Tales of Hearts R on the PlayStation Vita is another installment in the famed Tales of franchise by Bandai Namco. A re-release of the 2008 original on the Nintendo DS, Hearts R brings some updated graphical touches and story additions to this iteration. While it is a Vita release, I played it entirely on my PlayStation TV device on my HDTV using my DualShock 4 controller.

Story-wise, Tales of Hearts R follows the well-known Tales formula of the gathering of heroes to defeat a common enemy with emphasis on teamwork, friendship and self-discovery. It’s still one of my favorite aspects of the entire series. I love the feeling of the back-and-forth between your party members and being rewarded for working as a team.

I think what hurts Hearts R the most is its close proximity to the release of Tales of Xillia 2. I realize they released on different platforms, but after spending close to 100 hours on Xillia 2 and enjoying it as much as I did, the pieces of Hearts R that were lacking were all the more prevalent. Comparatively to Xillia 2 with its combination of Sword Artes and Will Artes, Hearts R’s combat feels one dimensional and button-mashy. Xillia 2 also had an array of side quests and collectibles that puts Hearts R’s Namcoins to shame.

That is not to say Tales of Hearts R is a bad game or a poor choice to add to your PS Vita library. I just want to make sure you have all the information. The combat feels a bit lackluster, and with an overabundance of random encounters, your patience will definitely be tested. There is a nice addition to the combat in the form of Challenges. These Challenges will appear at the beginning of a battle, giving you an opportunity to win prizes and bonuses if you complete the challenge whether it “complete X amount of hit streak” or “win in X seconds” or “only take X% of damage.” It helps keep things lively.

As I’ve said previously, the collectibles and side quests are a little lacking with this being a Tales game as well as a Japanese Role Playing Game. The collectibles include “Namcoins” placed throughout the world as well as creature drops that are used infrequently. The side quests are few and far in between and nothing more than a one-stop, quick detour on your way to the next story objective. Also, the game is fairly linear and will forcibly stop you from exploring.

Overall, Tales of Hearts R is a serviceable addition to the Tales franchise. The game has a great storyline and has that great feeling that you get from a Tales game. If you are looking for a solid jRPG on the Vita and you love the Tales franchise, this would be a good pickup for you. You just need to know what you’re getting into. I will add that the game worked great on my PlayStation TV using my DualShock 4 controller, if you would rather relax on your couch and play on the big screen, as I did.

Tales of Hearts R Trailer