Here we go! Back to Hollow Bastion. I think this really is the end of the game, so I hope I’ll be able to go back afterwards to fight those optional bosses. I’ll leave a savestate at the start just in case.

Beast is here. Everyone’s wondering why the princesses remained in the castle after getting their hearts back. First things first though: scour the level for any Trinity marks I couldn’t get before. Turns out the Waterway area doesn’t actually have any. There is a chest I didn’t figure out to reach, containing a gummi I’m maxed out on. Ugh.

I go into the library to get the chest from that secret room I mistakenly didn’t use properly. Unexpectedly, this triggers a Beast cutscene! Because… Belle is there!

The Beast meeting Belle, who's wearing a yellow dress, in a library.

Prediction: she’s evil now and she’ll stab Beast when he goes to hug her.

Totally wrong. Belle is good. She says the Princesses have been holding back the darkness, and we need to hurry to seal the Keyhole. And then Belle gives me a new keyblade chain! This one doesn’t boost my mana bar and magic, but it does slightly more damage.

The health/mana bar from the corner of the screen, showing Sora's grinning face and a very long green line representing health.

Actually here’s a point to talk about the weird mana system. There are two bars: one blue, one orange. Every time you hit an enemy, pick up a mana drop, or (if you have a certain ability) get hit, the orange bar goes up. When the orange bar gets a full block ahead of the blue bar, the orange bar empties and you get a block on the blue bar. Simple enough.

What’s weird is it seems like it’s anyone’s guess which bar will be depleted when you cast a spell, though roughly seeming to favour whichever is higher. What I think is actually happening is that it always depletes from the blue bar, and if the orange bar is then in a position to refill the blue bar, it empties the orange bar insantly to refill a block of blue, making it seem like it came out the orange bar instead. Additionally, hitting someone with a spell recharges your orange bar slightly, so it’s not fully depleted? That’s my current hypothesis.

Anyway, because the amount of orange bar you need to recharge a point of mana increases linearly with the amount of mana you have, points of mana face diminishing returns, since you’ll usually be somewhere lower in the mana bar anyway. Hence: I’m going to switch keyblades now.

*glados voice* …you don’t even care, do you?

The secret room in the library gives a… “Ultima-G”. I don’t know what that gummi does, but I bet it’s kind of awesome with that name. Later on, I can redirect the lift to make the secret room go somewhere else, though getting back to the library afterwards is a pain (hence why I didn’t bother last time).

I search out various other items and wriggle through the maze. I won’t list everything. I will say that an area full of flying enemies that resets your progress if you fall of the edge by, say, automatically jumping forward during a combo… is a bad design choice.

Anyway I jump on some round things.

Donald, Goofy and Sora standing on a round hovering platform running a long a glowing line in the sky.

After extensive climbing, I make it up to the top, flip a switch, and go back down again to access the other secret library room.

A wide shot of the castle, with the protagonists riding a platform tiny compared to the huge machinery. A large block with the Heartless logo is partially opened.

The result: a Thundaga-G. I believe that’s a high level gummi ship weapon not available in the shop. It’s nice but the Sevastopol can already destroy anything that moves, so it’s kind of excessive at this point. Still, won’t say no to free guns!

Now, finally, back to the castle chapel to confront Ansem. But also: figure up what’s up with the door behind those two big blocks in the picture there. Do you have to do a fancy glide to get in there? I’m going to try!

You can! The answer turns out to be: a chest with a Gummi part I’m already maxed on. And no way back up. Aw. One final climb then. Fortunately jumping doesn’t set you back far.

The Castle Chapel turns out to be full of princesses. They don’t seem much the worse for wear, which is good, since there was the alarming possibility Ansem had killed them the way he intended to kill Kairi. The princesses say Ansem disappeared into darkness, smiling.

Time for the final boss then?