After many years as a PlayStation console exclusive, Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix is now available on another platform. Not just Final Mix, but all Kingdom Hearts Remastered Collections are available on the Epic Game Store alongside Kingdom Hearts 3 and Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory.
Since this will be the first time for many players to experience the sometimes convoluted story of Kingdom Hearts, it will be a chance to start at the beginning with the original Kingdom Hearts which released 19 years ago. More specifically, fans will have a chance to play Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix, an updated version of the original title that remained a Japanese exclusive until the release of Kingdom Hearts 1.5 Remix.
One of the biggest ways Square Enix changed the game with the Final Mix version was by including the Proud Mode difficulty. Similar to how Kingdom Hearts 3 introduced Critical Mode post-launch, Proud Mode was an entirely new way to play the game. With new fans now getting the chance to play Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix for the first time, here are some important tips to remember for those willing to try Proud Mode.
Updated November 8, 2022, by Justin Flynn: The Kingdom Hearts franchise has evolved a great deal since its debut in 2002. Graphics have improved, the gameplay has become much more fluid, and the story has grown to the point where only the most dedicated of fans can keep up. No matter the player’s relationship with the series, it’s hard not to look back at the original game with nostalgia, especially now that Kingdom Hearts 4 is in development.
Though its cartoonish aesthetic suggests Kingdom Hearts isn’t an overly challenging game, this could not be further from the truth. Those willing to test this theory need not look any further than Proud Mode, the game’s highest difficulty setting. Getting through Proud Mode unscathed would be a truly impressive feat, but it’s far more likely to encounter some roadblocks along the way. Thankfully, there are a few tricks to make the journey easier.
10/10 Grind As You Go
Proud Mode can be extremely challenging if Sora doesn’t spend enough time grinding. Thankfully, there are several areas where leveling can be done quite quickly at the beginning of the game. The Second District in Traverse Town can be a great place to start, but those willing enough can even begin on Destiny Island.
The best way to grind on Destiny Island is to fight Tidus. Though his moves can be difficult to predict, deflecting them will award Sora with two Tech Points each. Using this battle to grind can be very beneficial to the player when Sora eventually leaves the island.
9/10 Learn When To Block
Though blocking enemies in the original Kingdom Hearts isn’t as efficient as blocking in the sequel, it can be very effective depending on the situation. Mastering how to Guard requires the player to be patient and study the patterns of the enemies they hope to defeat.
The Guard ability will unlock by leveling Sora up, but it’s up to the player to choose when they obtain it. Choosing the Dream Shield during the tutorial segment will result in Sora obtaining Guard at level 15. Picking the Dream Shield will also increase Sora’s defense, so it can help a great deal in the long run.
8/10 Configure Donald’s Fighting Style
Though Donald’s unwillingness to heal Sora has become something of a meme in the Kingdom Hearts community, there is a way to change his approach to combat. To ensure he prioritizes healing above all else, the best thing to do is to select Customize in the pause menu.
There the player will get the option to select a different fighting style for Donald. Donald will die a great deal throughout a Proud Mode playthrough, so setting his style to “Defensive” can make a huge difference. Doing so will cause Donald to use healing magic and items much more frequently than he did before.
7/10 Get Familiar With Strike Raid
Strike Raid is arguably the most powerful ability in all of Kingdom Hearts. Using it on mobile enemies can be quite challenging depending on how quick they are, but it can be extremely effective when used against something more stationary.
Sora will obtain Strike Raid after beating the Pegasus Cup and will thus be able to use it for the remainder of the game. Sadly, it cannot be used while flying or while exploring Atlantica, but it can help a tremendous amount while traversing other worlds. It allows Sora to keep his distance while attacking while also making him invulnerable to oncoming blows, making it one of the most useful abilities Kingdom Hearts has to offer.
6/10 Choose The Dream Shield, Discard The Dream Rod
The original Kingdom Hearts opens with a truly memorable sequence as players are thrust into a strange yet intriguing tutorial that teaches the basic gameplay elements. Before Kingdom Hearts shows players the basics of combat, they are thrown into the deep end with a surprising decision. At the start, players are tasked with selecting between three weapons: Sword, Shield, and Staff. Players must choose to keep one and discard another.
For a Proud Mode playthrough, players should choose to keep the Shield and discard the Staff. There are two very specific reasons for doing so, as keeping the Shield provides the two most valuable abilities early on. With the Dream Shield, players will get Leaf Bracer and Second Chance much earlier than the other two options. This will also provide players with the highest starting Defense and item slots. The next choice is to discard the Staff, as doing so will only negatively impact how much AP Sora starts with.
5/10 Hold Onto Elixirs For Later Battles
Elixirs can be synthesized upon unlocking the Synthesis Shop in Traverse Town but obtaining the necessary materials to make them can be quite challenging. 1 Power Crystal, 1 Shiny Crystal, 2 Bright Crystals, and 4 Orichalcums are required to do so, so it’s better to hold onto whatever Elixirs are found throughout the playthrough until later.
Offensive magic isn’t overly useful in the original Kingdom Hearts, so discarding the Dream Rod is a smart choice. However, doing so will limit the amount of MP bars Sora can obtain. This means Sora won’t always get the chance to use Cure to heal himself. Storing Elixirs will render this restriction somewhat less frightening.
4/10 Choose The Correct Path
During the tutorial segment, Sora will get the opportunity to converse with Tidus, Wakka, and Selphie on Destiny Island. The first interaction with the iconic Final Fantasy characters sees them posing a series of questions to the yet-to-be Keyblade wielder, but it’s up to the player to decide how Sora answers.
The way Sora levels will change depending on the answers he chooses, so it’s vital the player carefully considers each option. Choosing the top answer in each list will allow Sora to level faster until he reaches level 40, the middle option will cause him to level normally, and the third option will result in him leveling slowly until he hits level 40. The first option is ideal for those who wish to experience the main story, but those hoping to complete all the post-game content may prefer the second choice.
3/10 Always Cast Aero
Sometimes when casting Aero, Sora has the habit of screaming “Defense!” This enthusiastic shout pretty much cements why Aero is an important tool to have throughout Proud Mode. Aero adds a layer of defense that will halve all incoming damage for at least 18 seconds. The spell itself will cost two MP to cast but for best results, Sora should always be surrounded by wind.
While Aero alone is incredibly useful, its next levels give it an extra sting. Aerora provides a barrier that will inflict damage to any enemy touched by the wind circle. Aeroga takes it further by upping the power of the damage and adding a deflect ability. Considering how strong both of these upgrades are, they will require more effort to obtain. Aerora is found in Neverland by using the Yellow Trinity in the Ship’s Cabin. To get to the final stage of the spell, players must collect all 99 missing Dalmatians for Aeroga. The spell is given to Sora by Pongo and Perdita in Traverse Town upon returning with all puppies found.
2/10 Don’t Forget To Get Curaga Before The Final Fights
Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix continues the Final Fantasy tradition of spell levels with the majority of upgraded magic coming with the additional suffixes of “-ra” and “-ga.” As mentioned under the explanation of Aero’s spell benefits, sometimes these spells are not simply granted to the player and must be earned through additional actions. Since Proud Mode will be dishing out some very heavy hits, the most important spell will be Cure as well as Cura and Curaga.
While Cure and Cura are given to the player, Curaga can easily be missed if players are not on the lookout. Curaga can only be obtained near the very end of the game by talking to Aerith three times in the Hollow Bastion Library, right below the save point. Considering how vital Curaga is against Kingdom Hearts’ tough extra bosses, talking to Aerith is a quick detour that is a necessity for the late game.
1/10 Don’t Rely On Donald Or Goofy, But Trust Tinker Bell
It is a well-known joke within the Kingdom Hearts community that Donald is a terrible healer. Starting from the very first Kingdom Hearts, Donald has always been overzealous in healing at the worst of times. So since Donald is a pretty bad healer and Goofy can’t be trusted with items, it is always best to focus on Sora alone. Don’t worry about other party members as most of the time they will be knocked out.
On a special note for summons, Tinker Bell is one that will be a literal lifesaver late game. Unlike other summons, Tinker Bell doesn’t require the removal of Donald or Goofy, but they must both be alive in order to summon her. She drops loads of health orbs and will resurrect Sora should he be taken out. It is only upon Sora’s resurrection that she is removed from battle, or if players opt to dismiss her.
These are just some major tips to make Proud Mode a bit easier for new Kingdom Hearts players. While there are other little tricks to combat, Kingdom Hearts allows for a lot of experimentation when it comes to equipment and abilities. Mixing up specific finishers and combos is a great way to get into the game, and this is especially true when trying to beat the “Emblem Heartless” and extra bosses.
Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 Remixis available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.