I recently completed my first Tales game for a portable gaming device: Tales of Hearts. It was actually a decent Tales game. I was impressed with the content, but it wasn’t the best Tales game ever to exist. Symphonia, Abyss and Vesperia still hold much higher spots, but this is much better than Graces or Xillia IMHO. Here is my meager review (spoilers included!), broken down into categories:
The story starts out with the main protagonist. You start out in the woods behind your podunk lil hovel of a town, practicing fighting skills with your awesome grandfather. Suddenly, you come across the heroine of the story and your adventure starts. Unfortunately, while trying to protect said heroine, your grandfather receives a fatal blow and dies… and the heroine’s “spiria” is shattered into many pieces. They use the term “spiria” for “heart” or “spirit” because it is replaced in many instances that we would commonly use the word “heart” for (i.e- “That touches my spiria”). You make a vow to help piece together the heroine’s shattered spiria because you feel like it was your fault. Oh yeah, and the heroine’s gangsta brother tags along, giving you constant badgering and grief along the way.
They use their spiria to call upon special weapons called Soma, which are upgraded along the way as you progress. Unlike most Tales games, you don’t actually buy any weapons.
The hero of the story is
Shing Meteorite Kor Meteor. *cough* That’s where the localization utterly failed. I read on the wiki that they chose “Kor” because it means “heart” in Latin, and the kanji that they use for “Shing” means “heart” and something else that I can’t recall at this time. It bothered me because they didn’t dub the track and you’d always hear them say “Shing” rather than “Kor”, which can kinda confuse you if you’re trying to listen to the voices. It honestly makes no sense to bother altering their names IMHO. They should just leave them alone. At least they didn’t keep the localization from the Graces cameo for Kohaku and Hisui. Shing’s soma is a 1-handed sword, typical of most main Tales games protagonists.
Kohaku Hearts appears to be rather frail and girly, but turns out to be rather rough and tomboyish. She has a great fear of heights which is explained further in the game. Kohaku’s name was literally translated for her Graces cameo to the English meaning of her name: “Amber”. Her brother, Hisui Hearts, was translated to “Jadeite” (but it actually means “Jade”, however there was already a character from Tales of the Abyss with that name). Kohaku’s spiria was shattered through the choice of her own to protect the girl with emerald hair that has resided inside her spiria since she was born. Hisui is the typical brash (think: gangster) and over-protective older brother with a huge sister complex. He loooooves his little sister a bit too much, which leads to some pretty funny moments. Kohaku’s soma is a baton (which is new and interesting!) and Hisui’s is a crossbow.
Next you come across Gall (Gallado in Japanese) Gruner. He pretty much remains a mystery even after you beat the game. They didn’t even bother fleshing out his story, which is rather disappointing. After you beat the game, you can work on an optional sidequest to figure his history out some more. He just pops up in the Twilight Forest and ends up joining, which was really weird. He’s actually quite old for a Tales character at 45. I guess it’s reassuring that I haven’t surpassed all Tales characters yet in age. 😛 His dual-wields his soma: an axe and a sword.
Then you come across Ines Lorenzen… eh, no not really… you actually see her before Gall, but she doesn’t join until after Gall does. She’s the busty character of this game. There’s always a busty character in Tales games. SPOILER: she turns out to also be this game’s traitor. Her soma is a huge two-handed paddle? Sword? Hard to explain because it’s not like it has a hilt to be a broadsword. Some of her weapons almost resemble a surf board!
Next you come across the annoying midget of the story: Beryl Benito. She’s actually not too bad, but can get rather whiny. She ends up possessing one of Kohaku’s shattered spiria shards, and after they retrieve it out of her, she joins their party. She’s the caster of the story and her soma looks like a gigantic paint brush (rather cute and never used before!). Her outfit and soma are my most favorite of all in this game.
Along your journeys, you come across an android by the name of Kunzite. He once served as Lithia’s manservant and his only purpose is to make sure he protects her. He was inactive for a very long time, but Kohaku mumbles something that reactivates him without realizing it. These androids were given an artificial spiria and display human-like emotions at times. Many funny moments ensue due to his nativity on many factors! ^^;
Chalcedony Ackerman is the final character to join your party. You actually meet him shortly after Gall joins your party in the Twilight Forest, but he doesn’t join until muuuuuch later in the game. He’s actually viewed as one of your enemies for most of the story, but later joins. His personality is similar to Shing’s, just much more irritating and full of that righteous BS. His soma allows him to fly around with brightly colored wings and wields a 1-handed longsword.
Honestly, this is one of the easiest Tales games I’ve played. The only time I honestly struggled was with the final form of Creed, who is the last boss in Hearts. I’m honestly not the best at guarding so I didn’t take full advantage of the counter aspect in this game. I rarely died playing this game. I did start out on Easy expecting difficulty, but changed it to normal shortly after. I will possibly tackle it in hard for new game+… but later. 😛 I’m kinda Hearted-out.
It didn’t leave an awesome impression on me, but it also didn’t disappoint. Not really sure what to say about the music other than it was your typical Tales music, I guess. Maybe because it was all coming from a portable device rather than through large speakers/surround sound. It didn’t smack me like “OH THIS IS SO NICE” like Vesperia’s track did.
I do highly recommend picking up this game if you are looking for a good PS Vita RPG. Since it’s portable, you can play it just about anywhere. It has a solid story with decent characters. I will eventually play New Game+ again in the future, but for now I’m gonna take a rest from the game. I actually haven’t fully beaten it yet. I’m at the last part of the optional dungeon where I get all of their demon weapons. I’m at the save point before the 4 last weapons. Since I primarily played Shing the entire game, it’s kinda hard for me to gather the weapons since you solo against a shadow version of the same character (i.e- Kohaku vs. Kohaku). They use all of the same skills and the best way to defeat them is just to cheese the system and chain certain moves over and over again against the edge. At least that’s how I’ve managed. 😛 I’m not the greatest player at these games, but I manage.