Boss Fight Books: Kingdom Hearts II

Alexa Ray Corriea, the author of the 16th Boss Fight Books entry, has long worked in this industry, most notably as an editor at Gamespot, and currently at FANDOM. This entry in the series is focused on Kingdom Hearts II, part of one of the most unlikely and confusing crossover story in gaming. As the author so points out, it’s rather hard to have imagined that a fusion of Disney and Square-Enix could actually result in anything good. And yet, they pulled it off expertly, both in terms of gameplay and narrative.

As a reminder of how many of the books work: they are almost always a mix of the author’s experience of the game, input from the creators or members of the developing team and often a slow recap of the narrative or game progression. Some readers have complained about this last element, mostly because they went in without knowledge of it being part of how Boss Fight Books are structured.

I never actually got to play Kingdom Hearts, the first, simply due to the fact that I did not have a PlayStation 2 console. I eventually did get one extremely late in its life cycle, secondhand. What spurred me to jump again on the console-owning bandwagon was another RPG: Persona 4 was announced and I wanted to be ready!

This is a little story for another time…..

Kingdom Hearts II wasn’t my first game in the series though. I played a lot on handhelds, and one of my favorite GBA entries was Chain of Memories. It did well to recap things for me, as well as give some preparation for the second opus. A friend of mine purchased KH2 as soon as it came out, didn’t like it as much as I hyped for it and let me play it first!!

Frankly, I did not care about the beginning being slow at all. All I could think of: this is freaking Kingdom Hearts II!!!!!!! A lot of people could have written this book and probably give off a similar feel to how the author experienced the journey. Personally, I could not have gone as in-depth as she did in her analysis of how gender is characterized. I won’t spoil by saying much, but Alexa Ray Corriea does a great job of noticing such things. I do not remember seeing it that way, maybe because I’m a guy?

Going through the sections of the book retracing Sora and Roxas’ journey, I noticed just how much I forgot. There are some worlds that I remember vividly, and the first few hours with Roxas are clear in my mind. But when she notices some parts, I was floored to find a huge abyss in my mind!

KH2, the book, goes through the motions of a good Boss Fight Book. Nevertheless, having some direct input from members of the development team or even the publisher helps us readers delve with more accuracy into their motivations and goals during the genesis of the game. PAst books have analyzed existing interviews and facts to speculate on such points. It was quite like interpreting the words of long-dead poets, how sure can one truly be that we think they meant is what they truly mean? I believe creator access sufficiently reduces doubt in this case.

Overall, this was an awesome book by a good author who reminded just how much I truly enjoyed this unlikely mashup of universes and genres. I highly recommend it and the game too! Any JRPG fan who hasn’t played it yet, if they exist, should definitely correct this grave misstep. You guys are missing out…

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