Tales of Destiny - Reader Re-Retroview  

When Talking Swords Attack
by Prince Jeremy, Duke of Otterland

20-25 Hours


Rating definitions 

   A country boy, Stahn Aileron, has hitched a ride on an airship, the Draconis, but is soon discovered as a stowaway. When monsters attack the vessel, he stumbles upon a Swordian, a talking sword, named Dymlos, a relic from the ancient Aeth'er Wars, which will ultimately spark a chain of events that will lead him and several allies to save the world from destruction. Tales of Destiny was the first installment of Namco's Tales series to see its release in North American, and while it isn't the best of the franchise, it does have its charms.

   Like other installments of the series, Destiny features real-time linear combat, with the player controlling Stahn and the A.I. controlling up to three other active characters. There are several customizable A.I. options in the menus and the option to turn off certain spells for characters, although at many times, A.I.-controlled characters strangely have a tendency to stand and do nothing while Stahn hacks away at the enemy. Still, battles are pretty fast-paced, and fortunately, the action of battle pauses when the player changes Stahn's enemy targeting. Four characters, Stahn included, are Swordian Masters, with the player able to equip each Swordian with various kinds of discs that provide stat increases; Swordians also allow their masters to cast magic spells. There isn't much to complain about aside from the inconsistent A.I. and a somewhat-high encounter rate, but combat is easily one of the game's high points.

   Interaction is decent for the most part, with clean menus and good control, although there are some shortcomings, such as the lack of diagonal movement on fields and the ease of missing directions on how to advance the story, with few reminders on how to do so. Furthermore, one dungeon features a puzzle with mistranslated clues that render it impossible to solve without the use of a guide. All in all, interaction isn't perfect, but doesn't severely detract from the game.

He must spend a fortune on shampoo Stahn's hair gets great reception

   Destiny borrows many elements, such as the real-time combat system and many items, from its predecessor, Tales of Phantasia, although it does certainly have its own uniquenesses, such as the tweaks to the battle system and by extent the part of the story (though it generally reflects the generic theme of saving the world from destruction), that make it a distinctive part of the series in its own right.

   The story, though, is a bit of a letdown. Most of the characters and villains don't have a whole lot of depth, and the plot generally revolves around the "save the world from destruction" camp present in many other RPGs. There are a few minor twists, and things do get somewhat interesting towards the end, but otherwise, the story isn't much of a reason to play the game or a driving factor throughout it.

   The soundtrack, however, is another of the game's high points, with plenty of catchy tracks, many of which, especially later in the game, have a nice techno style. Namco also left the battle voices in Japanese, which are alright, though the voice actors, as usual, oddly pronounce English words. Still, Destiny is fairly easy on the ears.

   The visuals, though, could've used some improvement. The few anime cutscenes are nice, as are some of the game environs, although the character sprites are disproportionate in and out of battle, and the world map is among the ugliest to appear on the Playstation. Overall, the graphics certainly aren't a major selling point of the game.

   Finally, Destiny isn't a terribly lengthy game, taking somewhere from twenty to twenty-five hours to finish, with few sidequests of which to speak. All in all, Tales of Destiny has some things going for it, like its battle system and music, but also has some things going against it, like its story and little lasting appeal. It isn't the best of the series, but would nonetheless receive a direct sequel and Playstation 2 remake, both of which will unlikely see a North American release. The original version itself is a bit of a rare find nowadays, although it isn't terribly urgent for gamers to experience it.

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