Armored Ventus Nightmare
The Armored Ventus Nightmare is the final boss of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance.
The Armored Ventus Nightmare is Sora clad in Ventus's Keyblade Armor, which is now black in coloration. The Nightmare Dream Eater emblem is emblazoned on the visor. The boss wields Sora's Kingdom Key, which is also colored black, with a reverse grip.
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
After the real Organization XIII succeeds in luring Sora into the darkness, his heart sinks into the abyss of sleep. Just before it is consumed completely, Ventus's light shelters him in his Keyblade Armor, safeguarding it from the darkness that then shackles the armor.
After the guardians of light retrieve Sora and return to the Mysterious Tower, Yen Sid informs Riku that, by opening the seven Sleeping Keyholes within Sora's dreams, he should be able to dive into Sora's dream and awaken his heart. When Riku reaches Sora's Dive to the Heart, the darkness binding the armor animates as the Armored Ventus Nightmare, manipulating the armor to attack Riku. Riku manages to defeat the Nightmare and free Sora, and although this frees Sora to sink into darkness, he leaves behind his Keyblade, which Riku uses to unlock Sora's Keyhole.
The Armored Ventus Nightmare has less health than Young Xehanort (5 HP bars), but often melts into the ground like a Shadow does and more frequently, making locking on challenging. Riku can follow its path by seeing his position on the map in the bottom screen, but this is tricky and may prove too much of a distraction. At these points, it may be better to stop moving and be prepared to guard until Riku has either locked back on or spotted it. In general, the Nightmare mimics Ventus's fighting style, making use of fast combos, counterattacks, and reprisals. Because of this, Dark Barrier and Counter Aura are recommended as they block and hit in any direction and provides invincibility frames from some of its more brutal attacks. As for Dream Eaters, it may help to have at least one with a healing ability, but other than that, it does not particularly matter. Since very few attack commands will be effective, one may consider bulking up on Cure spells and items or on projectiles. Ironically, the air is generally a blind spot for the Nightmare, so if Riku has a command that can be quickly executed from the safety of a double jump like Firaga Burst, that may also help. Flowmotion attacks from above can also help.
When it turns the background white, it may follow it up with one of two abilities. It will either generate four orbs of darkness that bounce around the arena and seek out Riku, or attack by moving towards Riku and using combos. In the former case, Riku cannot block these orbs and can only dodge. This is best achieved by using Flowmotion to jump up the sides of the arena, where the orbs will not follow, as dodging normally will not evade all of them. In the latter case, the Nightmare can be damaged. Again, Counter Aura will prove effective here. In either case, timing is critical for defense and it will eventually melt back into the ground, returning the arena to normal.
If it leaps into the air, resist the urge to attack it, as it is about to fire orbs of darkness into the ground that cannot be blocked. Even if Riku avoids the initial attack, it will split apart and travel across the floor of the arena. If he manages to avoid both, it will often quickly follow up with one of the white background attacks. The Nightmare may spin-dive into Riku like Ventus's Fever Pitch, or melt into the ground and reappear behind him to attack. These are all best handled with Dark Barrier and Counter Aura. A trickier ability it has is when it gives the arena a purple tint and causes darkness to swirl around it (mimicking an Aero or Tornado spell). Since this all happens near-simultaneously, and since it often uses it when being damaged many times in rapid succession, the attack is very difficult to avoid. If hit, the attack will do moderate damage and hurl Riku backwards, negating whatever action he happens to be performing.
While Counter Aura is crucial in this fight as it hits in any direction, it does little damage and its range is short, so relying on it to finish the boss may be tedious. It is generally safe to unleash a short combo whenever the Nightmare emerges from the ground and does not immediately launch into another attack. It will quickly attempt to counter, in which case Dark Barrier may be utilized. It may be tempting to use multi-hit attacks like Dark Aura or Dark Splicer on it, however, this does not work as well as it did on Young Xehanort. The Nightmare can change tactics quickly, opening Riku up to damage and/or knocking him out of the attack early, effectively wasting the command. It will often use "dark Aero" to accomplish this.
Once its HP is brought down to 1, the battle will shift. If the background is currently white when this happens, Riku must weather the attack until it returns the arena to normal, otherwise it will head straight for the center. He should be with full HP for having better chances of surviving. Once there, a cinematic will play in which the Nightmare uses a "Shotlock" style ability on Riku, who counters by using a special Dual Link. The results are the same no matter which Dream Eaters Riku is using: He will begin glowing and all of his commands will be locked, with his attack replaced by "Nightmare Clash". The Nightmare will take on a new, relatively smaller HP gauge, which must also be brought down to 1 to finish the battle. It will cloak itself in a purple light and perform several rushing attacks, which can easily whittle down Riku's HP even at high levels. Using Nightmare Clash will cause Riku to charge the Nightmare and damage it, also nullifying damage done to him if they collide. Riku can attempt to time the strikes, but it may be best just to max out his HP and obtain Once More/Second Chance. If Riku has the Auto-Life status and has his HP depleted, a fatal error can occur where the Nightmare Clash command will be replaced by a glitched Attack command, requiring the player to reset the game if Once More is equipped. In normal cases, Riku's commands will be altered, leaving no way to heal him, so be sure to have his HP at maximum at the beginning of this phase. Mechanically, the Nightmare's attack is considered a separate combo, so Once More will not activate and Riku will most likely not survive if hit. Should he succeed, the Nightmare will be stunned and the Finish command will destroy it for good. This command cannot miss, so perform it as quickly as possible, otherwise the Nightmare will regain consciousness, and Riku will be forced to repeat this sequence with diminished HP.
Notes and references