FEATURES By Spencer Aug 27, 2013 at 6:10pm (EST)
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories has got to be one of the most debated games in terms of people loving or hating the game. This mainly came from the game's new card battle system that was unlike any other RPG out at the time. The Kingdom Hearts manga has now adapted the story from Chain of Memories and this ends up being one of the best ways to experience the game's story since Re:Chain of Memories released.
It may be a very minor detail to most, but Chain of Memories was actually the first time the series read right to left. This is common for almost every manga released and is just the start of minor changes leading to great results.
After the events at the end of Kingdom Hearts, Sora, Donald, and Goofy are stranded in a mysterious land of nothing but green hills. Our three heroes are now continuing their search for King Mickey and Riku after they were last seen helping close the doors to Kingdom Hearts from the inside. This inevitably leads Sora to meeting a mysterious man in a black coat who shows them the path to Castle Oblivion.
With no other place to search and a gut feeling that what they are looking for may be located in this mysterious new castle, the three heroes enter Castle Oblivion. There is a trick to this mysterious new place and it starts as soon as the doors shut behind you. The longer you stay in Castle Oblivion, the more of your memories you lose.
The search for Riku and King Mickey inside Castle Oblivion has a very simple setup, but with a very unconventional story. Going back to select worlds from Sora's past doesn't end up feeling like you are re-reading the same story and actually takes some very funny liberties. Although, unlike the game, most of the story in Chain of Memories takes place inside Castle Oblivion.
This works in the manga's favor much more than you might think at first. While you don't get to focus on re-visiting past world, getting a much deeper look at Organization XIII's side of the story helps you get to know the interesting cast of characters that are set up inside Castle Oblivion. Fans of Axel also shouldn't worry about the fiery red head being a minor character, her quickly becomes the Organization's stand out member just as quickly here.
Alongside Sora's journey climbing up Castle Oblivion, we also get to see what happened to Riku and he has also wound up in Castle Oblivion. Riku however is working his way up the castle from the basement, as he tries to discover what is really going on and battle the darkness Ansem has left inside his heart.
While the original story of Kingdom Hearts does a good job of introducing us to this brand new set of characters and worlds, Chain of Memories improves on that very same idea even more so. The twists and turns that occur inside Castle Oblivion to both Sora and Riku just delivers a much tighter story than the last two volumes of the manga was able to deliver.
There are two major reasons why the Chain of Memories manga works so well in this adaptation. The first being that they cut all the unnecessary fat surrounding the story. you only visit four worlds outside of the castle, there is a single Disney world thrown into those four, and we don't end up rehashing elements from the first Kingdom Hearts.
The second and final major reason the manga improves on the source material, is that the boss battle feel much more fleshed out and are interesting to watch unfold. Even comparing Riku's tight combat skills to Sora, Donald, and Goofy's ridiculous trinity powers in combat make you wish Amano put this much effort into the manga from the start.
It is great to see this manga adaptation already improve upon itself. This re-release for Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories may not include any bonuses, but simply having both massive volumes in one great place is worth the very affordable price point of $19.99 (it can also be found cheaper online very often). Even if you couldn't stand the gameplay in Chain of Memories, this manga is one of the best ways to experience the events that lead up to Kingdom Hearts II.
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If you have read the Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories manga, be sure to post what you think about it in the comments below. If you also have any questions about the manga feel free to post them below and I will respond to as many questions I can answer.
Next week I will finally talk about the one everyone has been waiting to release and that is Kingdom Hearts II Volume 1! Kingdom Hearts Union will have a brand new Kingdom Hearts manga impressions each week leading up to the release of Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix in North America and Europe.