LTTP: Kingdom Hearts Series - Tips for a First Time Player?

Oct 25, 2017
1,034
I completely missed the boat on a lot of older PlayStation games growing up, so I really want to play catch-up on the stuff I missed. Hence why I decided to pick up KH 1.5 2.5 HD Remix during Black Friday. I'm on KH1 and I just made it past Deep Jungle.

So far, well... I have mixed feelings about this game (KH1). On one hand I love the idea behind it. It's a peculiar mash-up of Disney locales and characters and Square's Japanese game design. I like the story thus far. I downright love the soundtrack. But I'm really not sure I like the exploration and moment-to-moment gameplay. A lot of times the gameplay can just be boiled down to backtracking through areas just to see if you can get a cutscenes to trigger. It's not always obvious where to go in order to do this either. There have been at least a couple times where I had to look up a walkthrough, because tediously walking around figuring out where the next story segment is got to be a little much.

I like the spirit of the game and what it's trying to go for, but I also don't think it's aged all that well. So a couple questions:

1) Does it get better in later games? I keep hearing good things about KH2. Not sure if any of these issues are addressed there.

2) Any tips for someone who's brand new to the series? I'll take whatever advice I can get.

I'll update this post as I work my way through to give more impressions, but it does take me a while to carve out time for games these days. Just know there could be some time before I get to finish each game.
 

Ishiro

Avenger
Oct 27, 2017
1,933
Lebanon
Copy pasting from older thread:
Been where you're at a few months ago OP. I'm watching Back Cover as we speak. After that, I'll be fully ready for KH3.

Here's what I did:

- KH1: Played it
It's a must play in my opinion. Platforming is abysmal but the only thing that really aged is the wonky camera.

- Re:Chain of Memories: Watched the cutscenes
Combat didn't click with me and the worlds were just more of the same after KH1. Skip the Disney worlds cutscenes if you just want to watch the important parts.

- 358/2: Watched it
Enjoyable. I suggest not skipping it.

- KH2: Played it
Hands down, the best in the series. Even if the plot is confusing, combat system hasn't aged a day and boss battles are really fun. A must play.

- BBS: Played one storyline
Watched the cutscenes of the 2 remaining storylines. It's one of the best entries for sure but I just couldn't bother playing through the same worlds a second and third time. Combat system is just as good as in KH2, with slightly worse controls.

- Re:Coded: Watched the last cutscenes
Just fillers, but I still suggest watching the ending.

- DDD: Watched cutscenes
I wanted to play this one, but at this point I think it was just too much KH for me. Which is a shame because the combat seemed interesting, especially Flowmotion. Cutscenes are crucial tho, don't skip those.

- BBS 0.2: Played it
Very short and gives a taste of what to expect in KH3. Strongly suggest playing it.

Like I said, I literally paused Back Cover to write this. It's... not that good to be honest but hey it's just 1 hour and people say it's kind of important so why not.

Finally, play on beginner if you want to get it over quickly (especially KH1) and just Youtube the true endings when you're done with each entry.

Back to the movie for me. Almost there!
Finished the movie since and yeah it wasn't that thrilling. Pretty short though.
 
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LucasMonclar

Member
Oct 27, 2017
43
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
OP, it definitely gets better in KH2. You don't have the backtracking thing and the gameplay is a lot better. The story gets more confusing, but the game surely is an improvement in the series.

The only thing I really don't enjoy is that you must visit all the worlds two times. Looks to me they artificially increased the time to beat the game. They could have put more worlds, but they probably didn't because of the limitations they had back then.
 

Kinsei

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
12,519
1) Yes it gets better after KH1.

2) Magic is incredibly powerful in the KH games. In KH1 thunder, stop, and gravity are your best friends.

Out of curiosity what result did you get from the quiz at the start of the game? Did it tell you your journey would start in the morning, at midday, or at night?
 

~Fake

User requested permanent ban
Banned
Oct 27, 2017
4,966
Don't even trying to understand the plot. Just have fun. With time your curiosity will make you understand the plot.
 

Mariip

Member
Oct 26, 2017
11,986
Copy pasting from older thread:


Finished to movie since and yeah it wasn't that thrilling. Pretty short though.
I watched back cover but i really enjoyed it because of the master's voice acting and writing overall, he's a great character :p

About other games:
Chain of memories gameplay is different and it gets old fast but it has the best villains in the series and you need to play it to understand kh2, or at least watch the cutscenes, i kinda liked the gba version better, but the remake has way more QoL changes

KH2 is really fun to play, but ironically I prefer 1 over 2 since kh2 seems like it has no exploration at all, just walking and beating up enemies

358/2 days is a great DS game and I advise people playong it rather than watching. It is clunky as hell but I think it recues some of the exploration from 1, but giving it in smaller chuncks, so you don't get lost so often. It is an episodic game.

I didn't play Coded, it seemed like a waste of time pltwise bur gameplay is pretty different and has come cool ideas

BBS: play it, the gameplay greatly changes from character to character as they focus on different skills. Terra uses slow and heavy attacks, ventus is fast and aqua uses magic. The story is cool and the villains are good,SOME of the voice acting also surprised me, but saying more is spoilery, I'm just going to say a voice actor there had a good opportunity for showing some range in character types to act and it got pretty damn good

3D is when the story gets weird. Good gameplay though, if you got to this point in the story you might as well just play it

That's it for the "main" titles :p 0.2 is a cool demo
 
Oct 25, 2017
12,311
I’d skip the first. It hasn’t aged well. The combat isn’t that bad, but it’s stuck inbetween some cramped and unintuitive platforming levels. The combat was really good for its time but the other games are better.

Jump to 2. There’s no platforming, only combat and a few mini games.
If you’re way too confused over what’s going on then go watch KH1 cutscenes on YouTube.
And Chain Of Memories isn’t a side story it’s a real sequel to KH1 because a lot happens in that game, but I’m sure you’ll be fine without playing it since a lot of us didn’t play it before 2. Read the Wikipedia for it.

Once you’re done with 2 and if you liked it then move to BBS. It’s really good too.

I don’t care for DDD and I haven’t bought the collection but I hear the new Aqua part of that collection is good.
 

Eylos

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,885
Kh1 is more Innocent, and kid friendly.
Starting with re:com the story starts to develop and starts to be complicated and more serious.

I recommend playing ALL. If you dont liked the gameplay of 1 and recom watch on YouTube, But BBS and especialy 2 are the best.
 

No Depth

Member
Oct 27, 2017
10,008
KH2 improves a lot, though it’s not inherently altering the formula, just updating the mechanics somewhat. More spectacle, elaborate QTE finishers in combat, better stitching with the narrative flow. The worlds are more interesting to play through as well. The first few hours can be a real head scratcher though unless you play the card-based game on 1.5 beforehand.

(You still have some real rough stuff ahead of you in KH1, though the final world is alright. Also, I suggest muting Atlantis and putting on a podcast for Atlantis when you get there)
 

carda114

Member
Oct 28, 2017
97
My advice:

  1. Try and push through KH1. I love the game, but it has myriad problems. Try and keep in mind that it was a first effort for the developers overall, and they were trying to sort out what worked (combat) and what didn’t (platforming, camera).
  2. You may find Re:Chain of Memories getting overly long, tedious, and frustrating. I never beat it. However, I did beat the game it’s a remake of countless times back in the day. My recommendation is to play Chain of Memories on GBA, DS, or emulator instead of Re:Chain of Memories. They have the same plot overall, but one I remember being much more fun, and Clemps over on YouTube felt the same way.
  3. If having a challenging, fair game is important to you, play KH2 on Critical difficulty. Normal is way too easy, and Proud is effectively just Normal. Critical requires some smart play without being brutally unfair, though the optional bosses are hard.
  4. Play/watch in release order. It’s how the overall story got told and it works best that way. Though I’d say that only 358/2 Days and Back Cover are worth watching, just read a plot synopsis for Re:Coded.
 

Mr.Flufferson

Member
Oct 25, 2017
167
If you liked the basic combat in kh1 but felt it was a bit janky, then you will enjoy kh2. The combat is much smoother and i had some camera problems in 1 that are cleared up in 2. Obviously if you arent enjoying it at all then kh2 is not going to change that since it is just a much more refined version of kh1. I was actually in your boat a couple weeks ago and am currently in the middle of kh2 and loving it.

Also, make sure you at least watch the cutscenes for chain of memories and 358/2 days or else you'll be confused. As long as you play in chronological order the plot will make sense, people are exaggerating when they say it is too confusing. If ever you do get confused you can always Google something real quick as well.
 

Inuhanyou

Banned
Oct 25, 2017
14,214
New Jersey
The levels in KH1 are pretty obtuse, that is fixed in KH2. But i was able to get through it as a younger teen so it should not be too bad. .give RECOM a chance, you might enjoy the unique gameplay loop
 

joeblow

Member
Oct 27, 2017
549
SoCali
Interesting that this thread popped up today. I'm new to the series as well, and I just finished KH 1.5 about an hour ago (50 hours over a few weeks, Proud difficulty). I'm watching a Youtube video of CoM's cinematics right now.

I have to say, gameplay wise I had to grit my way through it. I like hardcore action titles, but this game's fighting engine gets pretty repetitive.

That's a minor issue though. My main problem with the first game is the janky controls, followed by some really obtuse in-game direction as to what to do after you finish a task. Also, there are way too many systems to learn for the kind of game it is. I was happy to see that ignoring spaceship crafting altogether had no effect on finishing the adventure, but what was the point of making something so convoluted? I also ignored synthesizing for the most part.

The combat camera though really bother me. There's a fight in the last third of the game where you fight one opponent, but because the camera refused to always track him despite my lock-on being activated, I died a bunch of times just because I couldn't see what he was doing. That combined with the terrible menu system that I was forever fumbling with during a battle made me kinda glad when it was all over.

Still, I'm optimistic about KH 2.5. Right now I am deciding if I'll watch 356/2 cinematics before or after playing it. Either way, I'll likely move on to other backlog games before 2.5 so I don't burn out.
 

BassForever

Member
Oct 25, 2017
11,026
CT
My suggestion is once the plot stops making sense don’t think about it too hard and just blaze ahead. Eventually you’ll need to read the wiki to understand wtf is happening in the plot.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,092
Atlanta
If you don’t like Chain of Memories after an hour, just watch a recap on youtube

And don’t worry, we’re all just as confused about everything as you are
 

joeblow

Member
Oct 27, 2017
549
SoCali
^^^ Cool. I picked the shield.

Oh, one more thing. Please tell me that in KH 2.5 there is an option to disable subtitles. I hate it when games force text on us.
 

LycanXIII

The Fallen
Oct 26, 2017
3,805
If you're past Deep Jungle and Wonderland in the first one, it only gets better from there (if you skip Atlantica).
 

malyse

Community Resetter
Member
Don't even trying to understand the plot. Just have fun. With time your curiosity will make you understand the plot.
If you don’t like Chain of Memories after an hour, just watch a recap on youtube

And don’t worry, we’re all just as confused about everything as you are
My suggestion is once the plot stops making sense don’t think about it too hard and just blaze ahead. Eventually you’ll need to read the wiki to understand wtf is happening in the plot.
Yeah it’s super confusing if you refuse to pay even the smallest amount of attention.
 

BassForever

Member
Oct 25, 2017
11,026
CT
Yeah it’s super confusing if you refuse to pay even the smallest amount of attention.
As someone who understands 95% of the plot without help, I acknowledge it gets 3deep5me the further you get in. I’ve had to explain the plot to multiple people over the years as they’ve played the latter titles.
 

Terraforce

The Fallen
Oct 27, 2017
10,252
KH1 is by far the worst game in the series mechanically imo. Even the portable entries iron out several issues, so don't use that as a basis for gameplay in the series. Even things like the Gummi Ships (which are awful in KH1) are streamlined down the line.
 

Strings

Member
Oct 27, 2017
11,120
Actually, that's a pretty accurate statement.
Yeah, those are definitely the messiest worlds to progress.

As others have mentioned, the gameplay gets waaaaaaay better in the following entries. I'd skip the version of Chain of Memories included in the collection (it was a great gba game, but loses a lot in the transition to 3D) and not even bother watching the cutscenes for Coded. The rest is very much worth experiencing.
 
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Tetsujin

The Fallen
Oct 27, 2017
1,096
^^^ Cool. I picked the shield.

Oh, one more thing. Please tell me that in KH 2.5 there is an option to disable subtitles. I hate it when games force text on us.
2.5 still has forced subtitles. That's always been a thing that kind of annoyed me about the KH series. I think from Kingdom Hearts DDD onward they let you disable them.
 

Z-Beat

Member
Oct 25, 2017
20,191
KH1 is by far the worst game in the series mechanically imo. Even the portable entries iron out several issues, so don't use that as a basis for gameplay in the series. Even things like the Gummi Ships (which are awful in KH1) are streamlined down the line.
I actually think Chain of Memories remade for the PS2/PS3/PS4 is the worst, primarily because the gameplay doesn't seem to be suited for a full 3D environment where you have to control the camera as well.

That said, in terms of the standard KH mechanics, KH1 isn't great. The combos are clunky and the Gummi Ship missions are awful. KH2 fixes both of those, and BBS and DDD simplify the menu system. And the Gummi Ship missions in KH2 have legitimate effort put into them instead of random shapes flying through space, and you only have to do them once to unlock the location on the world map. No warping, and no mandatory travel back and forth before getting the warp.

My advice would be, if you're in it just to get through the series, go ahead and skip the secret bosses in KH1, maybe watch a movie of KH CoM, and you'll be fine playing the rest. Also KH2 has a fairly long tutorial so be prepared for that. Best of luck, OP.
 
Oct 31, 2017
750
I tried to start 1 and CoM again (played them as a kid) but couldn't. Watched 358/2 days last night and started KH2 today. The prologue made more sense that way. Is there another game that waits three hours before showing you the title?
 
Oct 25, 2017
13,755
Sweden
The second one had better combat, but the first one has much better level design and exploration. The worlds in the first one where quite large with quite a few secrets. I was so disappointed with how the level design was dumbed down in 2.
 

Rand a. Thor

Banned
Oct 31, 2017
10,213
Greece
Once you have played the essentials, ignore everyone and try to play coded. The plot is worthless and if you try to play it on anything but a 3DS, you might break your thumbs with the controls. However! The gameplay despite getting repetitive in some places is extremely unique, with one of the coolest level up systems in Kingdom Hearts, and RPGs in general, and the way Keyblades are handled allows you to truly play however you want to.
See, they have no attack stat. So depending on if you want rare drops, munny, magic boosters, or to go wild with combos, you can equip anyone you want to equip, even the early game ones. You'll get what I mean with this paragraph as you start to beat the other games.
 

Meelow

Member
Oct 31, 2017
3,810
The plot for me didn't get too confusing until the ending of DDD, I won't spoil it OP but yeah, don't try to figure it all out.
 

Dreamboum

Member
Oct 28, 2017
16,707
Get to KH2 if you can’t bear it. Watch a YouTube movie of KH1 instead.

It doesn’t get better after that. If you get invested, go for the other games. But they’re considerably lesser offerings than KH2. Square was just throwing hardware baits for 10 years for us to buy every system and push us to buy Square games on every platform.
 

Winston1

Avenger
Oct 27, 2017
1,205
If you’re going through the HD ReMix than my main recommendation is to not watch the 358/2 Days “cinematic”. Every Kingdom Hearts game after 1 and until 0.2 is atrociously written, tonally deaf, and the cutscenes are badly directed. 358/2 Days is the worst offender, right next to KH2. The majority of the cutscenes involve 2 or 3 characters sitting around and eating ice cream while vomiting horrendous dialogue and boring exposition. Removing the gameplay emphasizes this so much, and in my opinion the “cinematic” is completely unwatchable. Especially since all the Disney worlds and action scenes are not animated and instead told through text dumps. I sat through the whole thing 1 time, and I have no idea how anyone could recommend watching it.
 

RROCKMAN

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
4,958
Leave your brain at the door. The games tend to increase in complexity needlessly with each new one. They are fun to play and the stories have great moments but dont take it too seriously overall.
 

ZeroX

Member
Oct 25, 2017
12,579
Speed Force
I like KH1 but I’ve played it enough that what’ll feel dated to newbies is pretty natura and tolerable to me. I like the platforming focus too. Later entries become basically just combat fests.

I’m considering replaying BBS but in general I’d stick to the mainline.


Oh and yeah KH1 is the only time the overarching story is worth paying attention to. Otherwise just focus on each world’s individual story.
 

lusca_bueno

Member
Nov 23, 2017
727
Yes, the games after KH1 get considerably better. KH Re:CoM might not be your cup of tea though, it is an important part of the story, but gameplay-wise tends to be controversial, not to mention its art is equivalent to playing KH1.

After playing or watching Re:CoM, or even before, go for KH2. You can always get back and understand how some things happened and impacted the plot later on, try not to make too much effort on how you should approach these games, maybe a more natural and organic approach can create a more valuable experience.

Main games I'd recommend playing would be KH1 (I don't really like this one too tbh), KH2 (absolute KH experience so far) and KHBBS, which can be considered KH0 (my second favorite game with lots of great plot points). One personal pick would be 358/2 Days, but unfortunatelly it's not remade in 1.5+2.5, only its cutscenes are available, so yeah, no big harm in watching them since it's short stuff anyway.

Just go and have fun, KH1 is a little difficult because it's really too basic, lacks info most of the times, but KH2 more than makes up for it.
 

KingdomKey

Member
Oct 27, 2017
859
The years hasn't been kind to KH1. I think the game is great since its story is selfcontained and some few level designs are well made.

But yeah, as some others has said it's fine to skip the game and only watch the cutscenes.

Re:CoM is not for everyone, I'd give it a chance since I found it really fun to play when I actually got to learn the combat system. But yeah, it's fine to only watch the cutscenes.

Kingdom Hearts 2 and BBS is phenominal games IMO. With Kingdom hearts 2 being the best in the series, I recommend playing the game on critical mode if you are familiar to action games. It's in critical mode the game shines as brightest.
 

mudai

Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,358
I actually got into the Kingdom Hearts series again this year too. I played the first game when it came out on PS2 but dropped it after reaching the Tarzan world sadly. I remember getting frustrated not knowing where to go to trigger the next story event. Years later I gave it another shot when the 1.5 HD edition released on PS3. Surprisingly I ran into the exact same problem again, dropping the game in the process yet again. This year I finally gave it a third and final shot -- and finally beat it. I actually had to look up the Tarzan world in a walkthrough, realizing that I overlooked a somewhat "hidden" exit on one of screens. Oh well. Yes, KH1 is somewhat clunky and I can't say I enjoyed every moment of it. The Gummi Ship missions were tedious and boring (though I also didn't bother building myself a better one) and some of the worlds like Atlantis were just plain annoying, while others like the Nightmare Before Christmas one were great. After finally beating KH1 after all this time I grabbed myself the 2.5 HD edition for PS3 for cheap, wanting to beat all the re-released games before Kingdom Hearts 3 finally comes out. I also grabbed the 2.9 HD edition on PS4 when it was on sale during Black Friday. I basically committed myself to beating the series now, so I might as well do it.

So far I'm enjoying myself after I beat Re Chain of Memories on the 1.5 HD edition. At first it was kinda boring. The story took a while before it got interesting (but when it did, I was hooked); the Disney world cutscenes were just plain boring, which is why I mashed through them. As for the gameplay itself.... yeah I can see how this was probably more fun on the GBA. I didn't really want to deal with the card based battle system, which is why I played the game on Beginner Mode and just mashed myself through it, spamming the strongest sleights against pretty much every regular enemy and most of the bosses. Riku's side of the story was waaaaay more interesting than Sora's in my opinion, maybe because it was faster paced and everything. Haven't played Kingdom Hearts 2 yet, I can definitely see why Chain of Memories is an important part of the overall story.

Before starting my playthrough through the series I read that people recommended waiting to watch 358/2 days for after beating Kingdom Hearts 2, since it somewhat spoils some of the events happening in KH2. Also the player would have more information about some of the stuff that is going on than the characters in the game itself. I can see how the latter could be annoying. I don't really know if that's true, but since I've read that recommendation multiple times now, I think I will just do that and jump to KH2 next before watching the 358/2 days movie on the 1.5 HD disc (but I guess doing either way is fine anyway). Looking forward to playing KH2 and especially Birth by Sleep, as I heard so many good things about those 2 games.

That being said, I will take my time, as I don't want to get burned out on the series. I don't expect KH3 to get released before the end of 2018 at the earliest anyway.
 

simmias

Member
Oct 30, 2017
114
I’ll echo the other posters who said Wonderland and the Jungle are the worst worlds for what you’re experiencing. The worlds that come after are much more straightforward. Keep with it. A certain boss fight in Atlantica also tends to frustrate many newcomers, but I’d still play that world just for Donald and the music.

Also, absolutely don’t skip Chain of Memories or you’ll be hopelessly confused. Play both character playthroughs. At the bare minimum watch all the cutscenes somewhere (but I did enjoy the gameplay, even though it takes some getting used to).

KH2 is fantastic, as is Birth By Sleep. It’s amazing that the latter was a PSP game. I also enjoyed DDD much more than I thought I would.
 

Normanski

Member
Nov 21, 2017
595
I completely missed the boat on a lot of older PlayStation games growing up, so I really want to play catch-up on the stuff I missed. Hence why I decided to pick up KH 1.5 2.5 HD Remix during Black Friday. I'm on KH1 and I just made it past Deep Jungle.

So far, well... I have mixed feelings about this game (KH1). On one hand I love the idea behind it. It's a peculiar mash-up of Disney locales and characters and Square's Japanese game design. I like the story thus far. I downright love the soundtrack. But I'm really not sure I like the exploration and moment-to-moment gameplay. A lot of times the gameplay can just be boiled down to backtracking through areas just to see if you can get a cutscenes to trigger. It's not always obvious where to go in order to do this either. There have been at least a couple times where I had to look up a walkthrough, because tediously walking around figuring out where the next story segment is got to be a little much.

I like the spirit of the game and what it's trying to go for, but I also don't think it's aged all that well. So a couple questions:

1) Does it get better in later games? I keep hearing good things about KH2. Not sure if any of these issues are addressed there.

2) Any tips for someone who's brand new to the series? I'll take whatever advice I can get.

I'll update this post as I work my way through to give more impressions, but it does take me a while to carve out time for games these days. Just know there could be some time before I get to finish each game.
1. Yes they do OP. I loved KH1 as a kid but going back to it on the HD remakes was jarring and I never remembered the camera being as bad as it is.

2. I tend to always favour strength seeing as Donald is magic and Goofy is more defensive with the shield. I also tend to restrict them in terms of recovery items etc.
 

Tsunamo

Member
Oct 28, 2017
1,156
I'd say push through Kingdom Hearts 1 just for the rest of the story if it's your first time playing through it. It does get quite confusing on where to go in the original and even going back to it I quite often get lost myself, but it's a bit more streamlined in 2 luckily with the gameplay improved dramatically over the original.
 

BrunOz

Member
Oct 27, 2017
574
Brazil
I've just started to play this series this weekend on the PS4 with KH1.

I've been struggling with the unintuitive progression design at the beginning, but things got better after Wonderland and now I'm really enjoying my time with the combat and exploration, I hope it gets even better from now on.

From someone that grew up watching those classic Disney movies and cartoons, I'm loving the mash up, the soundtrack and all this colorful world, apart from that I'm not a fan of Nomura overdesigned characters but that's it.
 
Oct 30, 2017
678
I recently started playing KH1 for the first time and dropped it soon after starting the Tarzan world. Those vines?Fuck those vines.

Somebody here assured me 2 was a much better experience, but I haven't managed to find the time for it yet.
 

KeyBladerXIII

Member
Dec 5, 2017
1,207
I think the collection places 358/2 Days before KH2. Play in release order and do KH2 first, the Days movie spoils plot points from 2.

After KH1, try Chain of Memories. If you don't like the battle system or don't want to go through all the KH1 worlds again, watch the cutscenes on youtube.
 

Blindy

Member
Nov 16, 2017
1,461
Having recently beaten this game on Proud mode(2nd playthrough, 1st was YEARS ago), I still think KH1 holds up quite well. I think the game picks up in the upcoming worlds.

But yeah it might be best to set Donald up to preserve his magic(Which you can do in the customize option) as the AI borders onto being terrible with magic usage. Take advantage of Goofy and Donald's AP, anytime you can get some sort of MP rage or what not, you have to do it.

Immensely utilize the customize system, cannot stress that enough. After Deep Jungle, you get the VITAL cure spell, ASAP make that a shortcut prompt. It WILL save your butt plenty of times. I would save magic just for that spell alone and focus on healing yourself. Donald and Goofy can resurrect, you cannot.

Take items off guest characters as soon as you get em for they will burn em early on Goofy and Donald and not you. Take advantage of the Coliseum whenever you can, that's GRIND central if you are ever overwhelmed with a level. You keep the experience you get from the Coliseum regardless if you win or lose. If the 1st real challenge/foe gives you trouble, come back with the vital CURE spell and pick your spots on that giant beast.

Gummy ship will take time to get used to and the tutorial is somewhat loose in its explanation but once you get the hang of it, look out! Seek Dalmatians and do the optional "Book" sidequest that's in Traverse Town(Without spoiling too much). A lot to gain from those two things item wise.