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Video Game / Dual Hearts

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"Eating is my one true destiny." Tumble

Dual Hearts is a 2002 Action RPG, developed for the PlayStation 2 by Matrix Software.

It just happened that the game was situated around some pretty turbulent circumstances, mostly owing to its rather unfortunate choice of title; the bigger-budgeted and better-hyped blockbuster Kingdom Hearts was released in the same year, along with the cult classic Shadow Hearts. A little lack of creativity that cost dearly, moreso when you realise that the phrase is somewhat word salad-ish anyway.

That being said, Dual Hearts is often considered to be the Spiritual Successor of the original Alundra, revolving around the similar premise of exploring people's dreams (It helps that the developers behind this game are the same developers behind Alundra). Rumble the feisty treasure hunter set out to the tiny isle of Sonno, eager of discovering the fabled relic, the Dream Stone. Meanwhile, Tumble the Baku was sent by the Queen of the Dreamworld to collect the nine keys of the Holy Instruments, in her preparation of repelling a prophesied impending doom. And the story began thusly.

The mechanisms of Dual Hearts might remind people of the Ocarina of Time. Rumble and Tumble dwelt in the peaceful island of Sonno, waiting for people to fall asleep, and dashed into their dream realms, where the battles would occur. It is a well-polished game with gameplay elements that are simple, yet solid; and a light plot, but with quite endearing characters. One of those games without any particularly strong area, but executed beautifully and merits a better score than the sum of its parts.

This game provides examples of:

  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Baku Shield grants you invulnerability, and allows you to run into enemies for good damage. The speed at which it drains your MP, however, is too much to handle even at the maximum possible capacity of 50. May be redeemed with the Ultimate Esamon (see below), but then it's Bragging Rights Reward.
  • Baku: Tumble is one. He's often mistaken for a pig, much to his chagrin.
  • Big Eater: Tumble.
  • Blade on a Stick: The Longinus.
  • Block Puzzle: You have to solve these in the Temple of Dreams.
  • Bonus Dungeon: Parfait's, Phoebe's, Sarti's and Penne's dreams are all optional.
  • Boss Rush: In Sarti's dream.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Averted. Val's bells. The supposedly no-nonsense Rumble keeps it in his pocket at all times. Kept building up. Nothing happened. Could have been an Aborted Arc.
  • Cosmetic Award: Collecting 500 Dream Rings grants you a strong, albeit MP-draining weapon. Collecting 1,000 gets your defense doubled. Collecting all 1,500 allows you to... change Tumble's skin/fur colour. There's not even a good colour scheme.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Val and Chiffon, albeit only vaguely. Textbook example goes to Rumble, the bona fide Defrosting Ice King.
  • Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: The Draw Card(s).
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Tumble has a very long name. It's so long that Rumble insists on calling him Tumble instead.
  • Overly Long Name: We don't hear all of it, but in-game, Tumble's mostly full name is Bakstein Freidrich Maximus Buffon Visconti Maharaya Medici de Bondarchuck Alexander Ludwig Stradivari Richmond Godfrey.
  • Ruins for Ruins' Sake: Yuri's and Toma's dreams.
  • Santa Claus: One of the characters whose dream you can enter is an old man. He later turns out to be Santa Clause, apparently on a vacation since it's not Christmas season.