KHII: 3x the charm

Technically four times.

But I never did get around to completely finishing my third game.

I don’t know… I guess a lot of things kept coming up and just never got a chance.
And I actually decided to mark it down on my calender the day I started it. Too many breaks in between indicates that I will finish it in faster time than it appears.

Meanwhile, this most recent cartridge of “Kingdom Hearts II” I didn’t mark down the day I started and I finished in record time.

There were a handful of days I didn’t play at all.
But aside from that, I managed to finish it much faster than I usually do.

I took a lot of breaks in between when it came to the first several games.
The first, completely unavoidable.

You try getting close to straight A’s in college while playing through a game like this.
I brought my PS2 one semester and the end result was two B’s. I probably could have done away with one of them if I hadn’t been slightly distracted

People say Physical Geology is hard, but they blamed it more on the professor than the subject.

The lab of that course was a nearly unavoidable B that I really couldn’t do much about. We measured out the contours of one of our parking lots. I couldn’t do it to save my life.
Technically, I could have met with the lab assistant, have him go over it with me and then turned it in again… I think I got a check minus on that… I forget the grading system. It was check, check plus, and check minus. I believe check minus was the worst, though there might have been plain minus as well.

Anyway, because I couldn’t face up to groveling for help, I ended up not being able to do much about my grade.
According to a myspace app where you grade your professors, many people didn’t like my geology professor, saying that he has bias and doesn’t give women high grades…

I’m not so sure about that, necessarily. I mean, I got a B and probably could have ended up with worse. My first test was great and it kinda went downhill a little bit… not 100% sure on this, of course. We’re talking 4 years ago here.

Years back, I turned in some of my old games for store credit @ GameStop. One was Harry Potter & The Sorceror’s Stone (finally managed to beat the game once and was just playing Quidditch for the rest of the time), another was Crash Bandicoot: Warped (got it with a Namco collection and Frogger for Christmas, I found it too difficult and couldn’t get around to finishing it) and there were a couple of Spyro GameBoy Advance games that I believe I managed to finish… maybe not… but cuz they were on a different game consule it just didn’t work out for me…

Once the game went onto PS2 and beyond, it lost all of its magic. So what if the graphics are better? Doesn’t change the fact that, well aside from more voice actor changes, the difficulty level had gone up. So therefore I couldn’t whip through the games as well as I do with the original ones. I’d figured out all of the tricks with those at least so I can get the 100+% at the end…

Fact of the matter: I traded the games in and thought I’d get cash. Instead, the cashier said I could put the money towards reserving one of several games coming out soon… Kingdom Hearts II was slated for May of 2006, and I’d been waiting for that, naturally after completing the original game and playing through it a couple times.

I’d compare it with any old book series. You’re just dying to see what happens next in the story. And I believe that’s what makes Kingdom Hearts a great franchise. The game play is entertaining with the right amount of difficulty (depending on several factors, of course) but more than anything, you’re hanging on to see what comes next in the story. You grow so close to the characters and therefore close with the characters they’re close to.

With any RPG game that runs on a level system, the keys to victory are learning and getting to the gameplay and knowing how strong you should be before taking on certain bosses.
By leveling up, you get stronger in the ways of defense, new abilities, points to equip said abilities and of course, getting stronger in itself.

With the original Kingdom Hearts when I first started, I got into trouble on two occasions because I was attempting bosses I couldn’t handle at my particular level.
After many deaths and use of items, I managed to beat the game at level 58.
Hmm… to see the secret ending, you need to seal all the keyholes, find all 99 dalamatian puppies, complete the 100 Acre Wood storybook and beat the Hades Cup at the Coliesum… how the hell did I beat the Hades cup at level 58 and below?

Sora’s friend Riku becomes a boss later in the game. You face him without the dark powers and then with them, once Ansem possesses him… took me 39 attempts and I’m going to assume it was because I wasn’t at the right level.
My cousin played through the game, gave up after 6 tries and went back for another two before she beat him. Here, we just wanted to play through from start to finish asap because I managed to lose my PS2 memory card. That meant beating some bosses when we weren’t at high enough level.

I always learn from my video game mistakes by means of proactivity. Knowing what you’re up against, equipping the right abilities and further on, being at the right level.
After maybe my third time playing through the game, I never lost to him again.

Level 45+
Abilities: Guard, Counterattack, Glide and pas de resistance: Arc Arcanum (using it when he’s close to death gurantees a victory, though the past several times, I really didn’t need it)
Item slots filled with high-potions, elixirs and ethers
Magic shortcuts: Aerora (for defense) and Cura (quick healing)

Now that I’ve set myself on the path to get the Ultimate weapon each time I play, I go through all of the worlds after I beat Riku the first time, get the items I need, unseal all the trinities and therefore, gain more experience that becomes useful later on.

The one plus I think the sequel has:
you can skip through the cutscenes if you so choose, whereas you had to sit through them in the first game, and at times wallow in agony of the same dialogue over and over… and over again…

It was recommended that if you start with the shield and prioritize in defense, you’ll have an easier time getting through the game. In the original, I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve played with every combination possible.

Sword/give up Staff
Sword/give up Shield
Staff/give up Shield
Staff/give up Sword
Shield/give up Staff
Shield/give up Sword

You have to pick one item and give up another and by doing so, have a weaker power, magic or defense.

I believe with the Staff, I get the best abilities coming my way first with the leveling up.
Although getting Guard at level 9 with the shield isn’t too bad either.

It’s that whole rock/paper/scissors thing.
You get a very similar deal in the game of Pokémon. You pick a grass/fire/water type to start out with and how difficult the gameplay is depends on which one you pick.
Meaning you will not only affect your rival’s Pokémon roster, but you can start on a good or bad foot when it comes to beating gym leaders and collecting badges.

I started with Bulbasaur in the first game because it was strong against the first two gyms. Other than that, there was no other reason. I wanted to start on the right foot because it was my first time.

After that, I just went with the cutest one.
Chikorita and Torchic both gave me a disadvantage in Silver and Sapphire, but I turned lemons into lemonade with the other members I added to my team.

My first game, I went with the sword because that’s what I did in the first Kingdom Hearts. In the end, I think that’s what made things difficult. It feels as if my defense starts out really bad unless I prioritize it. Defeating your opponents is a key part of the game, but it’s better to be strong enough to survive the most critical of flows.

I tried that strategy with my 2nd run-through of the game and it worked like a charm. Then the end game really wasn’t all that bad… but of course I was trying to complete the journal for the secret ending. One way or another, you’re going to hit level 100… actually, its 99 in the sequel… plus there’s the whole business of leveling up 4 forms to level up the abilities to come with them.

Something I really find depressing is that I have to wait until the near end of the game to get the ability to glide… or superglide in case of the first game… its pretty nifty ability to have when it comes to certain enemies. And having the aerial dodge isn’t too shabby either.

My third game, I started in defense but chose the sword… therefore, things proved more difficult than I anticipated. Yikes, I don’t think I’d want to try to complete that one without being at level 99.

But I proved at least one thing with this last game:
Level 75 is perfect for the final boss fights

The most difficult point was in the final final battle where control temporarily shifts to Riku and you have to free Sora because one of you loses all their HP. In the several times I attempted to beat this guy when I was at level  46 (first game), I believe I developed a strategy for this small part after a while… its been a couple months , more than a couple since that… so naturally I forgot. Panic was starting to set in, but miraclously I switched control back to Sora before either of us could die.

Aside from maybe one little incident and the Cerberus cup in the Underdrome, I didn’t have a single death in the game… which is nothing sort of miraclous.

I always deem the first boss (the giant Nobody– opposite of the Darkside in the first game) as the first really difficult one… but with ample potions and experience, I escaped with barely a visible scratch… actually, there was one person I failed to beat in a tournament early in the game… not that it was detrimental that I had that one loss.

Xaldin is the nobody at the Beast’s castle and I found him plently difficult. This is where some of those form abilities like aerial dodge really come in handy.
Demyx, you have to face at the big climax of the game and there’s maybe one part of a fight with him that’s ridiculous hard. Beating 10 of his water forms in only 10 seconds.
Time challenges are probably the worst… you don’t complete something within a certain time limit and its as bad as dying in some cases… usually it takes me three+ tries to beat him, but I got lucky

Speaking of time challenges, I might not have been able to beat Luxord, the gambling nobody on the first attempt either… pain in the butt. It’s not about defeating him by depleting HP, its about getting rid of time by winning a few games… which involves pressing x at the right time when there’s an O on your part of the command menu…

Other than that, some of the other battles were all too easy because I was at high enough level…
once or twice, though, I actually found myself getting bored with a couple of the bosses. I can’t manage to hit them, but they’re doing all these fancy attacks that I’m either dodging or I’m not taking too much damage… actually, annoyed is more of the word for it… when’s this going to be over… that sort of thing.

The one downside on the game play for this compared to the original Kingdom Hearts… you have a Drive Gauge added to your Magic and HP gauges and when its at 3 and above, you can use your forms… but the only way to fill it up again is either with items (which I like to converse for emergencies) and fighting enemies. Therefore, in the crux of it all, you level up while you’re trying to fill your drive gauge again… unlike the other two, you can’t fill it up by simply going to a save point. On the one hand, it works to a couple advantages, but on the other, its just time consuming.

Part of the reason I finished as quick as I did was because I knew where I was going. I wanted to get all of my form abilities to level 2. Meaning you have to level up your forms 5 times to get the abilties upgraded to level 2 (level 1 comes with form lv 3, but you don’t get quite the distance you need with just that first level).

One thing that comes in handy is when you’re on the map and you’re moving from world to world on the gummi ship, it actually shows you what level you should be at when you go there.

As a general rule, I like to be at least a level or two above the recommended and if I’m not there, I’ll go somewhere else to train up for a while until I get there.

Give or take a day or two, its my belief that I became this game at the end of the week that began with me becoming unemployed. I had started Kingdom Hearts just before that and intended to go on to the next game afterwards.
When I take the time to level up, collect items, beating all of the enemies at the Coliseum, find the 99 dalmatians, do everything I can to get the ultimate keyblade and the secret ending, I can finish the game from start to finish within 2 weeks, roughly.

Kingdom Hearts II… if I’m getting this right, I’m able to beat it within 5 weeks, give or take a couple of days.

This reminds me a little bit of when I started to read Eclipse again and wanted to finish it before I start to get bored… by reading through nearly non-stop, I managed to finish it within 3 days. If I’m in a huge rush, I can finish Twilight in a day and a half. With New Moon, I was able to finish it roughly within 2 days… whatever it took to bring Edward and the Cullens back to Forks asap.

Once I started going through Eclipse the first time, I had bouts of time where I really didn’t want to read it because I just found it very dull… or Edward Cullen/Jacob Black was getting on my last nerve.

Not that I would want to rush through Breaking Dawn, but seeing as its so many pages long, it took me a long time to get through.
And yet, its another weird tick that I have. Because that’s how it worked the first time I read it, I was only reading it at night. I was reading through it along with The Host (also by Stephenie Meyer), but I was reading one by day and the other by night. This was during my senior year of college and my college apartment happened to be filled with Twihards. One of them was my roommate’s best friend. It became huge there, but that was because the movie was coming out that fall (for Twilight).

There have been certain things in my life that I had difficulty getting through because I didn’t have the capacity to follow through. ADD or sheer boredom… with Kingdom Hearts II, it was always because something else was going on. Work/school, whatever else going on in my life.

Therein lies the question of what I’ll do next.
I’m sure I still have a game of Spyro: Year of the Dragon I hadn’t completed as well as Paper Mario on the old N64… ugh, worked to get straight A’s to get it and I barely even play it anymore.

At some point, I really should TRY to complete Zelda: Ocarina of Time… its been sitting on the shelf for ages.

As much as I’d love to start the journey with Sora and his friends all over again, I’m not sure if I can bring myself to start another game… I’d just completed it today and I already want to go back in.
A lot of things in that reality sucks… but its a helluva lot better than what I’ve been doing with mine.

Something I should the next time…
When I get to certain bosses, I should mark down what level I’m at so from that point, I’ll know what I have to shoot for.

The odd thing, though, I don’t think I’d ever played through the game without playing through the original first… just something about keeping the story in motion the way it should be, start to finish… not that I do that as a general rule with Jak & Daxter and Jak II as well.

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