Kingdom Hearts III is six months away! We at Mammoth Gamers are big fans of the series. We want to take the next few months to recap each game, in case you need a refresher. Once a month, we will go over each game, culminating in our review of the highly anticipated title. For our first, we will focus on the first in the series, Kingdom Hearts, before recapping the next eight games before January 29, 2019.
The Kingdom Hearts story is anything but simple and clean. The moment you pressed New Game, you’ll discover that this story is going to be one of many questions and unexpected turns. From the tale of two Ansems, to how Sora was able to obtain the Keyblade, some explanations take multiple games.
There are many out there that assume the only games that matter are Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II; this is simply untrue. Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep tells the story of why everything is happening, while Kingdom Hearts: Re: Chain of Memories explains what happened to Sora between the events of KH and KHII. Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days connects us to another character, Roxas, more than any other game. This is why Kingdom Hearts III coming to Xbox One will be a hard sell. As this is the first game Xbox fans can play, we will do our best to explain the events leading up to the climactic ending.
I’ve wrestled with myself trying to decide on how best to do this; chronological? Order of release? Importance? None of these seemed right so I’ve decided to come up with my own list on the best order to experience the story, regardless of if you play the games or just read this list. Before we start, I will explain my plan moving forward with these articles. This story is too big to for one article, so each one will cover one or two Kingdom Hearts stories. I will recap each story with a rating at the end signifying its importance to the overall story. This is of my own opinion; however, the choice will be made with what we know so far from Kingdom Hearts III. Also, this may be why you play the games, but most recaps will forgo the Disney portions. These portions often do not progress the story but exist to help fans connect to Sora and are the majority of the gameplay portions of these games. Here we go.
This is where yours and Sora’s journey begins. From the moment you are introduced to Sora you realize he’s special; selfless yet full of ambition and drive. You find him in what you think is a dream world; a black abyss except for one stained glass tower. Here the game presents a tutorial on how to play, but after playing through all the other games, you realize these events are actually happening, and it’s Kingdom Hearts’ way of showing our hero’s heart. The choices you make don’t affect the game in real time; however, they explain the character’s personality. Nevertheless, the choice is yours.
After making your initial choices, Sora wakes up on a beach to one of his closest friends standing over him; Kairi. You will find this girl means everything to Sora and he would stop at nothing to protect her. True love by definition. He also has one other friend, an older boy named Riku. Sora and Riku have been friends most of their life having both grown up on Destiny Island. They remember the day Kairi moved there and since that day they have become inseparable. Most days the three spent their time making a raft to get off of their island and explore other worlds, worlds that nobody even knew existed. Stories were told of many worlds besides this one of their Island. Most took these stories like fairy tales, but to Riku, Sora, and Kairi they were real, and they would find them. And find them they did.
One night there was a terrible storm that hit Destiny Island and Sora being worried about the raft took off for it to make sure it was safe. Here he found Riku and Kairi’s boat, but he also discovers the Heartless. It was at this moment that a key-shaped blade appears in Sora’s hand to defeat these creatures. Sora is successful in his battle, and he takes off to find his friends. Sora discovers Riku looking out into the raging storm.
As Sora confronts him, Riku informs Sora that he has found a way off the island and the world; they just have to embrace the darkness. Sora refuses, and Riku is sucked into a black portal. Still worried about Kairi, Sora goes to find her next. He discovers her in the hidden cave under the tree where the two drew each other on the cave wall as children. When Sora calls out her name, she turns to him with a strange look as if she was in a daze. At this moment the door that had always been in the cave with no lock or key opened and pushed Kairi towards Sora. As he attempted to catch her, she flys through Sora like a ghost and leaving Sora to be sucked into the open door.
There he comes face to face with the Darkness attacking the island; a towering Heartless, the same one he’s been seeing in his dreams. Heartless aren’t like normal creatures in that they are made of pure darkness and are created if someone is lost to Darkness. In Kingdom Hearts, when a being is killed by Darkness their heart goes on carrying out their dark purpose as a lost heart. Once Sora defeats this darkness it becomes too much, and he gets sucked into the abyss. It’s at this point that we discover King Mickey is missing, having left only a note for his two most trusted protectors; Goofy and Donald Duck. The letter tells them to follow the key, and they will find the King. The two takeoff with the help of Chip and Dale and their Gummi ship to other worlds to find their beloved king.
The journey takes them to a world called Traverse Town. This world had a special quality in which if a being lost their world to Darkness but they survived they would be brought to Traverse Town for sanctuary. We see Sora, unconscious down an ally, as Goofy, Donald, and Pluto arrive. Pluto takes off on his own, finding Sora and waking him up. After a confusing wake, Sora sets off to find out what happened and where he is. After speaking to some locals, Sora runs into some familiar faces to Final Fantasy fans. Yuffie, Cid, Leon (Squall), and Aerith are all there to explain to him what this world is and about what the Keyblade he now wields is for. It’s around this time that Sora, Donald, and Goofy meet for the first time. They inform Sora that they too are looking for someone and that they should team up to find out about this Darkness, but secretly it’s because Sora has the Keyblade.
Donald remembered King Mickey telling them to follow the key, and he interprets it as being Sora’s Keyblade. After Sora, Donald, and Goofy defeat a towering Heartless that looked like a knight, a Keyhole appears. Sora’s Keyblade is called to his hand and locks the world so no more Heartless can seep in. Leon tells Sora to visit other worlds on his journey and help lock them away from the Heartless using Donald and Goofy’s ship, and Sora agrees. The three take off for new worlds, and the first world they discover is one of talking cats and playing card guards; Wonderland.
Now, this may be a choice that you may disagree with, but for the most part, I will be leaving the Disney worlds out of these recaps. This isn’t because I dislike Disney but because in most of these games the story is not moved forward by the Disney pieces. These parts of the game exist to give gameplay, help the player connect to Sora, and got a larger group of people to play this new game from Squaresoft. Regardless of how little of Kingdom Hearts’ story is in these parts they did serve a very great purpose. When you see your favorite Disney character team up with Sora, all the love and connection become attached to Sora as well. This is a large reason so many fans connect to Sora and these games. The love and nostalgia for Disney run extremely deep in these games, and I won’t be ignoring them completely. I will inform you of each Disney world he visits and how it differs from its movie counterpart if there are any differences. So let’s get back to it.
(continues on next page)
When we find Alice, she is on trial by the Queen of Hearts, much like the movie. As you go through the game to find the evidence to clear her name you are also fighting Heartless. Once you locate the Heartless responsible for stealing the Queen of Hearts memory, Sora returns to present his evidence, but the Queen refuses to let Alice go. A battle begins, and after defeating the Queen’s guards, you discover that Alice is gone.
Before you’re able to find out where she was taken a Keyhole appears, and you’re headed back to Traverse Town. This is where you meet Merlin, the wizard from the film The Sword and The Stone, and practice your new magic abilities. Here you discover a new book; The 100 Acre Wood. There you meet Winnie the Pooh, only to discover pages have been lost. On your journey, you will find the missing pages and reassemble the book. Doing so will help you gain the power to fight the Darkness. After mastering your new magic powers, you set back off on your journey to find Riku and Kairi.
After leaving Traverse Town for the second time, you journey to several new worlds from the Disney universe. The Deep Jungle from Tarzan, The Olympus Coliseum from Hercules, and Agrabah From Aladdin. All of these worlds have a story tied to their movie counterparts where Sora, Donald, and Goofy help the heroes of each world save the day. However some things go wrong in Agrabah and Jasmine is taken, in a similar way to Alice. Unsure of the reason, you leave this world with Aladdin promising to keep up the search for Jasmine and by doing so hopefully find Kairi. Sora thanks him and promises come back to help Aladdin after he finds Kairi.
From here the trail to Riku and Kairi starts to heat up. You continue helping Disney characters with each world you go to. These worlds include Monstro from Pinocchio, Atlantica from The Little Mermaid, Halloween Town from The Nightmare Before Christmas, and finally Neverland from Peter Pan. For the most part Sora helps these worlds without much divergence from the movie; however, Monstro and Neverland are different. After Pinocchio gets lost Sora, Donald, and Goofy set off to find him only to discover that he wasn’t lost but taken by Riku. After confronting him he tells you Kairi’s heart was taken, and if this puppet can grow a heart, then Riku can take it and give it to Kairi. Sora is not okay with this. For as much as he wants to help Kairi taking a heart from someone else, even if it was a puppet, was not okay to Sora. At this point, the Heartless attacking this world shows itself, and Riku concedes and leaves without Pinocchio. Although Riku wouldn’t be gone for long. After helping Atlantica and Halloween Town Sora and the gang arrive at Neverland.
More specifically Captain Hook’s Ship. It’s here that Sora learns the power of flight and meets Peter Pan. Peter informs him that he’s looking for a girl named Wendy after Sora asks about Kairi. The two of you break out of your holding cell and take off to find your two lost friends. After some confusing level design, you finally come across Wendy in a holding cell, which Sora asks if there is another girl in there with her. We finally see Kairi. However, she doesn’t seem to be herself; just the hollow shell of the person she used to be. As soon as we see her, she is taken away. After a few more doors opened and Heatless destroyed, we finally face off against the true enemy. On the deck, we see Captain Hook and Riku. This shocks Sora but finally puts everything into perspective; Riku has been working with the Heartless to find Kairi. As you try to confront Riku, he turns back to take Kairi away, and Captain Hook blocks your path. This fight is how Riku and Kairi get away, but it’s also how you save Wendy and help Peter with his goal. This leads you back to London to get Wendy and her family home, along with locking the keyhole to this world.
At this point, Sora is broken and in need of answers. Sora continues his journey to the final world, Hollow Bastion. As soon as you land, Riku confronts you, criticizing you on your failures. Sora begins to doubt himself and he lets his guard down, allowing Riku to summon the Keyblade for himself. This has happened before but goes back to Sora almost immediately. However this time it’s permanent. This causes Sora to fall to his knees and feel powerless. As Riku leaves so too does Donald and Goofy. This is not because of how they feel about Sora, but because they were told to follow the key by the King.
Now alone, Sora hears a monstrous roar from inside the castle. He knows that he has to save Kairi, even without his keyblade. As Sora makes his way through the castle, he meets an unexpected ally and the source of the roars. Beast, from Beauty and the Beast, is here looking for Belle and has been in a war with the Heartless since his arrival. You follow him into the castle with your wooden sword, which is useless against the Heartless.
Here in the castle is where you encounter Riku, who sends his army of Heartless at Sora and Beast. Sora tries to block with his wooden sword but instead is saved by Donald and Goofy. They explain that they couldn’t leave their friend even if they were supposed to follow the key. Sora announces that his true power lies with his friends, not the keyblade. With this, the keyblade returns to Sora’s hand. Riku, not set back by these turn of events, heads deeper into the castle and tells a powerful Heartless to attack Sora and his friends. The group defeats the attackers and after a heartfelt reunion, the three, plus Beast, travel deeper into the castle.
They discover Belle along with Alice and Jasmine, the two missing princesses from your journey. However, they are not alone; a total of six princesses, Belle, Aurora, Snow White, Cinderella, Alice, and Jasmine, are all sleeping soundly. Here is where you encounter Maleficent in a final battle. Riku informs her that she was never in control of the Heartless and that they were his this whole time. Riku no longer looks like himself; his yellow and white outfit is now gone replaced by a blue and red outfit with a Heartless symbol emblazoned across the chest. As Riku holds out his hand, a new more sinister keyblade appears; one with a black body and red hilt. This keyblade is unique as it allows the wielder to unlock hearts. To demonstrate Riku uses it on Maleficent and she’s overcome by darkness. Laughing she transforms into a giant black dragon and Riku gets away again.
After defeating her, Maleficent is reduced to nothing more than just her cloak on the floor. Sora returns to the princesses’ sleeping chamber to find it empty. You scour the castle looking for the missing princesses and eventually find them in the library. Sora has a vision of a young girl and her grandmother talking about the light that lives in all children’s hearts, that being the reason the worlds exist after being plunged into darkness. The grandmother explains that long ago all the worlds were one but darkness broke them up and almost swallowed them whole, and the light in children’s hearts saved them. Now they live separated, unaware that they exist to one another. This tells Sora he’s on the right path to save Kairi.
After Beast and Belle are reunited, you set off for Riku and Kairi, but it doesn’t take you long to find them. In the back of the chamber of the sleeping princesses rests a computer module with a heart-shaped gate at the back. Riku is waiting for Sora with Kairi close by. The two talk about what has happened and Sora tries to reason with his old friend, but without success. A battle ensues, and upon Riku’s defeat Sora tries to wake up Kairi, but she is unresponsive, acting like her heart and soul are gone. As Sora tries everything to wake Kairi, Riku rises behind him; only it doesn’t seem to be Riku. Sora asks how to save Kairi and a voice leaves Riku that sounds evil. When Riku gets to his feet he transforms into a man Sora doesn’t recognize; this man refers to himself as Ansem. Ansem reveals that Kairi cannot wake because her heart has taken refuge in Sora. When the Darkness attacked their home on Destiny Island, Kairi was almost consumed by darkness, but at the last moment her heart left her body and sought safety in Sora’s. Ansem also revealed that Kairi is the seventh princess of heart, making her a special person whose heart consists of pure light.
Ansem needs her true heart, the one residing in Sora, to open Kingdom Hearts. Ansem attacks Sora, but Sora prevails. He tries one last time to kill Sora but is stopped; a silhouette of light is holding back Ansem, and when Sora looks closely he sees its Riku. Ansem, angered by this yells to Riku to let him go, to which Riku responds that he won’t let Ansem use his body to hurt his friends. Knowing he’s lost this battle, Ansem retreats into the heart-shaped portal in the back of the room. With the area safe, Sora returns to Kairi to continue his attempts to wake her up. With no solution Sora remembers something Riku said about his Keyblade; that it had the power to unlock hearts and Sora realizes what he has to do. Without hesitation, Sora grabs Riku’s black Keyblade. By the time Donald and Goofy realize what is happening Sora turns to them, smiles, and stabs the key into his chest. White light begins to spill from Sora, and Kairi’s heart returns to her body. She wakes just long enough to see Sora dissolve into an explosion of sparks before he hits the ground. At this point, Leon and Aerith are both here to escort Kairi to safety.
(continues on next page)