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 a year and a half 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 11 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 it, check out my appreciation piece on Young Xehanort’s Data Battle.
The second data fight I will discuss today is Xigbar, who, like Young Xehanort, is seen as one of the easier members to prevail against. Still, he’s also identified as one of the most prolonged battles due to his more unorthodox and crafty openings. Before diving into the battle proper, however, let’s dive into who Xigbar is as a character to appreciate the elements of his fight better.
Xigbar has always been a particularly intriguing Organization member since his debut in Kingdom Hearts II. He’s always had dialogue that alluded to events and subject matter that players were not privy to, such as his reference to older Keyblade wielders when confronting Sora at the end of Kingdom Hearts II. This particular line has held multiple facets, with its initial meaning tying to the main cast of Birth by Sleep and now potentially pointing as far back to the Chi saga, given his twist of an identity that we’ll get into in a bit. Further, he has alluded to and outright stated that he possesses goals of his own outside helping Xehanort, which were only ever teased until the end of Kingdom Hearts III.
As it turns out, Xigbar’s true identity is Luxu, a Keyblade wielder from the Age of Fairytales who is a direct apprentice to the Master of Masters, the seemingly next big bad after Xehanort. To be blunt, there is a colossal degree of information to parse regarding Xigbar, or rather, Luxu. He was a completely different man back in the day, not having the surfer-dude, jokester persona he has in modern times. In fact, one could say he was entirely the opposite. Luxu was timid and relatively quiet, mostly just listening to his Master prattle on about his lofty goals and detailed explanations about Darkness, the Keyblade War, Data Worlds, and much more.
However, near the end of Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross], we begin to see Luxu grow a backbone and question the Master he always blindly followed. Still, his attitude from back then to his current identity as Xigbar is quite the jump. And, why does he wield Arrowguns instead of a Keyblade? Well, there’s a lot of time travel involved, and I’d rather not dump quite that much information on a reader. So, the most necessary knowledge that applies here is that Luxu has possessed bodies throughout the ages, switching vessels as required to reach modern times. The body we’ve seen him as for most of the series is of a man named Braig, whose Nobody name became Xigbar once he joined Organization XIII. Considering how the Age of Fairytales was supposedly more than a millennia ago, it’s honestly pretty impressive that he hasn’t gone insane, let alone forgotten the mission from his Master that pushed him into this task in the first place.
As for his Xigbar iteration, his combat style is ranged given his weapon choice, with barrages of projectiles being his primary method of attack. Visually speaking, his movements and deliveries of attack are similar between Birth by Sleep, Kingdom Hearts II, and Kingdom Hearts III. Though, it is worth acknowledging how you can see an evolution with his battle style chronologically. His base combat style has remained the same, just with expected added complexity.
As a brief aside, knowing that Xigbar is truly Luxu makes his borderline mastery of firearms even more threatening than before. Of course, it does make sense when considering how many lifetimes he’s lived, but knowing that he is adept enough to wield at least 2 completely different weapon types illustrates how disturbingly attached he is to maintaining his desire to see events through to the end.
While Xigbar did have a data battle back in Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, the one in Kingdom Hearts III Re Mind does more than enough to distinguish itself while also paying homage to his previous encounters in genuinely delightful ways. Firstly, his battle begins in a dome, with Sora unable to Airstep to close the distance. This design decision is the first step in demonstrating how players will need to learn how to properly Guard and evade first and foremost if they haven’t been doing so already. Most of this fight necessitates knowing when to Guard, which may sound simple, but can be devious.
This battle’s design philosophy purposefully counteracts thoughtless, spammy Guards. It instead requires fundamental defensive understanding to contend with consistently. For instance, Xigbar frequently dishes out several fakeouts to disrupt the timing of Sora’s Guard, such as shooting several slow-moving bullets after waves of swift ones. Additionally, he occasionally portrays himself as vulnerable by casually strolling around the arena, which are also fakeout openings, resulting in rapid teleportations and shots from various directions.
Still, on the subject of fakeouts, they also occur in other unexpected methods. My favorite example of this is when Xigbar shoots out an ever-expanding spiral of obsidian-colored bullets that swiftly aim to coat the entire map (an enhanced version of the same attack he performs at the end of Birth by Sleep). What makes this move genius is that not only does this attack simply stop after a certain amount of time, never covering the entire screen, but it can also be easily blocked or dodge-rolled once to avoid entirely. It’s mostly just for show and intimidation, deceiving players into states of stressful problem-solving when the solution actually requires little action.
Another element of Xigbar’s battle that can be perceived as intimidation is how he alters the shape of the battleground to his liking. This can throw players off, especially when taking the fast-paced nature of these battles into account. Though, the state of the battlefield can be used against Xigbar just as much as it can be used against you. For example, the dome-shaped arena that prevents Airstep rewards Guards above all else to deal moderate damage. Many of his attacks are inspired and taken from his prior encounters in previous games, so I won’t cover each type, but the one that deserves the most mention is the DM (Desperation Move).
This borderline mimics the Kingdom Hearts II version of his DM, trapping Sora in a miniature circular arrangement of the arena with shots arriving from all directions. However, instead of being an effortless copy and paste, the conclusion of the DM has players needing to pay attention to the ground to see where shots rise, contrasting the Kingdom Hearts II version of the fight where the bullets’ arrivals are signaled by the air. This is an undeniably clever method of keeping veteran players from older titles not overly comfortable or familiar with what to expect during initial attempts.
The hallmark mechanic of this fight has to be the ‘Showdown’ command which appears after blocking enough red projectiles. This event consists of Sora and Xigbar having a standoff, with the player shooting light from Sora’s Keyblade as soon as Xigbar moves. For as generous as this timing is, ‘Showdown’ adds such distinct identity to this battle, making me wish that every one of the data fights had a command of this nature.
Battle quotes are a consistently worthwhile element of Kingdom Hearts battles, especially story-centric ones, and Xigbar’s are among the highest regarding impact and memorability. My favorite one of his is “Alright! The hero thinks he’s ready now.” This line perfectly captures his veil of apparent lackadaisical joviality. “Let’s make it interesting!” and Start dancing!” also stand out with how much fun the voice actor, James Patrick Stuart, has with this character.
There are still other noteworthy elements of this battle I can’t help but appreciate, such as the mines made up of shot bullets. Dealing with these hazards requires patience and understanding akin to contending with Xigbar’s fakeouts in other phases. Moreover, he sticks his hands through portals that cause his bullet projectiles to fire from spatial openings. It’s honestly just really damn cool. Lastly, as Guard-centric as this fight is, Xigbar shoots blue projectiles in later stages of the battle that can only be evaded, not blocked, so there are more layers than what may seem one-note on the surface.
If it wasn’t obvious, Xigbar is one of my favorite Organization members and characters of the entire series. His demeanor, backstory, abilities, and implications for the future, such as reuniting with the Foretellers, place him closer to the forefront more than ever before. If that wasn’t enough, his data battle theme in Re Mind is not only my favorite track in the franchise but also my favorite song in all of gaming. That may sound like an over-exaggeration, but to give an idea of how much I love this track, I’ve listened to it over 5,000 times and have not grown close to getting tired of it.
It’s an arrangement of “13th Dilemma,” a general battle theme used for various Organization XIII fights throughout the series. Still, this particular arrangement is such a standout version. For someone who’s not musically inclined or knowledgeable on instrumentation or the like, the best way I can describe it is that it gives me innate Luxu vibes. A cacophony of existential chaos is one of the traits my mentality perceives during the track, given the grandiosity of its middle section. The initial tenseness and sudden spike of thrilling fervor make me feel hype in a way no other song ever has. Further, it’s not even remotely similar to any other “13th Dilemma” iteration in terms of ambiance, emitting a simultaneous sense of mystery and triumph.
Data Xigbar is an immensely satisfying foe to defeat, thanks to how players must primarily employ defensive tactics to deal with his ranged toolkit. And, like the other data battles, Xigbar’s is a love letter to his past encounters. Finally, given how integral he is to the future of the series, I can’t wait to see what steps he takes while embracing his true, original identity as Luxu.
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