Conquering Kingdom Hearts For The Kids!

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)