Tales of Hearts R is a remake of a game that never left Japan. The remake looks pretty good on the Vita, while I’m not too fond of modern 3D games with fixed camera angles, it’s easy to let it kind of slide by when it’s a remake of a DS game. I will say that they probably could have put a bit more effort on animating Kor’s walking/running animation. It’s one of those situations where it’s fine for the 2D sprite in the DS version of the game, but for a 3D game that came out in 2013 (especially with the graphical capability of the Vita), it looks really odd. It probably would be fine for a PS2 game, but at this point it’s more of a nitpick.
For the gameplay, it’s your typical Tales fare, so it’s pretty good so far. I do like how you have a lot of customization options for how you want to level up your characters. You can choose which parameters to level up your characters to learn different skills. Personally I stick to focusing on stats that work more towards the type of skills the characters start off with, like for a healer I’ll focus on his support or casting skills, and a combat character will focus on combat skills. A minor gripe with the battle system, is that the battle area is 3D, so you can run around with the control stick, but if you want to use the different skills, they make you use the D-Pad to use the skills and to walk around in 2D fashion. It’s just really odd that this is a thing.
For the story and characters, I have some mixed feelings. While the general gist of the story seems fine, it seems like the minor in-between actions aren’t that great. It also feels a bit more camp compared to other Tales games, which is kind of saying something. The biggest gripe I have is with the actual characters. Usually in some games, there’s maybe one or two unbearable characters, this game feels like the complete opposite, where there’s maybe one or two characters that aren’t obnoxious.
Kor is a bit too happy go lucky and too dense, and fucking Hisui is a bitchy overbearing, overprotective character over his sister Kohaku almost to the point like he’s a Sis-con. Gall is an attempt at a “cool” and wise character, but at the same time they want him to be a comical character, and the way it’s executed doesn’t seem to flow very well. Then there’s Beryl who comes off like the young spunky girl that’s prevalent in Final Fantasy games, but she seems really whiney. Also the comedy they try to throw in seems really forced, and not really funny. Also their smartass remarks they give each other at the end of battle get annoying after awhile, and even more annoying when you can’t really skip it.
One thing that you’ll see brought up a lot with the game is that it only has the Japanese voice, as opposed to other Tales games where there’s either only English voices or ones where you have the option between the two. While it might be a deal-breaker for some, personally I don’t have a problem with the general concept of it. Also a lot of Tales fans are also big anime fans and there’s a vocal minority who piss and moan about the inclusion of dubbed voices.
While I do think some of the voices are either annoying or don’t match, I do have a problem with the actual localization. The game comes off like they localized it for a dub, but the dub got canceled, and they left the script in. It’s really silly that they changed the names of some characters, but kept the original voices, so you’ll see the text saying “oh hey Kor” but in Japanese they’re saying “oh hey Shing”. It’s one of those “why bother?” situations.
Another feeling that it comes off like a canceled dub, is that the text and what they’re saying doesn’t match up sometimes, especially with subtitles for battle. The text and dialog for the most part match up, they did focus on the aspect of the game that matters the most. Though for the more “random” comments, they’re kind of silly in regards to localization. There’ll be times where the spoken dialog is really short like “I won!”, but the dialog is significantly longer like “I feel the power flowing through my veins”. Some people probably wouldn’t care, but as someone that knows Japanese, it does sound obnoxious after awhile.
For the most part, it’s a decent game, while the story and characters are kind of meh, the exploration and gameplay is at least enjoyable. So this game isn’t going to be much of a struggle.