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 20 of our ongoing feature.
Sora, Donald, and Goofy’s next stop takes them to the Pride Lands (land of the Lion King) where an older Simba is having a nightmare about the death of his father. He looks into the night sky, remembering him, while Timon and Pumbaa sleep nearby. But Sora and the others disembark in the Elephant Graveyard to see that they’ve been disguised as normal animals; Sora is a lion cub, Donald is a tropical bird, and Goofy is a tortoise. While admiring their new forms, they’re surrounded by hyenas who plan to have them for dinner. Sora tries to run, but isn’t used to his lion appearance yet. The group is only saved by the roar of Scar, who is calling the hyenas to some kind of gathering. Not wanting to get on his bad side, the hyenas leave while Sora tries to get used to life as a lion.
As Sora figures out that he can use the Keyblade in his mouth to fight, Donald remarks that Kairi would probably find Sora adorable in this form. Sora just smiles before starting the search for their friends. Instead they come across Nala, who is getting attacked by a group of Heartless. They use their new skills to fight them off without too much difficulty. Nala thanks them for their help and Sora takes the opportunity to ask if she knows if his friends are there. She hasn’t seen them, but Sora decides to take a look around anyway. Before they go, Nala warns them that the Pride Lands have become dangerous under Scar’s rule.
Sora isn’t worried now that he’s grown accustomed to his lion form but listens as Nala explains that Scar and the hyenas have driven off all the prey. The Pride Lands have become nothing more than a barren waste. Despite all that Scar's done, Sora is surprised that she would want to take down their king. He’s worried about the world’s order but decides to keep exploring for his friends anyway. Nala leads them to Pride Rock where she introduces Sora and the others to Rafiki. The old baboon looks them over before telling Nala that they’re not the ones who can save the Pride Lands. She tells them to leave before Scar can catch them.
But as they go to leave, they’re once again surrounded by the hyenas, this time joined by Scar and a lion version of Pete. He commands the lionesses to use Sora and his friends as prey, but Nala instead attacks Scar. She throws him off guard, giving herself and the others enough time to escape. Sora decides to ask her if there’s anyone else that could be king, and she tells him about Mufasa’s son, Simba. Sora offers to go searching for him while Simba still broods over the nightmare of his father’s death. Timon and Pumbaa try to cheer him up, but nothing seems to work. Simba walks off to a nearby cliff and plops down onto some flowers. The petals are sent into the air and carried by the wind to Rafiki. By smelling the flowers, he jubilantly realizes that Simba is still safe.
Sora’s search takes him outside the lands surrounding Pride Rock to an oasis. It’s there that he finally discovers Simba. Sora introduces himself and the others but are interrupted by the screams of Timon and Pumbaa. Simba rushes off to help them with Sora offering to help. They discover Nala about to eat the two, but Simba pounces on her. The two fight for a bit before Sora tells him that it’s his old friend. Simba is relieved to be reunited with Nala and asks for some alone time with her. She begs Simba to come back to Pride Rock and save them all from Scar. But Simba refuses, saying that sometimes bad things happen, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Nala grows frustrated with him and leaves as Sora and the others come upon the scene. He approaches Simba, but the lion prince walks away without a word. That night, he tries to convince himself that even if he did go back, nothing would change. It’s then that he’s visited by a vision of his father who tells him to remember who he used to be. Simba takes the words to heart and asks Sora to help him take back his kingdom.
When they arrive at Pride Rock, Simba is shocked at the devastation of his home. He makes his way to Scar and gives his uncle a choice, step down as king or fight. Scar appears to cower at his words until he begins talking about Mufasa’s death. He threatens to tell Simba’s friends the truth of his disappearance. But Simba admits it to them himself. He’s the one who killed his father. Scar continues to accuse Simba as the lion tries to explain that it was an accident. Simba is so unnerved that he almost falls from Pride Rock. As he struggles to hang on, Scar whispers to him that he was the one who killed Mufasa. Simba becomes furious at these words and is able to leap back to safety. He pins his uncle to the ground and forces him to admit the truth.
Scar is able to escape from Simba as Sora and the others handle the hyenas. They fight them off and rush to see how Simba’s doing. Donald wants to help, but Sora realizes that they shouldn’t. It’s his fight and will decide the true king. Simba is able to do it on his own and sends Scar careening off Pride Rock. But just as they think it’s over, Pete appears again. He reveals that all of Scar’s jealousy and hatred of Mufasa has turned the tyrant king into a Heartless. This time, Sora joins in the fight and helps Simba defeat his uncle once and for all. After years of being away from home, Simba claims his birthright as king and everyone celebrates. Sora knows that his friends aren't here and heads out, positive that he’ll find them eventually.
They decide to return to Hollow Bastion to see how Leon and the others are doing but find the town crawling with both Heartless and Nobodies. On their way to Merlin’s house, the discover that Cloud has returned to Hallow Bastion. He says that he’s tracked down the one that embodies all the darkness within him to this world and vows to defeat Sephiroth once and for all. Sora promises to keep an eye out for him, but Cloud warns him that he messes with people's heads to make them believe that darkness is the only way. Aerith then appears and gives Cloud a hard stare. He doesn’t want her involved in his problems. She takes it as him not wanting her there, but Cloud promises to always return no matter how far he may go. Aerith understands and assures him that she’ll always be there, cheering for his victory and return. As Cloud walks off, Sora tells her that he’s positive that Cloud will be fine and that he still contains light within him. Aerith already knows that.
Sora and the others then go to Merlin’s house where they find Yuffie and Cid. They tell Sora that they’ve discovered the computer that Ansem once used. With it, they can maybe get all kinds of information on the Heartless and maybe the Organization. Sora hopes that it will have details on the Realm of Darkness too since it seems like it could be where Riku and Kairi are. Cid isn’t sure but tells them that Leon is waiting for them. While on the way there, Sora is stopped by someone asking if he’s with the Restoration Committee. He turns to find three small fairies, Yuna, Rikku, and Paine, (from Final Fantasy 10-2) who ask where Leon might be. Sora tells them and the three girls grow excited.
The girls are about to go report back to their leader, and Sora asks who that might be. Rikku almost lets slip that it’s Maleficent, but the other two cover her mouth before she can finish. Sora, Donald, and Goofy look at them suspiciously, but Paine insists that they come in peace. Yuna apologizes for the trouble and all three disappear. The trio continue on where they find that Aerith is waiting for them near the entrance to the computer room. She tells them that Mickey is with Leon, helping him figure out how to access it. Donald and Goofy are excited for the news, but Sora immediately asks if Riku or Kairi is with him. Aerith shakes her head so Sora decides to ask the King about them directly.
They finally reach the old room of Ansem which even contains a portrait of him. There’s no sign of Leon or the King though. The search is interrupted by the appearance of Tifa, (from Final Fantasy 7) who asks if they’ve seen anyone with spiky hair. Sora tugs at his own hair, but she says that it’s spikier than that. She begins searching all over the room, knocking in various places and even delivering a terrifying kick to a wall. Satisfied that there’s nothing there, she takes her leave. Sora and the others stiffen as she walks away, nervous about her immense physical power.
Leon finally greets them, and they ask about the King. He promises that they’ll see him soon enough and shows them a secret entrance to Ansem’s computer room. Sora runs toward the main console and begins jamming buttons in order to search for Riku and Kairi, but he has no idea how to use it. Suddenly, Goofy screams out as they spot Stitch crawling on the ceiling above them. Unknown to them, the warp drive from ten years ago had sent him to Hollow Bastion. He lands on the keyboard and activates a strange voice. It warns them that further misuse of the computer will result in defensive action. Sora asks who the voice is, and it calls itself the Master Control Program which oversees the system.
Donald accidently touches another button causing the Program to declare them under arrest. A machine activates behind them and hits Sora, Donald, and Goofy with a beam of light. They are then digitized and sent within the computer’s world, Space Paranoids (land of Tron). Sora awakens to find himself in the strange outfit of the world. He looks around and sees that Donald and Goofy have been captured by virus versions of the Heartless. Sora is about to go help them when Commander Sark appears and begins using his abilities to shock Donald and Goofy. Not wanting to see his friends hurt, Sora gives himself up.
They’re taken to a prison cell where they’re left to wonder what kind of world they’ve entered. A voice suddenly rings out behind them saying that they’re in a Mainframe Computer System. Sora doesn’t understand, but their fellow prisoner tells him that the system is a copy of one created by a corporation called ENCOM. The original was destroyed, but this copy was brought into existence by another User. This user upgraded all the programs and renamed the system, “Hollow Bastion OS.” He used the system for town maintenance and furthering his own private research. Their fellow prisoner introduces himself as Tron, a security program. Sora looks at Donald and Goofy. None of them understood a word Tron had just said, but they introduce themselves just the same.
Tron recognizes them as Users and tells them that they should escape quickly since there’s no telling what the Master Control Program, or MCP, will do to them. It is what controls the entire system and could very well de-rezz all of them. They become alarmed at this and ask how they can escape. Tron shows them a terminal which could take them back but power was cut off to it. They’ll have to find a way to get it back up and running. Unfortunately, they have no way to do that since they’re locked in this cell. Sora then gets the idea to use his Keyblade to unlock the door and the four escape. Meanwhile, Commander Sark is asking Master Control why they haven’t de-rezzed Tron yet. The program explains that it still hasn’t located the password to the data space. Sark suggests a logic probe, but MCP says that’s out of the question since the current environment is hampering the processing power. MCP dismisses Sark and commands him to take care of any remaining anomalies in the system.
Tron guides the trio to an energy core which he easily repairs, allowing them to now access the terminal home. But before they can leave, Tron asks a favor. He’d like them to find his User, who will give them the password to access the DTD. The name DTD is what Tron’s User named the dataspace, and it’s where all of the original system programs are stored along with sensitive and restricted material. Goofy realizes that it could contain information on the Heartless and Organization XIII, and Tron confirms these suspicions. The main reason Tron needs the password though is because that’s where all of his higher level functions have been taken since failing to defeat Master Control in their first battle. With those functions back, he could get rid of the MCP and restore the system back to the way it was. Sora is more than willing to help and asks the name of Tron’s user. It turns out to be Ansem the Wise. The three of them are shocked at this news, not realizing that the Ansem they know stole the name from the original. Confused as to why someone good, like Tron, could have an evil User, the group still promises to find the password.
Leon is furiously typing on the keyboard to the computer when Sora, Donald, and Goofy return. He’s shocked to see them and even more surprised to learn that they were in the computer. They tell him about the password, and he realizes that with Ansem defeated, there’s no way to find it. Tifa suddenly appears and begins looking around in the same way as before. They decide to help her ransack Ansem’s room and eventually discover hidden notes behind Ansem’s portrait. Reading the notes, they discover that DTD stands for Door To Darkness. While discussing what it could mean, they hear Mickey asking about the door.
They all turn around and discover that Mickey has finally joined them. Goofy and Donald hug their King excitedly, but Mickey tells them to calm down since the Organization could be listening. They tell him about the password and the words they found. Mickey thinks about it and realizes that the Door to Darkness can only be opened by the seven Princesses of Heart. He begins listing them all off and Leon finally realizes the password. When Sora tells him that the password will grant them access to Ansem’s research data, Mickey sees that he has to explain the true origins of Ansem the Wise.
But before he can tell them anything, Leon says that they need to return to Tron. The trio look back and forth between Leon and Mickey, but the King assures them that he won’t go anywhere. While they’re gone, he’ll protect everyone. Relieved, Sora and the others head back to the computer room. Before they can head in, Mickey upgrades Sora’s clothes so that he can use the Master Form, which draws on the power of both Donald and Goofy. The three of them return to Space Paranoids but can’t find any sign of Tron. Instead, they’re transported to a huge grid that Sark explains is the game grid. There they will be tested by playing the games. If they lose, they’ll be de-rezzed. Sark doesn’t say what will happen if they win since no one ever wins. Sora and the others are positive that they can beat the odds and tell Sark to bring it on. They’re able to pilot the light cycles and escape the games thanks to a large whole in the grid created by a Heartless virus. They are taken back to the terminal where they find an unconscious Tron.
They wake him, and he asks why they came back when they could have just transmitted the data. None of them understand, but Tron is too weak to explain. He only says that they have to get to the DTD and access it as soon as possible. Once there, they enter in all the names of the princesses as the password. Unfortunately, though it’s unlocked, the DTD sends a final security program at them. They’re able to defeat the security program, and Tron regains all of his lost functions.
The celebration is cut short though as the Master Control claims that it has full access to the DTD and that the entire system is now under its control. More worrisome is the fact that the MCP has discovered an automatic destruction sequence for Hollow Bastion. Before the corrupt program can activate it however, Tron changes the password to buy them some time. Hopefully, they can use that time to head to the I/O tower and seek a way to stop the MCP. When they get to the tower, Tron thanks them for all they’ve done. Sora decides that he can’t hide the truth from him anymore and tells him that Ansem was their enemy. It’s then that Tron tells them that Ansem was his enemy too.
Sora is surprised at this confession as Tron goes on. Ansem took ENCOM’s original system and customized it for his own use. Tron was part of the original system and was modified by Ansem as well, which made him his User. But Ansem also brought back the MCP which is something that the Ansem Tron first knew would never do. Neither Tron nor Sora understand what could have changed Ansem so much. But right now, it doesn’t matter since they learn that Hollow Bastion has fallen into chaos. Sora and the others promise to return someday and defeat the MCP. Until then, they have to see what's happening to all their friends.
The story continues Monday as Sora works with his friends to hold off the invasion of Hollow Bastion and the stakes are raised even higher. Be sure to keep up by reading Parts 1-19 of the Timeline:
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