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Tales of Hearts Review

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Tales of Hearts Review

Tales of Hearts, as you may have guessed from the title, focuses on hearts. It centres around a world of Spiria, a crystal produced from the power of will power and the mind and, one exists within every person. However, some Spiria is going wild and an unknown disease is spreading. One day, Kohaku's Spiria is shattered and its pieces are scattered around the world. Now Shin, who was partly responsible, must travel together with her brother Hisui to retrieve them and retore Kohaku to her former self and prevent an ancient evil from being released upon the world once again.

Tales of Hearts

Enemies are visible on the battle fields which is a good thing because there's no random battles. It seems the developers have decided to go back to the traditional 2D side scrolling battle system but compared to Phantasia, it feels very slow. You can have a maximum of three members in battle at once and you can give out quick attack commands using the Combination Panel on the touch screen which can be customised. This is good because as you can guess, the AI controlled party members aren't that smart even if you set their behaviours so, being able to issue them a heal command at anytime comes in very handy.

Dungeons are split into two - real world ones and Spiria Mazes. The latter is probably what distinguishes ToH from the common dungeon crawling because they are randomly generated maps each time you enter and you have a limited amount of "Link Points" to explore it. These points can be gained by defeating the enemies inside or finding restoration points but, lose them all and it's game over. This obviously adds to the excitement of the game and white for the most part they are part of the story, there are optional Spiria Mazes to explore too.

There is a fair bit of customisation which is done by collecting materials and upgrading the party's Soma weapons basically. This feels kind of pointless because of how linear the game is and the limited amount of material you're most likely to get. Certain materials can only be obtained once you progress to a certain point of the story. What is interesting is that the weapons evolve and there are three different paths to go with each time such as one that will grant you new battle skills or one that grants you more support skills.

If you've played enough RPGs, you'll know that it's pretty much essential to drop by an inn or find some other place to rest and ToH offers one more option which is a handy Healing Stone. With a limited amount of Health Energy, you can set conditions when it will automatically heal your party such as during battles if you have under eighty percent health. This definitely comes in very handy when transverse the bigger dungeons that have few save points and adds another degree to the number of customisation options in the game.

As with all "Tales of" titles, the game opens up with a beautiful animation and the song "Eien no Ashita (Eternal Tomorrow)" is performed by Deen this time. There are the odd extra animated cutscene as you play too and for some reason, Namco decided to release two versions - a 2D Anime style which fans are already used to and, a 3D rendered model version. While I haven't seen all the 3D versions of the cutscenes, I think it's safe to say the faces look a little odd in them. Frankly, the graphics artists are going to need some more experience in animating them.

Graphic environments look polished and have a cell shaded look to them. They remind me much of the last DS title Tales of Tempest except there is much more detail. It's most likely because the characters are not modelled in 3D this time. Even so, the characters sprites are still very well animated to the pixel with clear expressions of happiness, sadness, anger etc. But the walking animation isn't that smooth.

Sound effects have a very synthetic feeling to them which is usually the case with RPGs of this type so it isn't a bad thing and the tracks work well with the environments. As with other DS RPGs only the main dialogue is voice acted. Depending on who you have in the party, you have some funny conversations going on after victories.

As an RPG, Tales of Hearts fulfil all the requirements to join that class of games and is definitely a better experience than its DS predecessor but, I can't say there's anything impressive about it to keep me playing for the the 40 hours that it supposedly offers.

Time Played 20 Hours


  • Improved 3D presentation since last DS game.
  • Detailed sprites.
  • Lots of customisation.


  • Battles are slow paced.
  • Nothing exciting about the battle system.
  • Not exactly a compelling story about sealed evil again.

tales of hearts

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Hearts >>>>>>>>>> Vesperia



Xcomp Author

That's another thing that I didn't like about this game and other RPGs today where all you have to do is spam moves and level grind to win. Hardware is powerful enough these days to make battles more complex than that.

Anyway, I stand by what I've written about Tales of Hearts being an unimpressive game with a tired old battle system and cliche presentation.

You're welcome to leave your opinions on my reviews here but, if you continue to write deconstructive insults or rude comments then I will remove them.

Reviews are written based on personal opinion and people tend to stick to certain sites because they trust that opinion and the content it provides caters to their interests. If you don't like what I write, I suggest you go read another site for your gaming interests instead of venting here.



Ayub Hussein

Time of the games release is completely irrelevant. The fact remains, ToH runs faster than ToP (that was even the PSX version >.> PSP version, same thing). In ToP whenever a Mid or higher spell is casted the games pauses, zooms on the character that has used it then does the attack. You can't move during this. In ToH, when any spell is casted the battle just continues without delay. Battles are less tedious in Hearts just because of this. Grinding is easy as well. Just spam artes hoping that the enemy does not break out of the combo. Rinse and repeat. No worries about TP- it never runs out. ToPs grinding is much more annoying. First the actual battles are slow, then you also need to stock up on items and go back and forth when you run out. How can grinding be more streamlined in ToP?

"Just because the developers decided to name their in-game energy something else doesn’t necessarily mean it works differently."
But It DOES work differently. Enough so, to set it apart form MP/TP. TP/MP does not require to balance yourself. EG/CG does. Too low EG (green) you take low damage and deal low damage. Too much EG (red), you do a lot of damage but you takes a lot, too. You have to balance it out to tailor your current needs.

"There are good Tales of titles such as Vesperia but this isn’t one of them in my opinion."
Ok, I'll stop bagging on you then.

OT: I really didn't know that many fans of the first title stopped following the series because that guy left the team. Shame, because ToP is regarded as one of the worst in the series. DestinyRE, Graces, Abyss, Vesperia, Rebirth, Eternia, Symphonia, and Hearts all put Phantasia to shame.



Xcomp Author

You know both videos were recorded on emulators right? And in emulators, you can speed up the game and even if you don't, the frame limit doesn't do a good job of dropping the games to the original frame rate if you have a very fast computer and the emulator hasn't been coded to adjust to new hardware - Especially when emulating handhelds.

Play them both on the original console hardware. Taking into account respectively the technology and resources available at the time, Phantasia was a much smoother and quicker experience for me in terms of level grinding not just boss fights.

And you seem to be missing my point about features...

Yes, I have not come across any JRPGs that feature EG/CG but there are lots that have as I have mentioned, limit break or stamina gauges that replenish as you soon as you use them.

"MP" is a standard way of measuring magic energy in JRPGs and is as common as "Mana" is used in WRPGs. Just because the developers decided to name their in-game energy something else doesn't necessarily mean it works differently.

Anyway, you seem to be quite a vivid "Tales of" fan so I don't blame you trying to put in good words for this particular title in the series.

On the other hand, I also know a number of people who stopped following the series right after the first title because Yoshiharu Gotanda, one of the original "Tales of" team members and battle system programmer left the team. Since then, the development team's constantly been changing unlike other big name game series such as Final Fantasy so the quality of the titles vary.

There are good Tales of titles such as Vesperia but this isn't one of them in my opinion.



Ayub Hussein

One thing I will never understand is that in terms of speed how this->http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVPrt25t7XE equals this->http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHH3-2TT31s&feature=related. I really don't.

Yeah, since I don't know Japanese, can't really argue ablut the story nor the characters...:(

"You might as well have a stamina or limit break gauge instead of the EG/CG that’ll let you pull off as many special attacks as you can."
Regardless, has a game ever done something like this before? You still haven't told me one yet. Most games's skill points are finite. ToH's are not. And yes, I did list this (EG/CG) in my initial post.

Oh yeah, Again, I apologize for being extremely insulting and rude.



Xcomp Author

You must have raged your way through my review the same way you did when you made your first comment here...

If you carefully re-read the review, you'll find I compared it to Phantasia i.e. Tales of Phantasia - The very first title in the series that was released on the Super Famicom.

Persona 4 is a turn based RPG so that's not a fair comparison.

I also said all the feature you listed have been done before.

Features don't have to be compared to in the same terms - Giving features names is like trying to sell a gimmick when essentially, they're just the same as something that's already done. You might as well have a stamina or limit break gauge instead of the EG/CG that'll let you pull off as many special attacks as you can.

And as for evolving weapons, that alone isn't impressive enough for me. I'd rather have a balanced game in terms of gameplay and presentation that doesn't have a cliche story and familiar battle system - At least give the characters some lines that really give them personality.

Since you don't seem to know Japanese, I presume you zipped your way through the story so you probably don't know how horribly cliche the scenarios and script are.



Ayub Hussein

First off, sorry for being so rude.

Regarding the speed of the battles, I would equate the speed of the battles to: Persona 4, Tales of Vesperia, and Tales of the Abyss. remember, fast-paced battles doesn't mean if the battle takes up a lot of time but rather if the battles are streamlined. For example in Persona 4, there are no ATB meters, enemies have weaknesses that, if exploited, can make extremely quick work of them. In Tales of the Abyss, another game in the Tales of series (which I recommend you get into), has fast-paced battles ass well. You can execute attacks and skills as much as you want, provided you have enough TP. The two games I have used for examples both have battles that just run quickly, there are hardly any waiting times. Also, you never initially gave a comparison to Hearts's battle system, so aren't you being "a bit vague" as well?

About the features: Name me one, just one RPG, that came out BEFORE Tales of Hearts, that features gathering materials to upgrade your weapon, and to acquire skills and enhancements to your current weapon. Name another one that uses a system similar of EG/CG in battles rather than regular TP/MP. Lastly, name one RPG that ditches equipment and uses material upgrades in its stead.

Also, seeming how well this review was written (and how you seem to know Japanese), I would love if you would do one on Tales of Graces. Here's a link to a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FULsLr1Z8JQ I would look forward to it. :)



Xcomp Author

"Extremely fast paced" as...? You're being a bit vague. You'll have to give an example of another game to make a comparison.

Also, all the features you've listed about the battle system have been used in plenty of JRPGs. They're nothing new which was why I found the system boring.



Ayub Hussein

SO MUCH LIES: SLOW BATTLES??????????? Are you being serious?? The battles are extremely fast paced; what are you smoking? Also, the battle system is VERY exciting what with the lack of TP, the addition of the EG and CG, air combos, connect panels, unison attacks... I could go on forever. One last thing: Thank god this review is not counted toward its aggregate score, THANK GOD.