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Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Retrospective



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Lucky Ven gets to explore nearly every area in this world. Same goes for Radiant Garden where the only place he doesn't access is the Purification Facility where Terra fights Braig.

You forgot to mention that the only save points in Ven's visit are way back at Aurora's room and the Forest Clearing. Reminds me somewhat of Halloween Town in KH1 after you beat it.
There are no rest stops anywhere in Maleficent's castle before you fight her! But it gets worse.

The Dungeon area of the castle has a "Ledge of No Return" in Ven's story, as I call it.
Once you fall down to the lower level, you're trapped...unless you can cheat it and get yourself killed by the enemies, which will respawn you at the top entrance. However, if you've already used the lower level exit to the Hall, you're screwed. There are no save points that you can access, and the only way forward is to fight Maleficent. Be aware of this!

The Archraven is unique among Kingdom Hearts, being more concerned with stealing pickups on the ground (HP orbs, D-Link crystals, etc) than with attacking you.
Stealing items from the ground IS one of its attacks, I think. It gets a red aura and dives through the prizes on the ground, causing heavy damage to you if you are in the way. (at least, that's what I remember)

Oh, while you’re touring the adjoining room I just mentioned, be sure to see scenic “The Only Door in the World that Ven Won’t Open.” There’s no reason for him not to open it, and his refusal to check ironically pushes Maleficent’s agenda up a step. Thankfully Aqua will set things right before Maleficent can capitalize, but this is still a game of Idiot Ball. Sometimes, in the sport of Idiot Ball, you just have to slam the ball into your own face and knock out a few teeth, and that’s what’s really important. The games’ excuses for not letting characters into exclusive rooms are always janky and usually permanent, but this is probably the worst example in the set, because Ven’s laziness actually does a serious damage!
Never thought about that, actually. If Ven had opened the dungeon cell door by curiosity and found Phillip, I guess his visit would've taken a bit of a different turn.

She then drops both of their names, presumably so Aqua players will realize she learned the name from Terra.
I thought that as well, but then I realized that Ven shouts Aqua's name when she runs in the room, so I guess Maleficent heard and picked up quickly.
 

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God this one had me in stitches, I swear Ven's story and to a lesser extent Aqua's here is probably one of their worst Disney stories. It bothers me so much that Ventus despite being supposed to be all about friendship/caring just ups and ditches Aqua with Maleficent. Like you can't convince me game that Ventus here is Aqua's best friend if he just ups and leaves her all alone with the MISTRESS OF ALL EVILLLLL!
 

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God this one had me in stitches, I swear Ven's story and to a lesser extent Aqua's here is probably one of their worst Disney stories. It bothers me so much that Ventus despite being supposed to be all about friendship/caring just ups and ditches Aqua with Maleficent. Like you can't convince me game that Ventus here is Aqua's best friend if he just ups and leaves her all alone with the MISTRESS OF ALL EVILLLLL!
I felt like Ventus literally left at the height of his visit, he just goes "now Maleficent is playing mind games, and Aqua shows up to beat her up! Oh well, I guess this world has been long enough! Time for the next one then." If Ven had stayed like 15 more minutes it could have been sooooo much deeper.

I feel like that happens in a lot of the Disney worlds of that game; not a lot happens, and by the time it gets exciting it's over before you know it and the characters mysteriously leave. It's not like every single Disney world feels unresolved per say, it just really suffers from the series-long problem of trying to make Disney worlds seem relevant when they're written out of the main plot.
 

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I'm starting to wonder if the people who worked on the writing for Enchanted dominion got fired because I don't see how this world could've been fit for release considering how much idiot ball Ven plays in the world.
 

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BBS's horrible difficulty balancing issues is why I like how they did the dream eater system. Even if you start the game carrying over the best dream eaters and even if you know how to manipulate the system to make awesome dream eaters stupidly early. It still doesn't in any real way tip the balance because of the necessary LP, level, and item gates. DDD's balance is all the better for it because you can tell the DDD bosses actually had some semblance of an idea on what you could have the first time you're fighting them. As they are much better balanced for the commands you can have at hand (all of them have clearly exploitable weaknesses to your action or battle commands albeit it's still a bit trial and error to figure them out). Which is something that became painfully apparent to me after I played DDD and BBS back to back.

In BBS it's clear the developers had no idea what you'd have, not even the slightest, so enemy and especially boss design is all over the place. Which results in all these weird difficulty spikes and is compounded by Osaka's terrible damage formulas. In DDD the design is still not great but all the bosses are designed with exploitable weakness and advantages that reflect the attack/magic/action commands you can have by around those respective points. Which even if you don't personally break the game you will still feel the effects of the developer's lack of knowledge during boss fights. It's a very notable difference in boss design when you look at KH2 specifically KH2FM+ critical mode which fixes the low enemy damage issue, and you can tell these bosses were all designed with a clear idea on what you would have.

I disagree on needing a walkthrough though, I broke BBS myself totally by accident because a lot of its merging is just very straight forward. Like I played the command board, saw there was a magnet placed, realized I could get magnet multiple times, and then it's not really a secret that combining two of the same spells yield you a higher one. You do need a guide if you want to get specific abilities quicky but honestly just going ham in I had little trouble crushing the game's difficulty. There was a problem though in that not breaking the game I started to reach a point where it felt like I was being punished. The game was giving me very little good commands for exploration, most of the action command abilities given to TAV felt downright useless, and it was clear the game was trying to have a difficulty curve and failing at it miserably. When I first got to Zack as Terra I was close to throwing down the controller in frustration because it just felt like the final straw.
 
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"The other little bit of strangeness is that the gate at one side of the room is marked on the mini-map as being a door, even though it never opens at any point in the entire game!"
That is actually the exit that leads to the Fountain Court on the lower level of the Aquaduct. It's just that the minimaps in BBS don't change with different floors.

Speaking of which, the Lamp Chamber map in 358/2 Days shows a black door (that signifies an entrance that is currently locked), but it is never opened. It's really interesting because it's at the location of the keyhole, so it's always made me curious about entering it.

 
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I feel like you missed mentioning a lot of idiot ball stuff but maybe that's because you're going through it blind...or I guess pretending to go through it blind and you'll readdress this world later on in Terra and Aqua's playthroughs? If so carry on, it's kind of an astounding that the scenario for all 3 in this world is so impossibly badly written from start to finish that this whole article really only captured 1/3rd of this mess.

Man why did the story have to be in such a hurry to break the trio up, it's not even like the following worlds required them to have a strained friendship really minus a line or two which could have easily been re-written. I feel it would of been better if they had met up again later on and all broke there. Feels like that would of been a more organic breaking point for their friendship than in the middle where nothing lines up right.
 

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That is actually the exit that leads to the Fountain Court on the lower level of the Aquaduct. It's just that the minimaps in BBS don't change with different floors.

Speaking of which, the Lamp Chamber map in 358/2 Days shows a black door (that signifies an entrance that is currently locked), but it is never opened. It's really interesting because it's at the location of the keyhole, so it's always made me curious about entering it.
Ooooh, of course. Thanks, I'll correct that!


I feel like you missed mentioning a lot of idiot ball stuff but maybe that's because you're going through it blind...or I guess pretending to go through it blind and you'll readdress this world later on in Terra and Aqua's playthroughs? If so carry on, it's kind of an astounding that the scenario for all 3 in this world is so impossibly badly written from start to finish that this whole article really only captured 1/3rd of this mess.

Man why did the story have to be in such a hurry to break the trio up, it's not even like the following worlds required them to have a strained friendship really minus a line or two which could have easily been re-written. I feel it would of been better if they had met up again later on and all broke there. Feels like that would of been a more organic breaking point for their friendship than in the middle where nothing lines up right.
Yeah, I give the scene (and later common scenes) a swipe for each character, and even then I'm still bound to miss a few things. If anyone wants to comment/complain about the scene on a whole, though, that's fine.
 
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The group might just like Kingdom Key D for testing since it's registered as one of Riku's keyblades in the game coding of either KH2 or DDD as well, I think it was DDD. Anyway the thing is if Ven got the keyblade it would just been a keychain, born from memories not the actual real deal much like the keyblade Aqua gets in RG is a keychain of another existing keyblade that wouldn't come till much later. Of course you know it doesn't make a whole lot of sense why that keychain would spawn since Mickey hadn't yet received the keyblade, but again it could have been like Aqua where it was destiny. Like KKD is destined to be Mickey's chosen keyblade ergo a keychain of Mickey's keyblade comes in the form of KKD even if he hasn't yet received it himself. Of course it again would really only be an aesthetics thing...I would think anyway you have to wonder if there be some kind of weird conflict of a keyblade from the realm of light having a keychain of a keyblade from the realm of darkness. Thinking about it maybe that's why they never went through with Ven having it.
 

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It was DDD, yeah! The wiki even notes that it has a different skin for The Grid!

Yeah, your reasoning is pretty solid about that, it's for the best that they ultimately didn't go through with it.
 

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Such a good idea about Cait Sith. Maybe Mirage Arena would be a little less creepy if somebody was there.
 

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While getting the ice cream is a bit vague I think they figured players would just assume you eventually get a keyblade from collecting it all. I mean usually pretty much every big long task like that ended with either a keyblade or an accessory reward pre-BBS. And while they removed accessories they put command styles in their place and still give keyblades. Like....I legit just go into long things like in KH expecting to get a keyblade and I've never been disappointed in that. Except the gummi ship missions all you ever get is better gummi ship parts...All I am saying is I don't think this is one thing they were expecting players to need a guide to find.

Also I dunno if I agree at all that at the time that underground area was the most intricate platforming sequence to date, I think the cavern of remembrance was much more intricate and not to mention a lot longer.

You know it's weird reading you retrospective on BBS's Unversed enemy design has made me realized one of the reasons Dream Eaters felt so weird coming off BBS is because they are so...distinctly their own things. Unversed are largely just copy cat heartless with parallels for all the standard but dream eaters don't really have the same deal. Like man you don't see anything resulting in an elemental mage for like an age, the closest you have for awhile is the kumori bats with their weird slow motion sonic waves that aim more to sort of trap/stun lock you then they do to damage. I suppose there are those elemental seahorse but they act more like stationary turrets with a widespread and meteor spread attack ranges not like the single fire/blizzard spells. And I just think of all the effort that went into making dream eaters their own distinct species and wonder why the unversed are so...copy cat/lame in comparison. The unversed have some really great designs and animations, and there are some actually unique attacking unversed, but many act like reskinned heartless which is sorta lame. I think that's one of the big reasons I find unversed to be the most boring/lackluster of enemies. It's like they are the one enemy species in the game that doesn't quite have its own identity. I think the lack of any actual powers is another...

Heartless can steal hearts, need the keyblade or a strong purification move to kill them, and reproduce themselves. Nobodies are highly intelligent and more or less fight like just super powered humans, which means they can produce more of themselves through scheming. Dream Eaters devour happy dreams to create eternal nightmares or devour nightmares to protect happy dreams, and in turn this is how they can reproduce. But Unversed......what can unversed actually DO? Act as a less threatening version of heartless or a slightly more threatening version of wild animals? Feed on negativity to....do what it just seems like it draws them there. The unversed really feel like they have a huge lack of identity and I think that's a pretty big issue for what is meant to be sort of a central threat in BBS.

Not much to say on Disney Town itself honestly because it's not really much of a world and its repetitive music fried my brain, I have no qualms that Everglow's "BBS HD chronicles" (where he combined all his playthroughs together into one chronological sorta-movie, then used codes to edit the music, cutscenes, battles etc... to give them more emotional punch like even making Ven involved in some certain battles he was wrongfully absent from) made sure to edit out of that god forsaken music in some of the playthrough with DDD's more pleasing tracks.

I will I guess end off with it's not that the ice cream machine was broken it's that they didn't know how to work it. When Ven arrives if you look around the cutscenes you can see ice cream is strewn every where on the ground. It seems like the way machine works is you play the keyboard to make ice cream to the rhythm it plays. But HDL didn't understand that so they were just kinda mashing the keyboard and firing ice cream out all over the place. Ven showed them they needed to play in time with the rhythm to get the ice cream they wanted, it's a rare case of BBS trying to tell a sort through showing and action instead of telling. The game could really use more of that...at a lot more of that especially since half the time it verbally tells a story it doesn't really line up right.
 

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You know it's weird reading you retrospective on BBS's Unversed enemy design has made me realized one of the reasons Dream Eaters felt so weird coming off BBS is because they are so...distinctly their own things. Unversed are largely just copy cat heartless with parallels for all the standard but dream eaters don't really have the same deal. Like man you don't see anything resulting in an elemental mage for like an age, the closest you have for awhile is the kumori bats with their weird slow motion sonic waves that aim more to sort of trap/stun lock you then they do to damage. I suppose there are those elemental seahorse but they act more like stationary turrets with a widespread and meteor spread attack ranges not like the single fire/blizzard spells. And I just think of all the effort that went into making dream eaters their own distinct species and wonder why the unversed are so...copy cat/lame in comparison. The unversed have some really great designs and animations, and there are some actually unique attacking unversed, but many act like reskinned heartless which is sorta lame. I think that's one of the big reasons I find unversed to be the most boring/lackluster of enemies. It's like they are the one enemy species in the game that doesn't quite have its own identity. I think the lack of any actual powers is another...

Heartless can steal hearts, need the keyblade or a strong purification move to kill them, and reproduce themselves. Nobodies are highly intelligent and more or less fight like just super powered humans, which means they can produce more of themselves through scheming. Dream Eaters devour happy dreams to create eternal nightmares or devour nightmares to protect happy dreams, and in turn this is how they can reproduce. But Unversed......what can unversed actually DO? Act as a less threatening version of heartless or a slightly more threatening version of wild animals? Feed on negativity to....do what it just seems like it draws them there. The unversed really feel like they have a huge lack of identity and I think that's a pretty big issue for what is meant to be sort of a central threat in BBS.
I completely agree with you on the unversed thing. The nobodies had something to distinguish them from the heartless; while shadows, as the most basic form of the heartless, were a non-threat, even dusks could prove to be a challenge in small numbers, especially at the early levels. The nobodies were less common, but were altogether a huge threat nevertheless, and always seemed challenging.

The unversed were just... angry-eyed heartless. They had the one that was a shadow, the one that was a rhapsody, the one that was a large armor that inflated instead of blocked your attack from the front, the one that was actually just a large armor but thinner, the one that was a clay armor, the one that was one of those yellow drill bit things but instead was a jellyfish, the one that was a soldier, you get the picture. None of them felt highly unique, save some of the bosses. The heartless seeped into darkness or released hearts, the nobodies left behind this weird white string, but the unversed just disappeared into a black flame. It just wasn't that interesting.

The dream eaters did a great job by standing apart, and part of that was because they were equally balanced as the main enemies and the party members, adding depth to the sympathetic "darkness isn't evil, evil uses darkness" mentality of this series. They had unique attacks, unique formations, and unique designs, which is something I can't give credit to the unversed for. The only thing the unversed, heartless, and nobodies all have over the dream eaters is their death animations. Seriously, when I first played DDD, I thought the enemies poofed out of the frame when you killed them, only to be informed that tiny diamonds appear after they're killed. You can barely even see them, what an odd choice, Square.

The unversed are a cool concept that's lost in execution. Vanitas having his own brand of baddie due to his creation is interesting; the fact that they're heartless clones is disappointing, to say the least. This is also part of the reason why I was not interested in Birth by Sleep in any of my playthroughs (although certainly not all of the reason).
 

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You know other than the fact that there is so very little reason for Ventus to be running around. He ran into Terra already and had ample chance to talk to him so at this point he's not pursuing Terra to ask a question. Likewise both Terra and Aqua expressed they were fine without Ven and they were off to do their jobs so Ventus should be a good boy and head back home. After RG Ven's plot just completely grinds to a halt because the next 3 worlds are all just Ven messing around trying to make new friends instead of just go home, as a result Ven's plot comes to a complete grinding halt. It won't kick up again until near the end and when it does it doesn't really sell for me what it's trying to sell.

But you know that aside Olympus, Disney Town, and Deep Space aren't bad worlds for Ventus just very pointless in the grand scheme of things. Like I enjoy them granted I think Deep Space is the worst Disney World in the series because the idea of making an ENTIRE WORLD based on literally the first 10 minutes of the movie and not even have Lilo in it or the subject of "family" or "depression" brought up despite how well it relates to BBS's plot just irritates me. There isn't a Disney world alive that does more to spit on its original content, intent, messages, and characters than Deep Space.
 

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Disney Town wouldn't be such a waste if the world was integrated into the story. Terra, Aqua and Ventus could visit this world after going through Olympus and Deep Space. When they see each other again, it would be the perfect opportunity to reflect on their actions and try to reconcile with each other.

Deep Space would've been much better if the subjects of family & depression were brought up in the story, just imagine Ven & Lilo trying to deal with their issues together.
 

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Well I mean that is the key thing here isn't it? And it can be extended to most of BBS, if the worlds were better integrated into the story and they actually cashed in on all the ways the movie themes relate to the trio then none of the worlds be a waste.
 

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Disney Town wouldn't be such a waste if the world was integrated into the story. Terra, Aqua and Ventus could visit this world after going through Olympus and Deep Space. When they see each other again, it would be the perfect opportunity to reflect on their actions and try to reconcile with each other.

Deep Space would've been much better if the subjects of family & depression were brought up in the story, just imagine Ven & Lilo trying to deal with their issues together.
Maybe it would've given Ven some character too if he talked to Lilo :p I agree with your point on Disney Town, it was kind of strange that they set up the joke that Ven would have to go with two grown-ups without actually having them bump into each other in the story. That, and it would've saved us the crisis of finding out WHO WON THE MILLION DREAMS AWARD until 0.2 if they all were present for the ceremony!

You know other than the fact that there is so very little reason for Ventus to be running around. He ran into Terra already and had ample chance to talk to him so at this point he's not pursuing Terra to ask a question. Likewise both Terra and Aqua expressed they were fine without Ven and they were off to do their jobs so Ventus should be a good boy and head back home. After RG Ven's plot just completely grinds to a halt because the next 3 worlds are all just Ven messing around trying to make new friends instead of just go home, as a result Ven's plot comes to a complete grinding halt. It won't kick up again until near the end and when it does it doesn't really sell for me what it's trying to sell.

But you know that aside Olympus, Disney Town, and Deep Space aren't bad worlds for Ventus just very pointless in the grand scheme of things. Like I enjoy them granted I think Deep Space is the worst Disney World in the series because the idea of making an ENTIRE WORLD based on literally the first 10 minutes of the movie and not even have Lilo in it or the subject of "family" or "depression" brought up despite how well it relates to BBS's plot just irritates me. There isn't a Disney world alive that does more to spit on its original content, intent, messages, and characters than Deep Space.
I'll put it this way: at least Deep Space does leave room for the world to return again. As much as people might not like it, its sparse use of the original source material leaves it open for revisiting later in the series. And, god damn, I don't think there's a person alive that wouldn't want to see Hawaii in Kingdom Hearts III's graphics.

Well I mean that is the key thing here isn't it? And it can be extended to most of BBS, if the worlds were better integrated into the story and they actually cashed in on all the ways the movie themes relate to the trio then none of the worlds be a waste.
Get it, KEY thing?!

I'll see myself out
 

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Yeah, Deep Space setting up for a "sequel world" in the same manner as Olympus Coliseum, The Grid, and the TWEWY plot in DDD. Issues with the world be damned.

What's funny is that, considering the Lilo and Stitch extended story (long story short: Stitch has many plots on Earth over many years and sequels and then goes off to space for adventuers), Stitch being at Hollow Bastion 10 years later almost seems to imply that Lilo and Stitch took place during the 10 year gap? To go to a Lilo and Stitch world in KH3, KH4, or any other game set after KH2, would have to imply Stitch was wandering the universe for ten+ years? It's not unbelievable but you can hear it creaking a little in comparison to the alternative.
 
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