Tales of Destiny - Retroview

New Title, Same Game - Sort of...

By: Paul Koehler

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 8
   Interface 8
   Music/Sound 5
   Originality 5
   Plot 6
   Localization 6
   Replay Value 5
   Visuals 6
   Difficulty Easy
   Time to Complete

25-40 Hours


Title Screen
North America's First Introduction to the Tales Series

   In the dying days of the Super Famicom system, or SNES, as it is known in North America, Namco and the wunderkind Wolf Team made Tales of Phantasia. A 48-megabit cartridge, it was one of the largest Super Nintendo games ever made, and it was a great game as well. Like many gems in the RPG world, ToP never made it across the Pacific. With the success of that game and a then-little known console called the Sony Playstation, Tales of Destiny was released in 1997, and sent to North America in 1998. For all that the Playstation console offers, ToD could have been a lot more, and it is important to note that development house Wolf Team left Namco shortly after Tales of Phantasia was released. Despite this setback, Tales of Destiny is a solid game that provides the experience of one of the SNES's best RPG games on the Playstation for a worldwide audience.

One of the best aspects of ToD is its battle system. To make up for the relatively high enemy encounter rate in the game, ToD provides a unique take on battles: 2D Combat. Characters can attack with slashes, thrusts, jump attacks, and special skills, and weapons in the game are designed to meet these requirements. Targeting is usually auto or semi-automatic, but for the greatest challenge, an accessory in the game allows a character to switch to manual control. While it takes some getting used to, combat is a lot better. Needless to say, if someone can master a game such as Street Fighter Alpha 3, manual battles will not be a problem. To make things even easier, tech points (a.k.a. magic) are gained after every battle, and this takes a considerable amount of challenge away from the game. While not necessary, this does encourage the use of battle skills and spells; some of which are fun to watch. ToD battles will be the focus of a large part of the game, and it is a welcome break from the norm of turn-based or real-time battles.

   Other aspects of the game become much more standardized from here. Menu interfaces are largely designed as a supplement for character development, and like almost every other console RPG to date, ToP is no exception. Unique to the Tales series is the Food Sack, which acts as a healer of sorts. Although its use is not necessary in the game, it can be an aid at times. Even better is the "Rune Bottle", which is able to upgrade certain items in the inventory. The design is solid enough where it supports the battle system, and it serves its purpose.

Although Tales of Destiny is an RPG in the "retro" sense, "retro" RPG's can still have great music. ToD's music isn't awful, but it isn't too memorable either. Even considering the times, Tales of Phantasia even had a J-Pop theme song to go with it: on the Super Nintendo! In battles, however, there are voiceovers of battle cries…including the classic "INDIGNATION!" . All of these are done by Japanese voice actors. Although they do get annoying after a while, they are far better than their North American counterparts.

   At the same time, it does leave a little unfinished touch to the localization effort done by Namco…it is a sad state when fan translators of ROM images do better than the game companies themselves. No huge grammatical errors or plot holes are present, but even so, this could be because of the simple nature of ToD's story.

"An unknown hero meets an assorted group of characters that fight a horror from an ancient civilization." Wow. Hasn't this been done before? While it serves as the basis for a solid fantasy story, there was nothing really memorable about the Ae'ther Wars or King Garr. Fortunately, all of the character types filled their roles well, and there are occasional rivalries and/or hookups (such as Stahn and Rutee). It's nothing touching, but the purpose is served.

  Following the trend of the rest of the game, many of the graphics in Tales of Destiny look like they could have come from the original SNES game, but Namco made a serious effort to modernize the look of the game. Unlike its predecessor, ToD takes advantage of the Playstation's hardware to create an environment similar to Final Fantasy 7, and the battle effects and voiceovers are polished. In addition, there is an anime-style opening and ending…but that's it. It's a shame to see the American box say that a "Gorgeous anime-style opening and ending set the mood of the adventure", but if that helped sell this game, I would approve of it.

Cutesy or Realistic Name
This is why Tales battles are so fun!  

  Tales of Destiny is not a great game, but it is a solid one…and it did have to live up to an incredible sibling. While the effort put into it seems a little haphazard, the solid formula used with ToD gives gamers a new twist on battles with the combat, something that every Tales game has used with success. For an extra challenge, Namco inserted a little of their own history and based ToP's secret dungeon off of one of their old arcade games: The Tower of Druaga. While ToP itself is not too challenging, the Tower of Druaga is a pain (as any secret dungeon should be), and it is complete with the original arcade music itself!


At the very least, Tales of Destiny was the first game of the series to be released stateside. Although it is not the miracle that its predecessor was, it serves as an introduction to the series, and that alone is worth buying the game.

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