Square Enix has given us numerous grand Kingdom Hearts titles that hit harder than the Ultima weapon and left a lasting nostalgic impression on Disney and Final Fantasy fans alike. Kingdom Hearts is a highly versatile RPG with stellar gameplay, memorable characters, & unforgettable worlds. There is also a ton of end-game content, including fan-made challenges that will make the game much harder.
A standard playthrough is smooth and balanced with moderate difficulty, but there are unique ways to play if you want to push yourself. Indeed, there are numerous exhilarating runs that only the most elite and committed players have completed.
Consider me your knowledgable Master Eraqus as I have weathered these storms and am prepared to train you to endure them. I am honored to present you with Kingdom Hearts’ most insane challenge runs.
If you want to go above and beyond to test your actual skill at the game, these humbling experiences will change your perspective and give you something higher to strive for.
These grueling tests sometimes trigger your inner darkness, but don’t let it consume you. Stay focused and persevere because your road to victory is highly gratifying once accomplished. Let’s examine these heartless strictures and explore which advanced goal you want to accomplish; dare I say, all of them.
Different Types Of Kingdom Hearts Challenge Runs
Here is a list of some of the main Kingdom Hearts Challenge run types. These can be combined or done solo, with more variations to consider.
Knowing these will give you a good foundation for trying something yourself. I know deciding which is best to pursue can be difficult, but my advice is to let your heart be your key. One thing is sure, you’ll be sharing a Paopu fruit with whatever run you choose, and it will be part of you forever.
- No magic run
- No healing run
- Zero Deaths Challenge
- Zero EXP Level 1 run
- First Keyblade only
- No damage boss challenges
- Restricted attacks run
- Hardest difficulty run
- Platinum trophy speedruns
- Speedruns (single or multiple games)
- Purist challenge: No abilities, accessories, or items
- Challenging hidden or optional bosses
Ideally, it’s best to start small, beat a game, and do some extras like taking on proud or critical mode. A harder difficulty always amplifies any challenge. There are different variations of trails, and stacked conditions will always give you a run for your money.
Gauge how likely you are to quit a particular challenge and go from there. There will be stress, doubt, failure, & and increased fragility with each encounter.
Let your brain adapt naturally, and go at your own pace. I like to see each death as a chance to ask myself, “What did I do wrong?” Eventually, you will learn the strategy like a puzzle, but looking up the finer details online is advantageous.
Before we dive into darkness, I must establish how I chose these runs and why they make the grade above others. I held myself to specific rules while selecting these challenges, and it’s only fair that you know they were carefully chosen to give you a premium selection with flexibility.
Choosing one of these or constructing your run is equally satisfying, but stay true to yourself and don’t take on more than you can mentally handle. Psychological resilience and patience are necessary, so ensure you’re in a good place before beginning because the process can file you down. These are the criteria I used when choosing:
- Each challenge run must be a firey hurdle for fans of the series while giving enjoyment & accomplishment.
- Every trial offers a fresh take on the game and will change your perspective after completing it.
- All runs should be accessible to players who have played on standard or easy at least once.
- The Kingdom Hearts challenge run list must have a diverse selection of existing games and cater to varying preferences while considering individual skill.
Kingdom Hearts 1.5 Final Mix: Level 1 Run
- Challenge Class: Zero EXP Level 1 run
- Creator: Square Enix
- Proudest Moment: Beating Ansem without leveling up at all.
Any Kingdom Hearts Level 1 Run challenge is no joke, and I speak from first-hand experience. I took my time with it and finished with relief, knowing I had gone above and beyond. The 1.5 Final Mix is difficult, with limited options to make it easier. Some criticize Kingdom Hearts for being a hack n slash RPG meant for a younger audience.
They need a change of perspective while stuck on a previously simple boss fight for hours. Unlike two and three, one wasn’t meant to be played at level one, but the developers added some rules to make it barely attainable for only the most devoted.
For this challenge run, you must equip the EXP Zero ability from beginning to end so you don’t level up. This doesn’t mean you won’t grow in strength because there are power boosts, magic, accessories, & items to help you. I wouldn’t make this challenge harder than it needs to be, but you can optionally restrict things more.
The key to getting through this is utilizing magic to the highest degree while keeping damage storage & summons in mind. After a keyblade finishing combo, your magic will be doubled until another keyblade swing. So cast away for double the damage and a wide hit radius with Blizzaga. With the right choices, you’ll get through this run with enough persistence, but prepare to face bosses multiple times each.
This challenge is not for the faint of heart or the impatient. After I achieved this, I needed to play it again normally and it was amazing how much I appreciated each level and renewed my love for the game. I believe you can, too, with enough willpower and the right attitude!
Kingdom Hearts 2.5 Remix No Magic Run
- Challenge Class: No Magic
- Creator: graysonb23
- Proudest Moment: Saving money on ethers and enjoying more healing items while casting more magic instead of spending MP on Curaga.
It seems like sacrilege at first to remove the magical elements from a Kingdom Hearts game, but it can give you more appreciation for the elegant & mighty keyblade. The no magic run means you can’t cast any spells throughout the game, significantly reducing Sora’s power. It takes out an overpowered element, making even an average pack of Heartless or Nobodys more intimidating.
You can choose whatever difficulty you want, but Critical is the trend for hardcore players. The no magic run means you’ll save money by not purchasing ethers, and you can prioritize physical strength with the keyblade over cheaper blows.
Playtime is over. No more using overpowered Magnet to Thunder combos or spamming Blizzaga. You earn every kill without magic assistance, and I suggest you also apply the same principle to Donald & Goofy by minimalizing their abilities. Magic in 2.5 Remix makes things a lot easier, and the hardest part of this challenge is not having that extra cure when you need it most.
You’ll still have the various forms and power to get you through, but it will make most encounters much more clutch and nail-biting. It’s very doable and gives you a sense of accomplishment, like taking the training wheels off, knowing you’ll fall a few times before getting the hang of it!
Kingdom Hearts 3 Speedrun (Under Four Hours)
- Challenge Class: Kingdom Hearts Speedrun
- Creator: Ninten
- Proudest Moment: Setting your time is rewarding while speeding through.
So most people tend to go for an easy or standard difficulty for the speedrun, but Ninten has done some crazy runs on critical in under four hours, which is unfathomable.
Speedrunning is a delightful challenge for this game because you go through different characters & atmospheres quickly, and setting your time is fun. It will take experience and study to get a fantastic time with a deep understanding of each location to progress.
Only attempt this speedrun challenge if you have completed the game, and it’s an excellent title to choose out of all of them for a time trial because it tends to flow better. All Kingdom Hearts games are candidates for speed runs, but three is one of the most popular.
There are many Youtubers to reference if you need advice on how to get past certain areas or take the necessary shortcuts to take off some time and make a difference in the end. It will be a fun run full of adrenaline to save time at every turn. Avoid unnecessary stops and keep pushing until the end to join the speedrun leaderboard ranks. I advise recording your entire run, if possible, to verify it later.
This might be my least favorite challenge since I love to prolong the masterpiece and enjoy every facet without skipping a beat. Still, speedrunning can be immensely rewarding and exciting to beat old scores or your friends. By the end, I guarantee you’ll think, “I can do better than that.” So go for it!
Kingdom Hearts 1.5 Final Mix: Proud Mode First Keyblade Only No Healing
- Challenge Class: Keyblade Only & No Healing
- Creator: N/A
- Proudest Moment: Beating Heartless with a weaker keyblade makes you more careful.
This could easily stand alone as a keyblade only run, but I think it’s more fun if you add the extra challenge of no healing into the mix. You probably know you get new keyblades in every world or through item synthesis. Having more powerful weapons gives you that edge for a new world, but without it, you’ll need to grind more to increase in level to progress.
However, you can also make level-grinding illegal based on your parameters. This is a solid mixed challenge that takes away two helpful elements.
You will get knocked out along the way, but it’s very doable and a good challenge to consider if you’re new to the franchise. It will help you develop more of an appreciation for the first keyblade and will cause you to be more careful with each encounter because health becomes precious.
To make things even harder, you can minimalize healing settings for your party so you aren’t getting healed at all. You’ll also want to take healing items away from characters in the worlds. Another alternate rule for this challenge run would be to keep your party’s original weapons forever. This could also be applied to other games and is a bit harder with no upgrades.
The only thing that might get annoying about this run is that you’ll be in the red often, and Kingdom Hearts has a piercing, critically injured sound effect. I suggest you try this challenge on Proud for an added kick and perhaps use the mute button for some battles if you’re low on health so you aren’t psyched out.
Kingdom Hearts 2.5 Remix: No Damage During Every Data Replica
- Challenge Class: No Damage Run
- Creator: WillJV2
- Proudest Moment: Getting that last hit on Xemnas.
You understand this is an insane challenge if you’ve ever faced the Data Replica organization 13. These aren’t your standard gumshoe opponents. Instead, they’re enhanced versions of the members with lightning-fast attacks that initially make you lose all hope. All you have to do is face Roxas to realize these different animals require a higher level of focus.
They’re very hard and put the extra pressure of not taking a single hit while facing all of them. This challenge could be extended to every boss in the game, too, if you wish. However, doing the data battles alone is concise because they’re all in the same location.
The challenge is you aren’t allowed to get injured once for every single member, except the Xemnas battle, where you’re forced to take damage toward the end.
This requires a mastery of the game and intimate knowledge of each boss so you can accurately predict and avoid attacks while counter-attacking and capitalizing on openings. You can prepare for this any way you like, but the more powerful you are, the easier it will be.
Defense doesn’t matter; only increase your attack to shorten the battles, which will help. Overall, this is a scary challenge, but some have done it. You could technically try to do the whole game without damage, but that’s like a pie in the sky. You’ll be among the prestigious few, defeating all the replicas unscathed. You could also try this for the data replicas in Kingdom Hearts 3.
Kingdom Hearts 2.5 Remix Platinum Speedrun
- Challenge Class: Platinum Speedrun
- Creator: Ninten
- Proudest Moment: Accomplishing complete synthesis in a single run
So this challenge is only for those who deeply understand the game and all requirements to attain platinum. The Kingdom Hearts platinum speedrun is an elite challenge that will put your game knowledge to the test. This could be tried for any of the games, but I would say that two would be the most difficult to obtain in a short period.
No matter what, this will be much longer than your standard speed run and fits into a special class of longer journeys. Most people go back to complete synthesis and do all the extras in the end-game, but some want to get the platinum on a new save within a set timeframe.
The pressure is on with this run because you must stay sharp and have a plan of action. Know where each trophy can be earned and factor it into your run while applying the basic rules of speedrunning, and it will make for a worthy challenge.
There is the base knowledge you have acquired from playing normally, but you’ll need to map out your course before setting sail on this somewhat confusing voyage. It’s one of the more formidable challenges out there because you’ll need to split it into a couple of sessions and remain focused. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a time under ten hours.
Kingdom Hearts 3: Critical Mode No Healing Or Food Buffs
- Challenge Class: Hardest Difficulty No Healing
- Creator: Square Enix
- Proudest Moment: This challenge is difficult, but beating it earns you bragging rights.
I’ll be honest; critical mode in Kingdom Hearts 3 wasn’t that hard, but I have lived and breathed this game as my RPG staple for years. Critical mode becomes more difficult when you can’t heal because you don’t have a buffer when things get tough. No extra buff from food will also make things more challenging.
It might be wise to play critical mode first before settling on this challenge so you know what to expect. It’s the hardest difficulty in the game and already presents a potent challenge for most players. I don’t see anything wrong with Donald or Goofy using healing for this run, but it can be limited.
The times when Sora is alone against various opponents will be the most difficult, especially toward the end of the game when playing the keyblade graveyard. You’ll need to choose your attacks carefully and utilize magic to its full potential for clearing enemies, except the Cure spell.
Equipping the right abilities, like Guard, will help you tremendously, so you are reducing the amount of damage taken and increasing the damage given. This is important for bosses who are incredibly greedy and need to be taught a lesson. Overall, this is a highly challenging endeavor, and you will have fun clawing your way out of the pit of darkness to beat that arrogant Xehanort finally.
Birth By Sleep: No Shotlock Critical Run (All Three Characters)
- Challenge Class: No Shotlock Critical Run
- Creator: WillJV2
- Proudest Moment: Defeating Xehanort with no healing items on Critical.
Shotlock was introduced in Birth By Sleep and was a refreshing addition. To make things interesting, you can potentially try this challenge run where you aren’t allowed to use Shotlock at all while playing Critical mode.
If it becomes too hard, you can try for a lower difficulty. Remember that it will be hard on critical with no shot clock to clear crowds. It’s the primary security blanket of Birth By Sleep that keeps you confident when playing. But sometimes, venturing into the cold, dark, challenging world can yield a sense of great accomplishment.
To do this feat, you’ll need to complete the game with all three characters in critical mode without using their shot lock. Other rules can be added if it’s not hard enough for you, and the next level would be restricting healing spells and items to test you even further.
The shot lock tool is designed for handling more brutal enemies easier, and removing it makes the game more demanding. Birth By Sleep is one of the lesser-known Kingdom Hearts games, and it’s a gem worth exploring regularly and completing challenge runs for more than one character.
Chain Of Memories: One Card Deck Challenge Run
- Challenge Class: Attack restrictions
- Creator: VG Myths
- Proudest Moment: Realizing you can manage your deck to beat it without a full stack of cards.
Chain Of Memories is another older Kingdom Hearts game between one and two. It opens the door to some exciting challenges that are underappreciated compared to the rest. It features a card system where you construct your deck for attacking and casting various spells.
Chain Of Memories can be made much more complex by restricting yourself to using only one card for the game. It’s a remarkable feat that will take a lot of concentration and workarounds to get past the harder boss encounters.
The only rule is you need a new save file and reach the end of Sora’s story with only one card in your deck. You can only equip one attack card at a time when you have access to the deck-building feature. As long as you abide by this, you can do anything else. It seems impossible at first, but it can be an enjoyable ride with enough to make it past the finish line while using a single card.
The Zero Deaths Challenge For Any Kingdom Hearts Game
- Challenge Class: Zero Deaths Challenge
- Creator: Obsidian Challenging
- Proudest Moment: Beating any game without dying is a proud feeling.
Assuming you play a higher difficulty, this is highly challenging for any Kingdom Hearts game. Even standard mode can be precarious sometimes and knock out Sora when you least expect it. The main goal is to get through the entire game without dying once, and if you die, it nullifies the run altogether.
There are many points in each game where you’ll be courting death at low health, and it will be exciting and something to strive for if you keep getting knocked out. The hardest way to do this would be to play Critical Mode without breaking once, but that’s a masterful challenge, as most players die a handful of times playing this setting.
Another way to make this more interesting is to consider the abilities. You can restrict your abilities so things like Second Chance & Leaf Bracer are disabled. But I recommend using them indefinitely if you’re going to play Critical mode. During this challenge run, I advise using Aero and Cure primarily to stay healthy and safe.
You’ll want to unlock Aeroga. No one likes dying in video games, but imagine a run where you never succumbed to darkness once! Now that’s a fun tale to tell your friends. The difficulty choice and the game is up to you, or try them all!
Kingdom Hearts 2.5 Final Mix: Defeat Every Optional Boss On Critical
- Challenge Class: Critical mode boss challenge
- Creator: Various Players
- Proudest Moment: Defeating each hidden boss and reaping the rewards. An awesome keyblade increases your MP by 3 for beating the optional Ice Titan fight.
Kingdom Hearts 2.5 Final Mix is notorious for having some brutal secret bosses that have no mercy or compassion for you on any level, especially in critical mode. This challenge involves completing the game while beating every optional boss.
That includes the data replicas, silhouettes, Sephiroth, the Lingering Will, & bosses found in the . This wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t on Critical, and if you want to do standard instead, I won’t blame you. However, if you’re serious about solidifying yourself as a Master of Kingdom Hearts, take the torturous route and show them who’s boss!
There are many optional boss fights in this particular game, so you’ll have your work cut out for you! Doing this will also unlock achievements toward your platinum trophy if you haven’t earned them already.
These bosses are nothing to snuff at on critical mode, and all veteran gamers know that bosses used to be much harder back in the day. The challenge rings true for the most hardcore players seeking greater accomplishment outside the final boss.
Purist Run: Critical Mode LVL 1 No Equipment Or Abilities, original Keyblade
- Challenge Class: Purist Run
- Creator: damatman
- Proudest Moment: Proving to each boss that you don’t need extra help and that sometimes the old-fashioned minimalist approach is just as gratifying.
Sometimes simpler is better. Imagine a run where you didn’t have to fiddle with items and accessories or decide which Keyblade is optimal. I call this the Purist run because you have to beat any of the games with the bare minimum. Critical mode is the most daunting challenge, especially at LVL1, so this is optional, and you might benefit from a typical run instead.
It’s a good challenge where you can still use magic, including the Cure spell. You can tailor it however you see fit. No accessories will lower your stats and ensure the battles are closer. No abilities restrictions are tough for the Kingdom Hearts series because you usually get extraordinarily powerful and efficient with combos, which are off-limits here.
Sora’s movement is also not impressive when you can’t equip abilities, and he can’t dish out high-powered special moves.
You’ll quickly realize you took dodge roll for granted in this situation. It’s you and the trusty Keyblade against the world with no outside help from summons. This challenge makes you feel like you did everything yourself without taking the easy road. You’ll be a purist through and through while using only the original keyblade.
Question: Should a beginner take on these runs?
Answer: Kingdom Hearts has always been a relatively accessible title that most can comprehend quickly. My answer is that a beginner shouldn’t do these runs. I suggest beating the game first before taking on these challenges. That’s because familiarity will make it easier, and you will have learned some subtle nuances.
Question: What is the most daunting type of challenge for Kingdom Hearts?
Answer: After much experience with the challenges, I concluded that the LVL 1 Run was the most difficult to get through, and it can be made even more complicated, if not impossible, by restricting item usage, magic, or abilities.
The LVL one run is distinctly more difficult in the first game because it wasn’t designed for that, even though they added the NO EXP ability later. Kingdom Hearts 2 & 3 are much easier games for EXP Zero.
Question: Should you experiment with new Kingdom Hearts runs?
Answer: If you use your imagination, you might develop a new run, which can be exciting. Let me demonstrate right now for fun—a run where Sora can never use a combo finisher and can only get stray hits.
Or a run where you can only cast one spell. There are usually ways to make things more interesting, and taking inspiring ideas from common runs can help you decide what’s best for your skill level.
Kingdom Hearts Most Insane Challenge Runs: Honorable Mentions
Here are a few honorable mentions to consider for fun if you’re feeling inclined. The first one is the definition of insanity, which wastes a lot of time.
Only one player has done that, so spending ungodly time getting to level 100 and breezing through the game is possible. Getting through the Coliseum trials without healing items or cure is difficult in the Hades Cup, especially in Kingdom Hearts 2.
- Kingdom Hearts 1.5 Final Mix: Make it to LVL 100 Before Leaving The Island (Only been done once)
- Kingdom Hearts 2.5 Remix: Olympus Coliseum trials with no healing Critical Mode
- Kingdom Hearts 3 Remix: Critical Mode, No Abilities Or Items