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The Current State of the Tales Series

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#1 Lame "PBluafnotr4d2" 87421F

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Posted 24 September 2014 - 06:21 PM

I just spent 1-2 hours making this post on the AbyssalChronicles forum, so I decided to make one here too. It's long as hell, and there aren't too many Tales fans here, but contribute if you'd like (even if it's just "fuck tales lol").

 

 

 

 

Hi everyone! I haven't been in the forums since 2011, but I've been visiting AC's main page and occasionally commenting on the news postings. Part of the reason why I haven't been frequenting the forum was because I started losing some interest in the Tales series. I'm actually quite upset about this, too. I've had a few different favorite franchise obsession eras throughout my life--Mortal Kombat, then Pokémon, then Resident Evil, then Tales--but most recently, the Tales series has been letting me down, and a drastic drop in overall quality is what I attribute to this loss of interest.

Am I the only one who is feeling this same way?

Last year, I purchased a PS3 on Black Friday, and I said it would be my "TalesBox." I already had a 360, but after Vesperia, Namdai stopped supporting it in favor of PS3 (for understandable reasons). When Graces failed to get localized on Wii and proceeded to make it to PS3 in Graces f, I was disappointed that I would be missing out on it. Then I saw Xillia, and again was displeased that I'd have to miss out on that one. Again I went through the feeling of loss when Xillia 2 was announced. Upon seeing Symphonia Chronicles getting announced--the remake of my favorite game of all time--I declared that the final straw. When Zestiria was announced, I wasn't disappointed because I knew I'd be prepared with a PS3.

...But I was appalled once I actually played the games I had to catch up on.

First up was Tales of Graces. That game had a ton of uninspired and bland environments that seemed more like decorated blueprints than convincing locales. There were too many areas with floating platforms and objects for the sake of convenience. The story did not actually get interesting until the post-game, and the music was mostly forgettable (I'm hard-pressed to remember any songs other than Sophie's theme). I was bored with Graces before it ended and I was hoping it would end soon so I could finally jump into Xillia, which I "knew" I'd love a lot more.

Next up, Xillia. I was excited to explore the new world, which would surely deviate from the half-baked nature of Graces... though I was mistaken. Xillia had SO many re-used assets and elements that I felt the concern for quality in the series had been thrown out the window. Why is it that EVERY sea port looks EXACTLY the same, regardless of where in the world (or other worlds) you go? It's as if every port in the universe was designed by the same single-minded architect. Also, every town in the universe has an invisible salesman shouting "Mutton! Fresh mutton!" in the same exact voice clip. The first time I heard it, I thought it was a very nice touch. Then I heard it in another town [and every other one after that], and it felt cheap. At least it was funny when I thought he was yelling, "Nuts! Fresh nuts!" but eventually I learned I was hearing it wrong. The music was reused a lot too, and most of the music was uninteresting compared to past compositions--further making the game feel generic. And then there's the overworld, which is gigantic, devoid of anything interesting aside from some enemies (which all share a single battle cry based on categorization), and a plethora of small caves (all of which are identical with a crawl hole and exactly 1 treasure chest, if not an occasional empty cave, which is less rewarding, but actually more welcomed for the sake of variation). There's just way too much copy+paste throughout this game. There are also some AWFUL puzzle designs, such as jumping onto a magic glyph from a platform in order to unlock a door. Seriously, how did that get in the game? Anyway, The battle system in Xillia made every other character a lot mobile, which made them more approachable and enjoyable to play as.

Overall I was disappointed by Xillia and it didn't live up to my expectations, but all hope was not lost; soon I would have Tales of Symphonia Chronicles, and there's no WAY they could screw up an HD remake of my favorite game ever with additional features and events that I never got to experience... Riiiiight?


Before getting the game, I already knew they weren't going to be upgrading all of the textures properly, and that it would be little more than an output resolution bump to HD, as evidenced in this screenshot:

KratosHD_zps106f23a1.png

That was a bit of a disappointment that they didn't properly upgrade this game to Vesperia quality (or at least make the textures uniform quality), but I assumed the rest of the update would be fine.

At last I get my Symphonia HD, and it yet again, I was appalled by what they did. How could they have POSSIBLY messed up an HD Remake?!

• The framerate is 30fps at best, whereas the GCN version had 60fps. The game looks a lot choppier and blurrier as a result.
• The font used in the game is a lot plainer and uglier than the pretty and original typeface from the original game.
• Also, they added text in HUGE black text boxes to the battle dialogue, which CANNOT be disabled. It almost looks like a remnant of the design phase which was accidentally left visible in the final game.

2014-03-03_20-28-06_220_zps651970dc.jpg?

• Some of the dialogue text appears in typos as seen in the image below. Furthermore, they specifically ruined the "word game" conversation ("Church of Martel => Lionel => Lip => Pill => etc."), so the phrases spoken back and forth are out of order and are incoherent in the context of the game/joke.

2014-03-12_20-07-37_695_zps4ec9ce14.jpg

• Careless oversights such as assigning a picture of some random crap on a stick to the "Miso Stew" recipe

2014-03-12_20-17-22_958_zps7bbae392.jpg


...and this isn't even everything they did to ruin the original game. I just don't see what could possibly had been so difficult about porting the PS2 game onto the PS3 without screwing anything up, adding any extra garbage text, and maintaining the output at 60fps.

After the baffling manner in which Namdai completely dropped the ball with Symphonia Chronicles, I wondered what could possibly had happened--did everyone with talent and love for the Tales series jump ship?


In my opinion, Tales of Vesperia is the best Tales game ever created. Symphonia still holds a special place in my heart, but I clearly see how Vesperia, as a video game, is a lot better. The world was a good size, as were the towns. I'm okay with realistically-scaled environments so long as you're not sacrificing the quality and loving detail of your worlds. Nowadays, the Tales games have huge environments and they're all painted with a broad brushstrokes of lifelessness.


By now, Tales of Xillia 2 has been out for a about 5 weeks, and I still haven't gotten it. If I went back in time to last year and told my past self, "By this time next year, you will not be excited for Tales of Xillia 2, or Tales in general for that matter," I would have told my future self, "Shut up; no way." Lo and behold, I've passed up Xillia 2's release date, and I don't feel compelled to play it. As it is, I've already seen footage of the game where the SAME EXACT SOUND FILE of "Mutton! Fresh mutton!" I can already see that their "copy+paste" ways have not changed one bit.

Finally, looking at what Tales of Zestiria is shaping up to be, I'm seeing no reason to get excited. It just seems like more of the same half-baked efforts with an uninteresting story, and gigantic (realistically-scaled) worlds devoid of unique elements.
 

In summary,

I fear that we may never see another Tales game in the way that we used to in Symphonia, Abyss, and--the pinnacle of Tales game design--Vesperia. I've noticed a great decline in general quality in the series beginning with Graces and worsened by Xillia onwards, in everything from story writing, to world design, and music. They also managed to botch a simple HD remake of Symphonia, which is as "un-botchable" as it gets. What used to be my favorite franchise for 10 years, has now become one that sadly disappoints me and gives me little to be excited about.

And that's why I ask you guys: What is your opinion on the state of the Tales series? Do you think it's only getting better as we go forward, of is it simply a different direction of the same good game series, or are you like me who fears that we've had the last of the quality Tales games for the foreseeable future?


Edited by Plant42, 24 September 2014 - 06:22 PM.


#2 CONKERSBADFURDAY

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Posted 24 September 2014 - 07:17 PM

While I haven't played  Tales game since Symphonia, and that one I never finished, I can understand some of the frustrations here. Developers try to reuse assets because it saves time and money, but they have to be reused in a way that the player won't notice unless he's really paying attention (or just not at all, even if the player IS paying attention).

 

For that to be so obvious really shows a lack of polish or give-a-fuck.



#3 Blackskullgreymon

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Posted 24 September 2014 - 07:18 PM

I think the last Tales game I got was the one released on the 3DS, and I recall getting so painfully bored with it so fast that I sold it back.  It wasn't necessarily the plot not grabbing me, or the gameplay, but the presentation itself was so routine.  They sort of just did a remake for the sake of it.

 

When I got Final Fantasy IV on the DS, there was a lot of heart there.  They had to do some things differently in making the game 3D, but everything felt nice and intentional.  Tales of the Abyss just dragged its feet in a weird way and it made me want to play Symphonia again.  I don't think it's that I don't care for the series anymore, it's really just that I want to see something that was truly inspired rather than an intentional annual release attempt.  



#4 gamerman99 GameBoy

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Posted 24 September 2014 - 07:26 PM

Tldr "fuck tales lol" /forplant

Edited by gamerman99, 24 September 2014 - 07:27 PM.


#5 torgo

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Posted 24 September 2014 - 07:57 PM

You left out the part about how his full name is Miles "Tails" Prower!

 

Oh wait, wrong "Tales" 



#6 Ngamer01

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Posted 25 September 2014 - 04:52 AM

It's kinda hard for me to give an opinion on the Tales series when most of it has either not left Japan or has only released on non-Nintendo systems.  So I've only played three games in the series total (and two out of the three were pretty good).  I've played Symphonia (GameCube), Dawn of the New World (Wii), and Abyss (3DS).

 

Symphonia will always be a classic.  Sure some elements may not have aged well since its premiere back in the GameCube days, but it offered something different for role-playing fans with its battle system.  It was fun running around the battle areas, attacking enemies and casting spells.  Every battle turned out different even if you fight the same enemies and the story was enjoyable even if it used a lot of the standard role-playing cliches and tropes.

 

New World was a side-game.  Sure it was exciting to be able to play a direct sequel to Symphonia, but some of the changes in the game kinda stifled the potential the game had.  It was great all of the previous Symphonia playable characters returned, but it was sad you couldn't always play as them in New World and they were all capped to Level 50.  Also all of the returning cast took a back seat to the new characters (Tenebrae was awesome though) and their recruitable monsters.  Plus the battle system changed to more of prioritizing aerial attacks instead of ground combat.  It was hard to keep a consistent combo going since now techs and standard attacks had built-in combo enders.

 

Also the world map changed in that it was just a boring level select map.  You couldn't explore the new world by your in-game characters.  You just point and clicked where you wanted to go.  No manual (over)world exploring and no random monsters to fight, which can make some of the early game leveling longer than it needs to be even if you took up Katz sidequests.  Lastly the story was weaker than Symphonia's story in that certain characters don't have much backstories (or none at all) and it was hard to slug through to the end-game.  There really wasn't much of anything to keep interest in the main plot itself.

 

Pretty much most people who play New World are either in it to see the returning Symphonia cast or are just really bored and don't have anything better to play at the moment.

 

Now Abyss.  That is a game that took what Symphonia did and made it better.  Sure some elements haven't aged well since Abyss's original release (I've only played the 3DS version), but all the characters are great, the story is enjoyable (it kept me hooked greatly), the battles are fun with the addition of Field of Fonons, and you can actually explore the various overworlds again (including the ruined lands that fell into the The Qliphoth).  It's a shame the small resolution of the 3DS made it so you couldn't see too much around you on the overworld though.  Also Mieu ended up being one of my favorite side-kicks.  XD

 

I also appreciated the tips you can get after battles should you lose.  Usually if you lose, you may either be under-leveled or under-equipped but Abyss also shook up things in that proper battle strategies are key to winning boss fights in addition to being properly leveled and equipped.  If something doesn't work during a fight and you know you're leveled and equipped enough, it's time to change tactics.

 

Whew this was a long post!







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