“Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. You know my heart; I loved Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2, but after those two the games got weird and inaccessible. I dutifully bought Chain of Memories on the Playstation 2, but…so much had changed. I couldn’t understand how to use the card system to play properly, and the story didn’t make sense. I felt like, as Sora was losing his memories of his friends in Chain of Memories, I too was losing my own memories of what the fuck is actually going on in these games.”
The priest grunts an admonishment.
“Forgive me, Father, I should not curse in this holy place.
“From there it spiralled out of my control. I didn’t have a working Nintendo DS, and I was poor so 358/2 Days was closed off to me. I didn’t have a Sony PSP, and I was still poor when Birth By Sleep came out so I missed out on that too.
“Now I know what you’re going to say: ‘What about the fiftly ‘leven different releases of the Decimal Series on the PS4, the console I do own?’
“To that I say: You’re right. The only excuse I can offer is by then, I was so far out of the loop that trying to catch up felt hopeless to me. I read wikis, I asked friends who knew and understood the lore, I even watched an eight-hour-long supercut of every Kingdom Hearts story including Back Cover, from start to finish in a single day. You must understand Father, I wanted to know. I was desperate to know!”
Father shushes me and I lower my voice to acceptable confessional levels.
“I thought, I prayed, I could just pick up Kingdom Hearts 3 and somehow the magic that captured me all those years ago would miraculously return and the game would just fill in anything I missed. I played for about 20 hours, fooling myself into believing that I was having fun. But again, the combat was confusing and unlike anything I’d played before in a Kingdom Hearts game. The story was similarly confusing and the Disney worlds…held no interest for me.
“My heart…had lost the light.”
I can hear the sigh from the other side of the confessional, and the groan of the wood as the priest shifts, body slumping in shame and disappointment.
“Wait! I haven’t fully lost hope yet! You see, I’m playing the latest game Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory, and I think it just might save me. It’s a rhythm game and I fuc — excuse me — flipping love rhythm games! The controls are a bit simple, requiring only a few buttons to master. There are no complex card combat systems. No confusing Link Summons, Attraction Flows, or Formchanges to learn. I hit a button or combination of buttons in time to the music, and that’s it. It’s the simplest Kingdom Hearts game to master, and that helps a lot in my self-directed rehabilitation.
“But like the holy Saint Riku, Melody of Memory is not without some darkness. While I ardently love certain songs from the Kingdom Hearts soundtrack — ”Simple & Clean,” “Sanctuary,” and “Dearly Beloved” — most of the game features the background and battle music from the different Disney worlds, which isn’t that exciting to play. Halloween Town, though, is a notable exception, because Nightmare Before Christmas music bops. And though I’m a rhythm game aficionado, there needs to be some kind of difficulty level between Standard and Proud — the difficulty curve between the two modes is too steep even for me.
“But the best part about Melody of Memory is that it has heard my lamentations and offered me a path back to the light. It knows that Kingdom Hearts lore has become a confusing mess mired in cloning, body doubles, memory loss, soul possession, and something called “getting Norted” and seems to want to help. As I was playing through the game, the comforting voice of Saint Kairi retold the entire story of the first Kingdom Hearts. If that trend continues, Melody of Memory might be the lore crash course I need to return to the light and finally finish Kingdom Hearts 3! It’s a Christmas Town miracle!
“I look forward to my nightly prayers with the game, catching up on lore I’d forgotten or missed. I find myself pausing on the menu screen enjoying the sound of a jazzier and more upbeat version of the traditionally slow and somber menu song “Dearly Beloved.”. Even the Vs battles online and against the computer are fun and worthwhile.”
I can hear the priest’s chuckle of approval. Father Mickey then replies in his high pitched sing-song voice, “Well done, thy good and faithful servant!”
I nod and smile, pulling up the hood on my Organisation XIII robes, and cheerfully leave Castle Oblivion.