The Chop Shop: How Mickey Mouse Prevented Rage Quits In Kingdom Hearts 2

Just about everyone has at some point come across a boss in a video game that has made them want to scream. If you grew up playing Kingdom Hearts, you may know that despite being geared towards children, some of the fights seemed to miss that memo. Dragging along Donald and Goofy, two AI companions that at the time seemed to be a bit lacking in the “Intelligence” part of the term, often felt like a herculean effort. But that effort is what ultimately allowed Kingdom Hearts 2 to remind us that anything is possible as long as you don’t lose heart.

Perhaps sensing that some of the boss battles in the game might be challenging for players on the younger end of the target demographic (and, let’s face it, many of us on the older end of it as well…), the developers decided to implement a rescue mechanic for ten of the hardest boss fights in the game. After the first time Sora dies in one of these battles, the player is prompted with a different game over screen than usual. Rather than having menu options labelled “Continue” or “Load Game”, you’re given a choice between “It’s all over…” or “I won’t give up!”

Choosing the latter options signals to Mickey that it’s time to swoop in and buy some time, rewarding your tenacity with powerful spells, combos, and regular attacks. He’s fun to play, and serves as an extra reason to not throw in the towel the first time you realize this fight could take a few tries. That said, you can only play as Mickey for a short time – and are actually unable to completely defeat the boss with him – before Sora has to tap back in. Fully charging Mickey’s Drive Gauge will allow him to use Healing Light, restoring Sora’s health and magic reserves before leaving the battlefield.

The rescue is only guaranteed to trigger on the first death, but has a chance to continue popping up even on subsequent defeats. As long as you keep trying, there’s a chance you’ll get some help. And it’s important that it’s just help: although you can dish out some decent damage playing as the King, the game is quick to remind you it’s still Sora’s fight. Mickey is here to rescue, heal, and get back to business – easing your burden, but not stripping you of the chance to score that last hit on the boss yourself.

Kingdom Hearts 2 gave us the opportunity to get back up after we were knocked down, but always ensured that the eventual, hard-earned victory was ours in the end. Pulling an unresponsive Mickey Mouse around might have been infuriating at times, but ultimately it was always worth it, because when the going got tough the King helped you out — but never so much that it felt as if he did all of the work for you.

In the end, all he did was give us another chance, and ensure that we never lost heart.

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  • Kingdom Hearts II
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