Tales of Hearts

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Tales of Hearts
Tales of Hearts R Vita cover
Cover for Tales of Hearts R, featuring official key art of the game's protagonists
Developer(s) Namco Tales Studio (DS)
Bandai Namco Studios, 7th Chord (PSV)
Publisher(s) Namco Bandai
Bandai Namco Games (PSV)
Director(s) Kazuhisa Oomi (DS)
Hironori Naoi (PSV)
Producer(s) Hideo Baba (DS)
Takashi Yoto, Mika Murakita, Ryuuji Oodate (PSV)
Artist(s) Mutsumi Inomata
Writer(s) Naoki Yamamoto[1]
Keishi Maeda (Hearts R)
Composer(s) Motoi Sakuraba
Hiroshi Tamura
Shinji Tamura
Series Tales
Platform(s) Nintendo DS, PlayStation Vita, iOS
Release date(s) Nintendo DS
  • JP December 18, 2008
PlayStation Vita
  • JP March 7, 2013
iOS
Genre(s) Role-playing video game
Mode(s) Single-player

Tales of Hearts (テイルズオブハーツ Teiruzu Obu Hātsu?) is a Japanese role-playing game released for the Nintendo DS in Japan and the PlayStation Vita worldwide. It is the eleventh main entry in the Tales series, developed by Namco Tales Studio and published by Bandai Namco Games. Two versions of the game were originally released in Japan: the "Anime Edition", featuring cutscenes by Production I.G., and the "CG Movie Edition", featuring CGI cutscenes created by Shirogumi Ltd. A remake of the game, Tales of Hearts R (ハーツ アール Hātsu Āru?), was released on the Vita in March 2013, and later released in western regions in November 2014. Hearts R was also ported to the iOS and released in Japan in October 2013. Hearts R was co-developed by Bandai Namco Studios and 7th Cloud.

The game follows main protagonist Kor Meteor after he discovers a woman named Kohaku Hearts and her brother Hisui near his home town. When Kohaku is attacked by a mysterious antagonist named Incarose and infected with a monster called a Zerom, Kor attempts to cure her using his soma, an ancient weapon designed to fight Zerom. In the process, he ends up shattering Kohaku's Spiria Core, the essence of her heart and emotions, and scattering the pieces across the world. Together with Hisui, Kor sets off with Kohaku on a quest to restore her Spiria. The game's central theme is Kokoro to deau RPG (心と出会うRPG?, lit. "A Meeting Between Hearts RPG"). For Hearts R, extra story scenes were created and the genre name was altered to Aratana kokoro to deau RPG (新たな心と出会うRPG?, lit. "A Meeting Between New Hearts RPG").

Hearts began production in the winter of 2006, during the final development stages of the PlayStation 2 remake of Tales of Destiny. It was produced by Hideo Baba, former brand manager for the series. Though the third title on the DS, it was the first portable title to be developed by Namco Tales. The remake was mostly handled by different development staff, but the writer and character designer both returned to add new content. Both versions of the game have received strong sales and highly positive reviews in Japan, with the DS version selling 696,924 units within a month of its release.

Gameplay[edit]

Tales of Hearts is, as is the case with most titles in the Tales series, an action role-playing game. The game is split into two main areas: the field map and battlefield arenas triggered upon encountering an enemy. The battle arenas are fully rendered and played out in 2D.[5] Characters are rendered outside pre-rendered cutscenes as 2D character sprites against 3D backgrounds.[6][7] For the original version, the top screen shows the main visuals, while the bottom screen shows the navigation map and other functions. Battles are triggered by running into enemy sprites rather than appearing as random encounters. As with previous titles, Skits, extra conversations between characters, are available for the player to trigger.[8][9] The battle system is called the Combination Aerial Linear Motion Battle System. The "Combination" element is a special gauge that fills up and can be used to perform special attacks with party members not assigned in battle. A secondary "Emotion" gauge is also present, determining how many moves a character can perform: the gauge fills while the character is blocking, and is depleted by performing actions. The lower the gauge is, the lower a character's defenses are.[5][9] Characters can employ special attacks called "Combination Blasters," Hearts' take on the series staple Hi-Ougis.

Screenshot of a battle from Hearts R.

For the Vita remake, the gameplay takes place in 3D environments with fully rendered character models.[6] Hearts R uses a redesigned battle system titled the Aerial Chase Linear Motion Battle System (called "Arc Chase" in the Japanese version): the "chase link" mechanic enables a character to follow an enemy after knocking it into the air and continue a combo attack. By selecting an ally, the player character can perform a Chase Cross attack, while holding down the attack button activates a finishing move.[10][11][12] Multiple items found in chests scattered across the land can be used in battle (such as curative items) and for obstacles and objects in the field areas. Multiple elements from the series, including cooking healing recipes, are included. Random encounters with enemies on the field are also present.[13] Characters level up using Soma Build Points (SBP), with the "soma" being a character's signature weapon: the soma evolve, granting new abilities. SBPs are assigned to assigned character values called Spir Parameters, which strengthen different character stats. Mystic Artes from the original game are carried over, along with new ones.[14] Also added are Union Artes, special attacks unique to a particular character pairing.[15] Characters can be assigned special accessories called "Combo Commands": activated by a specific set of button presses, the accessory grants a character full access to all their Artes.[16]

Plot[edit]

Story[edit]

Zerom, monsters that eat individuals 'Spiria' (or 'hearts'), have spread around the world. Therefore weapons called 'Somas', were created in order to banish all Zerom. People who possess Somas manage to enter someone's Spir-Maze or Heart Maze. Amber Hearts, who happens to be the vessel for Richea Spodune, was in search of a Soma together with her brother, Jadeite Hearts. Along the way an enemy, Incarose assaults them, but they manage to escape to the sea. They are brought into a little village of Seeble, where they meet the protagonist, Kor Meteor. There Kor took care of both of them and introduced them to the Soma they are looking for.

During that time, Incarose makes an appearance once more; this time she manages to attack Amber and Kor's grandfather, Zeks. Since Kor has a Soma he intends to go within Amber's Spir Maze in order to cure her. But, the plan does not go well and Amber's Spiria ends up shattered into pieces and placed everywhere around the world. From there Kor's adventure of recovering Amber's Spiria shards begins. During that time Kor befriends several others and together has to overcome many obstacles and antagonists who are also looking for Spiria. During his travels, Kor discovers more and more about the world, Richea, Spiria, Zerom, etc.

Eventually, it is revealed that Creed Graphite, the ruler of Quartzia, was hidden away within Kor and is eventually drawn out by Incarose. The ancient defense system, Gardenia, is revived, though Creed is shocked at its nature. With the aid of Calcedony and his Spiria, Kor and the party are able to infiltrate Gardenia and defeat Creed, but through sacrifice. As a result, Gardenia is destroyed, and Creed and Flora are killed in the process.

Characters[edit]

Kor Meteor (シング・メテオライト Shingu Meteoraito?, Shing Meteoryte)
A boy with a strong curiosity for the world, Kor lives with his grandfather Zeks in the town of Seeble. Because of his curiosity and personal inexperience, he lacks delicacy in his speech and conduct. He notices his mistakes, and is able to properly reflect upon them. He was given the Soma "Asteria" by his grandfather, passed down by their ancestors. After an attack by the sorceress Incarose, pieces of Kohaku's Spiria scatter across the world, removing her emotions, and his grandfather is killed, causing Kor to join Hisui and Kohaku in an effort to save her. His first name in Japanese is based on the Japanese words "shin" (?) and "gu" (?), which was intended to mean that he "is armed with a heart."[1] Kor is voiced by Tetsuya Kakihara.[17]
Kohaku Hearts (コハク・ハーツ Kohaku Hātsu?)
A girl setting off from her home town for a certain reason, she comes to Seeble in need of Soma. Kor found her collapsed on the beach. She is the owner of the Soma Elrond, Kor's memento of his deceased mother. She is the daughter of Iola. As the story progresses, she eventually develops feelings for Kor. Kohaku's first name is the Japanese word for "amber".[18] Kohaku is voiced by Marina Inoue.[17]
Hisui Hearts (ヒスイ・ハーツ Hisui Hātsu?)
Kohaku's older brother. Because he lost a relative when he was young, he has a strong sense to excessively try to protect his younger sister. He has a rough outward appearance and attempt to act suave and collected, but inside he has a stubborn heart and is rather hot-headed. Hisui's first name is the Japanese word for "jade".[18] Hisui is voiced by Masaya Matsukaze.[17]
Ines Lorenz (イネス・ローレンツ Inesu Rōrentsu?)
A woman outside the norm with superhuman strength and a glamorous body. She is the manager of the transport shop "Every Day is a Peaceful Day" and is the sole employee of it as well. She gently smiles, though with no breaks in her speech and conduct. Her surname is based on the mineral lorenzenite.[18] Ines is voiced by Shizuka Itō.[17]
Beryl Benito (ベリル・ベニト Beriru Benito?)
A complex girl with a childish face and a short height, that basically ran away from her hometown in order to become the court painter. She has no aims and is indecisive, making her an uncooperative child. Her name is directly drawn from both the eponymous gemstone and the mineral benitoite.[18] Beryl is voiced by Saeko Chiba.[17]
Kunzite (クンツァイト Kuntsaito?)
A machine with a heart, he is a mechanical guardian knight that was operating more than 2000 years ago. Created to protect Lithia, he has a heartless-looking face and doesn't choose any means to reach that goal. He attacks Kor when they meet for the first time, since he thought he was a threat to Kohaku (Richea's vessel). His name is one of the names for spodumene.[18] Kunzite is voiced by Hozumi Gōda.[17]
Galando Grinus (ガラド・グリナス Garado Gurinasu?)
A veteran Soma master who joins Kor's group in the hope of destroying the Zerom. He became a master after his wife and daughter were killed by Zerom.[19] Inicially cold and distant, he begins to show a lighter side while travelling with the group.[20] Galando was created as a mature leader figure for the cast, and was based on a picture of Hearts R producer Takashi Yoto.[21] He was designed for Hearts R by Inomata and is voiced by Hideo Ishikawa.[20][17]
Calcedony Arcome (カルセドニー・アーカム Karusedonii Aakamu?)
The leader of the Crystal Knights and follower of the Baraya faith, Calcedony has been a skilled swordsman from childhood, and is initially antagonistic towards the protagonists. Originally an NPC in Hearts, he was included as a playable character during the second half of Hearts R. The reason was to expand the character interactions and stories.[6][21] Calcedony is voiced by Hiroshi Kamiya.[17]

Development[edit]

Original "Anime Edition" cover.

Hearts began development in the winter of 2006, while the PlayStation 2 remake of Destiny was being performed, though active development did not begin until spring the following year. The production was headed by Hideo Baba, producing his first original Tales game, and the development team was made up of members from both "Team Symphonia" (the team behind 3D entries in the series) and "Team Destiny" (responsible for 2D titles). Multiple elements were borrowed from the Destiny remake for use in Hearts.[22] The earliest concept form of the game was as a DS remake of Destiny.[23] The game's characteristic genre name was Kokoro to deau RPG (心と出会うRPG?, lit. "A Meeting Between Hearts RPG"), which represented the core theme of people's hearts meeting and uniting to overcome difficulties in their lives. The characters were designed by regular Tales series designer Mutsumi Inomata.[24] The characters' names were inspired by various ores and gemstones.[18] Despite being the third Tales title on the Nintendo DS after Tales of the Tempest and Tales of Innocence, it was the first to be produced by Namco Tales Studio, and thus it was an unusual experience for the development team.[22] Production I.G. created the anime cutscenes, while the CGI cutscenes were created by Shirogumi Ltd.[24] The CGI cutscenes were worked on by a three-person team, including company director Manabu Koike: the three worked closely with the development team to make sure the cutscenes fitted properly into the game, and that they did justice to Inomata's character designs despite the different animation style. One issue they had was with lip-synching dialog to the CGI character models.[25] Hearts released as two separate game editions: the "Anime Edition", featuring the cutscenes by Production I.G., and "CG Movie Edition", using the Shirogumi cutscenes.[26] The main reason behind the creation of CGI cutscenes was that the team wanted to try something new, attempting to sell two versions of the games. After release, it was determined that the CGI cutscenes were less popular with fans.[27]

Hearts R[edit]

Speculation about the existence of Hearts R started back in early 2012. The game was first teased during the credits of Innocence R, with both a post-credits message saying "To be continued to next Re-imagination", and artwork in certain dungeons featuring scenes and characters from both Hearts and Tempest.[28][29][30] This caused speculation as to whether the next remake was Tempest, Hearts or both.[29] Hearts R was officially announced in Weekly Shōnen Jump in October 2012.[31] The game was a full remake of Hearts, featuring full voice acting for the main scenario, new playable characters, 3D graphics and over ten new anime cutscenes created by Production I.G. It was also given an altered genre name: Aratana kokoro to deau RPG (新たな心と出会うRPG?, lit. "A Meeting Between New Hearts RPG").[31][32] Hearts R was co-developed by in-house development studio Bandai Namco Studios and Japan-based developer 7th Chord.[21][33] The staff of the game also had differences: Hironori Naoi replaced Kazuhisa Oomi as director, while Yoto, Mika Murakita and Ryuuji Oodate produced the game in place of Baba.[10][21] Inomata returned as character designer.[34] The concept behind Hearts R was to leave the base story and theme intact while building on an improving it, using the development of Innocence R as a template. Naoki Yamanoto, the scenario writer for Hearts, returned to co-write the extra story content with Keishi Maeda. For the rebuilt battle system, the team were asked by Baba to create a sense of speed when compared with the original.[21] Hearts R was also ported to and released on iOS mobile devices in October 2013.[4] The localization of the title was originally unplanned, but during heavy promotion of the Tales series in Europe and North America alongside the release of Innocence R and Hearts R, there were multiple requests from western fans to bring the titles west: as Hearts R was the most recent title, it was chosen for localization.[35] The localization was officially announced in April 2014.[34] Unlike previous localizations, the game remained with Japanese voice acting, but with subtitles in multiple languages including English: the decision for this was influenced both by limited space on the Vita cartridge and fan requests for the original Japanese voice track.[36]

Audio[edit]

Heart's soundtrack was composed by veteran Tales composer Motoi Sakuraba, Hiroshi Tamura and Shinji Tamura (as Hibiki Aoyama).[37] The game's theme song, "Eien no Ashita" (永遠の明日?, "Eternal Tomorrow"), was written and performed by Japanese rock band Deen, who had previously performed the theme song for the original version of Destiny.[26] The official soundtrack, Tales of Hearts Original Soundtrack, was released on two compact discs on December 10, 2008.[37] In addition to the original soundtrack, a special disc of selected arranged tracks titled Tales of Hearts CG Movie Edition Visual & Original Soundtrack DVD was released alongside the "CG Movie Edition" of the game.[38]

Tracklist

Adaptations[edit]

Five audio dramas based on Hearts were produced after the release of the official soundtrack. Released under the general name of Tales of Hearts Drama CD (テイルズ オブ ハーツ ドラマCD Vol.4 Teiruzu obu hātsu dorama CD?), the five volumes were released between September 2009 and January 2010.[39][40] Hearts R was adapted into a manga of the same name, eventually collected into a single edition and released on June 25 June, 2013.[41]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 93.00% (DS)[42]
- (Vita)
Metacritic - (DS)
- (Vita)[43]
Review scores
Publication Score
Famitsu 33/40 (DS)[44]
34/40 (Vita)[45]
RPG Fan 93%[46]

Nintendo DS[edit]

Hearts reached fourth place in Famitsu's sales charts in its week of release, selling an estimated 140,000 units per week and eventually selling 696,924 copies by the beginning of 2009.[47] Famitsu gave the game 33/40 points from four reviewers. They praised the battles as being "plain fun", there being "a ton of volume to the story" and both the anime and CG cutscenes. Their main criticism was that there was little difference between the two versions besides the cutscenes.[44] Andrew Barker of RPGFan, reviewing an imported version of the "anime edition" of Hearts, was highly positive: he praised the story for straying from the normal course of a Tales narrative, called the graphics "outstanding", the music "excellent", and was generally positive about the battle system and graphic presentation. As part of the review, it was awarding the site's "Editor's Choice" award.[46] Speaking to Siliconera after the game's release, Baba said that it was the Tales game he most wanted western players to try out, due to its story and technical achievements.[48]

PlayStation Vita[edit]

Hearts R also did well commercially in Japan, selling 55,258 copies in its first week, outselling previous Vita Tales title Innocence R.[49] The title evenutally sold 70,066 units by the end of 2013.[50] Famitsu ranked Hearts R a little higher than the original, giving it 34/40: they cited the battles as being "more exciting" than in Hearts, and generally praised the additions to the story. They also praised the graphical overhaul, calling it "a true Tales at the core."[45] Dengeki PlayStation also praised the game, with the four reviewers giving it scores of 80, 85, 90 and 93. Praise went to the fully-voiced main scenario, the new playable characters and aspects of the battle system. The main criticisms were "flat" graphics and other elements of the battle system such as the lack of character support and companion AI.[51]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]