Video Game / Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories
Not to be confused with the other card-game playing kid with Anime Hair.

"Adventure is in the cards."

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories is the second game in the Kingdom Hearts series, and the only one on the Game Boy Advance. Released in 2004, it's a sequel to Kingdom Hearts I that bridges the gap between it and Kingdom Hearts II.

After the events of Kingdom Hearts I, Sora, Donald, and Goofy are wandering the worlds in search of King Mickey and Riku. Eventually they are led by a cloaked figure to a strange place called Castle Oblivion, where memories come to life within its walls as illusions. As they climb the floors and partially relive the events of their previous adventure, they learn about the strange girl known as Naminé from Sora's past and are antagonized by a strange group of people called the Organization (Organization XIII in later games). Though not everything is as it appears in the castle, as memories can be tricky things...

Rather than the usual Action RPG style of combat, Chain of Memories uses a combination of action and "card battling". The player must prepare a deck of cards to use in their battles, with those cards determining every action Sora takes sans movement. Cards can also be combined in "sleights" or special moves that tend to be very powerful, but come at the cost of using up cards completely for a fight.

Chain of Memories was later remade as a PlayStation 2 game (titled Re:Chain of Memories) as part of the Japan-only release of Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix+. It was (much later) released as a standalone PS2 game in North America. Europe and Australia never got it, but did get Kingdom Hearts HD I.5 ReMIX, which contains Re:Chain of Memories remastered in HD. The remake replaces the 2D sprite art with 3D graphics, has voice-acted cutscenes instead of pure text with small voice clips, adds a new form for the Final Boss, includes some new Attack Cards based off of Keyblades and Enemy Cards based off the Organization XIII members that appear in Kingdom Hearts II, makes small tweaks to the battle system such as adding or removing some sleights, and completely removes the Player Versus Player mode. The HD I.5 ReMIX version is mostly identical to the the PS2 remake, but has higher graphics resolution, PlayStation 3 trophy support, and replaces the Attack Cards of the II Keyblades with some from Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days.

Has a Lighter and Softer manga version.

This game contains examples of:

  • Absurdly High Level Cap: The average player will finish both Sora's Story and Reverse/Rebirth at around Level 30-40, give or take. Sora and Riku can both level up to Level 99.
  • Action Commands: The remake throws in the Reaction Commands featured in Kingdom Hearts II, which is used to extend the lengths or effects of various Sleights, and allows characters to access doors, save points, Moogle Shops and pick up crates and barrels.
  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • The Riku Replica.
    • Vexen. Sora hated the guy for what (he thought) he did to Riku, and even he was horrified by the cruel way Axel dispatches him (while he's begging for mercy, no less!). Not helping matters is the fact that he was trying to warn Sora about the trap he was walking into, shortly before Axel showed up.
    • Lexaeus.
      "Forgive me, Zexion... This was a fight I should not have started."
    • Zexion. Possibly the most brutal death of all the Organization members. Everyone else just died (some were more vicious than others; here's looking at you, Vexen). Zexion? He was strangled to death, his life force slowly sucked out of his body as he lost consciousness. What makes this sad is that Zexion showed himself to be highly devoted to the Organization's cause, even up to his final moments, where he's absolutely mortified by the prospect of his death. That doesn't excuse his actions, mind you, but when you put him in comparison to the behind-the-scenes backstabbing game of hot potato that approximately half of the remaining members played, it's a bit depressing.
    • Larxene, which doubles as a Villainous Breakdown.
  • Alpha Bitch: Larxene, very much so.
  • Another Side, Another Story: Beating Sora's story unlocks the Reverse/Rebirth campaign, where you play as Riku.
  • Artifact Mook: The Powerwilds and the Bouncywilds were Heartless originally meant for the Deep Jungle stage (based off of Tarzan), but the world was axed due to legal issues and they were placed in Olympus Coliseum.
  • Artificial Human: Vexen made one, Riku Replica.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • Donald's Friend Card and associated Sleights have him cast two random spells from the Fire, Thunder, Blizzard, and/or Cure series, meaning he could potentially heal you twice when you're already at full health, not heal you when it would actually be useful, or even heal enemies by, for example, casting Blizzaga on an ice-elemental enemy.
    • Hook is carrying the Pirate enemy card, which makes all of his cards 0s until he reloads. The problem is he has no idea how to use it — in the right hands he would break everything you throw at him and then counter-attack, but he'll keep to his normal pattern. Just wait for him to make the first move and you'll break his 0s every time, leaving him with a very small deck to work with once he reloads, if he survives that long.
  • Ascended Extra: Jiminy Cricket has a significantly bigger role in this game compared to others, appearing in almost all scenes.
  • Assist Character: Party members like Donald and Goofy and Summons like Mushu from Kingdom Hearts I have been turned into cards (Friend Cards and Summon Cards, respectively), which can be played to summon the associated character for one attack or used as part of Sleights.
    • Donald uses Magic, which randomly casts 2 of Fire, Blizzard, Thunder, and Cure with the potential to double-cast one spell. Sleights involving him will power up his magic to the -ra or -aga tiers or will trigger Combination Attacks with Goofy and/or Sora.
    • Goofy will either use Goofy Charge (original game) or do the Goofy Tornado (remake). Goofy Charge has him go up to an enemy and hit them with his shield, while Goofy Tornado has him do a Spin Attack to consecutively hit multiple enemies. Sleights involving him will increase his Goofy Charge's damage, increase the duration of the Tornado, or trigger Combination Attacks with Donald and/or Sora.
    • Aladdin uses the Sandstorm attack on an enemy, swinging his sword to deal damage and produce Moogle Points for Sora to pick up. His Sleights increase the duration of the attack and the amount of Moogle Points dropped.
    • Jack Skellington uses Surprise!, which randomly casts two of of Fire, Blizzard, Thunder, and Gravity with the potential to double-cast one spell. His Sleights power up his magic to -ra and -aga tiers.
    • Cloud Strife attacks enemies with Cross Slash. His Sleights upgrade Cross Slash's power, or potentially Omnislash.
    • Pluto (exclusive to the remake) uses Lucky Bounty to dig up used cards and HP Orbs. His Sleights increase the number of cards and HP Orbs found.
    • King Mickey casts Pearl, which deals damage in a large radius, Stuns non-boss enemies, and heals the player. His Sleights improve his damage dealt and HP restored, or activate team attacks with Riku.
  • At the Crossroads: There's a crossroads somewhere near Castle Oblivion. This is where Riku Takes a Third Option regarding walking the path of light or the path of darkness.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Zig-Zagged. The Lexaeus card's Warp Break ability has a high chance of instantly eliminating enemies with a combo finisher. However, it doesn't work on bosses for obvious reasons.
    • When you play as Riku, you actually get to use Dark Aura. You remember that move as possibly having screwed the heck out of you on Sora's story (not to mention KH, where it was one of the reasons Riku was That One Boss in that game). Unfortunately, when playing as Riku, it tends to fall into this category - it's unavailable for a large percentage of the game because to use it you need to A) be in Dark Mode, and B) stock three 9-cards (the rarest and strongest cards) together, and you use a fixed deck. And if you can pull it off on bosses, you'll have to get them in just the right spot for them to not dodge it or break it. Still, though, it's very useful for clearing out trash mobs.
    • Some sleights are that way, especially since the AI loves to cheat and break all of them. Jafar's card, however, can be used to prevent those sleights, such as Ars Arcanaum (which requires a value of 6 or less), from being broken by anything, even 0 cards.
    • Some enemy cards have interesting effects, but they all cost a lot of CP. This is completely inverted for Riku though, as he can freely use any boss card he's earned, and even gets some normal enemy cards for free as part of his fixed decks.
  • Bad Mood as an Excuse: Larxene to Naminé when she begs her to leave off attacking Sora and company.
    "I should tell you that I'm in an EXTREMELY foul mood. Thanks to you, all our plans are ruined!"
  • Balance Buff: The Re:Chain of Memories version increases the effects of leveling up Riku's Attack Points, making him stronger than the original.
  • Batman Gambit: First off, there's the main one - Marluxia, Larxene, and Axel attempt to use Namine to rewrite Sora's memories so they can use him as a weapon against their Organization's leader, Xemnas. Eventually Vexen, another member the three are using to further this goal, feels left out one time too many and tries to reveal the plan to Sora. All along, however, Axel is actually a double agent as he's spying on the traitors for Xemnas and ends up sabotaging both Marluxia's plot and Vexen's own attempt to sabotage it, since Vexen was planning on telling Sora too much. Meanwhile, a group of Organization loyalists and associates of Vexen in the basement levels is trying to capture and use Riku due to their own suspicions about Marluxia's group. Axel sabotages them, too. Later games add further facets to this: Xemnas sent the traitors to Castle Oblivion on purpose, and Axel was given a second mission to find Ven's body - and Axel only took on these missions to get on Xemnas's good side, because he and Saix were planning to betray Xemnas themselves eventually (which also belatedly provides a reason for Axel killing the basement group - to get rid of other members loyal to Xemnas).
    • They're literally playing hopscotch with one another - and judging by DDD, Axel and Saix came out on top! Even if one of them is half Xemnas and probably entirely mad...
  • Battle-Halting Duel: The Card Duel mechanic in the remake's version of Reverse/Rebirth, which stops all action aside from the player and the enemy in question to perform the Card Duel.
  • Berserk Button: "No, I'M me." is all it takes to send the Riku Replica over the edge.
  • Beta Test Baddie: The Riku Replica. So much so that he wanted to kill the original to have a sense of originality and self.
    "As long as you're around, I'll never be anything other than a shadow!"
  • Big Bad: Marluxia in Sora's story, Ansem in Reverse/Rebirth.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Marluxia, Zexion, and Xehanort's Heartless are defeated, but Sora has to go into a coma until Kingdom Hearts II in order to regain his lost memories, Riku ends up Walking the Earth (albeit with King fricking Mickey helping him (well, at least for some time), and the Organization is still out there...
  • Boring, but Practical: Sleights can easily trivialize several bosses, especially Sonic Blade and/or Lethal Frame in the remake.
    • Alternatively, sleights are largely unnecessary. It is entirely possible (and not too difficult) to simply pump your deck filled with 8's, 9's, and a couple of 0's. This allows you to essentially button mash until you need to heal or break an enemy sleight, and then rinse repeat.
    • The Jafar Card (Attack Bracer). It allows you to use 20 cards in a row (taking away 3 if you use a sleight) without getting card broken. Meaning you can spam powerful low-cost sleights like Ars Arcanum without interruption and basically stun lock the enemy until the card effect runs out. This is one of the easiest ways to kill bosses. It was even stronger in the GBA version, where it was limited to 20 attacks instead of cards, and sleights didn't count.
    • Mega Flare. Its the easiest way to grind Sora to max level.
    • Exploiting the double-jump glitch with Riku, which allows him to dodge and then directly attack from the air afterwards multiple times. The only downside is that it can only be used in Dark Mode.
    • Dark Firaga on Riku. It's just a Firaga that's blue... but it can really hurt some enemies, especially Lexaeus. Also, it might be better to trust on its accuracy than to bet on Dark Aura.
    • In the remake, abusing Card Duels against Ansem, Seeker of Darkness. Winning Card Duels in Dark Mode makes for horribly overpowered Duel-specific Sleights, which can potentially drain all of his health in a matter of minutes.
    • The Roxas Card in the remake. Double damage for 20 Attacks. Pair it with Ultima Weapon, and what more could you want?
    • The Parasite Cage enemy card. It dispels the effects of the enemy card currently in use by your opponent. It may be expensive, but it does get rid of annoying effects such as Vexen's Auto-Life.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: Any cards you get during a new game after completing Reverse/Rebirth mode once such as the Ultima Weapon and Ansem cards are these, because you've already beaten every challenge the game has to offer at that point.
    • In the remake, the Gold Card and Platinum Card. The former sports the Premium Guard ability that lets you reload Premium Cards, and the latter makes you invulnerable. You only get them for finishing the Card Collection and Jiminy's Journal respectively. Considering the drop rates for Enemy Cards...
  • Broad Strokes: The plot of each Disney world is basically a very truncated retelling of its Kingdom Hearts I plot, usually with references to memories thrown in.
  • Call-Back: The Xaldin Card in the remake gives Sora the original Aero spell from Kingdom Hearts I.
  • Call-Forward: The PS2 remake includes new Enemy Cards and Attack Cards based on Kingdom Hearts II. The PS3 version replaces most of the Kingdom Hearts II Attack Cards with Attack Cards based on Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days.
  • Catchphrase: This game was the progenitor of Axel's famous line, which was then translated as "Commit it to memory." Kingdom Hearts 2 streamlined the line to "Got it memorized?", which carried over when the game was remade.
  • Chekhov's Gun: This game introduces a new location that gains much more importance in the sequel: Twilight Town.
  • Cloning Blues:
    • Most of Riku Replica's angst in Reverse/Rebirth is centered around the fact that he's simply an imitation of Riku. He eventually tries to kill the original in an attempt to become something more than a simple copy.
    • Spoofed with Vexen in the manga.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Goofy in Olympus Coliseum:
    Phil: Two words: You! Ain't! Heroes!
    Sora: You're wrong!
    Goofy: Yeah, he said three words.
    • This is repeated later in this same world, after Hades is defeated:
      Sora: The games are canceled? How come?
      Phil: Three words: everyone's pooped!
      Goofy: Wait a minute, that was only two—
      Sora: You gotta be kidding!
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Enemy bosses have much easier requirements for their sleights than you do. This is somewhat justified since you have more techniques to choose from. The exception to that would be Riku-Replica, since you can actually use the same sleights as him on a Reverse/Rebirth playthrough and see that the numbers are different.
  • Cryptic Conversation: Just about everything the Organization members say to Sora until late in the game is very cryptic and they avoid actually answering his questions, particularly those about Riku and King Mickey. Justified, as they're simply trying to get Sora to stay in Castle Oblivion as long as possible so they can brainwash him. When Sora finally finds out what's going on, the remaining members drop this.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to the first game. Sure, you're not saving the universe full of beloved Disney characters from being destroyed by the legions of hell this time, but Chain of Memories' continuously oppressive tone and seeing Sora becoming more and more of a jerkass as the game progresses is pretty dark when held up next to the optimistic and adventurous tone of most of the first game.
    • You're up against a much higher concentration of humanoid antagonists this time around. A good half of the boss fights are man-to-man death battles, rather than the constant bombardment of Heartless, monstrous-looking (or monster-transforming) Disney villains, or fights just meant to test your skill, such as Coliseum duels. These antagonists also receive a little bit more screen time than the first game's. Riku's tragedy and identity crisis is also given more focus here than in the first game.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Dying places Sora/Riku in the room before the one where the player died, without any real penalty.
  • Declaration of Protection: Sora and Riku Replica towards Naminé. Even when they both discover their memories of her are fake and that Riku is a replica of the real Riku and created by Vexen, they still resolve to protect her.
    Riku Replica: "What can you possibly think I ever had? Both my body and my heart are fake. But there is one memory I'll keep, even if it's just a lie. Whether it was a phantom promise or not, I will protect Naminé!"
  • Disc-One Nuke: The Maleficent Enemy Card (increases damage for the next 30 attacks at the cost of deck reload speed) is obtained extremely early in Reverse/Rebirth, as Maleficent is the first boss of that mode. Since Reverse/Rebirth doesn't have the card reload speed mechanic and all Enemy Cards are permanently part of your deck after being obtained, the Maleficent card can be used from the get-go without any real penalty.
    • For Sora players, Simba. Simba is very useful in the game boy advance version because he hits everyone "in front of" him (which, in the game boy advance's view, is basically "In the direction he's facing"). Thus with good positioning you'll have an attack that can't miss and can knock enemies around. By the time you fight Larxene the first time, you'll have to put him in a sleight for him to hold up though.
  • Distressed Damsel: Naminé. Half of this distress is real, while half of it is bait for Marluxia's trap for Sora.
  • The Dragon: Larxene to Marluxia, and Lexaeus to Zexion.
  • Dreamworks Face: Donald and Goofy sure look smug about something.
  • Dull Surprise: Marluxia's voice actor in Re: Chain of Memories. Possibly justified, because he is a Nobody...
  • Dummied Out: The Jungle King card is in the game but cannot be obtained outside of hacking.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: In America, Chain of Memories was the first game to show off the Final Mix-exclusive Keyblades before Kingdom Hearts Final Mix made it overseas.
  • Endgame+: In Sora's story in the remake, after clearing the game and saving your data, you get dumped back into the room right before the final boss. You can then backtrack to the other worlds and revisit the Treasure Room cards to collect new Enemy Cards based on the Organization XIII members that appear in Kingdom Hearts II, new Attack Cards based on Kingdom Hearts II and Kingdom Hearts Final Mix Keyblades in addition to the Infinity Plus One Attack Card, and the Superglide ability.
  • Enemy Civil War: Marluxia and Larxene are trying to take over the Organization by manipulating Sora (via Naminé) to do their bidding. Zexion, Vexen, and Lexaeus suspect their treachery and are trying to figure out what exactly they're up to and stop them. Axel is a wild card who seemingly flips through allegiances between the two groups, but is revealed in 358/2 Days to have been sent by Saïx to kill them all for personal gain.
  • Exploding Barrels: The Barrel Spider, a type of Heartless Chest Monster that likes to explode in your face during battle.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Even though it's part of their plan, the Organization members seem genuinely confused as to why Sora would strive so hard to protect Naminé even though his memories of her are fake. Justified, since they have no hearts and therefore have only a theoretical understanding of emotions. The latter turns out not entirely true though.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Riku Replica dies peacefully after being mortally wounded by Riku in battle, and the two share words about death and what it means to him.
  • Fake Memories: As Sora climbs the castle, Naminé injects him with false memories of his past. He forgets about Kairi and thinks that Namine is the one he's supposed to be protecting.
  • Fighting a Shadow: The first fight against Marluxia is against an illusion of him.
  • Foreshadowing: After Riku first meets DiZ, if you talk to Mickey, he will tell him that he feels like he's met him before. Come Kingdom Hearts II, we learn that Mickey definitely met him back when he still went by Ansem the Wise.
  • Forgotten Friend, New Foe: Naminé. Or is she?
  • Fight Like a Card Player
  • Fire/Ice/Lightning: While you slowly obtain them, three of the six villains have an element each at least until Axel kills Vexen.
  • Gambit Pileup: Let's see... First off, there's the main one—Marluxia, Larxene, and Axel attempt to use Namine to rewrite Sora's memories so they can use him as a weapon against their Organization's leader, Xemnas. Eventually Vexen, another member the three are using to further this goal, feels left out one time too many and tries to reveal the plan to Sora. All along, however, Axel is actually a double agent—he's spying on the traitors for Xemnas and ends up sabotaging both Marluxia's plot and Vexen's own attempt to sabotage it, since Vexen was planning on telling Sora too much. Meanwhile, a group of Organization loyalists and associates of Vexen in the basement levels is trying to capture and use Riku due to their own suspicions about Marluxia's group. Axel sabotages them, too. Later games add further facets to this: the Superior sent the traitors to Castle Oblivion on purpose, and Axel was given a second mission to find Ven's body—and Axel only took on these missions to get on Xemnas's good side, because he and Saix were planning to betray Xemnas themselves eventually (which also belatedly provides a reason for Axel killing the basement group—to get rid of other members loyal to Xemnas).
  • Glamour: Naminé's power to insert herself as a trusted friend of Sora's.
  • Glamour Failure: The screen will flicker when artificially created memories start failing.
  • Glass Cannon: Riku has no reliable source of healing, just a few enemy cards and the Mickey Friend Card, and his reliance on Sleights in Dark Mode makes him liable to wear his deck out fast. However, he can quickly rack up a lot of damage and his Dark Mode attacks are devastating.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The leader of the Organization (i.e. Xemnas), who serves as the Big Bad in the next game. If you played KH: Final Mix/I.5 HD Remix, you can encounter him as the Unknown.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: The Wild Charge Sleight in the remake, where Sora and Donald carry Goofy and use him as a battering ram against enemies.
  • His Name Is...: Vexen is killed by Axel just before he can tell Sora that Marluxia is manipulating his memories and reveal the existence of Roxas.
  • Holding Back the Phlebotinum: As Jiminy Cricket chronicles all of his adventures with Sora, the plot of the game could easily be solved simply by having Jiminy read his journal to Sora and his friends. The game solves that problem by making it affected by Castle Oblivion's memory-erasing magic as well. In other words, the Castle itself blanks the pages of Jiminy's Journal so that it doesn't break the plot.
  • Holy Hand Grenade:
    • Trinity Limit creates a glowing golden magic circle on the floor, after which beams of holy light rise from it. It is bar-none the single-strongest Area of Effect Sleight in the game. "It's over!", indeed.
    • The magic sleight Holy, which creates pillars of light to attack foes. Notable in that it is the only sleight that requires three Item cards, so in a way, it is similar to a grenade in utility.
  • Hot-Blooded: Riku Replica is overly passionate about protecting Namine, challenging Sora to fights over Sora not remembering her.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Naminé and the Organization, though their nature isn't fully revealed until the next game. Also, Riku Replica.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Sora at one point fighting Riku. The catch? It's not really Riku at all, but a clone created by Vexen, and the memories they're fighting over are fake too.
    Riku: I remembered it, Sora. I now know the one thing that is most important to me. Protecting Naminé. Nothing else matters—-not a thing.
    Sora: Hey... Riku... I think I'll jog your memory.
  • Interface Screw:
    • In the original Game Boy Advance version, Lexaeus knocks the screen down so you fall towards him - Don't ask how he doesn't destroy Castle Oblivion, considering he's doing this in the basement.
    • Marluxia's third form in the remake has an attack that ejects all the cards from your deck and scatters them around the arena, rendering you completely powerless until you can pick a few up.
  • It Only Works Once: Premium Cards. You can identify them by their shiny coat and gold number. They cost much less CP to add to your Deck, but if you use it in battle for any reason, it's gone for the rest of the fight. The only way to skirt around this is with the remake-exclusive Gold Card, but by the time you get this thing, you won't have much else to do anyways.
  • Jerkass: Most of the villains, but particularly Larxene and Vexen. No wonder they get on each others' nerves...
    • Sora also becomes one, albeit for a little one. He gets mad at Donald and Goofy out of spite and temporarily abandons them. When Jiminy calls him out on it, he tells him to shut up. However, The Power of Friendship reunited the heroes.
  • Karma Houdini: Axel. Don't worry, it'll all catch up to him in KHII, though it's actually pretty sad when it happens.
  • Level Grinding: Both Sora and Riku max at Level 99. Thing is, both the main story and Reverse/Rebirth are beatable at about half there for anyone reasonably skilled with the card system. So if you're someone that likes to max out levels, get ready for lots of level grinding, pointless for anything other than just getting the levels, since there are no bonus bosses to fight. Not only that, but there are no really quick leveling strategies such as the tech points that the original game has, and eventually the bonuses you get for leveling up stop having any practical effect in speeding up battle completion. (Riku's attack points max at 30 and Sora doesn't even get attack points.) HD I.5 ReMIX ups the pain by linking Trophies to max levels for both Sora and Riku.
  • Life Drain: The Neoshadow card's Bio effect (based on the Final Fantasy spell of the same name) causes enemies to slowly lose HP until Sora reloads his deck.
  • Lip Lock: Hits the remake hard—in English, anyway. The cutscenes look fine in Japanese, but despite using the same assets as the game's in-engine graphics, all the cutscenes are actually pre-rendered video files. Instead of re-rendering new videos for the English dialogue, the scenes were simply dubbed to English as-is, leading to oddly-paced line readings, Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness for the sake of a few extra syllables, and of course, the lip movements simply not matching the words being said. This all only grinds more because the cutscenes otherwise look just like KH1 and 2's cutscenes, which were rendered in-engine and as such were altered to match the English dialogue.
  • Living Memory: The majority of the characters in Castle Oblivion that Sora and co. encounter are very powerful illusions created by the castle using his memories.
  • Lovable Traitor: Axel.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Dark Riku's Dark Barrage Sleight in the remake, which fires a payload of Soul Eaters at a target.
  • Mad Scientist: Vexen, the Chilly Academic.
  • Magic Misfire: The Blazing Donald sleight, only in the original, is caused by Donald screwing up a Fire spell. He then runs around the screen while on fire.
  • Medium Awareness: The during the first part of Traverse Town, Goofy and Donald had effectively disappeared, forcing Sora to summon them to battle using cards through the in-game tutorial in order to see them again. A few scenes later, they literally reappear right besides Sora alongside a change from their classic outfits into the ones they wore during the first game, much to their confusion. Even they don't know why the castle's doing that to them. It's this trope as for the rest of the game, it's implied they kept following Sora even though they don't seem to be present on the overworld screen.
  • Mind Screw: The scene in Destiny Islands when Sora talks to the two Naminés. Just look at this beauty of a line:
    Second Naminé: "No, Sora! Don't listen to me!"
    • Also counts as Foreshadowing, given that one of the Naminés transforms into Kairi.
  • Minigame Zone: In the remake, The 100-Acre Wood gets promoted to this, complete with a new set of minigames.
  • Mirror Match: For obvious reasons, the first fight against Riku Replica is this if you're playing as Riku, especially when you managed to enable Dark Mode during the fight. He even uses the same techs, although the requirements for them differ from the real Riku (of which you're playing as). Averted with the second fight where he undergoes Divergent Character Evolution in his fighting style. As the result, not only does he look slightly different (he gains a shield), he also uses a different set of attacks.
  • Mook Chivalry: Since the battle system is reminiscent of War and beating opposing cards by having higher values, only one foe can play an attack card at a time.
  • Mr. Fanservice: The Organization members and Riku Replica. The manga even portrays the latter as a Woobie in the epilogue, even if it's Played for Laughs.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules
    • Like Sora, the Organization members, as well as other bosses with set decks, have a limited number of cards in their decks, and when they run out they have to reload. This makes it a perfectly viable strategy to focus on breaking their cards instead of depleting their HP. Of course, many of them carry Hi-Potions and Mega-Ethers so even broken cards can be reloaded, but then, Sora can do that too. The one advantage they have is the ability to reload their decks while moving.
    • Inverted in a few ways with Riku. Unlike Sora, Riku's reload card doesn't have a count, and you only need to hit the button to reload instantly every time. Bosses with decks of their own are still limited by their reload-counter. This might be compensate for the fact that Riku's decks are pre-set.
  • Nerf: The Ansem card had its unique effect—hide your stocked cards—removed in the single player-only remake, since this only had a use in the GBA version's multiplayer battles. It now has little use for Sora beyond giving him resistances. The card works normally for Ansem, though.
    • In the GBA version, both destructable and indestructable field obstacles respawned Moogle Points and health every time Sora re-enters a given room. In the remake, destructable obstacles stayed destroyed while indestructables only yield prizes the first time as long as Sora stays on that floor.
    • Also related to Moogle Points, their value scaled with every successive ring of worlds in the GBA version. In the remake, Moogle Point orbs stay the same value note  for the whole game. Together, both Moogle Point nerfs make it more difficult to build a deck in the remake.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: English-speaking players of the text-only GBA version were very surprised upon playing the fully-voiced remake to learn that Marluxia was actually pronounced "Mar-loo-sha".
  • No-Sell: Luxord's Omni Break in the remake, which lets Sora Card Break any 15 Attacks and/or Sleights regardless of whatever card he throws out.
    • The Xemnas card's Quick Barrier allows Sora to outright ignore damage from a combo beyond the first hit.
  • Non-Dubbed Grunts: The Organization members in the GBA version.
  • Nostalgia Filter: Discussed in-universe. Dr. Finklestein is making a potion that will show someone their "True Memories." He comments how the heart, specifically, emotions, can distort memories. Later on, Oogie Boogie tries the potion, and is driven insane by it. Jiminy Cricket muses that "True Memories" could be rather dangerous.
  • Not Quite Dead: Part of Ansem, Seeker of Darkness survives in Riku's heart, though he lacks a physical form.
  • Oddball in the Series: The only installment to use a card battle system. However, because these gameplay changes are integral to the game's storynote , this instance fares better than other examples.
  • Old Save Bonus: In the Japanese version of Re:Chain of Memories the second Room of Rewards items, which feature characters and Keyblades from Kingdom Hearts II, can only be obtained if you have a completed II Final Mix save file. For obvious reasons the English release drops this and simply requires clearing both stories. The I.5 ReMIX version changes the condition to having completed 358/2 Days, and the obtainable attack cards to Keyblades used by Roxas in that game.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: "Struggle Away", "The Force in You", "Revenge of Chaos", "Castle Oblivion", "Forgotten Challenge", "Graceful Assassin", and "Scythe of Petals".
  • One-Hit Kill:
    • Marluxia's final form in the remake can use a Sleight called Doom, which, on contact, entraps Sora and plays a cinematic with a countdown above Sora's head and six of Marluxia's cards at the bottom of the screen. If the player is unable to break all of Marluxia's cards before the countdown expires, Sora dies instantly, no exceptions.
    • The Warpinator and Warp Sleights, which give a chance of instantly destroying enemies. Warpinator is a single-target Sleight while Warp affects everything in the room, but the latter doesn't earn you any prizes.
    • The Lexaeus Enemy Card grants the effect Warp Break, which gives you a very high chance of instantly banishing an enemy from existence if you strike them with your combo finisher. However, you can't get drops such as MP and EXP from killing an enemy this way, so it's not very useful for grinding.
  • One Stat to Rule Them All:
    • For Sora, it's Card Points (CP). With more CP, more cards can be added into Sora's deck. Sleights, the main source of Sora's best attacks, become more plentiful as well.
    • For Riku, it's Attack Points (AP), since unlike Sora he can't raise his damage through better attack cards and new sleights.
  • Petal Power: Marluxia.
  • Plot Hole: Twilight Town is treating as anomalous because Sora has never been there, and therefore has no memories of the place for the Twilight Town world card to draw from. While this is true, this seemingly ignores the fact that every time the party enters a new floor, they act as if they've never been to that world.
  • Power Parasite: Zexion's gimmick in the remake. Whenever he attacks Riku, the player loses a card from their Deck and it goes to Zexion. Once Zexion has amassed a large enough collection, he'll summon duplicates of himself, each wielding Riku's Soul Eater, and use your Attack Cards against you.
  • Precision F-Strike: Axel gives a Disney-level one in the GBA version which fully cemented him as awesome in the eyes of the fans.
    Axel: "Now, Sora! Naminé! Riku! Marluxia! Larxene! It's about time you gave me one hell of a show!"
  • The Promise: Most of Sora's story is based on the promise that he and Riku both supposedly made to Naminé on a shooting star to protect her. But the promise is fake and so is Riku: Naminé herself implanted the promise both of their memories and the Riku is actually a replica of the real Riku. Even after they both know the truth, though, they still vow to protect her.
  • Psycho Electro: Larxene. One of the most out and out CRUEL people in the series. Even Maleficent comes across as more sympathetic in the next game, and she's the freaking "Mistress of all evil!"
  • Pun-Based Title: Reverse/Rebirth. Transliterated into Japanese, both words would be "ribāsu".
  • Randomized Damage Attack: Sorta. The Sea Neon's Random Values ability randomizes the values of the cards you play.
  • Recurring Boss: Riku Replica is fought 6 times over the course of the two story modes: 4 times for Sora and twice for Riku. Lampshaded after Sora gets through Floor 9 as Goofy and Donald look around, wondering where Riku is and assuming in the end that he got tired of fighting Sora.
  • Remember the New Guy?: As Sora climbs the castle, he talks about how previously unmentioned Naminé used to live at Destiny Islands as part of his friend group before moving away. Subverted. They've never met before, Sora just thinks they know each other because of Naminé's ability to alter memories.
  • Schizophrenic Difficulty: Reverse/Rebirth as the game features fixed decks. As a result? Some levels wind up much harder because you're stuck with a crappy deck. Wonderland in particular only gives you 9 attack cards, without a single one being above the number 5.
  • Secret A.I. Moves: In the remake, Ansem, Seeker of Darkness's Sleightbind, which hides his stocked Cards and Sleights until he uses them. As the result of the lack of a multiplayer feature, the boss's Enemy Card gets a new effect for Sora in his Endgame+ that reduces elemental damage, but when the boss uses it in Reverse/Rebirth, it still has its original effect.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Marluxia likes to use more complex words when it's not necessary.
    Axel: "You give a challenge like that to Vexen, and he'll... seriously want to eliminate Sora."
    Marluxia: "That would be an unfortunate denouement."Translation 
  • Sore Loser: Larxene, after Sora defeats her for the second and final time.
  • The Starscream: Marluxia is this in regards to Xemnas.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": In an inverted case of Japanese Ranguage gone wrong, the Sleight "Lethal Frame" was accidentally mistranslated as "Lethal Flame" in the original PS2 release of the remake. The HD I.5 ReMIX release fixed it.
  • The Stations of the Canon: That Sora (re)experiences all of the events of the first Kingdom Hearts game (except for a certain Important Promise) is a major plot point, since he is literally re-visiting his memories (while Naminé manipulates them).
  • Super Mode: Once Riku gets 30 Dark Points (obtained by taking damage or breaking enemy cards), he will enter Dark Mode. Dark Mode gives Riku increased speed and power, plus it lets him use sleights without requiring the Mickey Friend Card.
  • Tagline:
    • "Adventure is in the cards." - Chain of Memories
    • "Memory is the key." - Re:Chain of Memories
  • A Taste of Power: An incredibly odd example in that it happens about 3/4ths of the way through Reverse/Rebirth, and only in the remake. During the remake-exclusive boss fight against Zexion, Riku gets a massive boon in the way of being able to stay in Dark Mode for the entire fight.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works:
    • The four Raid sleights, where Sora throws the Keyblade... and it returns. Justified due to the Keyblade having a Summon to Hand power.
    • In the remake, Riku's Barrage Sleight.
  • Time Stands Still: The Lethal Frame Sleight. Sora uses Stop to freeze time, then approaches a target and slashes several times with the Keyblade before unfreezing time, causing the target to take several hits of damage. You regain control while the damage is being applied to the enemy, which allows you to create a stunlock combo by just spamming Lethal Frame over and over again on the same enemy.
  • Title Drop: Several times. It is explained that memories are connected, 'like links of a chain'. Thus, anyone who feels like screwing with Sora tends to lash out with one of these. Though, in the end, it's Naminé who has the last word.
    Vexen: "If you remain bound by the chain of memories and refuse to believe what is truly found inside your heart, then throw it away."
    Marluxia: "Imbeciles...You would knowingly shackle your heart with a chain of memories born of lies?!"
    Naminé: "You'll forget me, but that's just the links of the chain of memories coming undone... I want to believe, that our chain of memories will be connected again someday..."
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: As Sora's heart is manipulated by Naminé, he definitely becomes more Jerkass compared to his original self. When Donald and Goofy show some concern for him as they approach the twelfth floor, Sora accuses them of wanting to give up and ditches them, doing the twelfth floor alone. When Jiminy Cricket calls Sora out for his behavior, Sora yells at him to shut up.
    • He's slightly better in the manga adaptation, and explains to Jiminy on why he abandoned them as opposed to telling him to shut up.
  • Trick Boss: Marluxia's third form in Re:Chain of Memories.
  • The Unfought: Despite being the secondary antagonist of Reverse/Rebirth, Zexion is never fought; he's finished off in a cutscene. Averted in the PlayStation 2 remake, where he's fought after attempting to corrupt Riku at Destiny Islands.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Sora spends thirteen floors walking straight into the Organization's trap.
  • Use Your Head: Using Goofy as a battering ram in a sleight exclusively for the PS2 version.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Zantetsuken in the remake. It breaks Cards and renders them unable to be used for the rest of the fight. However, it has a horribly high cost (27 or 0) and does barely any damage at all, making it worthless compared to using the three stocked Cards individually. Furthermore, since the remake has no multiplayer, Card Breaks against enemies is really only significant against bosses, who lose a Card permanently if it's broken, and even then you can just use normal 0 Cards instead for the same purpose.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Castle Oblivion's thirteenth floor. All the previous levels have been changed to appear as one of the worlds from Sora's memory. For the final level, all the illusions have been stripped away, and it is simply... Castle Oblivion.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • Zexion.
    • Also, Larxene after Sora defeats her once and for all, causing her to fade away (see both Alas, Poor Villain and Sore Loser above).
  • Vocal Dissonance:
    • Due to Haley Joel Osment's voice changing before the remake, Sora sounds close to as he does in Kingdom Hearts II but slightly higher to give the illusion that Sora is still 14. This effect was later applied to all future games that would use 14 year-old Sora, including Re:coded and Dream Drop Distance.
    • The bizarre part is that a handful of voice clips in the remake were ripped straight out of Kingdom Hearts I instead of being re-recorded, so you have instances where Sora is shouting KH2-style battle grunts then casts Aero and suddenly sounds several years younger.
  • Voice Grunting: The GBA version features this in battles only. The trope is applied more literally in the English version, where all voice clips containing actual words by newly introduced characters like the Organization were cut (seeing as they were in Japanese, which would jar badly with the English-speaking recurrers, of course) and only the grunts, laughs, etc. were left in. Undone in the remake, which features full sets of voice clips for everyone in both languages.
  • Wham Episode
    • The first appearance of Twilight Town, which by this point in the series is unfamiliar to both the playernote  and Sora. This is also when important revelations begin happening.
    • Destiny Islands in Reverse/Rebirth. It's where it's revealed to Riku that it was him, not Ansem that opened the door back at Destiny Islands, causing it to be lost to darkness.
  • Yin-Yang Bomb: Riku's Inverse Break Sleight in the remake, where Riku and Mickey stand back to back and start shooting orbs of darkness and light at enemies.

"In this place, to find is to lose and to lose is to find."