Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Game Review: Tales of Innocence R (PS Vita)

Tales of Innocence R is the 2012 PS Vita remake of the 2007 Nintendo DS game. This latest version features two new characters, as well as voice acting segments. The game is the ninth in the Tales series. It is a light snack of an RPG.

Tales of Innocence R follows Luca, the young, shy scion of a successful merchant. Luca has dreams of being Asura, an ancient demon lord who aims to unite heaven and earth, because in Japan, "heaven" is populated by spirits, rather than by radiant choirs of angels chanting praise to the patriarchy the Heavenly Father. Luca's country is in the grip of war, and rumors are spreading of "inousha," or people with unusual talents. Luca's father sternly warns him not to associate with such folk, which naturally means that Luca is one of them.

Through a series of meet cute and other contrivances, Luca meets others like himself, who call themselves "tenseisha," or reincarnated beings. They all have spotty memories of the ancient world, and are drawn to Luca because of who he used to be. For his part, Luca, who looks like a little girl, is thrilled to be thought of as Asura, who was large and powerful.

One is more imposing than the other.

Eventually, the group's mission becomes clear: retrieve the "power of creation" from, of course, the head of the church, who, naturally, intends to use it to destroy the world. Tales of Innocence R doesn't demonize the church as much as Breath of Fire II did back in the nineties; instead, it uses organized religion as a conversation starter between the characters to pad out a skinny plot and minimal character development.

The gameplay system in Tales of Innocence R is geared toward the gamer having an easy and enjoyable RPG experience. The world is tiny and readily traversed. The expected modes of transport become available: ship, then airship. The party can only hold fifteen of every item, but those are simple to sell/use and then replenish. The enemies and bosses are quickly dispatched. Best of all, magic points automatically regenerate after battles, and players can activate bonus skills that improve attack or defense, recover HP during combat, and, as a godsend, allow characters who aren't in the main party to gain as much EXP as everyone else.

This last blessing allows the discerning gamer to cycle freely between different party combinations, which adds variety, which is the spice of life. I recommend leveling up the all-girl team; their weak attack stats almost got me killed a couple of times. Yes, coed is best!

Speaking of coed, to demonstrate my commitment to equality, I dressed everyone up in beach wear. Observe:

Behold my fearsome fighting force!!!

They're dressed like this so they can go to the beach
right after defeating the final boss (above).

I probably earned the "meccha sukebe" (really lewd) title for that move, didn't I. I shall wear it proudly.

What else? Oh, so the Tales series does skits, or dialogues between characters, often played for humor. For instance, the holy maiden Ange frets about being fat toward the middle of the game, and the other girls -- skinny teenagers who barely wear clothing, because clothes get in the way of fighting monsters -- encourage her to exercise more. This is the topic of several skits, and it never gets old. /sarcasm

Apart from that, there's cooking, a few side quests, a coliseum-type area, and some interesting minor twists. For instance, the youngest party member turns out to be Asura's mother from their past lives. The main villain turns out to be [REDACTED]. Honestly, even I didn't see that coming, but now I have a new trope to add to my mental trope collection.

The music is okay. The voice acting is typical fare. Since it's entirely in Japanese, playing it is a great way to keep up with the language.

The PS Vita version has replay value, because of the two mysterious additional characters -- to find out their backstory, players need to go through the entire game until they have access to the airship, and therefore the location of the secret reveal. Maybe one day I'll get to it.

Until then, may the odds be ever in your favor. What?


If you want to be a bold adventurer and try out this game, here is my walkthrough on GameFAQs!

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