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YMMV / Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep - A Fragmentary Passage

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  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • When Mickey and Aqua end up on the other side of the door to Kingdom Hearts seen in the first game, Mickey explains to Aqua that it's not the true Kingdom Hearts they saw in Birth by Sleep but a smaller, incomplete one created from the hearts of many worlds, thus partially clearing up some confusion about the titular MacGuffin Location without the need for supplemental material provided by Tetsuya Nomura. note 
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    • The game explains where Mickey was during the first game, something that was previously left unexplored. He went to Destiny Islands shortly before it fell because he knew it would be his chance to enter the Realm of Darkness. This also explains how he knew who Sora and Riku were and how he had the opportunity to speak to Sora as the voice heard in Dive to the Heart. It also explains why Mickey appeared wearing only his classic red pants during his cameo at the ending of the first game, when all future games gave him proper clothes. A Demon Tide attack destroyed the clothes he was wearing at the time.
    • Birth by Sleep and Dream Drop Distance were roundly criticized for featuring bonus bosses whose attacks were unpredictable and/or relied heavily on the player abusing invincibility frames and Game-Breaker attacks rather than responding to the boss's fighting style. 0.2 offers a return to more reactive boss design, easing many fears of III being more of the same.
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    • Fans of II are happy that 0.2 is hinting at the return of the "Revenge Value" mechanic (where stunlocking a boss raises a hidden value that would allow it to break the lock and retaliate) through Phantom Aqua. Revenge Value has yet to appear in a Kingdom Hearts title since its introduction in II; Birth by Sleep and Dream Drop Distance would instead have bosses break out of stunlock at random and slightly-less-random times, respectively.
    • A common complaint about more recent KH games has been how the Disney worlds can feel like Padding, featuring Broad Strokes summary of their films' plots without affecting the overarching Original Generation plot—which wasn't true in the first game. In 0.2's ending, Yen Sid instructs Sora to go train with Hercules to help fully unlock the potential he lost at the end of 3D due to Xehanort's interference.
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    • Another common complaint post-Dream Drop Distance was the implication that Terra's Heroic Resolve (and, by extension, Eraqus's Obi-Wan Moment on his behalf) from Blank Points was simply Diabolus ex Machina'd away in Xehanort's favor. Here, it turns out Terra(/Eraqus)'s Fighting from the Inside has actually gotten stronger (to the point where Terra even uses one of Eraqus's attacks to temporarily dispel Xehanort's control), thus giving him(/them) a refreshing, if slight, victory over Xehanort.
  • Best Boss Ever: Zodiac Aqua is comparable to Lingering Will in how she's an entirely reactive boss whose moves follow a pattern and offer distinct tells of what you can and cannot block versus what you must dodge, counterattack, or Counter Blast, making besting her a pure test of the player's memory and reflexes. She's outrageously difficult and provides almost no room for error, especially on Critical, but beating her after hours of repeated failures can be immensely satisfying. It's doubly impressive for being an Author's Saving Throw for the development team, who in their previous installments relied on A.I. Roulette bonus boss design that was poorly received.
  • Broken Base:
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: The reaction some fans have to this game, which is just plain depressing. Granted, Doomed by Canon is in full effect since it takes place before the first game, but it's still a title that shows how lonely and broken Aqua is, with the heroes barely managing to achieve a victory right at the end.
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • Flame Cores. Little balls of fire that are relatively passive at first, firing long-range Fire spells or assaulting you with bullets of fire from afar, but when you strike them with significant damage, they go completely ballistic and light ablaze, charging around the area while completely invincible before rising up and slamming the ground where you're standing. If you don't hit them with a Blizzaga/Blizzaja first, they will always do this, and they're almost always guaranteed to hit you on the first pass. They're especially nasty on Critical Mode, where Aqua has very little maximum MP and may not have enough Blizzaga rounds to take out all of the Flame Cores in an area even if she never misses with the spell.
    • Neoshadows return with a vengeance. In addition to being just plain annoying, they have a tendency to pop out of the ground next to you and slam you with a spin attack, or charge straight at you for massive damage. These typically have tells and are otherwise simple to handle, but much less so when you're taking on four or more simultaneously, which the game likes to do later on.
  • Ear Worm: "Simple and Clean (Ray of Hope Mix)" is far more upbeat and catchy than anything else on the II.8 disc.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Doomed by Canon is in effect, and we know Aqua can't escape the Realm of Darkness just yet, but the story does end off on a high note of her fighting spirit being reinvigorated even if she has to persist just a little bit longer. Come Kingdom Hearts III, she didn't hold out and has seemingly performed a full Face–Heel Turn.
  • He Really Can Act: Willa Holland and Jason Dohring caught some flak for their wooden performances as Aqua and Terra in Birth By Sleep, but they show much improvement here, especially Dohring, with the scene of Terra resisting Xehanort's attempts at reasserting control of their body being a standout instance.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: When the title of the compilation was revealed, numerous jokes ensued about Square's increasingly ridiculous numbering scheme for the compilations, such as a hypothetical "Kingdom Hearts 2.9." The Epilogue cutscene of 0.2 is actually called "2.9 - The First Chapter."
  • It's Short, So It Sucks!: A complaint that some in the Broken Base hold, since it's basically more of a glorified demo for KHIII than a proper game. Even getting 100% Completion will take three hours, at most. In fairness, this was never billed as a full game and was always stated to be only a demo of what KHIII would be like, with promotional material describing it as being approximately the length of one world from KHIII. It helps that it's a part of a compilation and not a standalone title.
  • Memetic Mutation: Almost immediately after the trailer revealing the customization features was released, fan art of Aqua with the Minnie Mouse ears became inescapable.
  • Narm: How does this game confront a tiny Continuity Snarl in the fact that Mickey was in his signature Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal design in the original game? By having a random hit from the Demon Tide cause his shirt to evaporate. It's as ridiculous and out-of-place as it sounds.
    • Even worse is it didn't even fix the Continuity Snarl entirely as Mickey's shoes in this game have blue straps on them while in the same cutscene in the first Kingdom Hearts game, there are no straps on his shoes at all.
  • Narm Charm: By the same token, some actually like the above moment because of how much attention to detail was put into explaining something so trivial that could've been easily done away with via Retcon.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • The Dwarf Woodland area is astoundingly unsettling, especially the warping stones area. Not helping is if you fall down the bottomless pits, a monotone version of Aqua's voice starts talking, telling Aqua she's a failure. The entire area is alive, and it's trying to break her will.
    • The last part of Enchanted Dominion, featuring a veritable swarm of Darksides.
    • Dying has always been startling in the series, but this time Aqua lets out a scream when she's defeated that may genuinely kick a player's twitch reaction if you're taken down without warning. And if that wasn't enough, death by Heartless has always meant one losing their heart (albeit usually by floating away rather than anything truly disturbing), but this is the first time in the series you get to see it fly out of you mid-death.
  • Special Effect Failure: The cutscene graphics of the game's E3 demo—especially in the scene where Terra appears—were widely criticized for appearing unfinished and plastic-like.
    • By game launch the graphics improved considerably, suggesting that the E3 graphics were indeed unfinished; however, there's still a slight Uncanny Valley, doll-like quality to the characters at times.
  • Uncanny Valley: Despite the below, the lighting effects tend to emphasize the oddly smooth, doll-like skin on the character models.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: As an Unreal Engine 4-based game, the lighting effects are incredible, and the game just looks gorgeous.
    • A particularly standout example is if you use the Wayfinder Style at certain points in the final battle: Aqua and Mickey will use a new attack that looks absolutely stunning and beautiful!
    • Try casting Thundaja for the first time. The astounding visuals look like a Summon attack pulled out of Final Fantasy XV.
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