What Makes The Terra-Xehanort Data Battle So Awesome; Kingdom Hearts III Limit Cut Deep Dive #8

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 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 5 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:

(Psst, I just remembered when I finished writing this piece that I said I would discuss Saix next, but it’s been a while, so I forgot. He’ll be next, I promise.)

The eighth fight I will be discussing is Terra-Xehanort, more commonly referred to as Terranort within the community. He is a form of Terra possessed by Xehanort, hence the name, initially debuting in Birth by Sleep as the final boss for Terra’s story and the Final Episode. This iteration of Xehanort goes through quite the journey by first maliciously overtaking Terra’s body and then getting amnesia in Birth by Sleep’s conclusion. He then becomes an apprentice to Ansem the Wise, the ruler of Radiant Garden, resulting in this Xehanort conspiring with the other apprentices to engage in forbidden experimentation involving the heart. These experiments ultimately banish Ansem the Wise from his homeworld of Radiant Garden and give birth to the apprentices’ Nobodies, forming the original Organization XIII. That’s a reasonably abridged version of what occurs, but it demonstrates the extensive journey Terrnanort has endured.

Still, the iteration of Terranort present in Kingdom Hearts III is essentially a recreated version prior to the researcher persona he adopted. Due to how a person’s true self is restored following their Heartless’ and Nobody’s demise, Master Xehanort and Terra regained their original forms pre-possession after Xemnas and Ansem Seeker of Darkness were defeated. However, Terra, who was then free, was taken control of yet again via a time-traveled version of Terranort from the past. I’d argue this is equally as contrived as Dark Riku’s assimilation in the present time. As a character, Terranort is an admittable oddity. He’s egotistical, perhaps more than any of the other Seekers, and vain to a comedic fault. While Young Xehanort and Dark Riku, who are also arrogant, have noticeable traits and moments of vulnerability and deeper introspection, Terranort seems like an ecstatic form of Xehanort, simply thrilled to cause havoc in a younger body. In that sense, he is somewhat threatening, which is enhanced exponentially in Kingdom Hearts III when he destroys the Guardians before the Power of Waking timeline shenanigans. Regardless, I think he’s pretty cool, and as hot of a take as it is, I believe the Guardian is more fitting and intimidating with him rather than Ansem Seeker of Darkness.

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As for the data fight itself, Terranort is undeniably one of the easier battles of the bunch, almost equal in difficulty to Young Xehanort. He is rarely overwhelming and certainly portrays himself as a recommended beginner battle with how he incentivizes transparently proper guard timing and dodge rolls above all else. Practically the entirety of his moveset is taken from Birth by Sleep, inspired by Terra’s commands, also calling back to Terra’s final battle in the aforementioned title, where his Lingering Will fought a mirrored version of himself via Terranort. One attack Terranort loves to perform is Dark Volley, a shotlock originating from Terra’s campaign in Birth by Sleep. Several swift dark projectiles are shot out during this move, but a simple block takes care of it. This move is always enacted in cycles, requiring players to block several times in a row before Terra-Xehanort eventually becomes overwhelmed and staggers, leading to an opening. Another frequent move is Dash, which is literally Terra’s dashing movement from Birth by Sleep, except now outfitted to be an attack. This always occurs in the air and identically to Dark Volley, solely requires a block to retaliate against. In fact, this move leads to an opening after one measly block.

On a more menacing note is Ars Solum, an iconic Terra attack that can eliminate you here if you aren’t careful. Terranort enacts a series of wildly shifting strikes, occasionally teleporting his position while doing so. The first swing of each set is coated in red, meaning it is unblockable. While the rest of the move can be blocked, it gets immensely more challenging to do so in the second phase of the fight, where almost the entirety of the attack is unblockable, save for one specific part. This is arguably the most arduous attack to contend with, and rightfully so, because Ars Solum, like Sora’s Arcanum, is one of the more memorable moves in the franchise. It’s nice to see it done justice here.

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The Guardian is a constantly utilized facet of the battle, too, with Terranort summoning it for his bidding. He teleports in at set intervals, striking Sora with his fists. Further, an overhead shining light can spawn, initiating another Guardian-induced attack requiring a memorized block. Aside from another move, both of the aforementioned attacks teach players about necessitating memorization rather than visible reactivity during select instances. Many of the more complex data battles rely on players embracing that design philosophy, so seeing it depicted here in tame ways is an excellent learning methodology. Lastly of note in this Guardian-only moveset is a downward strike emitting a series of rock protrusions. I believe this might be a reference to Geo Impact from Birth by Sleep, though I’m not entirely sure. For as all-encompassing as this attack may seem, a generously timed dodge roll is all that’s needed to evade it.

Lastly of offensive note is, of course, Terra-Xehanort’s Desperation Move (DM). Originating from the Final Episode battle in Birth by Sleep, he creates an enclosed spiral of damaging rays of light, accompanied by Dark Volley projectiles in later incorporations of the DM. There is mixed reception regarding the difficulty of this move, but I personally find it simple to contend. Dodge-rolling in moderately well-timed circles in time with the presence of the lights is all that’s needed to survive the duration of the DM. Still, the Dark Volleys can catch you off guard, though Terranort’s audio cues warn you slightly ahead of time, so it isn’t wholly out-of-nowhere. The end of the attack results in a strike similar to the Geo Impact-esque Guardian move from outside the DM, also requiring a timed dodge roll to avoid.

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When assessing Data Terranort’s moveset, it fits his aggressive persona, driven by evident egotism. He lacks any sense of defense, essentially prioritizing wrath above all else. I believe this is intentional since, as illustrated during his Keyblade Graveyard demise, where he’s genuinely shocked by Terra’s reprisal, he is likely one who charges forward without necessary reflection, lacking appropriate hindsight. Moreover, his references to his original moves from Birth by Sleep provide series fans with neat representative eye candy. This data battle’s affixed music track is also a superb reference, being an instrumental version of “Dismiss,” Terranort’s battle theme from Birth by Sleep. To be honest, it being solely instrumental and lacking the choir is a tad disappointing since the latter is half of the song’s identity. Still, I believe this was done intentionally to avoid muddling audio cues.

Terranort’s battle quotes are fierce in delivery. Perhaps the most iconic one is “Dark times ahead!” used during his DM. I almost find it humorous due to how it’s been heavily memed. Still, Richard Epcar is stellar with the genuine vileness throughout these lines. “Don’t let him escape!”, “Break him!’ and “Join the shadows” are also used during this sequence and are equally as memorable. His defeat quote, “What…? How?” is representative of his hyper-aggressive personality being taken aback by the sheer prospect, let alone the reality of losing. Further, his victory quote, “Is that all the light can muster?” showcases his brandished, unabashed egotism.

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Data Terra-Xehanort is relatively akin to Data Young Xehanort’s beginner accessibility, being quite welcoming in execution. Straightforward blocks and dodge-rolls quickly lead to victory, and even his most challenging move, Ars Solum, can be entirely evaded with a few generously time dodge roll windows. While I do feel like there is a lack of innovation with Terranort’s boss battle design, it excels in being fairly designed, which is the most vital crux for these battles. The callbacks to prior fights and Birth by Sleep are cool enough, I’d say.

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Orpheus Joshua

Random gamer equally confused by the mainstream and the unusual.

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