Preview: Dual Hearts

Summoner 2


Portal to elsewhere

Hi ho Silver! Away!

Actually, we're just friends.

Puzzles = Good

This is a tale of a boy and his Baku...

Looks good enough to swim in!

Hey, Spike-Head and Long-Ears! Yeah, you!

Ooh, intrigue...


Dare to dream
Platform: Playstation 2
Developer: SCE
Publisher: Atlus
ESRB Rating Pending

Forget that Lincoln/Kennedy stuff, check this out in terms of scary coincidences: there are two action RPGs coming out for the Playstation 2 this week, both have the word “Hearts” in the title, and the name of the second game is Dual Hearts. Weird, eh?

Developed by Sony and published by Atlus, Dual Hearts is yet another game with fast action elements and beautiful visuals. Quick battles and surprisingly simplistic puzzles are abundant throughout, which is surprising because of the past experience of some of the development team, who have worked on the Playstation game Alundra. If that game was notorious for its mind-wrenchingly-poppingly-squeezingly-hard puzzles, though, it was also beloved for its unique story involving an adventurer who hops into peoples' dreams. Dual Hearts follows suit in the latter area, only this time the dream-jumper is on a quest for fifteen keys to a temple. Though having a pre-set number of things to collect might provide an undesired indication of how far you are in the game, it will be surprising indeed if Atlus doesn’t throw in a surprise of their own near the end to mess players up.

Alundra or no, it wouldn’t be an action RPG if the Zelda comparisons weren’t equally forthcoming. At the top right of the screen one can see helpful button icons, and our hero is accompanied by a helpful servant-creature. This sounds a lot like Link’s fairy pal Navi, but the dream eating Baku should be more interesting. You can ride on top of him, see through his eyes, and use him as a flying machine. He is also reportedly quite the source of humour, but then again, they probably said that about Navi, too. Also, the game will feature a familiar lock-on system, which could either help or hinder the combat depending on how it’s done.

As you can see, the word “Dual” comes into play in several areas, from the contrast to the real world and the dream world; and to the partnership between you and Baku. It also means that you can carry two weapons at once. This is an idea far overdue, as it should negate some of the endless menu switching and sorting that has plagued this genre from day one. In addition to your array of spears and swords and bows, you will also be able to carry cards that can absorb the elements of defeated enemies. It’s easy to imagine scenarios where you’ll have to take out an enemy in a room to get his fire power and light a torch, among other things.

Dual Hearts doesn’t seem to have an amazing story, and the music is somewhat bland as well, from what little I’ve heard. Where this game hopes to score its "Wow!" points is in the area of graphics. The landscapes are colourful and full of appeal, and the characters and interior areas are well conceived and detailed. The most interesting thing about this game might well be the different graphical styles employed in the various dream worlds. Why fight a debate over cell shading when you can have a three dimensional real world and a hand drawn story book world? It will be interesting to see how many styles do end up being used in this game.

If it were being released at a different time, Dual Hearts would generate much more excitement as an action-packed RPG well worth gawking at. As it is, it’s going to have to try hard to compete against the likes of Kingdom Hearts and .hack//infection. Still, Dual Hearts will still be able to hold its own against other less hyped RPGs such as, say, Legaia: Duel Saga…

Uh oh. Duel sounds like Dual, and Duel Saga is coming out on the second of the month… help…-ed: Well, at least there's no hearts involved..

by Matthew Scribner

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