It’s been 13 long years since Kingdom Hearts II first released on the PlayStation 2. Between now and then we’ve had a fair few Kingdom Hearts games that weren’t direct sequels, but filled in a lot of story points before, after, and during the two main games. It can get very, very confusing trying to piece together the lore and story behind Kingdom Hearts and even the most experienced player may need a refresher before playing Kingdom Hearts III.
Whether you are a veteran fan or new to the franchise, you won’t understand much of what’s happening unless you can wrap your head around all 8 games and the short movie Kingdom Hearts χ Back Cover.
Who are Organisation XIII? what’s a dreameater? Who on earth is Xehanort? What does Disney have to do with all this? Never fear, we at TheGamer are here! (to explain everything).
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9 Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep Final Mix
Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix takes place way before Kingdom Hearts I when Sora was a very young child. We go back to a time where keyblade wielders defend the light and train under masters. It follows the tale of Ventus, Aqua and Terra, another three keyblade wielders training under master Eraquas.
Xehanort, known as master Xehanort, is another keyblade master; however he dabbles in darkness and plots to get the infamous χ blade through Ventus. Xehanort wants to wage a new keyblade war between light and darkness. He divided Ventus’ heart into two beings, Ventus (of pure light) and Vanitas (of darkness). Pitching the two against each other, Xehanort hoped to create the χ blade.
However, his plans were thwarted and Ventus managed to destroy the χ blade, which sent him into a deep slumber. Aqua seals Ventus away in Castle Oblivion, which was previously their home, Land of Departure.
Meanwhile, Terra, similar to Riku, is drawn to the darkness which allows Xehanort to use his body as a vessel for himself. Eventually Aqua and Terranort (Terra possessed by Xehanort) clash. Aqua saves Terra from the darkness, but is lost to it herself. Terranort is sent back to Radiant Gardens where Ansem the wise takes him on as an apprentice under the name Xehanort.
8 Kingdom Hearts Final Mix
Kingdom Hearts Final Mix is the game that started it all. Here we are introduced to Sora, a kid with giant feet and a giant heart. He has two friends, Riku and Kairi, and all three are on a pretty small island called ‘Destiny Island’. This island doesn’t seem to have any adults but that’s ok, the kids here seem just fine. Sora, Riku, and Kairi are best friends who plan to leave the island on a raft and explore new worlds.
Unfortunately for our motley crew, darkness swallows Destiny Island and separates the three best friends. Sora becomes the keyblade’s chosen one and attains the power to wield the keyblade, which can lock and unlock anything. Sora then wakes up in another world, ‘Traverse Town’ where he meets Donald, a magician, and Goofy, a knight. Together they team up to fight the darkness and travel to new worlds on the Gummi ship.
The three set out on their quest to save Riku, Kairi and find King Mickey, whilst closing the keyholes that let the darkness into each world they visit. As they visit these worlds they come across friends and enemies, learning of the disappearances of seven princesses. A major foe they face who comes up time and time again, the ‘leader’ of the Disney enemies is Maleficent. She has unprecedented control over the darkness and looks to harness its powers for her own use.
Eventually Sora, Donald, and Goofy find Kairi and Riku, as well as the princesses in Hollow Bastion. Sora discovers Kairi’s heart has been inside him this whole time, and using the keyblade release her heart from him, becoming heartless for a short period of time.
Riku’s heart has succumbed to the darkness, allowing Ansem to take over his body as a vessel. Ansem wishes to use the pure light of the princesses' hearts, seven in total, to open the door to darkness, allowing the darkness to flood into the realm of light. After some difficult fights, Sora manages to defeat Ansem and save Riku. To close the door to darkness Sora uses his keyblade whilst King Mickey uses the dark realm’s counterpart keyblade to seal the door. Riku helps Sora and King Mickey close the door to darkness, however is left stranded in the dark realm with King Mickey.
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7 Kingdom Hearts: RE:Chain Of Memories
Immediately after the point that Kingdom Hearts I left off, Kingdom Hearts RE:Chain of Memories picks up the story. With Sora, Donald, and Goofy once again searching for Riku and King Mickey, a clue from Pluto and King Mickey leads them to Castle Oblivion.
In Castle Oblivion, using Sora’s memories, you must battle through the worlds already visited whilst a mysterious organization manipulates him. The organization, seemingly headed by Marluxia, includes Axel, Larxene, and Vexen. They are 'nobodies', which is what is left after a heart leaves the body to become a heartless. For every heartless, there is a nobody. Additionally, Sora battles a new Riku, a result of Vexen’s replica experiments after meeting Riku, which happens before he meets Sora. Marluxia’s main goal is to use Sora as a vessel, however, he turns on his organization (Organisation XIII) and tries to claim Sora for himself.
As Sora progresses through Castle Oblivion he loses his memories, which are replaced by new ones. In these new memories, a girl called Naminé takes the place of Kairi and Sora becomes hell-bent on keeping his fabricated promise to Naminé no matter what.
Naminé is another nobody with a special ability to dismantle people’s memories and reassembles them to her own whim. All she wants is someone to care about her. Naminé has hijacked Sora’s memories and placed herself in them. Once Sora reaches the top of Castle Oblivion he meets Naminé and the truth comes out about his rewritten memories. She agrees to rewrite his memories to what they were, even if it means he will forget her.
6 Kingdom Hearts 358/2
When Sora became a heartless in Kingdom Hearts I, a nobody was created. Despite Sora becoming whole again, his nobody, Roxas, was recruited by Organisation XIII, the same organization as was in the previous game. Roxas possess the ability to wield the keyblade, which releases hearts when defeating the heartless. Organisation XIII main goal is to release as many hearts as possible and use them to create their very own Kingdom Hearts.
Axel and Roxas become very close, and whilst working for Organisation XIII, a new member joins the ranks, Xion. Xion is a mysterious young girl who grows close to Roxas and Axel. The three question the fact that nobodies do not have hearts due to their feelings for each other. Xion has an uncanny resemblance to Kairi and is gradually absorbing Sora’s memories, who is still in deep slumber whilst Naminé tries to fix him. Organisation XIII now see Xion as the better candidate than Roxas for their plans.
Xion’s secret is revealed, that she is a puppet created to duplicate Roxas’ powers and should never have existed. She only exists for Organisation XIII to control Sora’s power, and is sapping the power of Sora through Roxas. Whilst Sora sleeps, Riku comes across Xion and learns who she is. With the help of Riku, Xion learns that Sora cannot wake up until his memories are restored, which requires her to not exist.
Xion flees Organisation XIII after learning who she truly is, and Axel is sent to destroy her. After a battle, Xion and Roxas finally meet upon the station tower and Xion explains why she exists, and why she must become part of Sora again. She returns to Sora, leaving Roxas and erasing herself from Axel and Roxas’ memories.
In a bid to get Xion back, Roxas and Riku clash. Riku cannot defeat Roxas and has to give in to the darkness, giving him Ansem’s form. He then returns Roxas to DiZ, who creates a data replica Twilight Town and places Roxas in it with his memory erased.
5 Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix
Kingdom Hearts II follows on immediately after Kingdom Hearts 358/2. You first play as Roxas, who is living in a data version of Twilight Town with his friends (created by DiZ, aka Ansem the Wise). As you progress as Roxas bizarre events take place, including time stopping, Roxas summoning the keyblade and bizarre enemies appearing. These new enemies are nobodies, or more specifically dusks. Nobodies like Roxas and the other members of Organisation XIII retain their human form because they were of strong heart. Otherwise, a person’s nobody manifests as a dusk.
When Roxas meets Naminé and learns that he is Sora’s nobody, he gives himself back to Sora to make Sora whole again. Naminé was made when Kairi’s heart was released from Sora, and is therefore Kairi’s nobody. Naminé also returns to Kairi.
Now we play as Sora, who discovers the nobodies and learns of Organisation XIII. Due to his memories of Castle Oblivion being erased, he does not remember anything about the Organisation.
We learn that Ansem was Xehanort’s heartless and the leader of Organisation XIII, Xemnas, is Xehnaort’s nobody. In order to cause another keyblade war, Xehnort needed to gather seven guardians of light and thirteen darknesses. So, from Kingdom Hearts I the seven guardians of light would have been the seven princesses.
Xemnas’ plans are thwarted by Sora and Riku, concluding Kingdom Hearts II.
4 Kingdom Hearts Re:coded
Kingdom Hearts Re:coded follows a data version of Sora not long after Sora and the gang wakes, using Jiminy Cricket’s Journal. Going through Sora’s old memories from Kingdom Hearts I they uncover Naminé’s hidden message of who she was and how to stop the pain that the nobodies felt.
3 Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance HD
Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance HD follows Riku and Sora as they journey through Sora’s dream in order to become Keyblade masters, as set by Yen Sid. Yen Sid is King Mickey’s master, and is therefore one of the most revered and powerful characters in the game.
In this dream world, there is a new enemy called dreameaters, which you can also use as party members using synthesized ‘friendly’ versions. Near the end of the game, Sora is lost to a deep slumber as planned by young Xehanort and Organisation XIII. Riku and King Mickey find themselves facing the Organisation, learning their true intentions.
Organization XIII plans to divide Xehanort between the thirteen vessels. Xehanort, in his original form from Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep, makes his planned return along with Ansem and Xemnas. Their plans to use Sora as the thirteenth vessel are thwarted by Axel, who has recompleted to become Lea again, who he was before he was a nobody. Lea, Riku and King Mickey save Sora from Xehanort and return to Yen Sid.
We learn that the new seven guardians of light; Riku, Kairi, Sora, King Mickey, Aqua, Ventus and Terra are the only hope against Xehanort and Organisation XIII. However, Xehanort has terra in the form of young Xehnaort so they cannot complete the seven guardians of light. King Mickey and Riku set out to rescue Aqua from the darkness, hoping she can then lead them to Ventus. Lea, previously Axel, becomes a keyblade wielder and the seventh guardian of light, and goes off to train with Kairi.
Riku becomes a keyblade master, however, Sora does not - due to not mastering the power of waking and nearly becoming a vessel for Xehanort.
2 Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth By Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage
This is a short game following Aqua’s journey in the darkness and her search for Ventus and Terra. She learns that both Terra and Ventus are safe in the realm of light and continues her journey. She meets King Mickey, who is searching for the Keyblade that will seal the door to darkness from the inside (from Kingdom Hearts I). We learn that Aqua was key in helping King Mickey and Riku seal the door to darkness by defending them during the events at the end of Kingdom Hearts I.
1 Kingdom Hearts χ Back Cover
Kingdom Hearts χ Back Cover is a short movie that takes place before the first keyblade war. It follows The Master of Masters, who prophesizes the future and passes it to his six apprentices through a book. The Master of Masters disappears, leaving Ira in charge. Aced, Invi, Gula and Ava, his other apprentices are left with specific roles, however, secrets and jealousy turn them against each other.
The sixth apprentice, Luxu, is bestowed a keyblade called No Name, which possesses The Master of Masters’ eye, allowing him to see into the future and prophesize times to come. He is also given a mysterious box engraved with χ super.
At the moment we do not know how this links with the rest of the Kingdom Hearts story other than the keyblade No Name appears several times with Xehanort and young Xehanort.