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Video Game / Arcana Heart

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Arcana Heart is a Fighting Game series developed by Team Arcana. The series features an all-girls cast.

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.

The original Arcana Heart was released in arcades and for 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. Each character is actually divided into two parts: The fighter herself and her Arcana, who each have their own moves and techniques. Though each character has one canonically set to her in the story, the game allows you to choose whichever one you want when you play.

An updated version, entitled Arcana Heart FULL!, addressed some character balancing issues.note 

There's also the sequel Arcana Heart 2, and its enhanced remake Suggoi! Arcana Heart 2. The latter got a PS2 port of questionable performance.

Arcana Heart 3 was released December 2009. It was ported to the 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 physical release in Europe. The Japanese arcade version saw an Updated Re-release with Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX!!!!!, which is mostly about rebalancing issues and a cosmetic update. LOVE MAX!!!!! was ported to the PS3 and PlayStation Vita with extra features such as an After Story scenario and Trial Mode. Another update, titled Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX SIX STARS!!!!!!, was released for Japanese arcades in Winter 2014. It features a new character, Minori, and a new Arcana (the Arcana of Blood). As of September 2015, LOVE MAX!!!!! has received a PC port from Arc System Works, and is available in North America on Steam. After initial problems of trying to bring SIX STARS!!!!!! into retail, a Kickstarter was made to bring the game to Steam. The Kickstarter succeeded while also bringing Parace L'Sia back as a usable Arcana and introduced two new playable characters, Pistrix and Dark Heart. SIX STARS!!!!!! was released on Steam on December 12, 2017.

Heart Aino, the first game's main character, would later appear as the sole Arcana Heart representative in the Massive Multiplayer Crossover BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle, alongside characters from BlazBlue, Under Night In-Birth, RWBY, Persona 4: Arena, Akatsuki Blitzkampf, and Senran Kagura.

The series has had various publishers: AQ Interactive (1 & 2, JP), Atlus (1, NA), Andamiro (2, NA), Arc System Works/Aksys Games (3 & LOVE MAX!!!!!, JP & NA), Zen United (3, EU), and NIS America (LOVE MAX!!!!!, EU).

Stand-by Angel! FIGHT!

  • Animal Mecha: Two of the new Arcana in 3, Gottfried and Baldur are this. This is because they are artificially created Arcana, as is the boss Ragnarok.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Most of the cast's Critical Hearts can fall into this category. Critical Hearts are generally the character's most impressive and damaging move they have, but beyond just needing full three bars to perform, many of them require specific inputs or conditions to be set, so successfully pulling one off can be way too difficult for normal play.
  • Big Fancy House: Petra's stage. This is justified considering she's the Ojou.
  • Bodyguard Legacy: Both Koinumaru and Inuwaka clan of dog ninjas try to select and train retainers for the Millennium Guardian, Kamui Tokinomiya. The former clan was able to send Konoha to be a retainer for Kamui, Nazuna, and Akane coming from the latter clan to try to be Kamui's retainers as well.
  • Border-Occupying Decorations: 3 was one of the last fighting games designed for a 4:3 aspect ratio SD display. The PlayStation 3 releases added animated sidebars to preserve this aspect ration when playing on a widescreen HD display, along with a trophy for seeing all possible variants of the sidebar animations. This is averted in the Steam release, which was rebalanced for widescreen play.
  • Capcom Sequel Stagnation: 3 has gotten several updates, beginning with LOVE MAX!!!!!, followed by LOVE MAX SIX STARS!!!!!! and LOVE MAX SIX STARS!!!!!! XTEND.
  • Cast from Hit Points: The main gimmick of Sorwat, Clarice's default Arcana.
  • Chromosome Casting: As noted in the description, the cast is all-female.
  • Combo Breaker:
    • Going into the once-per-round Arcana Force mode will automatically free a player from a normal combo. Super attacks cannot be escaped.
    • In 3, this has been separated into Extend Force, which acts as a Cancel instead, and Arcana Burst, which functions as a Combo Breaker.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: At least for the semi-boss of Story Mode.
  • Disturbed Doves: One of Petra's winposes has her shoot one of her guns in the sky, and a flock of doves fly past her.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The first game's opening is performed by Mikako Takahashi, the voice of series' protagonist Heart Aino.
  • Doppelgänger Attack:
    • Two of Konoha's super attacks, a normal super and her Critical Heart in 2.
    • Ditto for Akane.
  • Doppelgänger Spin : Lilica uses "afterimage" (i.e. extreme speed) style doppelgängers in two of her supers.
  • Elegant Gothic Lolita: Obligatory German girl Lieselotte practically defines this.
  • Elemental Powers: In addition to the characters' standard attacks, the Arcana grant additional powers to the Maidens, and can be used interchangeably by anyone.note 
  • Empathic Weapon: Yoriko's staff, who is actually a very powerful demon.
  • Enfante Terrible:
    • Kira Daidouji, who already has world domination aspirations at the tender age of 11.
    • Lieselotte's pretty damn creepy. She carries her sister's soul in the body of a legless puppet.
  • Extremity Extremist: Saki and Akane mostly kick, and Zenia mostly punch. However, they also have one or two moves which involve their unused limbs.
  • Fanservice: In large quality and quantity, mainly in moe archetypes. Compared to other fighting game series known for fanservice, mainly Dead or Alive, it's pretty tame.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: One of the concept characters that never came to be named Omega takes the games' fanservice to its logical extreme. Aside from the tattered remains of the straitjacket that used to bind her and some manacles, she walks around stark naked. The only thing preventing one from getting a peek at her privates are various objects that conveniently get in the way such as a belt or her hair.
  • Genki Girl: Heart and Lilica. In the case of the former, she won't allow anything to deter her.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: The names of many of the Arcana attacks. For example, one of Bhanri's Super Moves is called Fearg Lorg.
  • Half-Human Hybrid:
    • Lilica is an half-demon.
    • Konoha is part-dog.
    • 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:
  • Hero of Another Story: Everyone to each other in 3 because every single character ending is merely a short scene on how everyone is affected afterwards. And Elza's story ending takes place before the game even begins.
  • Humongous Mecha:
    • Well not humongous per se, but the mech Catherine drives is fairly large (standing, it fills the vertical screen space).
    • Ragnarok, the final boss of 3, is a true humongous mecha. Sort of. It's actually an oversized artificial Arcana.
  • Improbably Female Cast: Justified since this is an all-girls fighting game series.
  • 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.
  • Leotard of Power: Mei-Fang and Catherine both wear one.
  • Limit Break: The Arcana Blazes, which can only be used in Arcana Force mode. Critical Hearts in the second game also count.
  • Little Bit Beastly:
    • Konoha is a dog girl ninja with the cutest little ears to match.
    • Suggoi! Arcana Heart 2 adds a kick happy dog girl and a dog girl who is basically an expy of Nakoruru (complete with bird), mounted on a wolf with a staff. There.
  • Mighty Glacier:
    • Kira is slow, because of her large blob, but deals a lot of damage with her grapple moves. Catherine, who was added in the second game, uses a mech instead.
    • Fiona. 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.
  • Nebulous Evil Organisation: The Drexler Institute in the third game and its updates.
  • Nuns Are Mikos: Elsa and Clarice. Elsa plays this straight, but Clarice is kinda naughty.
  • Playboy Bunny:
    • Catherine's outfit. Or perhaps, better said: Swimsuit + Bunny Ears.
    • Dorothy plays it straight in one of her special victory poses in 3.
  • Playing with Fire: Mei-Fang's default Arcana.
  • The Power of Love: Taken literally with Heart's default Arcana Partineas, the Arcana of Love that launches Energy Balls and huge beams of sheer whoopass.
  • Powers as Programs: The Arcana.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: In the After Story mode of LOVE MAX!!!!!, when Elsa warns Petra about the dangers of the rainbow-colored stones, she responds, "Why. Didn't. You. Tell me?!"
  • Save Both Worlds: This is the main plot of the series.
  • Secret Character: Fiona in the first game, Scharlachrot in the third.
  • Shout-Out:
  • SNK Boss:
    • Mildred in the first game. During the first phase of the battle, she's in a cocoon like object while she transforms into her archangel form. She's protected by two orbiting Attack Drones that fire projectiles that cover the length of the stage and only reliable way to attack her without getting defeated is if the player has a character or Arcana with good projectiles. She's fought in her archangel form regardless of whether the player wins or loses. However, if the player doesn't defeat her during the first phase, she starts the match off with a maximum super meter. Furthermore, she has a collection of all the best moves in the game, and she can dish out more damage with a special move than the player can with a super move. Finally, Mildred has a screen filling super that will take half of the player's health if she catches them off guard.
    • In Suggoi! Arcana Heart 2, Parace L'Sia, like Mildred, has a collection of the game's best moves. However, she has less health. That doesn't matter because she recovers her health gradually, and her regular attacks have range akin to projectiles that comes out too fast to dodge. Parace also has a One-Hit KO super move that cannot be dodged, another super move that allows her to rapidly heal herself and refill her super meter, and she teleports like crazy. In 3's Score Attack, she's somehow even worse, which quite possibly makes her the single hardest fighting game boss ever. While her above mentioned super move is no longer a one hit KO, she is able to reads your inputs and is far more aggressive. She can easily pull off combos that will deplete your lifebar if she manages to hit you even once. She teleports a lot more as well, making even hitting her a chore. Pretty much the only reliable way to beat Parace is to try again and again, because the more times you lose to her the less health she starts the fight with. As of LOVE MAX!!!!!, however, the final part doesn't happen anymore as she's a fought as a challenge separate from Score Attack.
    • Ragnarok in Arcana Heart 3 gets extra points for being a boss designed for an entirely different style of gameplay. And if time runs out, you can't continue.
    • The final fight against Kamui in Survival Score Attack: Kamui moves ridiculously fast; showering you with attacks, barely giving you any opportunities to attack or guard. Kamui is also in permanent Extend Force mode and to top it all of she can use Anutpada's abilities.
  • Super Mode: Arcana Force mode. Can be activated once per round, and provides an additional Arcana-specific benefit.
  • Teen Genius:
    • Kira, who is actually a preteen. She built her own ether-powered blob, and the ether-circuits used to power Mei-Fang.
    • Catherine Kyohbashi is another one, having built the huge robot she controls by herself.
  • Time Stands Still: Anutpada (the time Arcana)'s Limit Break.
  • Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe: Though, the third game's scope expands to all of Japan.
  • Tokyo Tower: The backdrop for Lilica's stage in the first game.
  • Variable-Length Chain: Scharlachrot uses them. Lots of them.
  • Victory Pose: Starting with the second game, this is notably inverted. If you win a round, but not the entire match, the loser is the one who has an animation and voice line while the winner remains in her idle pose. You do get a normal victory pose upon winning the match.
  • World of Action Girls: It's a fighting game where all the player characters are various female anime character archetypes.

Break Down!