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Editorial: Top 5 Kingdom Hearts II Atlantica Songs

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Kingdom Hearts II is a widely beloved entry in the series, being many fans’ favorite. And, I believe it’s safe to assume that a significant degree of that love stems from it housing the best world in the franchise, Atlantica. Now, while Atlantica is one of the more well-liked worlds in the first game, its musical implementation in Kingdom Hearts II is masterful, causing many fans over the years to question why the entirety of the game and subsequent sequels didn’t play like this world.

Unfortunately, we’ll likely never receive an answer to that prominent, collective fan inquiry, and we’ll have to keep replaying the 5 stellar musical numbers this area boasts.

With it being the series’ 20th anniversary, I found it only fitting to reflect on the peak gameplay of the titles and rank the playable musicals from worst to best.

5. "Part of Your World"


This is easily the most abhorred song of Atlantica, and part of why is because it doesn’t include the magnificent vocal talents or dancing of Donald and Goofy. Sora’s compatriots provide fantastic vocal and visual range, capturing the essence of these performances far more effectively than any of the other characters. It’s also the shortest song, further providing ample reason for this being on the bottom of the list. Lastly, the fact that players can simply obtain 5 Excellent ratings and skimp out on the rest of the track is unfortunate. Fans want to interact with these musical minigames more and not just view them as spectacles, despite how epic they are.

4. "Ursula’s Revenge"


Ah, yes. The best boss battle of not only Kingdom Hearts II but the franchise as a whole. It’s almost depressing how the series hasn’t even come close to reaching the quality of this encounter. Still, that just goes to show how legendary it is. Ursula utilizes the power of King Triton’s trident and enlarges herself, becoming a genuinely threatening foe.

Players have to time cleverly incorporated button presses aligned with Ursula’s ever-growing power, resulting in a climactic encounter that will leave you with an undeniably cathartic sense of delight. While Donald and Goofy don’t sing during this battle, the sheer well-induced terror of this scene nearly absolves that fault. If only Xemnas received such a similarly praiseworthy encounter…

3. "Under The Sea"


"Under The Sea" boasts sublime metaphorical imagery throughout its duration. The right side of the screen hosts a gauge determining Ariel’s yearning for the outside world or accepted complacency with the life she’s come to know. The player’s performance determining the state of Ariel’s mentality illustrates a terrific relationship between their actions and results.

Essentially, the effects of gameplay are transparently depicted in a manner affecting character growth. Further, the necessitated avoidance of Sebastian for success subtly implies his actual existence as a Darkling, serving as a corrupting influence on Ariel’s strained psyche. There is just an almost insane degree of storytelling depth poured into this performance, but the fact that there are still 2 more surpassing it is astounding.

2. "Swim This Way"


Despite being the initial performance, "Swim This Way" expertly introduces players to the majesty of this world’s rhythm-based gameplay. Sebastian being the motivator for Sora, Ariel, and the others is a colossal reason for this monumental quality. As alluded to in the prior placement, it’s evident that Sebastian is a Darkling utilizing some manner of camouflage to veil his authentic, horrific appearance. His motives are still unclear, but Dark Road’s final update may finally shed light on this long-running point of contention the fanbase has possessed for over half a decade. Regardless, what makes this performance so noteworthy is Sebastian’s seemingly two-faced nature.

While he is a force of corruption during "Under the Sea", his congenial deliverance of praise and motivation seems real here. And, if that’s the case, what is Sebastian enduring throughout this world’s story events? Are the influences of Sora and the gang combating the inherent darkness his existence comprises? It’s a simultaneously inspiring and fearsome thought. Aside from Sebastian, though, Sora’s use of magic and the entirety of the group dancing with one another is a wholesome, endearing sight. You’d be hard-pressed to identify a better first song in any rhythm game experience.

1. "A New Day is Dawning"


Finally, we have reached the indisputably best track in the world; "A New Day is Dawning". The sheer, infectious joviality present from every participant in this massive ensemble performance is almost tear-jerking. After defeating Ursula, peace has been restored, and the sea’s denizens celebrate that occurrence, as well as Ariel’s eventual marriage to Prince Eric. King Triton smiling, Sora, Donald, and Goofy’s passionate singing, and the countless dancers emphasize the immense scale of these events. This is also the most challenging song to complete, with a steep score to achieve.

Additionally, the remaining presence of the Sebastian icons that must be avoided informs the player that darkness still lurks within this world, and there’s no telling when it will sprout. When Atlantica returns in a future game, we’ll assuredly witness Sebastian’s tragic reveal as a Darkling. Still, until then, this song represents long-desired fulfilling tranquility.

Alas, it also is a meta-textual metaphor for how the best world is nearing its end, and players will have to move on. After all, A New Day is Dawning. Not all of life can be enthusiastically joyful. So, while the conclusion of this world can be melancholic due to its qualitative nature ceasing, it teaches players the valuable lesson of how life lacks permanence. Change is always approaching from behind the corner, and despite its confrontations differing in timing for every individual, it’s inescapable.


And that was indisputable Top 5 ranking for each Atlantica song in Kingdom Hearts II. Still, do you somehow disagree with this placement? And if so, what does your ranking look like? Let us know in the comments below!

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In my opinion, the clear best song is the one that Sora, Donald, Goofy sing to Ariel and the gang after sealing the Keyhole. "We'll always come back to say hello!"

Because, after all, who doesn't want more singing in Atlantica, am I right? And this hinted at more in the future.

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A nice, sarcastic article, but I must come to the defense of this world. Disney movies are often a celebration of music, and many of those soundtracks have captured the hearts and minds of people of all ages around the world (Hakuna Matata, Let It Go, We Don't Talk About Bruno, etc.), so you can't fault Square Enix for trying to find a way to celebrate the most pivotal part of Disney. Was it a hiccup to default the story to minigames, and include lackluster original songs? Yes. Did it finish the Atlantica story, remove any chance of faulty underwater combat, and celebrate a movie that created a Renaissance of beautiful music afterward? Yes. As a skippable world, it does not detract from the game as a whole, it only adds to it. It's relevance to the overall story was equal to that of The Hundred Acre Wood, yet it receives much more criticism. Granted, I came into the series with KH2 and could not judge the world against its prior installment, so to me it was just nice to have some variety. It's fine to criticize something you love, but I thought I'd provide an alternative perspective. Good fun and a great read! 

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In all seriousness KH2 Atlantica is overhated. It's an entirely optional world and you can skip it when doing the story. The way it's paced out across magic upgrades and such means you can do each song as it's unlocked or everything available to you at the point you're at. The rhythm game is a fun gameplay variation and unlike another rhythm game I could mention (mention no names Ice Cream Beat) isn't needed to progress the story. The songs are catchy and HJO really can sing. Cheesy lines are part and parcel with a Disney musical, so lines like "sorry mommy, your poopsies are toast" wouldn't be out of place in a Disney movie, albeit more likely given to a comic relief character. It's so much more memorable than KH2 Agrabah, that's for sure. You need to pursue side content anyway to get the ultima weapon.

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