Forgot password?  |  Register  |    
User Name:     Password:    
Blog - General Entry   

A personal retrospective of the Tales series.

On 02/09/2019 at 10:50 AM by SanAndreas

See More From This User »

Linked to Article Series: Blog a Day 2019

I'm going to make what will, again, probably be my only BaD contribution.

Right now, I'm playing Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition on Switch. I had the original release on Xbox 360, and it's one of the few 360 releases I actually care to revisit. I couldn't do so because I no longer have the 360 or the game. It's still a great game, now with the extra content that is typical of all of Namco's Tales remakes.

The Tales series has been running for almost 25 years. It got my attention because the character designer for many of the Tales games is Kosuke Fujishima, one of my favorite manga artists and the guy behind Ah! My Goddess and Sakura Taisen. For most of the series, the main character designer was Mutsumi Inomata, a well-known-in-Japan manga artist. The original Tales team, Wolfteam, left Namco and formed Tri-Ace, where they created the similar Star Ocean and Valkyrie Profile games.

My first exposure to the series was in Nintendo Power, when Nintendo reported that Namco was working on Tales of Phantasia 2 on the N64. That announcement got my attention, because the N64 was turning out to be a complete wasteland for RPGs, which is why the N64 is my least favorite Nintendo console. Unlike most other games Nintendo promised for the N64, Tales of Phantasia 2 actually did come out... seven years later... with a different name... on Nintendo's next console.

The Tales series, despite extremely formulaic plots and being hit-or-miss in quality at times, is still one of my favorite RPG series after all this time. It's one of my "day one" RPG series. Even the weaker games in the series are still usually interesting.

Tales of Phantasia

The Super Famicom and PS1 versions of the first Tales game never came out in the US. The only extant official US release of this game is the Game Boy Advance version, which Nintendo released on the coattails of the success of Tales of Symphonia on Gamecube. Its translation was an Engrish-ridden rush job, but the game itself was good.

A few years later, Namco released the game on iOS, a decision apparently made during a party with copious amounts of alcohol and crack. Namco released the iOS version with microtransactions and requiring an always-on Internet connection, despite the fact that this was a port of a single-player. Needless to say, this idea went over like a lead balloon, and ToP iOS was delisted several months later.

Tales of Destiny

This was the Tales series' first US release, and I skipped over it because it was 2-D. During the PS1 and N64 eras, 2-D games got pilloried by critics, which led Namco's localization manager Yas Noguchi to publicly lash out at Squaresoft, and ignored by gamers, myself included (the Lunar series was an exception, however). I did buy it used some years later, when 2-D games had regained their respectability. I liked its soundtrack in particular

Tales of Eternia (Destiny II in US)

I also bought this game after the fact at Vintage Stock. I still haven't finished it. It was the first Tales localization with English voices, albeit the cheesy voices typical of most PS1 games.

Tales of Destiny 2 (Japan)

This one was a PS2 direct sequel to Tales of Destiny, unlike Tales of Eternia.

Tales of Symphonia

The long-promised prequel to Tales of Phantasia (7 years prior!) was my first Tales game, and coming at a low time in my life, I loved it. It was my favorite game of 2004, and is still one of my favorite games of all time. Its plot was somewhat of a redux of Final Fantasy X, except with Christian and Norse themes and imagery, but the characters were quite likeable and the game kept my interest for months. Nintendo financed the localization and it turned out pretty good. It was also nice seeing good RPGs on Nintendo consoles again after the N64 was such a bust in that department.

Tales of Rebirth

This game never made it out in the US, but a lot of Japanophiles seem to like it.

Tales of Legendia

Coming off of Symphonia, the first localized Tales for PS2 was a disappointment and a step back in a lot of ways.

Tales of the Abyss

This game was more of a return to form, but it still seemed to be a more of a low-budget production than Symphonia. I found Luke to be an abrasive hero, and I was amazed that it's such a fan-favorite. When I played the 3DS remake, I got further through it and enjoyed it more, but it's probably my least favorite of the Fujishima Tales games.

Tales of Innocence

Another US no-show, this one for the DS.

Tales of Vesperia

This game was pretty awesome-looking back in the day, and it still holds up pretty well on Switch/PS4/X1. It was one of my last 360 games before I switched to PS3. Yuri is probably my favorite protagonist from the series.

Tales of Hearts

The DS version of this game was a 2-D Tales game (its DS predecessor, Innocence, was 3-D). I played the 3-D remake on Vita when it was text-localized. It was the last Tales game to have an overworld map.

Tales of Graces

This was the first Tales game that had major areas connected by corridors of forests, caves, and deserts instead of an overworld map. Plot and graphic-wise, this game was a simplified compared to Vesperia, since it originated on Wii. It had a great battle system, though. Only the PS3 version was localized, and that's the version I played.

Tales of Xillia

The first made-for-PS3 Tales game was great, and ranks up there with Symphonia and Vesperia. It might have been my favorte 2013 game if not for Ni no Kuni or A Link Between Worlds.

Tales of Xillia 2

Not quite as good as its predecessor. I didn't get too far in this game because games like Bayonetta 2 came out around that time.

Tales of Zestiria

This game, based on Arthurian lore, was the weakest Tales game released in a long time. I didn't make it too far through this one.

Tales of Berseria

Berseria is a pretty big improvement over Zestiria, and Velvet is a great protagonist. This game kind of got derailed, too, as I bought it right before I made my big move from Baltimore to Phoenix.



Matt Snee Staff Writer

02/09/2019 at 07:58 PM

Tales of Symphonia was my first, Tales of Vesperia was my favorite, but Tales of Graces is the first one I actually finished. I like these games a lot, especially the little optional conversations when you're wandering around. The relationships between the characters are the best. 

Great blog!


02/09/2019 at 11:21 PM

I still have Tales of Phantasia on GBA and Symphonia on GameCube. I need to get to them. I love the 2D RPGs. 

Cary Woodham

02/10/2019 at 08:42 AM

I first remember reading about Tales games in NIntendo Power.  They did an article about the first Tales game on the Super Famicom in Japan, and that was when I was really big into RPGs so I was mad it never came out over here.  I did get the GBA port, I have to say it's not very good.

I do have all the PSOne Tales games.  I enjoyed Symphonia a lot but I think I only liked it because I played it in two player mode with my brother Jeff.  I don't remember if we beat it but we got pretty far.

Tales of Legendia is my favorite Tales game.  I know, I'm weird.  I just love the characters (especially Grune) and my favorite video game composer, Go Shiina, did the music.  And it's wonderful.  Way better than the usual Tales music.

I do have Abyss and Vesperia, but nothing about them sticks out to me.  I know one character fought with a giant stuffed animal, and another was a purple dog.  And there was someone named Judith I think.

After Tales of Graces I kind of fell off the Tales bandwagon.  The games just got too long and meandering for me.  I did get Zestiria for Christmas one year.  i wanted it because I heard Go Shiinia did the music, but it turns out he only did a few songs.  

One thing I like about the older Tales games is all the classic Namco references they had.  A lot of enemies were from classic Namco games, some even had whole islands dedicated to Namco, and Tales of Destiny even had a 60 floor Tower of Druaga bonus dungeon.


02/11/2019 at 09:56 PM

Symphonia was my first Tales game too. Before that I owned Destiny II (US) but only played it for about an hour or so.

Then I have pretty much everything else on the list.

I played Abyss on 3DS too and got a long way in until some "let's take separate paths and try to get to the end before the time runs out" section which almost caused my 3DS to meet a wall. Then I quit. I thought they did a really good job of it though.

I liked Tales of Graces F a lot and Vesperia is a game I played for a long time without ever finishing (twice). Of course I bought the Switch version and maybe 3rd time's a charm. 

I'm hoping to get to the Xillias, Zesteria and Berseria if I don't die first. 

Log in to your PixlBit account in the bar above or join the site to leave a comment.