Kingdom Hearts II Essential Tips & Tricks (+ KH 2.5 HD)

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Kingdom Hearts 2 (and KH 2.5) has a wide range of battle mechanics and elements, most of which can be quickly forgotten or overlooked due to the sheer amount of them.

A lot of these can feel overwhelming. Especially when it feels like there’s a new system added with each world you visit.

There’s always something new to explore and discover. So for this ranking we’ll sharing some helpful tips and tricks to ease you into the in-depth KH2 gameplay.

Whether you’re a new player or a returning one, these tips should give you a fresh look into some great things that KH2 offers on your journey.


10. Menu shortcuts are a lifesaver

Menu shortcuts in Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD

The command menu is a staple to the Kingdom Hearts gameplay style; it just isn’t a KH game without it.

Within this tiny box is where all the action happens.

Spells, items, limits, reactions, attacks in general, you name it.

For a beginner player, this can all see super overwhelming and may have you resort to just mashing the attack button through your adventure.

However, there’s a much better solution than scrolling through countless menus, and that’s the shortcut options.

Rather than trying to remember where various commands and items are, you can customize a small list of them that you can pull up at any time.

Pressing the left trigger will bring up this menu, where you can assign spells and even items to various buttons in the menu. This helps immensely for quick healing and rapid spellcasting.


9. Utilize Summons in desperate situations

Genie summon in Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD

Another easy to forget about mechanic is the summon system in KH2.

You obtain a variety of different summons during your quest, just like in Kingdom Hearts 1.

Each summon is uniquely different, and provide lots of fun and interesting uses.

In the heat of battle, you’ll probably find yourself wanting to mash spells and slashes. If you find yourself stuck at a certain boss, then don’t drive yourself crazy doing the same things over and over again.

Some summons aid you in combat, like Genie and Chicken Little, while others can give you great healing and support, like Stitch and Peter Pan.

If Donald isn’t cutting it (or isn’t available for those last-minute healings, per usual) then don’t be afraid to get some extra help from your other friends.

After all, your friends are your power!


8. Mickey can help from the shadows

Mickey battle save against Xigbar / KH 2.5 HD

This is more of a fun easter egg that even veterans of the series might not know.

In KH 2.5 HD there are 10 boss fights in the game that, when you die, there’s a chance you can continue the fight.

Instead of losing like normal, a new message appears on the game over screen. When you choose “I won’t give up!” Sora is saved by his majesty himself.

The boss fight will pick up right where it left off, but now you’ll be playing as Mickey!

That’s right, King Mickey is a secret playable guardian angel, watching over you as you fight your way through the darkness. Use his speed and agility to fight the boss and get him down to low HP, before quickly retreating when Sora wakes up to finish the job.

Mickey has a set chance to appear during these specific boss fights, and the chances get lower the more he shows up. So don’t rely too heavily on him saving your butt all the time – it’s your battle after all.


7. Don’t forget about optional worlds

Atlantica with Sora and Ariel / KH 2.5 HD Screenshot

Kingdom Hearts 2 is kind of a prototype open world game.

Sure, the worlds themselves can be kind of linear, with direct paths from point A to point B.

When talking about the overall world map, however, things get interesting.

You get to choose which worlds you want go to first, within small groups. Some of which can be skipped completely to get to the next stage.

Unless you’re a speedrunner, I would highly recommend against skipping worlds, and making sure you hit up every destination.

Not only will you miss fun moments and (knowing Kingdom Hearts lore) important story beats, but you also miss some great treasure and items by skipping worlds.

No matter how annoying Atlantica may be, it’s worth it to grit your teeth through and get those precious items. Without doing them, you’ll be locked out of material needed for the Ultima Weapon, if I didn’t already sell you before.


6. Give Limits a try

Duck Flare limit menu in KH 2.5 HD

Donald and Goofy are great teammates, and even greater friends.

But sometimes it’s nice to hang out with some other Disney characters for a change.

Each Disney world you visit comes with its own friendly party member, there to lend a helping hand. Alongside these members come powerful duo moves called Limits.

These over-the-top flashy moves are a spectacle to the eye.

Sora teams up with one of your members and performs a devastating move, complete with fun interactions and animations.

Fair warning: it will drain all of Sora’s MP, so make sure to time these attacks to your advantage.

Donald and Goofy also come with their own limit attacks. But be sure to give every member’s attack a chance. You’ll be missing out if you don’t!


5. Abilities are your biggest upgrades

Abilities menu screenshot in KH 2.5 HD

Sora’s growth isn’t just in what keyblade he uses or which accessories you unlock.

No, a true sign of Sora’s growing power is his abilities.

You know what they say in the anime protagonist club: the flashier your moves, the stronger you are. That’s no different with Sora.

As you unlock more and more abilities through gameplay and leveling up, you’ll want to be sure to read through what each one does – and try your best to coordinate ones that seem to work together.

Some can help tons with multiple upgrades, like combos lasting longer, Sora being more resilient and surviving longer, or just giving small QoL improvements – like more EXP or munny.

You can also try to equip a balance of skills, or focus on a certain build like magic or strength.


4. Drive Forms are always welcome

All drive forms menu in KH 2.5 HD

I know you see that little drive bar taunting you in the right-hand corner.

It wants you to use it, it needs you to use it, and for good reason.

New to Kingdom Hearts 2 is that inclusion of Drive Forms, Sora’s powerful transformations. Each form brings something new to the table.

Some are great combos, others focus on magic, or even offer a nice balance.

As Sora grows, so do these forms.

They gain new powers and abilities as you level up too.

If you’re ever in a pinch, or really want to finish a boss off, then these are your go-to attacks.

Give each one a try (they all specialize in different things) until you find the one you like the most.

Just be warned about overusing them, as anti-form is creeping around the corner.


3. Don’t let magic collect dust

Casting Thundaga in KH 2.5 HD

To a lot of people, Kingdom Hearts is just a button masher.

You see an enemy, you mash attack, and sometimes dodge to get the job done.

While this tactic can be used throughout a lot of the story/heartless encounters, it can be very difficult and inefficient to use against tougher boss fights.

That’s when you have to learn to use the next best menu: Magic.

Not only are you provided with lots of really good attack spells like fire, thunder, and blizzard, but you also get cure and reflect.

A whole array of artillery and utility is at your fingertips.

These magics can be used to attack from a pretty decent range, and can even be used as finishers! And don’t forget to bind your favorite spells to the shortcut menu for even easier quick access.


2. Master Combos

Midair combo in Port Royal / KH 2.5 HD

The pinnacle to equipping all of those abilities is your increased combos.

They become flasher, faster, longer, and in some cases, overpowered.

Being able to remember which button combos lead to which specific attacks can allow you to line up a range of back-to-back attacks that’ll leave the heartless flying.

You can have both ground and aerial combos, whichever fits the situation more.

In a lot of later game boss fights, especially the optional ones, they’ll begin to use more and more combos to their attacks as well.

So fight fire with fire and learn to how to master each equipped combo ability.

Combos will let you do so much more damage than just a simple hack and slash would. So using them with a combination of magic will make you unstoppable.


1. Reflect, Dodge, Guard, Repeat

Reflect magic during Sephiroth fight / KH 2.5 HD

The final biggest tip we can give you is a simple one:

Remember to Guard, Reflect, and dodge.

Find yourself dying over and over because you rush in headfirst swinging your keyblade around like a madman?

Well, when’s the last time you used the reflect spell?

It is easily the most useful spell in the game.

It costs very little MP, blocks a majority of enemy and boss attacks, and even reflects said attacks right back at ‘em!

Guard will also be your lifesaver in most situations where reflect seems like too much. Just a well-timed press of the button will quickly block the incoming attack.

If you equip various other guard-related abilities, it’ll make this even better with counterattacks.

Any pro Kingdom Hearts player knows guarding and reflecting is the way to victory.

Using them properly will actually give you a chance at beating the optional bosses, rather than you ending up a bloody mess at the game over screen.

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