Arcana Heart is a 2D contemporary-fantasy fighting game developed by Yuki Enterprise and released by Atrativa for arcades (using custom hardware) exclusively in Japan on December 22, 2006.
Developed by the team behind Samurai Shodown V and Samurai Shodown V Special (who later become the independent studio Examu), Arcana Heart features a hand-drawn anime aesthetic, a young all-girl roster and a unique assist character system (where each player chooses an "Arcana" that grants their primary characters unique special moves and abilities).
Other special gameplay features include the "Clashing" system (where most attacks can "clash" with each other) and the "Homing" system (where players use their recharging "homing gauge" to perform special movements). It uses a four-button control system: three for attacking and one for both Homing and Arcana commands.
The game takes place in modern age Tokyo, where certain young girls (known as "Maidens") can communicate with their bonded spirits (known as "Elementals", or "Arcanas"). When mysterious interdimensional disturbances begin occuring over Tokyo (causing an imminent collapse of the entire Kanto region), Maidens in that region begin to notice and take action.
It later received an official update (released as an upgrade kit) on March 9, 2006. Titled Arcana Heart FULL!, this update adjusts the game balance of the entire roster. The game was later ported by Ecole to the PlayStation 2, allowing players to choose between the original and "FULL!" versions of each character. It was released in Japan by AQ Interactive (on October 11, 2007) and in North America by Atlus U.S.A. (on April 10, 2008). The game also received multiple sequels, beginning with Arcana Heart 2.
Arcana Hearts plays more like a VS game than anything. The attacks are Weak (Square Button), Medium (Triangle Button), Strong (Circle Button), and Special (X Button). While light, medium, and stong are used for regulars punch and kick type attacks, the special button is used to either home in on your opponent or use a Arcanas move.
The homing system will allow the character to chase its opponent no matter where they are on the screen. When you use a move that will send your opponent flying you are able to homing cancel out of the move and chase your opponent down and continue the combo. On your bottom meter there are 3 bars, using a special will use up on of these bars and it will refil as the match goes on.
The game has 11 characters and 11 Arcanas to choose from. With being able to mix and match fighters to Arcana there are 121 combinations to fight with or against. Mix and match to find a combination that fits your fighting style.
In the world of Arcana Heart a magical rift has appeared above Tokyo. Choose one of the 11 fighters and 11 Arcana and fight to stop the evil Mildred from opening the rift between the human world and the Elemental world. As you progress through the story mode you will be able to choose you opponent from an onscreen map before battle. Atlus has taken out the voice over from the pre battle and victory chats between characters for story mode in the english release.
Pick a fighter and a Arcana and fight your way through Arcade Mode and try to get the high score along the way. Progress through the stages and try to become the ultimate Arcana Heart fighter.
Get your friends over to play some Arcana Hearts with you. Prove to the that you can control the deadly power of the Arcana.
Practise all of the 121 possible combinations in training mode. Get those combos down pat.
View the artwork for both the fighters and Arcana. Watch openings from the Arcade version, FULL version, and the anime opening. Listen to your favorite character or stage theme from the music soundtrack in game, and a few extras that will have to be unlocked.
The game includes 10 starting characters and 2 boss characters (one of whom is playable with cheat codes), for a total of 12 characters.
- Heart Aino - The series's main protagonist, Heart is a cheerful high school student with a passion for justice.
- Saki Tsuzura - A childhood friend of Heart, Saki was once trapped in the Elemental World with her friend Fiona, only to be rescued herself by the Arcana Bahnri.
- Yoriko Yasuzumi - An introvert who is fascinated with the occult, Yoriko attempted to summon a low-level demon servant with Lilica, only receiving the self-proclaimed "Demon King" Mike.
- Lilica Felchenerow - A half-demon delinquent, Lilica is one of the few able to detect the distortion above Tokyo (but does not seem to care).
- Kamui Tokinomiya - Known as the "Thousand Years Protector", Kamui is a mysterious ninja who was wakes from perpetual slumber by her Arcana Anutpada when the human world is in crisis.
- Mei-Fang - A Chinese-made humanoid robot, Mei-Fang is programmed with a wide array of martial arts knowledge (and 4,000 years' worth of Chinese recipes).
- Konoha - From the Koinumaru clan of half-dog ninja warriors, Konoha is chosen by her clan to become the Millennium Guard and accompany the Thousand Years Protector on her mission.
- Kira Daidohji - A child genius with a medical degree, Kira was forced to go back to elementary school, only to turn her attention to world domination. She fights with a large blob.
- Lieselotte Achenbach - Known as the "Crimson-Eyed Criminal", Lieselotte is a cold-hearted assassin orphan who travels the world (as a wanted criminal) with a leg-less puppet that carries the consciousness of her older sister.
- Fiona Mayfield (sub-boss, playable with cheat code, available from the start in FULL!) - Born from a wealthy British family, Fiona was one day sucked into the Elemental World with her friend Saki. While Saki escaped, Fiona remain trapped until she encounters Mildred (who she now serves, under promise of a way home).
- Mildred Avallone (final boss, unplayable) - The game's main antagonist, Mildred is part of the British Spirit Society who seeks to merge the Human and Elemental worlds to become a goddess. Unlike other characters, she controls no particular Arcana and has two forms.
Along with the game's playable character, each player picks a spirit, or "Arcana", which grants unique attributes and special moves.
- Partinias, Arcana of Love - Default for Heart. Can float to the ground after performing a double-jump. While in Arcana Force mode, the "Tria Sfaira" super move costs no meter to use.
- Bhanri, Arcana of Lightning - Default for Saki. Forward-dashing can cause Clashing. Charge Attacks can cause Clashing during its charge. While in Arcana Force mode, all Homing Dashes in the air can cause Clashing.
- Dieu Mort, Arcana of Death - Default for Yoriko. While in Arcana Force mode, physical attacks cause the same effect as the "Poison" special move.
- Ohtsuchi, Arcana of Earth - Default for Maori. Forward Homing Dashes auto-guards against most attacks. Charge Attacks auto-guard when charging. While in Arcana Force mode, the character can not get stunned while hit (but cannot block at all).
- Tempestas, Arcana of Wind - Default for Lilica. Adds an additional mid-air jump and air-dash. Forward Guard Cancels gains increased knockback (at the cost of the shield). Down-facing Air Homing Dashes are quicker. While in Arcana Force mode, players gain an additional mid-air jump and air-dash.
- Anutpada, Arcana of Time - Default for Kamui. Back-dashing adds a shadow that absorbs an attack. Charge Attacks create a shadow that performs the attack instead, allowing the character to move while charging. Forward Homing Dashes are replaced with quick teleporting dash. While in Arcana Force mode, the round timer stops.
- Lang-gong, Arcana of Fire - Default for Mei-Fang. Charge Attacks are unblockable when fully-charged. While in Arcana Force mode, most Homing Dashes can damage the opponent.
- Moriomoto, Arcana of Nature - Default for Konoha. While in Arcana Force mode, the character's lifebar slowly regenerates.
- Niptra, Arcana of Water - Default for Kira. Charge Attacks have increased stun time (and less knockback) when fully-charged. While in Arcana Force mode, block damage is negated.
- Gier, Arcana of Shadow - Default for Lieselotte. While in Arcana Force mode, Arcana attacks deal additional damage.
- Orichalkos, Arcana of Metal - Default for Fiona, and must be unlocked with a cheat code to play in the original arcade version. Super Meter can only be charged-up by inputting a special command. While in Arcana Force mode, both offense and defense are significantly buffed.