Certain phrases in the English language are often used to great effect, such as when we think of marketing: “Don’t leave home without it”, or “Melts in your mouth, not in your hands, and even “Obey your thirst”. These key phrases and words associate certain products with them when we are exposed to them over and over, so it isn’t surprising that in the world of video games, certain key phrases and words have taken on associated meanings. After all, there are tens of thousands of used video games, and thinking all the way back to the Nintendo Enterainment System(NES) and moving forward to the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii, there is bound to be a wealth of intentional and unintentional ‘sloganizing’.
We are all aware of the success of franchises like Super Mario Brothers and the Legend of Zelda, but what about the other guys, those games that might go unnoticed were we not here to salvage their epic playability and raise them to that famed ‘classic’ status? It is with these less well known video games that we are here to discuss today
If you have ever thought of the phrase Tales of.. in relation to a video game, what did you think of? For me, I envision a role-playing game (RPG) fraught with turned-based combat and towns full of common folk ready to share information with you. I also think of three particular games: Tales of Symphonia (Nintendo Gamecube, PlayStation 2), Tales of the Abyss (Playstation 2), and Tales of Phantasia (Super Famicom, Game Boy Advance, Playstation, PSP). What do these three RPGs have in common? Let’s take a look:
Tales of Symphonia – Like previous games in the Tales series, Tales of Symphonia uses a version of the Linear Motion Battle System – a real-time battle system, https://eternia.to/ as opposed to the turn-based systems used in traditional role-playing games. When running around in the overworld, battles can be triggered by running into the monsters that dot the landscape. The Overlimit feature, which is a result of building ‘tension points’, allows characters to take less damage, perform special actions, and cast spells more quickly. ‘Grade’ is substituted for experience, and can be used to purchase items and EX gems
As characters level up in Tales of Symphonia, they can learn ‘EX-skills’ which allows them learn different abilities, sometimes combining them for greater effect. Each character can earn up to 25 titles in the game either by playing through a certain point in the game, by leveling, or by meeting certain conditions. Different titles will have different effects. Items in the game are a result of loot from battle, from recipes learned from the Wonder Chef (success in cooking is determined by the character’s skill level), and from NPCs upgrading items when given certain components.
Along with the cut scenes in the game, decisions you make will affect how others think of Lloyd, the main character. Depending on the choices you make, the friendship’s among the characters may change.
Tales of the Abyss – Tales of the Abyss is a story about Luke, and the value of friendship and sacrifice. As Luke, you begin inside your family’s manor, an amnesiac caused by the shock of being kidnapped years ago. Shattering your forgotten memories, a girl named Tear breaks into the castle, and you are taken from the safety of home to places unknown. Luke roams freely through his environment finding treasure and voracious enemies to boot.
The land is full of particles created from elements including light, dark, air, earth, fire, and water called Fonons, and the you can master the a particular area by using attacks that are based in one of six particles. Luke can charge-up normal actions to become super attacks by using moves that require the primary Fonon found within that environment. Luke’s companions Mieu and Jade, will join you along the way and fill out your party.
Elemental attacks are made more powerful by using slot chambers to add special effects such as power, damage, and health increases, and as your characters level up, you have over 80 unlockable attributes that affect Luke and his friends. As you journey through your main quest of uncovering Luke’s affiliation with the Order of Lorelei, side stories include cooking to increase attributes and accessorizing with swimsuits, upscale clothing, and more. You can journey by yourself, or invite up to three friends to play along as characters in Luke’s party.
Tales of Phantasia – Tales of Phantasia, was a role-playing game originally released for the Super Famicom, and due to its success as a series, it has finally been releasted in North America. Today, Tales of Phantasia distinguishes itself with its action-oriented, side-scrolling battle sequences (reminding one of Zelda II – The Adventures of Link (NES).
Tales of Phantasia is the story of Cress, a teenager out hunting one day who encounters a strange phenomenon, and as a result realizes he must save the past in order to insure the present. Along the way, he’ll be joined by several other characters, learning magic, commanding elementals, taking sides in political struggles, and more.
The combat system defies the tradition of most RPGS, and is most similar to Tales of Symphonia. Rather than take turn based attacks, battles in Tales of Phantasia put you in direct control of Cress. You can perform a variety of strikes using the attack button and control pad,learning other techniques as the game progresses. It’s also possible to perform chain combinations, much like Symphonia. The combat system is pleasant diversion from turn-based RPGs, and the animations and backgrounds are beautiful, and have held up well over time on the Game Boy Advance.
Certainly, as video game technology progressed, so did the marketing skills of the companies making the games. Reading the back of the boxes of some Sega Master System games one morning over a box of cereal, I realized how bad the writing was for some of the games. In the 90s, and 00s, companies started employing professional writers, and marketers caught on to sloganizing in video games, giving us a wealth of ‘Tales of..’ games. The ones I came with are listed here: Tales of Phantasia, Tales of Destiny, Tales of Destiny 2, Tales of Eternia, Tales of Fandom, Tales of Rebirth, Tales of Symphonia, Tales of Legendia,, Tales of the Abyss, and Tales of the Tempest. Hmmm. It is starting to not sound like an accident after all. In any case, I will leave it to the reader to judge which elements are similar in the three reviewed titles, and which are not. You could also go out and play these three classics, given enough time.