Two members of our staff have taken the time to share their thoughts on the Kingdom Hearts III Limit Cut Episode, Secret Episode and Premium Menu included in the Re Mind DLC. Due to our KH3 Re Mind spoiler policy, everything below will be in spoiler boxes so viewer discretion is advised.
We have reviewed the Re Mind main story scenario, Update 1.09 and Data Greeting in a prior article.
Orpheus Joshua's thoughts on the Limit Cut Episode, Secret Episode and Premium Menu:
Limit Cut Episode - As someone who’s pretty invested in Kingdom Hearts superbosses, the Limit Cut Episode greatly excited me especially due to the changes towards combat in the free update. I certainly wasn’t expecting any story material in this episode either, but I was pleasantly surprised to be wrong! The story content was quite light, but it was rather cool to see the Radiant Garden Restoration Committee back in action. That one year time skip caught me off guard. Also, simply being able to walk around in an updated Merlin’s House was quite a sight for sore eyes.
The actual meat of this episode, the Data Organization battles, blew me away. There wasn’t a singular boss I found to be unfair or poorly designed. There are certainly some I find more fun to fight than others, but overall, I can’t complain about the quality of the bosses in any way. Osaka Team is truly trying their hardest to erase their stigma of incompetence, and brandish a new reputation of masterful quality. Due to how detailed each fight is, I won’t be going into extensive detail about any of them, but I will be sharing my thoughts on all of them. For context, I completed the Limit Cut Episode at level 99 on both Proud and Critical, and I dabbled in some of them on Beginner for the Pro Code related trophy.
One unique aspect of these data battles is how each fight has its own music track associated with it. This is already a huge step up over the data battles in Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix where listening to the same songs over and over again got pretty droning and dull. The remix present in the Garden of Assemblage proper is also incredible, granting the room the familiar, eerie ambiance I’ve grown to love.
As for the data fights themselves, my personal favorites are Terra-Xehanort, Xemnas and Xion. I found mostly all of the fights enjoyable, but these three were on another level. Terra-Xehanort’s guardian was utilized in an extremely fair and non intrusive way towards the player. I was admittedly a bit fearful of the guardian at first, but it’s truly one of the least threatening aspects of this fight once you figure out how to contend with its small move pool. All of the openings felt pretty natural to find once you try and experiment with the fight enough, and his DM (Desperation Move) was simple yet effective. Finding stagger points for these bosses always felt immensely satisfying and being able to punish Terra-Xehanort for moves he spammed me with way back in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep felt extraordinarily gratifying. I was a little upset that the Dismiss remix present for his fight didn’t have vocals attached to it, but my guess is they didn’t want any lyrics from the song to disrupt audio cues from him.
Xemnas’s battle felt like a dance, with his movements and tight punish windows requiring precise action from the player. This fight was majestical due to how it felt like a combination of both his Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance and Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix boss fights. The way the barriers were utilized as walls to throw you off balance, and how this fight became unexpectedly vertical elated me. It was a brand new take on battling Xemnas, a classic villain in the franchise, and it certainly was a far cry from disappointment. Xion is in my opinion, one of the harder data battles, but also one of the funnest to learn. She follows an intricately strict pattern, but despite that handicap, is still rather difficult to contend with. The fight itself, especially her DM, felt like a remixed Roxas fight with the usage of the blue lasers and the sunset scenery. Seeing my max HP temporarily decreased for the first time was probably the scariest I’ve ever felt in this series, but there are a variety of ways to get around that such as formchanges and links.
Larxene was a shockingly (no pun intended) easy one that I had little difficulty with, certainly not as difficult as her Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix iteration I found. Young Xehanort was another surprisingly easy one. His openings were a little too obvious and the usage of the clones was pretty manageable but I’m not complaining. I’d much rather have that than a repeat of his Dream Drop Distance fight. Dark Riku was...odd. It took me a while to figure out his DM wasn’t relegated to an HP gate and when I did, I forced myself to learn his DM like the back of my hand. I’ve seen very mixed reception on his fight and while I’d hesitate to call it unfair, it’s definitely one of the more unorthodox ones. Saix is unfortunately the one fight I didn’t find any enjoyment in. He is certainly well designed and fair, but his constant aggression with berserk made it difficult to learn him well. He’s easily the Kingdom Hearts boss I’ve died to the most, without question. Vanitas was a simple one with some rather creative punish windows, though his DM took a long while to master. I was a tad miffed that his battle didn’t get a brand new remix but I’ll live. It’s still a fantastic track.
Xigbar is a contender for one of my favorites. Not only is his battle music my favorite limit cut track in the game, but I also found the battle itself incredibly fun. It’s another fight with extensively creative punish windows and the DM almost feels like it was meant to deceive 2FM players with where you had to look and react to. The ‘Showdown’ command was also really rewarding to use whenever I blocked enough red projectiles. I do wish more fights had a situation command award like that. Ansem was oddly inconsistent in difficulty. His first phase felt like a cakewalk, but his second DM was a huge spike in difficulty. It isn’t impossible or anything, but learning to adapt to a move that only happens at the end of a fight takes a fair amount of practice. Speaking of that exact same situation is Marluxia’s data battle. Despite this being one of my favorite fights overall, the very end of the battle's DM with the 99 Doom Counter is not great. I understand the logic and theming behind it, but it was just really annoying for lack of a better term. I grew to dread dealing with that last ditch DM and it just wasn’t fun or satisfying to learn at all. A fight I’ve seen complained about fairly often is Luxord’s. The hit detection is said by many to be unreliable for the cards, but I found it to be pretty simple to time. Keep in mind that I’ve only defeated these bosses a few times each so I’m far from a master of this fight, but I think it’s just a matter of timing rather than hitbox detection. I also found unequipping combo modifiers to help a lot. I didn’t find the lack of combo modifiers to be that troublesome either since the fight feels like an interactive minigame. Lastly, Master Xehanort was one of the most unexpected ones for me in regards to his moveset. It was certainly one of the most difficult battles for me to learn but the individualized moveset he had made adapting to it a fresh experience. I will admit though, I didn’t find Christopher Lloyd’s battle quotes to be all that great. Just a personal preference of mine.
Overall, the Limit Cut Episode was some of the most fun I’ve had in this series in years. These bosses blew me away in terms of quality and they give me hope that the Osaka Team will use their developed prowess to impress us for future generations to come.
Secret Episode - Ah, Yozora. I know I gave the Limit Cut Episode high praise but the Secret episode trumps it. Starting this episode off, we go back to Sora presumably after the one year time skip, and after an exceedingly cryptic conversation with Yozora we have what I consider to be the hardest boss in the franchise. Before going into the fight though, it’s important to address just how bizarre this conversation is. Learning that the Nameless Star is most likely the girl from Verum Rex stunned me momentarily, but the addition of Yozora’s inquiries regarding Sora’s name and how he’s heard of him before made my head spin further. The vintage Nomura experience for sure.
The transformation of Sora’s Station of Awakening into a seemingly data recreation of Shibuya silenced me. The skyline was breathtaking, and it provided me with the most striking battleground in the series, atop the beloved 104. This fight seems impossible at first and I’m sure that’s why some players call this fight awfully designed and on the same tier as the Mysterious Figure.
I couldn’t disagree more.
After spending hours upon hours on this fight, it has become my favorite boss fight in all of Kingdom Hearts and all of gaming in general. I know that’s an extremely bold and wild claim to make, but I’ve truly never enjoyed a boss battle more than Yozora’s. Every attack he performs is telegraphed undeniably well and most of them can be countered if done correctly. His punish windows are so out of the box that I can’t help myself from feeling accomplished beyond belief for acting out on them. Magic is utilized in clever ways for some of his attacks to uncover geniusly designed openings. I was appalled to discover that his DM has at least two openings where you can stagger him in as well. An ingenious aspect of this fight is that Yozora can occasionally begin the fight with his DM. This may sound awful, but it actually provides rather free opportunities to practice contending with it. Just about every aspect of this fight seems so lovingly crafted and every attempt felt like a joy. You know a boss is special when dying to it doesn’t even begin to frustrate you.
A facet of this fight I discovered online after defeating Yozora, was that he can steal your Kupo Coin during his item beam attack and use it if he perishes in battle! I found the item taking beam to be rough enough in concept, but the addition of an optional revival is one of the most hilarious inclusions I’ve ever seen in a Kingdom Hearts game. They really want you to deal with Yozora with no second chances and lucky happenstances. The item beam isn’t difficult to dodge, but the sheer prospect of him being able to revive at all makes the idea of taking the Kupo Coin a huge risk. It’s brilliant. I can go on and on about the specifics of this fight but I’m sure Raxaimus has done so in a far more intricate manner.
The music in this battle is incredibly somber, yet it retains an erratic, aggressive tone throughout its duration. It reminds me of music from the infamously cancelled Final Fantasy Versus XIII. Tying into Final Fantasy Versus XIII are the two endings you get from this fight. Having a bad ending in a Kingdom Hearts title blew my mind alone, but both endings ultimately show Yozora in a very familiar, iconic shot; the car scene from the Final Fantasy Versus XIII trailer in 2011. I was understandably flabbergasted beyond belief when I saw this, and even moreso when I heard Luxord’s voice from the driver in the true ending. It was a lot to take in and it still is. Seeing Sora crystallized in the bad ending was also a step I never thought I’d see taken in this series.
Whatever Nomura’s doing with this series now, I’m fully strapped in and ready to go. Never before have I been more excited for the future of Kingdom Hearts. The mysterious ties to the ill-fated Final Fantasy Versus XIII in Yozora and Verum Rex have me compelled in a way Kingdom Hearts has never done before.
Your move, Nomura. Your move.
Premium Menu - The Premium Menu is a very welcome addition to the series that I hope stays for future titles. The EZ Codes and Pro Codes provide an extreme amount of methods for player customization. Being able to one shot enemies, reach gummi level 99 automatically, and gradually sap Sora's HP and MP are only some of the codes that can drastically modify your gameplay experience.While I would’ve preferred a slider in order to more finely tune certain aspects, this feature is still fun to mess around with. The Pro Codes in particular provide fuel for absurd challenges that are sure to occupy players for months and months to even years.
I do find it unfortunate that you can only use both Pro Codes and EZ Codes simultaneously after beating Yozora, because you’re restricted to only the Limit Cut battles and Yozora himself to really try out both sets of codes on. It would be nice to be able to implement that on NG+ and who knows? It’s an easy inclusion for a future update. The EZ Code merits felt a bit unnecessary however since they don’t really feel like challenges and don’t provide you with anything meaningful. The Pro Code merit trophy was quite a challenge though, and reaching max rank was rewarding despite how monotonous it felt at times.
While there are a variety of improvements that can be made, this is a feature I believe everyone welcomed, and I hope it remains for future titles.
Raxaimus's thoughts on the Limit Cut Episode, Secret Episode and Premium Menu:
Limit Cut Episode - If Kingdom Hearts’ beloved Final Mix installments are known for one thing in particular, it would be the superbosses that serve as the definitive challenges of each game. These intense battles have always been one of the things I’ve loved most about the series, as I’m definitely a challenge-seeker when it comes to my time with video games, and I can say that Re Mind is certainly no slouch in this department. For full disclosure, I initially completed both Limit Cut and the Secret Episode on Critical Mode at around level 50. However, unlike previous superbosses in the series, the player’s in-game level seems to matter much less than their reflexes, decision-making, and situational awareness. These fights aren’t for the faint of heart.
The Limit Cut bosses have been a standout feature of this DLC for me, design-wise. Where Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix’s data battles consisted of taking the base game’s Organization XIII boss fights, slightly tweaking their AI, and inflating their health and damage values, Kingdom Hearts III Re Mind treats players to drastically overhauled bosses compared to their base game counterparts, complete with a plethora of new moves and enemy behavior. Each of these fights tests players on every aspect of Kingdom Hearts III’s gameplay. All at once, players need to remain alert to pick up on attack patterns and potential openings, quick to act in order to maximize their damage output, and careful to balance their offensive and defensive approaches. Sadly, some of these fights are not without serious technical flaws; as an infamous example, Sora’s attack animations and the game’s targeting system are notoriously unreliable during Luxord’s desperation move. This can often result in the player striking the wrong card, instantly failing the DM and taking a large (sometimes fatal) portion of the player’s health. Despite their occasional problems, several of these fights (Xion, Xemnas, Marluxia, Dark Riku, and Saix, in particular) have become some of my favorite boss fights in the series. They all offer diverse movesets, interesting mechanics, and a variety of ways to take them down, encouraging players to sharpen their skills and allowing them to feel truly accomplished in conquering such a daunting challenge. Overall, Limit Cut shows that the previously-maligned “Osaka team” can shed their prior stigma and deliver a brutally punishing and greatly rewarding combat experience that lives up to the series’ other fantastically designed challenges.
In addition to its phenomenal battles, the Limit Cut episode gives us a small snippet of story which manages to be enjoyable all the same. The appearance of the Hollow Bastion Restoration Committee may only be a short cameo, but it’s a welcome sight for those who longed for Final Fantasy representation in the main game. It’s unfortunate that Cloud, Sephiroth, and Tifa do not appear at all, as many fans hoped they might, but with Final Fantasy VII Remake just around the corner, they’ll be given plenty of screen time nevertheless.
Secret Episode - If the Limit Cut episode is a hearty and filling meal to satisfy players seeking a challenge, then the Secret Episode is the sweet dessert which caps off the experience. Everything that the episode brings to the table is masterfully crafted, presenting some of the best the series has to offer in terms of visuals, music, boss design, and of course, cryptic hints at what’s in store for us next.
Starting off with the boss itself, I’m incredibly pleased with how this turned out. There’s a lot of tough competition in this area, since some of the the battles in Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix are perfect examples of the series’ remarkable boss design. While they are some of the most widely-celebrated parts of the series, I have a feeling that the crown has now passed to a new king. Yozora is unrelenting, demanding only the best from potential challengers. His moveset trips players up in a fantastically entertaining and challenging way, consisting of unique attacks such as an item-stealing tractor beam, slashes that reduce Sora’s maximum HP, and a grab which subsequently allows Yozora to use your own Keyblade against you. His AI also seems to be a step above the typical Kingdom Hearts fare, as his individual moves are able to be reacted to, but the moves themselves cannot quite be predicted. In addition, Yozora has a small chance of starting the fight with something I thought I would never see in a Kingdom Hearts game: an instantaneous desperation move. While this sounds punishing at first, it actually serves as a great learning tool, allowing players to occasionally practice one of the hardest aspects of the fight, without the risk of losing tons of progress in doing so. It’s quite an interesting and forward-thinking decision on the part of the development team.
When it comes to audiovisual elements, this fight certainly doesn’t disappoint. The decision to set the fight on top of Shibuya’s 104 building gives players a visual feast, allowing them to take in the Tokyo skyline in its full splendor. Yozora’s attacks are also very visually appealing, with a high-tech motif comprised of laser emitters, hologram projections, and other interesting gadgets. The audio design of these attacks beautifully complements this motif, allowing the player to determine when to act through a series of high-pitched beeps and whines. In terms of music, Yoko Shimomura decided to create a track which hearkens back to the ill-fated Final Fantasy Versus XIII, serving as a hint to the character’s tragic and mysterious backstory, and perfectly suiting Yozora’s out-of-universe origins. This boss battle is expertly presented, and is undoubtedly a treat for those who manage to make it this far.
Each element of this battle adds up to be more than the sum of its parts, to the point where it is undoubtedly my new favorite boss in the series. If this is the level of quality that we can expect from superbosses going forward, then I’m happy to say that the future looks incredibly bright.
On the topic of the story, I’m personally very intrigued. Back when Final Fantasy Versus XIII was in development, I would often comb through whatever info I could find about the game. I was ultimately heartbroken to learn that director Tetsuya Nomura had left the project shortly after it was rebranded into Final Fantasy XV, marking a transition into something distinctly different from the original concept. I’m very glad that Nomura is bringing remnants of that project into the spotlight through Kingdom Hearts and the in-universe Verum Rex property. Combining both Kingdom Hearts and Versus XIII into a single entity, and mixing in elements of the cult classic The World Ends With You is a recipe for success, in my book. The idea of a crossover between the three has made me rediscover my love for Nomura’s absolutely insane yet interesting storytelling, and this is the single biggest aspect of Kingdom Hearts’ future that I can’t wait to hear more about.
Premium Menu - I’m absolutely in love with the game’s new Premium Menu feature. As a huge advocate of well-implemented difficulty options in any game, seeing something like this added to a Kingdom Hearts game feels like something out of a dream. Starting up a new game gives the player the opportunity to choose one of two sets of toggleable options. The EZ Code selection, as its name implies, makes the game far easier, with options such as a one-hit kill on enemies and an HP regen feature. The PRO Code selection drastically increases the game’s overall difficulty, offering the ability to turn off certain gameplay features like items or links, reduce the party’s defense to zero, or even steadily drain HP or MP.
These options present quite a lot of replay value for Kingdom Hearts III, allowing for some truly interesting combinations. Beating the game’s Secret Episode will also give the player access to both lists at the same time, regardless of whether or not they previously chose to use either of them on their save file. This is a fantastic reward, and being able to replay the endgame content using both lists is really fun. After unlocking this feature, I’m now left wanting a proper New Game Plus mode to be added to Kingdom Hearts III, so that players can replay the entire game with their level and items from a previous playthrough, as well as the full potential of the Premium Menu. I’ve got my fingers crossed in the hopes that we might end up seeing something like that as part of one last update!
As an aside, when the Premium Menu was revealed, several players expressed a desire to use it to recreate the famous Heaven or Hell mode from Capcom’s Devil May Cry series, where both the player and all enemies are defeated with a single hit. I’ve found that the best way to accomplish this is to start the game on Critical Mode with EZ Codes enabled, turning on Deadly Blow and Survival, and refraining from using any defense boosting items. It’s a cool change of pace from Kingdom Hearts’ typical action-RPG fare, so I hope you’ll try it!