E3 – Tales of Hearts R Hands-On Preview

Regardless of the entry, the Tales of series typically features an impressive anime-esque style, resulting in an interesting, flashy, and very Japanese adventure. My time with Tales of Hearts R, however, was not very interesting. Unfortunately, this game really failed to make much of an impression on me. With the time I had, I managed to explore a desert area and encounter a large boss monster. I had taken it for granted and jumped on in to encounter what was actually the most boring boss battle I have ever fought.

The Tales of games usually have a combat system that allowed characters to move about the battle area slowly and break into a run wherever, but Tales of Hearts R on the Vita opts for a much more awkward control scheme as you switch from walking about with the control stick in combat (or running if you hold the shoulder button) and moving side to side with the d-pad. The back and forth switching comes across a lot more as awkward than intuitive when the combat itself is just repetitive and flat-out boring. It’s a shame because a lot could be done with it all, but it all feels like a squandered opportunity. Field battles then feel more like a chore than an exciting new encounter.

Oh, a mushroom creature. You don't see those in JRPGs.

Oh, a mushroom creature. You don’t ever see those in JRPGs.

As for the plot, the section I played didn’t really give a whole lot of information, aside from the fact that I recovered one character’s emotions after having defeated the creature. Other entries in the Tales of series seem to employ some elements to help set it apart from the rest, but Tales of Hearts R seems to try little to innovate, despite being a remake of an older DS title. When combat, one of the most important elements of the JRPG experience, feels so lackluster, it leaves a lot to be desired.

As a whole, my experience with Tales of Hearts R was a shallow one. There’s no telling quite yet how the entire package holds up, but I can’t say I’ll be looking forward to it myself. Still, you can check out the game for yourself when it releases sometime later this year on the PlayStation Vita.

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