Despite being released away from the PlayStation 2, these two spin offs from the Kingdom Hearts franchise added some vital plot explanation to the series. This part of our recap focuses on Chain of Memories and 358/2 Days, which take place shortly after the events of Kingdom Hearts 1.
This spin off begins exactly where Kingdom Hearts 1 left off, with Sora, Donald and Goofy chasing Pluto. They eventually catch up to him, and discover a mysterious castle in the middle of nowhere, which they find out is named Castle Oblivion. After entering, Sora is separated from Donald and Goofy, and discovers that if he chooses to go further into the castle, he may forget everyone and everything he knows.
After ascending to the first floor, Sora finds himself in a version of Traverse Town that is formed from his memories. He encounters illusions of his friends, but they do not seem to know who Sora is. A hooded figure explains to Sora that he must use the power of magical cards to find his lost friends and reach the top of Castle Oblivion.
As Sora ascends each floor, he is met by more hooded individuals, who are part of a group named Organization 13. Their ultimate goal appears to be related to Sora, and a witch named Namine who is able to manipulate Sora’s memories. After defeating several of the members of the Organization, Sora begins to lose his memories of Kairi, and believes Namine to be his friend instead.
Eventually, Namine betrays the Organization and assists Sora by offering to restore his memories when he reaches the top of Castle Oblivion. To accomplish this, Sora, Donald and Goofy must sleep for a year. As they go to sleep, they promise Namine that they won’t forget her, despite her assuring that they will not remember meeting her.
At the same, Riku arrives in Castle Oblivion via the basement floors after escaping the Realm of Darkness. He eventually learns that Ansem has not been eliminated from his heart, so he must rid himself of the darkness to purge himself of Ansem’s influence.
Meanwhile, the Organization have created a duplicate of Riku, who will act as their puppet. Riku faces off against the Replica, as well several members of the Organisation that Sora did not encounter. One of the members, Zexion, is killed by the Riku Replica, as he begins to have some of the compassion and attitude of the original Riku.
After meeting a mysterious man named DiZ, Riku chooses not to fall into a sleep like Sora did, but continue to challenge the darkness until he is victorious. After meeting the Riku Replica one last time, he manages to destroy it, and then decides to confront Ansem for one final encounter. After Riku is successful, he is again met by DiZ. Riku rejects the paths of light and darkness, and instead decides to travel to the road that leads to the dawn.
After Sora loses his heart in Kingdom Hearts 1, a mysterious being named Roxas appears out of nowhere. He joins the Organization as it’s thirteenth member, without any memories or a sense of who he is. As he is trained to eliminate the Heartless, Roxas develops a bond with Axel, the eighth member of the Organization, and Xion, a mysterious girl who is the fourteenth member of the group.
Both Roxas and Xion are unique, because they can wield Keyblades. Xion struggles with her sense of identity, leaving the Organization and meeting up with Riku, who has recently just left Castle Oblivion. He tells Xion that her Keyblade isn’t worth anything, just like her.
Namine and DiZ have been rebuilding Sora’s memories after the Castle Oblivion incident, which inadvertently causes Xion to start experiencing some of these memories herself. It is eventually revealed that Xion was created by the Organisation, nothing more than a puppet forged from Sora’s scrambled memories. They intended to use Xion’s Keyblade abilities to destroy the heartless for themselves, to summon their own version of Kingdom Hearts when they have collected enough of them.
Xion eventually leaves the Organization, and takes on a corrupted form due to the progress of the restoration of Sora’s memory. Roxas is forced to eliminate her, promising that he will fulfil her dying wish of freeing the captured hearts from the Organization’s clutches.
Roxas goes to The World that Never Was, the strongold of the Organization and his former home to fulfil Xion’s request. He is stopped by Riku, who is determined to defeat Roxas to allow Sora to awaken, as he has some of Sora’s memories himself. Roxas refuses to be defeated by Riku, who is forced to use the darkness within himself to render Roxas unconscious.
This act has devastating consequences for Riku, as the emerge of the darkness has altered his appearance to resemble Ansem. DiZ and Riku/Ansem wipe Roxas’s recent memories, and place him inside a virtual world that resembles Twilight Town, a place where Roxas used to visit during the days of being in the Organization.
Just like Sora before him, Roxas begins to have bizzare dreams and awakens in his new home of the digital Twilight Town. This continues for some time, and eventually leads to the beginning of Kingdom Hearts 2.