Riku was the oldest of his group with Sora and Kairi. Always excelling at everything, Riku sort of became the leader of the kids at the Destiny Islands. He always felt contained and restricted on their small island and dreamed of leaving it.
In Kingdom Hearts, he convinced Sora and Kairi to build a raft with him and travel to other worlds. The raft was finished, but the night before they were to set sail, the storm of darkness struck, and Heartless took the world into darkness. Riku chose not to fear the darkness and to embrace it, believing it could take him away from the world. The darkness brought him to Maleficent, who convinced him to use it, sensing Riku's great potential and power. Riku learned to use the power of darkness, thinking it would help save Kairi. He began to think Sora became egotistical with the Keyblade and shunned him in trying to save her, becoming an enemy. The darkness eventually consumed him, but his strong heart kept him from being completely consumed by Ansem, who needed Riku's body and power. After Sora saved Kairi, he went on to defeat Ansem. Riku's heart had ended up in the Realm of Darkness, and so his body went in there to reunite with his heart, trapping him in that realm as Sora sealed the door to it with his Keyblade.
In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Riku somehow broke out of the Realm of Darkness, and ended up on the lowermost basement floor of Castle Oblivion. He began going up the floors, in order to get out of the castle. Ansem still remained infused with his heart, and Riku had to battle him again and again as he went up. Organization XIII also sought to use him. They made a copy of him, which they used to trick Sora who was also in Castle Oblivion at that time. Riku had a few Organization members to defeat as well, and after he defeated them, he defeated Ansem one last time and conquered the darkness within his heart. He met up with King Mickey, and they both set off to tackle the next parts of their journeys.
In Kingdom Hearts II, Riku had a subtle role. Sora discovered that Riku had fought Roxas, Sora's Nobody, and had reunited him with Sora, which had helped him regain his memories. In order to do this, Riku had to immerse himself in the power of darkness, which gave him the physical appearance of Ansem and removed his youthful look. While doing what he could to help, he wanted to avoid being seen by Sora. He helped saved Kairi from the Organization after they had tried to stop her from escaping the stronghold. Kairi realized it was him, and when they had reunited with Sora, she showed Sora Riku's identity. When Ansem the Wise's Heart Encoder exploded, the shockwave erased Riku's appearance as Ansem, and his original look was restored. Riku had also acquired his own Keyblade, and with it, he helped Sora defeat the leader of Organization XIII. After that final battle, Riku and Sora ended up in the Realm of Darkness once more, on a silent beach. Riku reconciled his differences with Sora that had arisen a year earlier, and they opened the Door to Light, which returned them to their home world, where Kairi had been waiting again, thus concluding his journey.
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