Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / .hack R1 Games

Go To

I must... speak with Morganna.
To go where she is...
the living flesh poses a hindrance.
But I must... I must go.
For our Aura.
- Helba during the intro sequence for .hack//Mutation .

.hack//Infection, .hack//Mutation, .hack//Outbreak, and .hack//Quarantine. These four games are each "chapters" of one massive game on the PlayStation 2, sometimes collectively referred to as ".hack//IMOQ". They take place immediately after .hack//SIGN, and form the core of the R1 storyline of the .hack saga. .hack//Liminality is an OVA series that takes place concurrent to the games' story.

As the game begins, a teenage boy going by the alias Kite logs into the popular MMORPG The World for the first time with his best friend Yasuhiko, known in The World as the legendary player Orca of the Azure Sea, showing him the ropes. Things initially go fine until the pair run across a strange enemy known as "Skeith", who is chasing a white-haired girl named Aura who does not appear to be either an NPC or a player. Orca is defeated and subject to an attack called the Data Drain and Kite is whisked away by unknown forces before the same fate can befall him. As a result of the attack, Yasuhiko has been rendered comatose. When the makers of the game refuse to provide answers for what's going on, Kite, with the help of the mysterious new weapon called the Twilight Bracelet, which allows him to perform the Data Drain attack, joins forces with other players to figure out the mystery of what's going on in The World and find a way to save his friend.

The games are complemented by a quartet of Light Novels titled .hack//Another Birth. These novels follow the same story from Kite's partner BlackRose's point of view. Events that BlackRose was not present for are skipped over in the novels, but they also detail what her offline life is like, and some things she does on her own when Kite's not around.

Kite and BlackRose make an appearance in Project Zone, where they find themselves unable to log out, and when the rest of the group of heroes returns to the real world, they are shocked to find their Character-selves coming with them.

See here for character sheets.

These games contain examples of:

  • 100% Completion: The Ryu Books and the Item Completion quest from Quarantine.
  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: Despite that the game has server problems on a few story instances, in-gameplay, The World never experiences lag or server crashes.
  • Adults Are Useless: Averted. Though most of the heroes are teenagers or children, one of their greatest allies is Lios, the head system administrator and employee at CC Corp. No one knows Helba's age, but she certainly acts like a woman in her twenties or thirties.
    • Additionally, a handful of the team is at least into young adulthood if not older in real life, with Piros as an executive in the C.C. Corp itself, Rachel, Gardenia, and Nuke in their early college age, Moonstone implied to be in his adulthood, Sanjuro being post-university due to being an American eikaiwa (that is, an English teacher) living in Japan, and (most notably) Mistral being a pregnant young mother as an important plot point to her character arc.
  • A Glitch in the Matrix: The otherwise immaculate illusion of realism in The World can be shattered in glitched areas that are afflicted with bursts of static and visual distortions, corrupted textures, and Data Bugged enemies.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Morganna.
  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: That weird landscape you are transported to when fighting the Phases. Corbenik actually gets two of them. By the final battle with him, Cubia has grown so enormous that he serves as the battlefield himself.
  • Anti-Grinding: Each dungeon has a level; fighting below your level gives progressively worse experience rewards, until each foe gives only one experience. This is meant to keep pushing the player into harder dungeons. There is one good use of lower dungeons, though - killing an enemy, regardless of its level, reduces the infection Kite gets from using Data Drain. A sufficiently monster-filled level from the first server can be the fastest way to recover from a near-100% infection level.
  • Armor and Magic Don't Mix: Wavemasters are only allowed to wear the lightest armor class.
  • Author Avatar: Piros (or Piroshi) is based off game director and CyberConnect2 President Hiroshi Matsuyama.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Later versions of the Data Drain ability. In each subsequent game, the bracelet would get another ability, able to guarantee the best item from a Data Drain, able to hit multiple foes at once, and finally both at once. All of the upgraded versions, however, will jack up the infection rating absurdly quickly, so using them more often than "once in a blue moon" will result in Kite flirting dangerously with terminal corruption.
  • Barrier Change Boss: Tarvos the Avenger and Corbenik the Rebirth in .hack//Quarantine. All of Cubia's forms as well. Fortunately, the game tells you what, if anything, every enemy you face is tolerant (immune) to by way of glowing orange text next to its HP bar.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: There are two independent Big Bads: Morganna and Cubia.
  • Big "NO!": Kite, just before the battle with Skeith when Aura gets Data Drained.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The first Another Birth volume has several glaring mistakes, such as getting Kite's and BlackRose's dialogue mixed up in their first meeting, and referring to Skeith as "Death" for most of the book (with a rather pathetic attempt at a Hand Wave when they switch over to his real name). Fortunately, the later volumes have a much better translation.
  • Bonus Boss: All four games have a bonus level (including a boss). All combined with Levels Take Flight, Bonus Dungeon and all are Marathon Levels.
  • Boss Subtitles: When Kite and his party are about to fight any of the Phases, the Phase gets a quick intro sequence and a title drop. An example of the first Phase: pHAse: 1, The TERROR of DEATH: SkEITH
  • Broad Strokes: New Novel .hack, which is a recent web novel adaptation of the games to flesh out the player behind Kite, takes a few liberties that were impossible in the actual games. Namely, Balmung fights Skeith alongside Kite and BlackRose, which is impossible in the actual games, as he doesn't join your party until later on.
  • Call-Back: Characters from .hack//SIGN appear as ghostly apparitions from time to time, dropping items for Kite to collect.
  • The Cameo: A few Sign characters can be found in some flashbacks, while Mimiru shows up physically. None of it is plot-relevant, though. Tsukasa, Subaru and Sora can all be added to your party by the end of the fourth game. Macha, in its cat form from SIGN, also appears in a bonus dungeon.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Drain Heart in Quarantine. Given to Kite at the beginning, then used by Corbenik at the end.
  • Climax Boss: Skeith, Fidchell, and Macha, the only Phases other than Corbenik with any importance besides being a Phase, though Skeith moreso than the other two.
  • Cryptic Conversation: Any conversation with Vagrant AI's or the Harald remnants.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Some who are aware of the Bracelet consider it an illegal item due to its Game-Breaker nature, which also leads them to consider Kite a malevolent hacker.
    • Since the Bracelet increases the player's infection level upon use, it's a mixed item. You can lower an enemy's level, earn rare items such as Data Cores (which are needed to enter restricted areas), but at the same time you can risk getting nothing and get a bit closer to a game over from data infection.
  • Cutting Off the Branches:
    • In the games, during a number of boss fights, you can take any party composition with you. That being said, the Another Birth novels, which retell the games from Blackrose's point of view, show off what're probably the canon compositions for various bosses.
    • The climax of the Final Boss canonizes that Kite got all four versions of Data Drain, since he recognizes it as Drain Heart, the final one.
    • G.U. canonizes at least Nuke, Rachel, and Natsume as members of the party, since the former two make cameos, and the latter is referred to as such when she becomes one of Haseo's party members.
    • Sanjuro appears in both version of the Legend of the Twilight sequel arc, both mistaking Shugo's outfit as being Kite himself and being on personal terms with Balmung (manga)/ knowing Mistral through Mireille (anime).
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Data Drain. Using it on a regular enemy will reduce it to a pathetically weak form that can be beaten in one hit, and it is required in order to defeat hacked enemies. It will also occasionally net you some items. However, the more you use it, the more Kite's data gets corrupted, and the more negative side effects pop up... the worst of which is an instant Game Over.
    • The technique becomes doubly dangerous in Quarantine, when you start running into The Guardian from .hack//SIGN. It is difficult on its own, level 80 with high stats, but Data Draining it turns it into The Bracelet, the game's only level 99 monster apart from the Phases and Cubia.
  • Degraded Boss: As of Outbreak, Data Bug enemies, which were solely found as boss monsters in bugged fields in Infection and Mutation, are now possible random encounters in any level. This forces Kite to have to use the Dangerous Forbidden Technique more often, which puts him at further risk of negative side effects.
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • Sora's Blades in Outbreak. You can get them early on from a level 70 dungeon, and as long as you go with a party, you'll be fine, and you'll probably get other excellent equipment as well. They've got the "death" effect on them, which will save you a lot of trouble as you go through the game.
    • The Hyakkidouran from the end of Infection, will carry you through most of Mutation.
  • Drought Level of Doom: Chunks of Outbreak lean towards this - both Elk and Mistral are completely unavailable for story reasons, there are no Optional Party Member candidates that are Wavemasters, and there are spans of the story where the only other recruitable Wavemaster at this point, Wiseman, isn't available for plot reasons. Wavemasters are by far the best healers; while Kite certainly can heal (with the right headgear - hope you have a spare for him), he's substandard at it, and he certainly doesn't have the Mana to spam healing like a Wavemaster does. It doesn't help that this is also the point in the game where Data Bugged enemies start appearing as random encounters, forcing Kite to use Data Drain more (and thus get hit by more debuffs when it invariably starts bugging out more).
  • Dual Boss: Gorre, although they share the same pool of health, so it doesn't matter which one is focused on.
  • Dub-Induced Plot Hole: Mistral refers to her baby as being a boy but it's actually a girl. The same girl who becomes Mireille in .hack//Legend of the Twilight.
  • Dummied Out: Oddly, an In-Universe case - one of the possible results of Data Drain is that Kite will get an item from the monster, and several of those items have what appear to be placeholder names, suggesting that they were originally meant to be in The World but were taken out, and that Kite somehow managed to dig through the code with the Bracelet to use them. Most obvious is SWORD, a Swordmaster weapon that drops after Data Drain from some monsters on the Lambda server.
  • 11th-Hour Ranger: All of the coma victims joining the fight to eliminate Corbenik's Supreme Defense.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: In a villainous example, Corbenik has Supreme Defense for his second form and Drain Heart for his third.
  • Enemy Mine: Lios doesn't trust Kite and his crew, and he's had clashes with Helba in the past. However, he recognizes that they may be the only hope of stopping the Eight Phases and cooperates with them. Eventually.
  • Eyes Always Shut: Natsume and A-20.
  • The Faceless: Morganna, the Big Bad, has no form and is never seen nor heard (except possibly during the final Corbenik fight, where it's suggested that Morganna itself is controlling the Phase). The Eight Phases act as its agents throughout the game, and are the most visible sign of its presence.
    • Emma Wielant herself. Her avatar has no head and her real life self is dead (maybe).
  • Fetch Quest: Very specific Virus Cores are needed to open new areas, which will only be dropped by certain enemies when Data Drained.
  • Foreshadowing: Midway into Quarantine, an eagle eyed player going through their roster might notice that Mistral's levels are rising steadily after being locked when she left the game, much like how Orca gets stuck at Level 50 after falling into a coma. The other active characters in your group get stronger even when not in the party, implying that they're playing, just not with you. Sure enough, she rejoins the group shortly thereafter, and was training for the final fights.
  • Final Boss: By the end of Mutation, provided you know the backstory well enough, you know it could most likely be Cubia, Morganna, or Corbenik. Cubia is taken care of right before Corbenik, and it seems Morganna took over Corbenik's body for his final form. Thus, the final boss is technically Corbenik, but Morganna got involved... somehow.
  • From Bad to Worse: Fittingly for how it's described in the in-game "Epitath of the Twilight", Magus pulls this off at the end of Mutation even though he's defeated. As noted in "Epitath", Magus does make a new Cursed Wave - the corrupted data spreads to the entire game, and now any field has a chance to spawn data bugged monsters as Random Encounters. Fittingly, the next part of the story is called Outbreak.
  • Game-Breaker: In-universe, the Bracelet (the item Kite can use to perform Data Drain) due to its nature.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: The Data Drain is treated in-story as a deadly attack that will put any player it hits into a coma by trapping their mind in the game. When you fight the Phases that can use it against you, it's just a really powerful attack which also cripples you with status ailments. The story doesn't really come up with a Hand Wave for this, like Kite's Bracelet granting his party partial immunity or the like.
  • Game Over: Having your in-game avatar die when alone, having everyone in your party die if you formed a party with at least one other character, or reaching 100% Infection nets you the dreaded game over screen. It's handwaved that they happen in-universe and that saving in the game is to preserve your current level and data.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Getting the advanced versions of Data Drain (Drain Arc, 2128 Drain, Drain Heart) require you to Data Drain quite a lot and then taking your save over to the next game and Data Drain a few times to evolve it. Due to the game's nature of acting like an actual MMORPG, it makes sense that a few dungeons and items would be this.
    • There were pools in some levels that could potentially upgrade weapons and armor... or it could downgrade them instead. How could you tell if the pool in question would improve or downgrade a given piece of equipment? Well, if you have memorized a chart where you would compare the apparent time of day from the sky, the precipitation, and the state of the field, you would know. Or just do the general rule of thumb that precipitation meant improving armor and no precipitation meant improving weapons.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The Net Slum background music. It has voices in the background of the track speaking in some garbled voices.
  • Heroic BSoD: Three in rapid succession: the first happens after defeating Magus, when Kite and BlackRose return to Carmina Gadelica and find that the city has fallen into ruins as a result of further infections despite their efforts; BlackRose going limp and dropping her sword and a cut to black are the end of the scene. Shortly following this, Mistral tells Kite that she's in her third pregnancy trimester and has been warned by her doctors to stay off the game, so she breaks down and tells Kite in a somber tone that she has to quit for a while for her child's sake. This leads into Kite's own Blue Screen as he ponders the severity of what's happening in The World and real life as a result. Thankfully, all three get better, although Mistral is Put on a Bus for a good disc and a half.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Elk throws himself into the path of Corbenik's Drain Arc.
  • Iconic Outfit: Kite's signature red costume. It's noted in the novels that that shade of red is not actually available for players to choose, further emphasizing the "above the rules" nature of Kite's abilities. Vaguely alluded to in-game, since Kite becomes known for it (and no NPC wears the same shade of Red that Kite has).
  • Interface Screw: Corrupted areas of the game have frequent bursts of static. A large amount of white noise is also a good indication that either Cubia or a Phase is about to show up.
  • Leitmotif: Each Phase has their own theme, and they all share something in common: Bells.
    • Certain characters also has their own theme, such as Black Rose and Piroshi. In Piroshi's case, it plays anytime he's in the party.
  • Marathon Boss: True to being a Final Boss, Corbenik has three major forms.
  • Meaningful Name: Most Phases have a name that means something, such as Skeith. Its name means "Shadow" in Old Scottish. Also, the fields that contain the Phases are named appropriately. For example, the field where Gorre (a pair of stone masks that mumble with each other to do special attacks) is at is called "Nattering Ensnared Twins."
  • Mystical White Hair: Aura.
  • Nerf: There's a random chance of a bad effect occurring whenever Data Drain is used, with both the frequency of this bad effect as well as the strength of said effect increasing as the infection rate increases. Two of the most deleterious are losing a percentage of your hit points (if your health bar is low enough, this alone could result in a Game Over) and losing some of your experience (and yes, losing a level is possible).
  • Nigh-Invulnerable: Any hacked enemy, as well as the Phases, must be Data Drained before they can be killed.
    • Corbenik the 8th phase is the one exception due to the bracelet being destroyed in the fight with Cubia. However, he has Supreme Defense to fall back on.
  • No Fair Cheating: In-Universe - CyberConnect tries to put a stop to Kite's obvious monkeying with the source code, afraid that he's the one responsible for all the strange things going on (and to clamp down on his use of the bracelet, which is obviously cheating). However, the bracelet actively prevents CC Corp from being able to do anything to him. This is also invoked to keep the player from using Data Drain too much - sure, it can give you great items when used on a normal foe, but it also transforms them into a level 1 monster that gives you just 1 experience point. Plus, overusing may cause nasty side effects like status ailments, lost EXP, or even a Non-Standard Game Over.
  • No Name Given:
    • Morganna is never actually referred to as such in the games themselves, though it is in the novels and in one of Aura's early messages to Kite, you can pick the name "Morganna" out of the scrambled text. Also, when Kite must go into the area "Chatting Snarling Twins" alone (where Balmung becomes a party member), right before you enter the boss room, the last thing the voice talking through out the dungeon says is "Morganna Mode Gone - She rejects my intervention."
    • Kite himself. His real name is never given and since he's supposed to represent the player, it's difficult to find anything on him that gives him an identity. Side materials have given him some background information, though.
  • Non Standard Game Over: Reaching 100% Infection from using Data Drain. It causes a "SYSTEM ERROR".
  • Oh, Crap!: Two of note in cut scenes: The first is the finale of Mutation, when Kite and BlackRose return to Carmina Gadelica to find that the infection from the Phases has spread. The second is at the end of the main story when Corbenik uses Drain Heart.
  • Old Save Bonus: In addition to bringing over your characters exactly as they were at the end of the previous volume (likely with much better gear than the default if New Game is chosen), you get access to extra content and quests if you carry an old save over. It's even possible to take your save into the G.U. games.
  • One Game for the Price of Two: Each of the individual games is full-priced, but they are all essentially the same game, with the same mechanics, setting, and characters. You can import saves from older games into the newer ones so you can continue exactly where you left off.
    • In fact, the first game, Infection, has the data for almost every enemy, character, item, equipment, and area of all four games, although it's inaccessible by normal means. Some of this data was changed in the sequels, but they were indeed already there. Plus, all the four games have a huge dump file which serves the only purpose of increasing the disc size so it can fit Sony's minimum disc size requirement for PS2 games. The four games could probably be fit in a single disc.
  • Optional Party Member: By following requests in the message boards of The World to their completion, you can recruit more characters.
    • Infection gives Natsume (Twin Blade), Sanjuro (Heavy Blade) and Gardenia (Long Arm)
    • Mutation gives Rachel (Blademaster), Nuke Usagimaru (Long Arm), Marlo (Blademaster), and Moonstone (Twin Blade)
    • Outbreak has Terajima Ryoko (Heavy Axeman).
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Rachel when summoning spells or calling her attacks doesn't speak in her Valley Girl accent.
  • Put on a Bus: Realizing that the situation is as dangerous as Kite and BlackRose have been telling her, and with her in the last trimester of her pregnancy, Mistral stops playing The World and is unavailable for all of Outbreak up until around halfway to two-thirds of the way through Quarantine, when The Bus Came Back after her child's birth.
  • Puzzle Boss: Magus, the Third Phase. It has an attack that, if left unchecked, is a One-Hit KO even against a max-level party. If the leaves/seeds/whatever it drops are destroyed before they can detonate, however, the effect is negated or at least mitigated, depending on how many are destroyed.
  • Reverse Escort Mission: Infection begins with a tutorial level that has Kite escorted through a basic dungeon by Orca, his friend, who is teaching him how to play The World. Orca is able to take on anything due to his level, and things remain pleasant until the encounter with Skeith.
  • Schmuck Bait: Think that using Data Drain is going to make a tough enemy easier? Quarantine has a nasty surprise for you - it pits you against copies of The Guardian from .hack//SIGN. It's strong, but it's not terribly difficult even if you're below its level. Data Drain that and it turns into The Bracelet from the anime, and it's as brutal in the game as it was in the anime, even if your levels are maxed out.
  • Terse Talker: Marlo and Gardenia are pretty terse, but Moonstone is this to the extreme.
  • The Unchosen One: Kite. Aura originally intended to gave the Twilight Bracelet to Orca, but Skeith defeated him and rendered him comatose. Kite, who just happened to be there, got it instead.
  • Title Drop: After Morganna goes down, a forum post refers to Kite's circle as the .hackers, and they go down in legend as such.
  • Victory Fake Out: Corbenik pulls this on you, you get him to just low enough HP and he regains it all.
  • Villain Override: Implied that Morganna did this to give Corbenik one last form far different than the other Phases.
  • The Worf Effect: What happens to Orca thanks to Skeith. Just to put it into perspective, Orca is a legendary player who became famous for Defeating the Undefeatable Hopeless Boss Fight known as "The One Sin" alongside Balmung. The fact that he's unable to get a hit on Skeith and gets curb stomped before getting Data Drained and rendered comatose in the real world illustrates the threat the Phases pose.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: Defeating Skeith and rescuing Aura from it seemed like the big objective of Infection, but he data drains Aura in front of you and splits her into fragments, and the much, much deadlier Cubia has awakened while the threat of the other seven Phases linger. It was inevitable with three more parts to go, but damn.

give me a little more courage.