Anyone who's being completely honest knows that the Kingdom Hearts games are ridiculous and crazy. But that's also what makes them so memorable and charming. As part of that, some of the main story points and plots can be hard to follow. What is a Nobody? Which characters are Nobodies? What's Roxas' deal and how is he related to Sora?
If you've forgotten something or are trying to get into Kingdom Hearts for the first time now that it's available on the Nintendo Switch, there are some things you should know. Beware, this page is filled with spoilers, so read at your own risk.
Kingdom Hearts FAQ Characters, phrases, plot points, and mythology
Now that Kingdom Hearts has joined the best Nintendo Switch games on the hybrid console, here are some refreshers for anyone who needs it.
What is Kingdom Hearts?
Aside from the name of this action RPG series, it is described within the games as the "heart of all worlds." More importantly, it is a powerful object containing hearts that many throughout history have fought over in order to obtain more power.
Wait, there's more going on here than I remember. Was more story added?
Yes, There have been several definitive editions of the earliest Kingdom Hearts games that introduced additional characters and stories that are integral to Kingdom Hearts 3's plot. As such, if you only played Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts 2 when they first came out, you ought to replay them on Switch with their additional content so you understand the full story so far before going into the third game.
Do I need to play all of the Kingdom Hearts games to understand the story?
There are a grand total of 13 Kingdom Hearts games at the moment, but you can understand the story plenty simply by playing five of them: Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts 2, Birth By Sleep, Dream Drop Distance, and Kingdom Hearts 3. All of these games and more are available via Nintendo Switch cloud streaming.
What does Kingdom Hearts on Switch cloud streaming mean?
Instead of being able to play the games on a cartridge or by downloading the game data locally on your Switch, players stream the games through the internet where they are stored on servers. This allows the games to maintain the same visuals and graphics that they had on previous releases instead of catering down to the Nintendo Switch's lower capabilities.
Who owns the Kingdom Hearts series?
While the games are developed in partnership with Square Enix, the property itself is owned by Disney.
What is a Heart?
One of three things that make up a living creature within Kingdom Hearts mythology. A being needs a heart, body, and soul in order to be alive, and each one of these things has power on its own.
What is a Heartless?
These are the main grunt enemies that were introduced in the first Kingdom Hearts game. They're beings of darkness, without emotion that are created when someone's heart fills too much with darkness.
What is a Nobody?
These creatures first appeared in Kingdom Hearts 2. When a being with a particularly strong heart gets turned into a Heartless, the body or shell it leaves behind turns into a Nobody. These creatures are also devoid of emotion and the strongest among them came together to comprise Organization XIII.
How are Heartless and Nobodies related?
When a person succumbs to darkness, they become a Heartless, but the body or shell they left behind turns into a Nobody.
What is Organization XIII?
A group of powerful Nobodies with Xemnas at their head. They are out to collect more Hearts so they can create an artificial Kingdom Hearts. They accomplish this by releasing more Heartless into various areas and then collecting the hearts that are released from them when they are defeated.
What is a Princess of Heart?
Princesses are young women whose hearts are so filled with pure light that their hearts have the power to chase away the darkness. The Seven Princesses of Heart are Belle, Snow White, Alice, Jasmine, Aurora, Cinderella, and Kairi. When all together, these seven ladies have the power to open the Door to Darkness.
What is an Unversed?
These are the main enemies in Birth by Sleep. They formed from the negative emotions that spawned when Vanitas was pulled from Ventus.
What is a Dream Eater?
These only appear in Dream Drop Distance, KHX, and KH Unchained X. They come in two forms, Spirits and Nightmares, and are basically what the darkness looks like in sleeping worlds.
Who is Naminé?
Kairi's heart entered Sora's before she was taken in the first Kingdom Hearts game. So when Sora opened his heart and became a Heartless to free Kairi's heart from his, Kairi's Nobody, Naminé, was born. Naminé has special powers that allow her to maniupulate Sora's memories and anyone else's memories that are of Sora.
Wait, I thought Xion was Kairi's Nobody?
Xion is more like an artificial Nobody that was created by Organization XIII in order to control Sora's memories so they could control Roxas. She is not Kairi's true Nobody.
Hold on, how is Sora related to Roxas?
When Sora temporarily became a Heartless at the end of the first game, it meant that a Nobody was also made for Sora. So even after Sora returned to normal, he still had a Nobody out there. Roxas is Sora's Nobody. Eventually, Roxas and Sora merged back together, giving Sora subconscious memories made by Roxas.
But why does Roxas look like Ventus and not Sora?
This is where things get really confusing. Ventus' heart had connected with Sora's before Sora became a Heartless. Because of this, Sora's Nobody looked like Ventus rather than Sora.
Did Axel remember Ventus?
This is, honestly, unclear. In 358/2 Days, Axel talks about his human life a whole lot while hanging out with Roxas, so it's very possible he remembered Ventus from before and was attempting to jog Ventus' shared memories. However, since Roxas was not actually Ventus' Nobody, this couldn't have worked so maybe Axel was trying in vein.
Hold up, there are two Ansems?
The main antagonist from the very first game called himself Ansem. However, he was actually Ansem's apprentice. The real Ansem, Ansem the Wise, has blonde hair and went by the name Diz in Kingdom Hearts 2.
Who are the Seven Guardians of Light?
Also known as the Seven Lights, these individuals fight back against the Thirteen Darknesses also known as Organization XIII. The Seven Lights are Sora, Riku, King Mickey, Aqua, Ventus, Kairi, and Lea.
How are Terra, Aqua, and Ventus connected to Sora?
Years before Sora existed, Terra, Aqua, and Ventus were students training to be Keyblade Masters. At one point in their travels, Terra and Aqua both went to Destiny Islands and met Riku and Sora as children. This is where Terra grants Riku the power to use the Keyblade. Aqua considered doing the same for Sora, but decided not to. Ventus follows Terra to other worlds and is kind of like the little brother of the group.
However, Terra was eventually manipulated by Master Xehanort into succumbing to his darkness, and then Master Xehanort possessed him to become younger. While on a quest to find Ventus and Terra, Aqua finds an unconscious King Mickey floating in space and works alongside him while traveling to Disney worlds. Ventus' heart was eventually opened by Master Xehanort and connected to Sora's. In other words, Terra, Aqua, and Ventus set things in motion before the first Kingdom Hearts story starts that affect the entire series.
Wait, how many Xehanorts are there?
You'll understand this better if you first accept that time travel is a major plot point in Kingdom Hearts. There are 12 versions of Xehanort total, but these are the most important:
- Master Xehanort - The old Keyblade Master who interfered with Terra's Mark of Mastery Exam.
- Terra-Xehanort - The being that was created when Master Xehanort possessed Terra so he could live longer.
- Ansem Seeker of Darkness - Xehanort's Heartless.
- Xemnas - Xehanort's Nobody.
- Young Xehanort - Ansem Seeker of Darkness went back in time and convinced a young Xehanort to travel through time to make his plans come true. Young Xehanort does this by collecting 12 versions of himself through time and space.
Who is Vanitas and why does he look like Sora?
Get ready for another confusing plot point. After forging the X-Blade, Master Xehanort used it to unlock Ventus' heart and remove the darkness from it. This caused three things to happen. One, Ventus became comatose and was laid in the Chamber of Waking. Two, Sora's heart reached out to Ventus' damaged heart and the two connected. Three, the removed darkness eventually turned into Vanitas and resembled Sora because the two had connected.
Are Riku, Kairi, and Sora Keyblade Masters?
By the end of Kingdom Hearts 3, Riku is a Keyblade Master while Kairi is studying to become one after accidentally gaining the ability to wield a Keyblade thanks to Aqua. Sora had previously failed his Mark of Mastery Exam in Dream Drop Distance and was working on proving himself in KH3. However, it's unclear whether he has successfully obtained the rank or not by the end of the game.
Is Kingdom Hearts 3 the last one with Sora?
While the Dark Seeker Saga ends with Kingdom Hearts 3, this isn't his last game. We will see him in further releases.
Not so simple and clean
Hopefully, these explanations help things make more sense and don't make the plot even more confusing. Honestly, you kind of just have to admit that this story is crazy and then it gets a whole lot easier to accept for what it is.
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Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend.