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Sleeping princess in the Forest of Thorns, princess dreaming for a thousand years
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 - and it's a masterpiece. Gorgeous graphics produced by Production IG, a score by series veteran and genius composer Motoi Sakuraba, and a combo-centric battle system in the vein of the remake of Tales of Destiny. The game is truly a harkening to the best classics of the series: in gameplay fast-paced and with ridiculous levels of customization, in plot no less than we expect from Namco, and beautiful all the way through.
In the distant past, parasitic monsters known as Zerom 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 Zerom directly.
Centuries later, in the quiet country village of Shibul, enthusiastic teen Shing Meteoryte trains to become a Soma Master under the tutelage of his grandfather Zex. Meanwhile, two siblings- Kohak 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 Shibul and meet Shing, Incarose catches up to them, killing Zex and cursing Kohak into a deep sleep. With no other way to save Kohak, Shing takes up Zex's Soma and enters her Spiria. There he finds an infection of Zerom, encounters a beautiful emerald-haired girl straight from a famous nursery rhyme, and witnesses the Spirtune that forms the core of Kohak's Spiria shatter into pieces.
With Kohak reduced to an emotionless doll, Shing takes responsibility and embarks on a worldwide quest with Hisui to track down the missing pieces of Kohak's Spirtune and restore her to normal, one emotion at a time. Of course, it's never as simple as that: a new wave of Zerom infection is sweeping the world, several factions from the local Empire and Church are fighting against Shing and each other over the pieces of Kohak's Spirtune, 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 Zerom themselves.
Shing, Kohak 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; Innes Lorenz, an enigmatic Soma saleswoman with inhuman strength; and Kunzite, a humanoid robot with an artificial Spiria. Then there's Chalcedny Arcome, an elite agent of the Valeia Church tasked with preventing the restoration of Kohak's Spirtune.
Highly recommended if you can make it through the moonspeak. Otherwise, Tales Of translator Kajitani Eizan is working on a full translation. Kohak is also the very first Hearts character to appear in an official localization through the Cameo Battle in Tales of Graces f (renamed as 'Amber').
Now with character sheet.
This game provides examples of:
- 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" by DEEN, previously responsible for the Tales of Destiny opening.
- Berserk Button:
Shing: If an "adult" would sacrifice someone's life to save the world, I'm okay with being a "child". A guy who can't even bring back the smile of the girl before him can never save the world!
- Later, the line comes back in a Meaningful Echo.
- On Shing himself, threaten the well being of his friends or just merely being 'Incarose' (his grandpa's killer) is enough to put Shing into rage. Unfortunately, that's what Incarose plans to bring Creed back, so she gleefully pressed it in any available moments.
- BFG: Byrocks' Soma; Hisui's Hi-Ougi, as well as Incarose's; the effect of the Flame Gun and Aqua Gazer spells.
- BFS: Chalcedny's Wahrheit, Innes' Folseus.
- Boobs of Steel: Innes, of course. Beryl once guesses that Innes' breasts actually give her superstrength.
- Captain Ersatz - Compare this Creed to this Creed. They even share the same voice actor, who uses the exact same voice for both.
- Combos: The title of "Combo Beginner" is awarded for a 25 combo.
- Crowning Moment of Funny: At the beginning of the game. Shing's grandfather is named Zex Meteoryte. Just think about what that sounds like for a moment. And bear in mind that he's got to be like, what, sixty-odd?.
- Good Name for A Rock Band, though.
- Do-Anything Robot: Kunzite's supposed to be a Guardian Knight. What's with all the random sensors? Combat scanners and internal compasses are understandable, but a body fat analyzer?
- Doing in the Wizard: Everything up to and including the Power of Friendship is something the Quartz made.
- Dual-Wielding: Kunzite quadruple-wields katars, thanks to his Vex incorporating an extra pair of tentacle arms on his back; Chalcedny gets to Dual Wield briefly when Peridot tosses him her sword.
- Dub Name Change: The translation patch renamed Kohak and Hisui as the literal translation of their original names (Amber and Jadeite). When Kohak reappeared in Tales of Graces F, dubbed, she got her name changed to Amber as well.
- Emotionless Girl: Kohak, for about half an hour.
- 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 Shing's Soma Link with Kohak.
- Ensemble Darkhorse: Narrowly averted. Chalcedny has a BFS, multiple crowning moments of awesome/heartwarming, and can fly. Shame about the dorky pageboy haircut... if he'd had something like Hisui's windswept mane or Creed's Bishounen locks, we may have had the new Sephiroth on our hands.
- Expy (Possibly. There are two characters that share quite some similarities with Super Robot Wars' Lamia Loveless. Richia 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)
- Fighting Your Friend (Let's just say Kunzite does not take the prospect of Shing 'destroying' Kohak/Richia's Spirune well (it's just temporary, though))
- Anyone with a name that isn't Kornerupine who gets fused with a Zerom. Captain Silver, Rage Camellia (Sergeant Morga), and Lonely Veronica (Marin) come to mind. In addition, the "final battle" with the Chalcedny Squad counts, as he's already accepted his role as The Rival and does his Heel Face Turn shortly after the fight.)
- Five-Man Band
- Foe Yay (Chlorseraph seems to be quite fixated on Kunzite.)
- Foot Focus (Kohak has epic legs. And she kicks a lot with it)
- Gameplay and Story Segregation (Averted with how every plot-important boss is weak to the element of whatever party member they're significant to, such as Silver and Strigau being weak to water (Innes' element), Chlorseraph weak to darkness (Kunzite), and Love Diansus to earth (Beryl).)
- Goggles Do Nothing (Hisui; slightly averted in that he actually puts them over his eyes during battle, probably because he uses so many Wind-element artes.)
- Good Morning, Crono
- Gratuitous English (Ameth)
- Guns Akimbo (Hisui's Gale Arc, sorta)
- Grand Theft Me (Richia, and the Big Bad Creed Graphite)
- Hand Cannon (Byrocks' Soma)
- Hey, It's That Voice! (Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann fans are overjoyed to know that Shing and Kohak are voiced by the same seiyuus of Simon and Yoko. Likewise, Chalcedny is Tieria Erde)
- Hot-Blooded (Hisui's hat, to the point where "Nekketsu Heart" is a title for him; Shing 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")
- Improbable Weapon User (Kohak's Elrond, Beryl's Thiers)
- Innocent Innuendo (A pair of skits entitled "Totally Huge!" with the ostensible subject being Innes' Gag Boobs. The first turns out to be about her Big Freaking Axe and visibly amuses Innes; the second is her pie-eating abilities, and by then she's getting flustered and annoyed.)
Kunzite: In addition to size, the shape, elasticity, and performance are the highest recorded in my memory banks.
- Killed Off for Real ( Peridot and Byrocks, in a massive Tear Jerker doubling as a Crowning Moment of Awesome for Chalcedny)
- Knight Templar Big Brother (Hisui)
- Limit Break (Hi-Ougis)
- Love Makes You Crazy (Incarose, depending on how far you read into the discussion in Jackseed, and also Creed for Richea and Flora)
- Mad Artist (Beryl)
- 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.)
- The Messiah (Shing is competing with Tea for sheer force of Friendship Speeches)
- Morality Pet (Spin and co. for Peridot, Lapis for Silver)
- Name's the Same (Two siblings named after jade and amber. I've seen this before.)
- Names to Know In Anime:
- Not So Stoic (Kunzite has a few hotblooded scenes, which the other characters take note of. And when you encounter Rishia Cattleya, an ancient Zerom who wants to become Richea, the poor robot nearly explodes. "Never before have I felt such anger!")
- Playing Against Type (The voice behind the waif-ish Richea is Kaori Shimizu, who though not pigeonholed specifically, seems to be more known as tough, bad ass ladies)
- Poor Communication Kills (Kunzite fights the party because Hisui lied to him about Byrocks breaking Kohak's spirune instead of Shing, except Kohak wasn't telling the party that Richea, not Shing, broke the spirune)
- Power Levels (Said to be Kunzite's ability to scan them. Through a hilarious skit, he discovered that an angry Kohak's power level is 18500 to be exact))
- He said the average power of her kick 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!
- 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!
- Red Oni, Blue Oni (The Seraph twins; possibly Hisui and Kunzite; Shing/Chalcedny and Peridot/Byrocks both have the actual colors down)
- Really Seven Hundred 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.)
- 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.")
- Relationship Voice Actor (Kaori Shimizu was announced first. Of course it's expected that Mamiko Noto will butt in. And she did, as Chalcedny's liege/girlfriend.)
- Ridiculously-Human Robots (Kunzite, Incarose, Corundum, Chlorseraph/Clinoseraph; Kunzite spends half the game denying this and then gets "Like Human" as a title after coming to terms with himself)
- Royals Who Actually Do Something (Marin after she stops being a spineless puppet ruler)
- Sexy Backless Outfit (Kohak, wearing a backless dress/shirt/whatever)
- The Scrappy (The Mechanoid Corundum, a loli with an excessively high, shrill voice (yes, far above even what you'd expect from Japanese) and an annoying giggle... also, the only enemy Guardian Knight you don't get to own in a boss fight. In fact, she's a cameo summon. Thanks a lot, Tomoko Kaneda.)
- Shout-Out (A huge list of cameo Link Attacks from other games in the series and even other titles produced by Namco)
- Colonel Silver uses Loni's hiougi, Final Prayer, as an attack.
- Space Whale (The Great Winged Whale is the deity of the Valeia church and the Mobile Crystal Castle Cendrillion)
- Spell My Name with an "S" (Oh boy... just ask if a "u" is needed at the end of "Kohak"'s name.)
- Spock Speak (Kunzite)
- Robo Speak (Early Kunzite, and a lot of what he says in battle)
- Sufficiently Advanced Aliens (The Quartz)
- That's No Moon (The black moon, the giant Queen Zerom Gardenia)
- Theme Naming (Rocks. Lots of rocks. Zerom 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.)
- Verbal Tic (Does Innes have one of these, I wonder?)
- Whole-Plot Reference: The first arc can be best summed up as Tales of Princess Tutu
- Years Too Early, gloats Peridot if you lose to her solo fight.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair (You'd think it would keep it normal when hair color is a plot point twice (Richea and Creed), but Peridot and Byrocks have hot pink and bright teal hair for no good reason. Most of the other Celreid have normal-ish hair, the weirdest being Marin's dark blue, Innes' platinum, and Chalcedony's bleach blond.)
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Right as the final Spirune is returned to Kohak...