Hello, gamers. Despite controversies on the series dropping on the cloud, the staff at the Game Haus knows that, inevitably, people are still gonna opt to stream them. Kingdom Hearts is an amazing JRPG series. However, it is important to know that a lot of complexities hide beneath its seemingly simple gameplay. Obviously, this is switch players’ introduction to the series. This Kingdom Hearts Pro Tips guide will give players valuable information to begin their first playthroughs on the Nintendo Switch.
Note: Section headers will include parentheticals that denote which games tips apply to.
New Players, Start on Standard (All)
Kingdom Hearts games have 3 difficulties. These are Beginner, Standard, and Proud. However, note these exceptions:
The Original Kingdom Hearts: Difficulties are Normal and Expert. This was changed in Kingdom Hearts Final Mix.
Critical Mode: Critical mode is the 4th and hardest difficulty setting. Square designed this mode to really test skilled players. It is in Kingdom Hearts 2, Birth By Sleep, Re:coded, Dream Drop Distance, 0.2, and Kingdom Hearts 3. Unless you are a veteran or play Dark Souls, do not start on critical.
Standard is a good mode to play for a moderate challenge. It will make the player work to win their boss battles. But it will not stress them out. Of course, for those who are playing for the first time, beginner is not bad either. However, players will not get benefits from Beginner Mode. These include secret movies after the end credits that tease content in future games.
While Standard makes you work harder than Proud and Crit, the extra work is worth it to earn rewards without getting overwhelmed. Kingdom Hearts is a hard game and it takes practice.
Pay Attention to the Dream Items (1 and 2)
In Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts 2, players are sent to a tutorial area called, the Dive to Heart. Here, the game gives them a choice of three dream items: Sword, Rod, and Shield. These are important for the reasons listed below:
- These items affect the growth rate of Sora’s stats. For example, a player who chooses the Dream Sword will have Sora’s strength stat grow quickly, but it may slow down the growth of his defense and/or magic stat.
- This will affect when Sora gets important abilities. Players, there are very important abilities that everyone will want Sora to get early on. Second Chance and Once More are two of these abilities and picking the sword, rod, or shield makes the difference between getting them as early as level 36 or as late as level 65. The author of this article would recommend picking the shield. Trust them.
Look up how each item will influence Sora’s stats before picking one. Granted, everyone is free to choose what growth rate suits them. It is what makes an RPG personal to them. However, players looking to speedrun or get through the games without dying as much as possible: SHIELD.
Always Equip Second Chance, Once More, and Leaf Bracer (All)
And speaking of abilities that players want early on; Always. Have these. Equipped. In the words found on the Kingdom Hearts Wiki, here is what each of these does:
Second Chance: An ability introduced in Kingdom Hearts. It allows the user to survive a single fatal blow with 1 HP, provided they have more than 1 HP left.
Once More: Also translated as Withstand Combo, is an ability introduced in Kingdom Hearts II. It allows the user to retain 1 HP after being attacked by a combo that would normally finish them off, provided they have more than 1 HP beforehand.
Leaf Bracer: Allows Sora an invulnerability frame while casting healing magic (or Cure).
These are invaluable for facing certain bosses, particularly those that attack quickly and relentlessly (Roxas) and have powerful individual strikes (Lingering Will and Sephiroth). Late game bosses and optional bosses can get tough for players at any level. Pay attention to what abilities Sora has as these add on to his combos and give him certain advantages that will allow players to win battles easier.
Equip Accessories to Increase HP, MP, and AP. (1, 2, and 3)
Players have to keep three values in mind while playing Kingdom Hearts. Health Points (HP), the amount of max health Sora has. Magic Points (MP), the amount of magic Sora has to cast spells with. And Ability Points (AP), the value that allows Sora to equip a certain number of abilities. While these 3 things do increase while leveling Sora up, players can also buy accessories (chains, rings, etc;) to increase these values. This can be handy for equipping abilities past the limit that a player’s current level puts on them.
Magic Ain’t Tragic (All)
Magic. Saves. Lives. A staple in every Kingdom Hearts game is the ability to cast elemental spells such as Fire and Blizzard. While at their most broken in the first game, mastering magic is essential to having a fun and breathable playthrough. Use it in battles whenever possible.
Kingdom Hearts games take from the Final Fantasy spell tier system. For example, the basic spell is Fire. Throughout the game, completing certain milestones will upgrade Fire to Fira, then Firaga. Kingdom Hearts 3, specifically, has the 4th tier spell, Firaza. Make sure every spell Sora and any other playable character have is fully upgraded.
Second, but most important, always use Reflect and Cure. Healing is a must in every Kingdom Hearts game, in every Kingdom Hearts boss fight. While it may be tempting to see if one can go through a playthrough or boss fight without healing, don’t. Certain bosses will require players to heal to stay alive and make it through. Make sure that by the end of every story, Sora has Curaga.
Another spell, exclusively for Kingdom Hearts 2, is Reflect. Reflect magic momentarily summons a spherical shield of light around the user, fending off enemy attacks, and countering with small explosions. When upgraded to Reflega, this OP spell can be used to cheese boss fights. Players have also been known to win battles by spamming it. Tis not an honorable strategy, but when players want to win, they want to win. Feel no shame guys.
Study and Learn the Gameplay of Each Entry (All)
One thing gamers can give Kingdom Hearts credit for; it takes risks. Not every Kingdom Hearts game is made equal, with a lot of the games in between numbered titles adopting different styles of play. For example, while Kingdom Hearts 2 is hack and slash, Chain of Memories uses a complex card system. Players must master the rules of the card gameplay if they want any hope of beating the game. While some are hit and miss, every fan has a favorite game due to enjoying that specific entry’s gameplay. Everyone should see which entry has the gameplay that suits them.
Read the Ansem, Xehanort, and Secret Reports, along with Roxas’ Journal (1, 2, Birth by Sleep, Dream Drop Distance, 3, and 358/2 Days)
It goes without saying…Kingdom Hearts has a convoluted plot. Kingdom Hearts and “confusing” are a married couple; it is not “simple and clean.” However, players can tidy up their confusion of the lore and story by reading the reports found throughout the game. These reports hold important pieces of lore that explain and explore backstory. It is recommended that players read them or else they will not have crucial questions answered from their experiences with the game.
Block Enemys’ Attacks (All)
This might seem like a no-brainer, but people would be surprised. People have witnessed others try to get through Kingdom Hearts 2 without blocking…it’s comically sad. Don’t do this. Christ on a cracker, please equip block.
At Least Try All of the Optional Content (1, 2, Birth by Sleep, Dream Drop Distance, 0.2, and 3)
Kingdom Hearts has tons of cool secret bosses and optional content. Completing this content sometimes yields story bits that are canon to later games down the line and allows players to unlock the secret movie at the end easier. While it is fine to skip optional content until one has beaten the main story once (some games require you to have clear save data to unlock extras post-game), it is advised to beat the optional content at some point.
Play All of The Games
This might seem like another no-brainer, but alas…And this one leaves fans ranting for hours. Every Kingdom Hearts fan has heard their friends go “I’m lost, who are these characters,” or, “I don’t want to play these side games, I’m just going to play 1, Chain of Memories, 2, and 3.”
Don’t be these guys. Every Kingdom Hearts game has a story that connects with every other game. Playing them is absolutely essential to understanding the story as a whole. If players really don’t want to suffer through Chain of Memories’ card system or slog through the boss design in Birth by Sleep, they should at least watch the cutscenes. With a story as convoluted as Kingdom Hearts’, not everyone is going to play every game. As sad as it is, most are just grateful that the series has exceptional gameplay to keep them around. However, players who are serious about getting into the franchise should play every installment.
Luckily for them, 358/2 Days, Re:coded, and X Back Cover have been consolidated into movie length cutscenes, cutting down on the number of entries to play. In terms of recommended play order, go in this particular order: Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, Chain of Memories, 358/2 Days (movie), Kingdom Hearts 2, Birth by Sleep, Re:coded (movie), Dream Drop Distance, Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth By Sleep, Back Cover (movie), Kingdom Hearts 3
Whether one is for Cloud gaming or against it, Kingdom Hearts is coming for it and people will buy. This Pro Tips guide has hopefully prepared new players for their adventures when Kingdom Hearts hits the Nintendo Switch on the 10th. Grab your keyblade, sea salt ice cream, and a frappe at the local Starbucks and enjoy fighting the Darkness.
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