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In the future, the interplanetary defence organization "Tilde" creates artificial humans called "Triggerhearts" to hold back the forces of the militant Ver'mith. Unfortunately, two sister Triggerhearts- Genki Girl Exelica and the Hot-Blooded Crueltear- fall through one of the Ver'mith's emergency escape wormholes, which leads straight to Present Day Earth. Cut off from everyone and everything they knew, the two Triggerhearts begin to lose hope and question their purpose for living... that is, until the day that a massive wormhole appears over Earth, signalling the start of a full-scale Ver'mith invasion led by none other than another Triggerheart: one that Crueltear recognises as Faintear.
Triggerheart Exelica is a shoot 'em up where the player controls either Triggerheart Exelica or Crueltear and can have them either shoot their enemies old-school-style, or use an ability called the "Anchor Shot" -- that is, firing a huge grappling hook at an enemy -- be it a small mook or a ship the size of a 747 -- and toss it around, deflecting bullets like a shield or hurling it right back at your enemy.
Also, the bosses use the VBAS (Variable Boss Attack System): how hard a boss is depends on how high a score you have, how many medals you collected, how many bombs/lives in stock, etc. Generally speaking, the more you have, the harder the boss gets.
Released in arcades in 2006, was the penultimate Sega Dreamcast game in 2007 (yes, really), and became part of Xbox Live Arcade in February 2008. An Updated Rerelease for the PlayStation 2 named Triggerheart Exelica -enhanced- has also been released, complete with a new selectable character (the original, non-evil Faintear) and a shiny new Anime Theme Song opening.
- All There in the Manual: The story, naturally. Though the PlayStation 2 version has a fully fledged "Story Mode" that adds a great deal of narrative to the game.
- Artificial Human: The Triggerhearts
- Attack Drone: Triggerheart's BFG are actually float on her side.
- Bonus Boss: Accumulating enough Medals on certain stages unlocks a confrontation with Faintear at the end of the level. Defeating her on certain stages is required to unlock the various Multiple Endings.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Faintear Imitate, thanks to the cloning process. Enhanced, however, reveal that she is actually good person and Ver'mith use control core to change her pesonality.
- Bullet Hell
- Cloning Blues: Faintear Imitate, an evil clone of the original Faintear controlled by the Ver'mith.
- Clone Degeneration: Faintear Imitate's personality is a corrupted version of the original Faintear's.
- Cool Ship: The C'rnadyne support ship, it only appears in Enhanced though.
- Cute Bruiser: The Triggerhearts.
- Dynamic Difficulty: The more medals and higher score you have, the harder the game gets, and the more boss forms you fight.
- Empathic Weapon: While they never talk, Triggerheart's Attack Drones have sentient AI, and Triggerheart (except Faintear Imitate) threat them as companions.
- Evil Twin: Faintear Imitate. You can play as the original in the PlayStation 2 version.
- Fan Service
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: Aversion. The Triggerhearts are varies by their speed. It's explain in plot that Exelica can adapt with peaceful life on Earth too well, so she rarely did the routine maintenance for her equipments. Crueltear, however, feel herself is without purpose on this peaceful planet and thus keep her equipments in as good condition as possible. So when Ver'mith attack Earth, Exelica's equipments are nowhere near their full potential. In Enhanced, Faintear was just recently escape from Ver'mith and despite lossing her original weapon units, has equipments in perfect condition. These reflect in gameplay, with Exelica being slowest, Faintear being fastest and Crueltear in the middle.
- Genki Girl: Exelica.
- Grappling Hook Pistol
- Grievous Harm with a Body: You can throw around enemies with the Anchor Shot.
- Heroic Sacrifice: In the normal ending, the Triggerheart you didn't play will sacrifice herself to save you from Faintear Imitate's grasp.
- Hot-Blooded: Crueltear
- Humanoid Alien: We never actually see people of Tilde, but since Triggerhearts and holographic of C'r_na, the ship's AI, appear as girl, it's pretty obvious.
- It's Up to You: The technology of Earth can't be compare to Ver'mith nor Tilde, so the Triggerhearts are only obtacles to Ver'mith's invasion.
- Kindhearted Cat Lover: Exelica has a cat on Earth called Omelette.
- Mechanical Lifeforms: The Ver'mith are race of war machines..
- Moe Anthropomorphism: The girls themselves show the influence of the Mecha Musume style, essentially anthropomorphizing the sorts of fighter ships you'd play in other shooters of this type.
- Multiple Endings: Based on the multiple bosses.
- Non-Identical Twins: Exelica and Crueltear are from the same production line, making them "blood sisters" in a way. Crueltear is the older one. Faintear is also from the same production line, and is the middle sister.
- Restraining Bolt: Faintear Imitate has one in the glowing Ver'mith core on her forehead, which ensures that she can't turn on her masters. Which she does the second that it gets removed. Though she had good reason to, considering how it got removed in the first place.
- School Swimsuit :Exelica's body suit is white school swimsuit.
- Smart Bomb: Your Triggerheart flies "up" to deliver the screen-clearing blast.
- Social Darwinist: The Ver'mith to an extent: they maintain a constant state of warfare because they believe that fighting will strengthen their evolution.
- You Have Failed Me...: The Ver'mith Core to Faintear Imitate after the Triggerhearts defeat her a third time. Unfortunately for it, all its attack manages to do is remove her Restraining Bolt.
- Karous being the final one.