Welcome back to Key to the Heart. Last time, Sora and the gang put their best monster faces on, as they helped Mike and Sulley avert a crisis at Monsters, Inc. With that out of the way, it’s time to head to two different destinations; one bright and warm, and the other cold and gray.
In Twilight Town, we run into Merlin the Wizard, who indeed has Winnie the Pooh’s book. However, something’s off. Sora is missing from the cover, and the keyblade wielder hops in to take a look, expecting to find some grand scheme of darkness on the other side.
Well, nothing seems to be overtly wrong. Pooh doesn’t seem to have forgotten Sora, and neither has the rest of the gang for that matter (well, except for perhaps the Heffalump Lumpy, who makes his KH debut.) But Sora senses something is up and resolves to help out. And helping out in the 100 Acre Wood can only mean one thing; minigames. Or make that, one minigame.
There’s not a lot of time to spend here. While there are three variations to the one game, they all play similarly; like a cross between Columns and Puzzle Bobble. No lucrative prizes either, besides a new keyblade.
However, it wouldn’t be the 100 Acre Wood without an existential crisis of some kind. Pooh had forgotten Sora briefly, possibly when Sora was close to becoming one of Xehanort’s vessels during Dream Drop Distance, and thus Sora disappeared from the book. While troubled, Merlin reminds him that what is lost need only be found again.
Ready to continue our adventure proper, the gang lands in Arendelle, just as its eternal winter begins. Donald’s magic can help them assume forms appropriate for the world they are visiting, but it apparently can’t conjure appropriate winter clothing. This faux Tweet from Sora pretty much sums it up:
Sora and the gang spies Elsa running off. Noticing the sadness on her face, Sora decides to follow her, because of course he does.
We do manage to catch up with Elsa a short time later. However, she wants nothing to do with the new guests, and some passive aggressive persuasion nearly gets the three impaled by Elsa’s ice magic. The Heartless soon show up, and despite the outburst, Sora is ready to defend her, because of course he is.
After taking care of the new reindeer Heartless, the Winterhorn, Elsa thanks us for our help, and quickly returns the favor by blasting a stray Winterhorn with her magic. Sora, Donald and Goofy aren’t phased by this show of power, and are even a little impressed, but Elsa is convinced all her power can do is hurt people. Elsa runs off, but Sora is even more determined to reach out.
Before he can, another new old face from Organization XIII shows up; this time it’s Larxene. While the gang doesn’t remember her (due to the events of Chain of Memories), she makes herself pretty hard to forget when she traps them in an icy labyrinth, filled with a new lightning-magic-sporting Ninja Nobody.
After making it out, we continue up the mountain going after Elsa. The whole time is Arendelle is spent climbing the mountain. As a result, it’s a pretty expansive place, probably the same as the Kingdom of Corona. Thankfully, Sora’s abilities make ascending the mountain a breeze, and he gains access to new abilities to make it easier.
After some way, we do manage to run into Elsa. At the point where she provides her own soundtrack.
Not only is Elsa back in the fold, so is Larxene. Observing whether Elsa could be one of the New Seven Hearts or if she’ll merely fall to darkness, she sends Sora and company back down the mountain, where Frost Serpent Heartless give chase in a sledding minigame before fighting them in battle proper.
Taking care of the dragon-like enemies, we meet up with the rest of the Frozen cast. After some interaction with Olaf (Josh Gad does great here), Anna decides she can trust Sora and tells him her story of growing up with Elsa, because of course she does and of course she can.
After hearing the story, Sora pegs Elsa to be a lot like Riku (from the end of Kingdom Hearts and during much of Kingdom Hearts II that is), distancing herself as a way to protect those she cares about. After this, it’s time for a new kind of fetch quest; putting Olaf back together. It’s like the developers wanted to make sure everyone’s favorite snowman got a little more screen time.
We continue on our quest back up the mountain to meet up with Elsa again, getting separated from everyone dealing with Heartless. We seem to be just a bit too late, though. Anna is struck with Elsa’s ice again, and Elsa sics her snow golem Marshmallow on us, leading to a boss fight that relies a lot on fire magic and the use of tress to send the giant on his backside.
Separated from everyone again, Sora and the gang continue on. They do manage to see Elsa again, but under less than ideal circumstances. She’s being carried off by Hans, who appears to be under the control of darkness, because (say it with me) of course he is.
It’s not all bad though. We pick up an unlikely ally (at least if you hadn’t seen any of the game’s trailers) in Marshmallow, who joins us to take part in Elsa’s rescue. After crossing a windy field of snow (much like the first section of Death Peak in Chrono Trigger), we arrive on the frozen sea just in time to watch Anna defend her sister from Hans’ sword. Anna freezes, and the darkness in Hans manifests as a Heartless, turning into the monstrous Sköll.
You know, at the very least Hans was here to drive the conflict like he did in the movie, but place the emphasis on “very least.” He didn’t say a word, and we only saw him long enough for him to do the things I mentioned above. While his appearance was less awkward than the Stabbington Brothers’ disappearance from the Kingdom of Corona, it was only marginally so.
Well, at least the boss fight with Sköll, was a pretty impressive one, as well as hectic. A multitude of frenzied attacks, summoning clones, and even a time limit to prevent darkness from falling on the battlefield at certain points had me on edge. It’s one of the better boss battles in Kingdom Hearts III thus far.
With Sköll defeated, Anna eventually thaws, her act of true love protecting her sister providing the catalyst for breaking her curse (you know, in case you haven’t seen Frozen, and I really don’t know how that’s possible.) Before Sora can celebrate with them, Larxene reappears and remarks that Anna’s actions have essentially given them two of the New Seven Hearts in one world. She also lets slip that all 13 darknesses are in tow. Sora realizes that in order to protect the peace Elsa and Anna have just created, in Arendelle and with each other, he will need to step up his search for the remaining 7 guardians of light.
Sora relays his findings to Riku and King Mickey back at Yen Sid’s tower (with Sora having a great line, telling them that the New Seven Hearts is bad guy code for “Let’s go bother more princesses.”) While the original 7 Princesses of Heart have passed their roles as the keepers of light on, and the 13 darknesses appear to be ready, the missions have not changed. Riku and Mickey will search for Aqua, while Sora visits more worlds to obtain the power of waking.
In the Keyblade Graveyard, Larxene chats with both Marluxia and Demyx (who seems pretty adept at brushing off her barbs.) Luxord, another Kingdom Hearts II veteran, also makes an appearance. Xemnas appears before them and delivers a nice little tidbit of information; the reason for those four members’ inclusion into the Organization lies in the secrets of the past.
More specifically, the secrets are of an ancient keyblade legacy that slumbers within them. With Marluxia (Lauriam) and Larxene (Elrena) having been introduced into the story of the mobile title, Union χ[Cross], it appears the game is going to start tying in the events of that title. We seem to be getting closer to the end than the beginning, but there are a still a couple more Disney worlds to visit.
So that was the much-anticipated world of Arendelle. I know I rag on it, but hearing “Let it Go,” and later “Do you want to Build a Snowman?”, was fine. Particularly the former, as they tried to incorporate Sora and company’s climb up the mountain with it, along with Square-Enix’s faithful shot-by-shot re-creations of the song. The only gripe is that there wasn’t much interaction with the Disney characters, at least not as much as in other worlds. I don’t know the reason for it, but it’s a bit of a head-scratcher.
Join us next time for Key to the Heart, where we will take part in some high seas hijinks with some old friends.