…The funny thing is I have Tales of Graces R, Tales and Xillia and Tales of Xillia 2 (All for the Playstation 3). I haven’t finished the first one and have yet to play the two Xillia games since buying them. Yet I played Tales of Hearts R (henceforth ToHR) until I beat the final boss. The fact that it’s on the Vita has alot to do with that (LOL!). In case you’re wondering, I bought ToHr last Friday, which was right around the time I was 85% through Samurai Warriors 4’s Story Mode.
Before I talk about ToHr, I want to restate my stance on Paid DLC in console games as well as Dubbed vs. Subbed console games:
- I don’t have a problem with the Paid DLC in ToHR. All except the costumes are 100% optional. Actually, I take that back: The costumes are 100% optional, too. If you want them THAT badly, buy them. All the bitching from folks who like to say “Thre should be a way to get them without paying for them” need to understand the constumes, like the Level/Gald/Grade Boosts are 100% optional. It’s not like you don’t get any costumes at all from in- game from sidequests. You do. The ones you have to pay for make sense to me. They’re purely for aesthetic purposes.
- Namco Bandai made the decision to translate ToRH for a U.S. release but left out an English Dub for the sole purpose of speeding up the release of the game. The funny thing about the Anti-Dub crowd is for some reason this time, despite getting their way they wre actually pissed ToHR didn’t have an English Dub.
I mention those two things in particular because folks have been using them as the basis for telling people “Don’t buy ToHR”.
…Let me give you a history lesson.
10 years ago, Tales of Symphonia made the Gamecube a must-have console (along with Wind Waker and Super Smash Bros. Brawl of course). It was a golden age for Tales Fans and RPG Fans alike. It is also considered by many folks to have one of the best dubs overall with the all-star cast who lent their voices to the game.
It also brought to light the fact the last “Tales of” game before Symphonia–Destiny 2–never got a U.S. release. Two years after Symphonia was released, Tales of the Abyss was released on the Playstation 2. The game got mixed reviews despite the introduction of Free Run, which has been staple in every “Tales of” game released since. The following year, Tales of Symphonia was re-released but on the Playstation 2 and in Japan only. The port included Mystic Artes (Hu-Ougis in older games) for everyone, some extra costumes, the ability to have 9 party members and some other stuff that prettymuch made the Gamecube version obsolete.
It wasn’t until 2014 U.S. fans would finally get access to the enhanced port as part of the Tales of Symphonia Chronicles (with Dawn of the New World) for the Playstation 3. Of course, Symphonia wasn’t the only “Tales of” Game to get an enhanced re-release. Vesperia was re-released on the Playstation 3 in Japan only with Flynn as a Playable Character. Tales of Phantasia was ported twice. First to the Game Boy Advance in 2004 and again in 2007 to the PSP (Japan Only). Despite the updated graphics, Suzu as a playable character and two extra dungeons, the port was rejected by Tales fans because of “Cless” was changed to “Cress”.
In the original SNES version (which was released in the U.S.), his name was Cless. Bamco changed it to Cress in the GBA version as well as in the OVA (which I have). Oddly, the old “Cless” is used in the PSP version. Abyss was ported to the 3DS in 2013. Contrary to what alot of people have been saying about the port from PS2 to 3DS, the transition to the 3DS was flawless. The only real complaint–the sound quality–is fixed by wearing headphones. Nothing from the PS2 version was left out so…yeah. The above picture (the 3DS version’s cover art) is a bit of a spoiler if you didn’t play the PS2 version for two reasons: There are two “Lukes” in the picture. The one on the right–Asch–will be both enemy and ally throughout the game.
I left Abyss for last because its main character Luke von Fabre (the one in the middle), like Kor Meteor in Hearts R is pretty one-dimensional throughout their respective games. It doesn’t ruin either game for me, though. Emil Castigar in Dawn of the New World is one-dimensional, too but he doesn’t get the same kind of hate Luke and Kor do.
I want to back up a bit and revisit the DLC piece. Vesperia, Xillia 2 and Hearts R (all of which I own) have OPTIONAL but game-breaking DLC content (Gald, Grade, Levels, etc.) as well as additonal costumes (in the case of Xillia 2 and Hearts R). I have no problem with that kind of DLC. The costumes are of aesthetic value and are what I like to call premium content. They are not included with the Season Pass you can buy for Xillia 2 and Hearts R ($30) so don’t EVER buy the Season Pass for either game.
I think I might have mentioned this in my review for Abyss 3DS but Bamco hates releasing its flagship RPG franchise outside Japan unless they’re paid to do it or someone else pays for the localization. No, seriously. Hearts was originally released for the DS a few years ago. It, along with Innocence (and Innocence R) and Tempest are three games most Tales Fans have heard of but never played unless they imported them.
…You know about this game, yes? Well, did you know it got two sequels on the PSP? Well, it did but they were only released in Japan. Ditto for the previous three Tales of the World games (Narakiri Dungeon 1, 2 and 3). Why doesn’t Bamco release more Tales games outside Japan? The bottom line first and not wanting to sell their games at a loss second: They got burned with Legendia (don’t know anyone who enjoyed it personally), the Anti-Microsoft crowd refused to give Vesperia a fair chance (despite being made by the same team that made Symphonia) and Abyss PS2 just sold poorly in the U.S.
…This brings us to Hearts R.
As soon as Tales of Hearts R was announced for release in Japan, the now annual begging for a localization by fans via social media immediately began. Unlike Graces f, Xillia and Xillia 2, for some reason those who wanted the game localized were firmly in two camps: One camp wanted an English Dub and the other wanted Dual Audio (English and Japanese and the option of picking between them).
Bamco decided to mix ideas from both camps while also ensuring the game would come to the west by the end of 2014: It released the game with Japanese Audio but the text in English. It also released it on the Vita as a Digital-Only purchase. This plus the DLC resulted in the game being rejected by fans as soon as its North American release was announced.
My fear is Hearts R may be the last Tales game we get for a while because of how it was received. Folks either don’t believe it or don’t care but the Industry DOES read the comments on Social Media. It probably doesn’t have a huge influence on what does or doesn’t get localized but if there’s enough chatter for one or the other, the company will respond in kind.
To say the last three paragraphs with one sentence: We were lucky we got Hearts R in the U.S. at all. I suspect the DLC content is actually Bamco’s insurance policy. They know that those who buy DLC content bought Hearts R so…yeah.
I’m going to end this with my prediction for the next Tales of game that might come to the U.S.:
Eternia, Destiny and Destiny 2. All 3 games got limited releases back when they were first released on the Playstation 1 20 years ago. I can see Destiny 1 and 2 coming to the Vita ala Hearts R or Symphonia Chronicles while Eternia is either released separately or is released cross-platform. That’s my guess. Oh and of course Zestria will eventually come to the U.S. as well.