For a while now, a Twitter hashtag has been quietly rumbling along and offering hope for those who enjoy Japanese-style role-playing games, particularly on the go.
The #jrpgvita hashtag is one of several things that key Sony employee Shahid Ahmad has been championing for some time, but it's also been a means for fans to demonstrate their support for franchises that haven't yet made it West onto Sony's handheld -- or perhaps to show that a rerelease of a long out-of-print title really wouldn't be a terrible idea.
According to Ahmad, response to a poll on the subject last year (represented as a "word cloud" here) indicated that Bandai Namco's Tales of Hearts R was the most-requested localization; RPG fans were keen to play a Tales game on the Vita, it seems. As such, Tales of Hearts R is indeed the first fruit of the #jrpgvita campaign, and is set to land in North America and Europe in the winter of this year. (For those wondering, Final Fantasy Type-0 technically doesn't count as it's a PSP title rather than a Vita title; it would have probably been hard for Ahmad and friends to miss popular demand for that game, though, so we can still hold out hope, however vain it might be.)
Tales of Hearts was originally released as a Nintendo DS title back in 2008, but remained confined to Japan. The Vita version is a complete remake with fully voiced dialogue, new events in the main storyline, two new characters, full 3D graphics and a revamped battle system that allows for aerial combat. It released in Japan in March of last year and was ported to iOS in October.
The game centers around the relationship between a young man named Kor and a young woman named Kohaku. Through a series of unfortunate circumstances, Kor ends up inadvertently shattering Kohaku's Spiria Core -- the source of her emotions. Whoops. Thus begins the quest for Kor to find a way to undo the damage he's done and, in true JRPG tradition, gather a party of plucky companions along the way.
Tales of Hearts R is the third new Tales game to be announced for a Western release after the sequel to the excellent Tales of Xillia, due later this year, and Tales of Zestiria, still in development.