Clearing the game on Proud wasn't as difficult as I had imagined it to be. In fact, I probably found my first playthrough more difficult, getting used to the game and its mechanics again.
I also completed the game in about 12 hours (this includes some idle time) so it is perfectly possible to also get the 'Speedster' trophy for beating the game in a sub 15-hour time.
I selected the Shield and sacrificed the Sword. I definitely think this is the best option as the Shield grants you to some essential abilities such as Leaf Bracer and Second Chance.
I spent the first 30-45 mins grinding against Wakka. By hitting the blitzball he throws, you can gain a lot of exp in a short amount of time. I was LV10 when I finished the first day.
Grinding against Riku also nets you a potion each time you win the fight. I recommend at least getting 5 minimum but take as many as you want.
On the second day, you can grind the race against Riku to get Pretty Stones which you can sell for cash. I didn't bother with this personally but feel free to do it and gain some cash to buy items and accessories in Traverse town.
To give you an idea of my levels at various points in the game:
LV11: Leon (Traverse Town)
LV14: Trickmaster (Wonderland)
LV22: Entering Monstro
LV25: Entering Halloween Town
LV31: Anti-Sora (Neverland)
LV35: Entering Hollow Bastion for the first time
LV46: Entering the final door (point of no return) in End of the World
These are in no way a suggestion or guide but I just wanted to let you know that it is completely possible to clear the game without grinding to Level 50+.
You do not need to do Atlantica. This will help save you time and help you avoid the fights against Ursula, which I hated. You also do not need to do the Coliseum (but it is recommended you do, see below) or 100 Acre Wood.
Equipment & Abilities
I won't give you a run down of equipment at various stages, as that isn't necessary. But, for the final bosses, I recommend you do the following things:
- Clear the Hercules Cup to gain the Yellow Trinity ability
- Visit Neverland (Hold area) and use the Yellow Trinity to gain Aerora
- Make sure to visit the library in Hollow Bastion to get Curaga from Aerith and Divine Rose from Belle
- Always use Aero in fights; it greatly reduces the damage you receive and therefore the amount of time you need to cast Cure on yourself.
- Tinkerbell can be good for any difficult fights towards the end of the game. In particular, against Maleficent and use it towards the end of the very long section in the End of the World -- after you beat a Behemoth you need to fight wave after wave of foes to unlock a door.
- Don't worry about team mates. They are useless in Proud mode so don't use any resources in trying to keep them alive. Also be sure to steal all the items from support characters (Tarzan, Beast, etc.) before you complete the world.
Every game has its hard parts.. thankfully, this game didn't have too many for me.
1) Anti-Sora (Neverland)
This took me a while to get down, especially because I was being frugal with my items. Don't hestiate to use a few Elixirs or whatever you have to keep yourself healed. Use Aero constantly. Don't constantly mash the attack button; use your dodge roll to avoid attacks. Your opening comes after the shadow comes up from the ground and does an attack. After that, move in and do your damage. You can also jump up on the bed to avoid some attacks but you are NOT completely invincible up here - use this space to quickly heal.
2) Dragon Maleficent
Not too difficult. Use Tinkerbell after you take her first few healthbars down (you want her supporting the end of the fight, not the beginning). Also, be sure to equip accessories which reduce Fire damage, this helped me greatly. Always have Aero active and be quite aggressive.
Ansem didn't provide any more trouble than was expected. Yes, he took a few tries, but you should be able to manage if you have made it this far. Equip accessories which reduce Dark damage.