Kingdom Hearts III is four 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. We started with Kingdom Hearts, and now, we’re on the next two in the series: Kingdom Hearts: Re: Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days.
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 are new to the story. We already have recapped Kingdom Hearts, now it’s time for the next part of the story.
Kingdom Hearts – Re: Chain of Memories
As we last saw our friends, they were wondering a grassy field looking for their lost friends while also trying to escape the realm between light and darkness. This land is never explained but from what we can gather its a sort of crossroads. At the end of Kingdom Hearts Sora, Donald, and Goofy are here trying to get out when Pluto, King Mickey’s dog, shows up with a letter. The group never gets to read it though because as soon as Pluto sees them he runs off over the hill and the three give chase. Sadly, the three cannot catch up and it’s unclear if it was just a dream or if Pluto was actually there. However, a few days have past since Sora is visited by a mysterious figure in a black robe who disappears as fast as he came. Like Pluto, this figure in black leads the three deeper into this land until they find themselves in front of an odd looking castle, but one Sora feels connected to. Like he’s been there before but doesn’t remember ever being there at the same time. The man in the black robe shows up again to tell the three a message: “To find is to lose, and to lose is to find. This is the way at Castle Oblivion.” Although the message seems dark and doesn’t make sense, Sora, Donald, and Goofy enter the castle anyway.
This castle seems off. All of the floors, walls, and ceiling are pure white, and the moment they enter they all feel strange. The black robed figure instructs them that the only way to escape is to go deeper and the only way to go deeper is to give up their memories. Sora doesn’t accept this answer. He tells the man in black that if he forgets things they just weren’t that important, but if they are truly important, he could never forget them. The man thinks this answer is something a child would say and shows him the path deeper into the castle. From here we see Sora Donald, and Goofy visit all the world’s from their past adventure. Each time leaving and forgetting who these friends, and sometimes enemies, are. The three ask Jiminy Cricket to see his journal to help remember, but to their surprise, the journal of all the events that happened in Kingdom Hearts have been erased. This started to rip at Sora, having remembered going to the world and also seeing old friends, even remembering their faces but losing their names. It’s like waking from a dream, knowing you had one, and remembering glimpses but forgetting what happened. This is the first time we see Sora angry. He yells at the man in black that he will remember and races off deeper into the castle.
It’s here we get our first glimpse at the motivation of the antagonist and his fellow robed figures. Their plan seems to revolve around a girl with blond hair named Nominé. A girl who seems to have control over Sora’s memories somehow. Their plan is to use Sora to access Kingdom Hearts using his Keyblade; however, they know Sora would never willingly do this. So, they are using Castle Oblivion and Nominé to erase Sora’s memories to be used in a puppet they can control. However, the Organization members begin to fight amongst each other. The leader of the Organization intrusted Marluxia, the black robes figure who lured Sora, Donald, and Goofy to Castle Oblivion, to oversee the Castle and everyone involved in the plans to siphon Sora’s Memories into a puppet. As a result, this infighting becomes Marluxia’s problem and Marluxia needs to cover his tracks for his own plans to take over the Organization. Larxene, an organization member who seems to love conflict, has plans to take over the Organization with Marluxia, however, both are keeping that close to the chest and seemingly going along with the Organization’s plans. Marluxia’s main goal is to use Vexen, the scientist of the Organization and the master of puppets, to create a puppet to put Sora’s memories into. This will eliminate Sora and give Marluxia the upper hand in the Organization. However Axel, the fourth member of the Organization, Axel is one of the more mysterious characters in the series. He is suspicions of Marluxia and is there to make sure the leader’s plans are carried out. Axel tricks Larxene to reveal there is a betrayal happening and tricks Vexen into betraying the organization. This is all Axel’s plan to see how Marluxia handles the situation. Not wanting to be discovered Marluxia tells Axel to eliminate the traitor Vexen.
While all of this is going on Sora, Donald, and Goofy keep going deeper and deeper into the castle forgetting more and more. The trio periodically fight different members of the Organization like Larxene, Axel, and Vexen. However, Vexen is different than the others. In order to weaken Sora’s heart and make it easier to defeat him Vexen uses his expertise in puppets to attack first. Vexen uses some of Sora’s memories to have the puppet have a more emotional effect. Vexen is able to recreate a puppet of Riku when he was possessed by the darkness and Ansem. This puppet has all of Riku’s memories from Kingdom Hearts, but nothing more. This is because those were the only memories in Jiminy’s journal. Everything else was still in Sora. After defeating the puppet Riku, Vexen finally appears to be beaten by Sora only to retreat one last time. Vexen informs Marluxia of his failure and is told by Marluxia to leave and is no longer part of their plans. Upset by this Vexen threatens Marluxia that he will destroy Sora so that these plans for the Organization can’t be carried out. Vexen is being manipulated by Axel into thinking everyone is the traitor, however, because of Axel, Vexen is the one going against the Organization. This is when Marluxia tells Axel to eliminate the traitor.
Vexen confronts Sora yet again to remove him from the plans of everyone; however, Sora is able to defeat him. Losing again, Vexen decides to tell Sora about everything that has been transpiring and finally gives Sora the truth about why he is there. Although before revealing everything Axel appears and destroys Vexen permanently and is never able to. Sora, upset about what he just witnessed along with not getting any answers, gets ready to fight Axel only to have Axel retreat telling Sora it wasn’t time to know everything just yet. From here on Axel’s motivations are confusing. In the beginning, it seemed that he was on the same side as Marluxia, but after learning about the plot to overthrow the Organization, you come to realize Alex is there as a spy to make sure the Organizations plans are carried out. Although, after killing Vexen, Axel does something unexpected. He releases Naminé from her prison and tells her to help Sora. So Axel seems to have is own plans and motives, and luckily for you, it won’t take you long to find them out.
After Naminé is released, she meets Sora for the first time on her own. The two have already met periodically throughout Sora’s adventure in Castle Oblivion, though Nominé was being forced to by Marluxia. So previously she was only able to guide Sora secretly, but now that Axel freed her she was able to truly explain the situation. She tells Sora that she has the ability to alter memories or take them away, but this power she has only can be used on Sora. She explains that Sora hasn’t forgotten people from his past, but that Naminé has been taking these memories from him for the Organization. With Sora’s memories, the Organization would be able to steal the Keyblade from him to open Kingdom Hearts. As Naminé confesses all of this Sora surprises her by not only forgiving her, but also wanting to help her escape. Naminé isn’t sure how to respond to this and starts to cry. However, this touching moment is short lived. Marluxia interrupts and takes Naminé away but not without one last message. “Remember her name” is all Naminé can say before taken away. This confuses the three heroes, unsure of who “her” is. It is at this point we realize that Sora has forgotten Kairi. This hurts Sora, but only for a second as he runs off to save Naminé. He made a promise to help her, and he wasn’t going to let it go just because she tricked him. As the final room approaches, Donald and Goofy ask Sora why he so determined to save Naminé, and his answer is heartbreaking. He explains that the two grew up together. She lived on Destiny Island with him and Riku. She would help build the raft, and she gave him this lucky charm, and he had to get it back to her. From his pocket, Sora pulls out a star-shaped pendant that looks very similar to the one Kairi made him on the original Kingdom Hearts. It’s now clear Sora didn’t forget about Kairi; he’s replaced her with Naminé.
The final room has Marluxia waiting for Sora. The battle for Naminé. The two fight and the battle is rough, but Sora emerges victorious. Marluxia fades away in his classic rose petals finally letting Naminé go in his death. Naminé blames herself for everything, but Sora confronts her and she tells him she can fix him, restore his memories. She takes our heroes to three resting pods. She explains she can restore all of Sora’s memories, but it will take time. This process will also have a negative effect. Naminé explains that by restoring all of his memories, some will be lost. Everything, and everyone, he has met inside of the Castle will be lost, including the memories of Naminé. Sora rejects this saying he could never forget about Naminé, that they are lifelong friends. It’s here that Naminé explains that she has replaced another girl with herself in Sora’s memory. Confused Sora looks down at the lucky pendant he thought Naminé gave him and it changes to one made of seashells. Sora, unsure what is real, knows he needs his memories back. Naminé, understanding Sora’s choices, believes Sora is okay with forgetting her, but Sora surprises everyone again by saying he could never forget her. Sora tells Jiminy to write a note in his journal so they won’t forget. Jiminy agrees and writes ‘Thank Naminé,’ and the group gets into the cryo pods to sleep until they are ready to remember. Right before Sora’s closes, he closes his eyes, looks down, and speaks one name: Kairi.
There is a second half to Chain of Memories that follows Riku on his journey out of the Darkness. This story is much shorter but is very important to his story so I will highlight the most important pieces. After Mickey and Riku closed the Door to Darkness, the two were split up. Riku, like Sora, was lead to Castle Oblivion but not by Organization XIII, but by Ansem. Riku, once inside, was also assaulted by Organization XIII, but not by all the same members. Riku had to face off against Zexion and Lexaeus, along with Vexen. Mickey was able to help, but only slightly and only from within Riku. You see, Riku was fighting the darkness around him as well from within him. Mickey was a guiding light for Riku and is on his way to help Riku with the darkness ahead of him. Riku finally makes it from the basement levels to his final enemy: puppet Riku. This fight is a metaphor, much like most of Chain of Memories, for Riku fighting his own demons and darkness. Puppet Riku tries to break real Riku by telling him he’s defeated Sora, and it’s here that Riku realizes Sora is here as well. The two fight, but not before Ansem is reformed. This isn’t the actual Ansem but an embodiment of the darkness Riku is fighting against, and it seems like its too much for him until Mickey shows up to help Riku vanquish his foe. It’s now that DiZ reveals himself as the true reason Riku has found this place and what the Organization has been trying to do to Sora. DiZ is a mysterious man that covers most of his face in red bandages and tells Riku that Organization XIII is trying to erase Sora from existence to use his Keyblade. They are doing this by erasing his memories and Sora needs Rikus help. DiZ tells Riku he’s there to protect Sora and make sure the process goes smoothly. Riku and Mickey agree to help Sora, but Riku has another journey ahead of him. He doesn’t follow DiZ or Mickey into the realm of light but follows his own road: The Road to Dawn.
Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days
358/2 Days is one of the more interesting titles in the Kingdom Hearts series. It intrinsically ties to Chain of Memories in ways that players of Chain were unaware of until the release of this new game. The game follows a brand new protagonist that many players met in Kingdom Hearts II; Roxas. This is the tale of him and his two best friends Axel, and Xion. I ask you to suspend any questions you might have until the end, as most of this game isn’t explained until the end. Like previous recaps, I’ll be leaving out most if not all of the Disney portions of the game, and because of Donald and Goofy not being apart of Roxas’s life there will be little to no references to Disney. So without stalking anymore, let’s get into it.
Roxas’s story starts how his day normally ends; a-top a clock town in Twilight Town. This is where he and his best friend Axel spend every evening. Watching the sunset while eating a sea-salt ice cream popsicle. One day, Axel is asking Roxas if he is sure he doesn’t have a heart. Roxas is sure that if he did he would feel it. This question may seem weird to a normal person, but Nobodies are different. Nobodies only exist because they have no hearts, a being that is left after their heart becomes a heartless, but Roxas is different. Like Sora in previous games, we see Roxas can wield a Keyblade, and he’s been able to for as long as he can remember. This is why he was recruited to the Organization. Yes, Roxas is part of Organization XIII, more specifically he’s the thirteenth member. However, this is not relevant at this point in the story. What is important is that soon the unbreakable duo of Roxas and Axel will soon become a trio.
Soon after the start of the game, a fourteenth member is welcomed into the Organization. Her name is Xion, and she’s a newly born Nobody. She is like an empty shell, not being able to speak or show emotion. This is common amongst Nobodies though. Without a heart, these beings are often if not always cold, emotionless, and void of feeling. The two exceptions seem to be Axel and Roxas. These two have grown close to each other and by doing so seemingly remember what it was like to feel emotions again. Being Nobodies, they may not have hearts, but they do have memories from before their hearts became Heartless. This seems to be the basis of where Axel and Roxas get feelings back; however, Xion is a new Nobody, because of this she hasn’t remembered what it’s like to have feelings like the other two. Roxas is ordered to look after her and to guide her on her missions until she can function on her own.
Both Axel and Roxas are unsure why Xion has been recruited since they already had all thirteen seats filled, but it was not their place to question their leader, Xemnas. So without questioning, Roxas agrees to accompany Xion, and it’s here Roxas learns why the Organization recruited her. Like Roxas, Xion can too wield a Keyblade, although she hasn’t seemed to master it yet. Roxas, at first, is taken aback by this but then soon help Xion wield the Keyblade. This is exactly what the Organization was hoping for. Keyblades are the only weapon that can release a heart from a Heartless, and after that heart is released, they gather in Darkness until they weave together to make Kingdom Hearts. This will allow these Nobodies to require their hearts and once again be whole.
After a few weeks, Xion began to talk and show her personality as she became closer to Roxas and Axel. She grew strong enough to take on missions of her own, and every evening would meet Roxas and Axel on top of the clock tower to talk about their dreams, hopes, and to share sea-salt ice cream popsicles. This happiness wouldn’t last long though. After a few more weeks of collecting hearts, Axel started going on missions that would last days without ever revealing what exactly his mission was. Meanwhile, Xion had been ordered to take out an imposter to the Organization, a person in their signature black robes. After confronting this being, she was informed that her Keyblade was a fake, just like her. This didn’t make sense. How could she be a fake? She was real to everyone one else. But this was enough doubt that Xion started not to be able to call upon the Keyblade. Xion became obsessed with questions she now had. Due to this, she failed her mission to eliminate the imposter. When returning for her nightly routine, she collapses into a coma. Roxas and Axel brought her back to the Organizations headquartered to make sure she was safe. It’s here that Axel discovered that if Xion is unable to summon the Keyblade, she would be destroyed. This isn’t okay with Axel or Roxas, and Roxas worked doubles to make sure Xion’s quota was met even while she was in a coma. During this time Roxas was become angrier at Axle for not telling him where he was going or what his missions where. Axel’s mission was Castle Oblivion and the events of Chain of Memories.
After a few more weeks Xion finally woke up now needing to know who she was and why she was there. It wasn’t long before she realized the Organization was not going to give her answers, so she went to where she got the questions; Castle Oblivion. It’s here Xion discovers a young girl that looks similar to her but with blond hair. A girl named Naminé. She tells Xion that she is nothing more than a puppet, a vessel made by Vexen to hold Sora’s memories. This is why she could wield a Keyblade. But Sora needed his memories back. Naminé was able to take a lot of them back from Xion last time she was here to confront the imposter, but Sora was going to need them all back. This was the Organization’s reason to bring Sora to Castle Oblivion in the first place. To force Naminé to siphon his memories out of Sora and into Xion and to create a puppet Sora they could control. Xion didn’t know how to process this information, but she knew she didn’t have much time to think about it.
Meanwhile, enough time had passed that Roxas discovered that Xion was missing and blamed Axel for this for not being honest with him. It’s here that Axel tells Roxas exactly was Xion is, a puppet of the Organization. Roxas responds with anger and takes off to find Xion. His journey leads him to a mansion on the outskirts of Twilight Town. It’s here that he meets back up with Xion and she tells him she has to go, Sora needs to wake up. Roxas has no idea what she is talking about but doesn’t have time to ask as he is hit with memories of being at this mansion before. Xion tells Roxas that he will have to make a choice soon also and she takes off.
Axel shows up to stop Roxas, to tell him not to go against the Organization. But Roxas is passed that. He no longer cares about the Organization, only about Xion. This causes Axel and Roxas to fight and allows Xion to get away. Roxas is able to beat Axel, and he takes off into Twilight Town after Xion. Roxas finds her by the clock tower, the same one they always met at. Her hood is up, and she is egging Roxas on to fight her, but Roxas is refusing. She finally takes off her hood and askes Roxas what he sees, Roxas is speechless. Xion asks, “Do you see the face of a boy?” Roxas doesn’t know how to answer, but Xion doesn’t care. She tells him that it’s the face of Sora and she has memories that belong to him that need to go back. She knows Roxas won’t fight her willingly, so she attacks. Roxas, now believing that isn’t real and this had to be a trick, fights back and wins against Xion.
This was what needed to happen to help Naminé restore Sora’s memory. As Xion is fading away, she tells Roxas that Sora needs her memories, and that he would need to become whole again. Roxas, heartbroken, started to see his friend fade away. Xion tells him that once she’s gone the pain will go away because all of the evidence of her existence will be wiped away. You see, because she was a puppet of Sora’s memories she never really existed in the first place, so once she returns to Sora, it will be like she never existed. Roxas refuses to believe he could forget her but regardless of what he believes once she disappears you can see in his face that he no longer remembers anything about Xion; however, a single tear runs down his face. As Roxas looks up, he spots the imposter and chases after him, and again he’s back at the mansion in the woods, but all signs of the imposter are gone.
As he looks for any trace, Roxas notices a curtain move from inside the mansion and goes in thinking its the imposter. Instead, he finds a pure white room with on blond girl sitting at the end of a long white table drawing in a sketchbook. She tells Roxas that her name is Naminé and that he has to meet Sora. Roxas has no memory of Xion or Sora since Xion merged back with him. Naminé tells Roxas that he will to have to merge with Sora but now isn’t the time. It’s here that a flashback shows Roxas’s true origins. We see an emotionless Roxas being discovered by Xemnas, Organization XIII’s leader, outside of this very mansion. As Xemnas asks Roxas what his name is Roxas doesn’t respond. Xemnas holds out his hand and the name Sora appears. As Xemnas waves his hand past the name, the letters began to swirl until Xenmas holds out his hand and the letter X appears between R O A S; Roxas. Angered at not getting any answers but finding more and more questions Roxas takes back off to Organization XIII’s headquarters and confront Xemnas.
As he approaches the headquarters in The World that Never Was, Axel asks him if he’s really going to do this, that he will be destroyed. Roxas replies “No one will miss me” and Axel looks down and wimpers “I would,” but Roxas doesn’t hear him. However, before Roxas can make his way inside, he is confronted again by the imposter. The imposter tells Roxas he can’t let him pass, that Roxas needs to wake up Sora. But Roxas doesn’t care about that; he only wants answers. It’s here that the imposter reveals himself as Riku. He’s been keeping an eye on Roxas to make sure that he would eventually find his was back to Sora. It’s here that Riku needs to make sure that Roxas is who he needs so Riku yells out “Come on Sora, I thought you were stronger than that?” to which Roxas replies “Get real, look which one of us is winning?”. Riku smiles and says “You really are Sora’s Nobody.” Riku now knows this is what he has to do; he has to win so he takes off the blindfold he’s been wearing since the end of Chain of Memories. The blindfold that holds back his darkness. Riku gives into the darkness one more time to make sure Sora is saved and can be restored. Riku’s body transforms into Ansem, but his mind stays as Riku. e is able to defeat Roxas and take him back to DiZ, who is still working with Naminé to restore Sora. DiZ creates a digital Twilight Town and puts Roxas into the machine. This will hold back all of Roxas’s memories so that DiZ can prep Sora to reunite with Roxas.
Both Chain of Memories and 358/2 Days, a game that’s name signifies what transpired over the course of 358 days across two people (Sora and Roxas), are a bridge from Kingdom Hearts to Kingdom Hearts II. I hope you can see why Kingdom Hearts fans are adamant about this series having no core or filler games. Every entry into this series is important in some way and we will need all the information to understand Kingdom Hearts III. As we continue into Kingdom Hearts II remember most of North America did not have the foresight to play Re: Chain of Memories. Never before did a game require non-numbered entries to understand the story. Kingdom Hearts was different.
To be continued in The Last Day…Of Summer Vacation.
Underneath is a ranking, not of the game as a review but how important it is to the story as a whole. Each game will receive its own ranking and it will be on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the highest.
The rankings are as such.
If you miss this, then what is even the point
Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories – 3/5
Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days – 4/5