Captain Gantu may be physically imposing and armed with a ray gun, but in battle, his moves are pathetically easy to avoid and leave him wide open to attacks. There's even a Reaction Command that stuns him for a few seconds, letting Aqua whale on him with impunity, but she won't need it.
For all the buildup of Master Xehanort as a powerful and despicable villain, Terra's final fight against him is remarkably straightforward. It's even possible to beat him just by tapping the attack button and watching him make little effort to avoid getting comboed to death. Of course, this is all according to plan, and the fight's second phase completely turns the tables on Terra.
The final boss of Aqua's story, Ventus-Vanitas. Whereas Terra's final boss is That One Boss, and Ventus's final boss is a magnificent three-stage fight, Ventus-Vanitas's attacks are easy to avoid and recover from, and Mickey helps out throughout the fight. Even Braig immediately beforehand eclipses this foe in difficulty. Like Master Xehanort above, Aqua has to fight a much harder True Final Boss, but not until the Final Episode, and as this is Vanitas's last hurrah in the story (assuming you played Aqua last), one would expect this character to put up a bit more of a fight.
Author's Saving Throw: The 2.5 Remix re-release adds in a small scene at the end of Terra's story where the Lingering Will sprouts a cape from its armor after defeating Xehanort, allowing continuity between this game and Kingdom Hearts II to be retained.
Terra gets the Magic Mirror, an Unexpected Character (since the screenshots depicted Aqua fighting it instead, something that was proven true) but also Braig and is the only one to fight Master Xehanort directly - something not done until Kingdom Hearts III. To say nothing of Eraqus, a truly emotional battle.
Aqua gets quite a lot. Between the Magic Mirror, Gantu, Maleficent Dragon, and an empowered Braig, it's a wonder nobody treats Aqua as if she is the true hero if the game.
Best Level Ever: While the 358/2 Days version of Never Land had a better theme, the Birth by Sleep version is often considered to be the best one, in part because you actually get to go to Never Land instead of the outskirts.
Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The fight against the Spirit of the Mirror is this, from Aqua's perspective. She enters the castle looking for the Queen, enters the room with the mirror, immediately gets sucked into it, fights the Spirit, and when she wins, the mirror just says, "Queen's gone, nice job beating me, peace out".
Broken Base: There's also slight debate on the continuity of the novelization of the game concerning Vanitas's backstory that paints him in a much more Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds light. Some people think that it doesn't make sense when compared to the actual character in the game and enter it under Fan Discontinuity (not hard to do, as the novels are a separate continuity to game canon), while others accept it and think it fleshes the character out more. Then there's fangirls who take it as an excuse for Draco in Leather Pants towards Vanitas.
Character Tiers: The characters are typically ranked in reverse order of what the story encourages you to play. Early-game the tiers are Terra > Ventus > Aqua, with Terra having the best HP and Attack stats of the three to take advantage of the powerful physical commands in most D-Links, while Aqua takes an enormous number of hits just to kill a basic Flood. Worse still, because Aqua can't D-Link with herself, she's the only one to start with no form of immediate access to Cure without use of the Command Board. Late in the game, and especially in postgame, this relationship inverts: the Bonus Bosses all do such outrageous amounts of damage that relying on HP is a pointless endeavor, with the most viable strategy being to instead abuse invincibility frames to avoid damage altogether. Ventus and Aqua can both have perfect i-frame coverage by spamming their basic Dodge Roll and Cartwheel abilities, while Terra's Slide leaves him vulnerable at the start and end of it, turning Mysterious Figure in particular into an outright Luck-Based Mission. Ventus, in both early and endgame, stays squarely in the middle.
"Common Knowledge": Terra is best known to be incredibly trusting of all of the Obviously Evil villains and easily tricked into working for them, but this isn't true. He's immediately suspicious of most of the Disney villains and just plays along with their plans for a bit, with Jumba and Hook being the only ones to successfully gaslight him. The misconception stems from Terra's interactions with Xehanort, which happen frequently and are integral to making the plot work.
Complacent Gaming Syndrome: The Command Deck system used in this game, Re:Coded and Dream Drop Distance is highly vulnerable to this in general, but Birth by Sleep is the worst about it due to the ease with which powerful commands can be synthesized early in the game. Most decks will only contain one of four commands: Thunder Surge, Mine Square, Mega Flare, and Curaga. The game has approximately fifty different commands that can be equipped, but all of the others are inferior versions of these four.
Contested Sequel: Many regard this game as one of the better in the series, if not the best, mostly due to its battle system, the interesting story and refreshing three-POV narrative. However, the game received overall lower review scores among critics due to combat-related issues (including the lack of enemy knockback and the lack of combos) and story-related issues that weren't present until this entry in the franchise.
Demonic Spiders: Wild Bruisers are tough and can hit hard with their widespread area damage. These enemies are also completely immune to magnet so you can't use the regular mob-clearing combos and hope that they got caught in it.
Disappointing Last Level: The final world is exactly three screens long. Enter it, pick up the treasure chests in the first screen, go to the second area and fight your way past some Unversed to get to the third area with a save point, shop, and no enemies. That's all there is to it, and if you're quick you don't need to fight the Unversed in the second area.
Draco in Leather Pants: Vanitas. Although few fans will argue that his actions in-game aren't evil, there's a lot of support for his Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds characterization from the novelization, as well as the idea that Master Xehanort was an abusive master towards him and his motive to join with Ventus and become whole again was sympathetic in a way. There's even speculation that he'll get a redemption arc later in the series.
The overworld theme to Cinderella's world, the Castle of Dreams, is based off of "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo". It's purely instrumental, but the song can still get stuck in your head.
Ensemble Dark Horse: Vanitas, or Vani as many fans say, is a secondary villain. He has a minor role in Aqua's story and doesn't appear at all in Terra's. Yet he is wildly popular, showing up often in fanart and getting shipped with even Sora or Riku.
Evil Is Sexy: Vanitas. You don't realize this until the end of Ven's story, when he unmasks himself and reveals that he looks just like Sora, except with a more muscular build, black hair, and gold eyes.
Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Eraqus's Forgiveness toward Xehanort backfires badly and Ansem the Wise letting go of his hatred costs him most of his memory in the Dark Realm. Thus, the Aesop comes across as "beware former friends and don't forgive easily".
Everything Zack says, from proclaiming he's going to be a hero someday to asking Aqua out after he becomes a hero. We do not know what happens to him later, but we have not seen him in games taking place later, and we know what happened to him in his series. The final end credits sequence shows he looks startled and then disappears leaving nothing but a single black feather. Three guesses who took him, and the first two don't count. It's even worse with Ventus:
One of the things Goofy calls Ven when he's messing up the kiddo's name is Veggie. Take into account Ven's fate and that comatose people can be referred to as vegetables, and suddenly something so innocent gets cringe-worthy.
The Command Board is pretty much a game-breaking mechanic. You can start playing it at your first Save Point, and winning a game often levels up your commands several times, if not maxing them out. If you know what to fuse and have the patience to keep playing the board, you can get a lot of high-level commands very early in the game.
This becomes even more of a game breaker if you go to the Mirage Arena to play, which you can do as soon as you finish your first world. Playing at the Command Board at the Mirage Arena not only nets you all the above advantages, but you'll win hundreds of medals to trade for prizes, including synthesis materials to make fusing commands even better. One such synthesis material is the Abounding Crystal, which attaches abilities like Lucky Lucky and Exp Walker to your commands. The Mirage Arena was nerfed for Final Mix by making the shop items tied to arena level and progress through the game, but that just means Abounding Crystals need to wait until you can go to Radiant Garden, which won't take that long.
The Command Board in turn is broken by the Stun command. It only needs one Attack Card to use, and stuns an opponent of your choice for one turn, preventing them from doing anything. The problem is that there's nothing to stop you from continuously stunning one player over and over. Stack your deck with Attack Cards and you can immobilize opponents for turns upon turns in a row while you continue to move about the board freely. Also factor in that playing in the Mirage Arena allows you to set the number of opponents to one, and actual playing of the board becomes a formality — even if you can't keep your opponent stunned forever, they'll fall so far behind they can't hope to catch up.
On the Never Land Command Board, the special tile allows you to move one of your opponents wherever you want them to go. You can dump them in the middle of a damage panel zone, on your own high-level tile, or play eternal keepaway to move them to the other end of the map. It helps that the Never Land map is one of the largest and is mostly just one huge continuous loop with a shortcut through the middle, so moving them around like this can set them back several turns.
Then there's the Secret Command Board, where its special tile lets you move your character anywhere on the board instantly. The path to the goal is a loop with two large colored zones on either side, so you can exploit the special tile's powers to easily rack up a zone sweep in this area, an area your opponent will have no choice but to try and pass if they want to get to the goal and out. Furthermore, the board's central crossroad has two loops around it and three special tiles among them, so you can go around the loops to manipulate your movements and land on the special tiles more often.
Game Breaker combined with Disc-One Nuke, level up several Fire commands and fuse them together to get a Firaga, then fuse several Aero commands into Aerora. Fuse Aerora and Firaga to get Fission Firaga. Repeat the process with the Fires to get a second Firaga (or if you have the cash, just buy one from a Moogle), and fuse that with Slow to get Crawling Fire. Now fuse Crawling Fire with Fission Firaga. Congratulations, you just got Mega Flare, one of the best abilities in the game, before you even got to Radiant Garden.
Rhythm Mixer is absurdly powerful and easily the best Command Style in the game. Its normal combos do massive damage, its finisher can single-handedly knock several HP bars off of bosses, and it's activated by using Thunder and Mine commands, which tend to be some of the best commands in the game both for groups and enemies and bosses.
Firewheel. With it equipped to Aqua, you can quite literally cartwheel your enemies to death while taking little damage yourself. Some of the more difficult Mirage Arena challenges can be beaten this way. And you can get it before ever leaving your first world!note All you need to do is meld 2 fully leveled Fires together to get Fira, max out its level and meld it with another fully leveled Fire to get Firaga and max out its level. Buy a Cartwheel and level it up then meld the two together. On the other hand, Firewheel lacks the invincibility frames granted by Cartwheel, making it a very bad ability against some bosses (such as Vanitas Remnant).
Magnega makes groups of enemies pushovers. It conveniently gathers all enemies in a circle overhead and does continuous damage, and few enemies are immune. The grouping of enemies makes it possible to obliterate the entire flock with a group attack like Thundaga, Fission Firaga, finishers, etc, and when the next wave spawns guess what, the Magnega field is still there to pull them in and set up for another blast.
Shotlocks. At max level they charge quickly, deal heavy damage, and you're invincible for the duration. A lot of bosses can be killed by spamming shotlocks, and such a strategy will work on most anything outside the bonus bosses. This is made even easier once you learn Damage Syphon, which recharges the Focus gauge when you take damage, and get Focus Block/Barrier, recharging the gauge when you block attacks.
Sonic Blade works just about the same as most Shotlock commands, but doesn't take as long to recharge. It's entirely possible to go back and forth between spamming Shotlock commands, then using Sonic Blade if you're waiting for the Focus gauge, plus a high-healing command for when your health gets low.
Zack's D-Link, for two reasons, both of which go hand-in-hand. Berserk, one of the D-Link's passive abilities, which increases the strength of Critical Hits, and the finisher, Hero's Pride, which is hands down, the best finisher in the entire game. Not only is it very powerful, easily taking multiple bars of health off pretty much any boss other than Unknown, but extremely difficult for enemies to avoid. Also, using Reprisals when D-Linked with Zack fills the Command Gauge much faster than normal, making it rather easy to spam.
Sliding Dash, not because of it having insane attack power or anything (it's actually one of the weakest commands in the game), but because of how it allows for Sequence Breaking. A lot of areas in the early worlds are meant to be inaccessible until you get some advanced movement ability like Glide or Doubleflight, but with a couple Sliding Dash commands you can circumvent that need, letting you access a lot of end game commands much earlier than the game expects you to.
Ventus' D-Link for Aqua and especially Terra, particularly in the early game. Find the level 1 upgrade and you get haste, which lets you attack with lightning speed; make bosses utterly trivial.
The Mandrake Unversed, small plant-like enemies that shoot projectiles at you from a great distance and tend to spawn in trios, ensuring a constant rain of fire. They'll interrupt your attacks, stun you for other enemies to land hits, and will definitely annoy the hell out of you. They also attack outside of combat! And then when you approach them to kill them, they spray a mist that variably inflicts Confusion or Poison on you.
Tank Topplers are large red enemies that are very easy to damage, but when you hit them enough they turn red, become invincible, then roll around to distract you and eventually explode to damage you. The only way to prevent this is to hit them from behind, or to kill them so quickly they don't have time to turn red.
Archravens steal dropped Munny you haven't picked up yet and are difficult to hit due to flying high up in the air. They're not the slightest bit threatening, but they will definitely waste your time in the Mirage Arena or other forced fights unless you have Magnet (or variants) to bring them to you.
Considering who his Nobody was, Braig proves to be just as annoying a boss as his Nobody was in Kingdom Hearts II, with some even claiming he somehow manages to be even more annoying in this game than his Nobody was!
Ventus's final boss, Vanitas, specifically phase 3. A Puzzle Boss in a game where they're few and far between. The boss can't be damaged by normal means; Ventus has to build up his Finish gauge in order to deliver a single final blow. Problem is, unlike every other battle where the gauge builds up with every successful attack, the only way to build up the gauge here is waiting for Vanitas to attack, copying the same attack, and doing an action command. Use the wrong attack, or attack at the wrong time, and you're a sitting duck. And if you let up attacking for too long, the gauge will start to deplete. Finally, to add insult to injury, the finishing attack can miss. Verges on That One Boss territory because, due to the mechanics of the fight and your Fragile Speedster hero can't heal. Oh, and if you lose, you have to fight the boss's previous phase again, too.
Good Bad Bugs: When Aqua's story is completed, you're allowed to save new data for the Final Episode. In the Final Episode, due to a boss waiting there, the battle level for Radiant Garden is higher. However, a glitch randomly causes the battle level for Radiant Garden to increase in any of the normal three stories you have saved, too. Battle level is basically how strong enemies are in a world, and the normal battle level for Radiant Garden is 6, but the glitch raises it to 9 or 10. This means Level Grinding is much faster due to the higher-level enemies, and Radiant Garden happens to have one of the best grinding spots in the game before the fact anyway. All in all, players were hoping this glitch happened to them, to save them time grinding levels for the post-end game Bonus Bosses.
Master Eraqus is voiced in English by Mark Hamill, who also played Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. The Star Wars movies released after Disney bought Lucasfilm both saw Hamill reprise that role, and took some similar turns to this game. For instance, Eraqus is eventually betrayed by his student, Terra. Luke is betrayed by his student and nephew, Kylo Ren. Also, a young female protege inherits, in one way or another, the master's old weapon. Are we talking about Rey or Aqua? It gets worse in The Last Jedi, where Luke also considers killing Ben when he fears darkness has overtaken him, and that's what leads to the latter turning on him and his training ground's destruction. The film's climax also has Luke going face-to-face with Kylo Ren which ended up with Luke's death, although Luke's death was the result of him using his powers instead of being killed by Kylo. At the same time, though, both Rey and Aqua carry on their respective Masters' legacies following their deaths.
When Stitch pickpockets Terra's Wayfinder, an item that symbolizes the bond of friendships Terra has with Ventus and Aqua, Jumba proclaims that it's "marked for destruction". Later on the friendship Terra has with Ventus and Aqua deteriorates and Aqua falling to Darknessnot helping matters which Terra notes later on.
Dr. Jumba Jookiba: "Too late, is already marked for destruction."
Terra: "Looks like all the things once held us together just push us further away."
Happy of the Seven Dwarfs during Aqua's story in Dwarf Woodlands said they were too late in regards to saving Snow White. Aqua echos this same sorrowful sentiment in regards to herself to Mickey.
Happy: "An'by the time we got here... Well, it was just too late."
Regarding Richard Epcar, his "Terranort" voice is the same one he'd later use for "Old" Joseph Joestar, which can take some of the drama out of his scenes if you recognize the voice.
In Young Justice, Jesse McCartney (Ventus/Roxas) and Alyson Stoner (Xion/Kairi) play Robin/Nightwing and Batgirl, respectively. Even funnier if you remember Mark Hamill's (Master Eraqus) most famous voice acting role as The Joker.
Braig musing that "Yep, it seems like these days everybody's got one of those...even grandpa there." becomes hilarious given the events of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance and Kingdom Hearts III. Axel and Kairi of all people gain Keyblades by the end of the former, and in the latter, five more Organization members are revealed to be former Keyblade wielders from the distant past, one of those five being Braig himself. And in the epilogue of III, Braig, now going by Xigbar, manages to get a Keyblade after all.
Jerkass Woobie: Eraqus. Yes, he's an anti-darkness Knight Templar, but it's hard to blame him when Xehanort uses darkness to ultimately ruin his and his pupils' lives.
Magnificent Bastard: Master Xehanort. He makes Terra run off and fight the Unversed, making his darkness stronger so Xehanort can take his body. He keeps Ven fighting Unversed and Vanitas, gets Terra to help him kill Master Eraqus, and then brings all of his plans together in one place. And they all almost worked!
Maleficent, who skillfully manipulates Terra and plays Ven and Aqua's emotions like a fiddle. It's telling that neither Terra, Ven, or Aqua are able to actually defeat her, and she ends each of their visits to Enchanted Dominion feeling very self-assured while the heroes are left plagued with angst and doubt over what has transpired.
Aqua. There's a reason she's given the title "Master" at the beginning. Due to the timeline, Mickey hasn't quite reached this point, but he's getting there. Heck, Aqua's final battle aside from her REAL final one with Terranort has Mickey fighting alongside her. Memetic Badasses fight together!
Vanitas has been propelled to this title, alongside being crowned as a Memetic Molester.
Mis-blamed: Yep, a few scenes were changed. Braig's telescopic scope was modified to look less realistic (and he's not shown attaching his guns into a sniper rifle) in the international release. But would you believe that some people are actually thinking that a scene in Dwarf Woodlands was censored? In the Japanese version, the Queen gets mad and grunts at the mirror, while her anger possesses it. In the international releases? She throws a potion (off-screen) at the mirror. The thing is, though, this was less of a censorship and more of a removal of a Narm moment (see below).
Moral Event Horizon: It's hard to tell when exactly Master Xehanort first crosses it, but one contender might be, chronologically speaking, forcing Ventus to fight Neoshadows in an attempt to awaken his inner darkness, and then after the Neoshadows win, ripping apart his heart to create Vanitas, nearly killing him in the process. He only gets worse from there.
Regarding the Disney Villains, the evil stepmother crosses the line when she attempts to murder Cinderella with an Unversed summoned from her hatred towards her.
The scene in the Japanese version where the mirror sucks Terra in. The Queen gets mad, grunts, and her anger possesses the mirror. This was changed in the international version where she instead throws a potion on it.
After Braig is defeated in Radiant Garden, he flees via silly-looking In a Single Bound-style hops.
With the χ-blade being phonetically identical to the series staple Keyblade, cutscenes describing how powerful and dangerous the χ-blade is can feel a bit flat.
Narm Charm: The scene added to Terra's Story in the HD Remix version, where the Lingering Will sprouts a cape for no in-universe reason after defeating Terra-Xehanort. (Out-of-universe, it's there to explain why the Lingering Will has a cape in KH2). It's as ridiculous as it is awesome.
Terra helped Maleficent by accident one time note (and then we find out he didn't even do that; Xehanort made it look like he helped Maleficent by accident to mess with his head), and now he's considered to have helped every single Disney villain in the game as a gullible loon, but really the only other occasion was Captain Hook, which is still an understandable mistake since Peter Pan really was trying to steal from him. He was suspicious of the Evil Queen, was considering not even going with Hades's advice, and didn't know enough about Stitch to know that Jumba was (technically) a villain. He's not that trusting of villains on sight.
PS3: Unlike the PSP version, there's no Data Install feature, so you have to deal with about ten seconds of loading each time you enter a Command Style or D-Link as the data is slowly streamed from the Blu-Ray disc. Unlike Kingdom Hearts II's Drive Forms, Command Styles aren't controlled at will, so there's not much you can do to avoid having your timing thrown off by accident.
PS4: While the load times have been fixed by the PS4's automatic full installation of every game, a handful of new crashes have been introduced. In addition, some new physics issues are caused by the poorly-implemented switch to 60fps. These were later fixed via patches.
There are those who viewed him as an idiot for blowing up in Aqua's face when she reveals that Eraqus told her to keep an eye on Terra because of his darkness, resulting in him stating he's on his own. Terra's reaction is understanding because accidentally tapping into a power that he has been taught is terrible for a long time by Eraqus, resulting in him feeling down about himself for having darkness inside him, and even more down that his master doesn't trust him to handle things by himself because he has darkness inside him can be expecting of a reaction from him.
There are those who also view him as an idiot for trusting Xehanort. However, throughout the game, the only person who was actually helping Terra with his darkness was Xehanort, as he told Terra of how normal channelling darkness is along with channelling light, and the stuff he accurately states about balance and light shining too bright makes him come off as a great source for help. While Eraqus and Aqua just made him feel bad for having darkness inside him, and their belief in light being good and darkness being evil causes Terra to go astray looking for answers on how to conquer his darkness. With all of this, Xehanort would have been a much better master for Terra if he wasn't evil.
Scrappy Mechanic: Entering the menu out of combat cancels any Command Style you have active, even if you don't actually do anything in the menu. You're effectively being penalized for pausing when not in the middle of a fight.
Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer: The Command Board is quite fun, as it's basically Fortune Street with the serial numbers filed off. Besides being a fun diversion, your commands level up and you can win new abilities, even if you don't win, so it's never a total waste of time. In fact, it's usually better for grinding abilities, and some powerful commands like Ragnarok can only be attained there, while with luck ones like Firaga can be got there before you enter the first world.
Given the countless examples of Dark Is Evil in the series, Eraqus didn't exactly pull his dislike of darkness from out of nowhere. That being said, it still doesn't excuse his lack of communication.
During the scene where the Fairy Godmother stops Aqua from Leeroy Jenkins-ing the Tremaines, some fans find themselves siding with Aqua. It doesn't help that 1.) the Tremaines eventually cross the Moral Event Horizon and get a Karmic Death anyway (thus making Aqua look Properly Paranoid in hindsight), and 2.) the Fairy Godmother's Balance Between Good and Evil advice has repeatedly suffered from Clueless Aesop status throughout the series (e.g., 'If darkness keeps causing mass suffering, and light keeps being the best solution, why should I suddenly pull a 180?'). Indeed, near the end of the game, Aqua's initial Black and White Morality has only been reinforced by the many Dark Is Evil threats and villains she's encountered (e.g., "What else is darkness but hate and rage?").
That One Achievement: The "Maestro" trophy requires that the player obtain a Fantastic score on all Master modes for Ice Cream Beat. Said mini-game is also one of the hardest of the franchise, especially for players with vision and/or hearing impairment. Thankfully, you only need to unlock it with one character, and isn't required for the three Adventurer trophies.
When he's possessed by Hades, Zack flips out and gets what is essentially Omnislash. It deals massive damage and stuns Terra for the entire duration once he's hit, requiring constant dodging. The biggest problem with this attack is that it can't be guarded against and Terra's dodge provides very few invincibility frames, meaning you have to get extremely lucky with your timing to avoid it. That said, fully leveling Zack's D-Link means you get to use this attack yourself, and it's just as devastating in your hands.
While the Unknown's entire moveset is basically this, one in particular stands out: Collision Magnet. Simple idea: he jumps high into the air, lashes his sword toward you to pull you up towards him, and then he smacks you back down. The catch is that the lag time from the hit is so long, he's guaranteed to land and attack before you recover, granting you no chance to dodge his next blow. He can even use the move twice in a row, which is sure to put even a Level 99 character down to 1 HP. Since his next move will be a separate one, it won't trigger Second Chance or Once More. The move's ability to instantly kill you and the difficulty in dodging it is a big factor in what makes the boss so difficult, and Final Mix noticeably nerfed its stun duration to make it easier to escape from.
The Doom spell. Doom is when the Unknown throws out a few lines that if they ensnare your hero, you have to mash the X button (Circle in Japan) to break free. Thing is, Doom's countdown isn't consistent. Sometimes, it'll be 5 seconds to death, but on other occasions, it's 2 with a swift timedown cause. Unless you can smash buttons with the best of them, getting snared by that move is a death sentence with no way out of it. Compounding the real issue with Doom is that the move can come out VERY quickly, like after you just hit him with a surge art or when he's recovering and performing another move. Sometimes you just straight up lose if Doom hits you and you physically cannot mash the X button fast enough to break free.
Quite a few. Among them is the first boss of Ventus's story. He not only has a knee-jerk spin attack that makes getting close to it a dangerous proposition most of the time, but it even has an attack where it throws off a bunch of fruit that look like fire crackers. There are many more than you would expect. This is not helped by the fact that it's very unlikely that you'll have a Cure spell at this point. You do, however, have D-links, which act as a free heal on activation, and—if you're Terra or Ven—Aqua's D-link specifically, which has Cura right outta the box.
Trinity Armor is quite tricky if you're unprepared, being made up of three parts, each of which has enough HP to be a boss on its own, and it has several attacks that can be a pain to dodge.
Terranort, any battle. He's extremely fast, almost never stops attacking, and hits very hard. Long-range attacks are recommended (as he has some really hard-hitting short-range attacks), but good luck finding an opening to execute them!
The Mirage Arena's "Treasure Trove" mission takes place on a two-tiered battle field where the upper level is quite a ways directly above the lower area. The only way up there is to bounce off one of three bumpers and then steer your character on top (probably wrestling with the camera), and since it has no walls, it's easy to find yourself going off the edge as you bash enemies, necessitating another frustrating trip back up if they aren't nice enough to chase off after you. Did we mention that the enemy waves switch their spawning back and forth between the two levels several times throughout the mission?
Ventus' visit to Disney Town, thanks to the fact that you need to prefect the rhythm game there the first time through in order to continue his story. If you're normally terrible at rhythm games, good luck! And if you aren't, good luck getting the rather precise timing down, even by rhythm game standards!
For the Command Board, 100 Acre Wood and Never Land are insane to beat because of Tigger and Peter Pan using their commands to roll extra dice. 100 Acre Wood, especially, because not only is it quite small, Pooh is Too Dumb to Live and will take wrong turns and purchase panels belonging to Tigger, boosting his coins. He and the player also tend to get rolls of one or two, while Tigger can get an easy six. And that's without mentioning the bees and Pete (Both Captain Justice and Captain Dark; the former for the computer and the later for you).
That One Sidequest: Some people found it easier to unlock the secret movie from Kingdom Hearts II by playing the game on Proud mode. Birth by Sleep is much, much worse.
True Art Is Angsty: This is without a doubt the darkest Kingdom Hearts game before A Fragmentary Passage, with Days coming in closely behind. The response upon finding out the endings in the Japanese version? That Square Enix and Disney have finally grown up. Never mind that Square-Enix had made darker games in the past; even before they merged into Square Enix, and that Disney has been plenty dark on many occasions.
Uncanny Valley: Unmasked Vanitas. Now, the "evil Sora" face can mesh with a bodysuit, but not with a Riku-esque battle stance. It just feels so... unnatural.
Zack loses out on being trained as a hero by Phil simply because he hesitates a bit longer than Hercules to go help Ven. Beyond that, the fact he's an Ensemble Dark Horse in his own series, his awesome combat skills and D-Link in this game, and being able to fight Hercules in a fair fight and give him a challenge, results in kinda wishing he had won.
Eraqus to some, especially in comparison to Master Xehanort (see Unintentionally Unsympathetic). While Xehanort is ultimately correct about Eraqus's Black and White Morality (not to mention the latter's Poor Communication Kills on top of it), at least Eraqus still cares about the well-being of both his students and The Multiverse at the end of the day — in contrast to Xehanort being a Lack of Empathy-having Evil Mentor who wants to force proven-dangerous changes upon everyone just For Science!. Additionally, the narrative itself retroactively (albeit unintentionally) demonstrates that Eraqus's Shoot the Dog-attempt would've actually done Ven a favor compared to his actual fate — and even then, Eraqus still grows remorseful enough to invoke Heroic Sacrifice by using his own Heart to protect Terra's for the future.
Sure, Master Xehanort's the polar opposite of a saint, but the narrative still tries to paint him as something of a tragic Fallen Hero losing sight of his originally good intentions. However, while his Reports seem to succeed at that, his actualscreentime makes some fans feel like they might as well have been written by a different character altogether. Not to mention said fans don't buy his intended Pet the Dog moment toward Ven on Destiny Islands — because (1) Xehanort still tortured him to that point in the first place, and (2) Xehanort simply continues abusing and exploiting him after his survival. Said fans just see it as Character Shilling and Informed Kindness, and wonder what Eraqus and Yen Sid ever saw in this lunatic to begin with.
Terra is supposed to be a conflicted young man whose struggles with his failure to live up to the Black and White Morality of his upbringing and his desire to come into his own leads to him being slowly corrupted into darkness and he's manipulated into Xehanorts pawn. He's viewed as a gullible idiot who trusts even the most obvious villains and is constantly making things worse.
There has been much fan-gushery about Ansem's youngest apprentice, Ienzo, who evidently lost his parents and is now being raised as another scientist in a house of thirty-somethings. Of course, it doesn't hurt that he will grow up into one of the series' biggest fangirl magnets, either... But considering that he is the one who convinced Ansem to pursue their studies on darkness in people's hearts, helped banish his own adoptive father to the Realm of Darkness, and then became a member of Organization XIII, Ienzo/Zexion is even more of a Jerkass Woobie than Terra, in that you want to slap him for willful malice rather than from stupid naivete.
The button to open the secret room is just low enough for a child to reach, and the room we see in Chain of Memories has a child-sized bed. Riku and Ienzo/Zexion do have things in common. Once we see more of what exactly went down from the apprentices' perspective, then we can judge.
The novels tint Vanitas to be a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds instead of the unrepentant monster he appears to be in the game. In the novels, any anger he feels results in an Unversed being born from him, and no matter how many times he tries to destroy them, he feels an unbearable pain each time as a result. The cycle continues, and it is hinted that his reason why he wanted to reunite with Ventus was more or less salvation for him. Again, this is only in the novel adaptations; in the game, there is never even a remote hint that Vanitas feels any sort of pain when spawning or re-absorbing Unversed (if anything, he seems to enjoy it when he's seen doing it! Then again, maybe he LIKES being hurt. Either that or he's done it so many times he no longer reacts to it.)
Woolseyism: Aqua's famous My Name Is Inigo Montoya moment. In the Japanese version she only says "Return my friend's heart!", but leaving it at that would have created a Lip Lock moment. Instead, the English localization team extended it to match Aqua's lip movement, creating in the process arguably the biggest Badass Boast in the entire franchise.