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 today, and 12 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.
The first data fight I will discuss is Young Xehanort, often assessed as one of the most painless battles of the bunch. He is usually recommended as one of the first battles new players should tackle as he lacks overwhelming gimmicks that can quickly turn the tides in his favor.
However, before delving into the intricacies of his actual combative design, let’s briefly outline Young Xehanort’s actual character and appearances in previous titles. Each data battle contains references to moves used by the bosses in past games and nods to their characterizations. Being aware of this background knowledge undoubtedly leads to an increased appreciation for these battles’ detailed designs.
Young Xehanort is arguably the most enigmatic of Xehanort’s various iterations. He was a time traveler tasked by his future self’s heartless to ultimately aid in creating the real Organization XIII that would be seen in Dream Drop Distance and Kingdom Hearts III. That sentence is probably quite a bit to take in for non-fans.
Regardless, even accounting for Master Xehanort, Xemnas, and Ansem, who are the older incarnations of Xehanort, the younger self of the former primary antagonist is the most thought-provoking by comparison due to his consistency with time travel. The question of why Xehanort even pursued the darker road in life lies in his younger years too, and we’ll hopefully get closure on that series of events in Dark Road. He was never infectiously cheery or the like but was inquisitive of the world around him and ultimately good-natured. It wasn’t until tragedy struck where his intentions were steered toward the opposing spectrum.
When battled in Dream Drop Distance, his time motif becomes abundantly clear, with his Keyblade (having no official name) possessing an hourglass keychain and a clock of sorts at the top. Additionally, his arena in that same title is full of what seems to be colored hourglasses. If that wasn’t enough, depleting his health to a specific value causes Young Xehanort to spawn an enormous clock in the center of the stage, gradually rewinding time to restore his health to a fixed amount. The element of time is definitely his thing.
Regarding his personality, Young Xehanort is openly hostile and aggressive to Sora and his companions in a purer way than the other antagonists. Anyone’s guess is whether this is due to shreds of young naivete or simply overconfidence in his lack of attachment to the time he is visiting. It can also be due to falling victim to the wiles of darkness and the aggression it instills upon people. His motivations lie in achieving his future self’s lofty ambitions to reset or ‘purge’ the world following his history with learning about what he perceives is veiled darkness, covered by ‘farces’ of light.
Some of his battle quotes in his Limit Cut data fight also reflect his blatant grown affinity for hostility, with a few even framing his perspective on the Keyblade War, and Sora, by extension, as a play or chess pieces meant to further his goals. “Checkmate!” and his defeat quote “Time to…exit the stage” strongly reflecting this ideology. Given his chess game with Eraqus seen throughout flashbacks in Kingdom Hearts III, these lines are a neat tie-in inclusion.
Despite being in his late teen/early adult years, Young Xehanort is among the most threatening of the True Organization, which primarily comes from his mostly unshaken, cold demeanor. While it cracks at specific points like at the end of Toy Box, his consistency at maintaining this appearance at such a young age is undeniably disturbing, a feeling that the Kingdom Hearts series tends to emit more often than not.
All of this is to say that Young Xehanort is a young Keyblade wielder driven by an upheaval of worldviews who eagerly uses his gift of manipulating time to his advantage, to an alarming degree. He debuted as a secret boss in Birth by Sleep, though not by name, and instead of wielding his Keyblade seen in Dream Drop Distance and Kingdom Hearts III, he wields 2 ethereal blades in a similar vein to Xemnas, except these weapons can transform into whips. Unfortunately, this fight is also infamously known for being the worst designed boss in the entire franchise, setting a regretful precedent for negative combat design reception that still retains to this very day.
Thankfully, his data fight in Kingdom Hearts III Re Mind is fathoms above the quality of his debut, with him emitting transparent and fair telegraphs that still manage to use elements from his more inept designed iterations in Birth by Sleep and Dream Drop Distance. Firstly of note is the whip utilization seen in full force throughout this battle. In fact, he attacks with the whip almost as equally often as standard Keyblade strikes, instilling a distinct sense of identity that sets him apart from other Keyblade wielders.
His usage of the Keyblade, however, comes off as more inept in overall execution than veterans. It’s clear he lacks essential combat experience as he heavily relies on his manipulation of time and his whip to a degree that leaves him full of openings. While he does perform fakeouts with transparent clones now and then, his constant teleportation around the field comes off as recklessness at times more than anything else. This is all amplified during his Desperation Move (DM), where he begins to turn back time to an earlier state where he possessed more health. However, his desperation is visible here as he sends out wave after wave of clones to disrupt Sora from destroying his armor, which is noticeably fragile. Still, when initiating his DM, his quote is pretty cool; I’ll admit, “Time is a cruel prison!”
The fight itself is vastly enjoyable as it grants players a window of the precision and patience needed for the rest of these battles. Even though Young Xehanort is starkly simpler than his untimely contemporaries, he still requires dedication to prevail against. As noted earlier, he does utilize fakeouts, so he isn’t entirely 1-note. He can even heal himself if players become overzealous during a particular false opening.
Above all else, though, this battle feels like a proper redemption of his Birth by Sleep and Dream Drop Distance iterations. Though the latter battle was nowhere near as inept as the former, his Limit Cut fight is on an altogether different plane. His presence during the ‘Nort Court’ battle near the end of the game’s story provided an element of his newly realized combat design, but seeing it in full force here is distinctly captivating.
The track for this fight is genuinely exceptional, much like every other data battle. Titled “L’Impeto Oscuro,” this song combines Young Xehanort’s battle themes from Birth by Sleep and Dream Drop Distance. While the original Birth by Sleep version is still my favorite iteration due to its masterfully chaotic and intimidating instrumentation, the Re Mind take on the track boasts an omnipresent enigmatic ambiance that is purely addicting to leave on repeat. Further, when Young Xehanort performs his DM, the track’s volume becomes partially muted, amplifying the sense of being trapped in a chasm of unnatural time.
Young Xehanort’s data battle possesses a quick-to-parse rhythm that demands attention from the player thanks to his deceitful openings and occasional trickery representing his growing, masterful tactician mind. His telegraphs make combative sense as they aren’t needlessly tricky to detect. They additionally neatly tie into his seemingly reckless and overconfident persona. Still, his lack of Keyblade mastery and need for growth is apparent with his frail armor bar and his easily discernible patterns that can be overturned with only a few well-timed blocks.
Everything stated in this piece comes from my personal views of the series, so I apologize if my perception of any factor differs from yours. Young Xehanort’s data battle is not my favorite of the lineup. Still, I can’t deny how enthralling and natural the pathway to victory is in it. Not only am I relieving to see Young Xehanort finally receive a stellar solo boss fight after all these years, but seeing as he’s my favorite Xehanort incarnation, it also brought legitimate delight.
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