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Video Game / The Black Heart

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Clockwise from top: Noroko, Shar-Makai, Animus, Ananzi, Hashi, and Peketo. Not pictured: Final.

Created by Andres Borghi, The Black Heart is a 2D fighting game that runs on the M.U.G.E.N engine. The game is a horror based fighter, not unlike the Darkstalkers franchise. All the music and the great majority of the sprites are original, which is quite a feat. Unlike most fighting games, TBH features a very present storyline. There is another dimension parallel to ours, simply called "The Other World", whose king has been recently murdered by a creature born from the chaos between the worlds, named Final. The heart of the king is said to contain immense power, and each of the game's six characters is seeking it for their own reasons. They are:

  • Hashi - Hashi belongs to an ancient race of nature spirits who shaped and constructed our world. He was banished from the forest where the rest of his (now nearly extinct) race lives for his excessive violence against humans. When the heart of the king was stolen, the forest began to become corrupted and twisted. Malen, the leader of his race, now offers to end his exile. In exchange, he is sent to find the source of the corruption in the chaos between worlds, since he is the only one of his race with any aptitude for fighting. He is accompanied by Bako, a small plant creature able to travel between worlds.
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  • Noroko - A ghost that was sealed within an ancient Japanese doll. The doll was in the possession of an antique collector, attracted by the stories of the ghost in the doll (which he never saw). When the king of the Other World was murdered and his heart ripped out, the huge power emanating from it awakened her. Noroko now travels through the worlds searching for the heart, in the hopes its power can end her suffering.
  • Peketo - A child driven mad by his neglectful father who studied the occult, Peketo once opened a portal to the Other World by accident and became obsessed with the immense power he felt when he gazed upon the barren landscape. As the color of blood was the only red similar to that of the Other World, he wantonly killed people just to see it over and over again. He was later murdered by a relative of one of his victims, but brought back thanks to one of many pacts he made with the dead. Now, he wants to find the source of the power he felt when he first saw the Other World.
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  • Animus - Locked in an iron maiden for more than 400 years that was brought to the Other World by the soldiers of the prince at his request. One day, the metal coffin suddenly opened, letting Animus free. His father, Final, mentally beckoned him from afar. He obeyed, eager to learn who he really is, why he had to suffer so much and, most of all, why he can't die.
  • Ananzi - The daughter of prince Janos. She hates chaos and can't stand 'abominations' born from it, the Shar-Makai included. After hearing her father sent his army to recover the Black Heart, Ananzi objects, having trained all her life to serve her father only to be substituted by monsters. Her father then apologizes and asks her to retrieve the heart by herself, to demonstrate her true value.
  • Shar-Makai - A race of worm monsters born in chaos, captured by the Prince of the Other World and trained to become his loyal servants. They can change their size at will, and can plant their embryos in their victim's bodies, so they can multiply even after being killed. Their current mission is to find Final and obtain the heart from him.

Each character's story is told in chronological order, as follows:

  1. Hashi
  2. Noroko
  3. Peketo
  4. Animus
  5. Ananzi
  6. Shar-Makai

Playing story mode in this order (especially the last two chapters) is recommended.

Official site with free download here.

On October 8th, 2020, a remastered version of the game was announced to celebrate the game's 10th anniversary, set to be released on Steam on October 22nd. You can view the trailer here and the Steam page here.

This game contains examples of:

  • Abandoned Hospital: Peketo's stage, presumably the one where he was being held for psychological testing.
  • Affably Evil: Peketo is constantly smiling and cheerful as he carves his opponents to jibblies. He's also nothing but polite — right up until he starts killing people. None of it seems to be an act. He just doesn't seem to know any better.
  • And I Must Scream: Animus has been locked inside an iron maiden, unable to die, for about 400 years.
  • And Show It to You: The Black Heart had to come from somewhere, right? Janos does this a lot, it seems — it's also how he kills his own daughter in Ananzi's ending.
  • Anti-Hero: Almost everyone who is not an Anti-Villain or a straight villain is this. Final is particularly notable, he wants to protect the Heart from misuse, but to that effect he is willing to commit acts such as giving Hashi the means to kill all the humans in his world so that he would leave him alone, and "forcing" a human to conceive a child with him so that he could use the child as a weapon, leaving said child purposely locked up for 400 years in an iron maiden, then trying to Mind Rape him into obeying when he refused to do so.
  • Anti-Villain: Final is trying to stop Prince Janos from taking over both worlds. He's still willing to let Hashi exterminate humanity and put his son Animus through centuries of torment in the process. The game sufficiently dark that it's not quite clear whether this makes him an Anti-Villain or the Big Good.
  • Anyone Can Die: Almost everyone can and most of them do. Ananzi, Animus, and Hashi all die in their endings, Noroko finally finds peace and disperses (which could be seen as a kind of death), and Shar-Makai often dies in his win pose (another Shar-Makai appears and decapitates him.) The only one of the playable characters who's still alive at the end, in fact, is Peketo, who is now fighting his father for all eternity.
  • Archnemesis Dad: Plenty of daddy issues to go around:
    • Final engineered the circumstances of Animus's birth in order to create a vessel strong enough to contain the Heart, but all the pain Animus endured had long since driven him mad. The only thing Animus cares about is finding a way to die, and if that means fighting against Final's plan, so be it.
    • In a couple of the endings, as well. Peketo and his father find themselves locked in a deathless battle, possibly forever, thanks to Final steering them toward each other. Ananzi finds out what everybody else could have guessed too late to do her any good, with her father punching his hand through her abdomen when she learns too much about his rise to power.
  • Attack Animal: The Shar-Makai are smart enough to follow Jano's commands to the letter, presumably through the magic he used to bind them, but show little sign of independent thought and are incapable of speech.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Fatal Moves. You must have a full Level 3 super bar, the enemy must be below 25% health, AND it must hit the enemy without them blocking. Pretty much a mix of an Astral Finish and a Fatality.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Janos, the Prince of the Other World. He is the one responsible for the corruption of the Other World, which was once beautiful, by causing endless wars to conquer lands that his father (the King, who was far too old and weak to stop him) gave willingly to others; he enslaved an entire species to be his soldiers, killed the King to gain his powers, framed Final when he stole the heart so Janos couldn't use it, wants to conquer all the other worlds through force and bloodshed, and ends up killing his own daughter, Ananzi, because she outlived her usefulness... and in the end, he succeeds in claiming back the Dark Heart, killing Final in the process, and acquires his father's powers. The worst thing that happened to him was that he got a couple of bites on his arms from the Shar-Makai.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Animus' female form doesn't have nipples.
  • Beware My Stinger Tail: Shar-Makai's tail ends in a hooked red claw. One of its supers is a tail strike that cuts the opponent in half if it lands the finishing blow.
  • Big Bad: Final is the final boss. Prince Janos is the greater threat, though, and Hashi and Peketo are possibly just as bad or worse when it comes to their intentions for the Heart.
  • Big Good: A well-hidden one. Final is actually trying to save the Other World from Prince Janos. At the same time, he's willing to sacrifice the Earth, or at least humanity, as well as the sanity of his son to do it, so it's definitely a case of Black-and-Gray Morality.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Shar-Makai are giant worms that serve the royal family.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Animus is Final's son with a countess who is implied to be Elizabeth Bathory. Made even weirder when it turns out that the Shar-Makai are Final's brothers, corrupted and enslaved by Prince Janos.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Peketo, Hashi and Final's spoken lines are still in Spanish from the original version of the game.
    • Noroko's few spoken and written lines are in Japanese.
    • Both Animus and Female!Animus have a line each in Hungarian.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Peketo appears to be a cute, innocent little doll person, but not only he is rotten to the core, he can't even admit it.
  • Black Widow: Ananzi has the looks, but not the personality. At one point in development her name was Viuda Negra, literally "Black Widow" in Spanish.
  • Blade Spam: Peketo's main means of attack. One of his specials has him dish out a flurry of super-speed stabs to the opponent, and one of his finishers adds in a Teleport Spam.
  • The Blank: Noroko. At least when she's not putting on her Nightmare Face.
  • Bloody Murder:
    • Final, as his Level 1 super. He grabs his enemy and holds him as said enemy's blood flows and spills on the ground. Then Final throws the opponent away and teleports, while the pool of blood spawns three clones of the opponent which must be defeated. If you're low on health, though, it just blows you to pieces.
    • Noroko's Bloody End special has her attacking with a spray of arterial blood from the wrist.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Despite being a human in life, Peketo has shades of this. He is convinced that blood and carnage is beautiful, has an air of childish innocence about him even in battle, and seems to honestly see himself as doing nothing wrong no matter how many people he murders. Given how messed up his father was, it's likely that Peketo was never even taught that harming others is wrong.
  • Body Horror: The... things that occasionally light up in the background or crawl underneath the rusty metal grill in Animus's stage wouldn't look out of place in Silent Hill.
  • Boring, but Practical: If Eye Beams, Combat Tentacles and teleportation don't work, Final can always resort to picking you up by the head and slamming you into the ground multiple times.
  • Breath Weapon: Shar-Makai's acid vomit super.
  • Chainsaw Good: Animus' Walk of Pain has her balancing on the spinning edge of a buzzsaw.
  • Cheerful Child: Peketo is just a fun-loving, good-natured kid. Who decapitated his abusive father, then killed six other people, then came back as a killer ghost.
  • Chest Burster: One of Shar-Makai's finishers causes a number of larval Shar-Makai to burst out of his opponent, cutting them in half. This can also happen to the playable Shar-Makai upon death.
  • Children Are Cruel: Peketo is entirely selfish in his motives. Chances are good his drunken, neglectful father never got around to teaching him how to share.
  • Children Are Innocent: Peketo doesn't really seem to get that what he did was evil.
  • Combat Sadomasochist: Animus has attacks which involve self-injury, says that his own blood brings him pleasure, and keeps his Slasher Smile even as the opponent beats him up. Of course, the pain of combat is probably nothing after four entire centuries of suffering inside an iron maiden.
  • Combat Tentacles: Final has them, though he only uses them for his basic attacks.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: If you play on Hard difficulty, the last two opponents before Final will be on AI Level 3. This means they will block all of your moves, command read, and if you try to grab them they will see it coming and either combo you or grab you themselves.
  • Counter-Attack:
    • Animus has two flavors. For the weaker one, he does a weird pose, if the enemy attacks him, "Animus" is revealed to be a metal decoy while the real Animus jumps down from the top of the screen, trying to slash the foe with a rusty blade. Iron Virgin is a counter Hyper move, if the enemy attacks Animus while in this state, he will reach out and grab the opponent before impaling them.
    • Don't attack Noroko when she starts crying or she'll throw you back with her Nightmare Face.
  • Creepy Child:
    • Peketo is the ghost of a child serial killer — that is, a serial killer who was a child. He carries around his own decapitated head. Which he shows to people. After he kills them.
    • Noroko doesn't seem that old herself.
  • Creepy Cool Crosses: When Animus uses his Impaler special, the last and most damaging blade is actually a glowing metal cross. He can also spawn impaled on the same cross, in his introduction sequence.
  • Creepy Doll: Noroko was sealed inside one, which remained dormant until it was reawakened by the power of the Black Heart. In one of her intros, it floats up in the air and spins around until Noroko's spirit appears behind it. The doll then remains on the ground in the background for the rest of that match.
  • Creepy Good: Ananzi is a nice girl who just so happens to be able to make you explode into spiders if you cross her. Final also fits, for a given measure of "good".
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Ananzi's death definitely qualifies. Moreover, this being a horror-themed fighting game, visually provoking deaths happen numerous times during gameplay, though whether they actually die or not is debatable.
  • Dance Battler: Animus's female form. She even wears a tutu.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Most of the cast happens to fall into this category. Noroko and Animus both want their suffering to end. Ananzi is a princess trying to make her father proud. And Final is the closest being to an Eldritch Abomination here but stole the Heart to keep it away from Prince Janos. That being said...
  • Dark Is Evil: Hashi is a Jerkass who was banished from his own people for his excessive violence against humans. The Shar-Makais are essentially mindless worm Xenomorphs controlled by Prince Janos. Peketo is...Peketo. And then there's Prince Janos...
  • Dark World: The Other World, a hellish place of darkness and blood-red skies. Or at least that's what it's become through Prince Janos's attempts to unite it under his reign, according to Final.
  • Death Seeker: Animus wants to die, but can't, thanks to his unnatural birth as the son of Final. The first thing he does as soon as Final forces the Heart's power upon him in his ending is use that same power to destroy himself. Without a champion to wield the Heart against Janos, all Final's machinations will come to naught. This isn't the happy ending it might sound like.
    • In a way, this is also Noroko's motivation. She was killed long ago, but her spirit is unable to move on. In her ending, Final helps purge her soul of her anger, granting her wish of ascending to Tengoku.
  • Decapitation Presentation: Peketo holds up his own severed head as one of his win poses. Not his cutesy detachable ghost head, but the bloody severed head of his human body.
  • Dem Bones: Peketo looks a bit like a cutesy skeleton. More recognizably the case when it comes to his father.
  • Developers' Foresight: If Peketo uses his Final Attack on another Peketo who is currently in his Killer Mode, he'll still try to decapitate him. Repeatedly. Despite the lack of a head. Then he'll stab him repeatedly before finally getting fed up with his copy's immortality and punching him in the chest for the kill.
  • Doppelgänger Attack:
    • Final creates reflections out of the player's blood, forcing them to fight three duplicates of themselves.
    • Shar-Makai constantly, being an army of Elite Mooks rather than single playable character. Its projectile attacks involve summoning larval Shar-Makai from offscreen, which crawl back offscreen after attacking, and for its Killer Mode, it can temporarily tag in two more full-sized Shar-Makai.
  • Downer Ending: Nearly everyone. Hashi is cast into a bottomless pit on the way back to Earth. Ananzi is murdered by her father when Final reveals that Janos is the one who murdered her grandfather, the old King, not Final. Janos kills the Shar-Makai after Final manages to turn them against him. Possibly Peketo, too, since he could be forced to fight his father for eternity. It ends relatively well only for Noroko and Animus, and only because they find some peace in death.
  • Eco-Terrorist: Hashi, a forest spirit who would just love to Kill All Humans. This makes him an outcast among his people, who want peace, so Hashi generally has to resort to trickery and sabotage.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Ananzi looks like this, but in context she's probably the least overtly evil character in the game and the closest thing the story has to an actual hero.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Final might not really be one, but he was obviously inspired by them, what with all the tentacles everywhere.
  • Elite Mook: Shar-Makai, the shock troops and personal bodyguards of Prince Janos. Not that they're likely to appreciate the honor.
  • The Evil Prince: Prince Janos conquered and laid waste to the lands his father united in peace, killed said father, is seeking an object of limitless power to spread his reign across two worlds, and finally sacrifices his daughter to do it.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Pretty much the whole point. Ananzi thinks she's doing the right thing, but she's being manipulated. Animus might not kill anyone who didn't deserve it — it's unclear. But everyone else has innocent blood on their hands, whatever their intentions.
  • Expendable Clone: The Shar-Makai spawn extremely rapidly, and they exist solely to fight and die for Prince Janos. If one Shar-Makai is killed, more Shar-Makai burst from its corpse. As a character, you're playing one Shar-Makai among many, and it's best not to get too attached. It's possible for your playable Shar-Makai to get into a dominance contest with another— and lose. As a victory pose. You'll be playing as that Shar-Makai now.
  • The Exile: Hashi's violent crusade against humanity has seen him alienated from his people.
  • Expository Theme Tune: "Red", the end credits theme, sung by Natacha Nocetti.
  • Eye Beams: Final uses them, both as a regular attack and as an extremely painful Level 2 super.
  • Eye Scream: Hashi has a grapple where he throws a plant seed into the opponent's brain, causing a limb to sprout out of their eye.
  • Eyeless Face: One of Noroko's faces is just a snaggletoothed snarling mouth with no features above it. The Shar-Makai also have no apparent eyes.
  • Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: The Shar-Makai as a species reproduce this way. It's lethal to the host.
  • The Faceless: Prince Janos is only ever seen in shadow.
  • Fertile Feet: Hashi's Killer Mode causes flowers (and giant spiked plants) to grow all around him.
  • Finishing Move: Fatal Moves.
    • Each character also has a super that, if used to finish off your opponent, will deal some sort of fatal injury. Hashi can decapitate his opponent with Harvest of Pain, for example.
    • Final lacks a Fatal Move, but has no less than three moves that can deal a fatal injury, of which one is not even a super. If he kills the opponent with one of his grabs (the one that normally causes the opponent to explode from within), it will cause said opponent's head to explode. A kill with his level 1 super will blow the opponent's body to pieces. As for his level 2 super, the giant laser explosion? If you're unfortunate enough to take a direct hit that kills you, you'll be utterly disintegrated.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: Noroko's stage music, "Cry from the Soul," uses spooky-sounding funeral bells and ethereal vocal synth, combined with some Ominous (presumably Japanese) Chanting.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: One of Noroko's victory poses has her attempting to attack the player, leaving a bloody fingerprints sliding down the screen.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Hashi is the murderous Grumpy Bear of the nature spirits, but he's the only one of them that can fight, so they're forced to rely on him when it comes to retrieving the Heart.
  • Freudian Excuse:
    • Animus and Noroko are lashing out after hundreds of years of suffering. In Animus's case he's also mostly fighting against worse evils than himself.
    • Played with in Peketo's case. He killed his abusive father and half a dozen others, but nobody in the game seems to think the abuse he suffered justified his becoming a murderer... Including Peketo, who doesn't bother trying to excuse his actions, since he doesn't think there's anything wrong with what he's done in the first place. This, however, is somewhat understandable, since it's clear that the kid was barely even raised beyond just sorta being kept alive. It doesn't seem likely that teaching his son the wrong from the right was anywhere even close to his father's priorities, so it's not surprising that Peketo would wind up with a serious case of Blue-and-Orange Morality.
  • Friend to Bugs: As you might expect, Ananzi seems fond of spiders.
  • Friendly Ghost: What Peketo looks like. He isn't, instead being an unrepentant murderer who made pacts with the dead in order to live on as one of them.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: Hashi sees himself as this, but the rest of his people don't see it the same way: the other nature spirits want peace with the humans, not war. Hashi's the sole outlier.
  • Gainaxing: Ananzi has it in a few animations.
  • Giant Spider: Ananzi turns into one for her Level 3 instakill and one of her supers.
  • Gender Bender. Animus — not only does his sprite constantly alternate between male and female forms, but if he defeats his opponent using his Iron Virgin super, he'll briefly transform them into a female form before impaling them. Likely as a Shout-Out to Midnight Bliss, since similarly, if you use it on a female character, they remain female but get more fanservice-y: Noroko gets dressed up as a geisha, while Ananzi loses all her clothes.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Inevitable in a game like this. Animus' single eye glows yellow, so do Hashi's eyes. Final has two huge glowing yellow eyes, and their glow amplifies whenever he casts powerful magic. In a particularly sinister variation, Janos is always portrayed as a dark silhouette, with a single glowing red eye.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: And the pain, in Animus's case. After 400 years in an iron maiden, it's not surprising.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: It's not clear how much of Peketo's insanity is the abuse he suffered, how much is that brief glimpse he had of the Other World, and how much is just Peketo, but once he saw that the particular shade of red that filled the Other World, he became obsessed with seeing it again. Blood seemed to be the only thing he could find in our world that held that same special luster.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Animus speaks Hungarian, and Noroko speaks Japanese. Averted with the Spanish lines, as they were recorded in the original language of the game.
  • Green Thumb: Hashi, although a relatively downplayed example of this trope, since he's mostly limited to growing various fruits and throwing them as blunt implements, or manipulating his own wooden form.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Peketo throws his own head at people.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Animus, being Final's son with a human countess.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: A number of Fatal Moves, including Shar-Makai's Chest Burster finisher. Also one of its win poses, where another Shar-Makai slithers up and slashes it in half with its stinger tail — surprise! You're playing that Shar-Makai from now on.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Child serial killer Peketo gives one to the final boss, fittingly enough:
    Peketo: Bah! You're as boring as my dad... You can't do this! You can't do that! Fear dominates you and you don't dare to do anything. Everyone should be like me: free of fear and doubt. A world full of happiness and nice things.
  • Hero Antagonist: It turns out that Final is actually this and Prince Janos is the real villain.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Janos is only ever seen in silhouette, apart from his glowing eye. This happens even when he's standing directly next to someone who's fully visible.
  • High-Pressure Blood: Noroko spurts blood from her wrist as a ranged attack.
  • Holy Burns Evil: Subverted with Animus — the rusty metal cross he summons out of nowhere is literally on fire, but since he can't die, he embraces the pain, quite literally — throwing her arms around the burning cross in her win pose.
  • Humans Are Bastards: At least according to Hashi. Frankly the people who killed Noroko, the ones who stuck Animus in his iron prison, and Peketo and his father don't really do much to hurt his case.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Would you believe Shar-Makai gets this in their ending? Final reawakens their forgotten sense of self, and they descend on Prince Janos... who blows them into bloody chunks and kills Final anyway. The end.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Animus is a fan of this. His Fatal Move impales the enemy on a rusty spike, his Iron Virgin special also impales the enemy if it kills, and one of his other specials is called "Impaler". Even one of his grabs can impale the enemy along with himself. Then again, he hails from Transylvania and is implied to be the son of Elizabeth Bathory, so maybe this isn't all that surprising.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Hashi, mostly: he throws fruits at the opponent. One of his specials consists of throwing a HUGE watermelon.
  • Idle Animation: Noroko randomly screams at the player if left immobile for a few seconds.
  • Incendiary Exponent: Animus sets himself on fire in his Killer Mode.
  • It's All About Me: Despite his cheerful outer demeanor, the only thing Peketo cares about is what Peketo wants. He's all too happy to kill anyone who gets in his way.
    Peketo: I want it because I want it. I can feel it close. Give it to me!
  • Jump Scare: Noroko makes heavy use of screamers during her moves.
  • Kaizo Trap: Notice how when you defeat Shar-Makai its stomach bursts and Shar-Makai larvae fly out? If you're in a team fight, those larvae can still hurt you.
  • Kill All Humans: Hashi hates humans, believing they're destroying the Earth. Too bad for him his fellow Plant People don't agree. In his ending, he accepts a deal from Final: imbuing one of his seeds with enough power to cover the planet in vegetation while wiping out humanity in one fell swoop. Fortunately for us humans, Hashi's patron Malen saw this coming, and has Hashi's reluctant sidekick/interdimensional guide drop him in a Bottomless Pit on the way back to Earth.
  • Knife Nut: Peketo, and how. Just the one little knife, but he certainly puts it to good use.
  • Laughing Mad: Animus. One of his victory poses is him just collapsing to the floor in laughter.
  • Lean and Mean: Final, the final boss, with his stick-thin arms and towering but narrow frame. Subverted in that he's really the Big Good.
  • Light Is Not Good:
    • Flowers, nature in all its splendor, green leaves in a sea of red, and the only living character from our world — none of which makes the murderous Hashi anything close to one of the good guys.
    • Despite Peketo's cheerful exterior and apparent innocence, he's the most unrepentantly evil character in the game, lacking even the pretense of serving some greater good.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: Ananzi is a brutal killer, but she loves her father and wants to do him proud by avenging her grandfather. Final, meanwhile, is willing to do some terrible things to stop Prince Janos from spreading his influence across both realms, and Janos is actually the one who killed the King, not Final. Janos ultimately kills them both. It's that kind of game.
  • Lonely Piano Piece: A dark version of this forms a major part of the game's Leitmotif in the main theme, intro and ending pieces for story mode, as well as Peketo's theme, "The Red Dream."
  • Long Neck: Noroko does the whole rokurokubi thing in one of her win poses, crouching down and stretching out her neck to grotesque proportions.
  • Losing Your Head: Peketo's head is fully detachable — he's a ghost, after all. His basic projectile attack involves throwing his head at people, and a number of his intros have it being tossed in from offscreen. He can also use it in his Killer Mode, bouncing around the screen to strike the opponent.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Ananzi and Shar-Makai's Fatal Moves cause the opponent to explode into bones and blood.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Probably not the one you were expecting. The Shar-Makai, of all characters, turn out to Final's brothers, corrupted by Janos. There's admittedly something of a family resemblance when it comes to the teeth and skin color.
  • Make a Wish: Hashi blows the seeds off a dandelion in one of his win poses. Take a guess what he's wishing for.
  • Malevolent Masked Woman: Noroko dons an oni mask for one of her projectile attacks.
  • Man-Eating Plant: Hashi is not quite one, but he transforms into one for his Level 3 instant kill.
  • Meaningful Name: Final is, fittingly, the final boss. Also, Noroko, whose name is Japanese for "cursed child" and Ananzi, whose name is an obvious reference to Anansi the spider god. Also note that this character used to be called Viuda Negra (Black Widow in spanish).
    • Animus' name is presumably derived from the Jungian concept of anima and animus.
    • Janos, as the prince of the Other World, Earth's dark reflection. Also very appropriate for a two-faced son of a bitch like him.
  • Mighty Roar: Shar-Makai, as a win pose.
  • Mirror Boss: You'll (usually) have to fight three copies of yourself during the fight with Final. They're made of your blood.
  • Mirror Match: Each character has a special intro when this happens.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Ananzi's outfits are distractingly skimpy. Even her casual clothes expose her belly.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous:
    • Ananzi's Spider Limbs and Final's Combat Tentacles.
    • What's under Noroko's shift? Another Noroko. She can also project a pair of hands from out of her blank, featureless face.
  • Nature Spirit: Hashi is one of these, as are Malen and Bako. They serve the balance of nature and protect the wilderness, although Hashi's more violent approach has seen him outcast from the rest of his kind.
  • Nice Hat: Hashi wears a round-brimmed green hat.
  • Nightmare Face: Animus, after his four-hundred years of torture, is little more than one bright yellow eye and a big toothy grin set into a rictus of scar tissue. Noroko sports a variety of these, when she's not The Blank.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Peketo, in life and in death. He's an adorable little serial killer, and he seems to find all this bloodshed and horror delightful.
    Peketo: [after his Fatal Move] Que lindo!note 
  • Nintendo Hard: The AI is pretty brutal, even on the easier difficulty settings.
  • Obliviously Evil: Peketo seems like he genuinely doesn't understand what's so bad about killing people to get what he wants.
    Peketo: I'm not evil. You are the evil one who doesn't want to give me the Heart.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Peketo. In his ending, his father refers to him by his real name, Ivan.
  • Off with His Head!: Several moves can decapitate an opponent. Peketo's instant kill has him take off the enemy's head in a single slash. If Ananzi kills the enemy with her spider transformation Hyper, their body will fall down from the top of the screen with the head missing. Hashi can also decapitate the opponent using his Harvest of Pain Hyper.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Noroko, as an in-game teleportation mechanic, simply walks off one side of the screen and immediately appears again on the other.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: Ananzi's stage music, "The Daughter of the Prince".
  • Order vs. Chaos: Earth represents order, as opposed to the chaos and darkness of the Other World.
    • Subverted in that four out of six characters come from Earth, and the closest thing the game has to a hero and a Big Good, Ananzi and Final respectively, are from the Other World. Not only that, but Janos is actually seeking to bring his own brand of "order" to the Other World — through a campaign of brutal conquest that is actually the reason the Other World is a bloodsoaked ruin.
    • Ananzi's spiders symbolize her desire to build order out of chaos, as spiders build their webs. Her disdain for the Shar-Makai, creatures of chaos, is what motivates her to seek out the Heart, to prove they don't need them, as well as to avenge her grandfather's death at the hands of Final. Except that she's ultimately defeated by the Shar-Makai and murdered by her own father, who is actually the one who murdered her grandfather, not Final, and Final stole the Heart to prevent Janos from spreading his tyrannical order across both worlds, Earth included.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: From each other, even — Noroko and Peketo share a color palette and not much else in terms of powers, Noroko having a somewhat more traditional assortment of ghostly powers from Japanese folklore while Peketo's abilities and appearance have more in common with a Saturday morning cartoon. Possibly justified, given the very diferent circumstances and points in history in which they died.
  • Painting the Medium: Noroko can turn the game into a black-and-white movie, complete with film scratches, can fill the screen with one of a number of Jump Scares as one of her attacks, and for her Fatal Move, she switches the perspective to a first-person photorealistic view.
  • Perfect-Play A.I.: Final, like any SNK Boss worth their salt.
  • Pest Controller: Ananzi's spiders do her bidding.
  • Phallic Weapon:
    • Animus's giant rusty spikes. Made perfectly clear, if it wasn't already, when he lies on top of his opponent in female form while a huge spike pierces through them both.
    • And, let's face it, Shar-Makai.
  • Plant People: The wood spirits, Hashi's people.
  • Playing The Heartstrings: Somber, sinister strings form the main leitmotif of the soundtrack, along with Lonely Piano Piece.
  • The Power of Hate: According to Final, Noroko's anger and resentment for all that she's suffered makes her the most powerful human spirit he's ever seen.
  • Precocious Crush: When Peketo starts a fight against Ananzi, his intro has him gasp when she appears, and then a heart appears over his head as he smiles and blushes.
  • Prehensile Hair: Noroko's hair is both prehensile and capable of varying dramatically in length. One of her intros is Noroko hanging from the ceiling, cocooned in her own hair. A basic punch for her involves turning her head fast enough to slap the other fighter with it.
  • "Psycho" Strings: The back half of the main theme, "The Black Heart." Shar-Makai's stage music, "Lust for Power".
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Well, moreso are pink - but either way, you probably wouldn't want to mess with Shar-Makai or Final, even if they're a bubblegum pink.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Most of the game. Averted by Shar-Makai and Final, who have purple or pink) skin and red gums, and Hashi, who, as a Plant Person, has brown bark and wears green clothes.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Final's eyes glow red just before he fires his eye lasers. One of Prince Janos's eyes always glows red, even as the rest of him is permanently cloaked in darkness.
  • Rotten Rock & Roll: Animus's theme, "Chaos and Death", starts out this way, before being overtaken by its Eastern European overtones. Fittingly, his father Final's "Psycho" Strings eventually lapse into this.
  • Rolling Attack: One of Shar-Makai's attacks involves curling into a ball for a multi-hit rush.
  • Self-Made Orphan:
    • Peketo's killing spree started with his father.
    • Janos, the prince of the Other World, is the one who killed his father the King, whose heart is the titular Black Heart at the center of the game's plot.
  • Sequel Hook: The ending was probably intended as one, though to this day no sequel exists.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shapeshifter Weapon: Hashi changes his limbs into a variety of shapes to fight with, including spikes, whips, and a very large wooden bat which he breaks into splinters over the course of multiple blows upside his opponent's head.
  • Sinister Silhouettes: Final, until the fight begins. Janos, at all times. Also the shadowy figures who meander about in the background of Peketo's stage.
  • Sizeshifter:
    • Shar-Makai constantly varies in size, starting out as a tiny, xenomorph-like larval form, while mostly fighting as hulking sandworm-like monsters.
    • Hashi grows to colossal size and bites his opponent in half for one of his Fatal Moves.
  • Slasher Smile:
    • Animus, perpetually.
    • Human!Peketo in his story mode intro, as opposed to the "cute" smile he has as a ghost. Probably ties in to how he sees himself, versus how the rest of the world saw him when he was alive.
  • Snap Back: Just like in Bloodstorm, you can tear your opponent into bloody chunks in the first round, and they'll be miraculously back none the worse for wear in the second.
  • SNK Boss: Final. He has super armor so he can walk through all of your moves. He has eye lasers that are not the easiest thing to block. His specials are all grabs that do tremendous damage compared to your moves. One of his supers is a very powerful grab that, once finished, summons clones of the character you use that you must defeat to resume fighting Final. His most rage-inducing tactic, however, is a super laser with a difficult-to-spot telegraph which is even harder to properly block. This is always followed up by a screen-filling attack that hits for about half your total health.
    • He does have weaknesses, however: his grabs can be blocked, a few hits temporarily stun him, and he never blocks your attacks.
  • Spawn Broodling: Shar-Makai does this as one of its Fatal Moves, seizing the opponent in its huge maw and draining their blood until three newborn Shar-Makai burst out.
  • Spider Limbs: Ananzi has four spider legs that can protrude out of her back, which are her main method of attack.
  • Spiders Are Scary: Oddly enough, while she can be just as disturbing in combat as any of the other fighters, the spider lady Ananzi is the most unambiguously good character in the game.
  • Spider Swarm: Ananzi controls one, with her various costumes actually being made up of tiny spiders.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: Noroko is a walking, floating, screaming catalog of Japanese horror tropes, with The Ring and Ju-on still in recent memory during the game's development.
  • Stripperiffic:
    • Ananzi's many outfits show a lot of skin.
    • Female!Animus goes topless. As does her male self, to be fair, but she also shows a lot more leg in female form.
  • Swallowed Whole: One of Shar-Makai's attacks, before vomiting them back up, accompanied by a shower of green acid.
  • The Swarm: Shar-Makai. You get a sense of just how many of the things there are in the special intro for its Mirror Match, where two rival swarms of Shar-Makai seem to get into some sort of territorial/dominance match, with dozens of the tiny worms pouring down from the middle of the screen and crawling off to their respective corners.
  • Surreal Theme Tune: "Red," the (quite cool) song that plays during the end credits.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Hashi has a Le Malta-esque sidekick in the form of Bako, whose power is what transports the two of them into the Other World. The two do not get along, since, like the rest of the wooden men, Bako intensely disapproves of Hashi's violent tendencies. Hashi, for his part, has little more than contempt for Bako, and rarely speaks without insulting him in their few lines of dialogue in story mode.
    • Comes to a head in Hashi's ending, when Hashi strikes a deal with Final, who imbues one of Hashi's seeds with enough power to cover the whole Earth in greenery, wiping out humanity in the process. The other spirits planned for this, however, and Bako has orders to drop Hashi into a bottomless pit on the way back if the latter decided to go off-script. Which is what happens, so that's what Bako does.
  • Teleport Spam: Final loves to warp around erratically, avoiding attempts to attack him. Peketo incorporates Teleport Spam into one of his Hypers, attacking the opponent with many slashes from all sides. If this attack kills the enemy, the final stab will come from the air, piercing through their chest.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Noroko, Peketo and Final have teleport moves.
    • A story example: Bako, Hashi's little sprout sidekick, actually comes with Hashi only because he can teleport him to the Other World and to "take care" of Hashi in case he decides to turn his back on their cause.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Most of Final's supers will vaporize his opponent if used as the finishing blow.
  • Treants: Hashi's people, the wooden men, are long-lived treefolk charged with protecting the natural world.
  • The Unfettered: Peketo, as expounded in his Hannibal Lecture. It's this speech that convinces Final to bring forth Peketo's father, locking the two of them in a battle that might well last forever, since neither one can be killed.
  • The Unfought: Janos, the actually Big Bad is never fought in gameplay throughout the game. The closest anyone gets is Shar-Makai, and of course Final himself. Neither of whom are any match for him.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: You'll lose count of how many different dresses and other costumes Ananzi can show off in her victory animation. This makes sense because A) she is a princess, and B) all of her clothes seem to be spontaneously formed out of spiders, anyways.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Peketo flails around with his knife with zero technique, but has enough speed and resilience as a ghost to make up the difference. He also hits hard enough with one of his supers to launch any character through the top of the screen.
  • Use Your Head: Shar-Makai slams the other fighter with its head and tail for most of its basic attacks. Animus has a brutal headbutt combo as a special. Peketo throws his detachable head as a projectile.
  • Vengeful Ghost: Noroko, very much so, but not Peketo, who came back thanks to the necromantic rites he performed instead. Although he does have a sore spot when it comes to his father.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting:
    • Ananzi can turn into a swarm of spiders at will, or a giant spider as a finisher, and manifests large spider limbs from her back to attack or propel her across the screen.
    • Noroko contorts her ghostly form in a variety of frightening ways.
    • Hashi turns his limbs into weapons and grows to massive size as a finisher.
    • Shar-Makai can change size between the second-largest character in the game and the smallest.
  • Wall Crawl: Noroko can cling to the top of the screen and crawl across it at will, before dropping down for a spectral dive attack.
  • Weaponized Offspring: Larval Shar-Makai burst out of their parent upon its death.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Ananzi seeks the Heart to earn her father's approval, once and for all. He kills her for her trouble, once she discovers that he's the one who killed the King, not Final.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Especially when you've spent hundreds of years in an iron maiden and gone stark raving mad, to the point where pain and pleasure have melded into one unholy amalgamation? Animus decidedly does not.
  • The Worm That Walks: Ananzi is not quite one, but with the ease she produces these spiderlings out of nowhere, she comes close. While it's not consistent in the English translation (not sure about it in the original Spanish), she refers to herself as "we"... which might just be her using the Royal "We", given that she's a prince's daughter.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: In Noroko's counter and Fatal Moves, she covers her face in her hands and starts to cry. She hits back hard if you make the mistake of attacking her.
  • Your Head A-Splode: If you're really low on health, one of Final's grabs will do this to you.
  • Zombie Puke Attack: Shar-Makai can fill about half the screen with a column of green acid.


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