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Even for longtime RPG fans and those with experience playing through previous Kingdom Hearts titles, Re: Chain of Memories can be a difficult game to master. Unlike in the previous Playstation 2 entries in this series, Sora does not have other allies to fight by his side. He has to go it alone through Castle Oblivion. Also, because everything is controlled via a deck of cards, healing in the thick of battle can be trick, since there are no potions or other healing items to stock up on or use. Furthermore, you can no longer upgrade your equipment, nor are you always able to have every weapon or spell in your arsenal at any given time, since the size of your deck is limited based on the amount available CP points as well as the 99 card maximum limit. Thus, strategy is essential to overcoming the many challenges you will face in this game. Fortunately, you're reading this handy little guide, which is designed to help you through some of the early event battles.
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Following all the opening cinemas and dialogue, you will have the opportunity to enter your first world, Traverse Town. As in the original Kingdom Hearts, this is the current residence of Final Fantasy mainstays Leon, Yuffie, Aerith and Cid, and in Chain of Memories it serves as a kind of tutorial to illustrate exactly how the card-based combat system works. As such, it really isn't too difficult on the whole. Near the end of the level, after you unlock the door with the Key to Truth card, you'll square off against a familiar boss, the Guard Armor that also terrorized Traverse Town in the original Kingdom Hearts. This isn't too hard of a fight on the whole, so long as you make good use of the 0-strength Mickey Silhouette cards that appear during the battle. Use them to counter one of the Guard Armor's attacks and it'll leave him paralyzed for a short time, allowing you to move in and pound away with your attack cards. The Slide Dash Sleight can help early on as you work to take out his legs, but don't overuse them since they can eat away at your deck. I took him out rather easily at Level 6. Beating the Guard Armor will net you his card for use in future battles.
Once you finish him off, make sure you save before exiting Traverse Town, because there's another boss fight waiting right around the corner. Go back and change up some of the rooms if you feel the need to battle more Heartless and gain a few additional levels. Once you're ready, exit through the door back into Castle Oblivion and prepare to face Axel in the first of what will be several fights against Organization XIII. This is a tougher fight than the Guard Armor one was, but it still isn't all that hard. Beware his Firewall slight when he uses it, because it can cause some massive damage if you're not careful. The Pluto cards you get here can be a big help, as Mickey's canine pal can dig up some immensely helpful healing spheres. Slide Dash works well here, especially if you can use it to Card Break Axel's Sleights, but again make sure you don't overuse it. Afterwards, you are rewarded with five additional world cards -- Agrabah, Olympus Coliseum, Wonderland, Monstro and Halloween Town. Agrabah is the one that appears right next to Traverse Town on the World Cards screen and is also the first one that appears when you hit the triangle button in front of the door, we'll choose that as our next destination.
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Aladdin's home world is pretty straightforward, so explore all of the rooms, follow along with the plot and make sure you gain a few levels while you're here. Also, you should be able to access a Moogle Card Shop by now, if you haven't already, so snag a few booster packs and strengthen your deck. The Heartless here are pretty standard, except for the Large Bodies, which must be attacked from behind or with magic. The boss at the end of Agrabah is, of course, Jafar, the treacherous vizier. If you're played through the original Kingdom Hearts then you know what to expect in this fight. The object here is to focus your attacks on Iago as he flies around the room with the lamp. This is harder than it sounds, because the battleground is constantly shifting heights and Jafar himself has some powerful, high-numbered attack cards that will constantly cause Card Breaks. Sleights aren't much help here, but stacking cards can help you break Jafar's attacks. Use as many magic cards as you can so you can hit Iago from a distance, and hope you manage to get plenty of the Mickey Silhouette cards, as they will cause the battleground to universally raise to the highest level. Keep at it and you'll eventually pull it out, earning both the Jafar and the Genie cards for your efforts.
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Your next destination should be Olympus Coliseum, where you find out that there is some kind of contest going on. Don't worry, though. There's no race and no time limit, despite the game suggesting otherwise, so take your time, explore and battle as many Heartless as you can. There are some new, stronger Heartless here, but nothing really difficult that you need to take note of. On the other hand, there are not one but two boss fights in this level, and neither is exactly a walk in the park. First up is Cloud, who was tricked by Hades into trying to take out Hercules. Make sure you watch out for his Omnislash technique, as well as his other powerful attacks. The good news is that Cloud doesn't really have a lot of hit points, so the key here is unleashing as many powerful combo attacks and sleights as possible. Keep on the offensive and with a little luck, you'll have him down in no time at all. Your prize for winning this duel is the Hi-Potion card.
The second boss, Hades, is much tougher than Cloud. Make sure you're about Level 15 for this one, and tweak your deck before the fight. Remove all of your Fire cards, as they'll actually heal him, and load up with high-numbered attack cards. Hades uses several powerful but avoidable attacks. When you see his Temper Flare sleight coming, move to the extreme edge of the battlefield and keep an eye on him. With this attack, he will spin around either clockwise or counter-clockwise, shooting streams of fire at you. Don't try to Card Break it, just Dodge Roll under the streams of fire as they come at you. He also shoots a fireball attack at you that is harder to dodge, but it can be done if your timing is right. Stock and fire Blizzard-based attacks at him as much as you can, and bring two or three Cures with you as well, because odds are you'll need them. Eventually, you will get the better of Hades, and following the battle you'll earn his card and, after a short scene, Cloud's as well.
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There are two event battles to worry about here. I hesitate to even call the first one a boss fight because it's so darn easy. After using the Key of Beginnings and witnessing the cut scene, you'll find yourself in a battle against the Queen of Hearts' Card Soldiers. There are three waves of them, but they have fairly low hit points and don't use sleights, so you shouldn't have much trouble here. In fact, you probably won't even need to worry about using card combos until the final batch, and only then since there are so many of them. Pick them off one at a time, heal when needed, and you'll be rewarded with the Card Soldier card upon your victory.
The area boss for Wonderland is another Heartless foe that will be familiar to fans of Kingdom Hearts, and that's the Trickmaster. This is a long and somewhat difficult fight. The first thing to note is that Summon Cards like Genie and Simba don't seem to work at all on him, so take those out of your deck before the battle. I'm not sure if this was the best strategy or not, but I fought him at Level 18 with 200 hit points and used mostly Keyblade attack cards. There are two phases to this fight. Early on, you need to jump off the table and hit him high. This will force him down to one knee (and make a bunch of Cure spheres appear) so you can go to town on him. After a while, though, this will stop working so you'll constantly need to hit him with aerial combos. Unfortunately, he has a lot of HP, so you may find yourself running low on cards. Quite by accident, though, I discovered a cool strategy that will ensure victory for you, but it will take time. Make sure you have at least two Cure cards in your deck before the fight. When you start getting low on cards, stack combos of one attack card and two Cure cards. Since the Trickmaster doesn't use sleights, you'll constantly Card Break him, hurt him a little if you're lucky, and heal any damage you've sustained. If you always lead with an attack card, you will never run out of them, so you can repeat this combo for as long as necessary. Like I said before, it may not be the best strategy, but it worked for me. Survive this grueling battle and the Trickmaster Card will be yours.
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The Quest Continues
There's still a long road ahead for Sora as he tries to make sense out of his fragmented memories. Two of the initial World Cards still remain, with Monstro and Halloween Town serving as your next destinations. There are also more battles with the Organization ahead, and duels with some other familiar faces as well. Trial and error are your best friends moving forward. Save right before a big fight whenever possible, experiment to find out each boss's strengths and weaknesses, and readjust your deck accordingly whenever necessary. Also, don't forget that once you complete Sora's storyline, you can replay the game in the more difficult Reverse/Rebirth Mode to experience a whole new version of the plot starring Riku and King Mickey. Clearly, the journey through Castle Oblivious has just begun for you, gamer, but with preparation and perseverance, you will eventually win the day.