TGS 2008: Tales of Hearts Hands-On

The Tales series returns to its roots in this DS iteration.

TOKYO--Tales of Hearts producer Hideo Baba wants Tales fans to send strong wishes his way. Why? Because the DS entry in this famed role-playing series has not yet been confirmed for a US release. Well, Hideo, we're in your court. After playing a bit of the game and finding out more details, we're certainly sending a few good thoughts of our own. Tales of Hearts looks to be another solidly straightforward entry for the franchise, and we thought we'd share a few details on what to expect should the game make it stateside.

Every youngster should have this strong of an education in the Artes.

Combat seems initially familiar: One button lands standard attacks, while another performs artes, the game's equivalent of magic spells. However, there are a few variations over the last few Tales games. First off, battle movement doesn't offer the freedom that previous games have included. But just because you're limited to a 2D plane of movement doesn't mean that combat lacks strategy. Baba indicated through a translator that height will be a major factor of many battles, so you'll need to be conscious of both the horizontal and vertical planes. He compared it to the combat in Tales of Destiny and Tales of Phantasia.

Another neat addition is that of support attacks. Your own character will be joined by only two others in battle, and the skirmish appears on the top screen of the DS. However, four other support characters appear on the touch screen (Baba was mum about whether four was the top limit, but his hints would indicate that the maximum number could surpass four). During battle, a support gauge rises, and as it does so, each of the four portraits become available to touch. Touching a portrait will cause that support character to rush in, perform a move, and then rush away from the battlefield. According to Baba, these moves could include standard attacks, artes, or even offerings of potions. Additionally, if the attack of your support character matches your own attack in some way, they might complement each other, unleashing an ultimate attack that causes extra damage. How these attacks may relate to each other or how such a move is performed is unclear though, and Baba wants players to discover this secret on their own.

The backgrounds look beautiful; story details are less apparent.

As we explored the cliffsides of the demo version of the game, we encountered a number of different enemies: sharp-beaked hawks, clawed lizards, and a miniature T-Rex that had an amusingly dramatic chomp animation--its toothy mouth opening wide enough to swallow an entire human head. During combat with these clever foes, we did note the existence of an additional gauge, which Baba called the emotions gauge. While the translation we got was a bit awkward, it seems that the gauge fills as you block and depletes as you attack. A full gauge allows you to string more attacks together for additional damage.

We didn't see any of the franchise's famous story skits as we played, but Baba promised us that they'd be present in both story sequences, as well as gameplay sequences. As for the story itself, Namco Bandai hasn't released details of the characters or their plights, and Baba was tight-lipped on what we should expect. He did confirm, however, that the use of the touch screen was limited to initiating support attacks. In any case, here's hoping that Tales of Hearts manages a North American release because it seems to contain all the elements Tales fans have come to expect. In Japan, it's also being released in two versions: one featuring CG cutscenes and one featuring anime scenes. We'll bring you more information as soon as we receive it.

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Kevin-V

Kevin VanOrd

GameSpot senior editor Kevin VanOrd has a cat named Ollie who refuses to play bass in Rock Band.
Tales of Hearts

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23 comments
yoyou225
yoyou225

It's to bad this come didn't come to the North America or europe. Oh well.

Syluvan
Syluvan

Yes, this game should definitely come to America. Having played Tales of Phantasia and Tales of Symphonia, I'd love to have this game on the DS (I use it more than any of my other systems).

rouguesquadron
rouguesquadron

With the popularity of both Tales of Symphonia games and Tales of Vesperia, Namco would be an idiot not to release every single new Tales game in the America.

King_Wii
King_Wii

I love the Tales of... games and I seriously have to say that this game has to make it to the US. I actualy enjoy playing DS RPGs more than I enjoy my Xbox 360 these days and so this would be a must buy for me.

Lennah
Lennah

Please come. We keep getting left out!

OneryPopopango
OneryPopopango

Bring Tales of Hearts over! Definitely would like it subbed than dubbed though... c'mon Namco Bandai!!! ^ ^

samfreak
samfreak

lol, im sure now they're just saying "eff it, some fans'll translate it."

BrunoBRS
BrunoBRS

they already left too many tales games japan-only. i hope this one gets an american release...

Soilworkcob
Soilworkcob

No kidding! Bring this game over here Bandai-Namco, cheese and crackers!

IXIWhistIXI
IXIWhistIXI

I wonder why they haven't brought them over to the us. I've yet to meet a gamer who's played the tales games and didn't like them...

Nexeus
Nexeus

What is this like the third Tales of DS game? Dont bring this over here... No... BRING THEM ALL!!!! I dont take no sass bout my tales...

glitchgeeman
glitchgeeman

NA release please!!!! :D But really, that would be great. I was so disappointed when that other DS Tales game wasn't released here, so I hope they can bring this one to the states. A handheld tales game would be so awesome.

ilikefoodalot22
ilikefoodalot22

I hope that his comes out in NA. I'm a big tales fan. But i have a question. Who is the freaking healer?!

roseice
roseice

I really hope this sees a NA release! *crosses fingers*

semdawg15
semdawg15

If replying to this article will allow more Tales games in general to come here, then I am showing my support. This game looks great and I do hope that I get to play it over here.

mrsims31
mrsims31

Looks awesome; hope it makes it's way over here.