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Tales of Legendia Review – Part 1: Why the battle system needs to be thrown away and burned in the fires of the deepest circle of HELL August 7, 2006

Posted by Lupus in Gaming.
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If you’re wondering what I’ve been doing – and you have – I’ve been two things. 1) I’ve been sick (my throat is killing me) and 2) I’ve been playing Tales of Legendia.

tolpic.jpg

Totally related to anime, Hung, it’s totally related to anime

I’m only(!) just over 30 hours into the game, but I can honestly say that this game has the best story and characterisation of any J-RPG I’ve played to date (you can question that claim, since I’ve never played FFVII). The things that make it great are numerous and will be reviewed in a future update, but for now I’m going to talk about what lets it down – the battle system.

In a nutshell, the battle system needs to be thrown away and burned in the fires of deepest circles of hell.

If you haven’t played any of the previous ‘Tales of’ games, the battle system is reminiscent of most 2D fighters, where your characters walk or run along a single line and buttons are mashed in certain combination to deliver THE PAIN!!!!! on your enemies. What makes Tales of Legendia different from its prequels are the Compound Eres and the way Crystal Eres (spells) are learned. Compound Eres are abilities used by the Iron Erens – essentially your martial artists – which combines three skills to form a new, more powerful skill. Crystal Eres are learned by first reaching a certain level, then harvesting ‘Eres Stones’ that enemies sometime drops upon death. This becomes very annoying when some creature types appear very rarely and drop stones even more rarely. It forces you to grind if you want to learn new spells, and I hate grinding almost as much as I hate watching End of Evangelion (which I’ve watched 5 times – it’s a love-hate thing).

As for the battles themselves, characters from the same side stacks – that is, your party members can occupy the same spot as each other, and the same goes for enemies. You cannot stack with enemies though. What this means is that a single hit can hit up to 3 or 4 characters at once, and this can work both for and against you. Sometimes it makes battles very easy – push all the enemies into one corner and smack away – while at other times it allows the boss’ 1000 damage attack combo to take out 3 of your party members at once. Having played Tales of Phantasia (second most awesomest J-RPG ever) and Tales of Symphonia, both of which didn’t have this stacking feature, I can very honestly declare say that stacking needs to go the same place as the battle system.

Pressing down causes your character to dash to the other side of the enemy next to you, but this can sometimes be accidentally triggered when you’re trying to use the skill assigned to down circle. It doesn’t help that the controls are very fiddly, not as tight and sensitive as the ToP or ToS counterparts.

And by fiddly and loose I mean looser than a porn star’s asshole after an extended filming session for “Anal Adventures 8: Now with 4 appendages in one hole!” Not even Goatse man is this loose. Maybe it’s the PS2’s controller’s fault – I’ve always found the PS2 analogue sticks to be sucky – but that can’t be because there are games that shows that the analogue control can be tighter than a fresh loli – not that I know how tight a fresh loli is *cough*. This often leads to frustration as you try to use that one ability that could save your entire party, but find yourself dashing right into the combo that spells the world’s demise.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, since apart from the frustration it’s pretty much sunshine and lollipop. I’m only around level 30, so I’m still learning new spells at a a good pace, so I’m not using the same abilities ad nauseam. It also helps that Senel’s fist fighting style is very different from the previous ‘Tales of’ protagonists’ swordsmanship, though that’s still available to you in the form of Chloe. Spells don’t look that flashy (yet) and chaining combo is far less challenging with the advent of the Climax mode (60+ combo at level 15), but Tales of Legendia’s battle system isn’t as bad I make it out to be in the title of this article. I really do wish it would burn in hell though – if the stacking didn’t exist and the controls felt tighter this game would challenge Tales of Phantasia as the best Tales game.

Look forward to a future update to see what makes ToL so great.

————————–

Here’s a short recollection of how I played this game over the last weekend:

Day 1: 10 hours straight, with short trips out for lunch and for dinner
Day 2: 12 hours straight, snacking on biscuits, muesli bars and water for nourishment
Day 3: 11 hours straight, food? What’s that?

Now, keep in mind that I’ve been sick since around Thursday last week, so that should give you a good idea of how bloody awesome this game is.

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Comments»

1. Nighty - August 7, 2006

ToL has the BESTEST OF TEH BESTEST EVER in terms of character development. Not surprising when 2/3rd of the game is character-central more so than story. Far from the best story, (( Abyss pwns Legendia in story in every way )) but good nevertheless, with it’s trademark Tales racism theme.

The battle system sucks though. A lot.

Tales of Abyss >>> Every other Tales.

2. Lupus - August 7, 2006

I haven’t played Abyss. Is it available in English? I have it in Japanese, but there’s not much point playing that if the story is the good part. If it’s out in English I’ll ‘import’ it through the internet.

3. Nighty - August 7, 2006

The English of Abyss will be out in Q4 2006. I fear how will they handle the seiyuus and cut-ins (( whatever it was called again )). Jade, Anise and Mew need amazing seiyuus to potray their character, and ToA has 3 times the character cut-ins ToL had.

Abyss is really good in terms of character, story, battle and side-quest. I personally think it’s the best J-RPG in the PS2 currently. If there’s a weakness though, the main character of Abyss, Luke is a dick for the first 6 hours of the game and a MAJOR DICK for the next 3 hours. Some people considered it to be a turn-off.

4. The Juice - August 15, 2006

Best character development? I don’t think so. They absolutely nailed down the clueless and indecisive characters. To begin with characters like that, it definitely made their development a lot more evident.

Sorry, it’s so retarded when someone is feeling down, later (s)he acts normally, then everybody starts pointing out how, “That’s the way it should be, everything’s back to normal” x200. Like how many times do they have to point that out. There were too many cutscenes I wouldn’t to jump inside the game and slap somebody especially that fool Walter. I think I must have wanted to slap every character during the course of the game.

5. Lupus - August 15, 2006

Walter wasn’t a particularly interesting character, but even just playing through the main quest I really got to like Chloe and Norma and… well, just Chloe and Norma really. I think I’d like Jay if he didn’t sound like a faq, and I’d like Will more if he wasn’t utterly useless in battle. I like Grune, but she doesn’t have much of a character (yet), though I like how her story seems to run through the whole CQ. Moses was funny, but he wasn’t a particularly outstanding character.

I think the characterisation is far more unique than most other J-RPGs, at least compared to the ones I’ve played with. I think it’s because they have so much conversation and cut-scenes, so the personality of each individual character really shines through.

I should save some of this for Part II.

6. Ronin - August 16, 2006

I await your verdict on Tales of Eternia, which I asusme you haven’t played yet. *raises eyebrow*

7. Lupus - August 19, 2006

Nope, haven’t played Eternia. Living in Australia has certain disadvantages, including not getting 99% of J-RPGs released in NTSC territories and having possums run rampant over your roof and attic.

8. Tenks - September 20, 2006

Well, at least you like the characters.


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