Review by: Matthew Dujnic
Published: October 10, 2002
There are already so many tales of fantasy on PS2, but if you do it right, one more can always fit into the crowd. Atlus has brought another quirky title to the U.S., one without all of the big budget polish of bankable blockbusters. The game is Dual Hearts, and it’s a role-playing adventure, of sorts, with the traditional story structure, real-time action and a certain intangible charm. Much like Sky Gunner, released by Atlus earlier this year, this is a niche title, but one without a built-in audience. Perhaps the publisher hopes that pure merit will carry Dual Hearts. So, is there enough value here to bear the burden?
Long ago, there was a time when dreams were actually part of reality. It was a golden age for mankind. The power of dreams brought greatness to people’s deeds, but with dreams came the Nightmare. Steadily, corruption grew, and the Nightmare threatened to engulf the world. Destiny called upon a heroic sage and his companion to defeat the evil. A tremendous, weeklong battle ensued, and at the end, the sage imprisoned The Nightmare, holding it in check with the magic of the dream stones. Now, thousands of years later, these stones reside in the Temple of Dreams. A new chapter is about to unfold. In dreams, the Nightmare has begun to rise once more, and with it, a hero and his companion will also emerge.
Dual Hearts has the familiar tale of ancient evil returning alongside a reincarnated, chosen hero. If there has ever been an overused conceit for fantasy adventure, this is it. We’re introduced to a hapless pig-like creature called a Baku, an inhabitant of the Dream World. His queen tasks him with the seemingly simple quest of retrieving all of the dream stones from the temple. Unfortunately, this particular Baku, despite being a descendant of heroic lineage, is actually a humorous bumbler, and naturally flubs the mission.
The stones are scattered across the world of dreams, and the Baku tumbles into the real world, where he meets you, the young, impetuous, bullheaded hero. The Baku has to mop up the mess he’s made, and you’re looking for an adventure to show up the competition, so you join together in a quest for the lost stones. You quickly discover, thanks to the help of a super-intelligent sheep, that the stones have landed in the individual dreams of different people in the real world. From the family dog, to the old man, to the artist, to the archaeologist, each person has a different type of dream, and when they fall asleep, you and your Baku pal have to sneak into their dreams, find treasure and battle the Nightmare’s minions.