No, this doesn't literally mean that the combatants fight each other in a location that's nostalgic - or traumatic - for them both (although that would potentially be very entertaining).
A mental battle fought through emotionally charged memories, leading to a flashback montage. Can be done with positive or negative memories. Typical scenarios are:
- Attempted Mind Rape: Using Psychic Powers, or a technological equivalent, the villain drags up all the defender's bad memories - every failure, every moment of humiliation - and forces the hero to relive them. The hero may fight back by focusing on his good memories; first kiss, lives saved. The hero doesn't need mental powers of his own to mount this defense, just heroic willpower.
- High Charisma Villain: The Villain tries to talk the hero over to the Despair Event Horizon, perhaps with a scathing lecture on the hero's failings, or with an assault on all he believes. To resist, the hero focuses on his good memories, reminding himself why he fights.
- Redemption: To reverse More Than Mind Control, or redeem a villain, the hero forces positive memories to the surface, or outright restores them - making the mind control victim relive the good times he had with his friends, for instance. This may be done with words alone, or with psychic powers, but if there is a direct mind-to-mind connection, the villain will fight back, dragging up dark memories.
In the first two cases, if the hero loses, he'll succumb to More Than Mind Control, or be driven to suicide.
- The Cycle of Fire uses this a lot.
- In The Wishsong of Shannara, Jerle brings his sister back this way.
- God of War: During Kratos's final confrontation with Ares, after direct combat has failed, he sucks him into some kind of mental plane, where he forces Kratos to relive his most defining moment: the day he unwittingly murdered his own family. Or at least, he tries: he has to fight off a horde of clones while protecting his family. Fail, and Kratos will simply collapse with a moan of "No... not again...", as the clones slaughter him.
- Comes up at the end of God Of War III, where Zeus forces Kratos into the darkness of his mind, revisiting his old memories. However this time Pandora guides him using the fires of hope to help cleanse Kratos' soul.
- C. S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia novel The Silver Chair: While the Witch is trying to More Than Mind Control the heroes into thinking that their memories of Narnia are false, the Marsh-Wiggle Puddleglum fights back.
Puddleglum: But I know I was there once. I've seen the sky full of stars. I've seen the sun coming up out of the sea of a morning and sinking behind the mountains at night. And I've seen him up in the midday sky when I couldn't look at him for brightness.
- This is Mao's M.O. in Code Geass. With his mind-reading Geass, he uses it with varying effectiveness and ends up causing quite a bit of damage before he's Killed Off for Real after only a few episodes.
- In the end of the first season of K, the Colorless King tries this on Weismann as he regains his memories in an attempt to get him to surrender and let his powers be stolen.
- Harry Potter: The Dementors do the mind rape variant to everyone nearby.
- Harry's occlumency lessons with Snape could almost be considered this, but it is subverted by the fact that Snape's not actually a villain, and his purpose was to help Harry. It also applies when Harry deflects it back at Snape, though it's accidental.
- The Drink of Despair causes the drinker to relive their horrible memories.
- In Don Rosa's Uncle Scrooge story "The Dream of a Lifetime", the Beagle Boys use experimental technology, stolen from Gyro, to enter Scrooge's mind as he dreams. Since they're inside his mind whatever he's thinking of is given away, and they're hoping if they ask him the combination to his vault he'll be forced to think it. Scrooge spends the night dreaming of the greatest moments of his past (and not his money, to the surprise of the Beagle Boys), so it effectively turns into this.
- In a Mickey Mouse birthday comic, all of his old enemies team up, kidnap him, and use a memory-erasing gun on him in order to turn him into their henchman, and this cue the cut-aways to older Mickey Mouse comics. However, Mickey's strongest memory, the day he met Minnie, proves too much of a challenge for the eraser gun, and he manages to regain his full memory and uses this element of surprise to attack the villains with their own weapon.
- Doesn't involve any actual fighting, but the sequence in the crater at the begining of Disc 2 of Final Fantasy VII certainly seems to fall under the first category as Sephiroth uses illusions to force Tifa and Cloud into reliving the destruction of their hometown and (possibly invoking the second category) uses the gaps in Cloud's memories to convince him he isn't who he thought he was, thus manipulating him into doing Sephiroth's will.
- Later, Tifa brings in the redemptive third category, helping guide Cloud on a journey through his own memories to uncover the truth of his past.
- This is how Batman defeats Darkseid's scientists during Final Crisis.
- The DLC for Alan Wake Takes place in one, constructed from both Alan and the Dark Presences memories of Bright Falls. It gets a bit warped.
- Digimon Tamers: D-Reaper, posing as Jeri, confused Takato by mentioning Jeri's memories about Takato.
- Digimon Frontier: Ranamon tricked Zoe into eating a hallucinogenic apple, which reminded her of her painful past.
- In Puyo Puyo Fever 2, there are two items which make the opponent's movement slower by evoking their sweet memories.
- Bleach: In the anime-only battle with Tsukishima, he forces Chad and Orihime to "relive" their fake Friendship Moment with him, distracting them at the critical moments.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Done first with words alone, and then with psychic powers. When Discord corrupted all of the main casts, Celestia sends Twilight's friendship reports back to her. After reading them, she re-realizes the importance of friendship, and she uses memory spells to her friends which reverts them to their previous selves.
- Natsume's Book of Friends: An Emotion Eater takes the protagonist into a painful incident from his childhood, and then asks him to let it eat his memories.
- Used by M'gann in Young Justice on Kaldur. Its the first version, only minus the "attempted" part. She claws through her victim's memories, causing a very fast sequence of flashbacks, showing all the good he did as Aqualad, the plan to be a Fake Defector and that Artemis isn't dead. It shows why heroes should really stick to the redemption part of this trope.
- In Mega Man Reawakened, this happens as Robert's memories return in full due to Wood Man's Pulse of Life.
- In the Amazing Spider-Man story "Happy Birthday" , a botched spell by Doctor Strange sends Spidey lost in time. In order to get back to the present, Spidey has to fight his way there. Through every battle, against every villain he's faced.