into motion.
    • Pete started working for Maleficent because he was banished from Disney Town and she finds him in the realm he was banished to.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: Master Xehanort has yellow eyes, as does Vanitas. Braig's remaining eye becomes yellow after his fight with Terra, signifying that he's become a vessel for Xehanort's heart.
  • 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: The Unversed to the Heartless. Yeah, their backstories are different (the Heartless are lost hearts corrupted by darkness, [[spoiler: while the Unversed are manifestations of Vanitas's negativity]), but could you really tell the difference between them if they didn't have different 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.
  • Sword Beam:
    • 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 χ-blade after it's been broken by Aqua and Mickey.
  • Sword Plant: The Lingering Will drives its Keyblade into the ground after it wins the battle against Terra-Xehanort.
  • 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.
  • Team Dad: Terra. While he's more of a Big Brother Mentor to Ven, 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 Eraqus definitely 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.
  • Tears of Joy: Aqua sheds one and then smiles during the aforementioned "Say My Name" bit.
  • 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, Roxas, and Xion's themes, as well as Ven's, although such to be expected, considering The Reveal.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: Terra, Aqua, and Ven.
  • Tiered by Name: The Vanitas Remnant in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep Final Mix has more attacks than the original, all of which One Hit Kills you if you did not set your abilities up right.
  • Time Travel: It's implied that the Unknown is a time traveler due to its strange "fade into existence" entrance, utilizing a technique that rewinds time to undo a powerful attack inflicted onto it, and the prize for beating it being a Keyblade with a clock motif. Dream Drop Distance confirms that this is true, as it's Xehanort from the past.
  • Title Drop: In the secret ending, Ansem the Wise explicitly states that he and Aqua are waiting for their "birth by sleep".
  • Title Theme Drop: What is probably the most poignant arrangement of "Dearly Beloved" yet plays during the scene detailed under "Say My Name".
  • Took a Level in Badass: All three of the main characters.
    • Terra: After accepting the darkness in his heart, he gains great strength but ultimately weakens his heart to the point that Master Xehanort can possess his body. Xehanort thinks that he's won, but Terra refuses to submit, his mind and soul re-animating his suit of armor through hate and anger. Terra (as the Lingering Will) then proceeds to kick his own ass (at this point, Xehanort was theoretically at his prime), and—to this day—is still fighting Master Xehanort for control of his body. His response to when Xehanort triumphantly boasts that his grand scheme could take one of several routes? A confident smirk.
    • Ven: When he first encounters Vanitas, it's a Hopeless Boss Fight. The paradigm shifts at endgame, when Vanitas knocks out an unsuspecting Aqua and then decides to go for a deathblow. Ven, who was just frozen by Master Xehanort earlier, literally defrosts himself with his anger and shows Vanitas no mercy. During his subsequent Battle in the Center of the Mind, Ven delivers an absolutely stunning one-two punch of a Patrick Stewart Speech and a Talk to the Fist to Vanitas. More asskicking ensues, with a hyperkinetic battle that causes Ven's Awakening station to shatter, culminating in a zero-g fight where Ven cribs off of Vanitas by D-Linking with him and ultimately walks all over him. And remember, Ventus was well aware that Vanitas's defeat would destroy his heart in the process.
    • Aqua: She didn't have as long a route to take, already starting as a Master. Notably, Aqua uses The Power of Friendship to create a Laser Blade that counters the χ-blade, albeit an incomplete version of it. She then faces Terra-Xehanort and his Guardian familiar (beginning the struggle with an empassionated My Name Is Inigo Montoya moment) and wins.
  • Tornado Move: Ventus creates a huge tornado called Tornado that sucks his opponent into the tornado, but leaving him vulnerable to upcoming attacks.
  • Transformation Trinket: Terra, Aqua, and Ventus's shoulder guards instantly suit them up into full suits of armor when tapped.
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot: The trio's interconnected plot lines across the worlds lead to some bizarre travel speeds. For example, though Terra leaves the Land of Departure barely a minute before Ven does, he’s still able to complete Enchanted Dominion then go to Dwarf Woodlands before Ven can travel to his first world, also Dwarf Woodlands. And though Terra leaves the woodlands first, Ven is able to reach Castle of Dreams and complete it before Terra can arrive there.
  • 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.
    • Final Mix includes another Secret Episode, which has a Final Boss of its own: an "alpha Heartless" called Dark Hide.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: The above trio, in a parallel to Sora, Riku, and Kairi.
  • Updated Re-release: Birth By Sleep Final Mix, with new bosses, a new Keyblade, and a new epilogue story with Aqua.
  • 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: Ultimate Tier Deck Commands are fine to use against normal enemies, but most have long animations that force you to stay still, and are thus impractical against bosses.
    • Averted with the status-inducing spells, which will absolutely devastate most random enemies. Even despite some bosses having Contractual Boss Immunity, some aren't immune to one or two status ailments that will stop them in their tracks.
  • 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 information 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, 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.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Just like in the first game, Captain Hook is a boss fight in Ventus's story. And sure enough, you can make his day a living hell by exploiting the lack of Contractual Boss Immunity—he's only immune to a few status ailments, meaning one can Stop him, slow him, and light him on fire. And that's not counting how many times you can knock him into the water where the crocodile is.
  • 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?!"
  • Wake-Up Call Boss:
    • Vanitas for both Ven and Aqua's stories, who is significantly more difficult than previous enemies. In comparison for the same point in the game, Terra faces Braig, who while annoying, is not nearly as tough to tackle.
    • The Wheel Master for Terra. Part of its difficulty is the fact that you're generally around level 4 when you fight it, but by figuring out the strategy behind it (no you can't bruteforce it at that level, he's much stronger than you), it teaches the player about timed blocking and dashing out of otherwise unavoidable attacks.
  • 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.
  • Wham Line: After you finish battering Master Xehanort into submission at the end of Terra's story, he delivers his final line: "Only now have I truly won."
  • Wham Shot: The climax of each Final Boss has one.
    • For Terra, it's the shot of him with white hair and golden eyes after Xehanort hurls his heart into Terra's body, revealing him to be the very same Xehanort that plagued the entire series before now.
    • The reveal of Vanitas' face, and that he looks like Sora.
    • When Aqua reunites with Ven after getting knocked out, he has yellow eyes and dons Vanitas's costume, revealing that Vanitas has taken over.
  • Wham Episode:
    • The end of Terra's story. The birth of the current Xehanort, and the Lingering Will, all at once.
    • The Secret Ending qualifies as one not just for the game, but turns the whole franchise on its head with the implication that Xemnas and Ansem were just following back-up plans Master Xehanort left in place just in case he was defeated, something that 3D confirms. Also, Ansem the Wise survived his death in II, hid some sort of special research within Sora's heart, and is waiting with Aqua in the Realm of Darkness for rescue.
  • 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.
  • When Trees Attack: Ven's Dwarf Woodlands boss, the Mad Treant. It's basically a thematic combination of the Queen's poison apple and the trees Snow White believed were attacking her.
  • Wolfpack Boss: The Jellyshade swarm.
  • 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. While Xehanort's Reports show his sentiments of light and darkness are indeed true, he's just feeding Terra this line to get him to give into the darkness.
  • You Are Too Late: Said by Happy of the Seven Dwarfs during Aqua's story in Dwarf Woodlands in regards to saving Snow White.
    Happy: "An'by the time we got here... Well, it was just too late."
  • Zettai Ryouiki: Aqua.

''Sad to say, the worlds nearly fell to darkness more than once. But at every turn, that boy arrived with Keyblade in hand to save the day. In fact I would like to believe maybe he can set things right. A boy like him who touches so many hearts, he could open the right door, and save all those people whose lives I managed to ruin. His name is...
Ansem the Wise

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