Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Sayonara Wild Hearts

Go To
"Let's Pop!"

Sayonara Wild Hearts is a story-driven Music Game/Endless Running Game hybrid, developed by three-person Swedish independent studio Simogo, and published by Annapurna Interactive. It was released on September 19th, 2019, for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and for iOS devices and PCs through Apple Arcade.

Once upon a time, another, harmonious universe existed beyond ours, called the Astral Highways, and three divine beings called The Empress, The High Priestess, and The Hierophant, watched over it. One day, Little Death of the Arcanum teams up with the Dancing Devils, the Howling Moons, the Stereo Lovers, and Hermit64 to steal all the love for themselves, sealing it away in their wicked hearts. In response, before fading away, the Divine Trio set out to create The Fool to combat them, calling forth a heartbroken woman to bring balance to all. All though the power of music.

Tropes present in this game:

  • Achievement System: The Zodiac Riddles, a set of 24 optional challenges (two for each star sign, one "side A" and one "side B") whose conditions are not explicitly given, but have to be guessed via a riddle.
  • Antepiece: Excepting the "Heartbreak" levels, which involve the Fool traveling between locations, and a few one off levels like "Night Drift", each area features one or two short levels that introduce the mechanics unique to that Arcana, before a longer boss level where the Fool fights them.
  • Arc Words: Just as much as hearts are a recurring symbol, "wild heart" is a recurring motif that shows up in narration and song lyrics.
  • Asteroids Monster: The Stereo Lovers start off as a single being wearing a black and white heart mask. After being sliced in two, they reform as the Lovers, each one wearing one half of the mask.
  • Badass Biker: Everyone but Hermit64 rides at breakneck speeds and pull off impossible maneuvers, sometimes even standing atop their motorcycles to clash weapons with each other.
  • Badass Fingersnap: "Parallel Universes" has the Stereo Lovers switch the level between two layouts with a snap and near the end The Fool turns this around on them.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: The Fool's tactics are to mirror those of her opponent until she can create an opening to beat them. She flies after the Dancing Devils, returns fire to the Howling Moons, and takes over the snap-switching between worlds that the Stereo Lovers use as well as beat them at swordfighting and swordflying.
  • BFS: Exaggerated with the Stereo Lovers, whose swords progressively get bigger as the fight goes on, before turning into a gliding plane during the final part.
  • Bifauxnen: All of the characters save for Little Death (who still looks pretty androgynous): the Fool wears a blazer, the Dancing Devils have pink varsity jackets, the Howling Moons dress in leather jackets and jeans, the Stereo Lovers wear dress shirts with suspenders and Hermit64 sports a waistcoat.
  • Big Bad: Little Death is the leader of the cursed Arcana who stole all the love from the Astral Highways for themselves to fuel their sinister hearts.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The name Little Death is a literal translation of the French expression "la petite mort", a phrase more colloquially recognized as "a shocking orgasm". The game is fully aware of the innuendo; when The Fool touches her several times, she releases liquid from her head.
  • Book Ends: The "Wild Hearts Never Die" medley ends with one final section of "Clair de Lune", complete with The Fool falling off the road and catching the diamond butterfly again. The game itself concludes with the protagonist, her heart restored at last, returning to her room.
  • Boyish Short Hair: The Fool's appearance at the beginning of the game features a short, near buzz cut.
    • Hermit64 sports a pixie cut.
  • Cards of Power: Tarot cards can become people, animals, obstacles, buildings, hover boards to traverse a dimensional space on, and vehicles to ride or weapons to wield.
  • The Chase: As an autorunner game (in the general sense) every level that involves the antagonists is this.
  • Chromosome Casting: All of the characters are female. There's only one exception, the Emperor stag, and even then he is just a mount for a single level.
  • Cool Bike: The Wheel of Fortune can cruise at incredible speed, be summoned and dispelled at will, and can even be equipped with a pair of laser cannons!
  • Cool Car: The Chariot, only used for one level, for drift driving on a desert highway.
  • Cool Sword: The Strength card takes the form of a blade with a heart on its hilt that The Fool can sky surf on like a hover board. The Stereo Loves get a pair of katana that they can expand into truly giant blades that they can further combine and fly on like a razor blade fighter jet.
  • Coup de Grâce: Every confrontation with one of the cursed Arcana ends with two blows. One to destroy their bodies, another to destroy their hearts.
  • Dance Battler: All of the characters, who use flowing, ballet-like movements in their fighting style and movement. The Fool also pulls of some dance battling of her own when fighting back.
  • Deliberate Under-Performance: Multiple achievements require the player to deliberately avoiding scoring too high, or even complete a track with a final score of 0.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: The last boss isn't Little Death even with all her form changes.
  • Do Well, But Not Perfect: How some of the Zodiac Riddles work. Specifically, Scorpius Side B wants you to only get Goods on the quicktime events in one of the fights against the Dancing Devils. This subverts the trope in a way, because you have to shift your timing back a little bit but still go for perfection, which is arguably harder than normal.
  • Double-Meaning Title: With the game framing "wild hearts" as synecdoche for the turbulent cycle of love and heartbreak, perhaps the most easily-recognizable meaning of Sayonara Wild Hearts — especially when combined with the narrative of fighting evils representing heartbreak — is "goodbye, heartbreak!" However, while "sayonara" is colloquially used to say "goodbye", it more literally translates to "that's the way it is", which in turn coincides with the game actually being about accepting heartbreak as a part of life, but learning and growing stronger from it.
  • Dual-World Gameplay: "Parallel Universes" involves the Stereo Lovers changing the level between two layouts by snapping, eventually adding a third with a high five. At the climax of the level, The Fool turns this against them with snapping of her own.
  • Enemy Without: After Little Death is truly defeated in her final form, her and all the other Arcana cards pull The Fool card, which manifested from her broken heart, out of the heroine and fuse with it. This causes it to manifest its own form which is a clone of her that recreates all their battles against her.
  • Energy Bow: The Temperance card manifests a bow that fires homing arrows made of energy.
  • Ethereal Choir: In contrast to the Ominous Latin Chanting in the first half of the last level, as you ride the crystal dragon after defeating the Cursed Arcana once and for all the soundtrack features a mystical female choir.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: The Fool's hair is a pixie cut until the end of the game, where she grows it out again after healing her broken heart.
  • Fair-Play Villain: The Stereo Lovers give you Strength to wield in a swordfight with them.
  • Fighting Across Time and Space: "Parallel Universes" sees the Fool battle the Strength twins while they keep teleporting her and themselves back and forth between two (three in the final stretch) similar but distinct universes. At the end of the level, the Fool learns to jump between universes herself, turning the tables on the twins.
  • Forced Transformation: The fight with Hermit64 involves her transforming The Fool into a game card and loading it into her VR headset.
  • Fusion Dance: The fairy the Arcanum sent to recruit the heroine becomes The Fool card and fuses with her.
    • In the final level, Death and the other cursed Arcana extract the Fool and fuse with it, forcing the protagonist to face it one last time in a Boss Rush.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: All of the 22 Major Arcana appear in the game, though quite a number of them are only seen and named for a matter of seconds.
  • Gainax Ending: After beating what's left of Little Death, the protagonist separates from The Fool, which fuses with the five Arcana to fight against in a Boss Rush style. After kissing it several times, it turns into a dragon that the player take control of. After the protagonist kisses it again, it turns into the butterfly from the first stage, which the protagonist captures and fuses with. After all of that, the Fool turns back to normal, but older and with a guitar. Cue credits. Downplayed if you consider the whole thing as a metaphor for getting over/coming to terms with heartbreak.
  • Genre-Busting: It's definitely a rhythm game, but it's also everything else, borrowing elements from racing games, fighters, platformers and rail shooters. Even the perspective changes, sometimes several times within one level - most is in over-the-head third person, but there are also sidescroller parts and even an FPS section.
  • Genre Roulette: The soundtrack fits consistently inside a broader electropop genre, but each Arcanum has a different musical motif: the Dancing Devils are dance-pop, the Howling Moons are dubstep, the Stereo Lovers are bubblegum pop, Hermit64 is dream pop and Little Death is synth-pop. Moreover, the first level of the game samples classical music in the form of Debussy's Clair de Lune.
  • Heartbroken Badass: The Fool is described in the prologue as being deeply heartbroken but she does not hesitate to chase down each of the usurping arcanum through many trials and obliterate them in two hits.
  • Heart Symbol: Hearts are everywhere. The collectibles are hearts. The button timing prompts are hearts. Each track's thumbnail conforms to a heart shape. The protagonist flies through a heart-shaped tunnel between tracks. The antagonists turn into hearts upon defeat. Though it takes some squinting to be sure, even the laser bullets are heart-shaped.
  • Insert Song: The six songs with lyrics (with the vocals all provided by Linnea Olsson) function as the game's boss stages: "Begin Again", "Dead of Night", "Mine", "The World We Knew", "Inside" and "Wild Hearts Never Die".
  • Ironic Echo: "Begin Again" (the first vocal track in the game) is an upbeat song about going back to a broken relationship over and over again, while "The World We Knew" (near the end of the game) is a much more somber song about picking up and moving on, and directly references the former in a very different context.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: The Stereo Lovers wield transforming katanas.
  • The Marvelous Deer: The Emperor takes the form of a white stag.
  • Mercy Mode: Triggers courtesy of the Narrator/the Magician if the player repeatedly fails a section of a level, allowing them to skip said section.
  • Mickey Mousing: Unsurprising, since Sayonara Wild Hearts is in part a rhythm game, but there are non-player controlled actions that synchronize to the music as well. For example, the wolf mecha in "Dead of Night" appears in time with the drop of the song.
  • Mushroom Samba: In "Forest Dub" one of the Howling Moons tosses glittering powder at The Fool that makes her hallucinate the usual chase sequence through a psychedelic landscape involving actual mushrooms.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Each world that the cursed Arcana resides in does not sound to be the most pleasant place to live in.
    • The Dancing Devils: Hatehell Valley
    • The Howling Moons: Woe Woe Woods
    • Stereo Lovers: Twilight Cry Sky
    • Hermit64: Desert Of Doubts
    • Little Death: Lovedead City
  • The Narrator: Done by Queen Latifah, of all people. According to Word of Godinvoked, her inclusion was both very last minute (i.e. a week before release) and only half-seriously considered until it turned out she had an opening. That lateness is why the marketing made no mention of her. The credits even lampshade this: before her name shows up onscreen theres a textbox that says "Oh!" as if the devs are saying "Oh yeah, we did get Queen Latifah on this!"
  • Narrator All Along: A variant. While the Narrator herself is a separate character, the credits reveal that the Fool was the one singing all the vocal tracks.
  • No Name Given: In-game, characters are only referred to using their biker names, but the protagonist, the Dancing Devils, the Howling Moons, and the Stereo Lovers all are named in the source code.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: During the confrontation with the Eye of Death, a choir of deep voices punctuates the action. Inverted for Dragon Heart, which is triumphant and higher-pitched voices.
  • One-Winged Angel: Instead of disappearing, the fragments of Little Death's heart liquefy into black slime and regenerate into a monstrous winged form. And after being defeated once again, Little Death's eye separates from the body and fuses with the other Cursed Arcana for one last stand.
  • Painting the Medium: In "Reverie", as the Fool is trapped inside Hermit64's virtual reality, the score counter switches to a simple ASCII-like seven-segment font.
  • Playing with Fire: The Dancing Devils can attack from a distance with fireballs.
  • Post-Final Boss: Despite being the True Final Boss, The Fool fused with the five Arcana in "Wild Hearts Never Die" is MUCH simpler than Little Death's "Inside" AND the Death's Eye at the beginning of "Wild Hearts Never Die".
  • Pun: The name of the Howling Moon's world, Woe Woe Woods, sounds similar to a wolf's howl.
  • Rank Inflation: Past Gold Rank there's the exceedingly hard to get Wild Rank.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Stealth Pun: In "Heartbreak V", the Fool uses the Star Arcanum to summon a ship. It's a starship.
  • Tarot Motifs: The Arcanum is represented by a world where they are Cards of Power that can become people, items, or locations. Vaguely existing in parallel pocket dimensions in another reality that is loosely connected in some way to the mundane world.
  • Title Drop: Several. The menu song is titled "Sayonara Wild Heart" and features the title as a lyric. The Narrator declares "Sayonara, wild hearts!" after you beat the Stereo Lovers and at the end of the credits sequence. Also, the Divine Arcana finish their end-game speech with "Sayonara, wild heart".
  • Trapped in Another World: The heroine's world is literally turned upside down by the fairy the leading arcanum sent to recruit her help. They sent for her because her heart breaking and spiral of depression mirrored the disruption of harmony in their world by the five usurping arcanum. Fighting for their world also restores her broken heart.
  • True Final Boss: The last battle isn't with Little Death but with the manifestation of The Fool's own broken heart fused with the five Arcana that have been fought before. Instead of punching her, she instead has to kiss her in each of her forms.
  • True Love's Kiss: During the "Wild Hearts Never Die" finale, during a series of rematches against the previously-fought Arcanum, rather than smashing them to pieces as before, The Fool defeats them by giving each of them a loving farewell smooch, symbolizing her choosing to make peace with her past heartbreak and leave on a gentle note.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The Game. Just in the Dancing Devil boss fight, the gameplay switches willy-nilly between racing game, fighter, bullet hell and flying, all with little to no warning.
  • Unexpected Shmup Level: It happens a couple of times:
    • Against the Howling Moons, the Fool equips Justice and Judgement (two bike-mounted machine guns), for the Shoot 'Em Up flavour.
    • Against Little Death and her Hate Skulls, she brings out Temperance (an energy bow of light) for some Rail Shooter segments.
  • Victory Fake Out: Twice! During the fight with Little Death, you punch her, but instead of shattering, she rolls across the road, a throwing up a bit... Before she stars vomiting, a lot, before eventually getting back on her bike. Then, when you've caught up to her again, she explodes like the other bosses, but instead of disappearing, the fragments of Little Death's heart liquefy into black slime and regenerate into a monstrous winged form.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Little Death vomits after being punched the first time. A lot. It propels her backwards and forms a slightly odd section of her level where The Fool rides after her on a spiraling road made of her pale green sick.
  • World of Symbolism: On a strictly literal level, the world of the Astral Highways is a fantastical world in need of a hero filled with motorcycle chases and Tarot Motifs, but the game's narrative also makes it clear that it's a parallel to the protagonist's journey of coping with her nascent heartbreak.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: The speech by the Divine Arcana at the end of the game boils down to this.
    From the shards of your broken heart, the real heroine has risen. You have restored the lost harmony of our world, now you must go and find harmony in your own. Sayonara, Wild Heart.


Video Example(s):


Parallel Universes

''Sayonara Hearts'' features the "Parallel Universes'' level, where the Stereo Lovers subject The Fool to an obstacle course that rhythmically alternates between different versions of itself.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / DualWorldGameplay

Media sources: