Bust out some popcorn and clear your schedule, because this is going to be a long one!
We’re taking a break from Marvel movies! Why? Because MOTHER FUCKING KINGDOM HEARTS 3 IS FINALLY HERE!! At long last, we can go on yet another Disney-Final Fantasy-anime adventure and maybe, just maybe, figure out what the hell is going on in this stupid game series!
Now, I haven’t played 3 yet. By the time this goes up, I’ll only have just gotten my copy. I’ll be reviewing 3 as soon as I’m finished with it, so keep an eye out for that! But in the meantime, I’ll be tackling one of the most iconic and difficult challenges in the history of the internet.
Trying to make sense of the Kingdom Hearts story line.
Now, for you KH newcomers, I’ll be tackling this in release order of the games, not in the canonical timeline of the plot. Because if I did, this would make no sense whatsoever. If we do it this way, then we’ll at least have some semblance of logic. For at least one game.
Also, fully expect me to miss something. Because good fucking GOD, there is a lot to miss!
So let’s get started with the only one that makes sense: Kingdom Hearts 1.
The plot to this game is surprisingly simple, at least by comparison to the rest of this damn series. Sora and his friends Riku and Kairi want to sail away from their home on the Destiny Islands and find another world. Then one day, a strange hooded figure appears before Sora, and the Heartless appear to swallow their world into darkness. As darkness consumes everything, a magical sword called the Keyblade appears in Sora’s hands, Kairi and Riku disappear, and the Destiny Islands are destroyed.
Meanwhile, Donald Duck and Goofy discover that King Mickey Mouse is missing, and he’s ordered them to ‘Find the Key’ via a letter. So, with Jimminy Cricket at their side, the pair enter the Gummi Ship and fly off to find the Key and their King!
Sora wakes up in a new world called Traverse Town. Here, he meets a whole bunch of Final Fantasy characters, who teach him about the Heartless and the Keyblade. He also unites with Donald and Goofy for the first time, and they fly off to find Riku, Kairi and King Mickey.
Some adventures happen in different Disney worlds. After a while, Sora and Riku are reunited, then Riku pieces out and meets up with Malificent, who tricks him into believing that Sora has abandoned him. Because Riku is about as smart as a literal fucking turd.
More adventures happen, and Sora and Riku are reunited once again at Hallow Bastion. Except Riku is no longer himself, as he’s been possessed by Ansem: Seeker of Darkness (which is an important distinction, I swear). Ansem: Seeker of Darkness aims to awaken Kingdom Hearts by using the seven princesses of hearts… hearts (huh), which are made of pure light, which includes Kairi’s heart. Sora discovers that Kairi’s body is comatose, and her heart is missing. Ansem reveals that her heart has taken shelter within Sora’s, so Sora beats him (at least for know) and stabs himself with Riku’s Keyblade in order to set Kairi’s heart free. But by doing so, he vanishes and becomes a Heartless.
We’ll be back to this. This shit is the single most important moment in the entire Kingdom Hearts series. No, I am not kidding.
After about five minutes, Sora’s heartless reunites with Kairi, and he’s brought back by hugging her, I guess. Then, after making sure she’s safe in Traverse Town, Sora, Donald and Goofy return to Hollow Bastion and chase after Ansem: Seeker of Darkness in order to save Riku. They fight in one of the worst final bosses in video game history, Sora wins, and the Door (which they claim is Kingdom Hearts, but it’s not really, but we’ll get to that) opens. Light pours out, kills Ansem: Seeker of Darkness, and now threatens to consume all the worlds with darkness, as the Realm of Darkness is now wide open. Sora, Donald and Goofy close the door from one side, and Riku and Mickey close it from the other, and the world is saved.
Sora, Donald and Goofy are then sent to a wide open field, and they resign themselves to find Riku and Mickey and return home. And that’s Kingdom Hearts 1. Long, yes, but it’s simple and clean.
Get it? Cause that’s the name of the theme song? Okay, I’ll see myself out now.
Now strap in folks. Because next is Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. And this is where everything goes wrong.
Sora, Donald and Goofy arrive at a mysterious castle called Castle Oblivion. Here, they meet a series of strange hooded figures part of a mysterious Organization, and they start fucking with him. While in this castle, Sora’s memories of Kairi begin to be replaced by a mysterious girl named Namine.
By the time they reach the end of the castle, Sora’s memories are all kinds of fucked up. Sora fights through the remaining members of the Organization that are here and saves Namine, who tells him the truth and offers to fix his broken memories. However, to do this, Sora and friends must be sent into a deep sleep and forget about everything that happened in the castle. In an attempt to help them remember, Jimminy writes “Thank Namine” in his journal, and they head off to sleep.
Meanwhile, Riku climbs through the basement levels of the castle, battling against both other Organization members and the darkness held within him. He reunites with Mickey Mouse, and they meet with a new character named DiZ. He explains the situation regarding Sora’s memories, and Riku and Mickey agree to help him.
Okay, so that wasn’t so bad, right? A bit confusing, but okay. Well, this is the game that it goes off the fucking rails completely. It’s also the best game in the series (fight me): Kingdom Hearts 2.
The game starts off with a new character: Roxas, who hangs out in Twilight Town with his friends Hayner, Pence and Ollete (which I just listed from memory, and I kind of hate that). One day, Roxas is faced with a mysterious creature, and the Keyblade appears in Roxas’s hand to aid him! In fact, it’s the same Keyblade as Sora wielded before! How is this possible? Well, hold your horses! He needs to do some chores for cash first!
As they days go by, the world around Roxas begins to deteriorate in strange ways. He runs into Namine, DiZ and Axel (who was introduced in Chain of Memories and is the only member of the Organization from that game that survived), who reveal a few things about his past that he can’t remember. Once, Roxas was a member of the still mysterious Organization 13, and he apparently abandoned the Organization and his only friend within it: Axel. It’s also revealed to him that he’s linked to Sora, and Sora can’t awaken so long as Roxas is still around. So, in an attempt to keep Roxas away from the Organization and help Sora awaken, DiZ, a hooded figure who claims to be Ansem: Seeker of Darkness (and looks the part) and Namine have locked Roxas in a digital recreation of Twilight Town.
With great reluctance and sadness, Roxas gives himself up, and Sora finally awakens. Now up and ready to go, Sora, Donald and Goofy leave Twilight Town and head to the tower in which Mickey’s former master Yen Sid lives. Yen Sid tells Sora about a new threat: the Nobodies, the empty husks of the body that appear after someone loses their Hearts and a Heartless is born. Among them is Organization 13, Nobodies so powerful that they maintain human form and serve as Sora’s greatest challenge yet.
Also Pete is there. He served Maleficent once, and now he commands the Heartless along side her.
Sora has some adventures through Disney worlds, reunites with Mickey (who is oddly quiet about where Riku is), Goofy dies then comes back (no I’m not fucking with you), Axel kidnaps Kairi to lure Sora in, and Sora discovers the digital Twilight Town and enters The World That Never Was. Along the way, they discover that Ansem: Seeker of Darkness’s Nobody, Xemnas, is the leader of Organization 13, and he wasn’t the real Ansem. Instead, he was an apprentice of Ansem named Xehanort, who stole Ansem’s name and became a Heartless and Nobody.
In the World That Never Was, Sora battles with Roxas, and the two finally become one. In a moment of redemption, Axel sacrifices himself to help Sora save Kairi and others, though Kairi has already been saved by Namine and the Ansem: Seeker of Darkness look a like, who reveals himself to be Riku, whose body has been permanently changed by the power of his inner darkness.
Sora, Riku and Kairi are reunited at last, and they move forward to defeat Xemnas and stop the creation of Kingdom Hearts (not the same one from the last game, but we’ll deal with that later). Along the way, they meet up with DiZ, who reveals himself to be the real Ansem! Using a strange digital laser thing, he blows a hole in Kingdom Hearts, and his laser explodes and he vanishes.
Also Riku is restored to his true form. Don’t ask how or why, because it will never ever be explained. Oh, and Riku gave Kairi a Keyblade. Because apparently you can just do that now.
The rest proceeds reasonably smoothly. Sora and Riku defeat Xemnas, get trapped in the Realm of Darkness for a bit, then escape back to the Destiny Islands! This seems like the end, but Kairi reveals a bottle with a message from Mickey, setting up for yet another adventure to come!
But hold up! We need to go back in time for a bit and talk about Birth By Sleep!
Did you think the story was complex before? Then get ready, because we’re only just getting started! Because this game doesn’t just have one story to mix things up: it has three!
The three heroes of this game are Terra (who is literally just Anakin Skywalker), Aqua (who is actually the best) and Ventus (who looks like Roxas). But the story begins long before them with two characters: Eraqus and Xehanort.
These two were trained together, and they became Keyblade Masters. Xehanort had been Ventus’s master, but he had broken his heart during their training, so Xehanort almost left him on the Destiny Islands. However, Ventus’s heart was healed by a newborn Heart, who is later revealed to be none other than Sora! Here, the two forge a connection that will be important later. Xehanort, noticing Ventus is suddenly healed, leaves him with Eraqus to be trained with Aqua and Terra.
Cut to the present. Terra and Aqua are about to take the Mark of Mastery exam to become Keyblade masters, and Master Xehanort has been brought in to help Eraqus grade them! After the test goes awry, Aqua passes, but Terra fails, as he had too much darkness in his heart. Luckily, he has a chance for redemption, as a new threat called the Unversed (which are basically just Heartless) are tearing the Worlds apart, and it’s up to Terra and Aqua to find out why and stop them.
Meanwhile, Ventus is found by a mysterious figure in a helmet called Vanitas, who tells him that Terra may not be the same when he returns. Fearing for his friend, Ventus flies off after his friend, and their separate adventures begin.
Terra travels to the different worlds and, since he’s so stupid that it makes KH1 Riku look like Steven Hawking, accidentally helps all the different Disney villains achieve their goal. He’s also deceived by Xehanort, who tells him “Hey, darkness is pretty cool! You should totally use it! Oh, by the way, Eraqus is about to kill Ventus, you should go stop him!”
Because Xehanort is literally just Palpatine. Legit, it’s one to one. Tetsuya Nomura fucking loves Star Wars.
Meanwhile, Ventus discovers that Vanitas is all of the darkness in Ventus’s heart given physical form. He was created by Xehanort long ago, and he is the father of all the Unversed. And Xehanort wants him and Ventus to fight, as when a heart of pure light and darkness clash, something special happens.
And then shit hits the fucking fan!
See, Xehanort aims to create something called the X-Blade, using the Greek letter for key or Kai and pronounced Keyblade. Not a regular Keyblade, but a special super sword that will open Kingdom Hearts. And not the Kingdom Hearts from 1 or 2; the TRUE Kingdom Hearts, for real this time! Because apparently there are three of them. Hell, there might be more, I’m not entirely sure.
Realizing Xehanort’s plan, Eraqus moves to stop it by killing Ventus. Terra, having been decieved by Xehanort, steps between them to save Ven, and he defeats his master and assumed surrogate father. It’s now that Xehanort reveals his hand by murdering Eraqus and destroying their homeworld.
Terra, Ventus and Aqua all meet up at the Keyblade Graveyard, the battleground where a great Keyblade War was waged many years ago, to fight Xehanort and Vanitas to bring everything to an end. Terra fights Xehanort, but he’s quickly defeated as Xehanort sends his heart into Terra’s body, taking it for his own and becoming the Xehanort we know from the previous games. Or as everyone loves to call him: Terranort.
At the same time, Ventus and Vanitas duke it out, and the X-Blade is forged. As Aqua battles a possessed Ventus in the waking world (with a bit of help from Mickey Mouse), Ventus fights Ventus within his own heart once again. He defeats his doppelganger, shatters his heart in the process, and goes to take shelter in Sora’s heart thanks to the link they forged at the beginning.
After the battle is over, Aqua takes Ven to their ruined home, where she uses a spell taught to her by Eraqus to turn the whole world into Castle Oblivion. Because why not? She hides Ventus here and goes to find Terra, who is possessed by Xehanort and lacking in memories. They fight, Aqua wins, and Terranort falls into darkness. Aqua dives in to save him, and she falls into the Realm of Darkness.
Some time passes in the Realm of Darkness (most of which is covered in 0.2, which we’ll get to later), Aqua runs into Ansem, who is apparently trapped in the Realm of Darkness after the events of Kingdom Hearts 2. He tells her about a boy who has saved the world numerous times: Sora, thus leading into Dream Drop Distance.
But first, we’ve got to talk about 358/2 Days and Coded!
358/2 Days stars Roxas during his time with the Organization. During this time, he makes friends with Axel and a mysterious girl named Xion. After a whole game of terribly boring bull shit, it’s revealed that Xion was forged from Sora’s missing memories, and her existence is halting Sora’s awakening and slowly killing Roxas. Realizing this, Xion tricks Roxas into killing her in order to save them, and everyone conveniently forgets about her as soon as she dies.
Coded is literally the worst. See, Coded takes place in a digital world constructed when Mickey Mouse scanned Jimminy’s journal. Digital Sora makes his way through it to discover a hidden message, and Mickey, Donald and Goofy get stuck in there somehow. The only important addition to the story is the reveal that, should a person’s Heartless and Nobody be defeated by a Keyblade, the original person will be revived.
And now we get into Dream Drop Distance. Did you have a head ache already? Were you already confused? Well don’t worry! Because Dream Drop Distance is more confusing than any of the other games combined! How? Simple!
Mother fucking time travel.
Taking place after Kingdom Hearts 2, this game stars Sora and Riku as they take a Mark of Mastery exam to become Keyblade Masters. Because saving the entire multiverse isn’t enough. To do this, they dive into the Dreaming Worlds, worlds that weren’t brought back after Sora rebooted the multiverse at the end of Kingdom Hearts 1, and wake them up.
However, their test is quickly derailed by none other than Xehanort! Except now, both Ansem: Seeker of Darkness and Xemnas are back! And here’s where everything goes to fucking hell!
See, it’s revealed that Xehanort was aiming to create thirteen beings of pure darkness to confront seven warriors of pure light and awaken the real Kingdom Hearts. To do this, he made some members of the Organization into duplicates of himself somehow, and used time travel to bring his younger self, Ansem: Seeker of Darkness, Xemnas and Old Man Xehanort all together. And in order to complete his thirteen, he intends to make Sora the final Xehanort!
And then we get into the rules of time travel. Only a heart can go back in time, and they need some vessel waiting for them in a previous self. Basically, it’s X-Men: Days of Future Past rules. However, Xehanort said “Yeah, fuck that!”, and he went back and didn’t possess a vessel, which is why he looked like a tall Jawa in Kingdom Hearts 1. He told his younger self about everything they were up to and brought him into the future to help them out. But they couldn’t maintain their presence together for long, so they all eventually went back to their own times and forgot their memories together. But not to fear: Xehanort’s heart remembered and led him along the path towards fulfilling the future.
BECAUSE IF THERE’S ANYTHING THIS CONVOLUTED MESS WE CALL A PLOT NEEDED, IT’S MOTHER FUCKING TIME TRAVEL WITH CONFUSING RULES!!
After Xehanort’s attack, Sora is stuck in a deep sleep. In order to save him, Riku dives into his dreams and pulls him out by defeating the armor created by Ventus’s heart around Sora, who was protecting him from Xehanort’s darkness. When they both awake, Yen Sid declares Riku a Keyblade Master, and Sora fails the test.
Also Axel is there. His name is Lea now, and he can also summon a Keyblade. Don’t ask how, you’ll just give yourself a headache. If you haven’t realized that Nomura doesn’t give a fuck at this point, then I don’t know how to help you.
Now we can leap to the latest release: Birth By Sleep 0.2: A Fragmentary Passage. Here, Aqua makes her way through the Realm of Darkness, and it’s revealed that she saved Riku and Mickey at the end of KH1 in order to save the worlds. Mickey and Riku go off to save her from the Realm of Darkness, and Sora, Donald and Goofy head off to Olympus Colosseum to reclaim Sora’s abilities, which he lost after nearly being Norted.
And now we’re ready for Kingdom Hearts 3! Or at least we would be. But there’s one more majorly important part of the story: the mobile game. Except here’s the thing: I fucking hate the mobile game. So I haven’t played it. And this post is already long enough. So instead, I’ll just leave a link to the wiki so you can read up on it if you’re curious.
Fucking hell. Seriously, what the actual fuck is this? Who in the world let Nomura do this? The song is called “Simple and Clean” for a reason! Did you not listen to it at all while writing this, Nomura?!
If you’re playing Kingdom Hearts for the story… stop. Just don’t do it. You’ll only hurt yourself. I’m not saying you’re stupid, I’m saying the game is stupid. If you were to say to me that you think this plot is genuinely fantastic, then I don’t think I could respect you.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s perfectly fine to love bad things. If it invokes emotion out of you in a positive way, then it doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad. What matters is that you enjoyed it. And you know what? For all the mess and nonsense in this plot, for every basic rule of storytelling this plot line completely ignores, I still can’t find myself hating it. As bad as it is, it has made me smile, it’s made me tear up, and it’s got me super excited for Kingdom Hearts 3.
Though I’m definitely more in the gameplay camp than I am in the plot camp.
If you’ve made it all the way to the bottom of this, then I’d like to thank you for reading! Seriously, the fact that you’re here means the world to me. I hope my poor summary of this plot didn’t hurt your head or frustrate you. I know I left out a lot of details, but in my defense: I didn’t have the time to write a whole novel today.
Not when I need to go play Kingdom Hearts 3!
Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you have a lovely day, whether you’re playing Kingdom Hearts 3 or not. I’ll see you guys tomorrow for my rant on the first Avengers movie!