This is a relatively small piece of lore information, comprised of both the lore from Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories, and around half of the lore from Kingdom Hearts 358/2 days. Whilst fairly minor, this game bridges the gap between the first major Kingdom Heart game and the second major Kingdom Hearts game, Kingdom Hearts 2. The game play is considerably different, in an attempt to create an easily programmable combat system for the Gameboy Advanced. Combat is limited to a combat screen that is entered once you encounter a single enemy in the overworld, similar to some of the Final Fantasy games. The combat phase is played out with cards, including attack, magic, and summoning cards of varying value. You can cancel the attack of an enemy by using a higher number card, and you can stack three cards to make a stronger attack. There will be two parts to this lore reflection, so let’s get on with part one!
The Castle Looming in the Distance
As Sora, Donald and Goofy continue along the path they discovered upon leaving the World of Chaos, they enter the Realm Between, the realm that balances on the edge of the world of light and the world of darkness. They come to a crossroads, where a cloaked figure appears. The figure makes the paths merge to one, leading to a looming castle in the distance – Castle Oblivion. The figure appears again, and gives Sora a card that he must use to progress deeper into the castle. After using the card, Sora is transported to what appears to be Traverse Town, but without Donald and Goofy, who are trapped in the cards. All his friends are in Traverse Town, but have forgotten the names of Sora and his friends, despite feeling familiar and remembering the promises they made in the past. As with the real Traverse Town, the Guard Armor is terrorizing the town, and Sora has to put an end to it. Once the Guard Armor is destroyed, Sora leaves this Traverse Town and finds himself on the second floor of Castle Oblivion. Here he encounters the hooded man again, who reveals himself to be Axel. He explains the way that Castle Oblivion works; the higher up you get, the more memories you lose, but you will find what you have been looking for at the very top. He then challenges Sora to a fight, and when Sora wins Axel provides him with more world cards, so that Sora and his friends can get to the top of the castle. All the while, Naminè is manipulating Sora’s memories, making him forget about Kairi and believing that he is looking for Naminè instead.
In the exit hall of floor 6, Sora encounters another hooded figure, revealing herself to be Larxene. Larxene provides Sora with even more world cards, and provokes him and his new memories, claiming that Naminè is being held captive at the top of the castle. She presents a good luck charm that was Naminè’s, originally having changed the shape of Kairi’s good luck charm, to help reinforce the memory that Sora is actually looking for Naminè. Calling Sora heartless, Larxene baits him into a fight, which she loses. She runs away, allowing Sora to press on. After exploring one more world, Sora encounters Riku on the 7th exit hall. Riku tells Sora that he is protecting Naminè, and that Sora should leave. Confused, Sora requests to fight Riku to jog his memory, and the pair are thrust into battle. Upon defeating Riku, Sora suggests to him that they can look after Naminè together, which fills Riku with sadness and rage and claims that Sora never considers the way that Riku feels, confusing Sora further.
At the 10th floor exit hall, Sora encounters Vexen who baits Sora into fighting him by claiming it was him who reunited Riku and Sora. During the fight, Vexen analyses data from Sora’s heart and creates another world card for Sora to enter from his ‘other side’. This leads Sora to Twilight Town, a remnant of his heart from when he was turned into a heartless and Roxas was created. As Sora travels further into Twilight Town, he encounters Vexen again who asks if anything feels familiar about Twilight Town, and if his memories are true. Sora acts confused, leading Vexen to say that both Sora and ‘his’ Riku are just slaves to their memories. Sora defeats him easily, and as Vexen was about to warn Sora about Marluxia’s plans, the Organization, and Roxas, Axel arrives and throws his weapon and detonates it, eliminating Vexen, acting as the first member of Organization XIII to be eliminated. Exiting the memories leads to the third encounter with Riku. Sora explains that with Vexen dead, Riku is free and can leave the castle, but he refuses, saying he chooses to look after Naminè of his own free will. Riku tells Sora about his promise to Naminè, and Sora explains that he had made the very same promise. Sora shows Riku the charm, and Riku gets enraged, showing his charm. Once defeated, Riku drops the charm upon escaping, ultimately turning into a world card for Sora to use.
After going through the 12th world, Sora encounters Riku again in the exit hall. Meeting again, Riku tells Sora that he keeps interfering with his memories. Riku vows that he will protect Naminè, and engages in a fight. After winning, Sora attempts to help Riku, but he pushes him away, attempting to eliminate Sora once and for all. Just as he is about to kill Sora, Naminè breaks the false memories to save Sora. At this point, Larxene appears again, goading Sora, explaining that the Riku he has been fighting was a fake all along, nothing but a replica that Vexen created to get information from Sora. Enraged, Sora fights Larxene, ultimately eliminating her from the Organization.
Sora presses onto the final floor of Castle Oblivion, this time acting as the actual castle. Along the way, Sora encounters Axel again, after Axel has allowed Naminè to escape. Axel is explaining to Marluxia that his orders were to rid the Organization of traitors, Marluxia being the leader of the traitors. Marluxia uses Naminè as a shield, not stopping Axel, but forcing a fight between the two. Although Sora defeats Axel, Axel pretends to fade away, leaving with the words “It was worth saving you after all”. Sora presses on, determined to save Naminè and defeat Marluxia once and for all. Marluxia orders Naminè to erase all of Sora’s memories, but she refuses because of Sora’s kindness towards her against Axel. Sora orders her to erase his memories to save her life, leaving Marluxia confused. The fake Riku then appears, attempting to protect Naminè again. Enraged that both Sora and the fake Riku decide to protect Naminè, Marluxia attacks. The fake Riku protects Naminè during the fight, and Sora disposes of Marluxia. However, Sora discovers that the Marluxia he just defeated was a fake, and that the real Marluxia resides at the top of the castle past the final door. Marluxia combines with his spectre in the final battle, attempting to defeat Sora and rewrite his memories. However, Sora defeats Marluxia, leaving a door to the final area of the castle, the pod room.
Here, Sora, the fake Riku and Naminè meet, Naminè explaining to Sora, Donald and Goofy that for them to regain their memories, they must enter the pods for a long period of time. Sora asks Riku if he will protect Naminè, and he agrees, leaving the trio to enter the pod. The game ends, leaving Sora, Donald and Goofy in the capable hands of Naminè.
But wait, there’s more!
There is a lot more to this game than I’ve discussed, I’ve only documented half of the story so far. There’s also how this game ties in with Kingdom Hearts 358/2 days, and how it impacts the future story. But I’ll explain that in another part, because this has gone on long enough as is. Stay tuned for part two, coming soon.