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The Road to Kingdom Hearts III: The Story So Far – The Last Day…Of Summer Vacation

The Road to Kingdom Hearts III: The Story So Far – The Last Day…Of Summer Vacation
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Kingdom Hearts III is one of the most anticipated games of 2019 and we at Mammoth know how overwhelming the story can be. We want to take the next few months to recap each game, in case you need a refresher. 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.

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 II

Kingdom Hearts has never pulled punches on its storytelling, and it’s never been more evident than in Kingdom Hearts II. From the moment the game turns on you are greeted with a slew of scenes from Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories. These recap the story for everyone who knows the games, but for most players it wasn’t anything more than a montage of nonsensical imagines set to music. However, this is what these articles are made for. We have had some unexpected setbacks and our original plan of a new recap a month has been derailed. However, we are still committed to bringing you all the information you will need going into Kingdom Hearts III so these next recaps may be shorter but they will still follow the events of each game and in the order I believe is the best to experience them. So without further adieu this is Kingdom Hearts II.

Roxas wakes up on his last few days of summer vacation. He and his friends are spending time together for these last few days before they get their summer project done for the start of school. This project is what sets them off on their adventure. The four of them, Roxas, Haner, Pence, and Ollett, all decide to write about the mysteries of the town they live in, Twilight Town. Their investigation takes them to a haunted mansion at the end of town in the woods. It’s here that Roxas starts to feel things aren’t quite right. On their way home, more mysterious events begin to take place. Time stops for everyone besides Roxas, and a ghost-like creature appears. It moves like water and has a mouth made from a zipper.

Along with these strange creatures, is a red-haired man, who seems to know Roxas, and is trying to get him to come back with him. When Roxas shows no sign of remembering both the red-haired man, who calls himself Axel, and the white monster attack Roxas. Roxas defeats them with a key-shaped blade that was summoned to him in the nick of time. However, upon Axel’s defeat, they disappear, and Roxas wakes up in his bed the next morning.

As he goes to the Usual Spot to meet back up with Haner, Pence, and Ollett something is wrong. Not one of them are acknowledging his existence and when he tries to touch them his hands pass through them as if they were ghosts. Nothing has been the same since they visited the mansion in the woods. Roxas is filled with questions, and he needs answers, so he starts where this craziness all started and goes back to the mansion. Here, he’s faced with more of those white ghost creatures as he makes his way through this deserted mansion until he finds a white room that seems to be much cleaner than the rest of this run down building. In this room is a blond haired girl who Roxas remembers seeing in the window the last time he came here with Haner, Pence, and Ollett. She informs him that her name is Naminé. She tells him that he isn’t supposed to exist and that he much merge back with a boy named Sora. Naminé tells Roxas that she shouldn’t exist either; however, there’s no way for her to return to her true self. Roxas after resisting at first ends up complying and merges back with Sora. All of this happened on the last day of summer vacation.

So at this point in the game, the tutorial is over. Yes, before we learned who Roxas really was in 358/2 Days, we only knew Roxas as an obtuse intro to Kingdom Hearts II. We were wrong. The reunion of Sora and Roxas was the last step in waking Sora up. DiZ and a mysterious hooded figure have been overseeing the project until Sora was strong enough to wake up. Sora remembers nothing from Castle Oblivion, or anything dealing with Naminé, and DiZ doesn’t seem concerned with this but directs him to find a Keyblade master named Yen Sid to continue his quest to find Riku. As Sora thanks DiZ and sets off, we discover that there are two Twilight Towns. One is the real Twilight Town that Sora has been sleeping in and the other is a datascape that DiZ created to keep Roxas preoccupied until Sora was ready for him. This second Twilight Town isn’t mentioned again in the series, and as of right now we are unsure what has become of it. Another key piece of information is revealed once Sora leaves and it’s the identity of the mysterious man in the black hood. He takes off the hood to reveal its Ansem, the villain from the first Kingdom Hearts. As Sora leaves, he is confronted by Axel, who seems very distorted. He seems upset with Sora for taking Roxas away and the two fight. After Sora defeats Axel, Axel appears to finally accept Roxas’s fate and lets Sora go. Finally, Sora is free to travel to Yen Sid.

Finally arriving at Master Yen Sid’s, Sora is greeted by an old enemy, Pete. He is trying to get into Yen Sid’s castle but runs at the first sight of Sora. After Pete leaves Sora, Donald, and Goofy make their way up to meet this old Keyblade Master. Here they are told about Organization XIII’s plan of trying to obtain hearts from destroying Heartless to access Kingdom Hearts. Yen Sid explains that when a Heartless is made, the person’s darkness in their heart creates the Heartless, however, their body is left over. These leftover bodies are called Nobodies and the leader of a man named Xemnas, the leader of Organization XIII.

Along with this information, Yen Sid explains that even though the Door to Darkness is closed, the Heartless are still infecting all worlds. Sora is tasked with saving these worlds until more can be learned about Xemnas and Organization XIII. Confident from the time they fought and defeated Ansem, the group agree and set off with Chip and Dale once more to find King Mickey and Riku.

Meanwhile, we are shown what has been happening on Destiny Islands and with Kairi. Much older and seeming like she is in school Kairi is talking to a friend about a boy who she used to be very close to but can’t seem to remember his name. Kairi’s friend doesn’t remember the boy either but wishes Kairi luck in remembering. Kairi decided to write this boy a letter and send in a bottle floating in the ocean. As soon as she releases the bottle, we are shown Roxas and Sora merging. This sets off a chain reaction over all worlds and everyone remembers Sora at the same moment. You see, while Sora was asleep, everyone but DiZ and Ansem forgot Sora. It’s unclear at this point in the game why Ansem and DiZ are the exceptions, but it will be explained later.     

Sora, Donald, and Goofy’s adventure leads them first to where they ended their first; Hollow Bastion. It’s here we see most of our friends we met in Traverse Town have made their way here, their old home. As you fight back Heartless and Nobodies you are brought into the Hollow Bastion Restoration Committee. The old residents are trying to return their home to what it once was. You fight your way all the way back to the castle that Riku took Kairi. Squall tries to activate the cities defenses but doesn’t know the password. It’s here you leave it to him to protect the city as you set off for more worlds to save.

You visit and save a lot of worlds like in prior games. Worlds like Land of Dragons from Mulan, Agrabah from Aladdin, and Pride Rock from The Lion King. However, it’s not until you return to Hollow Bastion to fix the defense commuter and go to Space Paranoids from the original Tron, does the over all story progress. When you first arrive, Squall is with King Mickey. The two are looking for the password in Ansem’s office when you notice something on the wall. Three letters DTD. Pondering for a bit, Sora finally realizes what it stands for; The Door To Darkness. This is in fact the password and the game continues with you fighting the mainframe to the security system with Tron’s help. Once you finish your goal and leave the computer you see Hollow Bastion is under attack from a massive Heartless army. The three of you, with the help of King Mickey, fight off the darkness with some very close calls (the game makes you think Goofy dies!!!). After the group tends off the hoard of darkness the true antagonist reveal themselves; Organization XIII with Xemnas in the lead. It’s here Sora learns the Organization has kidnapped Kairi but its not very clear how.

Okay, I’m sorry, but I have to break here. I try my best to give you, the reader, as much information as you would have up until this point in the game. However, this is somewhat impossible here because it’s not ever shown exactly what happened. Last we saw Axel, he and Naminé where leaving together after Sora and Roxas merged back in Twilight Town. This was assumed that the two would be on the same side. We know Naminé wants to help Sora and even though Axel fought Sora, he seemed like he was in pain over losing Roxas, his best friend.

Nevertheless the next time we see Axel he is trying to take Kairi, and now the Organization has her and Axel is on the run from them. So here’s what happened behind the scenes. Naminé wants to merge beck with Kairi, her somebody. This was revealed in Re: Chain of Memories, but I’ll go over it again here. When Kairi was taken by the darkness in Kingdom Hearts, her heart sought refuge inside of Sora. When Sora sacrificed himself to become a Heartless, and release Kairi’s heart, he created his Nobody, Roxas, and a new kind of Nobody, Naminé. This is why she has such power over Sora. Now she wants to become one with Kairi, like Roxas did with Sora. This is what prompted Axel to kidnap Kairi, however, this puts Kairi in danger from the Organization and this is what happens. They kidnap Kairi to control Sora. This is where we are in the story now, sorry if this was jarring. Let’s get back to the Keybladding.

Before Sora confronts the Organization, Axel shows himself. He tells Sora he is playing right into the Organizations hands and that he is sorry about Kairi. However, before the two can talk more Sïax shows of and scares Axel off. This is where you may become most confused. You find out Kairi is kidnapped by the Organization, so you hate them. Then Axel reveals he kidnapped Kairi so you anger shifts.Sïax then tells you Axel will be punished for what he did, but the Organization does have Kairi and you will only be able to see her if you release enough hearts from the Heartless. But we aren’t done. Maleficent shows up to claim Kingdom Hearts as her own. The enemy of my enemy applies here because she protects Sora from the soldier Nobodies Sïax spawned to attack Maleficent. Maleficent tells Sora she will fend off the Nobodies until he can find a way to vanquish this common foe for good, but once Sora does then she will return her gaze to him. It’s confusing, I know. But here is the gist of it. Axel isn’t part of the Organization anymore and isn’t Sora’s enemy. He just wants Roxas back. The Organization is the bad guys, but their goal is to get into Kingdom Hearts by using Sora and his Keyblade to release the hearts within the Heartless so they can become one in the realm of Darkness to summon Kingdom Hearts. They want to use Kingdom Hearts to acquire hearts of their own to become real people again. However, Xemnas has other plans. This brings us to Maleficent. She isn’t much of a player in Kingdom Hearts II, but she is also after Kingdom Hearts, so she is another side to this weird four-sided enemy group. Nevertheless, Sora escapes the attack and Hollow Bastion is saved.

Sora meets back up with Mickey inside of Ansem’s office.Mickey is staring at a portrait of Ansem sitting on the floor. You two reminisce about your original adventure when Mickey reveals a bit of information that turns the whole game on its head. That’s not Ansem. Ansem the Wise was the leader of Hollow Bastion back when it was called Radiant Garden. The man the portrait is his apprentice; Xehanort. He attacked Ansem the Wise, and since then no one has seen him. At this point, Apprentice Xehanort took his own heart and Ansem’s name and became a Heartless known as Ansem Seeker of Darkness. This, as you probably guessed, created a Nobody as well. This Nobody’s name is Xemnas, the leader of Organization XIII. This information dumbfounds Sora. This whole time they thought they defeated Ansem, but he was just an imposter and a very powerful Heartless. Sadly though, the group doesn’t have much time to digest this information because all the worlds are being overrun by Heartless from Organization XIII. Sora has no choice but to help collect hearts to save the worlds.

This starts the second half of the game where you go back to the worlds and lock them from the Darkness. However, this is meaningless because Sora succeeds in releasing enough hearts to spawn Kingdom Hearts and he has to travel to the World that Never Was. This is where the Organization’s headquarters is, and where Kairi is being held captive. The path to this world is open because of Kingdom Hearts. The heart-shaped moon is shining brightly above this world and gives Sora a path to it. This is where some answers are revealed. It’s not long after arriving and fighting his way to the castle does Sora run into Axel. This time Axel helps Sora fight the Nobodies, and eventually sacrifices himself to let Sora escape. But this act isn’t pure selflessness. With his death Axel hopes this will be his way to see Roxas again. After looking back one last time, Sora takes the opportunity to get away safely and gets up to the Castle. It’s here that he has to fight through the remaining Organization members with the first one to challenge him being Xigbar. This member is going to be more important than most and will show up multiple times, so make sure you remember his name.

However, as Sora is fighting him we are shown what is happening with Kairi. She is escaping her cell with the help of Naminé. After successfully escaping, we are shown the two merging back into one being, though Kairi is unaware of what happened, minus a warm feeling she gets after it’s complete. But Naminé is not the only one helping Kairi. So is Ansem Seeker of Darkness. The same Ansem we saw with DiZ in the start of the game and the same Ansem that went against DiZ’s orders to destroy Naminé after her work with restoring Sora was complete. The two break out and head towards the entrance of the castle and arrived just as Sora defeats Xigbar. This is finally the reunion that we have been waiting for where Sora and Kairi see each other for the first time since the end of Kingdom Hearts. However, it’s not all happiness once Sora sees Ansem. Knowing everything that he has done, Sora jumps in front of Kairi and threatens Ansem. Ansem says nothing but turns to leave when Kairi stops him. This is where every gamer’s mind exploded. She begs him not to leave and says, “Say something to him, Riku.”

I intentionally left this out of the end of 358/2 Days to reveal it here. Since the end of Kingdom Hearts, Riku has been fighting his inner darkness. This darkness was enhanced in Re: Chain of Memories to the point that Riku had to wear a blindfold to fully concentrate on holding the darkness back. However, when Riku had to fight Roxas at the end of 358/2 Days, he wasn’t strong enough and had to let the darkness out to defeat Roxas. This resulted in Riku looking like Ansem Seeker of Darkness although he remained Riku on the inside. Riku lost hope that he would ever be able to contain the darkness, or return to his old form, and accepted his new face and name, and he decided to help Sora from the shadows but never come in contact. This thankfully wasn’t something Riku could keep up.

After the major reveal, Sora doesn’t believe Kairi, so she tells him to close his eyes. As he does Ansem disappears, and Riku can be seen in the darkness. This is all Sora needs to see to sprint to Riku’s side and fall to his knees hugging Riku. Sora is happy to be back at his friend’s side. The emotional moment is unfortunately short-lived as they are attacked by Heartless, but to everyone surprise, Kairi has a keyblade of her own, given to her by Riku. Somewhere else in the castle, DiZ is also trying to stop the Organization’s plans and has created a device that is supposed to decode hearts into data. This will not only give him vital information, but also allow him to destroy enough hearts to despawn the heart shaped moon. It’s here that King Mickey meets up with him. As DiZ explains what this device does, Mickey tells him that a heart is too strong to be decoded and the machine will explode. This is a chance DiZ is willing to take as he’s caused so much pain that he has to try and undo it. DiZ removes the red tape covering his face revealing he is Ansem the Wise. The original Ansem and he feels responsible for everything his apprentice Xehanort has been able to accomplish. He tells Mickey to leave because, of course, Mickey was right and the machine is soon going to explode. Ansem the Wise accepts this fate and is just happy the path to Kingdom Hearts will be broken.

Sora, Kairi, Donald, Goofy, and Riku are all making their way to the top of the castle when they run into King Mickey. The machine explodes and Riku blocks the blast from everyone with is body. This act allows the light in his heart to break out and restore Riku back to his normal form. With everyone safe, the six of them make their way to the top of castle to confront Xemnas. Even though the machine exploded the door to Kingdom Hearts is still there and Xemnas enter with Sora and Riku to follow. The other four stay outside to clear a path back. This is the final showdown.

Inside Riku and Sora have the hardest fight so far we have seen in Kingdom Hearts. However Sora and Riku prevail and together are able to defeat Xemnas. This, however, traps them inside of the Realm of Darkness. Micky, Goofy, Donald, and Kairi have to flee as the door dissolves. Riku and Sora, however, wake up on the shores of the Dark Margin. A place we have seen and will see more in Kingdom Hearts. The two see no way out, but this is okay with them. They are together, they saved the Realm of Light, and Kairi is safe. This is all they need. The two sit quietly watching the never-ending moon over the water when Sora sees something in the water. It’s a bottle, the same bottle Kairi sent out in the beginning of the game, and once read, a door made of light opens and Riku and Sora walkthrough. The two are greeted with sunlight and a shore they recognize. Kairi is waving at them from the shore as the two sprint toward her. They are interrupted as Goofy and Donald tackle Sora, and Mickey jumps into Riku’s arms. This is the first time we have seen everyone together and the happiest ending so far to a Kingdom Hearts game. The last scene we see is Sora and Riku watching the sunset as Kairi is running to them with a message. Sora reads the message and tells them he has to go; they need his help. This is a cliffhanger fans were given that wouldn’t be resolved for a few years, but will be explained in out next entry:
The Road to Kingdom Hearts III: The Story so Far: May Your Heart be Your Guiding Key.

Underneath is a raking, not of the game as a review, but how important the game is to the overall story. Each game will receive its own raking and it will be on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the highest.

The rankings are as such:

  1. Little Importance
  2. Some Importance
  3. Important
  4. Very Important
  5. If you miss this, then what is even the point

Kingdom Hearts II – 5/5

Mark Kriska

Mark Kriska is a journalist for Mammoth Gamers. He plays primarily on PlayStation but also plays on Xbox and Nintendo systems. Mark is an all around nerd and if he is not playing games he's watching sports, movies, or TV and if all else fails enjoying a nice book or comic.