Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Review #105: Tales of Destiny II

 It's Tales of Eternia in Japan, just saying.
 Tales of Destiny II was the second Tales of game to be released on the original Playstation, it was also named "Tales of Eternia" in Japan, but I guess since the Tales of franchise didn't have a solid foundation(Tales of Phantasia hadn't left Japan), they decided to make it look like a direct sequel. Like the other Tales of games, while it looks like an average JRPG, random encounters and all, battles take place in real time, on a 2-D plane, it is their staple after all!

 The story puts you in the role of Reid, a young man that wants nothing but to eat good meals and live a lazy, stress free life. His friend, Farah, is a do-gooder, who ropes him into aiding Meredy, a mysterious waif that comes from Celestia, a planet kept separated from Inferia by a barrier of sorts. Something I quite liked about this game, were the characters, both the main characters and the secondary cast, and the situations characters were placed in. For a Tales of game, it has a pretty fresh cast of characters, Reid, the hero, is anything but heroical(At least for most of the game), or Keele, a childhood friend, is pretty obnoxious even if he doesn't realize it. As for the troubles the characters get in, while none are too shocking, there are a couple of surprises.
 The game plays just like any other JRPG, you go from town to dungeon to town to dungeon ad nauseam. When outside towns, while walking around you may topple into a random encounter, these battles are played out in real time, you take control of one character and the CPU takes care of the other three. You can customize their behavior somewhat by tweaking some parameters or setting guidelines, but you can tell them to use an item or a spell at any time. As for the character you play as, you get normal attacks on the X button, and you can set Artes(Skills or spells) to the circle button plus a directional input. A unique gimmick on this particular game is Fringing, as you go through the game you'll gain the aid of Greater Craymels, and you can set them to either Keele or Meredy's Craymel Cage. Depending on how you arrange the Craymels, means who gets which spells, it's not exactly rocket science, but it does lend itself to experimentation.

 While combat is very fast paced and fun, I had some troubles early on in the game. Turns out you don't get a real healer until much later in the game, which made certain boss battles very hard. This is one of those RPGs in which hoarding items doesn't work, you are going to have to use them to heal up during battles. Cooking, which is done by buying ingredients, and can be done once after each battle, is another must during the early stages of the game. The game then gets another difficulty spike during the first half of the second disc, with enemies that just refuse to flinch, but after you get through the second hump, the difficulty remains there, more or less.
 There's plenty to do in Destiny II, from finding all the Wonder Chefs in each town, to a ton of sidequests and optional scenes that you just might need some kind of guide to find them all. There are also a handful of Hideouts to track, once you get the GPS, filled with hidden goodies. All in all, it lasts more than 30 hours, and beating the game earns you New Game+, that houses a new dungeon(You can also trick the game into thinking that you are in New Game+ by reloading your pre-last boss savefile after finishing the game and saving the Data on another slot...).

 The presentation is the most lackluster aspect of the game. Sprites, both on the main characters and on the enemies, should've used a couple more frames, animation just isn't too good. And the color palette that the game employs gives the game a somewhat washed out look. Music isn't particularly good, but I expected a bit more from a Tales of game, and the voice acting is terrible, these were the early days of Voice Acting in videogames after all!

 All in all? It's a fairly good game, it does have two annoying difficulty spikes, and it might not look too good, but the overall game is very entertaining, with lots to do and find. The cast of characters is fairly engaging as well, and it's nice to see such variety on the cast, since Tales of loves recycling certain tropes.
 7.0 out of 10.

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