Tales (series)

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Tales series
Tales Logos.png
General Logo for the Tales series, each title has its own styling of the text.
Genres Role-playing video game
Developers Namco Bandai Games
(2012 – Present)
Namco Tales Studio
(1995–2011)
Publishers Namco Bandai (formerly Namco)
Creators Wolf Team
Platforms Super Nintendo, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita, GameCube, Wii, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, Mobile phone, Xbox 360, iOS, Android, Web browser, Microsoft Windows
First release Tales of Phantasia
15 December 1995
Latest release Tales of Symphonia Chronicles
10 October 2013
Official website Namco Tales Channel

The Tales series, known in Japan as the Tales Of series (「テイルズ オブ」シリーズ "Teiruzu Obu" Shirīzu?), is a franchise of fantasy Japanese role-playing video games published by Namco Bandai Games (formerly Namco), and primarily developed by its subsidiary, Namco Tales Studio. First started in 1995 with the development of Tales of Phantasia, the series now spans fourteen games in the main series. Additionally, while primarily role-playing games, the series features an extensive line up of spin-off games that often span other genres, and four stand-alone animated productions based on the video games. While many of the spinoffs contain crossover appearances of characters within the main series, the main series games are largely unrelated to one another unless denoted with their names. (For example, Tales of Xillia and its sequel Tales of Xillia 2.)

Nine out of the fourteen entries in the main series have been localized for North America and Europe, although almost all of the spinoff titles have not been released abroad. While seen as a niche series in English speaking regions, the series is considered very high profile in Japan, just behind other series such as Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. By December 2007, the series had sold over ten million copies,[1] and by May 2011, it had sold 13 million units worldwide.[2]

Games[edit]

Main article: List of Tales media

Main series[edit]

Timeline of release years
1995 – Tales of Phantasia
1996 –
1997 – Tales of Destiny
1998 –
1999 –
2000 – Tales of Eternia
2001 –
2002 – Tales of Destiny 2
2003 – Tales of Symphonia
2004 – Tales of Rebirth
2005 – Tales of Legendia
Tales of the Abyss
2006 –
2007 – Tales of Innocence
2008 – Tales of Vesperia
Tales of Hearts
2009 – Tales of Graces
2010 –
2011 – Tales of Xillia
2012 – Tales of Xillia 2
2013 –
2014 –
2015 – Tales of Zestiria
  • Tales of Destiny was originally released in 1997 on the PlayStation.[7] It was later remade for the PlayStation 2 in 2006,[8] and then saw a third version, a "Director's Cut" of the remake, released in 2008.[9] Only the PlayStation original was released outside of Japan; the remakes did not receive official English translations. Since Phantasia was not released in English officially until 2003, the original release of Destiny was the first Tales game in the series available for English-speaking regions.[10]
  • Tales of Eternia was originally released in 2000 on the PlayStation.[11] While eventually released in English in the North American region, the game was retitled to Tales of Destiny II.[12] Despite the North American name, Tales of Eternia has no specific relation with Tales of Destiny, or Tales of Destiny 2.[13] It was later ported to the PlayStation Portable in 2005.[13] It was released under its original title, Tales of Eternia in Japan and in Europe, but not released in North America at all.[14]
  • Tales of Destiny 2 was released on the PlayStation 2 in 2007.[15] It was ported to the PlayStation Portable in 2007.[16] It has no relation to Tales of Eternia and is a direct sequel to Tales of Destiny.[17] Neither versions of the game were released in any English speaking regions.[16]
  • Tales of Symphonia was released in 2003 for the GameCube,[18] and was subsequently ported to the PlayStation 2 with additional content.[19] Only the GameCube version was released in English speaking regions, the PlayStation 2 version, while rumored for translation by websites like IGN,[20] was ultimately not translated.
  • Tales of Rebirth was originally released in 2004 for the PlayStation 2.[21] The game was later ported to the PlayStation Portable in 2008,[22] with graphical upgrades and different camera views.[23] However, neither versions of the game were localized for English speaking regions.[24] While Symphonia was the first game to possess full three dimensional graphics, Rebirth returns to a two dimensional graphical style more similar to the first four games in the series.[25]
  • Tales of Legendia, the seventh entry in the series, was released for the PlayStation 2 in 2005 in Japan.[26] An English localization was released in North America in 2006.[26] It is one of few titles in the main series to not have been re-released as a port or remake of any form.
  • Tales of the Abyss was released for the PlayStation 2 in 2005 in Japan. An English localization was released in North America in 2006.[27] The game was later re-released on the Nintendo 3DS in 2011 in Japan.[28] English localizations were released as well, for the game's first time in Europe in 2011, and in North America in early 2012.[29]
  • Tales of Innocence was released for the Nintendo DS in Japan in 2007.[30] It was the first of two main series games (The other being Tales of Hearts) developed only for a handheld video game console, and the only one developed by Alfa System.[30] A remake of the game, Tales of Innocence R, for the PlayStation Vita was released on 26 January 2012.[31] Both games were only officially released in Japan, although an unofficial English translation for the DS version was released on the internet.[32]
  • Tales of Vesperia was originally released for the Xbox 360 in 2008 in Japan and North America.[33] It was released in Europe a year later in 2009 by Atari.[34] Shortly after the European release, it was also ported to the PlayStation 3 exclusively in Japan.[35] The PlayStation 3 version contained new content such as with additional main characters, full voice-acting,[36] and many extended scenes or additional items to collect.[37]
  • 'Tales of Hearts, the eleventh entry in the series, was released on the Nintendo DS in 2008.[38] An updated remake was released on the PlayStation Vita in March 2013. It was the second of two games in the main series to be released on a handheld video game system and on the DS (The other being Tales of Innocence). The game was not localized or released in any regions outside of Japan,[39] despite a North American trademark on the title.[38] The game's original release did come in two different forms, the "anime" version and the "CG" version.[40] The game's content is identical with the exception of the art style in non-interactive cutscenes; one has anime-styled videos, while the other has 3D computer graphics videos.[39]
  • Tales of Graces was originally released on the Wii in Japan in 2009. An enhanced port, Tales of Graces f, was later released in 2010 in Japan for the PlayStation 3. This version included an additional storyline taking place six months after the end of the original game. After a few years passed, only the enhanced PlayStation 3 version was localized for English speaking regions. It was released in North America on 13 March 2012[41] and was released in Europe on 31 August 2012.[42]
  • Tales of Xillia was released on the PlayStation 3 in Japan in 2011.[43] It was released in North America on 6 August 2013 and Europe on 9 August 2013.[44]
  • Tales of Xillia 2, the fourteenth game in the series, is a direct sequel to Tales of Xillia.[45] It was released on 1 November 2012 in Japan and will be released in 2014 in North America and Europe.[46][47]
  • Tales of Zestiria, the fifteenth game in the series, is in development for the PlayStation 3 and planned for release in 2015 to commemorate the series' 20th anniversary.[48]

Spinoff video games[edit]

In addition to the main games of the series, there are many spinoff titles, referred to by the company as "Escort Titles". Many of these games are crossover games, which involve combining characters from different games from the main series, and having them interact together in a game. Other games have different or more experimental game play aspects compared to games in the main series. Some have developed into sub-series, where others have been one-off games.

  • Tales of the Tempest was released for the Nintendo DS in late 2006.[49] The game was co-developed by the usual Namco Tales Studio, and a development team new to the series, Dimps.[50] It was only released in Japan, not any English speaking territories.[51] It is the only spinoff title that is a completely original game, opposed to the rest of the spinoff games, which are either sequels or possess crossover elements of other games' characters and/or settings.[49]
  • Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, released for the Wii in 2008 in Japan and US, and in 2009 in Europe, is a sequel of Tales of Symphonia. The game takes place 2 years after the first game and tells the story of two heroes: Emil and Marta. It was released in high-definition on the PlayStation 3 as part of Tales of Symphonia Chronicles in October 2013 for Japan and it was released in early 2014 internationally.
  • Tales of VS. was released on August 6, 2009.[52] The game takes the basic fighting engine present in much of the main series of games, and uses it in a crossover fighting video game in the vein of Dissidia Final Fantasy[53][54] and Super Smash Bros.[54][55] It was released for the PlayStation Portable in Japan in 2009. It featured 35 characters from the first 13 games in the main series. The game also featured its own unique story mode featuring a crossover story in the vein of many of the Tales of the World subseries of games.

Subseries[edit]

  • Tales of Mobile - Six games have also been released under the Tales of Mobile sub-series, for playing on cell phone systems. The first, Tales of Tactics, was released for the DoCoMo, FOMA, au, and WIN services in 2004. None of these titles have been available outside of Japan.
  • Tales of Fandom - Two video games exist under the Tales of Fandom name, although both were only released in Japan. Tales of Fandom Vol.1 was released for the PlayStation in 2002, and featured interaction from characters from Tales of Phantasia, Tales of Destiny, and Tales of Eternia.[69] The second volume, Tales of Fandom Vol.2 was released for the PlayStation 2 in 2007, and featured interaction from characters from Tales of Symphonia, Tales of Phantasia, and Tales of the Abyss.[70]

Common elements[edit]

Battle system[edit]

Every game in the main series, and many of the spinoff games, possess a battle system called the "Linear Motion Battle System".[71] In most entries in the series, there are not random battles, but enemies visible on the overworld, with whom a battle begins when the character comes into contact[72] In this system, the player moves on a horizontal plane while executing attacks in real time.[71] In later 3D games, the player is also able to move freely in the 3D plane, but can only attack while locked into a horizontal 2D axis (with the exception being Tales of Vesperia, where a Free-Run Attack can be performed).[71] By pressing the attack button along with a directional button in different directions, the character can perform various kinds of attacks.[71] While up to four characters can participate in the battle, the player has direct control over only one character.[73] However, some games in the series do allow up to four players to play, albeit strictly in the battles, not the rest of the aspects of the game.[74] The battle system, especially in the earlier game's iterations, was compared to fighting video games,[74][75] especially the Street Fighter series.[76]

At any time, the player can view a menu which pauses the action and allows them to select an item or an ability to use, choose a spell to cast, change a character's AI tactics, pick an attack target, or escape from battle. Some later games included added shortcut options to items and/or skills, or allowed the computer controlled characters to use items.

"Grade", first introduced in Tales of Eternia, is another common aspect of Tales battle systems. "Grade" is awarded to the player based upon the player's performance in a battle. Doing well gains it, while doing poorly can subtract from the value. After completing the entire game, this accumulated Grade can be used in the "Grade Shop" to buy certain bonuses for the next playthrough.

Titles[edit]

Partaking in various sidequests, events, and minigames throughout the games may award a character with a new "Title", which are essentially nicknames.[77] Sometimes titles serve no gameplay purpose, while other times, titles may alter a characters stats, stat growth, or which abilities are learned.[77][78] Titles sometimes award characters with new physical appearances in games as well.

Skits[edit]

Most Tales games have skits, which shows side conversations between different characters, as they progress through the game. They are commonly portrayed as manga/anime-styled character portraits or profiles, with text on the bottom. They were first introduced in Tales of Destiny, though the majority were cut out for the English release.[79][80] In the original English GameCube release of Symphonia, the voice track for the skits was removed, but for its HD re-release, the Japanese voice track, and consequently the voice tracks, were included.[81] The first English release to include fully-voiced skits was Vesperia: they had been planned for Abyss, but were cut due to space issues.[82]

Themes[edit]

The prominent theme of the Tales series, according to Baba, is coexistence between different races.[83] A particular example of this is Tales of Rebirth, which extensively explores themes of racism. Scenario writer Hiramatsu Masaki was inspired by the ethnic conflicts seen in Yugoslavia.[84] Another recurring feature is the plot and characters, which usually centres of a theme such as "justice" or "faith".[85]

Development[edit]

The Tales series originated when Tales of Phantasia began production, based on an unpublished novel titled Tale Phantasia (テイルファンタジア Teiru Fantajia?), written by the game's scenario writer and lead programmer Yoshiharu Gotanda. During the story development process, several elements of the original novel were dropped or changed.[86][87] Kōsuke Fujishima was brought in to design the characters, and became a fixture for the series.[88] Phantasia had a development cycle for the original Super Nintendo version, with many creative disagreements between developer Wolf Team and publisher Namco.[3] It led to most of the Wolf Team staff leaving after the game in order to start a new company, tri-Ace, which would go on to make the similar Star Ocean series of video games.[3][89] Remaining members would continue to develop games in the Tales series, eventually helping to form Namco Tales Studio.[3] By 2008, the studio was divided into two teams: Team Destiny, who worked on 2D Tales titles such as Tales of Destiny, and Team Symphonia, which developed Symphonia, Abyss and Vesperia.[90] Prior to its absorption into Bandai Namco (then Namco Bandai) in 2011 due to financial troubles, Namco Tales produced the majority of the mainline Tales games.[91] A notable exception is Tales of Legendia, which was developed by "Project MelFes", an internal staff group made up of both former Tales developers and staff from the Tekken and Soulcalibur series.[92][93]

Terminology[edit]

Namco and Namco Tales Studio often use unique terminology when referring to the games of the Tales series. In 2007, series producer Makoto Yoshizumi announced two classes of Tales games, "Mothership Titles" and "Escort Titles".[94] "Mothership" essentially means "Main series", where as "Escort" essentially means "Spinoff". One of the recurring differences between the two game types internally is that "Escort" titles don't supply inspiration for main entries in the series, but rather draw the most popular elements from them.[83] The games are also frequently given what is called a "Characteristic Genre Name", which is essentially a short subtitle or phrase that outlines the game's overall theme. The main reason for this, as stated by Makoto Yoshizumi, was that the series was not seen as a role-playing series by the development team, but rather "Character Playing Game", with the player learning about the game's characters and watching them grow rather than using them as avatars: the genre names are meant to distinguish them from other role-playing games.[95] The terms, however, are largely removed from the English localized versions.

Creation[edit]

Every game in the main series of Tales games has used character designs of either Fujishima, Mutsumi Inomata, or Kazuto Nakazawa. Motoi Sakuraba has been the primary composer for the series, along with Shinji Tamura and Go Shiina. Spinoff titles often deviate from typical staff members though.

Anime adaptations[edit]

Four anime series have been produced and released in Japan based on games in the series. The first, Tales of Eternia: The Animation, had 13 episodes and is loosely based on Tales of Eternia and was released in 2001. The next two anime series were released as original video animations, Tales of Phantasia: The Animation being released in 4 parts from 2004–2006, and Tales of Symphonia: The Animation being released in 11 parts from 2007–2012. Tales of the Abyss was adapted into a full 26-episode anime television series that was originally broadcast from 3 October 2008 through 20 March 2009.

The first theatrical anime film of the series, Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike, was released on 3 October 2009 and was a prequel to Tales of Vesperia. It featured new characters as well as provided backstories to existing ones from the game.[96] It was released in 2009 in Japan and 2012 in North America.[96]

Reception[edit]

While keeping a lower profile in English-speaking regions, in Japan, it is regarded as one of the biggest role-playing video game series. 1UP.com refers to it as the third biggest RPG series in Japan behind Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest.[97] Gamasutra echoed these sentiments, stating that "While the series doesn't have quite the cultural cache of Final Fantasy in the West or Dragon Quest in Japan, it's still a very popular brand worldwide".[98] IGN additionally referred to it as the third biggest Japanese role-playing series in regards to sales.[99]

As of the end of 2012, the series has collectively sold over 15 million copies worldwide.[100]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]