Dual Hearts
PlayStation 2
Reviewed: 09/30/2003


Dual Hearts is a lighthearted action RPG that has slipped under the mainstream radar into the realm of culthood. Like a good pile of non-hardcore and/or non-mainstream games before it, Dual Hearts is actually a solid game, which is mainly overlooked for no other reasons than the colorful appearance and the fact that it’s not made by Square.

Since it’s already been mentioned, let’s elaborate on the look. While not earth-shaking, Dual Hearts does sport some fairly impressive visuals. The cartoonish look and feel are excellently implemented, and there’s never a moment of graphical dissatisfaction. Annoying graphic-overlap is also kept to a minimum, which is a good bragging point for any 3D title.

The story through which the player will be progressing boasts an interestingly unique premise. Rumble, a treasure hunter, must team up with an odd creature named Tumble, who is out to save the Dream World (which is inside peoples’ dreams), fulfilling the prophecy that said he would be the one to do so. When the two realize they can only achieve their respective goals by working together, the two set aside their differences and enter the Dream World as a duo.

This tale does not rock with mighty emotion, but that’s not its purpose anyway, so no points are lost there. However, what does hurt is that it doesn’t do what a story should almost always do: provide a motivation to keep playing. While the gameplay is fun and has good depth, there’s just a paper-thin story to compliment, leaving something to be desired.

Fortunately, the aforementioned gameplay acts as a decent-sized redemption factor. Dual Hearts is almost as solid of an action RPG as you’ll find on the PS2. Rumble carries 2 weapons called “Holy Instruments,” which are a lance and a sword. Each can be used with its own dedicated button. Use of the weapons to defeat enemies leads to individual level-ups and new abilities for the instruments. Rumble’s sidekick Tumble grants higher jumping, faster running, and other such enhancements if you feel like getting on his back. Tumble learns more neat tricks (mostly transportation based) throughout the game. Figuring out when to do what in order to find everything in a certain dream is definitely fun times.

In addition, this game earns props for non-linearity. After the first few missions, the player is met with a wide variety of dreams to enter, which are scattered in the minds of folks all over the large world of Dual Hearts. Putting into practice what other games have taught in the past, most dreams have secret areas and treasures that can only be discovered if the player returns to the dream in question after gaining some new abilities.

To put it simply, the game is very playable. A few small camera problems and some plot slowness arise here and there, but Dual Hearts is overall a praiseworthy effort that SCE and Atlus can be proud of.

-Heath Hindman

Score Breakdown
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Very Good
Story Bad
Graphics Very Good
Sound/Music Average
Replay Value Below Average
The Verdict: 6