For this month’s spotlight, we spoke to RoseCurel, who surprised the crowd at AGDQ2022 when she took on the final boss of Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix while blindfolded.
Curel was introduced to speedrunning in 2014 when she came across a Kotaku article about a run of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time at AGDQ 2013.
From there, Curel became interested in speedrunning and after watching some runs of Majora’s Mask by MajinPhil, she decided to give it a shot.
Always looking for variety, Curel ran Ocarina of Time on the side and eventually found her way to speedrunning Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix (KH2:FM).
KH2:FM is Curel’s favorite game in the series. “My favorite, I think, is the aspect of nostalgia and the way the combat works,” she said. “It's not too easy, but it isn't super difficult.”
Then she discovered KH2:FM Randomizer and quickly got hooked.
“Rando has taken over my life,” she said. “You can play the game so many times over and it doesn't get boring…you don't have everything you're used to and you have to make up stuff on the fly for what's going to work. It's a lot of fun. It keeps my brain active.”
So what makes KH2:FM randomizer different from the vanilla game?
Using a mod created by community member Sonicshadowsilver2, the Garden of Assemblage is repurposed into a hub world with direct access to each of the game’s worlds. All items, level up abilities, and boss bonuses are shuffled around.
For the popular All Blue Numbers (ABN), runners are tasked with collecting 37 “checks” which include spells, forms, summons, and a few abilities. Basically, anything the community decided was important.
Usually the clock stops after collecting the final check. For the AGDQ run we’ll talk about later, the runners had the additional task of defeating the game’s final boss, aka Final Xemnas, after collecting all of those checks.
Although Curel has been running KH2: FM randomizer for a few years now, recent experience has improved her skill and she enjoys sharing advice with new and potential runners.
“I've learned so much over the last two months grinding for GDQ that I feel like I have a better understanding of things now,” she said.
Learning the randomized speedrun can be intimidating, but according to Curel it has its advantages. “Vanilla can be a lot more difficult than randomizer because obviously for early bosses, you don't have Reflect. You don't have Finishing Plus (unless you start in critical mode). You don't have a lot of things that you might get in randomizer which makes fights five minutes faster,” she said.
And most of the learning process is about knowing the tools at your disposal. “Play the game vanilla first.” she said. “Understand what your abilities do.”
Curel encouraged anyone considering KH2:FM randomizer runs to go for it. “What's the worst that can happen? You're just gonna be stuck on a boss for an hour or something but at least you'll understand how that fight works after that hour,” she said.
Taking on ‘Final Xemnas’ Blindfolded
At AGDQ, Curel competed in a KH2:FM randomizer co-operative race alongside fellow runners Violin (her teammate), as well as Spikevegeta and Jhobz(her competitors).
In order to facilitate the co-operative racing elements, neither team could hear the other, nor could they hear the commentators.
With all four runners on the same seed, teammates split up their runs to gather more information about the locations of helpful unlockables as well as the checks described earlier.
Before her impressive battle with Final Xemnas, Curel pulled off another risky strategy during a battle with Data Axel in which she spent nearly the entire fight with a single hit point, not stopping to heal and instead pushing through with a rigorous strategy for the win.
Spikevegeta, Jhobz, and Violin completed the race ahead of Curel, but she finished up a strong run with a big surprise: taking on Final Xemnas blindfolded.
Her fellow runners, as well as the host(Nukkular_Reaction, aka Nukes) and commentators (ZakTheRobot and AliosGaming) knew about the plan in advance, but when Curel removed her glasses in the early stages of the final boss, Alios, Nukes, and Zak feigned confusion.
Then as the game transitioned into Xemnas’s final form, Curel put on her blindfold.
The chat, Alios, Nukes, and Zak were losing their collective minds with excitement, but Curel couldn’t hear any of it. And as Violin gave her silence to focus, Curel dispatched Final Xemnas in a flurry of skilled inputs.
Check out the video here.
“I really wanted to showcase that it can be done,” she said.
Taking on Final Xemnas blindfolded started on a whim during a regular stream back in September 2021. She grabbed her husband’s sleeping mask and to her surprise was able to pull it off.
Since then she’s repeated the trick but the decision to do it at AGDQ came just a week before the event. After consulting her Twitch chat, as well as Violin, she decided to go for it.
Curel will be performing a solo run of KH2:FM randomizer at Frost Fatales later this month. She wouldn’t say if she’ll be taking on Final Xemnas blindfolded again, so the only way to find out is by checking out the event. The schedule is available here.
You can find Curel here.