Go back to read Part 1, Part 2 and/or Part 3. With such a complex story, you’ll need it. When we left off, we had reached the great big battle against Pete. Armed with his brand new Keyblade, Sora is ready for a long battle!
The first stage of the battle pits Sora against a normal Pete; when the cat's HP are down a first time, a second stage occurs and Pete moves on to serious attacks – including one that, somehow, turns him into a sphere of light that chases Sora around and shoots thunder. Pete can throw balls that cause Sora to lose his special attacks if he’s hit. Last but not least, Pete can make himself temporarily invincible. It's not easy, but after a moment he's down.
|No, Data-Riku! Don't fall to the stereotypical possessions|
your namesake is sadly known for!
Oh, by the way, you want a real challenge? Do this five-stage battle without any healing Action Commands whatsoever. When I reached that part of the game, I hadn’t yet grasped all the mechanics of the game, which means I was not ready to do this battle. It took multiple tries (and thankfully I was allowed to restart at the stage I died in, and not from the very start of the five-stage battle), but I eventually made my way through.
Either way, it takes a while and all the player's resources, but eventually Data-Riku is defeated and falls unconscious. As the group approaches him, an odd keyhole appears over him. Since the journal took the shape of the virtual Riku, and the journal was corrupted by Pete, then the source of all of the journal’s problems are currently inside this Riku, so it’s only by entering his mind and defeating the bugs there that the journal will be returned to normal.
|I have to say, I kind of like the updated cutscenes from Kingdom Hearts|
HD 2.5 ReMIX. Much better images for this review.
|Ans stop helping you? Oh no! I went this far, I'm not|
going to back out!
|See how Data-Sora's Level is back to 1? Re:coded, that's just mean.|
|Just in case the inanimate ones weren't annoying enough.|
|Five doors. They all lead to different levels of danger.|
…But since all the memories are repaired, the place starts shaking. The memory Data-Riku creates a portal to send Data-Sora through so that he can come out of the memories; Riku also mentions that, unlike what Sora thinks, their first encounter was on Destiny Islands, and not on the circular platform just before that world... Okay, time to go in! Past that portal is a 2D level in what’s one of the trippiest landscapes. At the end of that level, Data-Sora has an encounter with Maleficent, and has to fight her dragon form. Maleficent has a lot of hit points, but it can be depleted rather easily since the place is still two-dimensional, Maleficent doesn’t take flight – as a dragon? Shaaaaaaame – and gets taken down after multiple slashes at her chest and face. This final enemy defeated, Data-Sora appears out of Data-Riku’s memories.
|Ah, Maleficent. It doesn't matter how powerful you are; if you keep using the|
same schtick over and over, of course the heroes will know how to defeat you!
He is greeted by Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Jiminy and Data-Riku. The latter sends the other four through a portal leading to their real world, and once they’re back at the real Disney Castle of the KH universe, Data-Riku informs them that with all the bugs wiped out of the journal, it can be restored to its original form… which means that it will be reset, and with it Data-Sora’s memories erased, along with any traces of the adventure against the bugs (since it wasn’t part of the actual data).
What? No! Do you have any idea how long it took me to get there? You’re just gonna erase it all? Curse you Nomura!!!
As if that was not enough, a problem appears when it turns out that not all the bugs may have been taken care of! The procedure may lead to bugs spilling out into the KH world! Data-Riku orders Mickey to lock the journal, which will reset it… and most likely make it impossible to salvage the data characters’ memories. But why are the bugs still there? Oh, and another thing we're forgetting: both Pete and Maleficent are still in the journal and might be erased! Sadly, this means Data-Sora has to find them and get them out of the journal.
Because nothing is ever simple in Kingdom Hearts, is it?
|Ugh, don't you just hate it when virtual characters|
become something more than the code they were made from?
|"Congratulations! You have defeated me. But can you|
Took long enough, huh?
|"This is but a goodbye."|
Eyes, you better not start your crying!
Actually… no. Not everything. After the resetting procedure is complete, we learn that Data-Riku, who’s still the spirit of the journal, hasn’t lost his memories of the event. However, the new Data-Sora has. What’s more, a strange new world has opened in the repaired data, a world that wasn’t there in the first place: Castle Oblivion. Mickey asks Data-Riku to bring him into the Datascape again.
Data-Sora wakes up in Traverse Town, with Pluto licking his face, and he quickly meets Mickey. Of course, this Data-Sora’s memory having been reset, Mickey has to explain who he is, after which the mouse explains about the new world that just opened. Data-Sora, who’s still able to use the Keyblade innately (as if he never forgot that), opens the portal to Castle Oblivion. There, Mickey is nowhere to be seen, but a cloaked figure is standing there. I doubt it's Data-Riku.
|No, a digital cake holder with a mustache and monocle.|
Yes, it's a card.
There’s a catch, though; each World Card has three possible outcomes. A normal ending, an alternate ending and an extra ending. It is some kind of bonus challenge to get all 18 endings through the six World Cards. Depending on which ending cards you get, the outcome of Castle Oblivion will differ.
After the bit in Destiny Islands is completed, the cloaked figure gives to Data-Sora World Cards representing Traverse Town, Wonderland, the Olympic Coliseum, Agrabah and Hollow Bastion, restating exactly what I explained previously: Since Data-Sora will never remember what happened with those six World Cards, he’s allowed to act in any way he wants. He can be the same Data-Sora he always is, helping people unequivocally. But he can also go neutral and not do much. Or, he can be a complete jerk or do everything wrong, which is also an option. This kind of reminds me of that recent game, Undertale, where the path you choose to take and the interactions with the other main characters shape up what’s coming afterwards. There are still too many differences to consider it a true parallel, but Castle Oblivion still represents one of the rare cases in video games where your actions matter, where they have different results based on the outcome. (It's still a lot less complex than what the team behind Undertale did, which is sad, but hey, who cares? Undertale is awesome.) However, no matter how many times memories are wiped, how many times World Cards are used and completed, one thing remains: That nagging impression that something is forgotten. But the impossibility to know what. And if Sora causes any scenario that will lead to him feeling any kind of remorse, he’ll still feel it.
This is an extremely difficult concept to set up in fiction, but it can be pulled off. Here, the entire point of this constant playing with Data-Sora’s memories of the adventure that just happened – which he can’t remember due to the reset – and of the actual events described in the journal is to make him realize that he’s a virtual character… Or, if you prefer, someone who can be modified, someone whose memory can be rewritten easily... Someone who does not actually exist. A figment of data, nothing of importance, a nobody. Those of you who know the Kingdom Hearts series know exactly what I’m talking about right now. Admit it.
|What can I say? I like beating up the fat Pete. It's fun. And just desserts|
for this horrible bastard.
When all these trials are over, Data-Sora is visited by the hooded figure again… but instead of succumbing to the darkness and depression at the thought of all these people, Data-Sora instead chooses to accept the pain and grow with it. For some reason, this enrages the hooded figure, whose entire goal was to make Sora feel as useless, as unreal, as much a Nobody as he is…
…Wait, a Nobody?
…Yup, a Nobody. This hooded figure is NOT Data-Riku. In fact, it’s Roxas, Sora’s Nobody. I could spend a moment explaining what the Nobodies are, but I feel this Wiki page will do a much better job. Long story short, Nobodies aren’t supposed to exist. For Data-Roxas, it’s even worse as by all accounts not only shouldn’t he exist, he’s a Data version of a character who shouldn’t exist. Double the suck. And this is the final boss, too…
So I’ll discuss this in Part 5, the final part of this – really long – review. See you next Friday.