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Kingdom Hearts 2 Retrospective



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Blackdrazon

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Not to go off-topic, but what is the explanation KHX gives for Alice being left unprotected? (Since I doubt I'll ever play KHX.)

Quite simply, she refuses to cooperate. The player is under Chirithy's orders to protect her but she just goes gallivanting off to look for more weirdness. Chirithy sort of sighs and says that's probably what makes her special, and you essentially give up!
 

BlackOsprey

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Quite simply, she refuses to cooperate. The player is under Chirithy's orders to protect her but she just goes gallivanting off to look for more weirdness. Chirithy sort of sighs and says that's probably what makes her special, and you essentially give up!
Wow... Chirithy and the player have even less diligence and persistence than ​me.
 

KHHacker6595

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Your points about the level design in Halloween Town were so well put. I've been trying to articulate why I don't like KH2's level design for a long time, but you nailed it. I really hope KH3 can bring platforming and exploration back but execute it much better.
 

Blackdrazon

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Thank you! And we can only hope! Hopefully we'll see something worth analyzing come E3.
 

BlackOsprey

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You know, I was really surprised by this update... in that you DON'T hate lion form, or Pride Lands in general! Everyone else does, but even though the world's story is kinda lazy, the savannah is just... yeah... and the animal fish-face is everywhere, I still love that world. Why? Because it's pretty much a childhood dream come true for me. I used to wish that I could run around as a lion in TLK, and this world gave me that... and then some. Which was enough to make me excuse that world's flaws.
 

Elysium

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I'll say it's one of my least favorite worlds in the series, but it has nothing to do with the fact that Sora's a lion cub with new abilities. I don't even mind the fact that you can't Drive like normal. I'm just going to go with gamers are dumb or maybe really young? Nothing about these controls, or Atlantica's for that matter (or Chain of Memories even), is difficult to me and I'm not an especially great game-player. I wonder if Pride Lands will be relegated to minigames in the future, too? :rolleyes:

I do like the Heartless there, just for the fact that they're difficult and often require/encourage you to use magic. What a shame Nala wasn't a guest party member; that would've been awesome. (Same with Shang in LoD.)

I'd always wondered if Rafiki was really voiced or not until we get to the very ending of the 2nd world visit where the dialogue is new. (Same thing with Mr. Smee in KH1 Never Land.) Really odd that they didn't use him more?
 

Divine Past

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Lion Sora was only fun because of how quick he was. The whole story was a mess and at least they could have salvaged it by having Xemnas show up as a zebra.
 
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I realize that the KH2 retrospective won't finish up until probably towards the end of the summer at the earliest, but I'm wondering what game you're planning to do next? I would assume either Days or BBS?
 

Blackdrazon

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I realize that the KH2 retrospective won't finish up until probably towards the end of the summer at the earliest, but I'm wondering what game you're planning to do next? I would assume either Days or BBS?

It's Days, because it came out first. It's already first drafted, thankfully. BBS will be after that, and then coded, despite the fact that they were released overlapped in Japan.
 

FudgemintGuardian

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I dislike the Pride Lands for the same reason I dislike some other Disney worlds: it's not very good.
However, zipping around and fighting as Lion Sora was a lot of fun and it gave the Pride Lands a different feel from the other worlds, but a part of me feels the faster running was an afterthought to make up for the level design (specifically the Savannah.)

The whole story was a mess and at least they could have salvaged it by having Xemnas show up as a zebra.
I second this
 

ShardofTruth

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I finally found the time to catch up, even started reading from the beginning again, and it's just great. I love your retrospectives, thank you so much for writing them Blackdrazon.

I never really noticed all the script discrepancies but they really seem to stand out. Do you think KH1 was more polished in this way? Maybe it's the result of having different teams for the worlds (at least it seems that was the case) or how this whole "episode-deal" was implemented. Since most of the worlds aren't related to the main plot at all I think it was a good idea to return to them after some time, at least this way they don't come off as completely pointless.

I still don't know what to make of theses gates and the way they are unlocked. Probably because they were so confusing the lanes between, which are basically light versions of the corridors of darkness, were introduced in BBS. So maybe we should simply forget about them too. On the other hand Nomura might have solved the unifying theory of the Kingdom Hearts universe by now so they could return in KHIII I guess.
 

Blackdrazon

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And thank you for the compliment, Shard!

I'm still wondering about the episode structure even after writing the whole retrospective. I will say that the episodic production style seems to have hurt their attempt to do a wider story. It's just a deficiency of the style? The worlds are practically modular. On the upside, they could have been inserted at any point in the story, but on the downside, there was only so much they could do to tell an overarching story, even at their best.

As for matters of polish, I have a feeling the KH2 team ended up rushed somehow, and as a result KH1 does have more polished in regards to scripting. To be specific, I feel like there are signs of a major edit late in KH2's development, one that may have changed something major. I don't have much proof for it, but it would explains some script discrepancies, and would also explain why Pride Lands, Atlantica and Twilight Town also have gate key sequences even though they don't... unlock... anything. But more on that in the next few entries. Long story short: if there was a late-production edit, it might have been impossible to provide a higher level of polish!

I like what you're thinking about the Lanes Between being introduced as a fix for the gates. I know I've been wondering just what KH3 is going to use for world travel. We could see something old or something new at this point!
 

ShardofTruth

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As for matters of polish, I have a feeling the KH2 team ended up rushed somehow, and as a result KH1 does have more polished in regards to scripting. To be specific, I feel like there are signs of a major edit late in KH2's development, one that may have cha nged something major. I don't have much proof for it, but it would explains some script discrepancies, and would also explain why Pride Lands, Atlantica and Twilight Town also have gate key sequences even though they don't... unlock... anything.
Maybe the gates were really some sort of world competition reward in earlier drafts just like you suggested with your Mario comparison. Remember when the world act sentient for the first time and send you the door to the final boss fight? This could have been tied to some world completion score afterall.
 

Blackdrazon

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Ah, that's clever! I like it, because that "sentient" bit just plain doesn't make sense in isolation.
 

Rolands

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So, what is your opinion of the Yugioh franchise? I know GX had an insufferable amount of filler, but apart from that...
 

Blackdrazon

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I like how, unlike most advertising shows based on a game, Yugioh seems to be largely forced to follow the rules of the actual game. That way it's possible to get into the show and feel "Oh, the hero should do this" or "I remember from previous episodes that the hero doesn't have any cards for this situation, so that's going to make this interesting (unless the writers have them pull something out their ass)." The use of a concrete set of rules also (sometimes) makes the rule breaking sequences more interesting, because the impact is tangible instead of abstract.

Unfortunately, after the original series ended, the writers tried to confine every duel to a single episode, which led to comically fast duels. 22 minutes of show, 12 minutes of plot leads to only 10 minutes of card games (or 8 minutes, or 5!), and it wasn't unusual to watch the game end in turn 3, and it started to get laughably predictable through GX. Even if you weren't there for the games, it undermines the tension of the show when there's no actual time for tension.

They started to fix things up towards the end and into the next show, but if the 12 minutes of story aren't interesting, the game doesn't carry, and unfortunately I got only part way through 5Ds (the Dark Signers arc) before I got bored and haven't gone back to it in over a year. Frankly, I probably only made it through GX because I was sporking it to a friend (despite some standout characters here and there, it's a really, really stupid show from seasons 1 to 2, and they are long).

I hear ARC-V is supposed to be good.
 
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redcrown

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This retrospective fills my soul with clarity.

This outlines and exactly descibes why I've always had an angry resentment and bitter disapointment with this game's pacing and story, that I have never been able to desrcibe or put into words.
 

ShardofTruth

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Puh, harsh words about the game's story but it's deserved without question.

Looking back at the eight games it is really hard to create a story that satisfies both worlds of this crossover, the Disney and original/Final Fantasy ones.
What do we want from the Disney worlds? Basically explore the movie, re-experience the magic and meet the characters. The easiest way to do this is by simply copying as much as possible but since the games don't have the time/budget to do this in a meaningful way it actually weakens the story and that's why KHII fails time and time again to make the experience worthwhile.
You also can't make the Disney worlds too relevant because this would break the main plot in an instance, think about all the gods, almighty magicians and artifacts that could render every of Master Xehanort's plan pointless.

The times when there is really synergy between the main story and the Disney story is when the enemies are integrated in a meaningful way and there is an important insight following the conclusion of the world. I'm not talking about some kind of moral, but something that help the characters grow. They tried to do this many times in KH1, there are some successful attempts in CoM and Days and they this is kind of how the formula works in BBS and DDD (to an extent even [chi]/Unchained).

The problem with KHII is that Sora doesn't grow, in contrast to KH1 he doesn't even learn anything new and he isn't confronted with his beliefs like in CoM. There is no point in the game where he is really challenged, everything falls before him and his Keyblade that's why the Disney worlds can't help him and that's probably why Nomura tries to break him in DDD.

In a way, Kingdom Hearts II reminds me of second half of the Neverending Story (the book, not any of the movies) where Bastian is the celebrated hero that saved Fantasia from its demise and does everything he wants without any repercussions only to (almost) lose everything in the end, except that Sora is not there yet.
 

Blackdrazon

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Thank you redcrown, and well put, Shard, that's a great insight into the fundamental troubles KH games have to run, and that KH2 could not overcome.
 
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