What Makes The Saïx Data Battle So Awesome; Kingdom Hearts III Limit Cut Deep Dive #9
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 4 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.
If you missed them, check out my appreciative pieces on the following data fights:
The data fight I will be discussing today is Saïx, a battle I have quite a mixed history with for reasons I’ll gradually get into. Saïx debuted in Kingdom Hearts II as one of the higher-up Organization XIII members, though he chronologically first appeared in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep as a youth under his original name, Isa. For those unaware or simply forgot, the original Organization XIII members all had names that were anagrams of the names their original selves possessed. Saïx has always been an enigma to varying extents. His precise objectives were never extensively detailed until Kingdom Hearts III, where more of his and Axel’s origins became clearer.
Though, as a data fight, Saïx is quite something, to say the least. A data variant of him was fightable in Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, leading to assumed similarities to be present in his Kingdom Hearts III Limit Cut iteration. And, well, there loosely are, but this version of the fight is altogether unique. What has always made Saïx’s battles so intriguing is his complete personality shift. He’s usually rather stoic and composed during story scenes, but when he’s battle-ready, he’s bloodthirsty. He does command the Berserker Nobodies, one of the more threatening types. Still, it’s jarring to see his attitude shift in overt expression. I love this alteration as it makes him considerably more multi-faceted in more obvious ways than some of the other Organization members, and it exemplifies his self-induced repression.
The data battle itself comprises a mixup of moves directly from Kingdom Hearts II and some that are entirely new. However, even with carried over attacks from prior encounters, the way he’s handled is different. Unlike Kingdom Hearts II, Saïx is almost perpetually Berserk’d out in Limit Cut, with his non-Berserk state being humorously brief. Because of this constant Berserk, this data battle requires a level of continual attention, arguably rivaling any other encounter. Saïx rarely ever lets up, so there are few instances where one can hang back and observe.
During my first Limit Cut experience, I absolutely detested this fight for that reason. It seemed far more demanding than any of the other data battles, and to be honest; I died to Saïx more than Yozora. However, after I passed the desire to get through the battles as quickly as possible, I fought Data Saïx for hours before realizing how ingeniously designed he is. Part of what makes this fight so incredible is how initially impossible it seems. Saïx’s strikes and movements can seem like a volley of chaotic randomness incarnate. Still, there is a methodology to his supposed madness, and it’s far more straightforward than one would assume.
Data Saïx has surprisingly few patterns, but they’re primarily flashy, so whenever he attacks, it can feel like you can’t ever get a read on him. He highly benefits from the overlooked tip of staying calm. Failing these data battles has no consequence other than retrying, which isn’t much of a loss in the grand scheme of affairs. As stated in prior pieces, it pays to make each attempt a learning experience for at least one of his moves. The lack of backtracking to these battles after death and the allowance of immediate retrying allows for every facet of the battle to be abundantly clear in your mind and at a constant, rapid pace.
It also pays to be mindful of the fact that only Saïx’s claymore swings are guardable, while everything else isn’t. This makes the battle far more manageable to digest since during Saïx’s infamous waves of shockwaves, you know to only dodge roll. The openings are relatively obvious too, since they occur during the brief instances where Saïx is still, if even for a moment. Aside from his combos, a few other parts of this fight are pretty fantastic. Potentially referencing an exploit during his battle in Kingdom Hearts II, Saïx’s Berserk gauge can be temporarily disrupted with a cast of Blizzard magic. Implementing spells throughout these data battles always gets a plus in my book solely for innovation. Further, utilizing this tip makes Data Saïx immensely less aggressive.
Saïx’s Desperation Move cleanly melds into his standard habits, so it’s not as pronounced as other data battle DMs. It consists of him repeatedly slamming his claymore onto the ground in a circular fashion, creating ongoing shockwaves. Kingdom Hearts II fans will immediately note how this DM is essentially ripped straight from Saïx’s battle from that game, except with the addition of claymores that track you. These tracking claymores also occur outside of the DM and are usually one of the components that ruin most players because they stun you. Of course, this makes them terrifying unless you’re in a Formchange, which negates the stun effect, or have an anti-stun accessory equipped.
While the stun effect does understandably frustrate players, I do appreciate its inclusion since it enhances the RPG identity of the game more prominently rather than just being a backdrop solely for level gain. Preparation is half the battle, and being sufficiently equipped before this fight can save tenacious headaches. However, going back to the tracking claymores, they play a subtle role in the battle that many, including me, avoided pursuing; courage. With how often this data battle encourages evasion over guarding, players have to eventually overcome their fear of Saïx’s intimidation and dodge straight through his attacks with invincibility frames. Whether intentional or not, thinking that the game was hinting at greater induced bravery made this data battle feel like an even more respectable, well-designed sequence.
The track for this data battle is undoubtedly one of the more standout, distinct ones. It’s far heavier, embracing rock with guitar and drums. This type of music is usually never my thing, but the traditional rock elements are never overbearing and create a neat veil for later aspects of the song. For instance, the piano is implemented well into the track’s duration, making it lean closer to a Kingdom Hearts-feel rather than a foreign, unrecognizable entity. Moreover, this genre is undeniably fitting for the intensity of Saïx’s fighting style and demeanor. His battle quotes further signify the tumultuous ambiance of this track.
“Abandon hope,” “Get away!” and “No escape!” are exclaimed with genuine ferocity, highlighting the tenseness that can overtake players in the middle of the battle. “The moon shines down!” is from prior Saïx encounters and is seamlessly incorporated here, with its trigger being his Berserk state activating. “Back to dust!” also deserves exclaim as his victory quote, as it is coated in unapologetic malevolence only fitting for a Berserker. Still, a battle quote I find notably more chilling is “Abandon hope,” which occurs at the start of Saïx’s desperation move. Its delivery is perceptibly emotionless but emits a clear sense of confidence that is legitimately more petrifying than any other facet of the battle.
Data Saïx put me through a rougher wringer than any other optional battle in Kingdom Hearts III, though I’m ultimately glad it did. Despite my initial distaste for the fight, it, more than any other battle in gaming, taught me the sheer importance of staying calm in the face of seemingly impossible odds. What may seem beyond one’s capabilities can, in fact, be realistically achievable if enough effort and time are spent. Additionally, the track might have expanded my music taste, if just slightly. Whatever the case, next up on the data battle analysis docket is Ansem, an iconic foe reimagined.
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