Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (2004)

by Ji-yeong
7 minutes read


An essential chapter in the Kingdom Hearts saga, Chain of Memories blends familiar characters and settings with innovative gameplay. It challenges players to master a unique card-based combat system as they delve into a story of forgotten memories and uncover hidden truths.


Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories stands as an innovative bridge in the Kingdom Hearts series, taking players on a journey through the power and pitfalls of memories. It combines classic Kingdom Hearts gameplay with a unique card-based battle system, all within the portable format of the Game Boy Advance.


“Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories” is an action role-playing video game co-developed by Square Enix and Jupiter, and published by Square Enix in collaboration with Disney Interactive in 2004 for the Game Boy Advance. It is the second game in the Kingdom Hearts series and serves as an intermediary between the two larger-scale PlayStation 2 games in the series.

The game follows Sora and his friends as they explore the mysterious Castle Oblivion while battling the sinister Organization XIII, a group of antagonists new to the series. The story centers around Sora, the protagonist of the first game, exploring a mysterious castle in search of his friends. As he ascends the castle, his friend and rival, Riku, explores the basement levels and fights his inner darkness.

The game introduces new characters and plotlines that further expand the Kingdom Hearts universe and set up the premise of Kingdom Hearts II. It was one of the first GBA games to incorporate full motion video (FMV). The game features a new card-based battle system, in a departure from its predecessor’s real-time combat system.

As Sora and his friends delve deeper into the castle, they begin to lose their memories. A Nobody named Naminé begins to replace memories of Kairi with fake ones of herself. It turns out she is good and is manipulating his memories under the orders of the head of the castle, Marluxia. This escalates to a final battle in the end, for Sora’s life, and Naminé’s freedom.

Meanwhile, Riku awakens down in the castle, and as he goes up the basement levels of Castle Oblivion, he must take control of the inner darkness inside of him, dealing with Ansem, the Riku Replica, and three members of Organization XIII; Vexen, Lexaeus, and Zexion, along the way.

The game was remade for the PlayStation 2 as Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories, released in Japan as a second disc packaged with Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix in March 2007. The remake was later released in North America on December 2, 2008, and was remastered in HD and included in the Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix collection released in 2013 for the PS3 and later for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

Though not as successful as the other Kingdom Hearts games, it received positive reviews and sold well. It was praised for its story, graphics, and FMVs, but the card-based battle system was criticized. When it debuted in Japan, it sold over 100,000 units in 48 hours.

“Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories” is a pivotal game in the Kingdom Hearts series that introduces new characters and plotlines, expands the universe, and sets up the premise for future games. Its unique card-based battle system and the theme of memory manipulation provide a fresh and intriguing twist to the gameplay and narrative.


Sora, the keyblade wielder and protagonist; Donald Duck and Goofy, Sora’s loyal companions; Riku and King Mickey, who explore the castle’s basement levels; and members of Organization XIII, mysterious figures with their own agenda.


The gameplay is a mix of action and strategy, with a card-based battle system where players construct a deck from cards collected throughout the game. These cards are used for attacking, defending, and using special abilities. The game also features a blend of exploration and puzzle-solving within the memory-based recreations of familiar worlds from the series.


Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories is a memorable entry in the series, notable for its story-driven exploration of memory and identity, and its distinctive combat system. It serves as a crucial link in the Kingdom Hearts narrative, deepening the lore and setting the stage for future adventures.

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