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