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Magic can be either offensive or supportive, and it differs from weapon skills in that its usage is generally limited by some factor, such as the player's current MP, and that its potency is determined by the Magic stat (maximum MP in Kingdom Hearts). In Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts II, and Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, offensive magic is the only way to inflict elemental damage. Additionally, many types of magic inflict status effects on enemies.
Magical power is associated with wisdom, as indicated by the descriptions of the Dream Rod and Struggle Wand, as well as Wisdom Form. It is also associated with the color blue, the color of the MP gauges appearing in Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II, the color of magic cards in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, and the signature color of Wisdom Form. In the menus, magic is represented by a symbol of Donald's mage hat.
In Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II, choosing the Dream Rod in the Dive to the Heart grants greater magic-casting ability upon leveling up earlier in game. Magic-focused play styles are considered to be among the more difficult to use, owing largely to the care that must be taken of elemental effects, as some enemies will not be harmed and may even be healed by certain elements, as well as the limitation of a finite amount of MP which must be carefully managed, with the assistance of restorative items and abilities such as MP Haste and MP Rage.
Many individuals in the Kingdom Hearts universe are capable of using magic. All wielders of the Keyblade are capable of learning magic, and magic of the Keyblade itself is capable of great feats, being able to lock a world's Keyhole, open gates, and transform into different forms. There are also those that specialize in the use of magic, such as Donald Duck, Merlin, and Yen Sid. Those that are adept at magic can use it in a wide variety of uses outside of combat, such as transformations, transportation between worlds, realms, or even time periods, or casting enchantments or curses. Like many techniques, spells are often accompanied by an invocation, such as "Light!" when casting a Holy spell.
There are seven types of basic magic that become available throughout Kingdom Hearts, which are upgraded upon reaching certain milestones, up to maximum of three tiers. They are accessible from the Command Menu under "Magic", and three of them can be set to shortcuts at a time for easy access during battle.
Casting magic costs MP, which can be recovered by collecting MP orbs, attacking enemies, using restorative items such as Ethers, or by touching a Save Point. Some party members' abilities can also restore MP. The length of the MP gauge determines how effective magic casts are, and as basic magic gets upgraded to higher tiers, it will become even more powerful.
In Kingdom Hearts, summoning is categorized as magic.
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories
Magic cards represent the types of magic that appeared in Kingdom Hearts. They are colored blue, as are summon cards. By using sleights, higher-tiered magic can be used in battle, as can advanced magic techniques, such as Tornado and Mega Flare.
Kingdom Hearts II
There are six types of basic magic in Kingdom Hearts II, which are upgraded upon reaching certain milestones, up to a maximum of three tiers. They are accessible from the Command Menu under "Magic", and four of them can be set to shortcuts at one time for easy access during battle. Most magic can be cast in combos, similarly to attack combos, ending with a slightly more powerful magic finisher. Magic combos are affected by combo-related abilities, such as Combo Plus and Finishing Plus, and magic attacks can be interspersed with weapon attacks in one combo. Magnet and Cure magic cannot be used to make a combo.
Casting magic costs MP, which can be recovered by collecting MP orbs, using restorative items such as Ethers, entering a Drive Form, or by touching a Save Point. If the MP gauge is fully emptied, MP Charge begins, during which the gauge is replaced with the pink Charge gauge. While the Charge gauge gradually empties, magic cannot be used, but portions of the gauge can be emptied immediately in the same manner as recovering MP.
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
In Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, magic can be used during missions when magic panels are installed into the panel grid. The number of available casts for a type of basic magic is determined by the number of installed panels for that type, but casts can be restored mid-mission by using items such as Ethers. Linking basic magic panels to special magic panels will increase the level or grant multiple casts of that magic.
There are five varieties of magic that appear, each with three tiers; however, unlike in other games, different tiers of one type of magic will have different effects. For example, Fire launches a homing fireball, while Fira shoots a penetrating fireball straight ahead, and Firaga launches a large fireball with slight homing capabilities into the air, after which it explodes.
Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep
In Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, a wide variety of magic techniques are available, basic and advanced, in the form of magic commands. As with attack commands, magic commands go through a cool-down period before they can be used again, but otherwise their use is not limited.
Magic commands may be dropped by enemies, purchased from shops, found in small chests, or obtained from various mini-games, such as the Command Board.
Kingdom Hearts Re:coded
In Kingdom Hearts Re:coded, magic commands return in the same capacity as in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep.
They may be found in rare prize blox, purchased from shops, or awarded for high ranks in boss battles.
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
In Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, magic commands return in the same capacity as in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep and Kingdom Hearts Re:coded.
Magic commands may be purchased from shops, found in large chests, obtained through Ability Link or won from mini-games.
Origin and naming
Many of the magic that appears in the Kingdom Hearts series borrows heavily from magic in the Final Fantasy series. This includes elemental types, as well as specific spells, such as Fire, Curaga, and Reflect. The distinction between Black, or offensive magic, and White, or supportive magic, is not carried over to Kingdom Hearts, however.
Also borrowed from Final Fantasy is the naming convention of basic magic. In most installments of Final Fantasy, the higher tiers of magic are denoted by the suffixes -ra and -ga, normally corresponding to the second and third tier of a spell, respectively. This convention is followed in Kingdom Hearts, with one notable exception: While the fourth tier of magic in Final Fantasy, when included, is -ja, Kingdom Hearts uses the suffix -gun, dubbed as -za in the English release of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. Some accessories are named after the fourth tier of magic, using the suffix -gun (e.g., Firagun Bangle), as are two Reaction Commands, Firagun and Blizzagun.
Certain abilities enhance or facilitate the use of magic, generally by boosting magical damage, elemental damage, or MP recovery.
Some party members also possess abilities that mimic the effects of spells, which include the following:
Some powerful magical abilities, called Limits, may be performed in tandem with a party member, but will drain all of Sora's remaining MP after usage.