Kingdom Hearts CoM – Revenge of the Plot

com-2015-12-03-15h53m30s244God dammit I’m going to have to talk about basic game mechanics again. God dammit…

Yes, Chain of Memories actually has two story modes, one starring Sora and one starring Riku, which is unlocked after completing “Sora’s Story.” The GBA game even has two separate save files for Riku mode games, to match the two it gave Sora (make sure not to save over your Sora clear data in the remake! The files are separate!). Riku’s mode is called “Reverse/Rebirth” (the Japanese words are homophones), with “Reverse” as a reference to the term from Tarot, not to mention a few other metaphors. And yes, it is a more-or-less a full game, or at least it contains a full twelve floors: the same floors as Sora’s Story, minus 100 Acre Wood.

From a retrospective perspective, R/R is a lot easier to cover, since you know all the basics and the story is limited for reasons you’ll see in a moment. Still, it’s exciting to play as Riku for the first time, and it’s also faster to play through than Sora’s Story, so it drags less than you’d expect (though that may not be much comfort if you thought the game was already done!). I find I can do each world in under half an hour and not feel like I left much behind, while Sora’s story was closer to a full hour. The design even seems to encourage rapid play. Why, it’s almost as though the developers realized a full-length portable game had already gone by and they were just grasping at straws! One of the major appeals of R/R on the GBA was that it was a challenge mode, for a variety of reasons you’ll see as we go, but the remake removed the “challenge mode” angle, realizing CoM’s gameplay was not particularly popular but the story still very important. They… probably could have done more to create a fluid experience.

com-2015-12-03-15h54m30s158Thankfully Riku’s mode is fun if you do enjoy CoM, and is a very nice narrative once you’ve cut out the fat. I’d say it’s a turning-point for his character. You just… should maybe set the game down for a rest after Sora’s story before powering into this repetition, is all I’m saying. Don’t cut ahead to KH2 or anything, but maybe go play a few wholesome days of Hotline Miami.

Because we’re entering a new section of the game, I’m going to be updating the credits link on the bottom of each post so that BlueGator’s longplay now points towards the Reverse/Rebirth playthrough instead of the Sora’s Story videos. You can catch up with the full version here, or the segmented version here.

While we’re here, I’m also going to say that this post will run a little long – I wanted to get down to brass tacks so that we can carry on from here at a leisurely pace and, besides, I couldn’t find a good cut-off point.  Feel free to read it in more than one sitting, it’s no skin off my hit count!

R/R begins with Riku floating in a greyish void, where he wakes to the sound of a voice bidding him to sleep. In the remake, the voice is that of voice actor Richard Epcar, and if you came to Re:CoM right after KH1, he’ll be as much a mystery as his character was in the original text! Funny how that works, considering this game was recorded well after KH2, when Epcar actually joined the cast. Epcar is a veteran, bolded and underlined, going all the way back to the 70s in the dub of Lupin the 3rd. It’s almost impossible for me to tell what to highlight as a stand-out role. He voiced Batou in Ghost in the Shell, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that we have yet another Power Rangers monster veteran. There doesn’t seem to be a Disney connection in that long career, but he would go on to play the major villain of FFXIV (Gaius Van Baelsar) and do additional voices in XIII-3.

com-2015-12-03-15h55m22s579The voice tells Riku that he is “between light and dark,” something both literal and referring to his, shall we say, spiritual condition. Riku wakes up enough to notice the King is missing, and implies that he either fell into this void the moment the door to Kingdom Hearts was locked at the end of KH1, or that he and the King stayed together for a while afterwards, only to fall apart now. In the original game, the voice tells Riku that “The thorny light of awakening will bring only anguish to one in your state,” which is a curious line I wish they had tried to clarify in the remake (though this is not the last time you’ll hear of a “thorn” in between light and dark). In the original, the voice implies that Riku should stay here, which for some reason Riku takes as an insult, saying the voice is calling him a demon. Oddly enough, the line about Riku staying in the void was changed entirely in the remake but the “demon” line remains. It must have been awfully important to someone.

The voice tells Riku that he’s safe here in the void, but nevertheless presents Riku with an alternative: the World Card to Hollow Bastion. Keep in mind that Riku is in a white void with no knowledge of Castle Oblivion or its cards, so this must strike him as awfully peculiar. The voice tells him that this card will free him from the void, but he can’t return to the comfort of the void if he decides this was a mistake after the fact.  Two high points here: first off: the voice calls the card “a door to the truth,” a clear reference to the Door to the Truth that ends each world in Castle Oblivion (ironically, Riku’s worlds will often not reach the Key of Truth room, and will instead end early). Second, the voice notes that “the truth will bring you pain.”

Nevertheless, Riku takes the card, announcing “This seemed like a boring place to take a nap anyway.”


Riku fades into Castle Oblivion from a flash of white light.

Riku returns to the real world down in the twelfth basement of Castle Oblivion. Remember the basements I was mentioning earlier? This room looks exactly like all the entrance halls Sora visited, save that there is no door behind Riku. He seems to have manifested inside this dead-end, in a hall that seems to exist for no other purpose. That’s both hackish from a level design perspective and eerie from the player’s, and I think I personally come out liking it! The strangeness does not stop there: imagine yourself in Riku’s shoes, having gone from a grey-white void to a plain-white castle hall. Even having come from Sora’s story, it seems less like you’ve returned to the real world and more like you’re on some sort of spiritual journey in some other world. And in a way, maybe Riku is on a spiritual journey? What a surprising impact from some recycled assets.

So la-de-da, Riku doesn’t even bother to test the door’s handle and throws the card at it like Sora always did, even though no one instructed him to do so. I’ll stop questioning it now. We’re on a metaphorical journey now, after all!


On the other side, Riku walks up to Hollow Bastion, but unlike Sora he has not lost any of his memories.  This seems to confirm that it really was Naminé erasing memories all along, while the power to create memory-worlds belongs to the Castle. Riku and the voice begin a running conversation in this introduction room that lasts through the three Key rooms, though Riku does have to call the Voice’s attention from time to time.

The voice explains some of the Castle Oblivion basics to Riku, and Riku asks if he’ll run into dream-people. Wow, he’s sharp, if only we had him in Sora’s group! The Voice tells Riku that normally he would run into people here, before ominously adding: “ordinarily.” Then he just shuts up so that Riku can learn for himself.

(Actually Riku is a little too on-point. He even says “Am I going to learn something?” deliberately echoing the player, and I can’t help but laugh.)

com-2015-12-03-16h01m25s284The game gets started at this point, and if you’re like me, the first thing you’ll notice is that the remake didn’t save your camera preferences because these are distinct save files. *grumbles, mutters* The first thing you’re going to notice is that Riku controls a lot like Sora, save that he starts with a super high jump in the remake. You can get almost anywhere with this!

Early advice to trophy hunters: I believe Riku can be used to get tricky game-long trophies like Undefeated and No Escape, just in case you missed them during Sora’s playthrough. Thankfully, you don’t have to do those specific Trophies in both folders, so if you haven’t earned them already, feel free to earn them with whichever character you find easier to work with.

You’re going to have to get into a fight eventually, since you’re flat out of Map Cards and there’s no tutorial to provide them like there was with Sora. You start the game with a single Moment’s Reprieve, but there’s an issue and I feel the need to critique it: the Moment’s Reprieve is a “1” card. This is useless, because the first few worlds are so small that they’ll only ever have a 1 door right next to the entrance. Remember: you don’t need a save point by the entrance, because you can simply walk back out to the main hall!

com-2015-12-03-16h03m17s566Once you do get into a fight, you’ll find things seem normal for CoM. Riku has an attack deck full of Soul Eater cards, and the only notable difference between the Soul Eater and the Keyblade is Riku’s style of attack.  Riku doesn’t use slow, wide swings like Sora. Instead he hops around like a rabbit in the remake, leaping from target to target. To counter this speed, Riku doesn’t have a very wide swing compared to Sora, striking single targets more often than groups. In the original the basic controls are a bit more similar to Sora, though Riku’s dodge roll in both versions is a dramatic forward flip. He has no Sleights to speak of, or at least, not as far as you can tell. This is fine in its own way, because Riku can’t meet Pluto in Re:CoM, meaning if he was using Sleights, he’d soon be in danger of running out of cards (something you should keep in mind in an emergency).

What really sets Riku apart from Sora at the outset is his Reload Card, which has been changed in the player’s favour. Instead of having to slowly charge up his reload while standing still, Riku can reload instantaneously. He simply has to wait for the cards to shuffle back in place, which can cost you a few seconds, but that’s only the tiniest danger compared to what Sora had to live through, especially since Riku can stunt-dive out of most problems in an instant. This is an advantage that spreads to your entire play-style. Not only can you reload faster, but you can reload more frequently, since Riku barely suffers any penalties for doing so (besides the brief delay spent on the shuffling animation).  Riku can always reload his deck when he’s run out of appropriate cards, when Sora had to milk the deck dry no matter how desperate the situation, lest the next reload cost him in the long run. “Wow! With all these benefits there’s got to be a hell of a penalty to balance things out!” you say, probably laughing in a nice, friendly way.

Oh child.

com-2015-12-03-16h03m37s678The thing about Riku’s playstyle is that while he’s better than Sora in a lot of ways, but his deck is locked, and has shockingly little variety, being made of Soul Eater cards from top almost all the way to the bottom.  Your deck changes on every particular world, with a special Castle Oblivion deck for in-between-floors bosses (this deck is shared with the final floor). The decks on each Disney floor feature a single, local Enemy Card in addition to any other cards, and you can’t get minor enemy Enemy Cards in any other fashion. These pre-set decks aren’t always meant to be useful. I call them “Gimmick Decks,” because often you have to perform a specific gimmick to make them useful in the first place. Luckily, enemies seem to get their cards based on your deck (Creeper Plants, for example, aren’t necessarily full of 7s like in Sora’s Story, using weaker cards when you have weaker cards), so it’s just a matter of learning your deck and coping.

The gimmick decks in the original GBA tend to be more challenging (and more gimmicky, for that matter) than the ones in the remake. There are times earlier on when the GBA has the easier experience, but trust me, it will catch up. These days I mostly play Re:CoM, and while I miss the old challenge from time to time, the sad reality is that while the challenge may have been successful against the bosses, it was tedium against the rank-and-file.  The simpler decks for R/R are one of the major reasons I prefer Re:CoM over the original GBA even though I prefer the GBA’s narrative choices. Because I’m trying to compare both versions for fans who haven’t played both (or either), I’m going to take a brief section of each floor to compare the gimmick decks of each version, at least in rough.

com-2015-12-03-16h05m49s578Thankfully, the Hollow Bastion deck isn’t much of a “gimmick” deck. It’s just a good strong deck that might not be as strong as the Castle Oblivion deck or the Destiny Islands deck you’ll be playing with later in the game, but is pretty solid. The local Enemy Card that goes along with your Gimmick Deck is the Defender, which raises your defence against physical hits, with no downsides. The GBA and Re:CoM decks are identical with one exception: the GBA deck has a Potion card. The Potion isn’t even very helpful because of how Riku reloads his cards, and I suspect it was removed for exactly that reason! …Despite at least one instance where the remake adds a Potion.

Between your deck, the downgraded enemy attacks, you’re going to get through Hollow Bastion like a breeze. If you can find a Strong Initiative room card, make sure to play it. Yes, I’m recommending a Green map card. Why? Because with only one or two levels up, you can watch Riku bounce around the screen instantly killing big Heartless like Wizards and Wyverns in single hits. It’s embarrassing and hilarious at the exact same time!

com-2015-12-03-16h07m01s016At the Room of Beginnings, we… holy shit, where are we? Every Gold Room in Re:CoM so far has been existing rooms from Kingdom Hearts 1 – except the new worlds, of course. But here we are in a brand new location within an established world! It’s a bit harder to tell this is a new room in the GBA original, but pretty obvious in the remake. It’s a bedroom: bed, bookshelves, desk, and according to the Voice, it’s Riku’s bedroom, given to him by Maleficent. Judging by the walls and tilework, she gave him a bedroom in the undercarriage of the castle, near the runoff water, active gears and the plumbing… which sounds like something Maleficent would do, come to think of it.

The Voice taunts Riku about the room, reminding him: “You cast away your home, your friends, everything… But at least they gave you a nice room.” It cuts right to the core and I love it. Riku leaves the room in a huff.

Once you do start getting Map cards from the bad guys, you’ll find yourself carrying a mess: nearly every Room Card that Riku can unlock is already unlocked at the start of the game (I believe the only exception is the Random Joker).  The cards aren’t equally available, mind: Moment’s Reprieves are at a premium for some reason, as are Roulette Rooms and Almighty Darknesses (not that Almighty Darknesses would be of any use to you). The end result of having every card available at the same time is that you can’t guarantee you have any rooms you’ll actually want to use on the early floors, and it will take a while to build up a stable supply of your favourite map cards.


Riku’s instantaneous reload in action.

There are a few map cards that Riku can’t get at all. Riku can’t go to Moogle Rooms, because his deck is static. Likewise there are no Bounty cards or Rooms of Reward – not even to help you unlock Sleights!  Note that the removal of Bounty and Moogle cards puts all Blue Cards at a premium: any Gold Door asking for Blue cards was put there to taunt you, since all Riku is carrying are Moment’s Reprieves and Mingling Worlds. Riku also cannot find White Rooms to fight White Mushrooms. A funny side-effect of your having all cards unlocked at the start is that it’s hard to get any specific one of them, and so the Mingling Worlds card may actually become appealing, since you might be short on a this-or-that!  I still they’re a bad idea, but I understand where you might be coming from.

If you’re playing Re:CoM and manage to snag a Black Room, it can potentially solve your card problems. Instead of dropping Calm Bounty cards like the Black Fungi did for Sora, Black Fungi drop Roulette Rooms for Riku, and you can use those to correct any additional problems with your Map Deck.

Actually the Black Fungi are tied to a funny little detail. If you’re going for Riku’s completion trophies, you’ll find most trophies to be quite easy! Want to complete the Journal? Fight at least one Black Fungus and one Barrel Spider, and almost everything else will fall into your lap. Card Master Riku? All you need is a Random Joker – it’s the only card Riku could conceivably miss with the game’s odds. The game is going to fork over trophy after trophy when you reach the final floor. There are still some tricky bits but it’s funny to think that Card Master and the journal trophy are two of the hardest Sora trophies!

In the Room of Guidance, Riku and the Voice have a chat in the entrance hall (in the original, they chat in the same generic hall as the introduction). Riku’s noticed that there’s no one in the castle but Heartless, and he wants to know why there are no people. Well that’s a good question Riku, how many people do you remember running into in the giant apartment-building sized castle that had no more than six other people in it at any given hour?

com-2015-12-03-16h09m48s082The Voice asks a pertinent question: is Riku sure he wants to see anyone here? When Riku insists, seemingly thinking of his friends, the Voice says: “But you cast them aside. […] You dreamt of the outside world, and you passed through the door to darkness. Behind you, you left family, friends, home—everything—all in pursuit of darkness.” Adding to this scene is the way the Voice’s dialogue appears in the remake: in a horizontal sweep, which reveals more than one line at once. Very interesting, as though the Voice’s thoughts come in bundles, whispering into his mind.

When Riku insists he’s since cast Darkness aside as well, the Voice says that that’s exactly the problem: “Your heart knows only how to cast away. It’s empty—like that room. Like your memories. That’s why you don’t meet anyone. Your heart is hollow—except for the residual darkness.”

I adore this setup. We’ve completely turned the head on the original premise of going back and forgetting to a new perspective that’s already forgot! R/R seems to be making better use of its premise than the entirety of Sora’s Story. Of course, Sora’s Story was actually misleading you, but it spent a lot of time pretending it wasn’t. Here we’re at a strong start instead of a long scheme. How is this going to affect Riku? How is it going to affect the gameplay?

com-2015-12-03-16h10m36s292.pngAs you wander the halls of Hollow Bastion, you may notice a few other rudimentary gameplay changes worth noting. The first is the natural lack of card drops and Moogle Points in the environment. This dramatically reduces the need to destroy everything in sight (it’s why you can easily miss the Barrel Spiders), which speeds up gameplay and makes R/R feel a lot smoother in general… but you might want to break a few objects all the same. This is because Riku has no Cure spells. And hope all you might, he’s never going to get any. You’d think that would be a headliner piece of bad news I’d have mentioned up front, but Riku is going to find a different sort of way to heal once we’re done in Hollow Bastion. For the time being, you’re going to want to bust up the environmental objects, and curse the developers: the rarity of the Moment’s Reprieve card is starting to feel outright malicious!

com-2015-12-03-16h04m18s242Another new factor to R/R is the way Riku levels up. Once again, you get to pick from three options, one of which only appears every few levels. HP is still slot #1, like in Sora’s Story (Riku gains more HP per level, in fact), but both the other options (CP and Sleights) have been replaced. Hey, time out. If Sleights aren’t in chests, and aren’t in level-ups, where are they? Well, the answer’s a little weird, and I can’t give it yet, but I’m pretty sure GBA players are going to be disappointed when I say: “Sorry GBA players, there nearly aren’t any.” But we’ll get back to that “nearly.”

The second of Riku’s upgrades is a single-point upgrade to his Attack Points! This is the upgrade that’s only available every few levels. Riku’s Attack Points are so critical that you’re going to want this upgrade every time it appears without question. With enough AP, you gain a massive advantage over enemies, while without it… let’s just say that I once read a group of low-level challenge players trying to do CoM, only to give up on R/R because the game quickly descends to Riku tapping enemies for 1 damage a swing, and it bored them away.

The third upgrade is the most mysterious. It’s called Dark Points: you gain 2 per level (and you start with 10), but they don’t seem to be of any use. In the remake, you can’t even upgrade them until you learn what they’re for! But despite their ominous name, you’re going to want a lot of Dark Points. AP is critical and HP is far more important than it was with Sora, since Riku’s ability to heal is limited, but you can’t neglect DP. All will become clear in time. In fact, you might want to hurry. Between the lack of Moment’s Reprieve cards, a mysterious third stat that does nothing (and can’t be upgraded in the remake!), and the lack of most reliable means of healing, the game is almost screaming at you to pick up the pace!

com-2015-12-03-16h12m31s895In the Room of Truth, Riku finally runs into Maleficent, who greets him saying she knew he’d return. Whatever that means. You might presume Maleficent is just acting out a memory-scenario, but when Riku mistakes her for the real Maleficent come back to life (yes, the game actually implies that Maleficent capital-D died in KH1, with no censorship), she tells him herself that she’s a memory. Wow, this is… meta. This may be a sign of Riku’s self-awareness or Maleficent’s intelligence, but it adds to the sense that Maleficent is somehow external to Riku, as though this really were a metaphorical journey he was undergoing.

Maleficent tries to tempt Riku, and I really wish they could have gotten Susanne Blakeslee to do these lines instead of leaving them as text, it would have been a great scene in voice. Riku tells her he’s finished with the darkness. “If I’m stuck seeing people like you…” he says, as though the Castle were a state of existence, because for all he knows, it is, “…I’ll take you out one by one.”

Then Maleficent says the line I always think of when I think of R/R: “Then you mustn’t forget to destroy yourself last.” Riku says so be it: he admits to giving in to the darkness in the past, but says he only did it because he was weak. “I hate that weakness. It’s like I’m my own enemy.” Interesting phrasing. Maleficent notes that “So you hate the darkness enough to fight it. Oh, the agony you must feel!” I’m surprised they outright say what she’s implying – what surprising nuance from the Mistress of All Evil! It’s all wonderfully handled without any of the melodrama and over-acting you’d have expected from KH1, leading to a much more refined experience. Oh, Maleficent is a little bombastic when she turns into a dragon, but that’s just her being her.

com-2015-12-03-16h13m10s016The Maleficent dragon battle is the same before, even easier. I’m not sure if she just has worse cards or if it comes down to her low HP. There certainly seems to be more frequent Gimmick cards than during Sora’s Story. Because you’ve already jumped through this hoop with Sora, it won’t be long before you clear the battle and come out the other side, victorious… and to your surprise, win her Enemy Card in the process, even though Riku can’t edit his decks! As you’ll soon discover, one of the stranger elements of R/R is a Mega Man-like angle where you keep the Enemy Cards of bosses you defeat, eventually building up a serious power-base… and a lot of clutter!

Riku leaves Maleficent without so much as a closing cinematic, he’s just back in the overworld. This is normally where I’d cut to the white halls of Castle Oblivion, but R/R actually forces you to walk to the Conqueror’s Respite yourself, which is rarely near the boss room in R/R! At first I thought this was something of a programming oversight or laziness, but I eventually came to see the clever side of this design. I’ll be discussing all this in the subsequent entry.

Ultimately you find the Respite, heal up, and come out the other side. There, the Voice speaks to you again (in voice-over in the remake, not text), asking why Riku shuns the dark. The Voice orders Riku to stop resisting if he is “to serve me again!” Finally he appears: Ansem, the Seeker of Darkness.

com-2015-12-03-16h14m01s168Yeah, Richard Epcar wasn’t Ansem’s original voice actor. That was Billy Zane. While there are some popular rumours, it’s never been officially confirmed why Zane left the cast. I admit I prefer Zane for Ansem, though another character under Epcar’s banner is just fine by me. Zane technically provided the archived battle quotes for Ansem in the GBA release, but those were replaced by Epcar in the remake as well.

Considering that R/R is accelerated, what Ansem is doing here – alive – is only treated on in brief. We’re going to have to reunite with our old friends “supposition,” and “educated guesses” and draw our own conclusions. Hello again Ms. Supposition. Have you met Mr. Educated Guesses? You have so much in common. My first guess would be that Ansem here is a memory. Given the extended “dive to the heart” Riku seems to be going through here here in R/R, it’s also possible that Ansem is an embodiment of his own internal darkness.  Are the two even that distinct to begin with?

Riku suspects that Ansem wants him as host-body again, suggesting that Ansem is at least not back among the living… yet. Riku attacks him, but is blown away by his power or some form of barrier. Ansem taunts Riku reminding him of his failure against Sora. It worked last time, worth a shot, right? But as Riku is starting to waver, he hears a familiar voice: King Mickey! It seems Disney was now reassured that Square knew what they were doing and gave them permission to use Mickey almost as much they pleased, and Square, in a remarkable show of restraint, put him in the sub-mode instead of the main!

A ball of light descends, speaking with Mickey’s voice. Mickey’s light enters Riku’s body, and gives him the strength to stand, and the proper fight begins.

com-2015-12-03-16h16m59s012In the original GBA game, this is a boss battle, though not a particularly challenging one. The most interesting fact of the battle is Ansem’s ability to use his “Come, Guardian!” defence while he’s reloading cards, which was a very clever call on the part of the developers. Nevertheless, you’ll win without much trouble. I suppose this battle was meant to be an introduction to your distinct Castle Oblivion deck. Use the Maleficent Dragon card to make things even easier.

In Re:CoM, this boss battle against Ansem is replaced by a tutorial. Before we move on to the tutorial, however, it’s probably worth taking a look at the two Castle Oblivion decks. Unusually, the Re:CoM deck is the weaker one. It has five less cards, one of which was a level 0 Hi-Potion card, and the Hi-Potion it does have was downgraded from 9 to 8 just to spite you! To make matters worse, many of the remaining cards have also been downgraded: two of your other zeroes are gone (yes, you lost three zeroes in the transition) and in their place you’ve gained a whole whack of 3s, 4s and 5s where you previously had none. To make matters even weirder, Re:CoM put its 0s in the middle of the deck, where they used to be conveniently at the end.

Why make these changes? I might not be able to explain everything (putting the 0s in the middle of the deck just feels like a dick move), but I can tell you that the new “weak” cards are there to help Riku out with a new technique added to Re:CoM: Duelling. In fact, Ansem is just about to unlock the Duelling feature. Unfortunately, I’m not going to cover Duelling for a few entries yet (this entry is already overlong), but let’s just say that having low-valued cards can actually be helpful for Riku, and the removal of the 0s also forces you to duel in self-defence.

com-2015-12-03-16h18m02s289Like I just implied: in Re:CoM, the battle with Ansem was replaced with a special tutorial, teaching Duelling and a certain other technique. As is my wont, I’m going to push off the mechanics for the next entry. Once you’ve finished your lessons, the “fight” ends automatically.

Having had their half-hearted exchange, Ansem breaks off the fight, and says, as though with surprise, that “It seems you are intent on resisting the darkness.” Really? This surprises you, after not only the talk before the fight, but through all of memory-Hollow Bastion? With Riku ranting and raving about destroying the darkness? I have the strangest feeling that Epcar was supposed to emphasize the word “intent” instead of “resisting,” to imply that he understands that Riku is not about to change his mind after all, but it’s an indecisive line of dialogue no matter how you go about it. Ansem gives Riku another world card (Traverse Town), and yet again the remake acts like there’s only one card, even though there are in fact multiple, just to match the inadequate animation from the GBA. This gets absurd as they start to talk about Riku exploring “a” world to discover the evil in his heart. It loses all impact: half through comedy, half through the belly flop of Ansem’s big challenge being the evils of Traverse Town.

com-2015-12-03-16h18m21s923Ansem adds that he has a second gift, and gestures to Riku, causing a strange darkness to awaken in him. This unlocks “Dark Mode,” a major combat mechanic we’re going to have to talk about at length in the next entry. Riku is not thrilled, and during my first time through the game, neither was I. On my first run, I assumed that using Dark Mode might be tied to some sort of bad ending! But don’t worry: Dark Mode exists entirely to your benefit, so unless you’re a hardcore roleplayer, it’s probably best to put it to use. Which is good, because it’s going to come into play whether you want to or not!

That completed, Ansem says he’ll be waiting, and he leaves you to head deeper into the castle.

Prev: Kingdom Hearts CoM – Thank Naminé
Next: Kingdom Hearts CoM – Stink, Stank, Stunk

This retrospective’s 2D screenshots come from RickyC’s longplay of the GBA version of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories at World of Longplays (YouTube), while 3D screenshots come from BlueGator’s longplay of the 1.5 HD version of Kingdom Hearts: Re: Chain of Memories at Temple of the Azure Flame (segmented version).



  1. Since when has Xehanort’s Heartless stopped caring about wanting to control the universe by plunging it into the abyss, and instead has solely started obsessing with Riku’s well-being and always asking him to submit to the darkness? It’s like he’s not even the Big Bad anymore, but just a stock shounen anime cliche. You know the one I mean: the Enemy Within who represents the Shounen hero’s dark aspects to his great power and always taunts him to give in to them so they can take control to mess things up for both the Nakama and the enemies.

    1. For one angle, we could suppose that he’s solely interested in Riku because Riku is his only way back into the physical world. He can deal with destroying the world once he’s in a position to destroy the world.

      On the other side of things, He really IS just the shounen hero’s dark aspects at the moment, so I’m not surprised he’s slipping into the cliche.

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