• Damn those Japanese’s gamers, always getting the best JPRGs just because of their geographical location. Tales of Hearts was released in 2008 for the DS over in Japan. Five years later R was released and now finally after six years of waiting we have Tales of Hearts R for the PS Vita. I’m very glad to have had the chance to review this as I love JPRGs and this series especially. Story wise this is very traditional in all sense of the word. We play as a sixteen year old called Kor Meteor (nice name). Now Kor is in training to become a Somatic, like his dear departed mother was before him.

    We open with gramps teaching Kor how to wield a sword, since Kor is pretty great at training he has been afforded the Soma, a very rare weapon only he can use. The following cut scenes set up the story very well. Kor has the ability to Spira Link with other humans and this gets him into their personalities and gives him abilities. Problem is he is new to this. Cut to a brother and sister being chased by a witch, the girl (Kohaku) is special. The siblings jump off a ledge into the water. Kohaku washed on in the shore in Kor’s village and soon after the witch comes to finish the job. Kor being a nice guy tries to help, gramps dies and it all goes belly up. Kohaku is hit with a spell that renders her an emotionless robot. Kor tries to Spira Link but it goes wrong and instead he shatters Kohaku’s spiria core all over the land (classic Kor). He then must set out on a mission to recovers the fragments and confront that damn witch.

    From the above you can deduce this is a very typical story arch and what follows is the traditional JRPG. For me this is not a bad thing as I love this style, for casual gamers or non RPG fans this will probably not be anything different from what they have played. The hub of this title is the various towns, these are safe zones where no combat takes place. You will find rest Inns, quests boards and other fun things. When you set out into the world you will instantly notice a difference, the enemies are not floating around but instead are invisible so you will have a lot of fights, all the time. The screen shatters and its time to fight.

    Instantly I am at home here with free flowing combat mechanics at my disposal. Watch those points however, because this is the counter measure put in to stop players having an unfair advantage and just attacking all the time. The targeting has been improved and using “R” you can swap targets at will. The left stick is used for movements and the d pad allows for quick dashes in any direction, especially important as a defensive measure. Attack is mapped to X, now using the d pad with X gives us new attack options. Kor can throw smaller, weaker enemies in the air with the up button and then attack with a stylish air combo. One of the most important tools in a RPG is to switch tactics on the fly, using triangle you can pause the battle and change tactics and formations.

    Now aside from the above, the combat gets a little complex the deeper you go into the game, however its always introduced with a nice tutorial and all is explained very well. These new battle mechanics are in the form of advanced tactics. Like programming code actually, if X or Y happens then X character does this. For example is health falls below 30% X character heals. This was easy to set up but the AI didn’t grasp what I wanted all the time and caused a few unnecessary deaths and restarts. Defense is also critical in a RPG and block is mapped to the square button which  saves a lot of HP.  This blocking is integral if you want to survive battles with ranged enemies and a lot of the boss fights. There are more aspects of the battle and the combat mechanics but if I went into aerial attacks, Mystic Artes and break attacks this review would turn into a manual.

    The PS Vita is the perfect port for this as the screen really pops, the colorful palette used and the far draw distance really lend themselves well. The character animations are smooth and the actual combat is very well done. I would have liked to seen more details in the textures and the environment itself but I guess there are size constraints. Sounds are excellent here, the Japanese’s voices are great for me but I know gamers that would rather more English was actually spoken instead of just written.

    Tales of Hearts R is a solid title, the art direction and visual package put together is good, not fantastic but good enough. The battle system starts off very simple but then ramps up the difficulty fast. There is a learning curve here but if you willing to learn the buttons and go through the very handy tutorials you will enjoy this title greatly. I have not been able to put it down as of yet and so far I have racked up a serious amount of hours. Fans of the series will love this and it is a must buy for them as well as JRPG fans. Casual gamers I would advise to look at trailers and do some reading because if a RPG is not your thing then this will really not scratch you the right way. Everyone else enjoy Tales of Hearts R.

    Tales of Hearts R - Review
    A great addition to the series, Tales of Hearts R is fun, pretty and has a lot of solid mechanics under the bonnet.
    Positives
    • Great design ideas, lots of cool characters and nice art direction.
    • Fans will really love this new addition.
    Negatives
    • No English voices make it slightly annoying over the course of a play-through.
    8.5Overall Score
    Reader Rating: (3 Votes)
    9.0

    About The Author

    UK Editor

    A gamer that loves to play games and write about them. Just living the dream.