- There lies a princess fair and dear who has slept for over a thousand years, amidst a bramble of thorny spears.
Her streaming hair is emerald green, her rose quartz cheeks a blushing sheen.
But while she rests in the forest of thorns, the rocks call out and the sea forewarns:
Look for the man with scarlet hair, who seeks to end our world so fair. It is his curse you must beware.
O Princess trapped in slumber's claim, your dream is evermore the same. A world snuffed out, a smothered flame.
Tales of Hearts is a 2008 video game, the third entry in the Tales Series to be released for the Nintendo DS, and the first to be worked on by Namco Tales Studio. It features graphics produced by Production IG, a musical score by series veteran Motoi Sakuraba, and a combo-centric battle system in the vein of the remake of Tales of Destiny.
In the distant past, parasitic monsters known as Xerom ravaged the world, feeding on the hearts and emotions ("Spiria") of all living things. To defend the world, weapons called "Soma" were developed, allowing weapon-masters to physically enter the Spiria of an infected victim and eliminate the Xerom directly.
Centuries later, in the quiet country village of Seaville, enthusiastic teen Kor Meteor trains to become a Soma Master under the tutelage of his grandfather Sydan. Meanwhile, two siblings- Kohaku Hearts and her elder brother Hisui- are on the run from a mysterious sorceress called Incarose.
Not long after the Hearts wash up on the shore of Seaville and meet Kor, Incarose catches up to them, killing Sydan and cursing Kohaku into a deep sleep. With no other way to save Kohaku, Kor takes up Sydan's Soma and enters her Spiria. There he finds an infection of Xerom, encounters a beautiful emerald-haired girl straight from a famous nursery rhyme, and witnesses the Spiria Core that forms the keystone of Kohaku's Spiria shatter into pieces.
With Kohaku reduced to an emotionless doll, Kor takes responsibility and embarks on a worldwide quest with Hisui to track down the missing pieces of Kohaku's Spiria Core and restore her to normal, one emotion at a time. Of course, it's never as simple as that: a new wave of Xerom infection is sweeping the world, several factions from the local Empire and Church are fighting against Kor and each other over the pieces of Kohaku's Spiria Core, and just when it looks like everything might turn out for the best, the story takes a hard right turn and reveals another Big Bad whose plans extend to the origins of the Xerom themselves.
Kor, Kohaku and Hisui are joined by a few others on their quest: Beryl Benito, the team's Token Mini-Moe who dreams of becoming the Imperial Painter; Ines Lorenzen, an enigmatic Soma saleswoman with inhuman strength; and Kunzite, a humanoid robot with an artificial Spiria. Then there's Chalcedony Akerman, an elite agent of the Valentin Church tasked with preventing the restoration of Kohaku's Spiria Core.
A remake, Tales of Hearts R was released on the Vita, featuring a graphical overhaul from 2D to 3D, and promoting Chalcedony to playable character, as well as introducing Gall Gruner, an enigmatic Soma Master who seeks to end despir once and for all. The game was officially released in North America on November 11, 2014.
This game provides examples of:
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Straga's sewers are downright huge and have a handy ladder connecting them to the castle. You visit them more than once.
- Alien Sky: Standing on the "white moon" Quartzia, the sky is the same, but with a blue "moon" instead.
- Anime Theme Song: "Eien no Ashita"note by DEEN, previously responsible for the Tales of Destiny opening.
- Artificial Brilliance: The bosses tend to gun for the casters far more than the melee fighters.
- Battle Baton: Kohaku Hearts uses a baton-ish staff and during her idle animations sometimes twirls them. She can enhance her baton with flames and then uses them in conjunction with kicks. And offensive magic. And some healing magic.
- BFG: Pyrox' Soma; Hisui's Hi-Ougi, as well as Incarose's; the effect of the Flame Gun and Aqua Gazer spells.
- Big Damn Heroes: Kor's timely entrance to thwart Chalcedony's public execution and have him finally join the party.
- Bio-Augmentation: Xerom-enhanced soldiers who have their Spiria eaten gain superhuman powers in return.
- Captain Ersatz: Compare this Creed◊ to this Creed◊. They even share the same voice actor, who uses the exact same voice for both.
- Crystal Landscape: The Spir Mazes, labyrinths formed inside people's hearts where the core of their Spiria (the essence of their feelings) resides. They are composed entirely of crystal pathways and gemstones, and the only living beings are the Xerom who invade them in an attempt to consume that person.
- Distracted by the Sexy: The characters can go to confessionals. At one point, Hisui admits he missed a shot because he was staring at Innes' breasts.
- Doing In the Wizard: Everything up to and including the Power of Friendship is something the Quartz made.
- Doting Parent: Hisui and Kohaku's aunt, the very strict leader of Dronning. The loss of her sister has made her overprotective of her nephew and niece.
- Dub Name Change:
- The translation patch renamed Kohaku and Hisui as the literal translation of their original names (Amber and Jadeite). When Kohaku reappeared in Tales of Graces F, dubbed, she got her name changed to Amber as well.
- Several other names get changed in the official localization (i.e. Shing becomes Kor). The kicker? Amber goes back to her original name. The real kicker? The game isn't even getting a dub!
- Empathic Weapon: Variant. Somas don't have their own feelings, but they are the vector for the Power of Friendship, Soma Link. In a skit right after the player's first experience with Soma Link, Hisui tries to take Asteria so that he can experience Kor's Soma Link with Kohaku.
- Enemy Civil War: The Empire is not exactly evil, but starts off very antagonistic. After the entire world was united under its banner, the military and the church started vying for supremacy, which culminates during the story. And then there's further betrayal and backstabbing when General Grossular's subordinates are also trying to one-up another. In truth, they're all being used by Incarose.
- Expy: Possibly. There are two characters that share quite some similarities with Super Robot Wars' Lamia Loveless. Lithia shares her voice, green hair and slightly Stripperiffic outfit. Kunzite shares her Artificial Human elements (and ridiculously human look), combat capabilities (this seems to mirror Aschen (another of her Expy) from Mugen no Frontier more) and her Tin Man to Become a Real Boy development.
- Fairytale Motifs: The game's locations are named after writers and fairy tales. A picture book with the story of a sleeping princess is central to the events of the story.
- Flower Motif: Xerom have a general plant motif, some of them flowers. Lithia and Fluora also have obvious flower influences on their designs.
- Good Morning, Crono
- Gotta Catch Them All: The premise of the game: gather Kohaku's fragmented Spiria Core pieces so she can return to normal.
- Gratuitous English: Amethyst's speech patterns are reminiscent of Yeager inserting random English in his sentences.
- "Groundhog Day" Loop: Possible with the Mechanoids' Artificial Spiria. Clinoseraph uses it to trap Lithia into his Spiria Nexus and have her experience an eternal repeat of the day Quartz was destroyed.
- The Heartless: Xerom, mindless monsters from the Sleeping Princess's fairy tale that dwell within dreams and eat people's Spiria.
- The Hedge of Thorns: Present in the story of "The Sleeping Princess" as an obvious reference to Sleeping Beauty, but with a twist: the Forest of Thorns is a codename used to identify an ancient control unit known as the Mysticete. It also happens to be the Flying Whale worshipped by the church and the place where Lithia's physical body has been preserved in stasis.
- Hidden Elf Village: Dronning village, home to Kohaku and Hisui. The village is protected by a special stone rendering it impenetrable to any outside influence. The barrier was put in place to protect Lithia, resulting in a few eccentricities in the village's culture and speech.
- Hot-Blooded: Hisui's hat, to the point where "Nekketsu Heart" is a title for him; Kor does it too, Chlorseraph takes care of it for the villains, and even Kunzite gets in on the action at times, even predating Hisui with his own title of "Hot-Blooded Guardian Knight".
- Hot Springs Episode: Multiple events that raise Soma Links are available there, though sometimes you may see more than you bargained for.
- Innocent Innuendo:
Kor: Kohaku...so this is your...Kohaku: It's...the first time I've shown it to a man. I'm a little embarrassed...Kor: It smells so nice...let me see!Kohaku: W-wait, Kor! You can't just put that in so suddenly!Kor': Oh, so that's what it's like in the inside! I think I can can pull this out now...Kohaku: You can't, Kor! It's still not ready!Beryl: STOOOOOOOOOOOOOOP! I won't allow this to continue!
- An event you can trigger at the inn has a rather...heated event between Kor and Kohaku. The subject is actually pickling a cucumber with miso for Beryl.
Kunzite: In addition to size, the shape, elasticity, and performance are the highest recorded in my memory banks.
- A pair of skits entitled "Totally Huge!" with the ostensible subject being Ines' Gag Boobs. The first turns out to be about her Big Freaking Axe and visibly amuses Ines; the second is her pie-eating abilities, and by then she's getting flustered and annoyed.
- It's All Upstairs from Here:
- High Tower is located just outside Lion Park and serves as the stage for a race in order to retrieve another fragment of Kohaku's Spiria. The outcome of the race was rather unexpected.
- One of the final dungeons of the game, Beanstalk, is an uphill trek in Quartz's highest tower while one of your characters is facing severe Heroic RRoD. The dungeon culminates with the final battle against The Dragon and Lithia's Character Development.
- Lethal Lava Land: Brahmel volcano, home to the dragon Volga Jaws. Sadly, no lava puzzles are present.
- Limit Break: Hi-Ougis.
- Meaningful Name: Word of God says Shing's name is meant to mean "heart weapon". Soma have their own names, like "Asteria" based on Greek for "star" or "Elrond" being short for "Elpis Rondo", which means "dance of joy". To say nothing of the evolved Soma names, like Asteria's being named after stars, comets, and constellations, Gale Arc's after winds and mythical birds, etc.
- Moment Killer: Poor Hisui. He has a sweet moment with Richea on the eve of the final battle, but when the rest of the party come tumbling out of their hiding place...
- Morality Pet: Spin and co. for Peridot, Lapis for Silver.
- Mythology Gag: Beryl's Meteoric Rise, its extensions and requirements are taken from an earlier eccentric spellcaster with a high-pitched voice and a strange selection of clothing.
- Official Couple: Obviously, Kor and Kohaku, as well as Chalcedony and Empress Paraiba, and then Hisui and Lithia.
- Poor Communication Kills: Kunzite fights the party because Hisui lied to him about Pyrox breaking Kohaku's spiria core instead of Kor, except Kohaku wasn't telling the party that Lithia, not Kor, who broke the spiria core.
- Power Levels: Said to be Kunzite's ability to scan them. Through a hilarious skit, he discovered that an angry Kohaku's power level is 18500 giga-sugo. Giga is a billion. We don't know how big a sugo is though.
- Power Glows
- Power of Friendship, Power of Love
- Poke the Poodle: Beryl sucks at taking hostages.Beryl: I'll get her face all sticky! The paint won't wash off for a week!
Hisui: Okay, so she's not evil...
- Pretext for War: Relations between the church and the royal army were already strained, but when Chalcedony's Soma goes out of control and Paraiba is accidentally caught in the blast, the army doesn't hesitate to declare it an act of aggression against the empress and declare war on the Crystal Knights and march against the holy city. Chalcedony, being incredibly lawful, intended to surrender if not for Pyrox's intervention.
- Public Execution: Chalcedony is sentenced as a traitor in exchange for sparing the rest of the Crystal Knights. To drive the point home, Byrocks's Soma is used to carry out the deed.
- Really 700 Years Old: Quartz and Mechanoids by default; the three living Quartz in the game have had their bodies in suspended animation since the destruction of Quartzia 2000 years ago, and most of the robots have been in storage and/or asleep. In particular, Richia strikes up a relationship with Hisui in the latter half of the game.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Seraph twins; possibly Hisui and Kunzite; Kor/Chalcedony and Peridot/Pyrox both have the actual colors down.
- Relationship Values: The game never misses a chance to raise them, from minor skits to important plot points; characters get "X's Soma Link with the party has gone up" to wrap up their character development scenes, and particularly awesome moments are capped with the notice: "Everyone's Soma Link has gone up."
- Ship Tease: Naturally between Kor and Kohaku, but also prevalent between Hisui and Lithia.
- Space Whale: The Great Winged Whale is the deity of the Valentin church and the Mobile Crystal Castle Mysticete.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Oh boy... just ask if a "u" is needed at the end of "Kohaku"'s name.
- Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: The Quartz
- Super Soldier: Kornerupine's Xerom-enchanced soldiers are ferocious and can stand up to Soma users, but they trade any shred of sanity in exchange.
- Title Drop: Lithia says their connected feelings have carved the way to the "Eternal Tomorrow"note for their planet on the eve of the final battle.
- That's No Moon!: 3 times, no less.
- The black moon is the hibernating form of the giant Queen Xerom Gardenia.
- The white moon is the planet Quartz, frozen in a crystallized stasis after drained by all its Spiria.
- At the end of the game, the floating Mysticete supporting the link between the two planets is described as an emerald moon.
- Theme Naming: Rocks. Lots of rocks. Xerom are also all named after plants; Gardenia Core's parts take names from plant parts and organs. The locations in the game are a mashup of fairy tales and children's authors.
- Tohoku Regional Accent: Kohaku and Hisui's home village, Dronning, which is hidden within the mountains. And then Hisui and Kohaku start imitating it for massive hilarity.
- Will They or Won't They?: Kohaku and Kor spend the whole game on an "Unresolved Romantic Tension" dynamic. at the very last second of the post-credits sequence, they do
- Whole Plot Reference: The first arc can be best summed up as Tales of Princess Tutu
- Years Too Early: Used as a gloat by Peridot if you lose to her in her solo fight.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: You'd think it would keep it normal when hair color is a plot point twice (Lithia and Creed), but Peridot and Pyrox have hot pink and bright teal hair for no good reason. Most of the other Celreid have normal-ish hair, the weirdest being Tourmaline's dark blue, Ines' platinum, and Chalcedony's bleach blond.
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: Right as the final Spiria Core is returned to Kohaku.
- Adapted Out:
- Due to budget constraints, Nibelung Island and Latwick Forest were removed from the Vita version. The Rage Camelia boss fight is also suspiciously absent.
- Most sidequests in the original game included traversing through Spir Maze dungeons (where the player is under a strict time limit and gets a game over if they fail) in order to help the NPCs. They were mostly replaced with short fights instead.
- And Your Reward Is Clothes: Each character gets at least one alternate costume after watching sub-events. Some even draw on the fairy tale themes of the game, like Kohaku's "Amber Riding Hood". A larger selection of clothes is available as DLC.
- Animal-Eared Headband: Lithia loves cats and wants to pet them, but she's highly allergic to them. Kohaku's solution: put cat ears on Hisui and then make them an attachment anyone can wear!
- Beach Episode: Added in the Vita, along with a visual novel-style picture. It unlocks the first swimsuit set, while a second one is separately available as DLC.
- "Blind Idiot" Translation: The main character is called Kor in the subtitles, but the game has no dub, meaning you hear everyone call him Shing. There are other alleged problems with the English script, like certain lines no longer making any sense, Character Exaggeration and Flanderization to the point that some characters come off as being perverted, violent, or just plain stupid, and many, many more problems that go beyond simple Dub Name Changes.
- Bonus Boss: The R version removed most of the DS bonuses and instead added two Grim Creeper palette swaps, Soleil Levant, Ultime Des Rose, a Volga Jaws palette swap, and a hidden boss with a ridiculous iron stance, and a new cameo boss fight against Hubert Oswell and Pascal...cosplaying Playstation mascots Toro and Kuro.
- Combination Attack: The Vita version has the Cross Chase and Cross Link mechanic. During a succesful Cross Chase, a character can help you deliver a finishing strike by touching their portrait. There are also a few Dual Mystic Artes, accessible by raising the relevant characters' Soma Links to rank 7.
- Dual Boss: What was originally a really badass cutscene in the DS version became a Dual Boss in R. Solo Chalcedony taking on two of Incarose's bodies. The first will barrage you with physicals and the other casts dark magic. Unfortunately, they have little HP and the battle ends as soon as you defeat one of them, so the "wow" factor is somewhat diminished.
- Dungeon Shop: Added in R. Most prominent ones are in Lignatore lab and Straga sewers. The latter mysteriously disappears after the first time you go through the dungeon.
- The game has some subtle and not-so-subtle hints about Gall's identity. First, one of his introductory scenes has him do something to the seemingly invulnerable Grim Creeper, which lets the party fight it normally. Kongwai's introductory scene in Innocence R is almost exactly the same. Second, the glyph that appears when Gall casts spells is different from the one everybody else uses. He shares said glyph only with Kongwai, suggesting they are both from the same world.
- An optional scene in Prinseur has the party throw coins in the fountain in the hopes of once again returning to the city in the future. Pyrox and Peridot are the only ones who miss.
- Fun with Homophones: The Necoronomicon◊, a legendary dark organisation that worships the cuteness of cats all over the world, is named after the Necronomicon.
- Lethal Joke Weapon: The joke weapons return, but it in the R version, they have decent endgame stats and give out 12 TC when equipped, more than any other weapon. Kor gets a wooden sword, Hisui a pair of kitties, Kohaku a squid, Chalcedony a rose bouquet, and Beryl gets a brush made of Gentleman monsters.
- Remake Cameo: Windum, the mascot of the original game that gave you access to the Sorcerer's Ring, was made into an attachment in R. For bonus points, you get it from Gall when he gives you the ring.
- Wake-Up Call Boss: R adds Grim Creeper, an early boss in the Forest of Twilight. While Chalcedony helps with his light-elemental attacks, you only have one piece of darkness protection at that point and the guy's multi-hitting moves are deadly. Combined with the limited TC early on and the fact that the boss is accompanied by an incredibly annoying scythe that automatically revives after a minute or so, you have a very frustrating early boss.
- Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Like the other DS titles in the series, the limits of the console brought the active battle members down to 3. The Vita version adds a fourth member and there are points in the story where you have around 12 people accompanying you.
- Bonus Boss: The DS version has a bunch of cameo bosses from previous games, including the Kraken, Vassago, Vepar, Glasya-Labolas, Halphas, Guy and 4 Gentleman monsters designed after other Namco Bandai franchises. And then there's the Proto-Zerom Rishia Cattleya, final boss of the bonus dungeon and toughest optional boss in the series.
- Combination Attack: Combination Artes, during which a supporting character can be called in with the command panel and synchronize their artes with somebody from the active party to initiate a combined arte. Most of them were made regular artes in R.
- Dolled-Up Installment: Namco released a year later Keroro RPG, which is a cartoony Tales Of Hearts clone which is good in its own right. It even has a better camera system. Namco has a habit of making good licenced Keroro games: the first DS game which is based on the fourth movie, is also a quite good Klonoa clone.
- Previous Player-Character Cameo: The Combination Blaster attacks can summon a character from the Tales Series to provide a quick helping hand. They can even summon villains and characters from other series entirely, like KOS-MOS!
- Shout-Out: A huge list of cameo Link Attacks from other games in the series and even other titles produced by Namco.