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Video Game / Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance]

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Darkness becomes light, light falls into darkness.

Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance] is the seventh (not counting remakes) entry of Disney and Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts series, first released for the Nintendo 3DS in 2012. Coinciding with the series’ 10th anniversary, this game serves to link the initial Sora-centric trilogy to the experimental handheld trilogy, while setting the stage for the then much anticipated Kingdom Hearts III.

Taking place shortly after the events of Kingdom Hearts II and coded, Sora and Riku have been summoned by King Mickey for an urgent task. With the return of Master Xehanort at hand, the two must obtain the rank of Keyblade Master to prepare for this threat. To do this, they must undergo a Mark of Mastery test conducted by Yen Sid—a journey into the realm of dreams and sleep, where they are to find the seven Sleeping Keyholes and release the worlds trapped within. However, during their quest, a mysterious and malevolent young man in a black coat makes himself known, and villains from the past begin to follow suit...

Featuring all new Disney worlds based on The Hunchback of Notre Dame, TRON: Legacy, Fantasia and Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers alongside remixed originals such as Traverse Town (featuring the cast of The World Ends with You) and a new world based on Pinocchio, the game stars both Sora and Riku as playable characters, both as their younger selves (a side effect of them traveling to worlds trapped in the past) but with entirely new attire. The game has graphics on par with II, thanks to the higher processing power of the 3DS, and supports full 3D imagery, partial AR functions and the 3DS Circle Pad Pro expansion. The gameplay is a slightly simplified version of Birth by Sleep's, but with several new additions and alterations such as the "Flowmotion" mechanic and the new creatable Dream Eaters. Gameplay switches between Sora and Riku by way of the new "Drop" gauge, which continually decreases; when the gauge completely empties, the current player character falls asleep and is replaced by the other.

The game was released in Japan on March 29, 2012, with a European release on July 20, 2012 and a North American release on July 31, 2012. In 2017 it received an Updated Re-release in Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, in the same vein as the 1.5 HD ReMIX and 2.5 HD ReMIX compilations.

Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance] provides examples of:

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  • Absurdly High Level Cap: Similar to Birth by Sleep, the Level Cap is 99, but you can easily beat the game before you hit Level 40. The Trophies for the Final Chapter Prologue version acknowledge this by having the level-based Trophy simply be a combined total of 100 for both Sora and Riku; any combination is fine.
  • Accidental Misnaming: When Lea returns, none of the other characters know his real name, so they refer to him as Axel, his Nobody name. After a while, he begrudgingly accepts it since that's what the other heroes are used to.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: Averted by allowing players to view "flashbacks" from the point of view of certain characters (as well as flashbacks to when Yen Sid explains the nature of the sleeping worlds to Sora and Riku). Otherwise, the only way to know certain stuff that the characters are talking about or know what happened off-screen is to know the source material.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Geppetto's cat Figaro, Stromboli, Honest John, Gideon, The Coachman, Lampwick, or pretty much any of the children that visit Pleasure Island do not appear in the world based on Pinocchio.
    • Daisy Duck doesn't make an appearance as Minnie's lady-in-waiting in Country of the Musketeers, a world based on Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers. Quite ironic, considering she's also already established as Minnie's lady-in-waiting in the Kingdom Hearts universe. Clarabelle, who is also a major character character in the movie, doesn't make an appearance, either, and her absence makes the scene when Goofy runs off from the palace rather stupid.note  Also, the scene where Donald is almost beheaded is understandably omitted because there's no way it could be included in a Kingdom Hearts game due to rating reasons. Unfortunately, this makes him seem like more of a coward than he was in the movie, because rather than running away after almost losing his life, instead he's just running away out of fear of Pete of all people.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: The title.
  • Advertised Extra:
    • Vanitas appears in a scene shown in some trailers. That scene is the only role he has in the game, and it's basically a cameo that lasts for less than 10 seconds.
    • The Anti Black Coat appeared in a couple of trailers in montages alongside past characters like Xion, Terra, and Aqua. Its only role in the game is a single boss fight near the end.
  • Affably Evil: Young Xehanort, who is really more of a Punch-Clock Villain considering that he's only traveled through time to really just do as he's told by his older self, and he'll lose his memories of what happens in this game when he returns to his own time anyway. He's actually pretty polite to Sora and Riku until he's controlled by his elder self during his battle with Riku.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: An odd 3D example—Musketeer Mickey's hat will sometimes swap sides during cutscenes depending on what angle the camera starts relative to him.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: For the first time since Chain of Memories, Riku features as a playable character with a role equal to Sora's. The Drop mechanic makes sure that you can switch at any time, whether you want to or not. You can be in the middle of a swing and then drop to the other character. However, any fights (including boss fights) will restart from the beginning when you return.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: During the Climax Boss fight, depleting the boss's health will produce a clock that you have a limited time to destroy. If you fail to do this in time, the fight will start over from the beginning, but the boss will have significantly lower HP.
    • HD remedies the issue with the limited-edition Dream Eaters by adding new Recipes for them that can be purchased at shops, as well as additional manual recipes that make higher-ranked versions.
  • Apocalypse Cult: This is effectively what the real Organization XIII is, given that their ultimate goal is the same as Master Xehanort's in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: No matter how many Dream Eaters you create, only three can be in your party and only two can actually fight alongside you at a time.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Despite everything else he has encountered in his adventures, Sora is completely shocked when he first sees Hugo, Victor, and Laverne talk. Riku just takes it in stride.
  • Arc Number: Both 7 and 13. While both numbers have been present in the series up until this point, their full In-Universe significance is finally revealed as they are the number of light and dark fragments, respectively, that are necessary to forge the χ-blade. This is also the seventh game in the series.
  • Arc Symbol: The "Recusant's Sigil". The term is suddenly introduced via Glossary entry and characters start making cryptic references to the term and the sigil itself, but its meaning isn't revealed until the very end of Sora's scenario. The sigil is an "X". When planted by Xehanort(s), he is able to track its location at any time. The crossing straps on Sora's outfit are the most recent and most immediately troubling example, but as the Glossary entry points out, the sigil has been all over the series from day one.
    Xemnas: As your flesh bears the sigil, so your name shall be known as that... of a recusant.
  • Arch-Enemies: Ansem is this to Riku, a fact Riku reflects on. Xemnas, despite being the incarnation of Xehanort who harasses Sora the most, averts this, as neither feel any particular, personal malice towards each other until the end of Sora's story, when Xemnas reveals just how bad he is, disgusting Sora with his callous treatment of hearts and the Organization. It's this sudden rage at Xemnas that plays a key factor in the damaging of Sora's heart, as Xehanort intended all along.
  • Artifact Title:
    • Part of the reason the subtitle is the way it is was so it could abbreviate to 3D (and pull off a Super Title 64 Advance in the process, being originally a 3DS title and all). However, the PS4 Updated Re-release doesn't have the 3DS's 3D functionality, although it also omits the 3D from the title and simply uses Dream Drop Distance.
    • The Flick Rush minigame is so named because you play it by flicking the touch screen. The PS4 version uses simple button presses instead, but it's still called Flick Rush despite now involving zero flicking.
  • As You Know: At the beginning of Sora's half of the Prankster's Paradise chapter, Jiminy sits by himself and monologues about Pinocchio's origins and motivations while lamenting how he's run off on his own.
  • Augmented Reality: You can play with your Dream Eaters in AR games using the 3DS camera.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Ansem SOD and Xemnas in the final game scenario, where Xemnas appears to be Xehanort's lackey exclusively for Sora, whilst Ansem SOD antagonizes Riku primarily.
  • Back from the Dead:
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Basically. Xehanort comes out of this story just a footstep away from securing victory. He has twelve of the thirteen, one of which is one of the lights and at least three of the lights are down and out for the count.
  • Bait-and-Switch Boss: Frollo in Riku's story. Frollo is standing on the balcony of Notre Dame, surrounded by an aura of darkness and swinging a sword about. Riku gets ready to fight, when the Wargoyle flies up behind Frollo, causing him to lose his balance and fall.
  • Ball-Balancing Seal: The Juggle Pup and R & R Seal Dream Eaters are seal-like creatures which are capable of using the balloon spell family.
  • The Battle Didn't Count: Sora and Riku fight and defeat Ansem, Xemnas, and Young Xehanort in The World That Never Was. However, these villains are soon after shown to be just fine in the cutscene "Seven Lights, Thirteen Darknesses", with both Ansem and Xemnas kicking the asses of the heroes.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: Riku has a battle in the center of Sora's heart against Sora himself, trapped in Ventus' Nightmare-possessed armor, in order to save him from his deep sleep in the depths of darkness.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Provides a convenient Hand Wave near the end of the game for just how Master Xehanort was able to know so much about what was and is going to happen years ahead of time. Also because he engineered a Stable Time Loop.
    • This also further displays his Lack of Empathy; when Mickey angrily recalls that he ruined Terra, Ven, and Aqua's lives with his plans, Master Xehanort brushes it off by stating that it was their destiny to fall, and that he merely helped them reach said destinies that much quicker.
  • Benevolent Monsters: The benevolent Spirit Dream Eaters eat bad dreams and ally with you, as opposed to the hostile Nightmare Dream Eaters who do the opposite.
  • Berserk Button: The Spellican gets a particularly funny one when his opponents ignore him to talk to each other.
  • BFS: The final world's Reality Shift, Nightmare's End/Mirage Split, creates an enormous light/dark Keyblade twice as tall as Sora or Riku.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Lea saves Minnie when she's being held hostage by Maleficent and Pete.
    • Even when he's reduced to nothing but a heart, Ventus manages one of these when Sora has fallen into darkness. When it seems like Xehanort is going to overtake him completely, Ventus' heart comes down and envelops Sora in his Keyblade armor, protecting him from the darkness and buying Riku valuable time to recover Sora's sleeping body.
    • Three times in the same scene where Riku appears to have been cornered by the new Organization: Mickey appears and freezes them with Stopza. Then Lea appears to prevent Sora from becoming Master Xehanort's thirteenth vessel. Then Donald and Goofy appear to save Riku and Mickey from Ansem's Guardian.
  • Bittersweet Ending: As per usual. Riku is a Keyblade Master, Lea and Kairi are training to help the gang with their own Keyblades, Sora keeps his Spirit friends, Master Xehanort's plans to revive an army of his incarnations is delayed, and it's implied Riku now has the power to save the Birth by Sleep trio. However, Master Xehanort is still back with enough of his incarnations to keep working, he's going after the Princesses of Heart next, and another Keyblade War is on the horizon and averting it is seemingly impossible. Xehanort still plans on finding the one person who will become the thirteenth Xenhanort clone, and he'll stop at nothing to make sure that happens.
  • Book Ends: One of the earliest things you can do in Kingdom Hearts is spar against Riku on the islands, and Sora fights him again to save him from the darkness later in that game. At the end of this game, Riku fights the Armored Ventus Nightmare that's possessing Sora to save him from the darkness.
    • The first game starts off with Sora waking up in the Dive to the Heart. The final boss fight between Sora and Riku takes place in the Dive to the Heart.
  • Boss Bonanza: The game doesn't disappoint in this department, pitting you against a total of six bosses in the final world. You only fight one as Sora, and you fight the last five in two boss rushes as Riku.
    • When you revisit Traverse Town, you fight three powered down bosses.
  • Boss Remix: In quite possibly the series' best use of this trope, the theme of Riku's fight with the Armored Ventus Nightmare within Sora's heart is a battle remix of Dive into the Heart -Destati-.
  • Boss Rush:
    • The first fight against Spellican doesn't involve said Dream Eater at all; he instead summons Hockomonkey, Wargoyle, and Char Clawbster to battle Sora.
    • Riku fights The Anti Black Coat, then two forms of Ansem right after that. Later on, he fights Young Xehanort followed by the Armored Ventus Nightmare to cap it all off.
  • Bowdlerization: Averted. Braig/Xigbar gets to keep his sniper rifle this time (unlike Kingdom Hearts II and Birth by Sleep), but since it only shows up twice for a couple seconds each (it makes an extremely brief appearance in one in-game scene, and the whole thing is never shown in one shot; it also makes a complete, but short, appearance during the pre-rendered ending credits), the localization team probably didn't see the point of changing it.
    • In The Hunchback of Notre Dame world, all of Frollo's mentions of God granting him power are changed to more indirect statements like "righteous judgment" and "I have been granted this power" in order to avoid inserting religion into the game. This is sort of odd, given this was one of the film's prominent themes.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: The Ultima Weapon is only earned by defeating the superboss, by far the game's hardest fight. You don't even get to carry it into a New Game Plus.
  • Breather Episode: The Country of the Musketeers is the only world where neither character is visited by one of Master Xehanort's incarnations, and is generally lighthearted. The main antagonist in this world is Pete, though he's significantly more competent and confident than before.
  • Call-Back:
    • Riku repeats his "road to the dawn" line to Ansem and Young Xehanort.
    • "You made us a promise... that you'd always be there to bring us back. Got it memorized?"
      • And later: "Promises to keep! I'll always be there to bring my friends back! What, bad timing?"
    • The three questions asked in the original game are asked again near the end of the game: "What do you want in life?", "What are you afraid of?", "What is the most important thing to you?" (not in that particular order).
    • In the boss fight with Xemnas, he once again uses buildings as weapons against you.
    • Ansem the Wise once again asks Riku for his name when they meet again in the ending. The latter responds with his actual name, this time.
    • The fight with Young Xehanort sees him do a number of things that he did in Birth by Sleep. He summons the "No Name" Keyblade with the exact same motion as he used to summon his blades before the battle in Birth by Sleep, and can turn it into energy whips to attack Riku. When he stops time, he starts using the same energy blades as in that fight, and defends the clock with many of his old moves, including his clones, his basic Laser Blade combo, the X-shaped energy waves, and a combination of Raging Storm and Whirlwind to the Void.
      • Also, the battle borrows elements from the boss fights with both Master Xehanort and Terra-Xehanort, including his initial fighting stance and his penchant for using Dark Volley/Zero Shot.
    • The Armored Ventus Nightmare uses attacks taken from both Ventus and Vanitas. Among them are many attacks from the Fever Pitch Command Style, a weird tendrilly version of Aeroga, and the final attack, which he prepares as a Shotlock. To top it all off, the battle ends with a round of Air Jousting similar to the finale of the final Ventus/Vanitas battle.
    • The correct three answers to the questions posed to Riku at the end of the game are nearly exactly the same answers he gave to Terra back in Birth by Sleep.
    • Before Sora falls asleep in the final world, Young Xehanort repeats the Arc Words "Issho ni ikou."note  However, since this was translated as "Come with me" in the English version, it was Lost in Translation.
  • Cartoon Conductor: Sora and Riku spend an entire level searching for a magical power that specifically allows him to conjure music from thin air just by waving their weapons like a baton.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Axel, so very much Axel when facing down the Big Bad.
    Lea: "No, I told you, my name's— Ugh, whatever, Axel, fine."
  • Celestial Deadline: All but stated to be the reason why the real Organization XIII leaves in the climax rather than simply attempt the ritual again after Lea foils it; the Xehanorts cannot physically exist there simultaneously for long, and are forced to return to their respective timelines. The exact nature of this is unclear.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Sora's new clothes. The big "X" across his torso is eventually revealed to be the "Recusant's Sigil" that Xehanort uses to mark his potential hosts, and also what allowed Organization XIII to track Sora through the game.
    • The Dream Eater symbol on Riku's new clothes. It's even there on his "The Grid" outfit. It's eventually revealed he's been acting as Sora's Dream Eater Spirit the entire game.
    • The very first Dream Eaters that you're forced to make. See Chekhov's Skill.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: You know that robed figure who causes trouble in the first world? He's the final boss.note 
  • Chekhov's Skill: The first world you go to after Traverse Town is likely La Cité des Cloches. The Reality Shift is Faithline, letting you create grindrails of light between enemy dream eaters to quickly zip between and attack all of them. Since these are world exclusive, you don't use it again unless you return to this world. In the final world, Riku is looking for Sora and finds the first Dream Eater Sora made, a Meow Wow, across a giant abyss. Riku wonders how to get across, when the first Dream Eater he made, a Komory Bat, appears to Riku and gives him the idea to use Dreamline, which is Faithline between two ally Dream Eaters to get across.
  • The Chessmaster: Yen Sid remarks that Xehanort is a "devious tactician" and he will, on some level, be able to predict their every move before they make them. Indeed, just about everything that has happened in the series up to this point was planned by the original Xehanort in advance, though having engineered a Stable Time Loop probably helped with that.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: According to Joshua, the other TWEWY characters were in danger of fading from existence unless outsiders observed and acknowledged them.
  • Climax Boss: Xemnas, Ansem, and Young Xehanort. The last one feels more like a Final Boss than the Armored Ventus Nightmare is.
  • Clockworks Area: The Sanctum of Time, where Riku fights Young Xehanort, is a giant clock surrounded by colorful hourglasses and nested in a broken ring dial. Gears can be seen through the transparent floor as well as in the distance, lit by patches of gray light.
  • Clone by Conversion: Organization XIII turns out to be a plan to turn its members into copies of Xehanort.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Sora seems to be getting a magenta motif, while Riku is sky blue. This is reflecting in their clothing color schemes being much more simplified, Riku wearing pale yellow and white with blue, and Sora wearing black, silver and red. Turns out to be some subtle foreshadowing — Riku has the Light Is Good outfit and passes his exam, while Sora is in the Red and Black and Evil All Over outfit and has his heart corrupted by Xehanort.
  • Colony Drop: One of the Dual Links. Terra's Meteor spell also returns as an attack exclusive to Riku.
  • Composite Character: Gameplay-wise, Riku seems to be a mix of Terra and Aqua in addition to his own previous appearances as an NPC/boss/ally. He gets many of Terra's exclusive commands. but has a dark version of Aqua's Barrier and a slightly different version of Ghost Drive, as well as Doubleflight.
  • Continuity Nod: Several. The more obvious ones unlock Chronicles on the Memento menu, allowing the narrative to continue without being bogged down by exposition that would be necessary for newer players.
  • Continuity Snarl: The game does a very poor job of explaining how the Land of Musketeers world is meant to fit into the pre-established backstory of Mickey and the other central Disney characters, to say the least.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: In one cutscene, Young Xehanort stands inches away from a lava pit from which he taunts Riku. The volcano even starts erupting behind him and he suffers no ill effects, though he leaves before the eruption really gets out of hand.
  • Converse with the Unconscious: Riku to Sora in The World that Never Was.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: Sora and Mickey in Country of the Musketeers are on the receiving end of this during "By the power invested in my fist" scene. Bizarrely, Pete only took Mickey and left Sora there.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The credits take the form of another Dive Mode section, and the player can guide Sora (in his Kingdom Hearts II outfit) to attack the various credit items in the vein of Super Smash Bros.
  • Creature-Hunter Organization: Downplayed as the duo of Riku and Sora hunting Dream Eaters.
  • Credits Medley: Combines "Hand in Hand", "All for One" (Country of the Musketeers battle theme), "Prankster's Party" (Prankster's Paradise battle theme), "Dream Eaters", "La Sanctuaire" (La Cité des Cloches battle theme), and "Dearly Beloved."
  • Cyberspace: The Grid is a world inside a computer system.
  • Darker and Edgier: Some of the stuff that happens to Sora is pretty grim. He nearly loses his heart forever, gets mind-screwed on more than one occasion, has some pretty jarring nightmares (no, not the monsters), and sees far more of Xehanort's evil than Riku.
  • Dark Is Evil: The Dream Eaters are creatures of darkness in worlds the heartless cannot reach.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The "Spirit" Dream Eaters eat bad dreams just as there are "Nightmare" ones that eat good dreams. Spirits can also be synthesized by Sora, Riku, and others. This trope, along with Dark Is Evil, is also the reason why Xehanort ultimately chooses Sora as a vessel, because Riku's Character Development and revelations about the darkness led him to develop a natural resistance to its more corrupting effects, so even if Riku himself continues to use it, Xehanort can't use Riku as a dark vessel.
  • Deadly Ringer: The keychain from La Cité des Cloches (French for "The City of Bells") is the Guardian Bell, which gives the Keyblade a bell for its teeth, held in a gargoyle's mouth.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Similar to Terra and Ventus in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Sora is the decoy protagonist, while Riku's story brings the real conclusion.
  • Demoted to Dragon: Ansem and Xemnas appear to have suffered this fate with Master Xehanort being both of their bosses.
  • Demoted to Extra: Donald and Goofy, obviously. Also, Kairi. Maleficent appears in one relatively inconsequential scene demanding the data on all the worlds which serves to give Lea a Big Damn Heroes moment and introduce him to the Disney characters.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: A running trend among the Dream Eaters, at least in terms of their Japanese names. For example: Koumori Bat ("Bat Bat"), Kuma Pandar ("Bear Panda(r)"), Neko Cat ("Cat Cat")... The English game adds some pizzazz in the form of creative spellings — for example, Komory Bat and Necho Cat.
  • Developer's Foresight: Under normal circumstances, it is entirely possible to Flowmotion up the side of Notre Damenote . Try this while the city is on fire, and you'll only make it halfway up - Sora's fight with the Wargoyle is condemned to the square in front of the cathedral, and Riku needs to go through in order to end up behind Frollo for the cutscene.
  • Die, Chair, Die!: In boss battle against Julius, he's capable of destroying the lampposts in the square. Subverted in that you yourself cannot do this and it only shows up in this one fight.
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: The Sound Ideas that Riku and Sora combine in the Symphony of Sorcery is the menu theme, "Dearly Beloved." The arrangement used sounds like the original version, but with added strings.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: Frollo's death is played off differently in Riku's story. Instead of plummeting to his death when the gargoyle he is standing on breaks off, he is blown off of the church by Wargoyle.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: Use of the Flowmotion mechanics in combat takes some getting used to. That said, they turn the game from a button mashy Hack and Slash to a Stylish Action that has you blasting around enemies like a light-powered ninja.
  • Disk One Nuke: Strong Spirits can be made from the get-go, although you'll probably need a guide.
    • Flowmotion. As long as there's a handy wall, ledge or pole nearby to get your initial jump-off, you can zoom across the map to unleash powerful area-of-effect attacks and drill into a single enemy for extra damage, and there is absolutely no penalty or cost to continually jumping off walls to attack. Early in the game Flowmotion will probably do more damage than actual commands, but by the end of the game when you have access to your choice of powerful group attacks, they do pitiful damage and take too long to execute.
    • Zero Graviza (the only fourth tier version of a spell available) can be obtained surprisingly early. You'll likely even come upon it without a guide if you're just creating and leveling up new spirits semi-frequently. It affects all non boss enemies within a huge range, utterly incapacitating everything and gathering them up in a single spot for around half a minute so you can lay the hurt down with impunity. As a result, Thundaga ends up shining as a Disk One Nuke as well, since each jolt of lightning will also jump to every surrounding enemy—if you've got a half dozen enemies all in the same spot, well...
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Riku, during the Country of the Musketeers, gets tripped, then is victim to the "tapping someone on the shoulder and disappearing" trick. When it is revealed that the Holey Moley was the one doing it, Riku responds by killing it. More blatant when you realize that this is one of the easiest bosses in the game.
  • Doomed by Canon: In "The Grid", even though Riku is right there to stop CLU, Sam's father still sacrificed himself to stop CLU to keep the movie's part intact.
  • Dream Land: The majority of the game takes place in the Sleeping Worlds, which failed to wake up after being freed from the Heartless. While the Heartless can't enter the realm, it's still harassed by their counterparts, the Dream Eaters (specifically Nightmares).
  • Dream Within a Dream: Riku spends the majority of the game in Sora's dreams while Sora himself is in the Sleeping Worlds.
  • Dreams vs. Nightmares: Dream Eaters are divided between Spirits, which eat nightmares and can help Sora and Riku in their quest, and Nightmares, which eat good dreams and act as enemies.
  • Duel Boss: Rinzler for Sora. Riku gets the Armored Ventus Nightmare, and the first battle with Ansem, Seeker of Darkness has sections where your Dream Eaters are unavailable. The bonus boss Julius is also a standout example.
  • Dull Surprise: Young Xehanort. Quite jarring, considering how hammy his other selves are. Frighteningly, it doesn't feel out of character for this particular Xehanort though, serving to make him seem creepier, kind of like Billy Zane's Ansem in the original game. Xemnas is very similar in this regard, since he doesn't bother to yell or shout like he did in Kingdom Hearts II and just remains solemn.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Nomura confirmed in the Ultimania interview for III that Terra-Xehanort, Vanitas, Marluxia, Luxord, and Larxene are among the hooded figures who appear as part of the true Organization’s ranks, well before they were confirmed to be members.
  • Easily Forgiven: Implied for Ienzo towards Lea. While Lea (as Axel) had a direct hand in Ienzo's (as Zexion) brutal murder in Chain of Memories, Ienzo never brings it up and is polite to Lea when they're talking after their revivals.
  • Electric Slide: Possible to do this in parts of each world with Flowmotion.
  • Evil Counterpart: Riku and the Anti-Black Coat, who respectively serve as a Spirit and Nightmare tailored to Sora.
  • Evil Plan: Xehanort's plan to use Sora was set into action from the moment his Heartless appeared on Destiny Islands in Kingdom Hearts.
  • Expy: Sudo Neku to its namesake. Even more so when Minamimoto uses it in the Tin Pin Cup of Flick Rush. Its coloring matches that of Neku's shirt.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: No matter what Riku does, he will always pass out before he can go on to the fortress of Organization XIII. Due to that, he cannot prevent Sora from falling into darkness nor prevent him from failing his Mark of Mastery (until Kingdom Hearts III, anyway).
  • Faux Affably Evil: Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, is quite soft-spoken to Riku for the majority of his screen time, but there's still no mistaking his malice. Right before the boss fight with him, he has a mutually civil and polite conversation with Riku.
  • Fighting Your Friend: There is a variation of this in the TRON: Legacy world, considering Rinzler, CLU's Dragon, is Tron. The last boss is also this, as it's Sora in Nightmare Armor and Riku is forced to fight him to free him.
  • Final Boss:
    • For Sora, it's Xemnas, who also serves as a Climax Boss due to the revelations and the aftermath of the battle.
    • For Riku, it's a Sequential Boss against Young Xehanort, followed by Sora trapped in Ventus's Nightmare-possessed armor.
  • Final Boss, New Dimension: Applies to the four last bosses.
    • Xemnas gets the Nightmarish Abyss, a special dimensional space within the World That Never Was.
    • Ansem gets a globe of darkness; his second form gets a canyon that resembles the Realm of Darkness.
    • Young Xehanort gets the Sanctum of Time, some kind of cosmic clock platform, surrounded by giant hourglasses accompanied by gigantic clockwork looming in the background.
    • The Armored Ventus Nightmare gets Sora's Soul World, a pitch-black dream abyss within Sora's mind.
  • Flanderization: Sora has become much more of an Idiot Hero in this game, especially when compared to Riku.
  • Flash Step:
    • La Cité des Cloches's Reality Shift "Faithline" lets Sora and Riku zip between selected enemies very quickly.
    • The new dodge move has shades of this.
    • Two of Riku's spirit links give him this ability when attacking.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The final scene of the intro (Mickey summoning the other Keyblade wielders with a book) foreshadows another game entirely.
    • Riku has the Spirit Dream Eater emblem on the back of his clothes during the events of this game, foreshadowing him becoming a Dream Eater to save Sora from the nightmares.
    • When Sora meets Xemnas in Prankster's Paradise, the latter outright states the endgame revelation that Nobodies can grow hearts in a mocking manner.
    • The game's tagline counts as well. "Darkness becomes light" (Riku becomes a Keyblade Master), "light falls into darkness" (Sora gets drowned in darkness and, despite coming back safe and sound, fails the Mark of Mastery exam).
    • The game's cover is this too. Riku is soaring up towards the top, while Sora is falling to the bottom. This represents Riku's success at passing the Mark of Mastery, and his ascension to a Keyblade master, while Sora falls into darkness and fails his Mark of Mastery exam.
    • Taking a second look at the cover image: Sora is directly behind Riku while Riku looks upward. If you pay attention to the positioning, Sora is curled behind Riku in such a way that you would have to go through Riku to reach him. Riku is effectively standing standing guard over Sora in a similar way to how he acted as Sora's Guardian Dream Eater in the game
    • Additionally, there are two—perhaps unintentional—examples in two games in the post-Kingdom Hearts II "spinoff trio":
      • In Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, in Mission Mode, Sora and Riku are unlockable characters. The former's weapon is described as "Keyblade" in the character select screen, while the latter's appears to be a "Sword". With "Zero Gear" equipped, though, the former's weapon becomes the Dream Sword, while the latter's becomes the Way to the Dawn Keyblade. In KH3D, Sora fails the Mark of Mastery exam while Riku gets to become a Keyblade Master.
      • In Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, while Terra's midair action appears to boil down to a simple dodge, Ventus' is Sora's iconic Glide (upgradeable to Superglide), while Aqua gets a Double Jump ability called Doubleflight. Bear in mind that Ventus is just an almost self-taught, rookie Keyblade wielder, whereas Aqua is a full-fledged Keyblade Master. KH3D, Sora gets Glide in Symphony of Sorcery while Riku gets Doubleflight in The World That Never Was.
    • Riku Replica and Vanitas randomly appear for brief cameos alongside Young Xehanort at two points in the story. Them showing up just like Xemnas and Ansem is a clear tip that, as revealed in III, they are both members of the true Organization XIII (albeit with the Riku Replica being a different one from the entity from Chain of Memories).
    • When Riku defeats Ansem, The Person Behind You reaches out to Riku with a gesture looking akin to Terra wielding his Keyblade - Foreshadowing that The Person Behind You is in fact the container for Terra’s heart, reacting to Riku’s presence.
  • Funny Background Event: While Sora pulls a Big Damn Heroes moment on Neku during a visit to Traverse Town, Shiki is behind them in a pool, her legs kicking as she struggles up.
  • Game-Breaking Bug:
    • In the original Japanese printing of the game, there was a glitch where if Riku Dropped before the spiral staircase in Delusive Beginning in the World That Never Was fully manifested, Riku's scenario would be cut off from progressing (you can't re-do the challenge required to turn on the staircase, so you can't do anything to make it appear); the player would have to re-load their save file (and if you happened to save as Sora after Dropping, you were out of luck). A patch was released via the eShop and the bug was fixed for international release.
    • Towards the end of the game, for plot reasons, you might be forced to switch characters without Dropping. An error in the code for this switch means that, afterwards, Sora and Riku have swapped Link Portals and Forecasts, making the former appear in illogical or inaccessible locations and the latter completely useless. Luckily, it's easily fixed.
    • It's possible for the final boss to get stuck in the middle of an attack - he'll freeze, allowing you to attack him mercilessly without retribution. But if this happens, you won't be able to defeat him, as the game will be unable to load his final attack when he reaches 1 HP. The only recourse is to reset to your last save.
    • There's a small chance during the second-to-last boss that Young Xehanort will just fail to summon the clock that the player needs to Reality Shift to do the second phase of the fight, forcing a restart.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration:
    • Sora's special attacks consist of teaming up with his Dream Eaters to utilize a powerful attack. Riku merges with his to enhance his attacks for devastating combos. This is because Riku is effectively a Dream Eater himself within Sora's dreams.
    • Similarly, the Drop mechanic itself overall. Riku is effectively a Dream Eater within Sora's dreams, so of course he can't be awake/asleep at the same time as Sora.
    • Another Riku one: despite he and Sora largely having similar stats, there's one subtle difference between them: Riku has a natural resistance to Darkness-based attacks, a result of the brutal journey he went through before the events of the game.
    • Once more, for Riku: Defeating Ansem kicks Riku from the Sleeping Worlds. While you're out of that realm (the game puts a portal nearby for you to dive back to the World Map should you need/want to), the Drop Gauge is gone.
    • Sora and Riku share an inventory (items, spells and abilities, and even Dream Eaters) and you only need one copy of a command or Dream Eater for both characters to use it (One Thunder spell can be equipped to both Sora and Riku at the same time.), as opposed to needing a copy for each character. Since Riku is inside Sora's dreams as a Spirit, he's actually accessing Sora's inventory.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: The first time Sora and Riku drop is dictated by the story, not the drop meter. When they wake up, it's obvious that the world has kept functioning despite their falling asleep. When meter-dictated drops start occurring, however, the other side of the game is simply "paused" and picks back up as if nothing happened in the interim when you drop back to it later.
  • "Get Back Here!" Boss:
    • Holey Moley. The boss fight isn't very difficult, but more often than not he will disappear as soon as you reach him (even with the use of Flowmotion). Truly annoying.
    • Spellican might be even worse. He continually teleports around the arena, tries to keep Sora at a distance with showers of stars, summons minions to keep him occupied, and periodically forces Sora into a separate segment where he has to chase Spellican down on grind rails while he fires spells at Sora. In face, he is one in the story as well; Sora and Riku spend the entirety of the second visit to Traverse Town chasing it down and trying to corner it, while it switches between the two halves of the world. They defeat its minions, only for it to fly off to another world entirely.
    • Lord Kyroo has an enormous amount of HP, and he'll run away to a different world after you've fought him for 75 seconds. Thankfully, his HP does not regenerate between encounters.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The superboss fight with Julius. He pops out of a giant manhole in the middle of the arena with almost no build-up, and disappears just as quickly under said manhole as soon as he's defeated. Sora even lampshades it if he's your current character:
    Sora: ...what was that about?
  • A Glitch in the Matrix: Joshua is clued to the fact that the two separate versions of Traverse Town aren't parallel worlds by the sheer fact that Neku and Rhyme have less time on their "clock" than their respective partners, something only possible if time flows differently between two worlds, which, in turn, is not possible if the two worlds are supposed to be running parallel to each other. He informs Riku about this and warns him about a possible trap related to his and Sora's dreams.
  • The Glomp: Sora gives two to Riku in the ending.
  • Good Armor, Evil Armor: After Sora falls into darkness, Riku is forced to fight a Nightmare that takes the form of Ventus' armor, imprisoning Sora within itself. Being a construct of darkness, it is completely black with the Nightmare Dream Eater symbol on its visor.
  • Gratuitous French: The Hunchback of Notre Dame world is named La Cité des Cloches (The City of Bells). However, besides that, the world is surprisingly devoid of French. The same can be said about Country of the Musketeers, with the Mont Saint Michel.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Getting the secret ending as always requires certain gameplay accomplishments, but also requires you to answer three particular questions during the ending with the exact right answers (those being "Losing something that's important", "My close friends", and "to recover something important"). Word of God even admits that they put that condition as a trap.
    • Also more about the ending, one of the requirements for the Secret Ending is that you need a certain number of trophies, that the amount you need depends on the difficulty you chosen. Now unlike Birth By Sleep, the game doesn't even hint at this. Also you need to unlock the Secret Message as well (on Beginner and Standard, Proud and Critical Mode don't require it), but that's much less of a Guide Dang It! since players will most likely do this unless they spoil themselves on it. The only consolation is that you don't need to do these requirements in a specific order.
    • The game tells you that you don't need the recipes to create Dream Eaters, but they help. Anyone with a guide has no such problem and has some potential (you need specific ingredients for them so it isn't completely broken) to create a strong team at the beginning.
    • All Dream Eaters have different Dispositions, which affects what moves they use, how they use them, and even what abilities you can learn from them. Good luck finding out what they are or how to change them on your own, because the game doesn't tell you anything - in order to change a Spirit's Disposition, you have to rub or poke a random part of that Spirit's body or feed them certain snacks, and it's even a crapshoot as to what each Disposition even does.
  • The Ghost: A fair number of Link Portals are listed as belonging to Final Fantasy characters, even ones that haven't appeared in the Kingdom Hearts series (yet). Also, Hayner, Pence, and 777 and Sho Minamimoto are Flick Rush opponents, but they never appear onscreen.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Jiminy refers to Prankster's Paradise being a place for young boys to make "jackamules" of themselvesnote .
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: The Dream Eaters, like any good Mon game. Although this game seems more inspired by the Shin Megami Tensei style of mons than those found in the Trope Namer.

     H - O 
  • Happy Ending Override: The ending of Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep was far from happy, but at least with the downfall of its heroes the villain was defeated as well. Except not. The heroes are still trapped in their horrible fates, but the Big Bad is back and more dangerous than ever before, and is in fact even closer to achieving his plan than last time.
  • The Heavy: The silver-haired youth, Young Xehanort.
  • Helpful Mook: As described above, the Spirit Dream Eaters can be created by Sora and Riku, and used as either standard teammates in battle or as Dual Links to give unique powers to either character. They can also be moved around the map using Sora's Reality Shift. With regard to the story, the Dream Eaters lead both Sora and Riku to the "Key of Sleep", which is presumably required to open to Sleeping Keyholes.
  • The Hero Dies: Downplayed. The villains' main plot is to cause Sora's heart to be smothered in darkness, which succeeds. Sora is left an empty husk fit to be taken over by Master Xehanort, but Riku interferes and rescues Sora's body from the Dream world. Riku then dives into Sora's heart to revive him from the darkness.
  • Heroic BSoD: Sora gets a few in this game thanks to the same questions Xion was asked. To sum the questions: "Am I the real thing, or a copy? Am I really myself, or just a puppet with a role to play?" Thankfully, they don't end up the same way.
    "Sora...the bits and bytes that have made up your life so far...can you say for sure they're not just copies of someone else's?"
  • Hero of Another Story: The The World Ends with You crew have to deal with an odd permutation of the Reapers' Game in Traverse Town, which Sora and Riku only get to glimpse.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: When Lea helps rescue Sora, he uses his chakrams. He later admits he wanted to reveal his Keyblade at the time but he hadn't yet figured out how to summon it.
  • HP to One:
    • The Anti Black Coat Nightmare's dark stalagmite will do this if it connects.
    • Averted with the Poison status effect. Especially annoying if Julius inflicts it on you. Given his insanely powerful attacks, it can mean Game Over if you get stuck with it at low health.
  • Hypocrite: Master Xehanort, a Black Magic version of a Mad Scientist whose many schemes have all boiled down to forcible and unnatural experiments, insists on Because Destiny Says So in regard to his rap sheet.
  • Ignored Enemy: The Spellican gets completely forgotten, much to its annoyance, as Beat and Rhyme get into a sibling tiff.
  • I Have Your Wife: Maleficent pulls this on King Mickey, kidnapping Queen Minnie in order to try to get him to hand over the datascape. Her plans are thwarted by the timely intervention of Lea.
  • I'm Crying, but I Don't Know Why: Sora, when he meets Xion for the first time.
  • Infinity -1 Sword: End of Pain. (14 Strength/16 Magic/3% Shift).
  • Infinity +1 Sword: Unbound (18 Strength/14 Magic/20% Shift) and Ultima Weapon (16/16/20%).
  • Internal Reveal: It's not until here that Sora learns the man in the brown robe from the beginning of the first game was Ansem. The audience learned back during Hollow Bastion in the first game.
  • Invincible Villain: Master Xehanort becomes a definite example near the end. He's now Back from the Dead as if Birth by Sleep never happened; mocks Terra, Aqua, and Ven for their seemingly Senseless Sacrifices; invokes Hijacked by Ganon over pretty much everyone via his Stable Time Loop; and, despite ultimately failing to get Sora, still manages to escape largely successful with his near-complete Seekers of Darkness in the end. Not to mention how he already has a Xanatos Gambit set up for Kingdom Hearts III: The Guardians of Light have no choice but to fight in his upcoming Keyblade War, or else he'll just target the Princesses of Heart to use them for the χ-blade instead. Before the game's even out, no less.
  • It's Raining Men: A very prominent part of the advertising is a scene of hundreds of different versions of the main character falling from the sky. This occurs in a vision very late in the actual game.
  • Ironic Echo: In a meta-sense, Master Xehanort echoes the tagline of Birth by Sleep to justify the crap he inflicted on Terra, Aqua and Ven. "Destiny is never left to chance."
  • It Makes Sense in Context: Specifically invoked with the trailers for the game, which do spoil quite a bit. However, due to the game's well-known bizarre nature and dream-like setting (known long before the game was released), the spoilery scenes don't make any sense without actually playing the game.
  • Japanese Beetle Brothers: Two of the Dream Eaters are based on the kuwagata and the kabuto: the Staggerceps and the KO Kabuto respectively.
  • Kaizo Trap: Oh look, I beat the final boss... wait...DID HE JUST SHOTLOCK ME?!?
    • The questions that you get asked in the ending also qualify as this... but to be fair they don't give you a game over if you answer "wrong".
  • Kudzu Plot: The game wraps up various questions about Xehanort's presence on Destiny Islands in the first game, the identity of the Mysterious Figure in Birth By Sleep, whether Nobodies really have hearts, and so forth. Unfortunately, it also opens all new questions about time travel, the 13 darknesses and 7 lights, the nature of the Keyblade, Sora's destiny, Ansem the Wise's failsafe, and myriad other plot points.
  • Lampshade Hanging: The game's convoluted story is lampshaded twice in the final world by Sora, when he says "That's nuts..." and "That's ridiculous!". The villains agree with this assessment; because their plot was so complex, the heroes never saw it coming.
  • Lancer vs. Dragon: Inverted. Sora is the franchise's main character, but the final boss of his campaign is Xemnas, who is The Dragon. The Lancer, Riku, fights the Big Bad and the Final Boss in his place.
  • Last Chance Hit Point: In addition to the already-existing Second Chance and Once More, this game adds Waking Dream, which is essentially both abilities combined for all of your Spirits. You're almost Railroaded into getting Waking Dream; by contrast, Second Chance and Once More are Guide Dang It! level to find.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler:
    • Trailers for the game and a cutscene show that Vanitas looks just like Sora, which is a massive plot twist shown only at the end of Birth by Sleep.
    • As you progress through the game you're given text-synopses of all of the previous installments, revealing all of the important plot points just in case you're a newcomer.
    • The Grid, the TRON: Legacy world, has multiple characters explicitly refer to Rinzler as Tron when Sora visits. In the movie this plot twist is only revealed at the end, while the game reveals it almost immediately.
  • Le Parkour: 3D uses a new gameplay mechanic called "Flowmotion" in the Sleeping Worlds (accessible to at least the Traverse Town residents as well). By holding or tapping Y, the player can make Riku or Sora perform over-the-top acrobatics such as infinite wall-jumping, rail-grinding or spinning around poles, which also allows opportunities for special high-damage attacks.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Kingdom Hearts is quite averse in mentioning the name of Disney worlds that don't actually have canon names in their original movies (or have another name, like real-life based worlds). For example, Country of the Musketeers is actually France, but when Sora asks Mickey what the world's name is, Mickey quickly changes the subject to avoid answering the question.
  • Let X Be the Unknown: The letter's affiliation to Xehanort is explained in this game. It is called the "Recusant's Sigil" and was used by Xemnas, and Xehanort by extension, to mark potential vessels, and as a proof of Xehanort's ownership and influence. It also served as a way for the Organization XIII to track Sora down and guide him to The World That Never Was.
    Xemnas: "As your flesh bears the sigil, so your name shall be known as that of a recusant."
  • Lethal Joke Character:
    • The Meow Wow is an easy-to-defeat early game enemy, and as a Spirit, it's not a whole lot better, but where it really shines is in Flick Rush. Its Tummy Bounce attack deals multiple hits of high damage that the enemy just does not know how to break once hit by it, it comes with Cure spells, and its evolved command is Elixir, which restores its health and reloads its own cards. It's entirely possible to solo a round with one Meow Wow.
    • The other Meow Wow variants are lethal even as Spirits. Flowbermeow is ridiculously fast, spams no-cost status effect and healing spells like no tomorrow, and can cast Faith once its level is high enough. Meowjesty has high stats and all of the abilities of the other variants, except it trades Faith for Balloon spells, which makes it excellent at scattering groups of enemies.
  • Lethal Joke Item: The Balloon series of spells. As ridiculous as the concept may seem, they're actually an adapted version of the Detonate/Mine series of spells from Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. They're well known as being one of the easiest methods of defeating bosses such as Julius.
  • Level in the Clouds: Sora's version of Symphony of Sorcery is based off of Fantasia's "Pastoral Symphony", with him walking on the clouds for the first couple of rooms.
  • Lightning Bruiser: So many of the huge bosses move at surprising speeds, especially Julius, who attacks so quickly that without the Leaf Bracer ability, you'll almost never be able to use Curaga.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: "Twister [Kingdom Mix]", "Calling [Kingdom Mix]" and "Someday [Kingdom Mix]" are each fairly long, with multiple verses. However, they each play during cutscenes with limited durations, such that each song barely gets into the first verse before the scene, and the song, ends.
  • Magic Missile Storm: Young Xehanort can fire projectiles in this manner.
  • Mascot Mook: The Meow Wow Dream Eater.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: This time with the established Kingdom Hearts universe, multiple Disney Franchises, and Square Enix's The World Ends with You.
  • Match Cut: A montage of them at the end of the February 2012 trailer. Thankfully slowed down here.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • When Sora meets Neku for the first time, and Sora calls him a friend, Neku says making friends isn't that simple. Sora then replies, "Not saying it is, but, you could make it easier." After they fight Spellican together and Sora vows to take out the Dream Eater so the TWEWY cast isn't erased, Neku being grateful to him as a friend says, "Thanks. It wasn't easy, but you made it easier."
    • After defeating Ansem, Riku says "Strength, to protect what matters". In Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Riku tells Terra that he's searching for strength to protect the things that matter.
    • In the finale, during his conversation with the digitized Ansem the Wise, there is another, intentional on the part of Ansem the Wise, and acknowledged with a grin by Riku. Compare the lines below.
      Ansem the Wise (as DiZ) in Kingdom Hearts II: But first, perhaps you could tell me your true name?
      Riku, in the form of Ansem, Seeker of Darkness: It's Ansem.
      [[spoiler:Data-Ansem the Wise, in this game: Young man! I do not believe you told me your name.
      Riku: It's Riku.
    • When confronted by Xigbar before the battle against Xemnas, Sora is told that his power is a composite of all those he's connected with, that Sora himself is basically nothing. Sora replies that he's still happy to be part of something bigger. Remember way back in Kingdom Hearts' beginning when Riku was talking about other worlds? Didn't he say that Destiny Islands "is just a little piece of something much greater"? Yeah, reaching a bit, but still cool, intentional or not.
    • Riku repeats his "road to the dawn" line to Ansem SOD and Young Xehanort.
    • "You made us a promise... that you'd always be there to bring us back. Got it memorized?" And later: "Promises to keep! I'll always be there to bring my friends back! What, bad timing?"
  • Medium Blending:
    • The game's opening video features a 2D, silhouetted Mickey on the bottom screen and full-motion CGI on the top screen, with the illusion given of Mickey jumping from the bottom screen to the top screen when he appears in the CGI video.
    • The Country of the Musketeers features a lot of comic book-style lineart as a Shout-Out to the ending credits of the original movie.
  • Mind Rape: What Young Xehanort (with the help of Xigbar and Xemnas) subjects Sora to.
  • Mind Screw: The game includes among other things dreams within dreams, time travel, more mysteries of the heart, and mythical prophecies foretelling the ultimate battle between dark and light.
  • Mon: The first game in the series to feature them. They are the Familiars or Spirits type, similar to another Square Enix title released that year. Your AI party members have been replaced by Dream Eaters, which you create using Randomly Dropped materials.
  • Monster Clown:
  • Mood Whiplash: During Riku's visit to Symphony of Sorcery, He goes through the Nutcracker, and it gives you a warm fuzzy feeling of "Yay! Christmas!" But just as soon as he gets the Sound Idea, he is pulled into a dark landscape and encounters Young Xehanort, who gives him a word of warning about the fate of himself and Sora, and then says that it's time for Riku to enter his abyss. Cue Chernabog.
  • Musical Gameplay: The Fantasia world, Symphony Of Sorcery mutes voices and replaces sound-effects with instruments, while the background plays songs from the movie, and it is wonderful. Where does the gameplay come in? The Reality Shift has you playing a small Elite Beat Agents style rhythm game with a segment of one of the movie's songs to alter the landscape to open paths and destroy enemies.
  • Mythology Gag: During the first visit to Traverse Town, we are introduced to the Drop mechanic when Sora and Riku pass out without warning and then wake up on the pavement. The town's inhabitants in this game are Players from the Reaper's Game, to which this happens after every mission.
  • Nerf: Dodge Roll has fewer invincibility frames than other games in the series. This can throw off people who were used to dodging everywhere in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, especially against bosses.
    • Remember those fun overpowered attacks from Birth By Sleep like Mega Flare, Time Splicer, etc? Remember how you didn't take damage from attacks while using them? Not anymore. Sure, Dark Splicer is awesome, but make sure you use Curaga before using it and have Curaga selected for when you finish because you can die in the middle of the attack now. Mega Flare is still powerful and fires quick enough that you'd really only get hit if you try to fire it in the middle of an enemy's attack.
    • The Ignite status is indirectly nerfed with the removal of Ignite as a command. It can still affect certain bosses, but is now only caused by certain physical commands that put you in harm' s way, making the "Ignite and run" strategy from Birth by Sleep much less viable.
  • New Game Plus: Allows you to carry over Spirits from your previous file. Just the Dream Eaters themselves—their Affinity will be carried over, but their Ability Links will be reset. Neku and Joshua will still insist on teaching you how to create Spirits, of course.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Sora and Riku can create "Spirit" Dream Eaters to help them in battle, which are based on real animals and mythical creatures.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Captain Pete of Country of the Musketeers is significantly more competent than his "normal" (and inept) incarnation, nearly succeeding in his coup of Queen Minnie due to his own cunning. He only fails because Sora and Riku show up and help Mickey, Donald, and Goofy.
  • Not What I Signed on For: Neku and Shiki both make deals with Young Xehanort to bring him Sora and Riku in exchange for being able to go home. However, when Young Xehanort tries to attack Sora and Riku, they immediately turn on him because he said that he wouldn't hurt them.
  • Numerological Motif: This game introduces the concept of the diametrically opposed seven guardians of light and thirteen seekers of darkness.
  • Oh, Crap!: Yen Sid, of all people, has this reaction when he finds out the extent of Xehanort's scheming led as far as splitting into his parts to get to several worlds at once for time travel.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: It's a series mainstay, why stop now? Pipe organ parts are featured in la Cité des Cloches' music, fitting the Catholic elements of the setting, while "Deep Drop" (The World That Never Was battle theme), "L'Oscurità dell'Ignot" (Xemnas's battle theme), and "L'Impeto Oscuro" (Young Xehanort's battle theme) are all mysterious, darkness-themed battles.
  • Orphean Rescue: Part of the plot seems to be traveling through dream worlds to save the souls/hearts/existence of the people that make up the Composite Beings that the cast are now.
  • Outside-the-Box Tactic: One way to make Sora's fight with Xemnas easier is to intentionally fail his Desperation Attack. While succeeding at it does stun the boss for a few seconds, it also shifts him to his second phase which is Immune to Flinching, has stronger attacks, and is much more aggressive. Failing keeps him in phase 1, making things more managable.

    P - Z 
  • Painting the Medium: After Riku defeats Ansem, he's expelled from the Sleeping Worlds and back to the real world. As if to reinforce this, The World That Never Was' stage logo kicks in.
  • Palette Swap:
    • There are two versions of most Dream Eater species—the friendly Spirits and antagonistic Nightmares. There are also "Rare species" that appear during challenges.
    • The player can use spray paint to color their own Spirits.
    • Several Jestabockies masquerade as Pinocchio in Prankster's Paradise; their clothes have Nightmare Jestabocky colors as opposed to Pinocchio's color scheme.
  • Permadeath: Once a Spirit loses all of its hitpoints and you fail to revive it within 30 seconds, it will permanently die.
  • Point of No Return: After defeating Xemnas, Sora is taken out of action for the rest of the game and you can only play as Riku. Beating the game and loading clear data will rewind time to before the Xemnas fight, but until then everything in Sora's half of the game is cut off.
  • Post-Victory Collapse: The moment Xemnas was out of view following defeat, Sora collapses and succumbs to the darkness in his heart, ending his side of the story in a very tragic way.
  • Power Glows: Unbound, the game's strongest Keyblade in terms of physical attack power, constantly emits a pulsing glow from the tip and hilt.
  • The Power of Friendship: Powerful enough for Sora to break through CLU's reprogramming of Tron, despite this Tron not actually being the one that Sora knows (the Grid's Tron is the original; Sora befriended his copy in Space Paranoids).
  • Precision F-Strike: Another Disney-level one—Sam says "hell" during the first visit to the Grid.
  • Power Copying: While Sora links with his Dream Eaters by performing a Combination Attack with them, Riku temporary absorbs them instead, allowing him to take upon the characteristics of the Dream Eaters he had just consumed.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: A matter of course for the Fantasia-based world Symphony of Sorcery.
  • Pun:
    • Neku's first line is "Talk about noise." The thing is, is he talking about the Noise, or the overexcited racket Sora's making?
    • Xemnas's line to Sora in The Grid in the English version: "Sora...the bits and bytes that have made up your life so far...can you say for sure they're not just copies of someone else's?" He also refers to the heart's role in "parsing" memories, which is a perfectly valid use of that word, but it's also a computing term.
    • The Dream Eaters' Dispositions have a one pun for each one. It's possible to have a Komory Bat with the disposition "Wingman".
    • The Dream Eater descriptions also are full of puns and alliteration, especially Ghostabocky's description (try not to get tongue-tied if saying it out loud). Not unlike another Square Enix series...
    • Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance... in other words, Kingdom Hearts 3D. Geddit?
  • R-Rated Opening: While the games aren't strangers to darker stuff, this is the first title in the series that begins on a very bleak note - namely, Terra-Xehanort stabbing Braig (in a first-person perspective) with Master Xehanort's Keyblade after having done the very same thing with Ansem the Wise's other apprentices.
  • Rabbit Magician: The Majik Lapin is a bunny-based Dream Eater in a Robe and Wizard Hat that casts magic spells with its ears.
  • Randomly Drops: The Dream Eater components, which come in various types and are split into three ranks—"Figments", "Fancies", and "Fantasies".
  • Reality Warper: In the Sleeping Worlds, Reality Shifts are used to take control of the worlds themselves for unique attacks.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Used as a form of ForeshadowingSora's outfits usually are some mix of yellow, red, black, blue, and white, but in this game his new clothing is primarily red and black with some white. By the end of the game, Sora has been corrupted by Xehanort and has to be fought to free his heart from darkness.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: A shared trait of Nightmare Dream Eaters, including the Anti-Black Coat.
  • Regional Bonus: The NA and PAL versions of the game include recipes for Dream Eaters that could only be obtained by AR Cards in Japan.
  • Remixed Level:
    • Fourth and fifth districts have been added to Traverse Town.
    • The World That Never Was is the ruined version, combined with visual elements of Xemnas's World of Nothing. It also traps Sora in a dream within a dream, while Riku gets to explore its dream version because he dove into Sora's dreams after Destiny Islands. Riku manages to break free and wake up in the real World That Never Was, but Sora's lack of resistance against the darkness serves to immediately shatter his heart after fighting Xemnas.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Joshua is in the game. Saying why would be a spoiler for the game he's from, but let's just say the symbolism has just skyrocketed. For extra bonus points on symbolism, Joshua has white, feathered angel wings in the first visit to Traverse Town.
  • Running Gag: People calling Lea "Axel".
    Riku: Why are you here, Axel?
    Lea: No, I told you my name's— Agh, whatever, Axel, fine.
  • Say My Name: Sora calls out for Riku near the beginning of the game upon entering Traverse Town. And near the end, Sora speaks his best friend's name again as his heart is smothered in darkness; this time, Riku was able to hear him, which would soon lead to Sora being revived and Riku becoming a Keyblade Master.
  • Scenery Porn: Sora's heart, a facsimile of the Destiny Islands at twilight.
  • Scunthorpe Problem: The 3DS version gives you no choice but to nickname the Dream Eater known as Pricklemane. Averted in Dream Drop Distance HD.
  • Seahorse Steed: Sora can ride the Tatsu Steed and Tatsu Blaze dream eaters if he performs a link attack with them. Notable in that they're the flying sort of seahorse, and they also move extremely slowly like actual sea horses. The purpose of the move is to use them as a turret of sorts rather then transportation, though.
  • Send in the Clones: Xehanort's true plan for Org. XIII is to make them essentially all clones of himself.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The last room in Riku's visit to Symphony of Sorcerery is a winter wonderland based off of Fantasia's "The Nutcracker Suite" segment. It's covered in snow and there are large snowballs that he can use to crush enemies.
  • Shock and Awe: The Electricorn Dream Eater. Superboss Julius also uses electricity to bolster his attacks.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sigil Spam: Both Sora and Riku's outfits are adorned with a sigil. Sora has the Recusant's Sigil, the "X" over his chest, which allows the new Organization to track him. Riku has the Spirits' sigil, because he himself is actually a Spirit.
  • Slouch of Villainy: Master Xehanort.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Peaceful classical music plays in Symphony of Sorcery as you wander around beating the living daylights out of Dream Eaters who are trying to kill you. Even more dissonant is the fact that the standard attack sounds are replaced with musical instrument sounds after a successful hit, like the strumming of a harp.
    • This peaceful music even stays on during the cutscene when Young Xehanort confronts Sora.
  • Stable Time Loop: Ansem went to the distant past and met Young Xehanort. Young Xehanort then travels to the future, making his appearance as a superboss in Birth By Sleep before participating in the events of this game. Young Xehanort later says that when he returns to his own time, he'll forget his memories of the future, but his heart will drive him on his appointed path.
  • Status Effects: While used by some enemies in previous games, it's a much bigger problem this time around, with practically every dream eater possessing at least one attack that inflicts a bad status, on top of some of them also using the same status inflicting spells you have access to (Which can be nigh impossible to avoid due to how quickly they trigger). Abilities that provide resistance to each of the different effects were added to alleviate some of the pain.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • The minigame that one plays before they visit each world is called "dive mode". There's even a version of the minigame for when Riku goes into Sora's heart to defeat the nightmare that's preventing Sora from waking up. This trope comes in once you realize the actual name of the world Riku visits, "Dive to the Heart".
    • When in the Grid, Sora decides to go after CLU despite not knowing where to look. He has no CLU.
  • The Stinger: Three of them. Sora returns to Dream World version of Traverse Town and has a happy reunion with the Dream Eaters. Somewhere in Castle Oblivion, Ventus's comatose body cracks the slightest smile. There's also the traditional secret ending; Yen Sid will be training Kairi in Keyblade wielding.
  • Superboss: Julius from Runaway Brain can be found in Traverse Town after completing the main story, and is the hardest boss in the game.
  • Super Title 64 Advance: Kingdom Hearts 3D. 3D, in this case, has a double meaning: Not only does it mean it's for the Nintendo 3DS, but it also literally means three Ds, which stand for Dream Drop Distance. (The HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue remake omits the "3D" from the title, going for Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance HD.)
  • Targeted Human Sacrifice: This is effectively what the real Organization XIII has in store for Sora, which really demonstrates just how creepy and cult-like it is.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: "Link to All", an upbeat remix of "Dearly Beloved" which plays just before Sora's climactic battle with Xemnas.
  • The Theme Park Version: Disney plots are more simplified than in other installments this time around, owing to only being able to see a small part in the one visit each person has and also justified by the fact that Riku and Sora aren't even visiting the same world (Riku visiting a dream inside of Sora).
  • Third Line, Some Waiting: Along with the alternating Sora and Riku storylines, there is a third plot thread about Mickey and company dealing with Maleficent in the real world.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Most of the bad guys spend the game mind raping Sora, so the game becomes this by the time the player reaches The World That Never Was.
  • Time-Limit Boss: The Drop gauge still empties during boss fights, and switching characters forces the fight to restart once you switch back. After completing Sora's path, this is no longer the case for Riku until he finishes his scenario. Ironically, the boss with control of time is not one.
  • Time Stands Still: During a Big Damn Heroes moment, Mickey appears with the fourth-tier Stop spell, Stopza, and freezes the new Organization XIII. It didn't work on Young Xehanort due to Master Xehanort temporarily passing his power onto him.
  • Time Travel: Introduced in this entry, with different mechanics than the door method for Timeless River, this has essentially been responsible for the entirety of Xehanort's Xehanort Gambit for the entirety of the series so far. The rules of time travel are rather unusual: They require a version of the time traveler to exist at the planned exit point, and one must leave their body in order to do it. Ansem gained this ability when he gave up his physical body to become a Heartless. He was also able to transfer the power over to his younger self without requiring him to give up his body.
  • Title Theme Drop: In the scene where Riku explains to Mickey and the others why it has to be him that dives into Sora's heart to rescue him from the darkness, the version from the title screen of the second game picks up in the background.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Though in such a subtle way that it's more actual Foreshadowing — the original teaser showed Sora confronting Xemnas in Twilight Town, then a mirror scene of Riku confront Ansem in the same manner. Guess who interacts primarily with who during the course of the game, including the inevitable boss rematches.
    • Look at the box art for a while. Notice how Sora is falling while Riku is in a rising position? Yup. It serves as a Foreshadowing to the fact that Riku is the real hero of this game, and what will happen to Sora late in the game.
  • Tree Buchet: Appears in the Country of the Musketeers, both in a cutscene and as a "trampoline"-type object in gameplay.
  • Trippy Finale Syndrome: Oh boy. The game is actually not that loopy for a story about dreams until the last world, which pulls out all the stops, apparently to make up for the story leading up to it being far too normal.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Storyline-wise, there's no waiting. However, it averts this in a highly acceptable way—whenever you drop, the other campaign is essentially paused, although bosses and Dream Eaters respawn and are reset.
  • Under the Sea: The last few rooms of Sora's version of Prankster's Paradise are parts of an underwater canyon near Pleasure Island. Instead of swimming, Sora just casually walks on the ground as if he was on normal land and can breath fine as a Call-Back to how it worked in Pinocchio.
  • Underground Monkey: Some of the rarest Spirits are slightly tweaked models of more common varieties—Meowjesty and Flowbermeow for Meow Wow, or Frootz Cat for Necho Cat, for instance. They're essentially "souped up" versions of the previous Spirits, with similar skills, attack patterns, and the same Links.
  • The Unfought: Frollo and CLU. The Coachman is completely absent, but his Karma Houdini status in the film makes him notable here nonetheless. Not to mention Master Xehanort, Braig/Xigbar, or Isa/Saïx. Notable for Braig because he actively taunts you throughout The World That Never Was, making you think that there may be a boss fight with him.
    • Subverted with Master Xehanort as he possessed his younger self briefly to fight Riku.
  • Unlockable Difficulty Levels: The Harder Than Hard Critical Mode can only be selected after the game has been beaten once.
  • Unskilled, but Strong:
    • Superboss Julius is a hulking brute who basically runs headlong around the arena, but his attacks will take off most, if not all of your HP should it connect.
    • This trope is the reason why Yen Sid puts Sora and Riku through the Mark of Mastery Test in the first place. While their self-taught styles have served them well to this point, the Keyblade has further secrets they haven't discovered and need to know to prepare for Master Xehanort's return.
  • Updated Re-release: 2.8's Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance HD, which probably has the most changes made to it of any of the games remade for the Compilation Rereleases. These include, among a graphical upgrade optimized for 60 FPS and other minor changes, most of the Reality Shifts being reworked from touchscreen controls to traditional ones, three new Spiritsnote , the Fountain minigame being completely overhauled, and the Treasure Goggles (which were dependent on the 3DS's AR camera feature, something the PS4 lacks)) being entirely replaced by the Candy Goggles as a new minigame.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: All of the Xehanorts, at the end of the game.
  • Videogame Caring Potential: The Spirits. Goodness gracious, how many 3DS screens were ripped to shreds just petting them for hours?
  • Villain of Another Story: Since the Reapers' Game is ongoing for Neku and co, the Reapers are likely watching them from afar though they do not play a role in Sora and Riku's story.
  • Villain Team-Up: Four of Master Xehanort's incarnations (Ansem SoD, Xemnas, Master Xehanort, and Young Xehanort), as well as Braig and Isa, form a new Organization of sorts, with six other members remaining unidentified. Xehanort is still working at getting the thirteenth and final one.
  • Visual Pun:
    • The district Julius from Runaway Brain, who bears a strong resemblance to Pete the cat, is fought in is the same one featuring the CAT graffiti from The World Ends with You.
    • Whenever Minamimoto's Tyranto Rex in the Flick Rush Tin Pin Cup takes a bite in any of you Dream Eaters. How is this a pun? "Crunch! I'll add it to the heap!"
  • Wacky Sound Effect: In the Symphony of Sorcery world, the standard sound effects of Sora and Riku's Keyblade attacks connecting with Dream Eaters are replaced with the sounds of musical instruments. Sora and Riku also lose their battle grunts here.
    • The Guardian Bell Keyblade makes a church bell sound whenever it lands a hit. For a tiny bell, it sure makes a deep ring.
    • The Sweet Dreams Keyblade takes the cake in this regard, emitting all the manner of cartoony sound effects with each hit.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Rinzler. He hits very hard and quickly, has a lot of health, and regularly messes with your interface by turning the arena upside down.
    • Earlier than that is Wargoyle. For Riku, he flies around the battlefield firing hard-hitting attacks as he does so. For Sora, he is even worse thanks to using many powerful attacks one after another in long combo chains as his health decreases.
  • Wall Jump: One application of Flowmotion allows Sora and Riku to jump off of walls to either ascend or bounce off to continue moving forward.
  • Wham Episode: About all of The World That Never Was! Particular mention goes to the scenes before Sora fights Xemnas, which delivers wham upon wham upon wham, topping themselves the whole time!
  • Wham Line: A conversation in the final world changes (or confirms) everything we thought we knew about Nobodies.
    Xigbar: Aren't hearts great? Steer us wrong every time.
    Sora: You know, don't you? Because you all have hearts!
    • To say nothing of the revelation regarding Xehanort's plan, and Xigbar's part in it.
      Xigbar: Translation—they were gonna turn all the members into Xehanort.
      Sora: Make more Xehanorts? You tricked your friends to... But you - aren't you scared of just turning into someone else?
      Xigbar: Me? I'm already half Xehanort.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Riku encounters a doppelganger of himself in Prankster's Paradise, who is implied to be his Replica from Chain of Memories. It's never explained how the Replica got there, if he's even real or part of the dream, or what happens to him after the encounter... until Kingdom Hearts III. It's revealed in that game that this double is actually a past version of the replica who's working with the real Organization under the moniker "Dark Riku".
  • A Wizard Did It: Don't worry about Sora and Jiminy walking along the ocean floor without asphyxiating or being crushed by the pressure. They're in a dream.
  • Womb Level: Riku's story in Prankster's Paradise takes place inside the digestive system of the giant whale Monstro. Like in Kingdom Hearts, it's very colorful and spacious, there's ship debris and barrels to hit, you can flip some rooms by hitting uvula, and you can be damaged by stomach acid.
  • Word Salad Title: Dream Drop Distance, though these kind of titles aren't uncommon in the series. Nomura has said it refers to something like the distance you drop into your dreams, and admits that the English isn't perfect; the words were chosen for how they sound, rather than English fidelity (a clearer phrasing would be something like "how deeply you fall into your dreams"). The title also refers to the game being set in a Dream world, the Drop gameplay system that facilitates switches between Sora and Riku, and the Distance separating the two protagonists' sides of the story.
  • Xanatos Gambit: The villains' overarching plan turns out to have spanned other installments in the Kingdom Hearts series and accounted for The Hero's victories in those games.
    • First to gather his 13 Seekers of Darkness, his memories were used by Xemnas to transform the members of Organization XIII into Xehanort clones. If Xemnas succeeded, then he would have his Seekers. If he failed, not a problem; Xehanort's plan involved time travel, so most of his Seekers were primed and ready across the time stream anyway.
    • The goal in this game was to turn Sora into one of his Seekers. If it worked, he'd have his final Seeker of Darkness and would be ready to go. If he failed; Sora would instead be a Guardian of Light which he needed anyway.
    • And finally, in the slim chance the Keyblade wielders don't play ball as the seven Guardians of Light, Xehanort can still recreate the χ-blade by using the seven Princesses of Heart, which the Keyblade wielders can't allow for obvious reasons, thus forcing their hand anyway.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The True Organization XIII, in particular Ansem SoD, keeps making attempts to once again lure Riku over to the dark side. When he rejects their offer at every turn, they ultimately decide to try and just kill him instead, viewing him as an obstacle in their plans.

"Your best friend is never far."


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Kingdom Hearts 3 D, Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance


My Friends Are My Power

A compilation of the use of the aforementioned phrase in Kingdom Hearts. (CONTAINS KH3/RE MIND SPOILERS!)

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / ThePowerOfFriendship

Media sources: