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To Heart (Drillimation's Version)

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To Heart
Toheart n64
North American Box Art
Developer(s) Drillimation Studios
Rareware
Publisher(s) Namco
Nintendo
Director(s) Hiroshi Takajima
Ken Lobb
Platform(s) Nintendo 64
Xbox One (Namco Museum: Drillimation Replay)
Microsoft Windows
Genre(s) Action-adventure
Release Date(s)
May 23, 1997
Mode(s)
Single-player, Multiplayer
Age Rating(s)
ESRB: Teen
PEGI: 16
CERO: C
OLFC: M
Media Included 64MB Cartridge
Available Input N64 Controller (N64 version)
Xbox One Controller (XONE version)
Max. amount of players 4
Minimum Requirements (PC version) Operating System: Windows 7 or higher
RAM: 256MB or higher
Sound card: DirectSound
Video card: DirectX 9.0c
To Heart (トゥハート Tu Hāto?) is a 1997 open-world action-adventure game developed by Drillimation Studios with production assisted by Rareware and published by Nintendo and distributed by Namco. The game was released on the Nintendo 64 console on May 23, 1997 after five years of development. The game is also included in the 2016 compilation Namco Museum: Drillimation Replay on the Xbox One version. The engine the game used was also used in other Rareware games such as Banjo-Kazooie and Conker's Bad Fur Day.

Gameplay

In the single player mode, the game is broken into two worlds: the Real World and the Dream World. Players assume the role of Hiroyuki Fujita, a rude, abusive teenage boy who must escape his loneliness at home in an attempt to confess his love to his girlfriend, Akari. The two worlds are based on an overworld that the player can freely explore, although most of them are blocked off until certain tasks are completed.

In the Real World, players are given 14 real-time hours (each minute of gameplay counts as 20 minutes, and the Real World day is approximately 42 minutes) to complete any quests the game requires to have completed. Each school day is divided into three segments: Hiroyuki's commute to school, during school, and after school. During any of the three segments and of Hiroyuki's actions, one of these four events may happen:

  • Dated events: Occurs automatically during certain points in the game's plot line.
  • Affection events: Occurs during certain periods of time only if specific conditions pertaining to a character's affection towards Hiroyuki are met.
  • Frequency events: Occurs after meeting a character a predetermined number of times.
  • VS events: Occurs if two characters' affection towards Hiroyuki conflict with one another. Conflicts can only be settled in the Dream World, where the player must fight the character Hiroyuki conflicted with.

At the end of the school day, the player can use the remaining seven hours and freely explore the overworld and complete any quests the game requires to be completed. Each quest is accompanied by a character who must have Hiroyuki solve their problem by either solving puzzles, defeating a boss, or finding a hidden object within the scene. Upon completion of a task, the player is always awarded a cash award, which can be used to buy weapons, food to restore his health, and drugs to use on enemies.

In the Dream World, the game is set in a Middle Ages-based world ruled by humanoids and dinosaurs. The Dreamworld has altered structures based on the structures in the real world. Upon entering, Hiroyuki is transformed into his medieval form, and fights with medieval versions of his weapons. Players are given 10 "sleeping" hours (approximately 30 minutes of gameplay) to complete any tasks in the Dream World with the same properties as the Real World, but with more advanced mechanics such as platforming and engaging in Touhou-style fights with some bosses.

Hiroyuki's health is powered by a "love meter", which Hiroyuki loses when he takes damage. If the Love Meter drains entirely, Hiroyuki will die and cause a game over (if the player died in the Real World) and will respawn at the last save point. If the player dies in the Dream World, Hiroyuki will respawn at where he entered instead of restarting the game.

The multiplayer mode features five minigames:

  • Heart by Heart: A platform game where the player controls a selectable character in one of the thirty static, non-moving levels. The player's objective is to defeat all of the enemies in the level using various attacks within a time limit. The minigame also features a two-player variation, in which the players may compete or cooperate with each other within the game's levels.
  • Puzzle de Heart: A Puyo Puyo-style game where the player gains points by forming and eliminating lines of three or more blocks of the same shape. The player achieves this by swapping the preexisting blocks in the game's screen with those in a bank of blocks allotted to them.
  • Witch Princess: A side-scrolling Touhou-style danmaku shooter game featuring Serika Kurusugawa in her Dream World form. The player's goal is to progress through a horizontally scrolling level, while attacking enemies and dodging their attacks.
  • Rubbing Multi/Serio: An icebreaker-style game where the player is given simulated massages by Multi or Serio using the Rumble Pak. This minigame can only be accessed if the player's controller has the Rumble Pak installed and is not available on the PC or Xbox One versions.
  • Water Survival: A third person shooter where Hiroyuki and Shiho attempt to shoot each other with water guns.

Characters

  • Hiroyuki Fujita - The main hero of the game. He is surprisingly empathetic though, but usually shows it through his actions rather than what he says or how he acts towards people. Hiroyuki is also a childhood friend of Akari, and gradually throughout the storyline falls in love with her. He is sometimes dense when it comes to romance. In the Dream World, he is an autonomous knight who was called into his dreams by the youkai Phegelein to defend the Dream World.
  • Akari Kamigishi - Akari is Hiroyuki's girlfriend, knowing each other since kindergarten. She will almost always go to wake Hiroyuki up in the morning to go to school. She is especially fond of teddy bears, with special emphasis on the one that Hiroyuki gave her during their childhood. Both Akari and Hiroyuki have known each other since kindergarten and they are extremely close. She is very much in love with Hiroyuki and spends a lot of time around him. Akari likes to call Hiroyuki "Hiroyuki-chan" even though he hates being called that. Akari is very adept at cooking and is a member of the school's cooking club. In the game, she is just one of several female characters, but in the anime she adopts a central role, acting as narrator, with her romantic aspirations forming the main recurring theme of the series. In chapter 7 of the game, she actually supplants Hiroyuki as the main character when she befriends the psychic girl Kotone: in all other episodes it is Hiroyuki who befriends the "guest" character of the episode. (In the manga Akari has a less pivotal role (though still a major one), and it is Hiroyuki who befriends Kotone.). In the Dream World, she is the princess of a kingdom modelled after the school.

Development

Development of To Heart started after the release of Super Smash Keyboards in 1992 originally as an arcade game for the Driller Engine 2000 arcade board. It was being worked on the same team who worked on Super Smash Keyboards, who were taking a break from the usual violence Super Smash Keyboards featured. This was supposed to be Drillimation's second platformer on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

The game was originally titled Dinosaur Rollercoaster with a rather expansive look. The game's main protagonists, Hiroyuki and Akari, had different styles for the game's single player mode. Before the final release, the character bios in the playable Microsoft Windows demo say that Hiroyuki and Akari are at least 13 years old. The game also had a multiplayer mode with a four-player deathmatch mode. Another unique aspect to the game was the character emotions. The game's cast had a wide variety of emotions they can convey, as well for the enemies. The game's cheerful scenery gave it the look of an interactive anime.

As development of the game progressed, engineers at Rareware visited Drillimation and saw the game in action. The game was planned for a holiday 1993 release, but was delayed due to technical problems. Also, the engineers from Rareware who visited Drillimation, decided to take part in this production, which caused Drillimation to cancel the Sega Genesis, Turbografx-16, and Neo Geo versions. The game was ultimately renamed To Heart: The Adventures of Hiroyuki and Akari and was slated to be released on the Super Nintendo in October 1994. From a request from Rareware engineer Chris Seavor, the game was delayed again.

To wait out the delay, a high school student who was a Drillimation fan and game programmer from Denver, Colorado captured footage from the game and decided to make a bootleg for Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 computers, privately released it on the internet in September 1995. Depending on what version of Windows the player had, the game either ran at 256 colors (Windows 95) or 20 colors (Windows 3.1). The game also had several MIDI conversions the Super Nintendo prototype had. If the player left Hiroyuki or Akari idle, they would pull out their Game Boy and can be heard playing a bonus stage from Super Mario Land. After the bootleg was released, it was the last time anyone saw Hiroyuki and Akari as anything but mature.

Hiroyuki and Akari began their new life in 1996 on the Nintendo 64 when Hiroshi Takajima asked Ken Lobb to take charge. Takajima came up with the idea of having Hiroyuki take back a package that was stolen by a gang of hackers. Seavor said that more mature humor that teens can accommodate was a key element. The game was unveiled at E3 1996 and a downloadable Windows demo where players had to comply with the new COPPA law (the player had to be 13 or older) in order to download and play the game. The game was released on May 23, 1997. Advertisements for the game were featured in GamePro.

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