For six years, Kingdom Hearts fans have been waiting for the third game in the series. And now, with six games in total, the plot is a near labyrinthine mess of connections and revelations. It's with that in mind that I have decided to unravel the plot of the entire series for those who may have missed the opportunity to play some of the spin-offs and those who just want a refresher before diving into the new game. Today we explore Part 5 of our ongoing feature.
Sora’s ongoing search brings him to Olympus Coliseum where he meets the hero trainer, Phil. Another series of tournaments are about to begin, but only heroes are allowed to enter. Donald, Goofy, and Sora insist that they are heroes, and Phil breaks into hysterics at the thought. He does allow them to take part in a series of trials that Sora handily passes but is still turned away since he isn’t a hero. Dejected, the group leaves until they are confronted by Hades who provides them with a pass into the tournaments.
Sora is finally able to enter and makes it through several rounds before catching sight of a mysterious cloaked figure named Cloud. The two fighters make their way through the rounds until they are finally matched against one another. Hades insists that Cloud kills Sora, but the brooding man questions why the god of the Underworld is afraid of a kid and reminds him that his contract only requires him to kill Hercules. Hades reasons that a few casualties along the way is no big deal as Cloud walks off in silence. The match between Sora and Cloud is an intense one with Sora only barely pulling off a victory.
Determined to make his plan work, Hades sends out the monster dog Cerberus. Hercules arrives to hold him off while Sora and his friends escape, but he can barely fight while protecting an unconscious Cloud. Sora decides to return to Hercules to help and manages to hold off the three-headed demon dog while Hercules gets Cloud to safety. Hades is furious at his plan’s failure but decides to bide his time. Meanwhile, Phil gives Sora, Donald, and Goofy the junior hero status stating that they’re not quite true heroes yet. Sora asks how they’ll know when they become one, and Hercules responds that it’s something they must discover on their own like he had. Before leaving, they find the keyhole of Olympus Coliseum and lock it. Outside the main entryway, they discover Cloud waiting for them. He explains that he only helped Hades because he had promised to help him find a certain someone. In relying on Hades, he tried to use darkness but the opposite happened instead. As Sora goes to leave, he and Cloud promise to continue looking for their respective lights.
While traveling in their gummi ship, the three friends spot an enormous whale that Jiminy recognizes as Monstro. It swallows their ship whole before they can escape. Awaking inside, they discover a wooden boy named Pinocchio who runs off despite them calling after him. He leads them to his father, Geppetto, who tells them that they were swallowed while escaping their world. Pinocchio runs off again as a kind of game, and they are amazingly able to explore the body of Monstro though they have to fight through the Heartless that he’s swallowed as well. Their search leads them to Riku who accuses Sora of having forgotten his friends since obtaining the keyblade. Sora denies the accusation and asks if he had found Kairi yet, but Riku plays aloof and runs away.
Riku is met by Maleficent who wonders why he still cares about Sora despite his former friend abandoning him. Riku insists that he’s only messing with his him, and Maleficent leaves him with a warning of the darkness in his own heart. If it grows too much, the Heartless will consume him. Riku shrugs her off and goes back to confront Sora. Sora is confused as to why his friend is acting this way but their argument is interrupted by Pinocchio’s capture by a Heartless. The two rescue him but Riku grabs the wooden boy before Sora can. While Geppetto begs for the return of his son, Riku reveals that Kairi has lost her heart and hopes that transplanting Pinocchio’s heart to hers will save her.
Riku offers to team up with Sora to save Kairi, but Sora refuses upon seeing the measures his old friend would take. Riku is shocked that Sora would chose a wooden puppet over Kairi and Sora explains that his conscience tells him Riku’s on the wrong side. He's able to force Riku to drop Pinocchio who Jiminy immediately runs to. The arrival of another Heartless forces Riku to escape while Sora, Donald, and Goofy fight it off. The battle tickles Monstro's throat enough that they are ejected from his mouth. Back on Captain Hook’s ship, Maleficent confirms that Kairi’s body is little more than a lifeless puppet now since the Heartless stole her heart. Riku begs the witch for a way to save her and Maleficent tells him the full story of the Princesses of Heart. If all seven are brought together then a door to the heart of all worlds will appear. There, Riku has a chance of finding Kairi’s heart. To help him on his quest, Maleficent grants the boy the power to control the Heartless.
Still concerned about Riku, Sora sets off to the next world: Halloween Town (land of The Nightmare Before Christmas). There’s something strange about the town though. Some of the Heartless aren’t acting like they usually do and are merely standing still. Curious as to what may be causing it, Sora and company follow Jack Skellington to the laboratory of Dr. Finkelstein. They learn that the doctor has created a device that controls the Heartless as a way of spicing up Jack’s Halloween celebration this year. Unfortunately, they aren’t quite up to Jack’s liking so he wonders if adding a heart to the Heartless will help. Sora sees this as a chance to stop the Heartless so he helps the pair with their experiment, but it still fails.
The doctor believes if they can add the essence of memory to the heart then it could still work but his assistant, Sally, has it. Jack joins Sora and his friends in the search, but the group quickly learns that the previously motionless Heartless have gone berserk because of their experiments. They fight through the Heartless and find Sally. She gives them the essence, but she believes that things will go horribly wrong. Jack doesn’t believe her and heads back to the doctor with the memory, not realizing that Lock, Shock, and Barrel have overheard them. The three children report to Oogie Boogie who becomes curious at the concept of Jack attempting to create a heart. He believes that if he steals the heart then he’ll be able to control the Heartless with no fear of them overtaking him.
The doctor successfully adds the memory essence but before they can try the experiment again, Lock, Shock, and Barrel steal the heart. Sora and his friends chase after them to Oogie Boogie’s hideout and work their way through his traps. When they finally find Oogie, he swallows the heart and challenges them to a fight. They defeat him by tearing a hole in his body which leaks out all of his bugs, leaving only the heart behind. Just when they thought their battle was over, Oogie reappears filled with the power of darkness and possesses his hideout. Sora and company mangae to break his connection, causing the entire place to disappear and revealing the keyhole. He locks it, ensuring that Halloween Town is safe. However, the heart is still a failure and Jack finally listens to Sally’s advice to cancel his Heartless Halloween plans. Doctor Finkelstein still can’t understand why his heart didn’t work though. It’s apparent that the heart is much more complicated that he believed. Sora, Donald, and Goofy leave, promising to return for next year’s Halloween festivities.
Their next destination is Atlantica (land of The Little Mermaid), where the trio transform into mer-people in order to properly explore the completely underwater world. They are immediately found by Ariel who quickly realizes that they’re from somewhere else. Sora tries to shrug it off that they’re from a different sea and Ariel believes them. Heartless suddenly appear and Sora fights them off, but Ariel is worried that they might attack her father at the palace. Everyone reaches the palace just fine, and they discover that King Triton has been able to hold off the Heartless thanks to his magic trident. Triton chides Ariel for wandering out into dangerous waters and asks where Sora, Donald, and Goofy came from. Goofy lets slip that they’re searching for the world’s keyhole, and Triton becomes angry at the word, insisting that it doesn’t exist.
Ariel tries to argue with her father, but he forbids her from leaving the palace since the rest of the ocean is too dangerous. The girl leaves defiantly along with Sora while Sebastian informs Triton that the Heartless seem to be coming from Ursula’s grotto. Outside, Ariel invites Sora to her secret place where she keeps dozens of trinkets from other worlds. She tells him her dreams of someday seeing these worlds, and Sora lets on that he had the same dream. Feeling a kinship with the boy, she suggests that they try looking for the keyhole Goofy had mentioned earlier. Ursula watches over them as they search, making plans for Ariel.
Despite facing off against a huge shark, their search turns up little and they return to Ariel’s secret place. Triton finds them though and, angered at being disobeyed, destroys many of her treasures. Ariel swims off, distraught, while Triton confronts Sora. He reveals that he knows Sora is the key bearer and from another world, not another sea. The king reprimands him for meddling in the affairs of other worlds claiming that the key bearer brings nothing but chaos. Triton thanks him for saving Ariel but commands him to leave.
While crying alone, Ariel is discovered by Ursula who claims that she can help the girl. She knows that Ariel desperately wants to see other worlds and reveals that her new friends came from one. Ursula tells the mermaid that if she can sneak her into the palace, then Ursula could send her to another world. Instead, the sea witch steals Triton’s trident and uses it to wound the king. Ariel is distraught at Ursula’s actions and swears that she didn’t want this, but Ursula promises to fulfill her word and send Ariel to the dark world of the Heartless. Ariel and Triton are saved by the arrival of Sora and friends.
The group gives chase to Ursula and confront her in her lair. She sends her lackeys after them, but Sora easily defeats them. Swearing vengeance, she transforms herself into a giant. Sora is somehow able to defeat her, causing the sea witch to disappear and leaving the trident behind. They return it to Triton, who apologizes for his actions. He then uses his trident to reveal the world’s keyhole in Ariel’s secret place so that Sora can lock it. Sora apologizes for lying to her, but she forgives him. She knows someday she’ll reach another world. The group says their goodbyes and leaves.
While traveling to the next world, they are suddenly cut off by a pirate ship that takes them to Never Land. Sora is separated from Donald and Goofy, and Riku welcomes him aboard. He asks where his friends have gone, and Riku again claims that Sora has pushed aside his old friends for new ones. He then reveals the lifeless body of Kairi, and Sora tries to run to her. He is stopped by Captain Hook and a group of Heartless. Stepping back, he asks Riku why he sided with the Heartless but Riku explains that he now controls the monsters and has nothing to fear. Sora calls him out for being foolish and knows that they’ll eventually turn on Riku, but Riku believes his heart is too strong. To prove it, he creates a shadow version of Sora before locking him away in the ship with Donald and Goofy.
He’s happy to reunite with them and tells them that he finally found Kairi. It’s then that they meet Peter Pan, who’s waiting for Tinker Bell to come back. When the pixie does, she claims that she found Wendy and another girl. Tinker Bell opens the door for them and the two groups team up until they can rescue their friends. Along the way, Goofy asks how Peter Pan can fly, and he sprinkles some of Tinker Bell’s pixie dust on them. It doesn’t seem to work though as Donald merely falls on his face.
In the captain’s quarters, Hook is surprised to discover that Wendy isn’t one of the Princesses of Heart. Riku tells Hook to leave the girl behind so that they can return to Maleficent. The pirate captain wants to know what Maleficent’s plans are, but Riku doesn’t care so long as he gets Kairi’s heart back. Hook is then informed that the prisoners have escaped. Sora and Peter Pan have found the room where Wendy and Kairi are being held though Wendy confirms that the girl seems to be almost asleep. The two are taken away before they can reach them though Sora notices that Kairi’s body seems to move when he’s near. Before Sora can find Kairi, Riku takes her away and sends Shadow Sora after his former friend.
Sora defeats his doppelganger and resumes his chase while Peter Pan takes Wendy to a safe place. Hook stops Sora’s progress and informs him that Riku has returned to Hollow Bastion, the base of operations for Maleficent. He then reveals that he’s captured Tinker Bell and demands the Keyblade in exchange. Sora is forced onto the ship's plank but as he jumps, he gains the ability to fly thanks to Peter Pan’s encouragement and thoughts of Kairi. Peter swoops in to rescue Tinker Bell and together they fight off the Heartless and Captain Hook. Hook is sent into the water with the crocodile where he is promptly chased off.
Donald and Goofy are worried for Kairi after seeing her and try to be delicate around Sora. Instead of being depressed, he puts on a brave face and muses about telling her how he flew when she wakes. He vows to find her and tell her the story of all he’s experienced. Tinker Bell then takes them to the clock tower in London where Sora locks the keyhole. They say their goodbyes before heading off for Traverse Town to recuperate.
Riku arrives in Hollow Bastion completely worn out from the journey since he didn’t use a vessel or protection to travel the space between worlds. Maleficent chides him for relying too heavily on the darkness, warning that it could consume him. Before Riku can respond, he hears a roar outside that belongs to a castaway. Though his world had disappeared, his conviction led him to Hollow Bastion, the place where his princess was taken. Maleficent isn’t worried though as she claims that Riku is more powerful thanks to the untapped potential within him.
Despite his earlier words, Sora is still unsure if they can succeed since they’ve seen no sign of King Mickey. Donald and Goofy say that they’re doing what the king asked by helping Sora and that they believe in both him and the king. Their words resonate with Sora, and he sees a vision of Kairi and her grandmother. The girl is the same age as she was when Aqua first met her and her grandmother once again tells her the story of how the light would have been lost had it not been for belief of children. Sora snaps out of it and wonders if Kairi just called out to him.
Before leaving Traverse Town, they return all the lost pages of Merlin’s book to the wizard. He uses them to finally restore the tome to its original state. He encourages Sora to look through it and when he does, he’s pulled into its world. This world turns out to be the Hundred Acre Wood (land of Winnie the Pooh) where Sora discovers Pooh. The two talk and Pooh tells him that all his friends have disappeared. They decide to work together and eventually find all of Pooh’s lost friends, helping them with their troubles along the way. That night, they all sit beneath the stars and talk with one another before Sora takes his leave to find his own friends. The experience with Winnie the Pooh and the rest seems to have strengthened his resolve, and he feels ready to take on the trials of Hollow Bastion.
When Sora, Donald, and Goofy arrive in Hallow Bastion, they discover a world that seems completely ravaged with water flowing upward and a large castle in the distance. Yet despite its appearance, Sora feels a strange warmth in his heart as if he had been here before. His introspection is interrupted by a great roar which he finds belongs to the Beast. Riku is talking to him, trying to discover how he made it to Hollow Bastion, but Beast says he simply believed he could. His belief that he would find Belle here must be the reason he had made it. And if she is there, he will take her back no matter what. Riku merely taunts him and easily avoids his attacks until Sora intervenes.
Riku isn’t surprised at Sora’s arrival and muses how their rivalry has pushed them to become stronger. But that rivalry is coming to an end since he claims there can’t be two Keyblade masters. Riku states that he is actually the wielder of the Keyblade and, at his command, Sora’s Keyblade appears in Riku’s hands. Riku states that Sora is too weak to save Kairi and that his journey was nothing more than delivering the Keyblade to him. Sora falls to his knees in sorrow as Riku throws a wooden sword before him, telling him to go off and play. Taking Mickey’s words to heart, Donald and Goofy follow after Riku since he is the true bearer of the key, offering their friend only a hollow apology.
Sora is left alone with Beast who forces himself onward despite his injuries. Sora tries to stop him, but the Beast repeats that nothing will stop him from saving Belle. Drawing strength from those words, he takes up the wooden sword and follows after him, determined to find Kairi. Inside the castle, Maleficent has captured six of the Princesses of Heart: Cinderella, Aurora, Snow White, Belle, Jasmine, and Alice. She then uses them to create a tenuous portal while keeping Kairi’s body nearby.
The Beast and Sora make their way inside the castle, but Beast’s anger overcomes him when a vision of Belle becomes a Heartless. He runs off and Riku locks the door behind him. Riku advises Sora to just quit as the darkness will destroy him, but Sora doesn’t believe him. Even if it tears apart his body, his heart will always remain strong. Angered at his words, Riku dawns a suit of dark armor and fires a ball of magic at him. The shot is blocked however by Goofy who declares that he can’t betray Sora despite the king’s orders to follow the key. Donald agrees and the two rejoin Sora who is moved by their display of friendship.
Riku remains unconvinced though and asks how Sora expects to fight without the Keyblade. Sora declares he doesn’t need the weapon and believes that his heart will protect him. Riku scoffs at the idea since Sora’s heart is too small to do any good. Sora agrees but with every new experience, every new friend he’s made, it’s grown. He’s a part of all their hearts just as they’re a part of his. This show of faith proves to the Keyblade that he should wield it, and it returns to his hands.
Angered, Riku finally engages Sora in an intense duel where Sora emerges victorious. Riku runs off, confused as to why the Keyblade left him. It’s then that a mysterious voice rings in his head, telling him that only a heart strong and true will win the Keyblade. Riku can’t believe that Sora’s heart is stronger than his own, but the voice promises that he can become even stronger. By stepping into darkness with no fear, Riku showed the power that he held. The voice turns out to be the man in the cloak that had spoken with Sora before Destiny Islands vanished. He advises Riku to delve deeper into the darkness until his being was filled with it. This in turn will cause his heart to grow even stronger.
Riku agrees to his terms and appears before Maleficent, his voice deeper and more menacing than before. The door to the darkness is beginning to stabilize and soon Heartless would flood Hollow Bastion. Using its immense power, Maleficent plans to conquer all worlds. Riku then summons a dark Keyblade and explains that the door can’t stabilize without Kairi’s heart. She is the final Princess of Heart. Maleficent then senses that Sora and his friends are on their way, but she decides to deal with them herself. Riku stays behind to guard the princesses, his body glowing with dark energy.
Maleficent uses all her magic to try to stop Sora, but the boy proves too powerful. Wounded, she retreats to Riku with Sora and the others close on her heals. They’re confused by his Keyblade, and he says that, unlike Sora’s, it has the power to unlock people’s hearts. He then turns it on Maleficent and forces her to surrender her heart to the darkness. She becomes drunk on the power and changes into her dragon form. The fight is much more difficult than before, but Sora manages to defeat the dragon. It collapses before burning away to nothing but ash.
The story continues Monday with Sora's battle to save the worlds reaching it's climax and the birth of an important new character. Be sure to keep up by reading Parts 1-4 of the Timeline:
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