The Black Heart

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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Clockwise from top: Noroko, Shar-Makai, Animus, Ananzi, Hashi, Peketo.

Created by Andres Borghi, The Black Heart is a 2D fighting game that runs on the MUGEN engine. The game is a horror based fighter, not unlike the Darkstalkers franchise. All the music and the great majority of the sprites are original, which is quite a feat. Unlike most fighting games, TBH features a very present storyline. There is another dimension parallel to ours, simply called "The Other World", whose king has been recently murdered by a creature born from the chaos between the worlds, named Final. The heart of the king is said to contain immense power, and each of the game's six characters is seeking it for their own reasons. They are:

  • Peketo - A lunatic kid that loves the color red. Once saw a portal to the Other World and became obsessed with it and the immense power he felt when he gazed there. He started killing people because the red of the blood was the only red similar to the one of the other world. He was later murdered by a relative of one of his victims, but resurrected as a strange ghost since he had made various pacts with the dead while practicing occultism, that he learned from watching his father. Now, he wants to find the source of the power he felt when he first saw the Other World.
  • Ananzi - The daughter of the prince of the Other World. She loves beauty and can't stand monsters and abominations, which is why she hates the Shar-Makais. After her father sends his army of monsters to recover the Black Heart, she argues with him because she trained all her life to serve her father and is now being substituted by a bunch of abominations. Her father then apologizes and asks her to go for the heart too, so she can demonstrate her true value.
  • Animus - Locked in an Iron Maiden for more than 400 years, that was brought to the Other World by the soldiers of the prince at his request. One day, the metal coffin suddenly opened, and Animus came out. The voice of his father, Final, talked to him inside his head, telling him that he had to go to the chaos, to meet him. He obeyed, eager to learn who he really is, why he had to suffer so much and, most of all, why he can't die.
  • Shar-Makai - A race of worm monsters born in chaos, captured by the Prince of the Other World and trained to be his loyal servants. They can change their size at will, and can plant their embryos in their victim's bodies, so they can multiply even after being killed. Their current mission is to find and kill Final, so the Prince can obtain the heart.
  • Hashi - Hashi belongs to an ancient race of woodmen who shaped and constructed our world. He was banished from the forest where the rest of his (now nearly extinct) race lives for his excessive violence against humans. When the heart of the king was stolen, the forest began to become corrupted and twisted. Malen, the leader of his race, called him back to go to the chaos between worlds to kill Final and stop the corruption, since he is the only one of his race with any aptitude for fighting.
  • Noroko - A ghost that was sealed within an ancient Japanese doll. The doll was owned by an antique collector, attracted by the stories of the ghost in the doll (which he never saw). When the king of the other world was murdered and his heart ripped, the huge power emanated from it awakens the ghost, who escapes the doll and kills the collector. Noroko now travels through the worlds searching for the heart, hoping its power can end her suffering.

Each character's story is a different "chapter", and they happen in a chronological order: 1: Hashi, 2: Noroko, 3: Peketo, 4: Animus, 5: Ananzi, and 6: Shar-Makai. Playing in this order (especially the last two) is recommended.

Official site with free download here.

Tropes used in The Black Heart include:
  • Abandoned Hospital: Peketo's stage is one.
  • Affably Evil: Peketo is constantly smiling and cheerful as he carves his opponents to jibbles.
  • And I Must Scream: Animus has been locked inside an iron maiden for about 400 years without the ability to die.
  • Anyone Can Die: Almost everyone, in fact. Ananzi, Animus, and Hashi all die in their endings, Noroko finally finds peace and disperses (which could be seen as a kind of death), and Shar-Makai often dies in his win pose (another Shar-Makai appears and decapitates him.) The only one of the playable characters who's still alive at the end is Peketo, who is now fighting his father for all eternity.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Shar-Makai are giant worms that serve the royal family.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Animus female form (she doesn't have nipples).
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Peketo appears to be a cute, innocent little doll looking thing. He can't possibly be evil, right? WRONG.
  • Blood Magic/Bloody Murder: Final uses it as his level 1 super. He grabs his enemy and holds him as said enemy's blood flows and spills on the ground. Then Final throws the opponent away and teleports, while the pool of blood spawns 3 clones of the opponent which must be defeated.
    • If you're low on health, though, it just blows you to pieces.
    • Noroko's Bloody End special has her attacking with a massive blood spray from her arm.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Noroko's few spoken and written lines are in Japanese.
    • Peketo and Final both have spoken Spanish lines.
  • The Blank: Noroko. Most of the time.
  • Breath Weapon: Shar-Makai's super acid vomit attack.
  • Buzzsaw Good: Animus' Walk of Pain.
  • Combat Tentacles: Final uses those, as his weakest attack.
  • Complete Monster: Averted/subverted in most cases. Hashi might want the destruction of humankind, but he believes humans to be a disease, making him more of a Knight Templar. Noroko might kill everything in her way, but she is just a tormented soul bent on revenge for her murder. Shar-Makai is just a trained beast, and Ananzi averts the trope completely. Final was apparently Good All Along (he even helps Noroko in her ending, giving a part of the heart's power to let her find eternal peace) or almost. Insane sadomasochist Animus is borderline, but hey, he's been locked inside an iron maiden for 400 years and story mode reveals he is pretty much just as lost as Noroko and simply wants to die. Peketo probably qualifies as a child serial assassin who kills people just to see their blood, but even he has a sort of excuse, an abusive cultist father. The most straightforward example must be the prince Janos, who manipulates his daughter into weakening Final, then kills her without regrets, because he thinks she stands between him and ultimate power.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: If you play on the hard difficulty, the last two opponents before Final will be on AI level 3. This means they will block all of your moves, command read, and if you try to grab them they will see it coming and either combo you or grab you themselves.
  • Creepy Child: Peketo. The ghost of a child serial killer, and he carries around his own decapitated head.
    • Noroko doesn't seem that old herself.
  • Creepy Cool Crosses: When Animus uses his Impaler special, the last and most damaging blade is actually a glowing metal cross. He can also spawn impaled on the same cross, in his introduction sequence.
  • Creepy Doll: Noroko was sealed inside of one.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Most of the cast.
  • Death Seeker: Animus.
  • Downer Ending: Hashi, Ananzi, Shar-Makai, possibly also Peketo, who could be forced to fight his dad for eternity. It ends well only for Noroko and Animus, and just because they find peace in death.
    • There's a matter of perspective here, mind you. The Downer Ending of Hashi means the salvation of mankind, while the "good" ending of Animus dooms a whole realm.
  • Easter Egg: Between the many possibile dresses of her victory pose, Ananzi could show off dressed as Chun-Li.
    • If you use her char in a common MUGEN game and put her against P.O.T.S.'s Morrigan, she'll start the fight dressed as Morrigan, and Morrigan will be dressed as Ananzi!
  • Eldritch Abomination: Final might not really be one, but he was obviously inspired by them, what with all these tentacles everywhere.
  • Eye Beams: Final uses them, both as a regular attack and as an extremely painful level 2 super.
  • Eye Scream: Hashi has a grapple where he throws a plant seed into the opponent's brain, causing a limb to sprout out of their eye.
  • Fetish Fuel: Animus, DEAR GOD ANIMUS. First off, he is constantly switching between a man and a woman mid fight. His entire moveset is based on the concept of sadomasochism, meaning he hurts himself (though he does not take damage from it) for most of his attacks. And some of his moves are clearly sexual in nature, such as his kick grapple. Also the special introduction sequence during an Animus mirror match.
    • There's also Ananzi, with her provocative poses and wardrobe, and a couple of super moves which leave her momentarily naked - apparently, spiders are for her like Bayonetta's hair.
  • Finishing Move / Awesome but Impractical: Fatal Moves. You must have a full, 3-leveled super bar, the enemy must be below 25% life, AND it must hit the enemy without them blocking. Pretty much, a mix of Astral Finish and Fatality.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: One of Noroko's victory poses has her attempting to attack the player, leaving bloody scratches on the opposite side of the screen.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Even if you pass on things such as Shar-Makai spitting out more bile than his body can possibly hold, or fighting yourself in Story mode (it's the Chaos, after all, anything can happen), the most blatant case is Animus. His attacks involve transpercing himself with metal blades (without taking damage from it) and impaling the enemy on the same blade. But how come that if you fight another Animus, being transperced with HIS metal blades will hurt you, and vice versa? Also, how come being impaled on your own metal blade doesn't hurt, but being punched does? Besides, how come Animus can die anyways, while the story explicitely says he can't, and dying is pretty much what he's striving for?
    • Perhaps other characters beating the crap out of him just knocks him out long enough for them to get away. Or maybe he can regenerate later. Both work, really.
  • Gainaxing: Ananzi has it in a few animations.
  • Giant Spider: Ananzi turns into one for her level 3 instakill and one of her supers.
  • Gender Bender. Animus - not only does his sprite constantly alternate between male and female forms, but if he defeats his opponent using his Iron Virgin super, he'll briefly transform them into a female form before impaling them. (Possibly as a Shout-Out to Midnight Bliss.) [1]
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Impossible to avoid in such a game. Animus' single eye glows yellow, so do Hashi's eyes. Final has two huge glowing yellow eyes, and their glow amplifies whenever he casts powerful magic. In a particularly sinister variation, Janos is always portrayed as a dark silhouette, with a single red eye glowing.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Hashi, mostly: he throws fruits at the opponent. One of his specials consists of throwing a HUGE watermelon.
  • Knife Nut: Peketo.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Or at least according to Hashi they are.
  • Laughing Mad: Animus. One of his victory poses is just him collapsing to the floor in laughter.
  • Man-Eating Plant: Hashi is not quite one, but he transforms into one for his level 3 instant kill.
  • Meaningful Name: Final is, fittingly, the final boss. Also, Ananzi, whose name is an obvious reference to Anansi the spider god. Also note that this character used to be called Viuda Negra (Black Widow in spanish).
    • Janos. Very appropriate for a two-faced son of a bitch like him.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Ananzi
  • Nausea Fuel: so much of it, I don't think I'll try to detail it all.
    • The Prison stage. Just... the Prison stage. Whats is that thing walking beneath the grated floor anyway?!?
  • Nintendo Hard: The AI is pretty brutal, even on the easier difficulty settings.
  • Perfect Play AI: Final.
  • Screamer Trailer: Though not really a trailer, Noroko makes heavy use of screamers during her moves.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Janos, the prince of the Other World, is the one who killed the King, his father.
    • Peketo's killing spree started with his father.
  • Shout-Out: Peketo and Noroko kinda reminds us of an pair that fits the bill (Peketo and Carl Clover uses knifes, while Noroko and Ada Clover are dolls
    • Don't forget Peketo's anger with his dad! It's seems that Carl has as much a revenge point against his dad!
  • SNK Boss: Final. He has super armor so he can walk through all of your moves. He has eye lasers that are not the easiest thing to block. His specials are all grabs that do tremendous damage compared to your moves. One of his supers is a very powerful grab that, once finished, summons clones of the character you use that you must defeat to resume fighting Final. His most rage inducing tactic, however, is a super laser that is difficult to telegraph and even harder to properly block. This is always followed up by a screen filling attack, that hits you for about half your total health. However, he does have weaknesses: his grabs can be blocked and a few hits temporarily stun him.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: Noroko.
  • Stripperiffic: Ananzi.
    • Female!Animus as well.
  • Surreal Theme Tune: The (quite cool) music that plays during the credits.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Noroko, Peketo and Final can teleport. Bako, Hashi's little sprout sidekick, actually comes with Hashi only because he can teleport him to the Chaos and to watch over Hashi so he doesn't rebel and go out of Malen's control.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Janos, the Prince of the Other World. He is the one responsible for the corruption of the Other World, which was once beautiful, by causing endless wars to conquer lands that his father (the King, who was far too old and weak to stop him) gave willingly to others; he enslaved an entire species to be his soldiers, killed the King to gain his powers, framed Final when he stole the heart so Janos couldn't use it, wants to conquer all the other worlds through force and bloodshed, and ends up killing his own daughter, Ananzi, because she outlived her usefulness... and in the end, he succeeds in claiming back the Dark Heart, killing Final in the process, and acquires his father's powers. The worst thing that happened to him was that he got a couple of bites on his arms from the Shar-Makai.
  • The Worm That Walks: Ananzi is not quite one, but with the ease she produces these spiderlings out of nowhere, she comes close.
    • Also, altough it's not constant in the english translation (not sure about it in the original spanish), she refers to herself as "we".
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: You'll lose count of how many different dresses Ananzi can show off in her victory animation.
  • Your Head Asplode: If you're really low on health, one of Final's grabs will do this to you.
  1. If you use it on a female character, Ananzi loses her clothes and Noroko gets dressed up as a geisha.