8.8: IGN's review and score of 7.6 was met with a lot of criticism from many fans. Specifically, fans have spoken out against claims including that the game was too easy, that the game boiled down to merely mashing X, and that magic and items were essentially useless. Reaction to the review has only gotten worse overtime, as IGN has given literally every other game in the series a higher score, most of them being handheld spin-offs, as well as II being held up as one of the high points of the series.
Adorkable: Vivi's awkward bumbling just makes him all the more endearing.
Saïx. His presence in the story is menacing enough, as Xemnas's right-hand man and the last boss fight before him. However, fighting him is fairly straightforward, unlike with all the other members of Organization XIII, and his unique gimmick seems to only make him weak when he's not using it, rather than strong when he is. In his normal form, he can be disarmed easily with a well-timed attack, guard, or reflect, and even in Berserk form, he only has a few attacks which are predictable and simple to avoid until he calms down, especially if you've been leveling up Final Form and can glide out of his way fast enough. And that's if you don't abuse the reaction command on the claymores that Saïx keeps throwing around, which does massive damage on his normal form and drops him out of Berserk immediately.
The first Xemnas fight fought one on one with just Sora is considered by many to be a massive disappointment, as the fight plays out like an incredibly toned down version of the famously brutal Bonus Boss he was in KHI Final Mix, but with a few select attacks removed and his aggressiveness turned way down. It's not hard for a player who came in from Final Mix to this game to feel more than a bit let down. Thankfully, Xemnas's other forms more than make up for it, as does the data version of this battle in KHII Final Mix.
Ass Pull: When Ansem's Kingdom Hearts encoder machine explodes, it changes Riku back to normal. There's no real reason given as to why outside of some Five-Second Foreshadowing where Ansem says "anything could happen".
Magic Points now recharge automatically when they hit zero, so you're not just out of luck if you run out of MP and can't find any MP orbs.
Fire and Blizzard have much more clearly differentiated effects — Fire is a short-range attack that encircles the player on all sides, and Blizzard is a concentrated long-range blast. There is thus more reason to switch between the two.
Cure is now an area-of-effect spell that fully restores HP at the cost of draining the entire MP bar. Stronger versions of the spell just have a longer range, so you don't have to waste time trying to target someone who's at critical health. In addition, Cure will always affect Sora if he's the one who cast it; since it's game over if Sora falls, this is very helpful.
The gameplay was redone to be faster and more fluid compared to Kingdom Hearts I. The first game's combat felt stiff, which has led some to say that it hasn't aged well; this game's combat is commonly thought to have aged like fine wine, and has become the gold standard for the Kingdom Hearts series. The introduction of reaction commands also allowed for more cinematic combat options to allow the style to be shown off at full force. The Drive Forms also allowed even more expansion into the base combat by allowing the player a risk-reward mechanic. The only bad thing is that bosses must now be finished off with a combo finisher or magic, but even that isn't very intrusive.
The Gummi Ship missions were considered a Scrappy Mechanic in the first game for their bland and tedious gameplay, which was especially aggravating since you would have to manually travel to worlds and repeat the same mission every time you wanted to visit a world, with the player not even unlocking the warp drive option until midway through the game. II fixes this by giving the Gummi Ship missions a complete retool, turning the missions into a fast-paced rail shooter and getting rid of the warp drive option completely.
The final Roxas vs. Axel is made between walls of fire, a burning floor and Roxas dual-wields Keyblades out of nowhere. A lot of players would have like to play more as dual-wielder Roxas.
The Battle of 1000 Heartless pits Sora against one thousand enemies that he has to defeat on his own. Not only does he do it, it's pretty much a Curb-Stomp Battle.
The fight against Xaldin in Beast's Castle, both due to its intense difficulty, presence of the Beast as an ally, and presence of King Mickey if you die.
Although Sephiroth has become easier compared to the first game, his boss fight is still a challenge, featuring rapid sword combos, Shadow Flares, Meteor swarms, and as the fight goes on he becomes even more erratic and dangerous.
In Final Mix, the Sora vs. Roxas fight in the Dive to the Heart, with Roxas dual-wielding Oathkeeper and Oblivion against you. The entire reason the fight happens is because Sora's bond with Axel has awakened Roxas within him, and Roxas is once again attempting to assert his individuality by overpowering Sora. Aside from the story set-up, the fight is against a Lightning Bruiser Keyblade warrior just as skilled as you, and a Reaction Command lets you steal Roxas' keyblades and wield them against him.
All the new Organization XIII fights and the data battles of the old and new organization members from the Final Mix add a lot of variety to create some memorable and fun challenges.
Lingering Will. Everything about the fight, from its arena, its ominous pre-battle cutscene, its music, its extreme but mostly fair difficulty, and everything else has made it a very highly regarded boss battles in the series. It's even more appreciable after playing Birth by Sleep.
The fight against Pete in Timeless River is quite amusing, mostly because of the various scene changes and Pete's past self fighting on your side.
Storm Rider. A thunderdragon Heartless, its fight makes good use of aerial combat and even lets Sora climb and ride on its back to gain the upper hand.
Groundshaker. Easily one of the largest Heartless bosses in the series, it consists of a masked monkey-like shaman riding a dinosaur/rhino creature, each with two faces. Sora has the option to fight it on the ground, or to jump up onto its back to fight the shaman body. The implication that it's Scar's Heartless only makes things better - in fact, it paved the way for more Disney villain Heartless bosses in Kingdom Hearts III, specifically the Grim Guardianess and Sköll.
Nobody can forget the amazing multi-tiered final battle against Xemnas. Even grander and more epic in scale than the previous game's final Ansem battle (which took place around a single huge battleship), the battle has Sora and co. slicing through and leaping across buildings to take down Xemnas' floating fortress, then flying through outer space to infiltrate Xemnas' huge dragon-ship and finally leading to a final showdown of Sora and Riku vs. the man himself. It's all topped off by some of the best and grandest boss music the franchise has to offer. As a result, it's often considered not only the best final boss of the Kingdom Hearts series thus far, but also one of the greatest boss battles of all time.
The Grim Reaper Heartless at the end of the second visit to Port Royal. It's not that challenging, but the use of the cursed Aztec gold as a game mechanic is inspired - it will take the gold for itself to become cursed and gain invincibility, forcing you to make sure all the gold is back in the chest where it belongs in order to damage it. This results in a tug of war just as much as a boss fight. It helps that the mechanic doesn't extend the fight too long to be repetitive, and you get a really cool react move to stop it from sucking up all the gold (aka stealing its scythe and throwing it in its face). It's also what causes Jack, Will and Elizabeth to just take the chest and send it to the bottom of the sea, since they realize that Organization XIII and the Heartless can abuse its curse to their advantage.
Riku, at least until the end. Before that, he's a stiff and rather mopey Silent Protector for the main characters and who has given up combating the darkness and has taken on the appearance of "Ansem" for some vaguely defined reason that gets explained with a Hand Wave, and raises more questions than it answers. At least he kind of makes up for it as the unique partner in The World That Never Was.
Axel. A defenseless Kairi manages to escape from him twice, with the second time being off-screen, and who flees from Saix the moment he shows up despite having gone toe-to-toe with Marluxia in the special edition of the previous game.
Maleficent. In the first game she was the Big Bad of the plot up until her death when it's revealed that she was actually just a pawn to Ansem. In this game, she is presented as much less threatening compared to Organization XIII and has inconsistent motives, alternating from wanting to steal the Cornerstone of Light, destroying Christmas Town, and wanting a castle of her own.
Pete's former self had, even if he was weaker back then, a lot more guts than his new self. Though he does seem to regain some of his former toughness when confronted by Mickey "the boat-boy king" at the end of the game.
Pete: What, you mean like abandon ship? I don't think so! BRING 'EM ON!
Sephiroth is far less challenging than before. He's still not easy per se, but the difficulty of his superboss battle is definitely lower than his fight in the first game. His attacks are slower and he telegraphs them more, making it easier to dodge them. Heartless Angel charges slower, and the larger arena makes it easier to avoid his attacks. Add in Reflect spam, and you can beat him pretty simply. His attack patterns are arguably more aggressive (at least in the beginning) than they were back in the first game, but once you get his pattern down, it's pretty easy to predict what he's going to do.
Ariel was an Adaptational Badass in the first game, she was skilled with different magic attacks, temporaily wielded her father's triton, and showed no fear facing off against Ursula, twice. In this game she doesn't even fight at all, is rendered powerless against Ursula and needs to be saved by Sora and Eric, and gullibly gets tricked by Ursula again.
In the manga, Leon becomes a Plucky Comic Relief character who barely does anything. The only time he is seen in action is when he gets beaten up by the Nobodies while in the rest of his scenes he is pretty much a Butt-Monkey who can't handle any situation. Similarly, Xaldin goes from one of the Organization's most powerful fighters to an Adaptational Wimp who is all talk and easily beaten up by the Beast and killed by a Vexen replica.
The Final Fantasy VII characters new and returning, for serving as a shameless plug for Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and bringing along recycled plot points as well as wangst from that movie, and dividing fans in a very similar (if lesser) manner. That said, Cloud, Tifa and Yuffie still get a fair bit of lighthearted banter, and their boss fights in the Coliseum cups and role in the big badass team-up sequence in Radiant Garden are generally well-liked.
Halloween Town for expanding on the already well-recived world of The Nightmare Before Christmas from the last game and adding so much more. The Final Mix edition adding new Christmas-themed costumes for Sora, Donald, and Goofy certainly helped as well.
Pride Lands. Of course, this was almost a given considering the world is based on the much loved The Lion King (1994) movie.
Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: A minor one at the very start of the game, when a mysterious string of thefts occur in the digital Twilight Town, resulting in the word "photo" being stolen, meaning no one can actually say it, even though they all remember the item they want to name. This is is chalked up to being the work of a thief, which everyone accepts. It turns out a Dusk is behind the thefts, and Pence theorizes it was trying to abduct Roxas but kept stealing photos of him by accident. Even by the series lore of how memories work, it doesn't make sense a Dusk stealing photographs could cause people to forget the word itself, nor does it make sense that they clearly know the word has been stolen, they just can't say it when they try to. Once the Dusk is defeated and the photographs returned, the situation is resolved and no one ever mentions it again.
Barbossa shares the magic weakness that the Cursed Pirate Mooks have, so he can be completely shut down by occasionally hitting him with Blizzard to freeze him and pushing him into a corner to ensure he's always in the moonlight. It's easily possible to go through his entire fight without the Illuminator spawning again or letting Barbossa attack at all by doing this.
The Blizzard/Volcanic Lord fight at the end of the first trip to Agrabah. They constantly put themselves into a position to allow the use of their Reaction Commands to stun them, plus their attacks are not hard to dodge.
The Hostile Program is predictable in its attack patterns and has a Reaction Command that can be used to completely freeze it for a few seconds. Using Tron's Setup will give the clusters needed to trigger the Reaction Command very quickly due to dealing damage via multiple hits.
The first Grim Reaper fight is very simple. The boss has few attacks, is easily stunned (with or without abusing magic), and even on Critical difficulty doesn't do a lot of damage.
Luxord can be considered this for Organization XIII. Whereas all other members have at least two or three troublesome moves to deal with, Luxord has just one truly dangerous move, which he employs only when he's at his last legs (a mandatory, but otherwise easy timing-based minigame that turns you into a bouncing die if you lose). Even if Luxord wins that, he's nowhere aggressive enough to take advantage of your vulnerable state, so you can easily escape from him until you play the minigame again.
Breather Level: The story-mandated Gummi Missions. The inclusion of a dodge mechanic, removal of obstacles to dodge, and the game no longer scaling damage based off of difficulty like in Kingdom Hearts make them a breeze to complete. There are a couple levels (like Floating Island) where the player can literally do nothing for most of the mission and still win.
Broken Base: The prologue gets a fair share of defenders and detractors. On the defender side, people say that Roxas is an interesting idea and a good way to introduce the plot, as well as becoming a tragic character in his own right. They also like the dynamic between Roxas and Axel, as well as having a really cool boss fight against Axel to end the prologue. On the detractor side, the prologue has earned the name "Longest Prologue Ever", which was the former trope namer for Prolonged Prologue. Those who don't like the prologue feel like it's way too long for what is essentially a tutorial, accuse Roxas of stealing the spotlight away from Sora, and find the problems of Roxas to be Wangst. In any case, there's very little overlap between the two sides.
DiZ is Ansem the Wise. If Square Enix wanted to make the reveal surprising, they shouldn't have cast Christopher Lee and his immediately recognizable voice.
Ansem, Seeker of Darkness turns out to actually be Riku stuck in the form of Ansem. This becomes very obvious when one considers the fact Riku and "Ansem" were both shown working with DiZ, that Ansem claimed his darkness still lingered in Riku at the end of Chain of Memories, and "Ansem" is wielding Riku's weapon. The Final Mix version makes it even more obvious thanks to the addition of a scene where Riku frees Naminé and Axel as thanks for helping at Castle Oblivion yet the game doesn't expect the player to know till the final world.
For many fans, that would be the boss battle with Scar. Given he murdered Mufasa, lied to Simba and forced him into exile, and tried to force the lionesses into cannibalism by attacking and eating Sora, being able to fight Scar for all his crimes is a huge catharsis for fans of the film after waiting for eleven years.
Ever wanted to give Shan Yu his just desserts for ambushing the village and slaughtering tons of innocent people, including children? Well this game gives you the satisfaction to give him the beating he deserves.
Just in case you didn't get your fill of beating up the Disney villans that terrified you throughout childhood in I, this game gives you the opportunity to beat up Hades, Jafar, Oogie Boogie, and Ursula (sort of) again.
This game is the start of the "Mash X" combat criticism for the series. This refers to the fact that melee attacks in either the Sword or Shield path can get really damn strong if you set up the right abilities and equip the proper keyblades, which makes it so the combat degenerates into the player mindlessly mashing the X button. This gets even worse with the advent of Drives, which seriously benefit from this kind of mindset — especially Valor Form. Critical Mode, on the other hand, will likely quash all players expectations for this kind of gameplay and outright force them into using their other tools like magic, summons, and limits, which will likely give them a better appreciation for the combat system.
It is extremely common for players to choose the Shield at the start of the game. II's restructured progression system means that Sora gets most of his offensive abilities from specific event flags regardless of your ability tree choice, so picking Shield is favorable to learn Second Chance and Once More as early as possible.
Many players end up using mostly two keyblades for actual combat: Hero's Crest and Decisive Pumpkin. This is because they have abilities that boost the damage of your finishers according to how many hits your combo has (Hero's Crest boosting aerial finishers and Decisive Pumpkin boosting ground-based ones). This significantly increases your overall damage output, in comparison to the benefits the other keyblades offer which tend to be much more situational or just not very good.
The Hot Rod Heartless. Besides having a lot of health, they enter a berserk mode when their health goes down, which makes them charge at Sora 3 times. During this time they're completely invincible, and they can enter this berserk mode over and over again if they want to. In addition, they come in pairs on top of being accompanied by other Heartless. Their presence is the reason why Timeless River, particularly the "Scene of the Fire" battle, is considered That One Level by fans.
Dancer Nobodies have a move where they turn invincible, slide across the floor towards Sora at high speed, grab him, swing him around, and throw him away. It is completely unblockable, very difficult to dodge or interrupt (the best option in response is to spam Magnet and pray they get caught in it), and deals a ton of damage (or kill in Critical Mode). The Titan Cup and especially the Titan Paradox Cup are made into nightmares because of the battle where there are three Dancers.
Sorcerer Nobodies are immune to all magic except Reflect, have no Reaction Command to cheese them with, have a large attack range thanks to their cubes, and can attack even if they're being hit. A lone Sorcerer is easily capable of taking out the entire party if you're not careful.
Berserker Nobodies. Like the Hot Rod Heartless, they can turn invincible to normal attacks for a short time at low HP, and when they do, they go into an attack sequence that can stunlock for a good chunk of HP. Compounding this is the fact that their hammers deflect normal attacks from the front at all times, which makes damaging them a pain.
The Graveyards in Halloween Town are capable of taking out a lot of Sora's health, and can even block his attacks. In the Curly Hill during the second visit, three will appear during the second wave, and if you're not careful, Sora can die in just two hits at a low level.
The Assault Riders of the Land of Dragons are essentially the enemy equivalent of the Wake-Up Call Boss, considering how much trouble they give beginner players. Their Spin to Deflect Stuff attack will absolutely destroy anyone who dares to get close and mash the attack button senselessly in hopes of defeating them, potentially eating through the Morale Mechanic that's used in one part of the level.
Regarding the new worlds introduced, due to Rule of Cool, Space Paranoids seems to get more attention from the fanbase (especially in Japan) than most of the other Disney worlds, especially because of Sora's computer armor. And with Rule of Cute, the Pride Lands also has gained some love.
Pete, who became known as the Team Rocket of Kingdom Hearts after this game.
Iago has gotten some popularity from fans grateful for the series adapting his HeelFace Turn from Return of Jafar.
Keyblade-wise, the Decisive Pumpkin is very popular because fans learned over time that it was actually the best Keyblade in the game for its Combo Boost ability, even more than the actual Infinity +1 Sword of Ultima Weapon. It helps that its quirky design is based on The Nightmare Before Christmas, one of the more popular films represented in the game.
Many have been inclined to believe that this Auron is not an Alternate Universe version, but THE Auron from Final Fantasy X thanks to the fact that the words heard when Sora obtains the Auron statue are his quotes from his pilgrimage with Braska and Jecht and Auron leaving behind pyreflies when seen at the Olympus Coliseum during the credits. A joint theory goes on to say that Auron wound up in the KH universe after his death at the hands of Yunalesca in FFX. After dispersing into pyreflies at the end of KHII, he goes on to Dream Zanarkand, effectively setting FFX into motion. Said theory is used to explain why Auron has his youthful appearance as seen in flashbacks.
Fans believe the letter Squall was reading in the credits reel of KHII came from his girlfriend Rinoa Heartilly, due to thebutterfly that fluttered out of it.
While it was probably just for gameplay's sake, Scar's Heartless retains its appearance as Scar as well as some sapience including the ability to speak — the only other Heartless to retain its original form and sapience is Ansem. Further, even when killed Scar's darkness continued to haunt the Pride Lands, lingering through an attachment to Simba's heart just as Ansem did through an attachment to Riku's, and eventually formed into the Groundshaker, one of the most massive Heartless seen in the entire franchise. This has led to speculation on just how strong Scar's blackened heart was that he could do all this.
For a while, the added Final Mix scene where Xemnas talks to to Aqua's Keyblade armor and refers to it as "old friend" caused some fans to believe that Xemnas was formed from Terra's body when Terra-Xehanort became Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, given that Xemnas was drawing upon Terra's memories of friendship with Aqua. This theory died over time, with the consensus instead being that both Ansem and Xemnas drew from both Terra and Master Xehanort as if Terra-Xehanort was a single being to begin with.
Ending Fatigue: The final world, The World That Never Was. It's a long, large dungeon full of powerful enemies, there's no less than three bosses along the way (as well as a fourth in Final Mix), and there's also a lot of long, story-critical cutscenes to watch. Then you finally get to Xemnas and beat him, and as expected from Square Enix he goes One-Winged Angel for a Sequential Boss Fight. However, as the heroes begin to walk away, it turns out Xemnas is Not Quite Dead, leading to a secondSequential Boss Fight, and finally, at long last, his final form. By the time Xemnas pulls you back to the third round, you're probably screaming "will you just end already?"
Enjoy the Story, Skip the Game: Story-wise, the Prolonged Prologue is beloved by fans for Roxas' character arc and his interactions with who he is and the larger universe around him. However, it's always been infamous for being a slog compared to the rest of the game, largely because of Roxas' very basic combos, abilities and missions compared to Sora's increasingly intense and intricate gameplay as well as the generally slow pace. It's not uncommon to find Game Mods to make Roxas playable in later worlds with power levels and abilities closer to his original self.
Even Better Sequel: Kingdom Hearts is generally well-liked and considered a strong game, though the gameplay is seen as a bit rough around the edges. II is widely considered a major improvement in pretty much every aspect when it comes to the gameplay due to streamlining the combat and trimming other bits of fat, with the Final Mix version often being cited as the single best game in the entire series.
Franchise Original Sin: A lot of the franchise's storytelling issues can be traced back to this game. It's the first one to majorly retcon previous events (Ansem's origin in this case), the Continuity Lock-Out gets a proper start up, due to the plot springing off the back of a handheld spinoff, and the plot takes its first steps towards the Kudzu. But it's all restrained enough that if you were to take Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, and Kingdom Hearts II as a standalone trilogy, it all still feels like a satisfying, understandable story.
If Reflect successfully intercepts an attack, it will completely neutralize the damage and deal high damage in Sora's immediate vicinity. The timing can be difficult, but it has a relatively low MP cost, meaning it can be cast multiple times before the gauge needs to refill. With a bit of practice, Reflect can trivialize some of the game's most difficult fights.
Limit Form in Final Mix. It doesn't require any party members and it comes with a set of Limit attacks that simultaneously deal high damage and heal Sora. Combine with MP Rage and the Hades Paradox Cup becomes even easier.
Building a Gummi ship with a hole in the center. Enemy ships will always try to target the middle of the ship, which means all enemy fire except bombs and kamikaze attacks will go right through, rendering it practically invincible.
Combining two Negative Combo skills, two Finishing Plus skills, and a Combo Master skill can allow you to use a devastating infinite combo. Just make sure not to use the last combo hit until it's time for the killshot, and don't drop the combo, and Bonus Bosses can go down like dominoes.
Goofy's Limit Break, Teamwork, is the strongest attack in the game, at least until it was nerfed in Final Mix. It can shred through practically any boss's health in the matter of seconds, even on higher difficulties, and this attack is unlocked before the game's halfway point.
Magnet (but mostly its upgrades Magnera and Magnega) is the perfect crowd control technique. It will stun enemies in a large area and pull them into a vortex above Sora, where you can easily hit everyone at once with area-of-effect attacks like Thunder or a Finishing Plus-boosted Explosion.note Magnet is treated as a combo finisher itself, so you can go straight to your other finisher with Finishing Plus and hit everything in the Magnet. The game attempts to offset this by assigning it the game's second-highest MP cost, but you can easily avoid that by summoning Stitch, who can easily refill the gauge as needed.
Duck Flare in Final Mix. Compared to the base game's version, it absolutely chews through the target's HP in addition to applying a massive amount of hitstun from the gigantic number of missiles, giving you plenty of time to unleash a combo or use items without the boss being capable of retaliating. Its main downside, using all your MP, can even be offset by using an ether in middle of the attack to let you freely use spells or cast it again.
Hades calling Auron the "mother of all bad guys" isn't technically wrong if you understand historical context. If you were charged with protecting someone and you failed to do so, with you surviving when they didn't, you are considered scum, a lowlife. It would be less dishonorable if you killed them yourself, because at least then the worst you're seen as is a traitorous dick and not a failure.
Sora's form in Timeless River (dubbed Retro Form by the fandom) makes him look like a character created by Osamu Tezuka, the grandfather of anime that was also trained by Disney.
The ability rings with gems set in them (Sardonyx, Tourmaline, etc) all have Dragonscript etched into them that states the name of the gem set in the ring.
Undead pirates can only be damaged by your attacks when they're standing in clear moonlight, and if they're fighting you in an area with a lot of shady spots, expect a tedious battle to ensue. To make up for it, it's really easy and very satisfying to hit them with magic spells to screw around with them.
Crimson Jazzes are just like the other Color/Music Heartless, except bigger and very persistent. It's impossible to get clean attacks on them because they're always summoning chains of fireballs around you that explode almost immediately to send you flying. And if you try to run away, even with such abilities as Level 4 Quick Run/Glide? They'll just fly over to you so fast you'll swear they teleported, and smack you with their ass before summoning more fireballs to spawn on top of you for 10 seconds. It says something when it's actually easier to deal with a Crimson Jazz when it Turns Red because its new attack is far less annoying.
The Emerald Blues tend to use Aero-related attacks, including one that happens to draw the party in and another to send them sky high. Sometimes, they can even be paired up with the difficult-to-fight Devastator, making the fight a real challenge.
The Assassin Nobodies require a ton of patience to deal with, as they prefer to stay underground most of the time, where they're invincible (parrying their attack is necessary to get them to the surface). They will also run up to you and explode on your face when low on health, dealing tons of damage. The Fail-Safe reaction command that can counter it has too much of a brief window of time to perform consistently.
During Gummi Ship missions, enemies will aim for the center of your hitbox with unerring accuracy. Therefore, creating a "donut" Gummi-ship with only material on the square edge will result in nearly all the shots going harmlessly through the hole.
Battle music may get distorted if you skip a cutscene just before a boss fight.
It's possible to clip through the map in the Cavern of Remembrance and reach the Garden of Assemblage without having to do any of the scripted fights. Entering the room this way also gives you the Proof of Nonexistence without having to do the Data-Organization fights, though you can't do any of them because the proper event flags don't get set.
The PS3 port of Final Mix has a lot of long load times, especially when entering Drive Forms, where the game can hang for as many as five seconds. However, the game does not pause during the transformation, and even in the middle of combat keeps going. Sometimes this can be brutal (trying to do a Drive Form during a Timed Mission for instance), but on the other hand, Sora is invincible during the transformation loading, so you can utilize the Drive Form transformations as a way to become immune to attacks for a short time. Against many bosses with powerful single attacks, especially the members of Organization XIII, this little oversight can save your life. The brutal instances can be easily fixed by simply pausing the game for a few seconds, during which the game will still load the form.
Changing Genie's Drive Form during a combo finisher cancels it, allowing you to immediately start another combo. The only downside other than its difficulty is that since there's a gap between the canceled finisher and the next hit, a couple bosses are capable of hitting you with a quick enough attack.
Track #13 on the soundtrack is Roxas' Theme. Track #14 is Sora's. Xion, the fourteenth "member" in Days is a replica that was absorbing Sora's memories, thus keeping him from waking up. She didn't take it well and ultimately forced Roxas to kill her.
On that note, this is the only Kingdom Hearts game that explicitlydehumanize the Nobodies. Once you play the later games (most notably Days and coded, the latter of which has a surprisingly heavyWhat Measure Is a Non-Human? theme) and, especially, learn The Reveal in Dream Drop Distance, it can be hard to watch the cutscenes involving Nobodies in this game again.
The tagline for KHII ("The story is not over") is either this or Hilarious in Hindsight depending on how one takes to the amount of time it's taken the series to get to an actual KHIIInote 0.2 Birth By Sleep: A Fragmentary Passage (2017) marks, remakes and updated rereleases notwithstanding, the sixth non-numbered game released after KHII (2005), whereas KH:CoM (2004) was the only game between the original Kingdom Hearts (2002) and KHII, the various twists each subsequent game brings to the table, and the fact that KHIII, according to Word of God, is merely the end of the Xehanort Saga, not the series as a whole.
Visiting Space Paranoids can be this for people who have seen the sequel, knowing what happens to Tron. It only gets worse with Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, when Sora has to fight Tron's brainwashed form, Rinzler. Though this is somewhat mitigated by the fact the Tron you meet in Kingdom Hearts II is only a copy of the Tron from The Grid, it still doesn't make it any easier, especially when Rinzler shares Tron's heart.
During Goofy's "death" scene, Donald apologizes about ice cream. When the game came out, it seemed like a random Noodle Incident. However, play through 358/2 Days and it hurts a lot more due to ice cream is what Roxas asked about when Xion was actually dying because he didn't know any other way to express what he was feeling.
On a related note, Sora quips to Saix "Not a very organized Organization!" shortly after Axel displays his treachery. By the time of III, Xehanort made sure that the revived Organization XIII wouldn't be as defective. This is subverted to Hilarious in Hindsight when it turns out in III proper that even more members of the newly remade Organization started to defect, such as Vexen, Demyx, and ironically Saix himself.
On another Organization XIII note, Xigbar's line for the intro to his boss fight is an accusatory "You really shouldn't have betrayed us." Come III, it turns out that he's even more correct than anyone could have possibly expected.
Heartwarming in Hindsight: Tron suddenly getting emotions after the MCP battle becomes one after playing KH3D, which not only reveals that programs are like Nobodies, in that they don't have hearts, but that anything with a mind can grow a heart in no time. As Tron started out as The Stoic, his friendship with Sora allowed a heart to grow within him.
He Really Can Act: The casting of Jesse McCartney as the voice of Roxas was initially met with skepticism, since he was best known as a Teen Idol at the time and hadn't done much acting. His performance when the game came out dispelled all doubt, and consensus is that he's only gotten better in subsequent games.
The end of the prologue is eerily similar to the climax of The Last Jedi; Roxas attacks a projection of DiZ/Ansem the Wise, just like how Kylo Ren attacks one of Luke Skywalker.
The Kylo Ren/Roxas parallels would reach Harsher in Hindsight come The Rise of Skywalker, where Ren gives up his lifeforce to revive Rey before becoming one with the Force, just like how Roxas gives up his existence to revive Sora.
Demyx's infamous quote, "Dance, water, dance!", is a take of "Dance Magic Dance" from Labyrinth, another Lucasfilm franchise that Disney acquired when they obtained Star Wars.
Xemnas's "Ethereal Blades" also look exactly like lightsabers sticking out of his hands, and even make a similar noise.
In the Final Mix version of Christmas Town, Sora, Donald and Goofy change their appearances from their Halloween Town counterparts. Now tell us Donald's appearance◊ doesn't remind you of a certain other snowman...
Becomes even more hilarious when Frozen actually appeared as a world in Kingdom Hearts III, where Sora sees Olaf for the first time and tells Donald...
During the battle with Hades, in order to make him vulnerable to attacks, you need to whack an "Aura Sphere" that Hercules would create towards him. Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, which introduces a Fighting-type move with the same name, was released a year later.
Rikku being a fairy makes a lot more sense once you learn that her Japanese voice actress, Marika Matsumoto, would later voice Diancie. Moreso when you realize that one of the pursuers, Ninja Riot, shares the same voice actor as Donald Duck.
Later in the game, the Master Control Progam hijacks the Heartless creator under Hollow Bastion to start sending his troops into the analog world. This is more or less what CLU would attempt in TRON: Legacy, though it may also count as Harsher in Hindsight.
In Beast's Castle, after meeting the servants and learning about the curse placed on them, Donald suggests that they go after the Enchantress, with the servants telling him they don't need to. She physically appears in the live-action remake nearly 12 years after the game's release and outright lifts the curse herself.
The second act of the Pride Lands introduces a conflict between Simba and Scar's ghost. A pretty fun setup in its own right, but no one would've guessed it'd be in the universe's canon by the time the first season finale of The Lion Guardbrought Scar back as, you guessed it, a ghost.
When the group first gets to Halloween Town they are visibly confused at the orange string lights strung across the walls and all over town. At the time Halloween-themed string lights weren't very popular, while these days decorating your house in lights for Halloween is almost as popular as decorating them for Christmas.
The background music for Disney Castle opens with a near identical drum riff as the opening logo for 20th Century Fox. In 2019, Disney bought Fox. Retroactively, you could say Fox became the first Disney acquired studio to be represented in a Kingdom Hearts game, nearly a decade and a half before Pixar made it Kingdom Hearts debut in KH3.
After the fight with Sephiroth, Cloud and Sephiroth duke it out and then they mysteriously vanish, with Sora saying that they "went somewere else" and that Cloud "went to fight a great battle to defeat the darkness inside him", Considering that Cloud and Sephiroth both made it into Super Smash Bros. and have been absent from Kingdom Hearts III (even with Aerith, Yuffie and Cid along with Leon returning in the latter), those words suddenly have a new meaning.
Ho Yay: Putting context aside, just TRY to compare when Sora reunites with Kairi to when he reunites with Riku.
Also, Sora does show some worry towards Tron during the second (technically third) trip to Space Paranoids when the latter is fighting forhis life in the game grid. And then, the heartwarming hug scene after defeating the MCP...
It's Easy, So It Sucks!: This game is criticized for being the easiest game in the franchise, thanks in part to Action Commands added in that make defeating bosses much easier. Fortunately, the Final Mix adds in Critical Mode to gave players more of a challenge.
It Was His Sled: Ansem, Seeker of Darkness is actually the Heartless of Xehanort who stole the name from the real Ansem. Hard to believe it now but back then, it was a huge twist.
Roxas being Sora's Nobody and a member of Organization XIII. Not that any of the later installments would do anything to keep this a secret.
It's hard not to feel bad for Axel. All he wants is to see Roxas again, the only person that he really cares about, but his methods of going about it are pretty cruel. He admits to having no qualms with killing Roxas if he refuses to come back to the Organization and seems far more concerned about being turned into a Dusk, and later kidnaps Kairi in an attempt to turn Sora into a Heartless and get Roxas back.
DiZ, a.k.a. Ansem the Wise. He gets betrayed by his apprentices, whom he loved like family, and thrust into a realm of nothingness that drove him half-mad. In his desire for revenge against his apprentices, he becomes a Jerkass and does many morally questionable things, and in the end, is overcome by guilt once he realizes this. To atone, he makes a Heroic Sacrifice to save Kingdom Hearts from Xemnas. It doesn't kill him, but sends him to the realm of darkness, where he once again must endure a lonely period of banishment.
Pete's constant failures often incur Maleficent's wrath, and he is later shown to long for the simpler times when he was just the boat captain of Steamboat Willie.
Low-Level Run: The Final Mix version is the debut of the No Experience ability, which prevents Sora and co. from gaining normal experience (it doesn't prevent leveling up Drives or Summons). Using it at the beginning of the game will keep everyone at Level 1, creating either the ultimate challenge, or the ultimate nightmare depending on who you ask.
Auron. Carries over from the source material, but it's easy to see why. When Hades said that he was going to summon "the mother of all bad guys," many a fan intentionally misheard it as "the mother of all Badasses."
The rock that hits Goofy in the head has received jokes for apparently being more powerful than the attacks of any of the game's bosses.
Mansex and Bigrax Explanation The members of Organization XIII have Significant Anagram names, which led to the fandom discovering that "Xemnas" and "Xigbar" can have their letters rearranged into these two sexual names. They became extremely popular Fan Nicknames (especially Mansex) due to their absurdity.
Hades dances before attacking you. Someone on YTMND took a gif and synced it to "zazaza," since the movements in both GIFs were somewhat similar.
Calling the Xbox One port, and a possible Switch port, of the game (as well as the others in the HD collections) "cursed" for replacing the PlayStation 2/3/4 HUD elements in the command menu with PNGs of their Xbox One and Switch controller counterparts/equivalents.
Scar, after having Sora, Donald, and Goofy surrounded, tells the other lions to start hunting for prey. They remind him that the herds have moved on and that there's nothing left to hunt. Scar then gestures at Sora. Horrid enough on its own, but because since Sora has transformed into a lion, Scar is basically telling the other lions to resort to cannibalism. And a teenager to boot!
DiZ touched upon the line with his ordered execution of Naminé. Trying to kill her for no other reason than "tying up loose ends" is bad enough as it is, but the coward didn't even have the pair to bloody his own hands. While he apologizes to Roxas for his mistreatment of him, we have yet to hear him do the same for Naminé.
Barbossa never crossed the line in his origin franchise, but he does here by tying up everyone and leaving them to die on the Interceptor when it got rigged with gunpowder, which also doubles as Team Rocket Wins for Pete.
More Popular Replacement: George Newbern, who was replacing Lance Bass as Sephiroth (though he had already done the voice in Advent Children). Newbern's work on the character was considered an improvement.
Never Live It Down: The scene where Sora reunites with Kairi and Riku. Upon reuniting with Kairi, the two share a hug, whereas with Riku, he falls to his knees and breaks down in tears upon seeing him again. His reaction is completely justified, as Sora knew that Kairi was safe on the island the whole time and that she wasn't in any harm when Organization XIII kidnapped her, while with Riku, the two had not seen each other since they closed Door to Darkness and that he could have been dead for all he knew. Despite this, some fans believe that Sora's reaction was anything but platonic and that he actually harbors romantic feelings towards Riku instead of Kairi, even though the game clearly shows that this is not the case.
Aside from the worldwide release of Final Mix, one reason KHII is considered an Even Better Sequel is because of the Hidden Depths of its combat system compared to other games in the series, resulting in a sector of the fanbase that focuses on the gameplay over the story and characters (though those are usually not ignored) and develops specific strategies and loadouts to beat each Bonus Boss.
Like Super Smash Bros. Brawl, KH2 is very popular with the Game Mod community, with many modders adding in their own playable characters (usually other KH heroes or modified versions of Sora and Roxas), maps, bosses and storyline. What's notable is that the Japanese PS2 Final Mix version of the game is the most popularly used, as it's simpler to work with than the HD re-releases and has an English patch to allow for the same accessibility among English-speaking modders.
The player is bound to feel awesome about taking down 1000 Heartless in Hollow Bastion — at least until Organization XIII's plan is revealed. They need hearts to access Kingdom Hearts, and the player fellright into their hands by releasing the hearts of all of the Heartless.
Goofy's Disney Death was most likely meant to come across as this, but many players knew better.
The PS3 port of the Final Mix version was long-awaited, but has much longer load times (especially between the English PS3 port and Japan) due to the switch to the blu-ray format. A number of glitches were either introduced or exacerbated, such as a rare glitch during the Final Xemnas fight involving the "Reversal" Reaction Command suddenly becoming a common occurrence. The port is also very unstable, with a number of crashes that could either occur randomly or from specific triggers. Most, if not all of these issues were fixed when the Greatest Hits re-release came out.
The PS4 version was a mess before it was patched. While it cut down on load times and bumped up the frame rate to 60fps, every major glitch from the PS3 version was still present, and the port added a slew of new issues. Originally, Square Enix did not properly adjust anything to the new frame rate, so certain bosses (like Vexen) could charge their attacks more quickly, Sora's Reaction Commands (like during the Grim Reaper fight) and abilities like Quick Run were shortened, and some things (like the Reaction Command for the cannon tower in Liliput) flat-out didn't work. The worst glitch of all was that the game could crash whenever you saved, which could potentially corrupt your files. The port was so bad that it actually made the news, and after a series of patches, it finally seems to have gotten to a manageable level. A few new issues, like Luxord's command, have arose, but the game is much more playable.
The PC port has a number of issues that people run into, such as weird audio glitches, crashes, and despite having the option to run higher than 60fps the game's logic forces the game down to that framerate limit during certain moments, resulting in stutters. In addition, all the glitches that existed in the PS4 version that were never fixed are still in this port, although unlike the PS4/Xbox versions, you can cap the framerate to 30fps and these bugs will be fixed.
Kairi is supposed to be Sora's Love Interest, while Riku is supposed to be his platonic best friend. What does Sora do when he reunites with Kairi? He looks surprised before hugging her back, and doesn't really do much to indicate that he spent almost the entire first game and a good chunk of this one looking for her. What does he do when he sees Riku? Sora grabs Riku's hand, falls to his knees, and bursts into tears.note Now, there IS context behind this, as Sora had been led to believe Riku was very possibly dead for much of the game and he himself asks Riku in this scene "Why didn't you let me know you were OK?" Comparatively, he knew Kairi was safe, albeit held hostage. Still, the reaction still comes off as a little extreme. Kairi's main consolation is that at least earlier Sora went to knees for her as well, albeit not in front of her and in a different, sadder context (and the HD remaster made it more apparent that he actually cried over her too in the Gummi Ship after learning she had been kidnapped by Axel.)
There exists a very vocal portion of the fanbase that firmly believes that Axel thinks of Roxas as a lover as opposed to his friend. His death scene has quite notable I Want My Beloved to Be Happy vibes, and at one point he outright compares Kairi missing Sora to him missing Roxas. It can at least be explained that they started their friendship as Nobodies and, according to this game, Nobodies can't actually feel anything, at least at first. Roxas, in particular, has no memory of his pre-Nobody life and thus wouldn't even know the concept of romantic relationship.
After the events of the first game, Ariel and Sora remain very good friends, and during the musicals in Atlantica they often dance and sing together. Couple that with most of her relationship with Prince Eric taking place off-screen due to the condensed story, and someone unfamiliar with the film would think this is a Love Triangle going on. It certainly doesn't help their personalities play off each other well, making them have better chemistry than either has with their canon love interests.
Mena Suvari replacing Mandy Moore as Aerith. While she was a Base-Breaking Character for Advent Children, the fandom especially despised her take on the character due to her Dull Surprise. She was replaced with Andrea Bowen for any subsequent Aerith voice overs.
Atlantica's musical mini game was one to how the world was in the original game (where it was still very divisive). Fans would rather fight battles than hear Sora sing.
Roxas initially on first playthroughs of the game. Most fans were wondering when Sora would show up. But see below.
Some of the new Keyblades for returning Disney worlds are subject to this, for replacing the designs from the original game. Rumbling Rose stands especially when compared to the Divine Rose keyblade from Kingdom Hearts.
The manga had her break away from this earlier, with her punching a Dusk, biting Axel to wrest free of him, escaping from her cell by tricking some Dusks, and punching Demyx in the face when caught. She also gets more screen-er, panel time to showcase her Keyblade-wielding ability, including against Xigbar.
Some people became a little more forgiving in regards to the Prolonged Prologue and warmed up to both Roxas and Naminé towards the end of the game, as more is revealed about their characters.
Gameplay-wise, the Gummi Ship segments, which are a whole lot cooler to look at if nothing else, and also your ship gets an automatic upgrade with each segment passed, so you don't have to spend the time tediously doing it for yourself.
Yen Sid, Ansem the Wise, and Sora, all for the same reasons... prejudice against the Nobodies. Justifiable in some respects due to Ansem taking his hatred to the point of despising innocent Nobodies (Roxas and Naminé) and Sora's speech at the end seeming more than a little racist with his choice of words (Yen Sid, on the other hand, is just a neutral party who is only disclosing what little he knows about the Nobodies at the time rather than indulging in any active prejudice.) Though a future game would change Sora's views on them.
The Organization gets plenty of this, as well. Despite it being made clear with recentgames that they were lied to from the start about there being one way to get hearts of their own (a Nobody can grow one back over time), don't have the option to leave and will be killed for trying, will be turned into Dusks if they're not doing a good enough job, and as this game shows, Xemnas doesn't let members know exactly what they'll be doing until they're already in, many still choose to see them as irredeemable psychopathic monsters who gleefully slaughter countless innocents for their goal. The truth is they don't seem to have a whole lot of choice in the matter, with the exceptions of Xemnas and Xigbar.
Ariel was praised in I for being an Adaptational Badass that wielded her father's triton and went toe to toe with Ursula, twice. This time around she suffers from a major Badass Decay, essentially forgetting that Ursula was evil and falling for her trick again, and needing Sora and Eric to save her. Being part of the already despised Atlantica world certainly doesn't help either.
Chicken Little, for being one of the most lackluster Summons and for coming from one of Disney's worst movies AND for being shoehorned into the game only to promote the movie. Many people nowadays forget that he was even in the game.
Olympus Coliseum, one of the biggest sources of experience in the first game, now doesn't give any experience during the fights. Double that since the hardest cup, while it used to give out the strongest weapons for Goofy and Donald, now only nets a useless trophy.
The real problem with the Underdrome is the ever changing rules. The Pain and Panic/Goddess of Fate cups are the most fair and fun with them. The Cerberus Cup places you under a strict time limit (and Cerberus itself knows to beat you out by keeping you out of his weak spots), and the Titan Cup puts you under a point system and relies on you to use Summons; which means spamming Stitch to get the most points from it. It's harder in the Final Mix version, as Stitch's Ohana! is brutally nerfed in terms of time allotted (that limit gauge drops even with combination and summon boost); but some have found using Peter Pan's Never Land to help with this.
Obtaining Mythril materials becomes a pain later in the game. At first, you're practically tripping over the things, so it was no issue. However, when you need even more of them to make synthesis items, you're not going to be able to find any of them because no enemies drop them. Instead, you'll have to synthesize them up by using Twilight and Dense items, which aren't easily found until the second half of the game (if you can spawn the Nobodies) or until the endgame when you can easily farm those materials.
AntiForm is meant to punish players for being over-reliant on Drive Forms, but it does its job too well. AntiForm will randomly manifest when entering a Drive Form, strips Sora of almost every defensive option he has (no guard, no magic, no items, no Limits, no Reaction Commands, no party members), lowers his defense on top of that, and prevents manual Drive reversion until combat is over. Getting it at an inopportune time can effectively guarantee death. The game also does nothing to explain how it even triggersnote Every time you use a Drive Form other than Final Form, a hidden counter goes up by one. Once it hits 5, you have a chance of triggering AntiForm. Entering AntiForm then reduces the counter by 5 (4 in the original version)., which means an unwitting player will probably activate it unless they already know the mechanics beforehand. Not helping matters that is the chance of getting AntiForm increases during scripted battles and most boss fights, when a player is most inclined to use Drive Forms.
Regardless of whether they like the game's Atlantica or not, most everyone can agree on the obnoxiousness of not being able to pause during the rhythm games. Technically, they can be paused, but there's no option to resume from where you left off, only to quit or restart, meaning you have to complete them in one go without exception.
Hidden Dragon is widely considered the worst Keyblade in the game. Not only are its stats unimpressive (only +2 to Attack and Magic), but MP Rage is heavily nerfed compared to I due to changes in the magic system on top of being dangerous. Other Keyblades with similarly low stat boosts at least have a specific utility thanks to their abilities to make them at least somewhat useful.
Two Become One in Final Mix is useful for a short period for its high Strength and Magic values and is useful for obtaining Final Form, but after unlocking Final Form it becomes an active hindrance because it locks all other Drive forms to transform Sora into Antiform instead. Even if used as a secondary Keyblade for one of Sora's Drive Forms, it still has no active ability and is overshadowed by other Keyblades.
Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer: Quiteliterally in the case of the Gummi Ship levels. Going as far as to perfect and complete every mission doesn't even do anything game-wise except give you Bragging Rights Rewards and make it slightly easier to beat the later Gummi levels (and a trophy in the II.5 version).note It does one important thing in the Final Mix version: it's required in Standard mode in order to see the hidden "Birth By Sleep" movie, along with completing the journal, completing every world, and getting the three proofs. But it's still fun to blow up at least two ships that are about 100 times the size of your own, let alone everything else.
The game slogs during the prologue due to extremely limited options (Roxas is stuck with basic combos that he tends to drop and a couple of abilities) and lack of enemy variety, compounded by its sheer length of approximately 3 hours. It picks up significantly once control switches to Sora, as he starts to stockpile new abilities and encounter more enemy types.
Story-wise, the Disney worlds you visit during the first act have stories that are heavily derivative of their respective films (with the exception of Beast's Castle and Olympus Coliseum), Organization XIII and Maleficent are lurking in the background not really doing anything, and in general, it can be a bit boring. Once you get to Disney Castle/Timeless River, the gameplay and story start to pick up, and once the return trip to Hollow Bastion (and the first visit to Space Paranoids) beckons, they really take off.
So Okay, It's Average: Atlantica's musicals have their ups-and-downs, with "Swim This Way" being outright loathed, and Ariel taking levels in dumbass, but general reaction is mixed (unless you're American), since at least "Part of Your World",note Jodi Benson returning from her role in the movie definitely helps "Under the Sea" and "Ursula's Revenge" are tolerable.
Strawman Has a Point: When Xemnas says how he and the rest were turned away from both the light and the dark, and never had a choice, he's just testing them, and the point obviously doesn't apply to him(or Xigbar for that matter) but there is a valid point to be had for some of the others, particularly the non-founding members, who were never part of the Heartless experiments They didn't ask to have their worlds destroyed and their hearts ripped out of them, and they weren't told what little say they had in the matter (a member of Org.XIII or mutated cannon fodder) until after they were turned and initiated.
Strangled by the Red String: The ending of this game and the credits of the 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue HD collection indicates that Roxas and Naminé, Nobodies of Sora and Kairi, are intended to be a romantic pairing. The problem is that whereas Sora and Kairi share a history and close friendship, Roxas and Naminé have only a few interactions that are largely based around plot exposition - Roxas himself shows much more closeness with Hayner, Pence, Olette, Axel and Xion than he ever does with Naminé, so pairing them together comes out of left field and only seems to be on the basis that if Sora and Kairi are in love then their Nobodies have to be.
This is somewhat alleviated in Kingdom Hearts III. Roxas and Naminé never actually directly interact during the game. At all. While Roxas doesnt really have any direct Ship Tease with Xion or Axel in favor of just reuniting with his friends, Naminé is actually given some steady Ship Tease with Riku. Its left some to wonder if the clip from 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue wasnt just a clip that was haphazardly added and some took it at face value.
If you don't knock Xaldin out of it, he will ride his lances like a dragon and blow a massive windgust across the arena. You can only reasonably dodge it by getting lucky and having Xaldin initiate the attack in a position where it won't hit you, or if you have Quick Run or Dodge Roll (with the caveat that if you mistime them, you'll probably die). It is Reflectable (assuming you try to use Reflect, which is unlikely during your first time through).
Xigbar's ultimate move comes in two phases. During the first phase, you have to be really quick. One mistake, and you get hit with an onslaught of attacks, including the second phase. The second phase is practically unavoidable unless you run around in a circle, and it can kill you easily once hit. Also, during both phases of the attack, Xigbar becomes invincible.
Demyx summons water clones. If you don't defeat them in time, this triggers a Non Standard Game Over as Demyx walks up to an exhausted Sora and the game does a Fade to Black. When low on health, he will summon 99 clones and gives you 30 seconds to live. There is an Action Command to pre-empt his performance, but you need to be close to him.
Marluxia will turn invincible, teleport to the center of the arena, and create three massive pools of energy that deal heavy damage, enough to completely kill Sora in a couple hits (more likely one hit on Proud and Critical). These portals then remain in place for a time while he charges towards you and begins attacking again; even if you block or Reflect his attacks, he's likely going to knock you back into the pools for damage. Then almost as soon as the attack ends, he does it again, and again.
A strange example of this is Roxas' "Duel" reaction command, not because it's dangerous if you lose, but rather it's dangerous if you win, since, without his Keyblades, Roxas will just start Beam Spamming everywhere he goes, becoming a far more unpredictable opponent.
Demyx is extremely aggressive with few openings, his attacks cover large areas, and he can screw you over by forcing you to kill water clones in a timed minigame that gives you a Non Standard Game Over if you fail. You also can't save immediately after fighting Demyx, you have to fight a mob of Heartless. On a critical playthrough even regular heartless can kill you in one or two hits. If you die fighting the mob, you have to beat Demyx AGAIN!
Xaldin has a gimmick were he takes reduced damage as long as his air guard is up, with said air guard damaging you as well if you touch it. Like Demyx, he is extremely aggressive, with many powerful attacks and not many windows to attack him unless you learn how to guard his attacks properly to stock the Jump reaction command.
Roxas in the Final Mix version. You're forced to fight him without the assistance of Donald or Goofy (so no Drive Forms outside of Limit Form and no Summons), he attacks quickly and unpredictably, and several of his attacks can be difficult to dodge.
The final enemy in the Gummi Ship levels. There is a True Final Boss that will fill the screen with hard-to-dodge attacks that will kill you in 4 hits. It takes an absurd amount of firepower to kill and will nuke your rank if you take too long. The worst part is that it's the final opponent, so you must restart the entire stage to get a rematch!
Of the Absent Silhouettes battles, Larxene is clearly the hardest of the lot, no thanks to gratuitous spamming of Thundaga that is likely to juggle you through the air endlessly. And then she starts making clones of herself and zipping around the arena at the speed of lightning. That's when all hell breaks loose.
A close second is Vexen, less for Vexen himself and more for the Anti-Sora replica he sics on you.
The mandatory battle at the "Scene of the Fire" in Timeless River. The end has two Hot Rods, extremely dangerous Heartless (especially for how early in the game they show up) due to their ability to temporarily become invincible and charge at Sora with an attack that can be difficult to dodge. The mission also has a damage meter for the building that the player is expected to protect, so neglecting it while trying to deal with the Heartless can lead to a Non Standard Game Over.
The first visit to Port Royal. Most fights are against the cursed undead pirates, who are invincible unless they're standing in the moonlight, and there's a long, difficult forced encounter against them where Sora and co. need to protect the cursed medallion while also being shot at by The Black Pearl's cannons.
The Light Cycle minigame in Space Paranoids can be very difficult to go through due to the Unexpected Gameplay Change to a vehicle section and the unpredictable swarms of Heartless that attack.
Atlantica. While disliked in the previous game for its swimming mechanics, the world returns in KHII as a bizarre Musical Episode. The swimming is easier to do than in the first game, but the fact that the entire point of its existence is to take part in musicals garners hate from some fans for its shades of Tastes Like Diabetes and Camp as well as Donald Duck's singing voice, which is just as dreadful as you'd think. Notably, "Swim This Way" seems to get most of the hate; the other four songs have more positive reception — in particular, the second and third are KH reprises of "Part of Your World" and "Under The Sea" as composed by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, which are the two most beloved songs from The Little Mermaid. While Atlantica is optional, clearing it is necessary for 100% Completion and obtaining the Ultima Weapon. Even among fans of the Disney Animated Canon musicals, Atlantica was so disliked that many fans were dreading the possibility of a musical world in Kingdom Hearts III (which was actually planned at one point: Word of God has it that Nomura wanted to make Arendelle into a musical world similar to Atlantica, but was thankfully talked out of it, though a remnant of this can be seen in the "Let It Go" song sequence lifted directly from the movie).
Some of the sidequests have insane requirements to clear with the best rating. This got so outrageous that some people find it easier to earn the Sequel Hook movies by beating the game on Proud mode (requiring just clearing all the worlds) rather than Standard mode (requiring 100% Completion).
Most gameplay ones are more or less passable. But, the Gummi Ship ones can very well be impossible. Example, Dreadnought Level 3.
The Paradox Cups. Enemies are at a ridiculously high level compared to normal gameplay, and the last one, the Hades Paradox Cup, is a 50-round battle, with the rules changing every 10 rounds, with battles against Yuffie and Tifa, Blizzard Lord, Pete, Cloud and Tifa, Hades, Leon and Cloud, and Cerberus. If you make it to round 49, you have to face Leon, Yuffie, Tifa, and Cloud all at the same time as Sora ALONE, and then if you somehow manage to win that round, you have to face Hades AGAIN, though this time with Hercules helping you. Thankfully, you get a checkpoint every tenth round so if you die, you get to continue from that point.
The Magic Carpet minigame in Agrabah falls into this. To get 100% completion, you need to defeat 65 Heartless before reaching the end. Easier said than done. The best way to get the 65 kills is to equip the Negative Combo ability, the Fenrir keychain, and remove all the Combo Plus and Air Combo Plus abilities. However, getting the Fenrir requires that the player has defeated Sephiroth.
The Mushroom XIII sidequests. S-ranking their various challenges often requires specific strategies that are otherwise impractical for normal gameplay, combined with split-second perfect timing, and very often, dumb luck.
To unlock one trophy, you need to score 5,000 points on at least one skateboard minigame. You'd be lucky to even get even 1,000 in Twilight Town or Hollow Bastion, or 3,000 under 30 seconds in Halloween Town.
No matter which difficulty that you choose, getting the second "Birth by Sleep" secret ending will always lead to lots of hair-raising and broken controllers; you can't get secret ending at all in Beginner mode, you have to get the Gold crown (which means that you must beat all the Organization XIII data replicas, satisfy all the Mushroom XIII heartless, and defeat the Lingering Will, none of which are exactly easy), complete all Gummi missions and complete Jiminiy's Journal (which on themselves are already difficult enough) in Standard, get the Gold Crown and complete the journal in Proud mode, and just get the Gold Crown (which in this difficulty, requires a lot skill, patience, and maxed out stats to get all three of them) in Critical mode. Needless to say, many casual fans would prefer to watch Youtube videos for the secret ending than to endure a whole series of insanely difficult trials.
The first game allowed players to affect the rate at which they leveled up. This game does not have an option, disallowing players control over their Level Grinding speed.
In the 2.5 compilation, Roxas is much more vocal in their boss fight than in the original Final Mix release, where they spoke almost exclusively in grunts and shouts, which were infrequent as well. Some feel that their near-silence was more appropriate because it emphasized the mystery of the character and gave them an air of Tranquil Fury.
It's easy to feel this way about Organization XIII, particularly in the original edition of the gamenote Final Mix fleshed out their screentime with several scenes of group meetings between the members, something that was sorely lacking from the original version. While they do show up in a number of world visits, a lot of the members are arguably still not very interesting, and only show up once or twice without getting to do much besides cause a bit of trouble and fight Sora. This is especially noticeable when you consider that roughly half of the world visits don´t feature the Organization members at all and instead focus on Pete and Maleficent as villains (who many players felt were mishandled anyways) or one-off threats like Shan Yu and Jafar instead of using that time to flesh out the Organization members further. Demyx and Luxord are two big examples; they get significantly less characterization and screentime than the other Organization members (both here and back in Chain of Memories). Which is especially sad — given how (A) their personalities are among the most sympathetic, and (B) their Boss Battles are among the most difficult and unique.
After spending much of the prologue acting as the The Conscience to Roxas, Naminé essentially disappears from the game (outside of an extra cutscene in Final Mix) and doesn't show up again until the final act of the game, which is especially noticeable considering how much prominence in the plot of Chain of Memories.
Yuna, Rikku, and Paine appear midway through the game, here re-imagined as fairies who are working for Maleficent under promise of being rewarded with treasure. Three characters who were the protagonists in their own game now acting as antagonists for this game should be interesting, right? Unfortunately, they're only ever in the middle part of the story, featuring in four scenes (plus a cameo during the end credits), and aside from serving as Plucky Comic Relief, their role is merely to get info that helps Maleficent instigate a clash between her Heartless and the Organization's Nobodies, then switch sides and help the good guys fight the Heartless during said clash, and finally just give you the Gullwing Keychain before disappearing from the story without any further elaboration about who they ever were.
Vivi Ornitier, who is the most famous individual Black Mage in the Final Fantasy franchise and looks the part in both Kingdom Hearts and his game of origin - given that Donald's default Mage's Staff has a little Black Mage figure on the end, the connection could have easily been made. Vivi's magical abilities could have been made into Hidden Depths of some kind, even with his role as a resident of Twilight Town, but instead he acts and is treated as a "normal person" (outside of his virtual self's sudden glitching) and his mage-like design is an Unusually Uninteresting Sight.
They wasted a perfectly good world with Atlantica, making it a series of rhythmic minigames with all the actual story of the original film crammed into cutscenes, and the need for the musicals to progress things is an Excuse Plot. Would it have been so difficult to find a way to adapt the movie's plot to traditional gameplay?
Agrabah's story is based on The Return of Jafar, which makes perfect sense. So do we get a battle with Abis Mal and his men where Sora and Aladdin infiltrate their lair? Do we re-enact the chase sequence against Jafar's army of winged riders? Do we have to raid the palace under Jafar's control to free Aladdin's friends? We do none of that. We revisit the Cave of Wonders from the first game (which is significantly smaller, just four rooms, one of which is a puzzle room), before heading back to Agrabah, and then for the return visit we go to the Oasis ruins to play some minigames before returning to Agrabah to fight Jafar outside of the palace after the only actual scene Jafar has in the game. Compared to every other world, even the reviled Atlantica, Agrabah just seems bland in this game.
Tough Act to Follow: II Final Mix is considered the pinnacle of the series' gameplay by many (especially players who have done Critical Mode or done other challenge playthroughs), thanks to its robust combo based battle system, solid boss and enemy design, a wide variety of combat options which remain viable and useful throughout the game, and a lot of fun optional and postgame content including a plethora of challenging and memorable Bonus Bosses. Many of the games released afterwards have been criticized for their perceived failure in matching or exceeding ''KHIIFM'' in these areas.
While the near-photorealistic characters in Port Royal don't fall into this on their own, their being alongside cartoony characters like Sora, Donald Duck, and Goofy makes the whole affair just a wee bit creepy.
Oddly averted with the also live-action based world of Space Paranoids, due to Tron and Sark's costumes making them look more like action figures (and thus slightly cartoony) than those in Port Royal, and the fact Sora and the others were given designs to match with the surroundings, rather than just muting their colours a little. Interestingly, previews for Kingdom Hearts III show that even just giving them pirate costumes could have greatly alleviated the Uncanny Valley between the heroes and the cast of Port Royal.
Some of the models for Pride Lands characters are rather unsettling, their facial expressions never change and most of them have off putting body movement, especially noticeable with Young Simba and Scar who are stuck with permanent smiles, and Timon's arms that move very stiff.
The crowd in the cutscene after the battle with Shan Yu. In the original versions, they look more like stick figures, and don't move when they cheer on the party. The 2.5 version not only makes them more realistic, it also retcons their reaction to bowing at the party (which leans closer to the film).
Unintentionally Sympathetic: The Nobodies. They are played as disposable monsters without hearts, incapable of any emotion. Still, despite their blatantly evil acts, some fans empathize with the Nobodies' desire to obtain hearts. It doesn't help that they act out what they remember of their emotions, making it easy to forget that they're technically uncaring. It also doesn't help that Roxas is a Nobody, and definitely seems to still have feelings, though he's said to be a special case because he was created with Ven's heart.
Interestingly, there are two scenes where the Nobodies straight out acknowledge that they are emotionless. Twice, one of them gets a big speech on how they're in the right, one talking about the pain of not having a heart... then Sora points out that they can't have pain, as they don't have a heart. The response? To completely shift out, and basically tell Sora, "Okay, ya got me." This behavior mimics that of real-life sociopaths.
The game was already really well-received, but ever since the improved Final Mix version was finally released outside of Japan in 2014, the game's reputation has risen dramatically among fans, not to mention the fact that the plots of the games released since have been even moreconfounding than this game's plot was criticized as being. Now there are far more people who say it's better than the original game than those who say it doesn't match up.
When the game first came out, a lot of players complained that the combat was too button-mashy and that you could just spam X (and occasionally Triangle) to win most fights, which made the gameplay monotonous and too easy. After years of analysis, however, it turns out the combat system is actually pretty complex under-the-hood, and high-level play has much more to do with moves and counter-moves against the enemy's AI. Again, Final Mix made this much more apparent with the additions of the Cavern of Remembrance (which lets you fight Organization XIII again) and Critical Mode (especially Lv1 Critical), all of which do a great job of encouraging smarter play and experimentation with the game's numerous combat options, as mindless button mashing will simply get you killed.
The Roxas prologue was initially one of the most dreaded and lambasted parts of the game upon its release due to its having very little to do with the characters from the first game or the Disney worlds, to the point that a prominent reviewer at the time criticized Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days as "Scrappy-Doo getting his own game". As time went on fans started warming up to it, as Roxas himself has become a more popular and integral character within the franchise, with even some detractors of the character still admitting that his part in this game (namely the prologue) and in Days was preferable to his role in the franchise going forward.
With many feeling disappointed in the story and ending that III presented to the Xehanort Saga, II is still considered a more definitive ending, especially a much better final boss with a better musical theme and a much more fitting conclusion.
Roxas. The poor kid was shoved into a simulation device that filled his head with fake memories only to learn that his life and best friends were never real, that he's not even a "real" person and that another person's life depends on him giving up his own.
Naminé. As the Nobody closest to DiZ, she is the one who suffers the most emotional abuse from him, being referred to as "witch" for her powers and treated as nothing more than a tool to help in his revenge plan. He even orders Riku to kill her after he believes that she's served her purpose.
Complete Monster: Xemnas, the Nobody form of Xehanort and leader of Organization XIII, is portrayed as a cruel sociopath who rules his organization without care for any of its members, viewing his followers as weaklings who are only fit to serve his purposes. Looking to exploit the Keyblade's power to claim hearts, he allows Roxas and Xion to grow close, intending to then pit them against each other so he can judge which Keybearer would be more useful to his plans, even tampering with Xion's form, Mind Raping her and sending her to her death. When Axel is sent to look for the runaway Roxas, Xemnas threatens to eliminate him if he doesn't bring Roxas back dead or alive. He later attacks the Radiant Garden with hordes of Heartless, almost getting Goofy critically injured in the process, just so Sora and King Mickey can slay them all and give him enough hearts to complete his own Kingdom Hearts. When Ansem the Wise and Mickey try to stop his plans at his castle, Xemnas orders his Nobodies to kill them, and proceeds to overtake the Great Heart from within in an attempt to reduce all of existence to nothingness and destroy all those in his way. Cold-blooded, pitiless, and lacking his game counterpart's Tragic Villain qualities, Xemnas continuously shows himself to be more monstrous than any other Nobody solely because he thinks it in his best interest to be so.