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  -Part 1 :: [12.06.02]
  -Part 2 :: [12.29.02]
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  -Part 6 :: [10.18.03]
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  -Part 9 :: [08.08.04]
  -Part 10 :: [02.17.05]
  -Part 11 :: [06.06.05]
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  -Part 13 :: [08.15.06]
  -Part 14 :: [04.01.13]
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  -Part 16 :: [04.27.14]


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"Yuna is confused. 'It's funny...Ever since I was young, I never questioned it. But now that you ask me if it is that bad or not...I don't know.' So she never, not once, questioned the whole idea. Oh, please. She's really that robotic? Well, I guess I can believe that. It's really sad when TIGHTASS brings up topics that you've never thought of by yourself."
     -Jeanne, Final Fantasy X Part 7




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Kingdom Hearts : Part 9
By Kelly
Posted 08.08.04
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3
As you'll recall from our last thrilling adventure, Monstro the Extraneous World Whale swallowed Junior et al, leading them to pulsing purple innards and a thrilling battle for Pinocchio's heart. With Pinocchio and Geppedo now safely ensconced back in Traverse Town so Geppedo can fulfill his lifelong dream of designing crappy blueprints for an even crappier gummi block mini-game that I have no intention of ever undertaking for more than the two minutes I spent on it in my first play-through, we are free to leave and travel to our next exciting world. And when I say "exciting" I mean that in the "Gosh, stabbing your eyes out with acid-drenched burning forks sure is exciting, isn't it?" kind of way.

As is my wont, we're just going to gloss over the gummi ship travel that brings me to face my worst nightmare wonderful new world of fun, Atlantica. As we come out of Gummi Space, we approach something that looks like a Christmas snow globe mated with a mollusk shell in some horrible example of crappy souvenirs gone bad. Seriously. A $5.99 price tag and the words "Daytona Beach" written on the thing in gold leaf brush script is all it would need to be snapped up by tasteless vacationers everywhere.

After a second or so of watching Atlantica rotate on its watery axis @#%$!!! tells everyone to prepare for a landing, followed by much whining from Junior about the whole "dying horribly underwater" thing. Not to worry, says @#%$!!!, he'll use his wonderful magic skills to transform everyone into some kind of sea creature so they don't drown undurdasee. It's at this point that I'm tempted to take @#%$!!!'s magic wand away from him and bludgeon him with it. Oh, no, don't let a rational objection to going underwater like breathing slow you down, simply turn into the cute cartoon sea creature of your choice and watch the horror fun begin!

Promise?
 

The scene cuts to images of a tranquil undersea world. A large pink clamshell sits invitingly open while a school of brilliantly colored fish swims by. You half expect to hear Jacques Cousteau solemnly intoning, "Za seee, itz life so fragile, itz beauty so perfect" and see the National Geographic logo in the bottom of the screen to complete the scene as high school biology students everywhere snore into their backpack pillows and dribble on their Algebra homework for next class. Instead we get three sprays of bubbles and magical sound effects as Junior, Goofy and @#%$!!! burst into the watery depths as a merman, an octo-duck and a doggie-turtle respectively. Junior looks way too happy about the shirtless-ness and tail thing if you ask me.

 
AAHHHHHH!!!!

If you could turn Junior into something, what would it be?
A decent RPG lead, like Cloud! Yeah! Cloud ROXX0RZ!!!
OMG MA BOYFRIEND!!!
You can't change a wanker into something else, silly. A wanker is a wanker is a wanker.
Bait chunks.

 

And thank goodness we don't have to stare at Junior's underwater O-face for too long before our attention is diverted by the arrival of Ariel, Flounder and a whiny Sebastian. Sebastian runs straight into @#%$!!!'s upside-down head, enough to send any sensible, right-thinking crab paddling like mad for the safety of the nearest trap. Ariel chides Sebastian, exclaiming, "They don't look like one of them", but Flounder remains unconvinced, the timid little darling. Junior does himself no favors by chuckling like someone who wouldn't know a chuckle if it walked up to him with a blazing purple neon sign saying "Hello, my name is Chuckle" and asking Ariel, "What do you mean?" She ignores him and continues on with her happy little monologue in her happy little air-head way. She asks Junior where he and his two anthropomorphically confused pals are from, Junior hedges with a lame "We're from far away." God. Next I expect he'll tell her the reason he can't swim worth a damn is because Sin's toxin ate holes in his brain or something.

Fortunately for Junior, Ariel volunteers Sebastian to teach him and his compadres to swim in Atlantica. Sebastian objects, but he goes along with the program, and I learn that target lock is your bestest friend in the whole wide world if you want to get through Atlantica with some semblance of sanity and a working controller intact. And although it's Sebastian who takes the credit for the swimming lesson, it's actually Flounder who does the real grunt work. Sebastian sends poor little Flounder out to swim to different water depths so Junior can follow him. Strangely enough, Junior also has the Keyblade available for this tutorial, something I find out on accident. Great. Not only is the poor fish half convinced they're dealing with some undercover Heartless operatives (and who wouldn't be, given Junior's inept ass-covering?), but now one of them has a weapon!

The tutorial finishes up with Sebastian telling Junior that now he must work on his self-defense. Lucky for them the Atlantica Heartless choose this opportune time to make their entrance, huh? Panic ensues in our little band of Atlantica-ites. Ariel heads for the underwater hills while Flounder and Sebastian take cover under in a handy clamshell and the Heartless swim in, as menacing as things that look like a cross between a jellyfish and a used Kleenex can look, that is to say, not much. Junior puts his new-found swimming skills to good use and soon has the place free of all the big scary tissue monsters so Ariel and the others can come out of hiding. Flounder and Sebastian need a little help in this regard so Junior whaps the clamshell a few times with his Keyblade so it will open and let them out. Doing so earns me my first save point in the world and I breathe a sign of relief. The last thing I want is to have to do this over again.

Immediately after my save, a long, somewhat confusing conversation takes place between Sebastian, Ariel and Flounder that serves to give us our "quest" in the world. The Heartless chased them to this area, Flounder exposits, and Sebastian thinks that Heartless may be heading to the Palace to do who knows what to the mer-folks there. They should be getting back to help them! Ariel asks Junior if he and the others would come back with her to help out, thus setting the quest in motion. For some reason this makes me think of the old legend about vampires, (or "vampyres" if you're Goth and think the deliberate misspelling makes you somehow cooler than those of us who paid attention in English class), and how supposedly a vampire cannot enter your home until you invite them in. If the choice comes down to a cursed half-life of seeking out the warm blood of the living in a thirst of diabolic hunger or dealing with Junior's impersonation of Charlie the Tuna, make mine a pint of O-negative, hold the arterial plaque. In any case, Junior cannot agree to or decline the offer, Ariel simply tells him to follow the trident markers to the Palace and she takes her place as one of our party members.

To add to the mix of pain and suffering, Atlantica's world music comprises of one calypso-ish take on an already calypso enough song, "Under the Sea" from The Little Mermaid. Now, before we go any further, there are some things you need to know about your fearless recapper and this particular movie. When The Little Mermaid was first released, I was a senior in high school. My older sister had moved back in with us for a while and she watched that fucking movie over and over and over again until I wanted to gouge my brain out with a teaspoon. She and my mother also thought it the utter height of cute to remind me that the hero's name in the movie was Eric, which just so happened to be the name of my boyfriend. Isn't that romantic?!11!! Why, if I were only skinny, naturally red-headed and possessed of a much more adult voice than I had at 16, I could be his Ariel! It's tough to be world-weary young lovers when your older sister sits around in her pajamas crooning "Kiss De Girl" off-key any time you enter the room, and it's no wonder Eric and I broke up after graduation. Eric, if you're reading this, I'm sorry you had to deal with my sister's rendition of Sebastian singing. I'm also somewhat sorry for what I said about your penis to my husband. Trust me, he won't tell a soul.

Anyhow, moving on, which as it happens is exactly what Junior and the others are doing, too, and which I will now condense into one paragraph rather than prattle on about all the filler fighting it takes me to get around. Suffice it to say that even with the target lock thingy, I still suck at the swimming controls and ended up filling up a large section of tape just swimming around aimlessly fighting stuff and collecting my prizes, some of which are contained in specially marked clamshells, this world's answer to treasure chests. Following the handy-dandy tridents that are every-fucking-where, on the walls, on the sea bed, on the back of fish that swim by, (yes, I'm joking about that last one, rabid game purists, you can stop writing that ever-so-helpful and not at all obnoxious "correction" email right now), and fighting the good fight against Kleenex-fish and other undersea Heartless, Junior, Goofy and @#%$!!! traverse the wonders of Atlantica's scenery, seeing such sights as the Undersea Valley, the Calm Depths, the Undersea Valley again, Calm Depths again, the Undersea Cave full of Kleenex-fish, the Undersea Gorge full of those sperm/ghost Heartless things from Monstro, and finally, Triton's Palace which has something that I'll call Aquaman Heartless, since that's what they look like to me. That's fine. I never liked Aquaman, anyway. I wanted to marry Peter Parker when I was a kid. Eat Keyblade, Orin Bait-breath!

 
See what I mean about the crappy souvenir thing?

As a side note here, my ever-helpful Brady Guide tells me that I can use thunder magic in Atlantica to good effect. Now, if you were impatient, perhaps wanting to get right into the action and super happy fun times that is this underwater kingdom, you might be tempted to skip past all the Coliseum fights, glide past Monstro and come straight here from Agrabah. If you do that, no thunder magic for you until you've finished the world, and by that time it's really too late. And you'll be stuck here to level fight, for hours and hours and hours on end, all because you were too impatient to get this fucking world over with and go on to Halloween Town where you don't have to hear "Under the Sea" ever, ever, EVER again and life is good and full of happiness and candy. Oh, yes, Little Miss Gamer, you thought you were so clever to skip all those sections of the game, weren't you? Hmm? What? Oh, sorry. I got a little bit off track there. Never mind, nothing to see here.

For you completists out there, there are some treasure shells that won't open unless you hit them with a specific magic, like fire, ice, or yes, thunder. I would imagine that there are untold goodies awaiting you in those shells, but I made it through the game the first time out without opening all of them, and that's good enough for me. For all I know, one of the shells I don't open may in fact include puppies to be returned to Perdita and Pongo and by not opening that shell I miss my chance to see the SUPA SPESHUL "Deep Dive" video at the end of the game that I can then use for bragging rights ad nauseum on gaming forums. I, like so many of the gaming world, simply go somewhere and download the video for a fraction of the time and effort I may have otherwise spent proving my uber-1337ness at Kingdom Hearts. Of course, there are no puppies to save in Atlantica, which should come as a relief to all of you. I, on the other hand, don't care. Fuck the puppies.

I don't know about you, but Donald's 'come hither' look scares the HELL out of me.
 

Ariel re-joins the party as Junior, Goofy and @#%$!!! approach Triton's Throne. Considering that three Aquaman Heartless closely pursue our little party, you'd think that the game designers could give Ariel another expression besides the look of happy brain-death she's worn for the bulk of our time in her world, but no. Our kids swim like their asses are on fire, leaving King Triton to sort things out and blast the Heartless with his powerful Trident of Doom -- a prongy, golden representation of the power of the sea, or of Kingy's penis. I'm not sure which, really. Let's make it both!

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