Conquering Kingdom Hearts For The Kids!

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Posted by danielkempster (2779 posts) -

Hey there folks. Daniel here, breaking my blogging silence to make a special announcement.

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As some of you will know, the Giant Bomb Community Endurance Run is almost upon us once again. Now in its ninth year, the GBCER sees members of the Giant Bomb community taking on incredible video game challenges and livestreaming them in a bid to raise money for charity. Once again this year, the charity in question is Pencils of Promise, an organisation dedicated to providing kids in developing countries with access to education. This year we’re hoping to raise $10,000 for the cause – enough to build a school classroom. Livestreams will be running from Friday 12th to Sunday 14th April, and can be viewed collectively at the Giant Bomb community livestreaming hub, ExplosiveRuns.

This year will be my third taking part in the GBCER, following the Pokémon Gold Randomizer Nuzlocke in 2017 and last year’s inFamous 2 ‘Karma by Committee’ playthrough. This year I’ll be turning my attention to one of the most impactful games of my adolescence – Kingdom Hearts. I’ve played through Sora’s original adventure many times over the years, completing my most recent playthrough only a couple of months ago. Across those countless playthroughs I’ve hit the level cap, completed all the side quests, synthesised every special item and taken down every optional super-boss. However, there’s one challenge that I’ve never attempted before – a Zero EXP run.

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For anyone not in the know, the Final Mix version of Kingdom Hearts from the HD I.5 ReMIX collections on PS3 and PS4 includes an optional ability called Zero EXP. Only available in Proud Mode, the game’s highest difficulty, it’s available from the start of the game and while it’s equipped, Sora and his party won’t earn any experience at all. That means no levelling up, which has a huge impact on Sora’s growth throughout the game, locking him out of learning many abilities and limiting stat boosts only to those given by equipment and items.

I’m not going to lie – this is going to be fucking hard. Although I’ve gained a fair amount of knowledge of Kingdom Hearts’ combat system over the years, I still have a tendency to favour brute-forcing my way through difficult challenges with grinding and over-levelling. That won’t be an option here – every combat encounter will become a tense, gruelling affair, and some of the game’s toughest bosses are going to force me to strategise in ways I never have before. Given that this is also a marathon playthrough, I’m also going to be combating the physical and mental effects of fatigue as the stream progresses. Basically, as the game gets harder, I’m going to get more tired, making me exponentially more likely to screw up the further I get.

My goal for this Zero EXP run is to play until either I defeat the final boss, or twenty-four hours have passed, whichever comes first. To that end, I won’t actively be engaging in any side quests or optional content (unless my donation incentives dictate otherwise – see below for more details). I’ll be commencing the playthrough at 3:00pm BST (that’s 10:00am EDT) on Saturday 13th April, and will be livestreaming the whole thing via YouTube.

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If you’re interested in donating, you can do so by following this link to my Pencils of Promise fundraising page. Last year I was able to raise $225 for Pencils of Promise – enough to send three kids to school for a whole year. This year I’ll be aiming for a similar amount with a goal of $200, funding for 2% of the classroom we’re collectively hoping to pay for. To encourage folks to donate, I’ll be offering a number of donation incentives linked to the playthrough:

  • The donor with the highest unique donation prior to the start of the stream will earn the right to name the raft/Gummi Ship near the start of the game. Simply leave your chosen name within a comment alongside your donation on the Pencils of Promise page – maximum ten characters!
  • For each individual donation of $25 or more, I will perform an acoustic rendition of Kingdom Hearts’ iconic theme, Simple and Clean, live on the stream. Be warned that I am a bad guitarist and a terrible singer, so donate at your own risk!
  • In terms of the overall donation total, I’ll be attempting optional combat challenges when we hit certain milestones. These will begin from the $100 mark, with new challenges being introduced for every additional $25 raised. Please note that so as not to interfere too much with the main goal of finishing the game within twenty-four hours, I’m promising only to attempt these challenges, spending no more than an hour on each one, with no guarantee of completing them.
    • $100Phil Cup at Olympus Coliseum
    • $125Pegasus Cup at Olympus Coliseum
    • $150Hercules Cup at Olympus Coliseum
    • $175Kurt Zisa at Agrabah
    • $200Phantom at Neverland
    • $225 (STRETCH GOAL)Sephiroth at Olympus Coliseum
    • $250 (STRETCH GOAL)Mysterious Figure at Hollow Bastion

I think that covers everything. Thanks very much for taking the time to read this blog. I hope you’ll consider giving generously in support of the cause. And hey, if Kingdom Hearts isn’t your thing, then please check out the official Giant Bomb Community Endurance Run IX forum thread – someone there is bound to be doing something that you can get behind. Now, if you’ll excuse me, the GBCER is only four weeks away, I have a lot of preparation to do. Take care folks, and I’ll see you around.



Currently playing - ICO (PS3)

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#1 Posted by Efesell (4568 posts) -

KH1 is the game of the series that I frankly do not understand how Zero XP would be possible so absolute best of luck.

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#2 Posted by danielkempster (2779 posts) -

@efesell: Thanks duder, I sense I'm going to need it. I've been doing some research and apparently there's a mechanic called "damage correction" which adjusts the power of combo finishers to better balance the combat for Zero EXP. It resets with physical attacks but not magic or summons, so it seems like the most viable strategies involve landing combo finishers to maximise the damage correction, then spamming the shit out of offensive magic and summons like Genie and Mushu to do lots of damage in a very short space of time. Sounds simple in theory but I'm sure the execution is going to be a whole other matter. I'm planning to get some practice in before the real thing, so hopefully I can get a handle on how that stuff works, as well as learning a bit more about revenge values for the really tough bosses (assuming they're a thing in KH1, because I know they are in KH2). Zero EXP also has a Second Chance-style passive effect where Sora keeps 1HP if he's hit by an attack that would otherwise KO him, so I expect that to be my saving grace in many situations.

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#3 Posted by sparky_buzzsaw (8934 posts) -

Crazy! Good luck, Dan.

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#4 Posted by danielkempster (2779 posts) -

A quick update on this! First of all, thanks to everyone who has donated thus far. We're a little less than twenty-four hours away from the start of the stream and I'm already over halfway towards my target. You guys are awesome.

I'm posting this update to say that the scheduling for the stream will be changing slightly. Due to not sleeping well for the last couple of nights, I'm scheduling a break in the stream to let me get some much-needed shut-eye.

I'll still be starting my stream at 15:00 BST on Saturday and will play for nine hours uninterrupted, but I'll be taking a six-hour break from 00:00 to 06:00 BST on Sunday. I'll then resume for a second uninterrupted fifteen-hour stream from 06:00 to 21:00 BST on Sunday. This means I'll still be streaming for a total of twenty-four hours over the weekend, but in a way that is less likely to compromise my health.

To those of you who've already donated, I hope this change doesn't leave you feeling cheated in any way. My personal feeling on the matter is that it's better for me to schedule this break and still be able to deliver the stream, than to attempt to follow the original plan and end up crashing out completely. Since the Zero EXP aspect of this playthrough is the main draw, I feel that the challenge aspect of the stream is a higher priority than the endurance aspect anyway.

I hope you can see why I've decided to make these changes and that you agree with the reasons behind them. Please do drop in on the livestream if you can - it would be great to have some people to chat to while I "keyblade-heart-darkness" my way through this crazy challenge.

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