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Man... I had totally forgot about this place after almost 8-9 years since I last logged in. I remember it use to be booming with all kinds of posts years ago. I guess it died down a bunch since then. 1.) Introduction and Explanation Anywho, for those who don't know me. I'm the crazy guy that attempted, Raged hard, raged some more, almost lost my sanity, completed, and proved to everyone on gamefaqs over 8-9ish years ago that it's 100% possible, and legit to be able to complete BOTH (Well... Now 3 is added as well, so more than 2)(NAMELY 2.5, and reasons will be listed next) Kingdom Hearts games at Level 1 Proud Mode for KH1.5(which, if you DIDN'T know, because of the way the mechanics work, Proud mode is actually the harder difficulty for a Level 1 run in KH1.5 instead of Critical because you ALWAYS do chip damage in Proud. Critical is actually a little easier because Sora can do more damage in that difficulty) and Critical Mode(2.5 + 3), but not just complete them at Level 1; (that's been done by a handful of people. However, everybody that has completed the Lvl 1 run always labels their run "complete" Yet, they all stopped at SILVER Crown.) But, I decided, and wanted to take it all a step further, and be the standout of them all. As well as debunking the most ridiculous, yet shockingly widespread belief beyond the masses: the before thought "Impossible" Holy Grail of Kingdom Heart challenges: Completing Level 1 critical mode... AS WELL as obtaining 100% completion in the Jiminy Journal, including completion of EVERY Mushroom XIII challenges, and actually having the GOLD Crown! Which was considered literally impossible. (Yeah, I know. Insane, isn't it?) 2.) The False Rumor And The Mission To Prove The World Wrong To actually 100% the Jiminy Journal, and Obtain Gold Crown in 2.5 which involves the Mushroom XIII challenges. Everybody, and their momma back then swore, and pushed the notion of "You can't complete atleast 1 or 2 of the mushroom challenges (most notably, Agrabah mushroom, Twilight Town, and Port Royal mushroom, respectively) without leveling up, it's totally impossible" As well as the old fable of "It's impossible to get Ultima Weapon in 1.5 at Level 1 because you don't get lucky strike abilities to grind synthesis materials without leveling" etc. Nah, it's all do-able. A huge pain in the ass? Yes. Definitely. But, achievable. 3.) Hype Yourself Up/Believe In Your Ability Like myself before attempting, I'm sure most people would just shake their head, and say to themselves "nope. Never. Cant do it" I was that guy. Then one day, I told myself "Hey... they put the option to void any EXP gain.. I'm gonna try it.. Let's see what happens, and how it goes at level 1. I mean, it can't be IMPOSSIBLE; They obviously added it as a feature for a reason." 4.) The Beginning of Doubt Of course, I begin. I start treading along, beginning my journey into my first attempt into a Kingdom Hearts game without leveling up. Everything goes smoothly, up until you start getting demolished left, and right every second, and the bosses annihilate you in a single hit. Making you re-evaluate, and question your ability, and if you can do it. 5.) Opening Your Perception/Total Realization The KH series, AND the series' difficulty as a whole; drastically, and dramatically changed for me once my eyes opened, and I seen the blatant "slap you in the face" obvious, and stopped trying to play Kingdom Hearts like an Action/Adventure RPG like a normal/casual playthrough would basically literally be. Instead, gaining the Square Enix perspective, and knowing their past; made me realize that it's supposed to actually be played like, (and get ready for a mind blown moment) a friggin' Turn Based RPG... Honestly, I think once you guys get this realization, and mindset in your head like I did while you're playing through; every one of you, and I mean EVERYONE of you guys, no matter how "gud" you ARE or AREN'T at the Kingdom Hearts games in a casual, normal playthrough. You can be absolute dirt at the (falsely assumed random, seemingly "unpredictable", ever-constant flow of combat) but start trying to take a slightly different approach/('s) towards the way you actually play games like this, and even open up your mind, and perceive, and acknowledge the gameplay in a different way altogether than what you, and probably, most people normally would have absolutely no idea or even fathom that there's more to, and many more ways to go into a Kingdom Hearts game than the basic, "normal" DmC-esque style combat that we all experience/('d) and most of us, are even conditioned to. 6.) Breaking Old Habits/Adopting New Ones However, once you change the perception/habits you have of the game already, and change the rules ever so slightly, and subtly to merely change towards a playstyle that of the old-school, traditional turn based views, and start planning strategies, and changing your playstyle around a "turn-based rpg mindset" instead of our pre-conditioned, already accustomed, and comfortable free flow combat that most of us are already "comfortable" with or use to. 7.) Acknowledge Game Mechanics/Learn Everything Any of you guys without a doubt in my mind would be able to Level 1 the game as it then becomes almost trivially easy once you decide to perceive KH in just a slightly different way (Turn Based instead of Free Combat) and start to play in an entirely different way accordingly (Having a turn based view/play style really helps not only by helping you learn to better/more accurately time your attacks, guards, dodge rolls, reflects, and etc. But, also makes you a lot more aware, and attentive as you're going to be learning to take it slow, and not rush battles, but to stay on your toes, closely watch for any, even if very subtle visual clues: motions with an enemy's hands, AND their body language. As well as listening for any audio clues or catch phrases; these are everything you are looking for to expect, and anticipate the next move of your opponent. Get a hit in when you can, and defend all the counter attacks that will be delivered back afterwards. Learn the timing to perfect guard; it's going to be the key to your survival, and the timing of each attack you learn never changes. So you don't have to ever expect or assume that a certain attack is ever going to be slower/faster than when previously used. You finally learn the timing for perfect guarding an attack, and you'll always be able to perfect guard it, as it will never be change the rate of speed. 8.) Truth of Developer's 100% Intended Game Design And The Public's Blindness So yes. After stating this, and the way certain mechanics work. Know it or not, even believe it or not. Even though it does EVERYTHING to make you "think" it's an action RPG. Which is semi-true, and fully the case to the masses. It was fully meant, and intended as a Turn Based RPG, and I'm going to open your eyes, and convince you. 9.) How The Kingdom Hearts Series Hides It's True Intended Design, and Disguises Itself As An Action RPG Any casual player gets the action RPG style in a normal playthrough. Just as every first time, 2nd time, etc. player always does. Nothing about the gameplay comes off as "turn based". And is more than often considered the polar opposite of a Turn Based game. Which, was presented this way to appeal to a wider audience such as younger aged, Disney lovers who didn't grow up with RPGs, or just jumped into the game world. As leveling makes it where you literally never have to learn or even use guard, reflect or parry the counters you receive if you really never even wanted to. As taking damage is hardly worrisome, or trivial, and easily tended to with a Cure, and Potions. You can even just carelessly attack, and attack anytime you want. Even if it isn't the best time, and you take a hit. You can still beat the game, and everything in it regardless. - No Turn Based Elements seen/felt whatsoever 10.) Awakening Into Reality/Acknowledging The Hidden Truth: Turn-Based Gameplay In comparison, Level 1: Any hit you take can 1 shot you. If you get caught in a combo attack, you WILL die. There's no possible way to constantly spam attacks, and tank hits. You gotta learn how to properly utilize things that you probably hardly, if ever even used: Guard, Reflect, Dodge Roll, Aerial Recovery, etc. and to learn timing. All this coupled along with the Revenge Counter mechanic (Which, I will explain in more detail below) is how it becomes a Turn Based game; as there is only a certain amount of attacks you can deliver before the enemy counters. - Turn Based RPG 11.) Notice The Signs/Process Everything/Uncover The Veil The first mentioned; is the game probably 90% or more of the masses experience, and perceive. People just don't see the alternative, and it's funny because I just seen a thread on another forum where the OP literally posted "I absolutely love Kingdom Hearts, because it's not just another cliche Turn Based RPG. I despise them." That was almost laughable, and cringe to read, and goes to show just how many people can overlook major things that are hidden in plain sight. However, if one is to attempt a Level 1 run, and play Kingdom Hearts the true way the developers intended; fact is, it's nothing more than a regular Square-Enix FF style "TURN BASED RPG" with complete movement, and control of character at all times. 12.) The Main Mechanics And Physics: The Enemy's "Revenge Counter" Seriously, when you get down into the physics, mechanics, and all the equations that go into every single boss fight, you begin to see it. Just ONE example is this: You're in the middle of a fight, let's say with Data Roxas; just for an example. Soon as the battle begins, and you gain control of Sora, you need to cast a reflect to counter Roxas' Keyblade Spin. After the successful reflect you are granted a small window where you're allowed to attack, and land up to (and let's just say for instance in this example, maybe 3-4 hits) 3-4 hits on Roxas before he is scripted to automatically counter attack. These counter attacks are termed "Revenge Counter" or just simply "RC" abbreviated. if you ever see the term in guides or posts, or in future research, but didn't know what it meant. 13.1) Explaining "Revenge Counters" And "Revenge Values"/Looping Bosses And Minimizing Danger Ah, Revenge Counter. The key to winning, and main mechanic of a level 1 run tbh. Every enemy has always been scripted to counter attack after a few hits, and this was so everybody at level 100 with Sora couldn't just endlessly wail on an opponent non-stop, and make it even easier than what it already was to begin with. Now, once you actually learn about, and study the revenge counter mechanic, and how each enemy works; you actually can use it 100% in your favor in completing, hell, I'd even go so far as to say even almost cheesing a Lvl 1 crit run. As in, learn to read the small signals before attacks. Nothing is unpredictable. There's ALWAYS a signal/warning. Learn how many hits you can throw before they counter attack Sora. 13.2) Deeper Breakdown Of "Revenge" Mechanics/Examples Of "Baiting" Attacks These hits, the attacks, the number, whatever you're most comfortable calling it; for future reference or research of your own are termed "Revenge Values" or simply "RV" if abbreviated. After you learn how many hits you can land (the number of hits it takes to bait an RC is the opponent's RV) learn the timing to guard the counter attack/(s) after, and retaliating in the enemy's small, brief recovery window. All you do is, count your hits, after you land that 4th hit (or whatever number of hits the current boss' Revenge Counter activates) you need to automatically hit guard so you can negate his RC, and guard his other 2-3 hits he dishes out before leaving another open window to land another 3-4 hits on him. It's literally rinse, and repeat: Attack 3-4 times to force or "bait" the enemy to counter attack-> Guard incoming revenge counter attacks from the enemy -> Throw another 3-4 strikes to hit his Revenge Value again to force another auto-counter. And it's just repeat steps over again. Essentially, what you're trying to do is put an enemy into a neverending loop that you can fully predict. You will see evidence of this in every fight in every video I'm going to post below. You pay attention, and you'll notice that I'll always hit an X amount of times (factor of X is the actual RV. Determined differently with each enemy. Could be 6 hits, like Marluxia's RV. Could be only 4 hits like Roxas' RV) but I ALWAYS land no more, and (hopefully) no less than the exact number of attacks needed to bait them into a RC, and guard it. 14.) Always Land The Exact Revenge Values. No More Any attempt to, or if you accidentally deliver an extra attack that is higher than the actual RV, you might as well retry; because you're not going to be guarding that counter, get caught in a combo you can't escape, and face the 1 hit death. Just follow those simple steps, and it then repeats the pattern if you're doing it correctly, and won't be unpredictable. What you're really trying to do is just try to keep everything in a never-ending loop so any unpredictability, and danger is eliminated. 15.) Explanation of "I-Frames" and How To Use Them For An Advantage Also, another biggie is learning I-Frames. Or, "Invincibility Frames" meaning the tiny few frames where Sora is invincible for instance: when you use a Drive Form, there are a few brief seconds of frames where you will not take any damage in the middle of using a form. Or using a skill like Donald's Duck Flare, and using it to your advantage, as you will see me do a bunch against Lingering Will at Level 1 to avoid being skill/attack/item locked, whip locked, and to stay safe during his DM or "Desperation Move" (Every boss has a DM which is expressed by the screen going dark, and the boss does their "finisher" per se.) 16.) The Biggest Slept On/Underestimated Skills In The Game: Reflect/ra/ga And Guard To probably over 90% of the KH community that sleeps on, and probably have never once used the spell Reflect-Reflectga. You have no idea just how busted, how necessary it is, and how brokenly powerful that spell is. Especially in a Level 1 run. It's pretty much an absolute MUST in it to do any real damage at that level. Not only that, but if you're not a master or not use to timing your guard precisely yet, Reflect/ga is an alternative that is safe, and don't need to be facing any particular direction to guard anything. Only downside to spamming reflect constantly instead of mixing up guards, and reflects is that if you don't rely on using guard, and spam reflect instead; you're going to be struggling to keep, and have MP when you want/need it. 17.) Short Summary/Review Of Everything So Far/Convinced Yet? Convinced yet? Literally. Turn-Based RPG. Except think of each of your 3-4 chain attacks as a "turn" and you know that as soon as you land your 4th keyblade hit, your turn is over, and it's automatically going to be the opponent's "turn", and since you're expecting this, and know this, you block perfectly in time with his counter attacks, and learn their pattern. The key is to try to just keep it in a constant, simple, loop-ish kinda fight. Making sure to force the counter attack yourself so you know precisely when to guard; rather than having to randomly guess/pray when their next attack is going to be, and if you're going to be able to read it quick enough. 18.) Opening Up Your Mindset/Perception/Planning Strategies Toward The Hidden Turn-Based Gameplay Is Key This was the biggest, and most obvious "eye-opening" realization that helped me tremendously once I started looking at it as a Turn Based game. Respectfully like most of Square Enix's works prior. Which, I believe if most people started having that mindset of playing it like it's turn-based, just about everyone that truly wanted to would be able to complete the level 1 challenge a lot easier than ever initially thought. Literally every boss has their own respectful number of attacks they can receive before being scripted to auto-counter attack. Don't matter who you're facing. Don't care if it's a regular ol' Heartless, and Nobody, or if it's the friggin' One-Winged Angel, Sephiroth or the "Seemingly impossible, even at Level 100" Lingering Will himself... They all can be read, and baited into an auto-counter. All of them. 19.) Outro/Final Messages/My Video Proof If anyone is interested in watching a few of my Level 1 Crit 2.5 Organization fights for entertainment or maybe to study for your own future level 1 run, I'm going to be posting links to them below. I just wish like hell that I had a good camera back then... I'm so sorry, and apologize from the bottom of my soul about the quality, but... It's literally all I had. My crap phone camera, and setting it up to point directly at my TV while I'm actually playing live in the moment, as you can probably tell by the noise of all the button mashing but, at that time, all I was worried about was having proof so all the board back then stopped saying that I was a liar, and showing that I actually did it... Recorded most of the highlight battles anyway Level 1 Crit Run .vs Sephiroth - https://youtu.be/GtBcldOxgIg Level 1 Crit Run .vs Marluxia - https://youtu.be/mDz2O8CZxFo Level 1 Crit Run .vs Larxene (THIS BITCH RIGHT HERE...) - https://youtu.be/nf684D52Mwc Level 1 Crit Run .vs Axel (w/ Restrictions) - https://youtu.be/vztQYNIeT4U Level 1 Crit Run .vs Lexaeus (No Damage) - https://youtu.be/ad58PWJmt80 Level 1 Crit Run .vs Roxas (w/ Restrictions) - https://youtu.be/TTaMJpxxxJM Level 1 Crit Run .vs Lingering Will + Silver Crown (Evidence of me using I-Frames to my advantage, and how you can utilize it) - https://youtu.be/dTm215sIhmI Obtaining Crown From All Data Battles Lvl 1 - https://youtu.be/IydQ7qub5-w Obtaining The Elusive and "Impossible" Gold Crown Lvl 1 Proof - https://youtu.be/YdbUuJd5JM8 Then the creme de la creme. 100% Jiminy Journal At Level 1 Proof - https://youtu.be/I0d1_Ec_UdY Bonus: My proof of getting Ultima Weapon on Level 1 PROUD Mode (Ultra Difficult) in KH 1.5 (Was hilariously, also considered impossible at first) - https://youtu.be/ye2ZsgQWI_Y 20.) Final Words Of Encouragement/Faith In You All Hope others may find help, and for others, even courage to attempt this challenge. If anyone is interested in trying it, and maybe have questions, I'd be more than happy to help out in any way that I possibly can, and any feedback, comments, questions, and anything is welcome, and wanted. Thanks guys! Like I said earlier, don't ever doubt yourself in anything. If myself, of all people can beat every KH game at Level 1; then I KNOW for a FACT anybody at all can. I promise you. As for the brave souls that will be attempting this seemingly impossible task anytime in the upcoming future, I leave you all with 1 final, and important message: "May Your Heart, Be Your Guiding Key"