In case you haven't heard, Tales of Hearts R is finally getting localized after a year of fans giving up hope on it ever leaving Japan. I have already finished the game twice and unlocked most of the trophies, so here's a mini-review on the game.
-GREAT battle system, probably one of the best in the series. All of the bad design choices from Xillia are gone, with some nice new mechanics as well. The Guard Counter mechanic means that combos are no longer just muscle memory, but they also reward the player with buffs and longer combos if pulled off correctly.
-Chalcedony and completely new character Galando are both fun to play.
-Everyone was buffed in some way, even if the abusive moves were toned down slightly to promote more creative and varied play.
-The return of the "old" Grade shop means that playing the game a second time is actually fun instead of a pointless chore like it was in Xillia 1 and 2.
-This is a faithful remake of the original game with some major modifications and removal of some padding.
-No Abyss Monsters!
-The switch to random encounters was not a good change. They appear much too often, and the Holy Bottles that completely block them don't appear until halfway through the game, and even then they only last a few seconds.
-The 3D models are arguably a downgrade from the original sprites, but I imagine the extensive buffs and new mechanics would have been much harder to pull off with sprites, new or old.
-Getting the link/relationship-exclusive abilities is a bit of grind, but luckily there are grade shop bonuses to help with that.
- The link/bond system is a nice addition, but it tends to conflict with the skill points system. It takes a long time to get the best bonuses from bonding with each party member, yet your skill points max out at a paltry 99 points when some of the more desirable ones can take up to nine points each. As I finished my second playthrough, I almost felt punished for bonding with the rest of the party since there aren't anywhere near enough skill points available to equip their best abilities.
-This is yet another game where the strongest weapons are joke skins. Throw that badassery out the window if you want optimal stats and TC.
I hope the team behind this game gets to work with a console-sized budget in the future, as they've done a better job than some of the other recent installments in the series. Hopefully the new mechanics from this game make it into another one as well.
Tales of Hearts R has a tentative release date of this winter, and is currently available for preorder at most of your preferred game retailers. If you'd like to see some videos of the game, check out my channel at http://youtube.com/tetsuo9999.