Cristofer Hess On November 26, 2014 at 9:12 am

Tales of Hearts R LogoTales of Hearts R Combat03
Tales of Hearts R brings a traditional JRPG experience to the Playstation Vita with the story of a young hero and his companions facing a world-shaking crisis. Highlighted by an engaging leveling and battle system, the game is very much what you might expect from a Japanese style RPG. But is it something you’ll love? Depends on what you think of JRPGs.

Kor Meteor is a sheltered small town boy, living his sheltered small town life, when his world is turned upside-down by the arrival of Kohaku Hearts and her brother Hisui, who are attempting to escape a dangerous enemy. In trying to aid the young Kohaku, Kor unintentionally botches the whole thing, causing more harm than good to the girl, and in turn. endangering the rest of the world. Attempting to correct his mistake, and wishing to aid the girl he has quickly grown attached to, Kor begins his journey, with his motley party of artists, grizzled veterans, bumpkins, and shrewd businesswomen. He sets out to right his wrong, protect the girl, and prevent competing factions with their own agendas from reaching their dubious goals.

Tales of Hearts R is very much the definition of “JRPG”. If you read this and think “YAY!” you’ll probably enjoy the game. If the description “JRPG” fills you with loathing, you may want to pass. Young protagonists, check. Sweeping, epic, save-the-world story, check. Leveling, world maps, dungeons, treasure, upgrading equipment in town, party member swapping… Check, check, check, check, check. I can’t say that it’s very original. It sticks closely to the formula. But it does it quite well. It even goes a bit further with real-time action battles that can be managed quite complexly, with the ability to assign spells and attacks to specific button combinations, and even swipes and presses of the Vita touch screen. All of it is customizable to your own liking. You can control any party member you wish, or let them fight the battles on their own with the auto battle setting.

Each character’s actions can be scripted in the strategy menu. Set a character to heal when an ally’s hit points fall below 30%, attack the closest or farthest enemies, use a fire spell on the monster that’s weak to fire, etc. New conditions to use in scripts are sold in towns, and once you’ve collected a few sets, the commands you’re able to script are quite extensive, and are extremely useful.

Characters are awardred points when they level, and the player can choose what attributes to improve. Once you reach a number of points in any category, a new spell, attack, or even weapon will become available. You can go for a specific thing you feel might be useful to get as soon as possible, or practice patience to gain bonus boosts for characters that unlock when traits are increased evenly.

The graphics in Tales of Hearts R are hit or miss. This is a retooled version of a game that was released six years ago, and it shows. While not terrible in any way, the game is a bit of a throwback to handheld games of a few years ago, with environments that, while perfectly adequate, aren’t terribly detailed, especially by today’s standards. Character models are pretty cartoony and simple, but fit the game well.

A graphical choice that I found particularly jarring was the optional dialogue scenes that play out from time to time over the course of the story, prompted by the select button. Characters have conversations that are often comedic in nature, in very flat square panels on the screen, in a very simple art style with basic animation. And while these bits of story were often entertaining and informative, and really develop the characters, the art in them reminded me of a web browser flash game, or a cheap mobile app. I feel like the game would be improved dramatically if these scenes had just been better looking, as they take up a nice chunk of time spent in the game.

The audio is also a mixed bag. The music is nice, if not really too memorable. Battle sounds are appropriate, and everything sounds exciting when you fight. I did find that a certain sound annoyed me when walking around in towns. Walking on ordinary paths sounded to me more like someone knocking on a door, and that clomp-clomp-clomp was really repetitive and noticeable.

The voice acting in Tales of Hearts R is a highlight of the game. Japanese dialog is the only option in the game, but the actors do a wonderful job. Even if you don’t speak Japanese, the characters’ personalities come out very clearly through the voice acting. (The English localization is great. The story is full of jokes and humor that probably aren’t terribly accurately translated, but the characters are funny, and some of the conversations are memorably hilarious.)

The story is a little cliche, and the game typical in pace when compared to a lot of games. Again, this can be a positive or negative depending on your feelings toward JRPGs. I enjoyed the game, tending to play longer than I planned to in a lot of sessions, and I looked forward to playing next time. This is usually my personal indication that I really like a game. If I think of a game, and look forward to my next sit-down with it when I’m not playing, it must be pretty good. That happened with this game. So despite the dated graphics, and somewhat droopy feel of Tales of Heart R, I liked it. I had fun playing it, and really, that’s the whole point of a game. I am a lifelong fan of JRPGs, so others’ mileage may vary, but if you think this game is one you’d like, you probably will.

While certainly not ground-breaking, Tales of Hearts R is an entertaining classic style Japanese role playing game that fans of the genre will enjoy. With memorable characters, great comedic conversations, and a battle system that is interesting and fun, it’s a game worth playing.


Pretty traditional JRPG with a very customizable action battle system.


Dated graphics. Some cute characters, but mostly just adequate in general. More “nicely nostalgic” than “great”.


Pleasant music and sound design with just a couple of annoying effects. Wonderful voice acting makes the game very entertaining.


Enjoyable traditional JRPG with a fun battle system, and entertaining characters. Fans of the genre will enjoy it.

Comments are closed.