Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix is the most straightforward title of the franchise in regards to progression. This entry is more about combat than any other, and due to that, the world design is rather barebones to the point where it is pretty much impossible to get lost. However, since this game is more about combat, here are some tips beginners can benefit from when playing this for their first time, especially when on Critical Mode.
Look at the Status Menu to Learn How to Level Drive Forms
Throughout this title, you will be rewarded with several Drive forms. These forms transform Sora, and they each provide their own sets of benefits and occasional detriments. In addition to Sora himself gaining levels, the Drive forms have levels of their own, and each form gains experience in unique ways. Unfortunately, this title does a poor job of properly explaining its mechanics to you. For instance, the methodology of leveling up Drive forms is tucked away in a menu.
To learn how to gain experience for a particular Drive form, you must pause and enter the Status menu. From there, choose the respective form you wish to level and move the cursor over to ‘Experience’ specifically.
Remember that You Can Now Add Items to the Shortcut Menu
One of the many notable improvements made to the combat system of Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix from its last main-numbered predecessor is that items can now be added to the shortcut menu.
To add them, simply pause and select the Customize option. From there, you can add both magic and items to the shortcut buttons. A new auto-reload functionality can be activated when pressing the equivalent to the PlayStation’s Triangle button when on the item in the pause menu. This makes it so that if you ever use an item during combat, and you have more of that same item in stock, it will be automatically re-equipped to Sora whenever not in battle.
Don’t Forget to Experiment with Summons
Similar to Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, Summoning is an overlooked and often neglected feature for many newcomers. Summons are obtained from story events and certain treasure chests and function in a kindred manner to the first game. However, this time around, they consume the Drive gauge rather than MP.
While Summons are certainly not necessary for story advancement, they can lighten the load to absurdly helpful degrees, especially on Critical Mode. For instance, Chicken Little, the first Summon obtained, can draw enemies closer together in a Magnet-like manner, which is impressively supportive in later, more challenging mob fights.
Every Summon has its own varying efficacies of practicality, so be sure to play around with them and see where their strengths lie.
Limits Can be Used to Squeeze Through Tight Spots
Limits are a new combat mechanic in this game that consists of Sora performing a special attack, usually with party members, that burns through all of his MP, regardless of how much he has left.
The strength of Limits is not nerfed or anything of the sort if you have less than max MP, so you can save your last bits of MP to unleash one. Additionally, however, aside from these attacks performing immense sweeps of damage, they also grant Sora a ridiculous amount of invincibility frames. So if a boss is performing a particularly devastating attack, you can activate a Limit to avoid damage for as long as its activation lasts.
Pay Attention to Keyblade Abilities
Keyblades in this game are more than the stat, range, and cosmetic alterations from the first game. They now grant abilities that are arguably more worthwhile to pay attention to than the actual stats themselves.
These abilities can be stacked with any ability providing the same benefits that Sora has equipped on his actual person, and the degree of synergies that players can employ with these abilities opens up a considerable avenue of customization and choice. Simply be sure to be cognizant of what a Keyblade’s ability is, alongside its Strength and Magic stats.
Synthesize as Much as You Can
Synthesis received a major overhaul in this game with it now having its own leveling system that grants a slew of continual bonuses, rewards for collecting certain amounts and types of materials, and more. It is definitely my preferred incorporation of this general system in any of the Kingdom Hearts titles thus far.
When playing through the game, remember to always pop into the Moogle shops and synthesize all you can. I do recommend avoiding any potentially substantial ventures of grinding until end-game though, as you will have far more tools to efficiently farm with, and you will be a godly powerhouse by that point.
Armor and Accessories Matters
If you aren’t playing on Critical Mode, this tip will not apply to you as heavily, but it is still worth keeping in mind. There are many new players who unfortunately forget about Armor and Accessories. These make a world of difference in difficult battles and can be needed saving graces to prevail.
Armor and Accessories can be bought and synthesized, and should always be thoughtfully considered when encountering a new shop in any world.
And those were 7 tips that can benefit any beginner to Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix. While this title has received a large amount of flack for its mindless progression, there is a good deal of depth within its combative systems that can only be fully realized when on Critical Mode. That is the difficulty I recommend any player to try out, newcomer or not, as I feel like that mode offers the most thoughtfully provoking challenge.
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