What Makes The Ansem Data Battle So Awesome; Kingdom Hearts III Limit Cut Deep Dive #10

The Kingdom Hearts III Re Mind DLC contains my favorite content in all of gaming, thanks to its stellar and cathartic added story content, phenomenal new music, and unrivaled boss design. However, even after over 2 years since this DLC’s release, I still find its reception relatively underrated. The numerous qualitative boss battles, in particular, warrant the perceived hefty price tag in my book.

But, what is it about these fights that I love so much? Well, I intend to discuss that point once again today, and 3 other times, as I attempt to rattle on why I love each of the 13 data fights in Kingdom Hearts III’s Limit Cut episode.

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If you missed them, check out my appreciative pieces on the following data fights:

Ansem Seeker of Darkness needs no introduction. Even those unfamiliar with the series likely know he is the first primary antagonist of the franchise. He’s also quite beloved for simultaneous nostalgia and induced terror, though he has mellowed out as the entries progressed. Regardless, it’s still worth detailing who he is to appreciate his Data Battle elements better.

Ansem Seeker of Darkness, as clarified by Kingdom Hearts II and Birth by Sleep, is Xehanort’s Heartless following his possession of Terra. At Birth by Sleep’s conclusion, Terra’s body became possessed by Master Xehanort due to the latter’s need for a robust vessel. However, after a final confrontation with Aqua, this new iteration of Xehanort experienced amnesia, and he found himself under the tutelage of Radiant Garden’s leader, Ansem the Wise.

Then, after a vast degree of betrayal resulting from overt curiosity and conspiring with fellow apprentices, Xehanort discarded his-then vessel, forming a Heartless and Nobody. The former was Ansem Seeker of Darkness, who stole Ansem the Wise’s name, while the latter was Xemnas, the leader of the original Organization XIII. For the purposes of this piece, any further mention of Ansem will refer to the Seeker of Darkness specifically.

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Ansem is a comparatively simplistic villain who lacks the contrived nature of future antagonists, for better or worse. Still, that doesn’t degrade his characterization, as his narrative role is served stellarly throughout the first game. He has a subtle yet effective presence from the start by impacting Sora’s worldview and penning thought-provoking reports that provide the disturbing depths his thirst for knowledge sank to, such as child sacrifice and experimentation. If anything, Ansem is symbolic of how grim Kingdom Hearts’ core genuinely is, melding the Disney and Square elements into a distinct, compelling sense of horrific intrigue.

As for his Data fight itself, it’s undoubtedly one of the most uniquely paced bouts players will experience. His first phase primarily comprises ranged projectiles and spaced mix-ups to potentially throw players off their game. However, the simplicity of how to counter his moveset may seem too obvious. His attack telegraphs and openings are paced quite generously, to a degree where only a few attempts should make his first phase overtly evident. Though, he is far from a welcoming beginner Data battle since his Desperation Moves are…intense.

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Before delving into that facet, though, many of Ansem’s attacks are direct references to his battles in the original Kingdom Hearts and Dream Drop Distance. For example, several of the tracking lasers can be traced to the World of Chaos battle at the end of the first game, which is a neat callback despite their relatively underwhelming utilization. He also performs a series of charges that are also from the first game when he battles with his Guardian. Oh, right, the Guardian. This entity makes every previously seen depiction of Ansem innately more tragic since the Guardian is actually a physical manifestation of Terra’s remaining heart. However, Ansem doesn’t use the Guardian in his Kingdom Hearts III fights since he swaps it with Terra-Xehanort.

Another attack highly reminiscent of his first game outing is a laser shield enveloping his vicinity, which, at least coloration-wise, is inherently different despite the utility similarities. Moving on with the callbacks, Ansem’s Desperation Moves are Dream Drop Distance love letters. He summons 2 enormous darkness-infused spheres to his sides along with sending out variants of those spheres in a later iteration of the DM. These moves outright mimic the final phase of his Dream Drop Distance counterpart, with the added strife of status effects. As stated in previous Data battle pieces, status effects are a rarely used mechanic, meaning that when they are implemented, it’s always welcome as it leans into the series’ overlooked RPG identity.

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As with the other Data battles, the reimagining of previously iconic attacks makes this fight akin to a celebration of the character’s core combative identity. Kingdom Hearts III also acts as a narrative and thematic farewell for Ansem if his final scene is anything to go by too. Still, he does also possesses a few original attacks that perfectly meld with the ambiance his other skills instill.

For instance, following his first DM, Ansem performs a suction with an array of lasers, essentially a more dangerous iteration of the same move he performs during the Triple-Nort fight near the endgame. This particular skill dramatically stands out as it’s the only real time where Ansem purposefully pulls Sora closer to him rather than staying afar. This shakeup reinforces the ranged nature Data Ansem tends to pursue first and foremost, making these altered ideations all the more menacing for when they occur.

Ultimately, Data Ansem’s almost humorously challenging DM, compared to the other Data DMs, makes this fight a truly hallmark one. In a sense, it can be perceived as an endurance test akin to Data Xigbar, except Data Ansem does not conclude his second DM. It goes on continually, without end, until either Sora or he falls. It’s legitimately hardcore and deserving as one of the franchise’s initial antagonists.

 

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Regarding battle quotes, Richard Epcar excellently captures Ansem as usual. Most aren’t particularly noteworthy as they each exclaim “darkness” in one way or the other, but they’re innately passionate. However, I suppose there is one battle quote worth giving attention to; “Submit!” This line originates from the first Kingdom Hearts, and it’s an iconic battle quote Ansem said in that game as well, only under Billy Zane’s voice instead. So, seeing it return to this finale was somewhat emotional.

Data Ansem’s battle theme, “L’Eminenza Oscura I,” pays direct homage to his battle themes in Kingdom Hearts I’s finale and his battle against Riku in Dream Drop Distance. It oozes a majestic sense of catastrophic whimsy that always reminds me of World of Chaos due to its precise instrumentation. Like Terra-Xehanort’s data battle, the lack of vocals in this track can be mildly disappointing. Still, the precedence granted to audio cues not getting muddled from overlaying voice tracks is heavily appreciated and a far better alternative.

Data Ansem is a practice in attrition as the actual challenge with him arises near his last legs, requiring players to near-perfect the ranged trials and tribulations he induces. This uniqueness, coupled with the as-expected callbacks in his moveset and associated track for veteran fans to admire, is stunning, making him an undeniably cathartic foe to prevail against. Next time we’ll be delving into his counterpart, the leader of the original Organization XIII, Xemnas.


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Orpheus Joshua

Random gamer equally confused by the mainstream and the unusual. Fan of JRPGs, Action, Platformers, Rhythm, and Adventure titles.