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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: A reasonably popular interpretation of the ending argues that Sora was actually distraught over failing the exam and had to put on a happy face to congratulate Riku. Note that he immediately runs off to cuddle with cute neon animals.
  • Anti-Climax Boss: Chernabog is less of an actual boss fight and more of an extended Dive sequence. Your normal commands are locked, your Dream Eaters aren't present, and you have to perform a Dive to deliver a single hit to the boss, after which you'll be knocked back to start another Dive. He'll take at least three hits to take out.
  • Annoying Video-Game Helper:
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    • The Dream Eaters provide much help, but not when one of the link portal challenges involves blocking enemy attacks. When their instinct is Attack! Attack! Attack! (unlike Donald and Goofy in the main games, changing your Dream Eaters' battle habits is a bit more complicated), you need to simply block before the spirits destroy the nightmares. As of the finale of Kingdom Hearts Union X[cross], they're no longer seen as this trope, due to The Reveal that they're the hearts of ancient, asleep Keyblade Wielders that fused with the original Dream Eaters, the Chirities.
    • The Zolephant Dream Eater can be a hindrance even in standard combat. One of its attacks involves it using its trunk to pull enemies towards it. This is helpful if you're surrounded, but if you have the enemies right where you want them and wish to use an area command to defeat them all, the Zolephant might just end up pulling them all to safety, and wasting your Command slot.
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  • Anvilicious: Whenever Sora or Riku finish a world, they deliver a monologue and it always plays The Power of Friendship trope straight with glee.
  • Ass Pull:
    • Some see Xehanort's time-traveling abilities, which he used to gather incarnations of himself across time as this, since there aren't many sources in-universe explaining that he has this.
    • The notion that the χ-Blade can only really be forged by 13 darknesses clashing with 7 lights and that Xehanort's attempt to forge it in Birth By Sleep by a single powerful darkness clashing with an equally powerful light was a hasty and improper attempt, especially because nothing like this was ever mentioned in Birth By Sleep; in fact, the blade was properly forged in that game but "the attempt ended in failure" only because it was ultimately destroyed by Ven and Aqua. It's likely Xehanort didn't even want to acknowledge their efforts given what little he thinks of them.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
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    • Sora's treatment towards the Nobodies received some criticism in II, especially those who were fans of Organization XIII, for being blunt and hostile to them. This became incredibly more noticeable towards the end of the game where he provides the infamous "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Xemnas about how he cannot feel anything because he's a Nobody, making Sora come off as a Designated Hero that acted rather mean-spirited. This game addresses the problem by showing that Sora sympathizes with the Nobodies for being tricked by Xemnas, genuinely believes that Roxas deserves to be his own person, and even comes to the conclusion that Nobodies had hearts all along.
    • Many see Young Xehanort's portrayal as this after the problem with Master Xehanort's portrayal in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep.
  • Best Level Ever:
    • The Grid seems to get the most love from fans, thanks to the Light Cycle challenge and the boss battle with Rinzler. It helps that its predecessor world, Space Paranoids, is also popular with fans, especially in Japan.
    • Symphony of Sorcery. This world replaces Sora and Riku's battle noises with musical sounds, fitting since it's a Fantasia world. The world includes several sequences from the film, all with their original music. Also, Fantasia means Scenery Porn (in a cutscene, even Young Xehanort has to say what a beautiful world it is) and Awesome Music come as standard. Still not convinced? Riku gets to fight Chernabog.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • This game really left fans divided on whether Master Xehanort (the old man himself, not his younger Heavy) is an effective Arc Villain or an irritating Invincible Villain responsible for just about everything the series's story is often criticized for. Two things almost everyone agrees on, however, are (A) Leonard Nimoy nevertheless performed him well, and (B) the out-of-nowhere Time Travel was definitely not his highest point by any stretch of the imagination.
    • Lea. Fans are very divided as to whether or not restoring him was a good move. Supporters say that Axel's "death" in Kingdom Hearts II was a result of Cutscene Incompetence and that he deserved a second chance at life to make amends for his actions and offers a new dynamic to the Hero's team. Detractors meanwhile feel bringing back Axel in everything but name completely destroys the emotional impact of his story and offers nothing new to the narrative beyond sprouting a catchphrase that has long been overdone. Similarly, there is also a divide over Lea getting a keyblade. Either it allows for Lea to become even more badass or it further cheapens the importance of keyblades and makes Lea's fighting style less unique
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • Both Vanitas and Riku Replica's appearances feel like this as they are never mentioned afterwards. Word of God says that Vanitas was an image conjured up by Ven's heart reacting to Xehanort, and wasn't really there. As for the Riku Replica, rampant speculation is that he's one of the thirteen Seekers of Darkness. This is confirmed as of III.
    • Maleficent and Pete's appearance. They show up, are driven away by Lea, and the plot carries on without further mention of them.
    • The ending scene of the first Traverse Town visit where Joshua suddenly sprouts angel wings and flies off will make absolutely zero sense if you have never played The World Ends with You.
  • Captain Obvious Reveal: The silver-haired youth is a young version of Master Xehanort. The interviews with Tetsuya Nomura in the lead-up to the game didn't even bother trying to hide this. The main mystery is how does he fit into the narrative of the game and seemingly coexist with his older self.
  • Catharsis Factor: All of the Xehanort fights. Master Xehanort still has not truly paid for his horrible crimes from both Birth By Sleep and this game, but bludgeoning his alternate selves with a giant key, powerful commands, and Flowmotion certainly helps—even if they all survive the battles seemingly no worse for wear.
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome: Not as bad as the other two Command Deck games due to Dream Eaters being required to gain most new commands, and the lack of anything as truly outrageous as Thunder Surge or Judgment Triad, but Balloonra and Balloonga manage to outshine most other commands anyway courtesy of multiple hits for high damage. The big new winner, however, is Shock Dive, a Flowmotion attack command that strikes a large area for high damage and is easily repeated by rolling into a wall, jumping off and pressing the attack button. Only certain lategame enemies are capable of responding to it effectively, and the ease with which it can be performed makes most deck commands irrelevant except in boss battles.
  • Contested Sequel: 3D is one of the entries in the series that receives the most criticism for both gameplay and story reasons. On the story front, many KH fans feel the story of the series was easy enough to follow if you played the games in order, despite the memes, until KH 3 D introduced multiple plot points that many considered absurd and made it a truly convoluted plotline, chiefly the time travel and the "Organization XIII was really a ploy to get 13 bodies for Xehanort" plotline. On a gameplay level, it gets a lot of flak for retaining many of the flaws of Birth By Sleep, such as the poor balancing of its command deck battle system (with a few commands such as Balloon being very overpowered) and frustrating enemy and boss design with bosses that don't react consistently to your attacks. There are also new problems, such as the Dive mechanic forcing you to switch your character against your will, and the pet simulator elements of the Dream Eaters not being everyone's cup of tea.
  • Continuity Lockout: Surprisingly, the developers consciously attempted to avert a lockout for new players. Whenever Continuity Lockout would otherwise rear its head, a new Chronicle summarizing a previous game is unlocked in the Mementos menu. Considering the nature of the game in terms of continuity, the complexity of the story and the many plotlines it encompasses, this was a very good idea; whether it was a successful one or not varies from player to player.
    • The game actually starts off like this, as the secret ending of Re Coded is necessary to understand what is actually going on and why Xehanort is returning despite both Ansem and Xemnas having been killed.
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • In the later part of the game, Aura Lions and Keeba Tigers. They constantly spew copies of themselves that block your hits and home in on you, they have a good chunk of HP, and worst of all, they can randomly decide to become invulnerable while they jump and dive into the ground, damaging anyone on impact, and reappearing who knows where a second later. And of course, they will almost always do this last one right when you're about to hit with one of your big Commands that takes a lot of charge time. But wait, there's more! One of Riku's Special Portals is against three Aura Lions...in a small corridor with slow-moving laser beams that block your attacks and damage you but not them. If you're currently under Risky Winds, you can literally spend an entire turn with Riku and fail to kill all three before Dropping.
    • Black Guards in The Grid. They are fast, hit hard, have a staff combo that can stunlock you to death, and have a habit of throwing bombs around that explode even if the guards themselves are stunned.
  • Ending Fatigue: This game's rendition of The World That Never Was. In Sora's half of the world, the story begins with him running into antagonists immediately, they proceed to give him a long Info Dump of the Kudzu Plot by that point, which soon segways into a Mind Screw of Sora being put into multiple dreams meant to suede him, which goes on for about ten minutes without any gameplay at all. Riku's half is no better, while it has considerably less cutscenes compared to Sora's side, it escalates into a Boss Rush between Anti Black Coat and two forms of Ansem, all of which are notoriously difficult bosses, fought back-to-back without a save point in between them, and once defeated, Riku battles Young Xehanort, who is even more difficult than the last three bosses. This is proceeded by another lengthy scene of Master Xehanort appearing and establishing his Evil Plan and when it seems like the game is close to ending, it turns out that it's still not over yet since Riku dives into Sora's heart to fight one more boss, speaks individually with all three people inside of Sora's heart, and then have a full conversation with a data version of Ansem the Wise, which lasts for eight minutes.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Meow Wow, the fat and cat-/doglike Dream Eater, along with its variations.
    • The Aura Lion and Keeba Tiger are also popular, with many players using them on their teams just for the "cool" factor. One can also say this about Tyranto Rex, which is one of the biggest, most useful and most Badass-looking Spirits you can have in your party.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: The Happy Ending Override against the previous games, combined with the amount of Fan-Disliked Explanation Retcons (especially in The World That Never Was), has inevitably caused some fans to invoke this.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: The cute and cuddly nature of the game suddenly became a lot darker after the ending of Kingdom Hearts χ revealed that the Dream Eaters in 3D are fusions of Chirithies and their Keyblade Wielders from the ancient past, who changed form to protect their Wielders when their hearts fell asleep.
  • Game-Breaker:
    • Flowmotion grants you fast dashes, high jumps, and powerful attacks, and most enemies will have difficulty hitting you. The only limit is having a rail or a wall to jump off of. Around the middle of the game, provided you know what you're doing, you'll begin to get access to commands that are more powerful and/or useful than Flowmotion attacks, lessening their gamebreaker status a bit, especially since caps on how much damage you do to bosses seem to have been lessened or done away with. Flowmotion Attacks are still good on their own though, which will help you early-game.
      • The thing with the Flowmotion moves is that they don't deal out very much damage. However they are fast, have very large range, can home in on enemies over very long distances, can not be interrupted, have no cost, and move you out of the way very quickly, all at the same time. And they either have lots of invincibility frames or make your hit-box smaller, because some point blank moves will go right through you while you're performing them. You can take damage during them, in which case you have no way to avoid it, but that doesn't happen often enough to make it dangerous unless you're on higher difficulties and are against very dangerous enemies.
      • Another thing about Flowmotion is that you have all the moves from the very beginning of the game and there are only about a half dozen or so actual Flowmotion attacks. So they quickly fall into Boring, but Practical territory. While that doesn't take away from the Game-Breaker status, it does make them less likely to be exploited.
      • Flowmotion also makes the existance of KH's standard movement abilities (Air dash, high/double jump, glide) in Dream Drop Distance pretty much completely pointless, as Flowmotion can do all that those abilities can do plus more... Or it would if it weren't for the fact that using Flowmotion is restricted to how many walls and other context-sensitive objects you can use, as well as the fact that you're not able to use normal commands while in Flowmotion state, Superglide is arguably just as good as using Flowmotion, and Doubleflight allows you to pull off normal commands like Meteor Crash and Curaga.
    • The Balloon series of spells. Especially Balloonga. It can be obtained fairly early in the game, can be activated almost instantly, and can throw foes into the air with six balloon-tracking... balloons to explode on their faces. The spell can also be used as a floating mine. Hilariously enough, this spell is also pretty useful in Flick Rush itself.
    • Zero Graviza is a nerfed replacement for the Magnet spells from previous installments. It takes longer to go up, immobilizes you longer while it's going, and can be interrupted more easily. And it's still absurdly powerful.
    • Once Riku gets his Dark Barrier, and the counterattack associated to it, well-timed use of it allows Riku to be virtually invincible and dish out damages at the same time. It even works against bosses (though some of end-game ones will wait for an opening and punish you if you try to spam it).
    • A Riku-exclusive command, Dark Splicer, makes you a player character with a Teleport Spam technique. It hits hard and is a very long combo, and besides just being strong, it can completely destroy the strategy behind the second Ansem battle. The one drawback is that you can take damage during it, but having Curaga at the ready mitigates this for the most part.
    • Another Riku-exclusive command, is as useful as (or even more than) Dark Splicer: Dark Aura, Riku's Signature Move, now available as a mere 2-slot command! Given how it's That One Attack in several KH games with Riku as a boss, it was to be expected.
    • Riku gets a lot of commands that break the game in favour of him, actually: Meteor Crash is really good for chipping off damage on large bosses, or clearing groups of Mooks, and can be combined with Doubleflight to pull it off in a relatively safe manner. Dark Firaga splits into multiple balls of darkness which all do decent damage, and it can be used at range, making it another great boss killer. Meteor (also shared with Terra) can allow him to nuke in a large area around himself for notable damage akin to a Mega Flare. Dark Roll has more invincibility frames than Dodge Roll (which was nerfed in this game), and Dark Barrier is pretty much Aqua's normal Barrier move with a dark twist on it. The aforementioned Doubleflight itself can be used to pull off your long-charging commands safely, or to make it easier to get off a Cure spell. Finally, Shadow Slide lets you Flash Step behind the enemy where using the follow-up move Shadow Strike allows Riku to pull off a combo during which he's invincible to attacks (it's much better than Ventus' or Aqua's equivalents).
    • In flick rush, Meow Wow is an expert turtler, and you can abuse it. Meow Wow's defense reward is mega-elixir, which slightly heals all allies and restores their cards. Including Meow Wow. Just throw a bunch of cards on defense whenever you're ready for an attack and the enemy will have a hard time breaking your superior numbers, which would normally be kept in check by each deck having a card limit. Then, when your attackers are ready send them out lay out some heavy damage, once again using the near infinite font of cards provided by mega-elixir to outdo your opponent with superior firepower and numbers, and you can easily win using whatever two other dream eaters you want.
  • Genius Bonus: The text that appears after a successful "Code Break" reality shift within The Grid is actual pseudocode. Therefore, those who understand the fundamentals of programming will understand what the text is trying to say.
  • Goddamned Boss: Holey Moley is not that dangerous a boss, but landing a hit can be a challenge, as he keeps warping around the large, obstacle-filled room.
  • Good Bad Bugs: A bug exclusive to the HD Remaster allows you to create a Spirit using the recipe of another Spirit, even if you don't have the Dream Pieces for the one you wish to create. Simply leave your cursor highlighted on the recipe of your desired Spirit and then press L1/R1 to place the cursor on one of the recipes in the top-left or bottom-right corner. The game still thinks you're highlighting your desired Spirit, but pressing A will bring the menu to the recipe your cursor was actually on. It helps that the Meow Wow recipe sits at the top-left of the Recipe list, allowing for some serious Disc-One Nukes.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Sora's "My Friends are my power!" speech and defeat of Xemnas is really awesome the first time around, but after seeing the subsequent events that make that speech and fight completely pointless it's nowhere near as impressive as it was on future playthroughs. It proves Xigbar entirely correct that what Sora said was just talk and he'd already lost.
    • Sora's side of La Cité Des Cloches is pretty bad enough, but Riku's side is even worse now that the (accidental) fire had heavily damaged the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019.
    • During Sora's visit to Prankster's Paradise, he's in complete awe at the amusement park. This seems innocent enough at first, until you remember exactly what happens to children that visit Pleasure Island. (Hint: They never come back as boys)
    • When Sora and Neku's gang part ways, they suggest that Sora stops by Shibuya one day. Kingdom Hearts III ends with the implication that Sora is not only dead, but the Secret Ending shows Sora waking up in Shibuya the same way Neku did in The World Ends with You.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: KH3D features Mons as party members, which naturally drew comparisons to Pokémon, one of the major aspects of this game's Mons was that it had a virtual pet aspect similar to Nintendogs for you to bond with them. It was rather amusing that little more than a year later, Pokémon X and Y was released, with introduced the Pokémon-Amie feature, which allows the player to bond with their Pokémon.
  • Ho Yay:
    • When Riku first arrives at Traverse Town, the cutscene with his first meeting with Joshua ends with Riku approaching Joshua and saying "I'll help you" while the camera pans up in order to show the animation for the new Traverse Town logo. It wouldn't be so bad by itself, but sadly said animation begins with fireworks. Add Joshua's perceived "Ambiguously Gay" status from the game he's from and you get the picture. In addition, his English voice actor does not help this situation. At all.
    • When Sora meets Neku, their conversation eventually turns to Joshua, of whom Neku remarks "He's my...friend." The way he says makes it seem like Joshua is a bit more than just his...friend.
  • It's Short, So It Sucks!: This game only has six Disney worlds, the least in any Kingdom Hearts game. Three of them (Fantasia, TRON, and Pinocchio) are already in previous games in some form. Fans were displeased.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: One criticism of this game is that the combat is almost ripped straight from Birth by Sleep, a game already criticized for poor game balance and boss design. This game handles progression, balance, and boss stagger quite a bit better, but a lot of problems are still there, and the more direct changes made to the system(the Drop mechanic and Dream Eaters) are very hit-or-miss with most players.
  • It Was His Sled: The silver-haired youth is The Mysterious Figure from Birth by Sleep. Also, his white hair and Supernatural Gold Eyes are big clues to his identity as a young Xehanort.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: Many former fans and every fan who hates the Kudzu Plot of the series are only playing this game for the The World Ends with You characters.
    • Alternatively, some people hate the TWEWY characters as well and are only interested in seeing new Disney Worlds or simply enjoy the gameplay enough to tolerate the elements they dislike.
    • There are also people who just play for the Dream Eaters.
  • Memetic Molester: Ansem has giant black balls, and he keeps slamming them into Riku's face.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • The borderline counterattack following the announcement about the game not getting localized in Spanish and Italiannote  culminated in "KH3D EN ESPAÑOL E ITALIANO YA!" written all over the page.
    • Amidst The Reveal in the endgame as Xemnas and Xigbar confront Sora in Xehanort's newest plan to turn him into one of his vessels, Sora turns to the latter to ask if he was really okay with that. The response was a line for the ages as one of the most-repeated quotes since then due to how awkward it was, not to mention justifying years of memes about Sora and Xehanort that had been building up from the Kudzu Plot.
    Xigbar: Me? I'm already Half-Xehanort!
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Clu crosses it by forcing Sora to fight Rinzler, before killing the latter upon his freedom, which makes him more of a monster here than in his source film; a trait shared with only Lady Tremaine and Scar.
    • Riku to Phoebus: "Once you've fallen that far, there's almost no coming back". This line outright confirms that Frollo has crossed the line.
  • Narm: See here.
  • Never Live It Down: Clu forcing Sora to fight Rinzler, and the resulting cutscene afterwards is considered in even the TRON fanbase to be one of his worst crimes, if not his worst.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The giant clown face in Windup Way at the Prankster's Paradise world. The eyes actually follow you.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Despite once again being the Big Bad, Master Xehanort has far less screentime here than in Birth By Sleep, and in fact only appears in a single scene. However, it is the story's climax and it has an enormous impact, as well as being the last time we would hear the character voiced by Chikao Ohtsuka in the Japanese version and Leonard Nimoy in the English version, given the deaths of both of those actors a few years later.
  • Player Punch:
    Master Xehanort: I merely guided them to their proper places. The broken boy, who failed to be the blade. The misguided master, who sacrificed herself for a friend. And the feckless youth who became my new vessel.
    Mickey: I couldn't find a way to save 'em. But I wanted to believe their sacrifice stopped you for good.
    • Sora's dreams in the World That Never Was. Not only does the poor kid have no idea what's going on, the players get punched in the gut over and over by the sight of Terra and Aqua/Riku and Kairi turning their backs on Sora-turned-Ven, Namine looking regretful, having Xion outright run from Sora in presumed shame, and seeing Roxas transfer his memories to Sora. And that's not going into the Break the Cutie run Sora gets throughout this that culminates in him falling into darkness and almost (presumably) dying.
    • You, as Sora, will have to face off against a brainwashed Tron.
  • Polished Port: The 2.8 remake acknowledges the fact that the PS4 doesn't have the same abilities as the 3DS and alters the game accordingly for several factors. The intro movie mixes both screens from the 3DS togethernote , petting Dream Eaters now uses the control stick or touchpad, and the mini-map returns to the corner of the screen as opposed to being displayed on the 3DS's lower screen. On top of that, the gameplay now runs at a constant 60 frames per second!note  If anything, the only glaring issue one might have gameplay wise is that Reality Shifting can accidentally make you use a command attack since one of the buttons to activate it is the command attack button. (Which wouldn't be such a big deal, generally, except that there are some portal challenges that actually require that you complete them without using any command attacks.)
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • The Drop mechanic is viewed as irritating and somewhat pointless by quite a few critics. It can even happen during boss battles, and when you Drop back to that battle, it'll start over from the beginning with the boss at full health. Considering the game's difficulty, this can be extremely frustrating. And even if you do always have Drop-Me-Nots in your Deck to refill the gauge, you can still run out and it takes up a space in the Deck that could be used for something else. The mechanic does have some saving graces—if you're stuck with useless commands or need a boost, you can simply wait out the boss battle and then grind for DP to buy attack boosts, et cetera or switch out commands as the other character.
    • Remember how in Birth By Sleep, merely changing one command in your deck puts the whole deck on cooldown? Not only does that return here, but it has been made much more common. Dropping also puts all your commands on cooldown, meaning you have several seconds of helplessness to look forwards to if you happen to Drop during a boss fight, as does retrying after a Game Over.
    • The way the game handles abilities is by far the worst out of any KH game when it comes to maxing out Spirits if you don't like caring for them:
      • Earning LP. You need several thousand LP to max out most of them, killing any enemy regardless of strength is only worth a single LP and playing minigames or feeding them isn't much faster and quickly uses up your munny reserves as well.
      • You also need to change each Spirit to each of their 4 possible dispositions at least once to unlock their entire Link Board, which is largely based on randomness. Playing with a Spirit has a chance of changing its disposition, and feeding them lets you change them to a specific disposition, but it's all random and can take several minutes.
      • In addition to the above, while Commands and some abilities remain permanently accessible on Sora and Riku after you unlock them on the Link Board, stat-boosting abilities (such as HP Boost) are not, and require you to have the Dream Eater to which they are attached in your party. So maxing out Sora and Riku's abilities and stats becomes nearly (if not completely) impossible. This is a sharp contrast to Birth by Sleep, in which any and all abilities were permanently unlocked after the command to which they were attached hit max level.
    • In the Symphony of Sorcery, the Soundtrack Dissonance - the fact that the normal pastoral music continues regardless of whether or not there are Dream Eaters present and the normal attack sounds get replaced by sounds of musical instruments. It's all very pleasant sounding, but it can really throw you off if you've come to rely on the usual audible cues.
    • The Air Slide and Wall Jump Flowmotion abilities are fun to use at first, until you realize that they render every other movement-related ability pointless outside of attacking and make the non-combat portions of the game too easy. The game has plenty of interesting-looking platforming challenges and puzzles with rails and bars, and you clearly aren't meant to just abuse Air Slides and Wall Jumps to get through them, but there's no real reward to traversing levels the "proper" way instead of just Air Sliding towards a wall, jumping off it, and Air Sliding again until you reach wherever you want to go. There is a single wall in the game that specifically prevents you from just "climbing" it that way, too, which raises the question of why they didn't use more of them.
  • Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer: This can easily happen with the "Spirits" menu for taking care of your Dream Eaters, since it's essentially a fully functional virtual pet simulator.
  • Signature Scene:
    • The Reveal that changes the entire series in Sora's conversation with Xemnas and Xigbar.
    • The conversation with Master Xehanort in Where Nothing Gathers, particularly Lea's Big Damn Heroes moment. The fact that this ended up being the final scene in which Master Xehanort was voiced by his original actors, Chikao Ohtsuka and Leonard Nimoy, has also bumped up the scene’s significance to the fandom.
    • Lea summoning his Keyblade.
  • Tainted by the Preview: After the hype the game is now well-known for, now comes word that, contrary to the UK, France and Germany, the European version of KH3D won't be localized at all for Spain and Italy. While this is still better than, say, Dissidia 012: Final Fantasy, not getting localized on-screen text has already resulted in... well, a call to boycott a product no one expected them to buy.
  • That One Boss:
    • Young Master Xehanort. He's fast, hits hard, has a lot of HP and can rewind time to the beginning of the battle when he hits 0 HP. The only way to defeat him is to use a Reality Shift on the clock that appears when he rewinds time and destroy it from the inside; however, you still have to keep him at bay whilst doing this, and the clock has as much HP as he does. If you don't do it in time, he simply rewinds time to the beginning of the battle and you have to start over again. The only saving grace is that, if he does rewind time, the clock does not recover any health, and his maximum HP is reduced to whatever the clock's remaining HP is.
    • Nearly all of the endgame bosses hit this territory without Once More (which is tricky to acquire unless you know what Dream Eaters have it beforehand), an ability that allows a player to survive any combo with 1 HP left over. It just so happens that the last 4 bosses are incredibly fond of melee combos and Beam Spam, Xehanort's Heartless and Young MX in particular.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Flowmotion was well received by most players for making Sora and Riku far more mobile than in any previous entry right off the bat, but others bemoan the changes to the gameplay and level design that this introduced. Every aspect of Flowmotion, from movement to attacks, are available at the very beginning of the game, meaning that there are no parts of a level that are inaccessible to the player at any time. This means that the Metroidvania element of backtracking to get previously inaccessible chests or other collectibles after having obtained some type of upgrade are gone. Flowmotion being so powerful and fast also caused the levels to be vastly expanded (particularly in regards to verticality), with hidey-holes for chests hidden conceivably anywhere (which brought back unpleasant memories of the way Atlantica was constructed in the original game). Many fans who enjoyed getting all of the chests, Trinities, puzzle pieces, stickers, etc. in previous games found it to be a tedious, unexciting and uninteresting chore in 3D - and this is not helped by the chest contents mostly being Dream Pieces, which are only relevant to a major polarizing gameplay mechanic. And since those who would've otherwise gone searching for them didn't, the game's already comparatively short length was shortened even further.
  • They Wasted A Perfectly Good Character:
    • Even though Pinocchio has four major antagonists (Honest John, Gideon, Stromboli, and The Coachman), none of them appear in this Prankster's Paradise in any capacity, nor are they even mentioned. This is especially strange for Coachman, who was the owner of Pleasure Island, and his inclusion could have made for a good Catharsis Factor considering that he was a Karma Houdini that never faced the consequences of his actions in the original film.
    • Frollo. As one of Disney's deepest and best-loved villains, his flatter characterization in the Compressed Adaptation of his movie turned off many fans. Worst of all, he doesn't even get a boss fight; a lot of players were really looking forward to fighting him, and it actually looks like he's going to be a boss, but then he gets knocked off the Cathedral by the Wargoyle.
    • Same goes for Clu, especially those who finally want to get some sweet payback for his crimes in both film and game canon.
  • Tier-Induced Scrappy: Sora, mainly because many of the most game-breaking commands such as Dark Roll, Dark Barrier, Dark Aura and Meteor, are exclusive to Riku. While Sora's range from decent to actually pretty good, Riku just looks that much better in comparison.
  • Ugly Cute: To an extent with the Dream Eaters; Nomura designed them to be appealing to the player, but not in the conventional sense of "cute and cuddly." The result is creatures like Meow Wow, who are decidedly odd-looking but still endearing in their own way.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • The Grid had Sam, Flynn, and Quorra from Tron: Legacy. The faces are so realistic it's really creepy, especially when they share a shot with Riku and Sora who have kept their stylized faces. It's comparable to the Pirates of the Caribbean situation in the second game.
    • The characters from The World Ends with You look very similar to the Kingdom Hearts characters in terms of design. However, the one thing that sets them apart is their very skinny torsos (except for Beat and Rhyme). This is particularly noticeable with Shiki, who just looks positively emaciated compared to the other female Kingdom Hearts characters.
  • Unexpected Character: Who would’ve expected Nomura to choose Julius, a villain from the obscure 1995 short “Runaway Brain”, to be a secret boss for this game? He only appears if you return to Traverse Town late in the game and trigger an event near a specific location, which isn’t easy to find either. Beating him will get you the Ultima Weapon as a reward.
  • Woolseyism:
    • The route the English version took with the Dream Eater names. For example, the Japanese name "Wandanyan" incorporates "wonder", "wanwan" (a dog's bark), and "nyan-nyan" (a cat's meow). The English name is "Meow Wow", a combination of "wow", "meow", and "bow-wow."
    • "Dark Fears" and "Light Hammer" became "Darkest Fears" and "Shining Hammer", respectively.
    • Someone was having way too much fun doing his job, because most of the Dream Eater descriptions are flat-out zany.
    • Lines from the Japanese script that would've been flat-out Narm (Riku's "If you're a Nightmare, I'll eat you whole!" and Sora's "This is the key to everyone's smiles" leap to mind) were given somewhat less silly translations.

Alternative Title(s): Kingdom Hearts 3 D

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