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Video Game / Triggerheart Exelica

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Squeeze the trigger of your heart.note 
Do you like bullet hell shoot'em ups? Do you also like mecha-musumes clad in skin-tight bodysuits? Then you'll enjoy the combination of the two with Triggerheart Exelica.

Triggerheart Exelica is a vertically-scrolling shooter by the small video game development team of Warashi. It was first released to arcades in Japan on the Sega NAOMI hardware in 2006. The game's storyline is set in the future where the interplanetary defense organization of Tilde have created Artificial Humans known as "Triggerhearts" to hold back the forces of the militant Ver'mith. Unfortunately, two Triggerheart sisters — the energetic Exelica and the Hot-Blooded Crueltear — fell through one of the Ver'mith's emergency escape wormholes during battle, which leads straight to Present Day Earth. Cut off from everyone and everything they ever knew, the two Triggerhearts begin to lose hope and question their purpose for living. It was then that they decided to try and live a normal life... That is, until the day that a massive wormhole appears over Earth, signaling the start of a full-scale Ver'mith invasion, led by none other than another Triggerheart: one that Crueltear recognizes as Faintear.

In this game, players can play as one of the two Triggerhearts, either Exelica or Crueltear, and they can either gun down the horde of Ver'mith trying to take over the Earth the old fashion way, or make use the Triggerhearts' Anchor Shot against the Ver'mith — be it a small drone fighter or a battleship the size of a 747 — and swing them around like a ball-and-chain, hurl them against each other, or even use them as a shield, and you do this to score points. Although not all enemies are fair game to picked up by and ready to be abused the Triggerhearts' Anchor Shot; in the case of bosses or grounded enemies, the anchor will latch on to the enemy and Triggerhearts gunfire will go along the anchor's line a for stronger, pin-point attack. Another unique feature of the game is the Dynamic Difficulty of its boss battles; the bosses in Triggerheart Exelica uses a Variable Boss Attack System (or V.B.A.S. for short) to determine how hard they are willing to fight. In layman's terms: the more Medals you rack up, the harder they will fight back.

After its arcade debut, the game was ported to various video game consoles; it was first released in 2007 for the Sega Dreamcast (yes, really) in Japan as its penultimate titlenote , then later to the Xbox 360 via Xbox Live world-wide on February of 2008, and finally to the PlayStation 2 (published by Alchemist) with an Updated Re-release as Trigger Heart Exelica -Enhanced- exclusively in Japan on March of 2009. The PlayStation 2 re-release features a fully-voiced Story Mode, a new playable character (the original, non-evil Faintear), complete with a shiny new Anime Theme Song opening.

As of July 28, 2016, the Xbox 360 version of the game has became backwards compatible for the Xbox One, coinciding with the game's 10th Anniversary. However, as of August 31st, 2023, the Xbox 360 version has since been delisted from the Xbox Store. A series of official doujinshi by Kazuhiko Kakoi, Trigger Heart Exelica RE:Anchor were also published at the beginning of 2016, which explores new concepts and ideas for a potential sequel. On May 2023, game developer Cosmo Machia (a company composed of ex-Warashi employees) acquired the rights to the property, promising to reissue the game alongside new developments.

On July 2023, Cosmo Machia launched a crowdfunding campaign via Makuake for funding of a potential Switch port of the game... which has came to pass; at the end of its campaign on August 6, 2023, it has raised over 6,300,420円, doubled its original 3,000,000円 funding goal. A release date was announced during a press conference at Tokyo Game Show 2023 and will be releasing on December 14 that year. The Switch version will feature the Arcade and Story Modes from the previous console releases in addition to the Arranged Mode and a Training Mode for beginners, a vertical (or "TATE") display option, sound options for the original or arranged soundtracks, and online leaderboards.

Triggerheart Exelica features trope examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: The story, naturally. This was averted in the Dreamcast and PlayStation 2 version as it has a full-fledged Story Mode that adds a great deal of narrative to the game, even moreso with the latter.
  • Arrange Mode: The Sega Dreamcast port introduces an arrange where you play an extremely hard version of the main game with 2 lives, 2 bombs, 2 score-based extends, and no continues. You also have to fight Faintear Imitate before the final boss. And what do you get for your trouble? Faintear Imitate taunting you in a stinger. Yay.
  • Artificial Human: The Triggerhearts.
  • Attack Drone: Triggerheart's BFG are actually floating by their side.
  • The Backwards Я: A backwards "E" is used in "ƎXELICA"
  • Bittersweet Ending: In the arcade version and the Dreamcast Arcade mode, whichever Triggerheart you didn't select sacrifices herself to save her sister. Unlike the later releases, there's no hidden "true ending".
  • Blood Knight: Crueltear. While she's not a villain at all, it's very clear that she's a warrior through and through, and she's uncomfortable and directionless on the peaceful Earth.
  • Bowdlerise: The Xbox 360 port edited Crueltear's "normal" ending; in the other versions, Crueltear's full body can be seen as she falls from the Ver'mith's liar, whereas the Xbox 360 version had her character artwork zoomed-in focusing on her face, hiding a shot of her butt and crotch.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Faintear Imitate, thanks to the cloning process. Trigger Heart Exelica -Enhanced-, however, reveals that she is actually good person and the Ver'mith uses a control core to change her personality.
  • Bullet Hell: Enemies in this game tend to shoot a lot of bullets, so your Anchor Shot is going to be your best friend against the onslaught of bullets.
  • Clone Degeneration: Faintear Imitate's personality is a corrupted version of the original Faintear's.
  • Cool Ship: The C'rnadyne support ship, it only appears in Trigger Heart Exelica -Enhanced- though.
  • Continuing is Painful: Continue after losing all of your lives and you're neglected from any battles with Faintear outside of the final stage, and you will instantly receive the bad ending. If that wasn't enough, your score and Medals gets wiped as well.
  • Difficulty Levels: The game features the stock Easy, Normal, and Hard settings.
  • Downer Ending: In the Xbox 360 version's of Exelica's "normal" ending, Crueltear commits a Heroic Sacrifice by using her Anchor Shot to save to her younger sister from the impending explosion. This follows with Exelica standing with her cat Omelette on Earth's ruins.
  • Doujinshi: Apart from NSFW fanworks, the game spawned a series of official doujinshi titled Trigger Heart Exelica RE:Anchor by Kazuhiko Kakoi, the artist of the game who formally worked under Warashi.
  • Dynamic Difficulty: The more Medals you have on hand, the harder the game gets. This also affects how many boss forms you have to fight.
  • Eleventh Hour Super Power: Crueltear unleashes her Wave-Motion Gun against the final boss during her "good" ending.
  • Empathic Weapon: While they never talk, Triggerheart's Attack Drones have sentient A.I., and the Triggerhearts (save for Faintear Imitate) treat them as companions.
  • Every 10,000 Points: By default, you gain extends for the first 50,000,000pts. earned and subsequently every 100,000,000pts. thereafter.
  • Evil Twin: Faintear Imitate. You can play as the original Faintear in the PlayStation 2 version.
  • Fanservice: Exaggerated with the game's promotional goods.
    • Most of the game's promotional items feature the girls in a more swimsuit-styled version of their regular bodysuits at a pool or beach setting.
    • Another one with Exelica in Stripperiffic two-piece with either Crueltear or the original Faintear, and it's heading into homoerotic territory.
    • There's also a piece has that Crueltear showing off her lovely backside with Exelica on top of her.
    • The original Faintear is also having some fun with her Ver'mith twin's hair, in skimpy bikinis no less.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: The Triggerhearts are varied by their speed. It's explained in plot that Exelica can adapt with peaceful life on Earth too well, so she rarely did the routine maintenance for her equipments. Crueltear, however, felt herself is without purpose on this peaceful planet and thus kept her equipment in as good condition as possible. So when Ver'mith attacks Earth, Exelica's equipment are nowhere near their full potential. In Trigger Heart Exelica -Enhanced-, Faintear had just recently escaped from Ver'mith, and despite losing her original weapon units, has equipment in perfect condition. These are reflected in gameplay, with Exelica being slowest, Faintear being fastest and Crueltear in the middle.
  • Gameplay Grading: You get a score bonus at the end of each stage for your remaining lives and bombs, an item bonus for Medals collected, and a weight bonus for capturing heavier enemies.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Faintear Imitate and the original, although her twin-tails doesn't connect to her head.
  • Grappling-Hook Pistol: The Anchor Shot, which allows the Triggerhearts to either swing enemies around, use them as a shield, or lock onto grounded enemies or bosses to focus their shots to their target, all while making their hitbox visible.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: You can swing around or throw a captured enemy onto other enemies with the Anchor Shot.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In the "normal" ending, the Triggerheart you didn't play will sacrifice herself to save you from Faintear Imitate's grasp.
    • In the Exelica's "good" ending in the Xbox 360 version, the Faintear Imitate sacrifices herself so that both Exelica and Crueltear can escape the explosion in the Final Stage.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: While there's no implication of any kind seen in the actual game, but these promotional items by Alchemist for the Limited Edition of Trigger Heart Exelica -Enhanced- may have those thinking otherwise.
  • Humanoid Alien: Players never actually see people of Tilde, but since Triggerhearts and holographic of C'r_na, the ship's A.I., appear as girl, it's pretty obvious.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Exelica has them, which reflects on her care-free nature.
  • It's Up to You: The technology of Earth can't be compare to Ver'mith nor Tilde, so the Triggerhearts are only obstacles to Ver'mith's invasion. Faintear also add another layer of this trope, as she consider both Crueltear and Exelica are in bad condition.
  • I Will Wait for You: The bad endings has either Exelica or Crueltear waiting for one or the other to come back even after one of the Triggerhearts have sacrificed themselves in the end. Faintear (the real one) doesn't have this kind of ending, however.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Exelica has a cat on Earth called Omelette.
  • Leotard of Power: Crueltear and Faintear wear leotards.
  • Mechanical Lifeforms: The Ver'mith are race of war machines.
  • Moe Anthropomorphism: The girls themselves show the influence of the mecha-musume style, essentially anthropomorphizing the sorts of fighter ships you'd play in other shooters of this type.
  • Ms. Fanservice: The Triggerhearts themselves easily qualify, with their skin-tight bodysuits and whatnot. Exelica can appeal to the lolicon crowd, too.
  • Multiple Endings: Based on the multiple bosses, fighting Faintear off, and finishing the game under a single credit.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: You. A single bullet or wrong turn will harm your precious Triggerheart.
  • Optional Boss: Accumulating enough Medals on certain stages unlocks a confrontation with Faintear after the bosses of Stages 1 and 3. Defeating her in both stages under a single credit is required to unlock the game's "good" ending.
  • Restraining Bolt: Faintear Imitate has one in the glowing Ver'mith core on her forehead to ensure that she can't turn on her masters, which she does the second that it gets removed. Though she had good reason to, considering how it got removed in the first place.
  • School Swimsuit: Exelica's bodysuit is essentially based off a two-piece white school swimsuit.
  • Scoring Points: You gain points for shooting up stuff and destroying enemies, but there are other mechanics that plays into the game's scoring hooks. While holding the Fire button when Medals are on screen, they gradually grow in size and value until the player releases the button where they will be collected, but they can disappear if they fall offscreen. Destroying enemies using your Anchor Shot, either by throwing/swinging the captured enemy against each other, will yield more Medals and bonus points. Finishing off bosses (and their multiple forms) quickly also yields for greater score bonuses. The end-stage bonuses also rewards players with extra points based on their performance.
  • Single-Use Shield: The Triggerheart's Anchor Shot can grab a Ver'mith vehicle to use as a shield, but it's destroyed after taking enough abuse and the amount of punishment they can take varies.
  • Smart Bomb: Your Triggerheart flies "up" to the screen and deliver a screen-clearing blast.
  • Shout-Out: The bad endings where Exelica or Crueltear wait for one of their safe return not knowing that they possibly sacrificed themselves is probably one to the bad ending of the Unlimited Blade Works route in Fate/stay night.
  • Social Darwinist: The Ver'mith to an extent. They maintain a constant state of warfare because they believe that fighting will strengthen their evolution.
  • Spectacular Spinning: Swinging your victims around isn't just amusing, but can be used to clobber enemies against each other (while shielding you from bullets) or can be thrown into a group of them.
  • Super-Deformed: Chibi versions of the Triggerhearts are often used in the game's promotional art and goods. Chibi versions of Exelica, Crueltear, and Faintear can also seen in the menus of the Dreamcast version of the game, and there's also a chibi Faintear wallpaper for the borders of the screen.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Exelica likes omelettes.
  • Title Scream: "Trigger Heart Exelica." This feature was however left out in the Xbox 360 version.
  • Updated Re-release:
    • The Xbox 360 version lacks most of the features of both the Dreamcast and its later PlayStation 2 releases, it does however have updated visuals, an arranged soundtrack, and online leaderboards.
    • The Japan-exclusive Trigger Heart Exelica -Enhanced- on PlayStation 2 has an Anime Theme Song opening, the ability to play as the real Faintear, the arranged soundtrack from the Xbox LIVE Arcade version, and a visual novel-styled Story Mode with the addition of characters that were only seen in the story concepts (Omelette, Watt, C'r_na, and Skiltall) making an appearance in this version. The downside is that it doesn't run as smooth as the other versions and lacks the Arranged Mode seen in the Dreamcast port.
  • Video-Game Lives: You start with three per credit by default, and you gain more through extends.
  • A Winner Is You: Beating the Arrange Mode simply has Faintear Imitate taunting you.
  • You Have Failed Me: The Ver'mith Core to Faintear Imitate after the Triggerhearts defeat her a third time. Unfortunately for it, all its attack manages to do is remove her Restraining Bolt.