i thought sephiroth was pretty hard at the time but that was like first time playthrough on default difficulty
apparently there were secret bosses too which were harder, i think there was a clock tower one in peter pan world? that i didnt bother beating, and also some wacky scorpion thing in agrabah that i never bothered to try
i dont remember how hard the non optional stuff was
I remember the walkthrough I used for this game (written by CJayC himself, the founder of GameFAQs) back in 04 when I first played it recommended skipping Olympus Coliseum at first and coming back after you've beaten Deep Jungle, where you get Cure and are also relatively overleveled.
The nice thing is you don't have to beat Cloud, either.
there are a couple of bosses that will give you a good deal of trouble, yes. Especially on proud and critical difficulties. Some of the optional bosses are still some of the hardest fuckers i've ever fought against.
It does give you a defense penalty for giving up the shield. The beginning can definitely be tough since you don't have many abilities and your only real defensive option is parrying. The fighting can feel mashy when you end up having to combo the same enemy multiple times to kill it, but careless attacking is actually a good way to get killed if you end up whiffing (especially easy against fast enemies like black mages) because Sora's recovery is so awful. Jumping attacks can be a lot safer since all the recovery gets canceled when you land.
I don't think it's as much hard as it has a somewhat unexpected difficulty curve by the second half. You are subtly told to go back to the various worlds as there are new things to get but you are not told just how critical this is for progression so you may decide to skip that thinking it's just some side stuff only to move on with the story and find out the enemies are now kicking your ass.
I'm playing through this currently with my girlfriend. It's her first time actually playing a game beyond a brief hour or two. We both got our asses kicked by Trickmaster and the Coliseum. That was rather humbling...
I didn't expect the sword/shield/staff thing to have such severe ramifications, especially this early on. And I don't even remember a question about when my journey begins. This is some early 2000s JRPG opaque bullshit.
Yeah, I think most people have had a pretty hard time with it their first time playing. Explore every map and fight every Heartless you encounter, this will help by giving you items, munny, and xp. For one, the level design is one of the highlights of KH1, and doing this should help you avoid too much level grinding. When it comes to bosses, approach them more like you would in Dark Souls, focus primarily on avoiding damage, and only try to get in hits when there are openings.
Because they are straight up cheap as HELL! And I'm just talking regular extra boss, not the FM addition, who I hear is even worse. How, I don't know! Because the the original extra boss was cheap, cheap, freakin' cheap (I also did it with Terra at that!)
Staff for one extra MP (and the higher magic power that comes with it, even if it's not that important), and shield for one extra item slot. You can't get these any other way, unlike sword's bonuses. Only thing is, I remember the staff route backloading a lot of the more useful skills in Final Mix, though you do get the fancy attacks the earliest.