Many years ago, the human world and the Elemental World coexisted peacefully, but were forcibly separated by a dimensional barrier. However, somewhere above Tokyo, there is someone actively working to break down the barrier and merge the two worlds once again, which could bring disastrous consequences to all of Earth. A handful of maidens have been given the power to communicate with elemental guardian spirits known as Arcana, which grant them the power to take the necessary steps to prevent this from happening.This is the tale of Arcana Heart, an all girlsfighting game released in arcades and on the PlayStation 2. Apart from the roster of characters, this game's play mechanics are similar in some respects to Guilty Gear, with their emphasis on speed and combos, and the ability to take battles really high into the air. An updated version, entitled Arcana Heart FULL! addressed some character balancing issues (the regular and FULL! versions of each character are selectable in the home version).There's also the sequel Arcana Heart 2, and its enhanced remake Suggoi! Arcana Heart 2. The latter got a PlayStation 2 port of... questionable performance.Arcana Heart 3 was released December 2009. It was ported to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The game was published by Arc System Works. The game is only available in North America through the PlayStation Network, while it received a disc release in Europe. The Japanese arcade version will see an Updated Re-release with the name Arcana Heart 3 Love MAX!!!!!, which is mostly rebalancing issues and cosmetic update.The series is developed by Examu but has had various publishers: AQ Interactive (1 & 2, JP), Atlus (1, NA), Arc System Works/Aksys Games (3, JP & NA), and Zen United (3, EU).
Dark Is Not Evil - Only in Yoriko's case. Her Arcana's Element is Evil, but she's really a good-natured witch (and friends with prankster half-demon Lilica, who is herself rather friendly and cheerful). Lieselotte, the Darkness Arcana holder, isn't so nice. In the sequel, Clarice di Lanza is a demonic nun and seems rather nice all around, and speaks with music tones.
Elemental Powers - In addition to the characters' standard attacks, the Arcana grant additional powers to the Maidens, and can be used interchangeably by anyone (though the characters all have their own preferred default Arcana).
Empathic Weapon - Yoriko's staff, who is actually a very powerful demon transformed into a staff.
Enfante Terrible - Kira Daidouji, who already has world domination aspirations at the tender age of 11. Lieselotte's pretty damn creepy, too, the way she carries her sister's soul in the body of a legless puppet and all.
Half-Human Hybrid - Lilica is an half-demon, Konoha is part-dog, and Akane has fox ears that she's somewhat embarrassed about.
Heroic Sacrifice - Surprisingly, Mike of all people demons is implied to do one in Yoriko's bad ending (first game), shielding Yoriko and Lilica from the energy of the spirit world long enough for them to escape.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold - Mike, the self-proclaimed "demon king" sealed in Yoriko's staff. He's abrasive, boastful, and often callous (he's the one responsible for Yoriko's pact with the Death Arcana, which terrifies her)...but he's also intensely protective of Yoriko, and seems to cause her inconvenience only out of denseness.
Kamehame Hadoken - Partinias' Ouranio Toxo. In the second game, Petra's Critical Heart.
Light Is Not Good - Mildred's an angel, so her attacks are light-based versions of the Arcana users' attacks.
Mighty Glacier - Kira (well, her giant blob, anyway). The second game also adds Catherine (or, rather, the mech she controls).
Fiona might also count. She's extremely slow (she does wear pieces of plate mail armor and carry around a sword larger than she is), but has very high HP and defense ratings, her Arcana's defense oriented and she hits like a truck with that sword.
Panty Shot - Surprisingly, for a fighting game like this, it's almost completely averted. The sole exception being one of Petra's supers, with the appropriate Lampshade Hanging from Petra herself.
Paper-Thin Disguise - Not with a mask, but Kamui thinks that a ponytail is going to hide the fact that she is the Thousand Years Protector... despite carrying a katana wherever she goes.
Pet the Dog - Mildred seems to be quite kind to Fiona. She even points out that part of her apocalpytic plan is actually intended to help Fiona (after all, Fiona being trapped in the spirit world won't matter when it's merged), and seems genuinely shocked and hurt when Fiona objects, regardless.
School Swimsuit - Kira wears one all the time, with the occasional lab coat over it. Justified in that she fights while being waist-deep in a large blob that mimics her moves.
Screwed by the Network - The North American PlayStation 2 version of the first game removed the voices used during dialogue due to Sony Computer Entertainment America's policy against games without English dubs. The same region's PS3 port of the third game was forced to go download-only for the same reason. It was then further screwed when Sony shut down their download service for over a month shortly after its release.
The 360 port was screwed even further by "circumstances beyond" Aksys' control. The circumstances? The game's size is over 2 GB, and the limit for your typical XBLA title is 800 MB.
Slipknot Ponytail - Zenia, if you either beat her with a good attack or if you have a close call victory with her.
(Pre-)Teen Genius - Kira. Built her own ether-powered blob, and the ether-circuits used to power Mei-Fang. In the sequel, Catherine Kyohbashi is another one, having built the huge robot she controls by herself.
Tokyo Tower - The backdrop for Lilica's stage in the first game.
Utopia Justifies the Means - Mildred believes that the merging of the two worlds she's attempting will start a new golden age where everything will be a lot better than it is now. The fact that millions of people will die in the ensuing dimensional turmoil? Acceptable losses.