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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: Bandai Namco
Developed By: 7th Cloud/Namco Tales Studios
Genre: JRPG
Players: 1
Rated: T for Teen (Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence)
Release Date: November 11, 2014
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Matthew Prunty

February 5, 2015 - The Tales Of series has been a long staple of JRPG greatness across a multitude of platforms over the years. With each release comes a heartfelt journey of love, redemption and heroics with an ultimate goal of saving the world. The latest release, Tales Of Hearts R, is actually an enhanced version of the popular title Tales Of Hearts which released on the Nintendo DS exclusively in Japan. With yet another JRPG release for the PlayStation Vita, one wonders how well this title stacks up against the completion, while also carrying on the tradition of the Tales Of series.

One thing you got to love about the Tales Of series is their very clichť protagonist character(s). In the case of Tales Of Hearts R we have Kor Meteor, an overenthusiastic adventurer eager to take on the world no matter what. Over the years Korís grandfather has been training him for that one day where is ready to set out on his own adventure. That day comes sooner than later when he bestows his Soma upon Kor, a mysterious tool designed to harness the inner abilities of the wielder in the form of a weapon. While is grandfather was away, Kor was practicing with his newly acquired soma when came across Kohaku Hearts and her brother Hisui near his home town. The brother sister duo comes under attack from a mysterious antagonist known as Incarose, who infects Kohakuís core [soul]. Korís grandfather comes to the rescue, keeping Incarose from delivering a fatal blow to Korís newbie friends, but at the cost of seriously being injured.

Kohaku is unconscious; brother Hisui is freaking out and Kor not knowing what to do next, his grandfather teaches him how to enter someoneís core in order to do battle with the infection [Xerom]. In hopes of saving Kohaku, Kor enters her spira core in hopes of ridding the evil presence and making her wake up. Upon ridding her core of the evil presence, Kor also shatters Kohakuís core into several pieces, which renders her emotionless and with little to say. In hopes of writing his wrongs, Kor sets out on his adventure to piece together Kohakuís core and find the person responsible for the untimely death of his grandfather.

Along the way, our trio [Kor, Kohaku & Hisui] comes across a multitude of characters, which on the surface seem rather bland and fill the typical stereotypes of JRPG titles. However, once you get to know them more and interact with them, you come to find that they all bring a unique perspective to the table and help keep the story and action interesting and entertaining. You often will bear witness to intellectual conversations between your comrades, which get you thinking about the deeper meaning behind the story and Korís journey. How this is able to come to life is in part thanks to the great voice acting and cleaver dialogue to help carry the story along. You eagerly await the thoughts and concerns of your comrades and you come across various obstacles you must overcome. Being true to the original DS release, all voice acting is delivered in the native Japanese language with the option for English subtitles should you choose to use them.

Playing second fiddle to the voice acting; but equally important is the combat system. The combat system will be familiar to those who have played Tales titles in the past, while also being easy to pick up for those new to the series. HP [Hit Points] TP [Attack Point] and TC (Technical Counter] are three meters you will need to keep track of. HP represents your life points; once this hits zero, you are down for the count until the character(s) are revived. TP is consumed as you perform various attacks outside or the normal ones. Rounding out the acronyms, TC represents the number of Artes you can string together into one awesome combo. While simple in execution, you can easily perform complex combos and attacks, devastating your enemies.

While all the action takes place in real-time, you do have the ability to strategize each battle tactical combat options. At any given time you can pause the action on the battlefield in order to switch out a comrade, change your battle formation, and utilize an item to boost HP and/or TP, or simply flee a battle which isnít going your way. You can also have your other comrades on the battlefield perform specific Artes, instead of relying on them to fight for themselves. The on-screen action is free-flowing and dynamic, while at the same time totally under the control of the player. While it looks like Tales Of Hearts R has everything going right for itself, the developer opted to include random encounters, which can be more of a pain than helpful. Donít get me wrong, these random encounters will allow you to learn the combat system and level up your characters; they can and will get in the way of a specific task you are trying to complete; resulting in delaying their completion.

Visually, Tales Of Hearts R is a solid piece of eye candy. While the game isnít pushing the Vita hardware to its limits, it still boasts a sharp and attractive presentation. The character models are solid and detailed with fluid animations; whether walking about the world or in the thick of battle. The static images used within the dialog segments sport an anime-style presentation. The characters are lively and display emotions that are befitted of the mood of the conversation. Then you have the cutscenes that are a mixture of in-game engine and styled animation segments. These segments help deliver some of the most compelling dialogue, while also setting up key moments within the game. While all of these are a plus, one downside to the visuals are the bland and un-inspiring backdrops that you explore.

Tales Of Hearts R is one of more enjoyable portable releases in the franchise in recent years. With the game being able to be completed within 30 hours, Tales Of Hearts R is one of the shorter experiences, though still enjoyable. Being a port of the Nintendo DS version, the game holds up quite well on the Vita and does take advantage of hardware, if not to the full extent. If you havenít picked up Tales Of Hearts R, itís an enjoyable experience that will keep you entertained for several hours.


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