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I'm with you on literally everything.
One note, about the "better magic system" part I think KH II's magic is fine, what needs to come back is Donald and Goofy's usefulness.
Further proving the point about how good exploration is in this game, I never knew about the treasure chest above the emblem door in Hollow Bastion.
And I play this game religiously since 2002.
That disappointed me, too. They still do get stronger like Sora, but it doesn't show visually. I can only assume it was a change to make the screen cleaner.Minor aspect I know, but it always bothered me a little that the party members' HP/MP remains the same size throughout KH2. They're technically growing if you look at the HP meter at the pause menu, but there's a better sense of us as a group getting stronger throughout the journey with Donald and Goofy leveling up the same way you do.
This is all pretty startling, honestly. I always found the original game to be the more satisfying experience of the two, and always assumed I was in the minority on that.
It's not by a wide margin, as KH2 most certainly has its improvements (smoother control, better camera, consistently better animation, more entertaining Gummi Ship missions). But the original is just simpler and more fulfilling to explore.
Oh, we're still in the minority. KH II has too many "mainstream" and accessible elements and was part of too many childhoods to lose first place in popularity.
They're both really good games, but for different things, and I just happen to LOVE what KH1 does best, while I understand many of KH II's good points but I just don't care as much.
I highly doubt that it's the "mainstream" or "childhood" aspects that make KH2 overall more popular. It might be a factor for some, but I really don't think it's the main reason.
What's the point of being able to command Donald and Goofy with the triangle button? It's an unnecessary feature that isn't vital to the gameplay, even on Proud Mode. The only thing I've noticed it do is interfere with the synthesis Heartless in the treehouse on Deep Jungle by attacking the Heartless and ruining your chances of getting rare materials.
I use triangle all the time in KH1. I like being able to direct the party to fight one Heartless while I attack the other. Or send them off to their deaths lowering the HP of a boss while I wait it out, lol. But the party members are altogether useless in KH2 compared to KH1.
That's another one. It would stop them from dying at the doorway of a room to some random Heartless when all I was doing was running through to the next room anyway. I'd always get them to follow me during the first Oogie fight, too, f.e, so they'd avoid the contraptions knocking them out. That kind of control over the party is completely lost in KH2.I can tell my allies to go fight a different target, going all out on a boss, regroup, focusing on me (for all those "Donald doesn't heal" guys, if you press Triangle without a target your allies will focus on Sora and be more responsive if he needs healing).
It wasn't vital, but it was strategic and was yet another feature that rewarded exploring your options and your knowledge of the game's mechanics.