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Nintendo 3DS cover of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance (キングダム ハーツ 3D [ドリーム ドロップ ディスタンス] Kingudamu Hātsu Surī Dī [Dorīmu Doroppu Disutansu]?, stylized Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance]) is an action role-playing game developed and published by Square Enix exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS, revealed at E3 2010. The game is the seventh installment in the bestselling Kingdom Hearts series and was released in Japan on March 29th, 2012. It was released outside of Japan on July 20, 2012 in Europe, July 26th, 2012 in Australia and July 31st, 2012 in North America.
Anticipating Master Xehanort's return following the defeat of his Heartless Ansem and Nobody Xemnas, Yen Sid puts Sora and Riku through a Mark of Mastery exam to deem them Keyblade Masters and counter Xehanort. For the exam, they are sent to worlds that were restored at the end of Kingdom Hearts, albeit in a "sleeping" state disconnecting them from other worlds. These worlds are inhabited by Dream Eaters, creatures born from darkness that seek out the Keyholes of Sleep found there. Sora and Riku's task is to reawaken the sleeping worlds by unlocking the seven Keyholes of Sleep, and then return to the realm of light; they are advised to create benevolent "Spirit" Dream Eaters to guide them and battle the malevolent "Nightmare" Dream Eaters.
Sora and Riku are separated at the start of the exam, and find themselves each in a separate version of the first sleeping world, Traverse Town, where they are able to influence one another's journey. Throughout the exam, Sora and Riku cross paths with a gray-haired youth who is mysteriously accompanied by Xemnas and Ansem, respectively. The three issue warnings to Sora and Riku and play on their weaknesses, but the two ignore them and continue their test.
Upon completing the exam, Sora mysteriously arrives in the World That Never Was instead of the realm of light. Sora re-encounters the youth, who is revealed to be a version of Xehanort from the past sent to gather different versions of himself throughout time to serve as vessels for fragments of Xehanort's heart. Although Sora defeats Xemnas, his heart is swallowed by darkness and encased in Ventus' armor. Elsewhere, Ansem reveals that Riku has been traveling through Sora's dreams as a Dream Eater. Riku defeats Ansem and enters the Castle That Never Was, where he defeats the young Xehanort. Afterward, Master Xehanort appears alongside eleven other incarnations of himself in a new Organization XIII and attempts to turn Sora into his final vessel, intending to pit his thirteen "seekers of darkness" against seven "guardians of light" in order to recreate the χ-blade. He is foiled by Lea, the revived human form of the original Organization member, Axel, as well as Mickey, Donald Duck and Goofy. Master Xehanort and his vessels return to their respective time periods, but assures that they will clash when the time comes.
Sora's body is brought back to Yen Sid's tower, where Riku enters Sora's dreams and releases his heart from Ventus' armor, which has been possessed by a Nightmare. Riku then arrives at a digital version of the Destiny Islands, where he meets a copy of Ansem the Wise. Ansem assures that Sora is now awake, and gives Riku his research data he had left in Sora's heart to help Sora save those connected to his heart. Upon returning to the realm of light, Riku is declared a Keyblade Master by Yen Sid for braving the realm of sleep a second time to reawaken Sora. Sora is undaunted by his failure, and returns to the sleeping worlds where he thanks his Spirit Dream Eater companions.
In the game's secret ending, Yen Sid and Mickey discuss Xehanort's plan. Yen Sid reveals his intent to gather seven Keyblade wielders strong enough to combat the new Organization XIII in order to prevent Xehanort from using the Princesses of Heart to forge the χ-blade. To this end, he has Riku bring Kairi to be trained as a Keyblade wielder.