Tales of Eternia - Retroview  

A Classic Tale Along for the Ride
by Dallas Richardson

25-40 hours


Rating definitions 

   Fans of Namco's Tales games can rejoice that they can finally play one of the series' classic titles on the go. It's essentially the same game released on the original Playstation back in 2001 as Tales of Destiny II, but ironically it plays much better on the PSP. Everything still holds up fairly well. Tales of Eternia is definitely a great addition to the PSP's lacking RPG library.

   The tale follows Reid and his childhood friend, Farah, as they encounter an extraterrestrial girl crash-landing nearby from the world of Celestia. They soon discover that she has come to help stop a disaster from destroying both their worlds, and sure enough, Reid and Farah are along for the ride. Obviously, the plot can be predictable at times, but it's the characterization that delivers. Players probably won't mind seeing a familiar story unfold because the characters are so likeable. Reid will run across several colorful characters in the adventure, and they all have their distinct personalities, like the rather anal observatory director who refuses to let Reid and his friends look through the telescope, or the ignoble nobles who can't stand being in the presence of commoners. It's characters like these that bring the world to life in spite of the forgettable story.

   When not chatting with the locals or among themselves, Reid and his party will often be locked into numerous random battles while exploring the vast world. This is where the game truly shines. The battle system is one of the best seen in any RPG. Conflicts are a nice mix of strategy and fast-pasted action. Fighting is both simplistic and deep at the same time. Like most Tales games, Eternia features a side-scrolling Linear Motion Battle system, with depth similar to a fighting game.

    Battles are fought in real-time as the player takes direct control of one character. The other characters are controlled by slightly customizable AI settings. Normal attacks are allocated to the attack button while special attacks can be pulled off by pressing that button in conjunction with the D-pad. Different attacks can be set to different direction buttons. Special attacks can be pulled off easily and combined with normal attacks to create devastating combos. Earlier on in the game, simple attacks will do, making the game feel repetitive, but soon enough even normal battles become difficult, forcing the player to strategize. The end result is a fun, fluid battle system that never gets old through the twenty-five hour quest.

Spells are great for breaking up enemy combos and giving the party time to heal. Spells are great for breaking up enemy combos and giving the party time to heal.

   Eternia retains the familiar art style found in many of the Tales games. It features colorful, anime-like 2D sprites and backgrounds, just like the Playstation version. The difference is that everything looks much more crisp on the PSP's high-resolution screen. This is one of the reasons why the PSP version is the better of the two. It's widescreen gives the player the advantage of seeing more of the field during battle. The graphics are decent, even by today's standards, considering that they are 2D. It would have been nice if Namco put a little effort into updating the graphics instead of delivering a straight port, but it's still great as is. Another enhancement is that the load times on the PSP version are much faster, almost nonexistent. This improvement helps make gameplay smoother, but the visuals are fundamentally identical.

Talking Talking to everyone is always a good idea, and it can be quite entertaining.

   In terms of sound, everything is intact from the Playstation version. Neither terrible nor great, the music is mostly standard fare, though a few decent tracks might stand out. Thankfully, the voice acting is still present, which adds to the personality of the characters. The voices vary from good to okay; nothing's just outright awful. Overall, the sound is merely passable, but doesn't detract from the gameplay experience.

Somehow the game plays much better on the PSP. As mentioned before, the widescreen helps the player see more of the field during battle, and the visuals are much more crisp. Also, there are no lengthy cutscenes. Each scene is usually short and to the point, which actually makes the game appropriate for portable play. Adding to that is the ability to save anywhere, a feature that is sadly absent from most PSP RPG's. It would make sense to have this feature for portable games and here it works. These qualities give the player the choice to either play in short bursts, gaining a few levels and watching a cutscene or two, or to dedicate several hours to the quest.

    Tales of Eternia is a great RPG for the PSP- one of the best. It's an obvious choice for PSP owners starving for a quality RPG. Nonetheless, it loses points because this version offers nothing new for players who have completed the original Playstation game. But for those who missed out, this is a great opportunity to play one of the best titles of the Tales series. It's a shame that the PSP version is only available in Japan and Europe. The European version, however, is in English and costs about the same amount as a US PSP game, making it a great import.

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