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Tales Of Hearts R – Review

Tales-Of-Hearts-R-Cover-Image-01The “Tales Of” series of video games have been around for quite some time. Like “Dragon Quest” and “Final Fantasy”, every once in a while we’re graced with just another fantastic title to add to the already extensive list of “Tales Of” video games. Each time, the games come packed with more than the last and works to excite long time fans of the series and recruit some rookies who’ll soon find themselves masters of the “Tales”. The latest release of the franchise is a remake of a Nintendo DS game titled “Tales Of Hearts R”. Developed and published by the wonderful Bandai Namco Games, “Tales Of Hearts R” hits the PlayStation Vita with full force. Thanks to Bandai Namco Games, us here at SnapThirty have been given the chance to review this new game. I’m going to try and figure out just why it is that this particular “Tales Of” title deserves to land itself a remake. Follow me on our very own tale as we hack, slash and level our way through “Tales Of Hearts R”.

“Tales of Hearts R” has a play style that is quite reminiscent of many of the other “Tales Of” titles which makes a great deal of sense to me because I believe you shouldn’t try to fix what isn’t broken. That doesn’t mean the game doesn’t have an air of individuality though. There are a whole bunch of tweaks and upgrades to gameplay that makes “Tales Of Hearts R” seem like more of a contemporary title than its predecessors. This kind of goes without saying though. When a franchise has been going on for this long, it is expected that gameplay sticks to what the developers know but features something new with every iteration. This is pretty standard and it works well to keep a franchise going strong. “Tales Of Hearts R” features a perfect fusion gameplay style of RPG and Hack ‘n’ Slash that works to keep players engaged long into the lengthy story. There’s a very interesting but easy to use leveling system as well as a simple battle customisation option that allows gamers to play the way it suits them. JRPGs can be long and grueling. Sometimes they even lose their appeal part way through a story and I can’t say I felt this way with “Tales Of Hearts R”. I’m confident that it is the way you play the game that keeps you interested for longer periods and “Tales Of Hearts R” has it down pat.

Kor Meteor is a young man living in a small village by the sea who trains with his grandfather in the ways of the sword. Impressed by Kor’s growing skill, his grandfather bequeaths to him an unusual weapon known as a Soma. Kor meets a young woman, Kohaku Hearts who is looking for a Soma weapon along with her brother Hisui. During their search, a mysterious witch appears and casts a spell on Kohaku’s Spiria, the embodiment of her heart and soul. Kor attempts to lift the spell by connecting to her Spiria but accidentally shatters her Spiria Core, the source of all her emotions. Kor, armed only with the Soma given to him by his grandfather, must now set out on a journey to find a way to make Kohaku’s Spiria whole once more. – Bandai Namco Games

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The other huge element to longevity of enjoyment in a video game is that of the story. Now “Tales Of Hearts R” tells a fairly basic one but tells it very well. There’s nothing wrong with sticking to classic storylines, the problem lies within a game that cannot do one justice. This is not the case for “Hearts R”, which is what I’ll be calling from this point on. As you can probably tell from the story explanation just above, “Hearts R” tells a simple tale about a young man out to bring honour to the death of his grandfather by returning this young girl to her former emotional state. Along the way, the small team begins to grow when they come into contact with others each having their own reasons for wanting to travel with the crew.

As usually with any story of this kind, the main antagonists get clearer and clearer the more the story develops. What I felt made the “Hearts R” story very good is that it just had a nice pacing. As soon as you were getting bored of your party, they’d introduce you to a new character and a new enemy to go up against, all the while leading into something much greater. As a fan of comedy, I also very much enjoyed the level of humour present throughout the game. Despite the fact that it was all delivered in Japanese, since it was released with it’s original dub, it still somehow came across perfectly which is something that’s not always present in these types of games. All the characters were likable and had just the right level of quirk to stay that way throughout playthrough. Not once did I come into contact with a character I hated and even if I had have done so, the ones you’re meant to hate don’t stick around for too long.

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With every character, as usual, comes their very own voice actor, all of which performed brilliantly. With no option to switch to an English dub, those of you who can’t stand the Japanese language should very much stay away from this game, but let’s be honest, if you’re reading this review there’s a great chance you’re a fan of Japanese gaming. I’ve never come across a Japanese dub that wasn’t done to the highest standard and “Hearts R” doesn’t prove any different. Each and every character is represented wonderfully by their voice artists and they do exactly what their job asks of them; it brings a character to life.

“Hearts R”, to back up the voices, also features a pretty fitting soundtrack which is made up of a lot of songs that you’d usually hear in semi-high fantasy titles such as these. THere are a whole bunch of ethereal sounds that you’ll be hearing while playing but, to break the monotony, there are also a great deal of more contemporary tracks made up of, let’s say, “electric” sounds. Much like the story, the soundtrack evolves wonderfully. You barely even notice the transition from track to track, that’s how smooth it is BUT there are times when the music isn’t as well-placed as you’d have hoped. Some tracks bleed into scenes that don’t exactly match up and it unfortunately takes you right out of it.

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“Hearts R” plays host to quite a fickle visual quality. During some points of the game it feels as though I’m looking at another perfect PlayStation Vita title. This mostly comes about during battles where there’s so much going on and it all just looks so great. There are also some parts of the game wherein which I start to believe I’m playing it on a much older console. THIS mostly comes about during the non-Anime cutscenes. What I noticed is that the characters aren’t animated to move as smooth as I’d have thought they would be.

Instead, movements are sharp and clunky. I hate to say it but it’s things like this that really take you out of a moment. You’re supposed to happy when the hero jumps in the line of fire to save the damsel in distress but that’s not really what comes to mind when what you’re given is something that just doesn’t look as good as it should.Thankfully, character models are actually quite well-designed. They’re pretty good looking and it’s only when they’re up close that you can see their flaws. This is something that, for those of you who are forgiving, can be easily overlooked.

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“Tales Of Hearts R” as cemented itself as just another reason for video game lovers to buy a PlayStation Vita. It brings the aura of the “Tales Of” series to a highly underrated handheld console and blows competition out of the water. Yes, there are a few things that let the game down but in comparison to the things that lift the game to greater heights, they’re so insignificant.

Unfortunately, I’m a critic and I have to detail both the good and the bad but I can imagine many people out there will look past what the game lacks and onto what it does fantastically. “Tales Of Hearts R” reminds me of a time in my life when I first started getting into JRPGs and it feels great. It understands exactly what fans of the genre have come to love and it puts enough of a flair on it that it doesn’t seem stale at all. 7th Cord and Bandai Namco Studios know exactly what they’re doing and they’ve just proven it to us once again.

Take the journey! Head to the official Bandai Namco Games site to see just where it is you can purchase this game: Click Here.

Grade: B+

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