Tales Of Destiny
Some of you may remember a late-blooming Super Famicom RPG by Namco called Tales of Phantasia that came out in Japan toward the end of the 16-Bit days. Unfortunately, the 48-Meg monster never made it to the United States, but thanks to Namco, its PlayStation sequel (Tales of Destiny) is on the way.
At first glance, Tales of Destiny might seem a little outdated. The 2D graphics have a bit of a Super NES look and feel to them, and the "3D" overworld looks only slightly better than the Mode 7 overworld from the first Tales game. If you can get past that however (don't worry, it won't be too difficult), you'll find a very solid, very polished RPG that's got much in the way of gameplay and a well-written, interesting story. Tales of Destiny stars a boy named Stan who, while stowing away on a flying dragon ship, stumbles upon a sentient sword (it thinks and speaks for itself) named Dymlos. The game revolves around Dymlos and five other mystical swords just like it, which are known as "Swordians." These Swordians obviously hold the key to saving the land from the impending doom that's about to rummage its way onto the scene and...ahh, you know the deal--we'll leave the full story for the instruction manual.
Anyway, ToD stands out for a lot of reasons, but the main one is the game's unique battle system. Instead of your typical menu-driven RPG battles, ToD incorporates a side-scrolling user-controlled system that gives you full control over your party members' every actions. You can do several different kinds of attacks by performing Street Fighter-style movements on the D-pad, in addition to the special "skills" that you'll learn as you build experience. Swordian holders can cast magic spells, and when you find special "Discs," you can equip them to your Swordian to add new spells to your arsenal and/or abilities to your character (kind of like Final Fantasy Vll's Materia system). Later in the game you'll be able to summon monsters, too.
There's a lot more to ToD than just the battle system, but unfortunately we weren't able to try out everything since the version we played was only 15 percent translated (about five hours' worth). We do know there are plenty of minigames, subquests (including a 50-level Tower of Druaga bonus dungeon) and other cool little diversions to check out (wait'll you learn how to cook...), so it's safe to say this one's gonna be worth checking out. Look for it this September, and check back for a review of the final version soon.
Download Tales Of Destiny
I Tales of Destiny looks very much like it was originally designed with the Super NES in mind, but if you can get past the game's extremely "16-Bitty" graphics, you'll find a deep, involving game that's sure to please fans of old-school SNES-style RPGs. The thing about Tales of Destiny that grips me the most is the game's dialogue. It's not even so much the story--which isn't bad, mind you, though hardly mindblowing--but rather the way the characters develop and interact with each other and their Swordians. The dialogue is very nicely written, and often had me laughing out loud--whoever wrote this really has a gift for touching upon people's emotions and getting them attached to the characters (and I'm not just talking about localization--you can tell this was well-done even in Japan). Gameplay-wise, Tales delivers. The unique battle system is loads of fun (especially later on when you've learned some of the cooler Spells and Special attacks), and the dungeons are fabulous. They're well-designed, they're TOUGH, and they're all over the place. It took me over 40 hours to beat, and I was actually trying to hurry. If you're one of those RPGers who likes to find everything, ToD is perfect for you-there are loads of hidden items and secrets, and even a 60-level bonus dungeon. Very nice.
Tales of Destiny is a solid RPG if you don't mind its old-school look. I know graphics shouldn't matter, but nearly everything in this game could've been done on the Super NES. There's even some Mode 7-style effects in there. Still, the game is a lot of fun. The battles are the most interesting part of the game in my opinion. Overall, RPG fanatics will love Tales of Destiny, but don't expect it to be as grand as FF VII or anything.
Tales of Destiny's 16-Bit graphics may turn you off at first, but if you stick with it you'll be surprised to find an RPG that's very much geared toward fans of the genre. Fighting takes place quite a bit, but the innovative battle system makes it a lot more tolerable than the standard menu-based stuff. The dungeons are challenging, the soundtrack is excellent, and the story is both interesting and funny. This sucker is long, too.
Tales of Destiny is a perfect example of an old school-style RPG being slightly revamped for 32-Bit. Colorful hand-drawr graphics complement a lush musical score, and it's all topped off by a good story. The game is super long and has a nice batch of surprises to keep things interesting. If you aren't bothered by the lack of polygons, you'll definitely enjoy ToD. Even if the graphics do bother you, I still recommend you at least rent it.
Due to the lack of big-name RPGs for the PlayStation this year (Capcom's Breath of Fire III and Square EA's Parasite Eve are premium games, but not marquee titles), other titles are looking to fill the cracks. Unfortunately, Tales of Destiny, with its bare-bones graphics, awkward control, and wandering story line, is running behind even the also-rans.
Tales of Disappointment
In TOD, you're Stahn Aieron, a 19-year-old orphan with a strong sense of right and wrong. Your lifelong dream has been to become a master swordsman who punishes evildoers everywhere, so when a legendary Swordian (a living, talking sword) falls into your possession, you're ready to seek out and destroy the diabolical forces on your planet. TOD's wandering story line, however, often leaves you wondering exactly where these forces are, as you sit through listless dialogue from child ish characters and meander through the lands.
TOD's uninspired graphics wouldn't impress on the Super NES. The flat, static viewpoint leaves a lot of blind spots, and the side-to-side combat scenes utilize the squat, poorly detailed characters from the overhead view. The enemies are small and hardly fearsome, while the attack special effects aren't special at all. As if to match the performance of the unimpressive visuals, TOD's controls let you move in only four directions, and you seem to get stuck constantly. Finally, though the unremarkable soundtrack sets the tone and cuts through the silence, it becomes awfully repetitive. Just a few nice touches--like the complex detail of the airships and the ability to customize your special-attack controls--keep TOD from falling on its own Swordian.
Destiny of a Dud
TOD does overcome some common RPG pratfalls, such as overly complicated menus or the need to constantly "level," and it offers lots of characters and locations. Nevertheless, the game is ultimately uncompelling: There's no eye candy, no particularly interesting mystery that needs to be explored, and no looming, mind-bog gling challenge to overcome. Playing Tales of Destiny is just a matter of wandering around until you bump into the right location to view a conversation. Sort of like life, but with worse graphics and controls.
- To escape the Draconis, work your way to the outer hull, then follow it south and east to the escape pod.
- Once you reach the global map, travel north and west to Harmentz Village. Don't take free items from children there, or you'll regret it.
- When she's lost, you'll find Chelsea in the northwest comer of the snowy forest.
- During battle, always gang up on one bad guy until he's dead--a wounded enemy inflicts as much damage as a fresh one.
- Keep Leon in the front lines. He's the strongest of your party.. .and he's not exactly what he seems.
How popular are Role Playing Games? Apparently they are popular enough to get the company famous for the Ridge Racer and Tekken series to step away from their bread and butter and see if they can't cash in on some of the popularity. Those of you that are familiar with Namco may be a bit surprised to find that the graphics are not the standard Namco fare but instead the focus was turned to the storyline. After all, the story is a big part of what makes a RPG a success or failure.
RPG fans just love to hear all of the different options they will have in a game. Fear not, Tales of Destiny should feel as comfortable as an old pair of shoes. You will have the usual characters that build up experience throughout the game and collect objects. Along the way you will run into various people, some of whom are out to help you while others look to kill you. There is plenty of magic, battles and weapons to keep most RPG fans happy.
Up until recently I thought I did not like RPG's. Every time a new game was released, I would dread getting started. The funny thing was that after I started playing the game, you could not pry me away from the screen. It finally hit me that I might actually enjoy, or even worse, like RPG's. So when Namco released this game, I was actually excited to start playing.
One of the biggest things that make RPG's popular is the vast and detailed story lines. People like to feel like they are actually part of the world, not just an outside observer. The storyline in this game had you playing as a 19-year-old man named Stahn Aileron. Stahn was orphaned at an early age and grew up with his grandfather. Eventually, Stahn decided he wanted to go out and see the world and hoped to become a master swordsman in the process. Hundreds of years before Stahn was ever born, the world was at war. To make a long story short, one of the residuals from the war was a number of special swords that were actually alive. After the war ended, the swords became dormant until now, when Stahn finds the first one. This is where your adventure begins.
So that is the story of the game. When the game starts, you basically sit back and read about 30 minutes of dialog setting up the scenario. You start as a stowaway on a pirate ship and you just got discovered. You are brought before the captain who orders you to mop the deck. While mopping, the ship gets attacked by monsters. This is where you are finally allowed to control the character. I thought it was a bit too long of an intro and I was really wishing that I could just start playing but I could not skip past the beginning. This was one of my complaints with the game.
Once you finally get to start playing the game, you will find that the game is typical RPG fare. You control your character as you explore and talk to people. Throughout your adventure you will meet a bunch of people, some of whom have information that is useful but most of them just tell you useless things. You will come to towns where people are abundant and like every other RPG you can go to the inn to sleep, the armory to buy weapons, etc. Like I said, this game will feel very comfortable to anybody who has ever spent any time with an RPG.
The game is really broken up into three different types of screens. You have your normal screen which is used for when you are walking around towns and buildings. The second type of screen is your battle screen (more on battles in a minute). This is where you will do battle when you are attacked by enemies. The third type of screen is called the Global Sphere Map or GSM for short. This is where you can view the world and travel great distances. When traveling between towns, you will go to the GSM. Once again, this is very typical for an RPG. I know I keep saying this but if you have ever played an RPG, you should feel right at home.
Let's talk about those battles now. This game had real time battles versus turn based battle which was a plus in my eyes but I still did not really like the battle system. First off, I thought that I was ambushed by enemies way too often. There were so many times that I just wanted to get from point A to point B but I was unable to get there quickly because I kept getting jumped. The worst part about it was that the enemies were invisible until I was actually in the battle screen so I could not avoid them. The other thing that I did not like about the battles was that it felt like everything was in slow motion. It was so slow feeling that it was almost like turn based combat. I really prefer real time combat but I think they should have really sped things up because most of the time I ended up taking turns attacking anyway.
The best way to describe the graphics in this game is "old school." Everything felt and looked like an old 16-bit RPG. It was obvious that graphics were not the first priority when they made this game. Now don't get me wrong. The graphics were not terrible or anything but they were not the best graphics I have ever seen either. All of the people were really small and it was hard to tell who was who in some cases. But remember, this is an RPG so these types of graphics are pretty much standard.
All in all, I would have to say that this was a pretty average RPG. I never found myself deeply involved in the story but on the other hand I did play a ton of hours. I think the seasoned RPG fan will get about the same out of it as I did whereas someone new to the genre may not be overly impressed. If you can't live without owning every RPG ever made then you should enjoy this game the most. It has that nostalgic look and feel to it. I think that if the battles were done better I would have enjoyed the game more. As it sits now, it is still an average title.
Snapshots and Media
- Dark Cloud 2
- Earth and Beyond
- Enchanted Arms
- Final Fantasy 8
- Front Mission 3
- Grandia Xtreme
- Lords of EverQuest
- Phantasy Star Online
- RPG Maker 3
- Tales of Legendia
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
- The Granstream Saga
- Wild Arms 3
- Ys: The Ark of Napishtim
- Lunar 2 Eternal Blue
- Star Ocean: Blue Sphere
- Ys 3 - Wanderer from Ys