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Visual Novel / Time Hollow

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"Beyond the Hole is a Moment from the past. The Holes you open must be closed, or time won't start up again. The holder of the Pen must have the Time to use it. Once you've gotten the hang of the Pen, come and rescue us..."

Time Hollow is a point and-click Adventure Game/Visual Novel for the Nintendo DS developed by Tenky and published by Konami. The player takes the role of Ethan Kairos, an Ordinary High-School Student living with his parents, starting on the evening before his seventeenth birthday. However, during the night, Ethan dreams that his parents are caught in a fire, and upon waking discovers that he lives with his uncle and his parents disappeared twelve years ago. He then inherits a Hollow Pen: an invisible pen that can create holes through time. With this, Ethan tries to find out what happened to his parents and stop it from occuring. However, a figure from the past is always one step ahead...


The game provides examples of:

  • Aerith and Bob: Ethan, Timothy, Pamela, Derek, Irving, Mary, Jack, Vin, Ashley, Ben, Morris, Eva, Aaron, Olivia, Emily, Sara, Jacob... Kori, which is just an unusual spelling of Cory.
  • Anime Hair: Ethan's hair has sideways spikes, and plenty of characters have strange hair colours.
  • Anyone Can Die: There are probably fewer named characters who don't die in one alternate timeline or another than ones that do.
  • Bait-and-Switch Credits: Being able to see the treehouse catching fire (you only see the planted stick) and Ethan running through a Hole.
  • Berserk Button: Ben Fourier of all people, whom Ethan describes in his profile as "kind of a wuss, but not a bad guy", has one. The berserk button is dogs. When Ben was a child, he was taking care of a dog named Shiloh, but one day there was a huge lightning storm that set the treehouse on fire... and Ben forgot to untie Shiloh from the treehouse before he left, causing Shiloh to burn to death. Ben is tormented with guilt, so when he sees a dog named Lucky, he flips out and starts hitting the dog. The little boy who owns the dog calls for help, Aaron comes out of the cafe to investigate the commotion, and his attempt to save the boy from Ben causes the two of them to fight, which depending on whether Ben has access to pliers or Aaron has access to a rock will end up with either Ben or Aaron hospitalized/dead.
    • And Emily Niner has a more minor example: as Ashley finds out the hard way in one alternate reality, if Ashley loses money that would've bought Ethan a present, this makes Emily mad enough to shout at Ashley, and if the flashback's picture is accurate even apparently shove Ashley to the ground.
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  • Betty and Veronica: Shy Emily and boisterous Ashley. True to form, there's a Third-Option Love Interest thrown into the mix, although she's got certain complications.
  • Cast from Lifespan: Using the pen accelerates your aging process. We see several users who've gone quite gray after using it too much.
  • Cats Are Mean: Ethan gets a nasty scratch at the beginning of the game when he tries to bath Sox.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The scars on Irving's hand are from the incident at Kako High School's rooftop where he pushed Kori off it and she tried to hold onto him, unsuccessfully.
  • Close-Enough Timeline: Ethan doesn't bother to fix the timeline in which Morris has dropped out of school because he seems happier that way.
  • Colour-Coded Timestop: Everytime time stops, the world turns grey.
  • Dangerous 16th Birthday: Ethan turns 17 when he's given the Hollow Pen. He'll need it to repair the horrible deaths of his friends and family throughout the game.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Sox. Maybe.
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: Ethan's ringtone is the game's theme song.
  • Doppelgänger Replacement Love Interest: Of a sort. After Kori is saved by Uncle Derek, the ending cut scene reveals a girl who looks extremely similar, and is implied to be his cousin.
  • Dub Name Change: Like in Ace Attorney, it's necessary to keep the Theme Naming.
  • Economy Cast: There's a total of 13 last names of characters in the game, with either siblings or parents doubling up. The same few faces will keep showing up, with almost no disposable characters.
  • Education Mama: Morris, though he loves to learn (even studying in his spare time after he drops out of school) and gets top marks, is made miserable by his grade-minded parents.
  • Four Is Death: Ben Fourier kills Aaron with a pair of pliers in one reality.
  • Gainax Ending: So... the pink-haired girl at the end of the game is Ethan's cousin, or a time duplicate, or what?
  • The Glasses Gotta Go: You can make Ethan enforce this trope on Emily by having him steal her glasses from through a Hole. You're given several opportunities to give them back, but if you don't...
  • Guide Dang It!: A minor example in chapter 1. Depending on whether you place an envelope of money in a locker or outside the Chronos Cafe, Ethan receives either a bag of homemade cookies, or a homemade birthday card. Obviously the bag of cookies is the better gift, but there's no hint as to which solution results in which. You're actually supposed to place the envelope inside the locker so you can get the cookies; if you place it outside Chronos, Emily and Ashley don't have time to get you any real presents, so they settle for a birthday card.
  • Identical Grandson: At the end of the game, a girl with pink hair greets Ethan at Kako High School. She looks exactly like Kori. It's implied she's Kori and Derek's daughter.
  • Idiot Hero: There are idiot heroes. And then there is Ethan Kairos. When his friend Morris tells him of a book about parallel universes that might greatly inform his current predicament, Ethan thinks about it for a moment - then decides he can't be bothered to retrieve it from their clubhouse and wants to go to a nearby antique shop instead. He routinely, stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the blindingly obvious and just as often fails to do anything to follow the leads that are actively handed to him.
  • Improvised Weapon: A pair of needle-nose pliers may not sound like a particularly impressive weapon, but that doesn't stop Ben from killing Aaron with them in one timeline.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Despite Mary's best efforts, nothing seems to stop her son from killing Kori. The fact that this seems to be an invariant in the timeline drives the main plot of the game.
  • In the Back: Kori is stabbed with a knife in the back by Irving (or rather, Jack) at the end of the penultimate chapter. This makes her vanish from existence, as she had been displaced from time prior to the game's beginning.
  • Invisible to Normals: The Hollow Pens themselves can only be seen by other pen users. Even former users can no longer see them.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Uncle Derek exhibits this with his younger self in the game's final timeline, as after going back in time and saving Kori's life, he's shown to have gone into hiding and watched his younger self grow up and marry the girl he loves.
  • Joshikousei: Kori, Emily and Ashley.
  • Kill and Replace: Irving goes back in time several years, kills Ethan's teacher and assumes his identity from then on. Ethan is the only one who remembers this thanks to his Ripple Effect-Proof Memory — the rest of the world doesn't know this impersonation ever happened.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Good thing, too, since your cat helps you out in your adventure.
  • Knife Nut: Irving seems to have knives as his weapon of choice. Mary even mentions that stopping him from pushing Kori just leads to him stabbing her.
  • Likes Older Women: Ben shows traits of this, as does Aaron in a world where he never meets Olivia.
  • Make Wrong What Once Went Right: The Big Bad does a lot of this.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Kori/Derek and Kori/Ethan, although the former is finally able to happen normally once the final version of her is saved without having to leave the flow of time.
  • Meaningful Name: "Kairos", according to That Other Wiki, refers to the exact moment an action must be taken for it to work.
  • Meganekko: The cute Emily wears a pair of glasses.
  • Mega Neko: Okay, how many people thought that the stuffed Sox was an actual cat?
  • Mind Screw: With so much time travel, how could it not be?
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Emily, in one timeline, caused Ashley to run off and disappear by yelling at her and shoving her when Ashley supposedly lost the money needed to buy Ethan a present.
  • Mysterious Waif: Kori, who suddenly appears in Ethan's classroom as a student despite never being there before
  • Neck Snap: This is how Morris gets killed in one of the timelines you must fix.
  • Never My Fault: Irving, big time. At one point in the story, he says the Kairos family exists to torture him. There are two problems with his theory; one, he's the one doing the torturing every time he screws up the timeline and does something nasty to Ethan's parents or friends. Two, he thinks the Kairos family is torturing him by killing his mother, Mary. But Mary is actually killing herself...and she's doing this because Irving keeps deciding to kill Kori!
  • New Game+:
    • After completing the game, you can start over and stop the entire game from happening at the prologue. With your memories from the endgame, you have to convince the Big Bad to abstain from Make Wrong What Once Went Right so you can directly avert his Dark and Troubled Past ahead of time. Needless to say, this rerun is very short: it takes less than 30 minutes to complete.
    • There is a second one, which is nearly identical to the first except near the end. Some dialogues change and give more meaning to Sox's role in the game.
  • New Transfer Student: Kori, at least from Ethan's perspective.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Jack falls off a cliff in the road where the bus crash happened. He's considered dead, but he suddenly makes an entrance at the end of the game to try and foil Ethan's attempt to avert Kori's death and displacement of time.
  • No Romantic Resolution: Ethan never does pick between Emily, Ashley and Kori - or, when she's pulled out of the running, her identical daughter.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You: How Derek saves Kori. He appears in midair, stops her fall, and the remainder of the fall isn't enough to kill her with him cushioning her.
  • Not Quite Dead: It turns out that Jack didn't die after falling from the cliff in the penultimate chapter. You learn this the hard way: he tries to foil your attempt to avert the cause of every conflict in the endgame.
  • Not Quite the Right Thing:
    • Ethan prevents an accident where a woman he knows dies, but the accident instead injures a boy and kills his dog. The only way to save all of them is to not to fix the woman's bicycle, which is what Ethan did first to save the woman, but to fix the truck that caused the accident in the first place.
    • He also prevents Ben Fourier from killing Aaron by taking away his pliers, but that causes Aaron to win the fight instead and put Ben in the hospital. Or, if the player removed the pliers in advance, Aaron wins the fight first by shoving Ben down as Ben hits his head on a rock, so Ethan fixes it by moving the rock... but then Ben beats Aaron instead. The only real way to stop the fight is to go further back in time and save the life of a dog Ben left tied up in a fire, to prevent Ben from getting traumatic memories every time he sees a dog, which is what always starts a conflict between him and Aaron.
    • He also saves someone else's life, but causes his friend to drop out of high school. Unlike with the previous examples, Ethan doesn't bother to fix this.
  • Numerical Theme Naming: Irving Onegin, Jack Twombly, Vin and Ashley Threet... This continues to Kori Twelves.
  • Offing the Offspring: Mary Onegin keeps changing the past to cause her and her son's deaths when she realizes he's pure evil. Unfortunately for her, he always ends up living and she always dies.
  • Older Than They Look: Kori is no longer a teenager even if she looks like one. She hasn't aged a bit in some years since she was displaced from time.
  • Omniscient Council of Vagueness: And do we ever learn who they are or what they want? No! They only speak in shadows once. It could just be Kori and Irving, but there's no proof of that.
  • Ordinary High-School Student: Ethan had a normal life until his 17th birthday, which saddles him with the conflict of the Kairos-Onegin families.
  • Photographic Memory: Flashbacks seem to work like this. They are literally represented as still images, though Ethan has to ask other people for such things as the date and location. In one instance, Ethan learns of the time of a flashback from a clock shown in the flashback itself.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Ethan can have lots of fun copping a feel of Emily and Ashley in some flashbacks.
  • Red Herring: At the beginning of the game, Derek comes over to borrow money from his brother Timothy, who refuses and scolds Derek for "relying" on the Kairos family. Derek loses his temper and accuses Timothy of always having been "down" on him, and then leaves while advising Timothy to watch his back. This makes Derek look incredibly suspicious, almost like he's going to be an antagonist, complete with a motive... nope, actually he's one of the heroes of this story, the villain turns out to be someone else entirely.
  • Ripple Effect-Proof Memory: Anyone who is a holder of a Hollow Pen or does not experience time has this. Occasionally overlaps with Only Sane Man, such as when Irving kills Ethan's homeroom teacher in the past and assumes his identity.
  • Save the Villain: Ethan tries to save the Big Bad from falling off a cliff. He's unsuccessful. The fall doesn't kill him, though, and he's going for Ethan in the next chapter.
  • Saying Too Much: This is what first tips Ethan off that something's off about Irving. When Ethan visits Irving's shop, Irving talks about two high school girls, namely Emily and Ashley, buying Ethan a clock... something which didn't happen in this reality, as the girls either made cookies or a birthday card.
  • Scars Are Forever:
    • The game's theme song contains the lyric "No scar ever heals."
    • Irving has visible scars from an incident nineteen years earlier.
  • Second Episode Morning: In chapter one.
  • Secret Keeper: Morris in two early realities, and Uncle Derek in those near the end.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The bulk of the story as Ethan attempts to undo Irving's attempts at messing with time.
  • Sidequest: Preventing Vin's accident so he can continue playing basketball is completely optional and unadvertised.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Shadow of Destiny.
  • Spoiler Opening: Kori falling from the school. Actually, the entire opening spoils most major events of the game.
  • Stable Time Loop: The ending, in which Ethan sends the clock and letter back in time to the garbage disposal, and later sending the Hollow Pen with the letter back in time to himself.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Irving in the past; this later upgrades to "just plain crazy" with his crossing of the Moral Event Horizon.
  • Taking the Bullet: It's a knife, but Kori jumps in front of Ethan, when Irving tries to kill the other Hollow Pen user.
  • Temporal Paradox: Mostly averted.
  • Tender Tears: In one timeline, Emily explains that it was her fault Ashley disappeared, since Ashley ran off after Emily didn't believe her about the lost money. Then we get a picture of Emily crying, eaten up with guilt.
  • Theme Naming: All characters apart from members of the Kairos family have a surname based on one of the twelve numbers on the clock. Kairos itself is Greek for "the perfect moment".
  • Time Stands Still: Whenever someone uses a Hollow Pen, this happens to any non-user. Or those pulled out of time.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: For most of the game the laws of time travel are consistent. However, for the sake of drama, there are a couple of key points near the end which break the story's own rules.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Ashley (rambunctious tomboy) and Emily (shy girly-girl).
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Early in the game, immediately examining the magical portal floating in the middle of Ethan's bedroom gets no more reaction than a "(...?)" — apparently, the floor and bed looking completely different from last night is a more pressing issue, and Ethan won't acknowledge the portal until after looking at those.
  • Vehicular Sabotage: In one timeline, the brakes on Olivia's bike are cut, and she subsequently dies in an accident.
  • Villains Act, Heroes React: Near every action taken by Ethan and his allies throughout the entire story is for the purpose of fixing something Irving broke. Exceptions to this are by and large optional silly things like accidentally stealing Emily's glasses.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The Omniscient Council of Vagueness segment.
    • A potential problem for any player on a given play-through, given that it's entirely possible to miss out on changes you can make in some pasts (e.g. fixing Morris' or Vin's lives), despite being made aware that they could use some Hollow Pen help.
  • White Gloves: Irving wears some of these to hide the scars he received from Kori.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: Irving has white hair and fulfills the role of main villain.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Zig-zagged. Irving switches between trying to stop Ethan by messing with the past and just plain trying to shank him with alarming frequency.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: Averted in the extremely short New Game+.
  • Younger Than They Look: A consequence of Hollow Pen overusage, due to its properties. All users of the Hollow Pen (save for Ethan) look much older than their actual age.


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