Like Tales of Innocence R, the first thing you notice about Tales of Hearts R is that it is a complete remake from the ground up. The chibi-style sprites are gone and replaced with 3D models reminiscent of the console games in the series. The environments as well have gotten a complete overhaul both in and out of battle.
The section of the game I was able to play was only a few minutes in length. After a short four-panel conversation—which is now, like the entire main story of the game, fully voiced—you move your party through a cathedral where you are randomly attacked by soldiers. The demo ends after you reach the area above the organ and fight a boss battle against a beautiful woman and a man with a bazooka.
The demo, while short, showed off the battle system quite nicely. Much like the controls of Tales of Innocence R, free movement is controlled via the left thumbstick while special attacks are mapped to the D-pad and/or right thumbstick. Other than that, it's played exactly like its console big brothers, using the same basic style of 3D combat present in the series since Tales of Symphonia back on the GameCube.
In the end, Tales of Hearts R looks great on the Vita and plays well to boot. And with its graphical additions and voice acting—not to mention the inclusion of a new playable character—Tales of Hearts R is shaping up to be the definitive version of this game.
Tales of Hearts R will be released on March 7, 2013, in Japan. There is currently no word on an international release.