The Tales logo of Tales of Vesperia, the tenth mothership title in the series.
|Genre(s)||Console role-playing game|
|Developer(s)||Namco Tales Studio (Main)
|Publisher(s)||Namco Bandai (formerly Namco)|
|Platform(s)||Super Nintendo, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, GameCube, Wii, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, DS, Mobile phone, Xbox 360|
|First release||Tales of Phantasia
December 15, 1995
|Latest release||Tales of Graces
December 10, 2009
|Official website||Namco Tales Channel|
The Tales (テイルズ Teiruzu ) series is a franchise of fantasy console role-playing games published by Namco Bandai Games (formerly Namco), and primarily developed by its subsidiary, Namco Tales Studio. Created in 1995, the series now spans over twelve flagship titles, over fifteen side games, and four animated productions, into several types of game genres. Similar to many Japanese role-playing games in a series, most games or media of the series are unrelated to each other beyond certain elements.
Widely known for its heavy influence by anime and Japanese culture, the series often makes use of popular manga artists or illustrators, and animated cutscenes produced by Production I.G. Popular music composer Motoi Sakuraba has composed for many titles of the series, with other well-known composers such as Go Shiina having composed for at least one title of the series. Several entries have been localized for North America and just five for Europe. As of December 2007, the series has sold over ten million copies.
The games in the series have been divided into two types: Mothership Titles; the flagship games of the series, and Escort Titles, which are side-stories from the series.
Twelve Mothership Titles, the flagship games of the series, have currently been released within the Tales series.
Tales of Phantasia is the first game in the series and was originally released in 1995 in Japan for the Super Famicom. Later it was ported to the Game Boy Advance and remade for the PlayStation which was then ported to the PlayStation Portable system. A second remake of the game is in progress known as Tales of Phantasia X for the PlayStation Portable. The game was given the characteristic genre name Legendary RPG (伝説のRPG Densetsu no RPG ) and followed the quest of a young swordsman named Cress Albane and his best friend, Chester Burklight on a journey to defeat Dhaos and save their Tree of Life.
Tales of Destiny is the second game in the series and was originally released in 1997 on the Playstation. It was later remade for the PlayStation 2 in 2006 with a Director's Cut of the game being released in 2008. The game bears the characteristic genre name Fateful RPG (運命のRPG Unmei no RPG ) and follows the tale of a country-boy-turned-adventurer Stahn Aileron, who seeks fame and adventure.
Tales of Eternia, known as Tales of Destiny II in North America, is the third game in the series and was originally released in 2000 on the PlayStation. Despite the North American name, the game has no relation with Tales of Destiny apart from having a similar battle system. It was later ported to the PlayStation Portable in 2005 which added cutscenes to the game. The game bears the characteristic genre name RPG of Eternity and Bonds (永遠と絆のRPG Eien to kizuna no RPG ) and follows the Tale of Reid Hershell and his childhood friend Farah Oersted.
Tales of Destiny 2, the fourth entry in the series, became the first to be released on the PlayStation 2 when it was released in 2002. It was ported to the PlayStation Portable in 2005 and remains as the only sequel in the series. It has no relation with Tales of Destiny II. The game which bears the characteristic genre name, RPG of Liberating Fate' (運命を解き放つRPG Unmei wo tokihanatsu RPG ), is centered around Kyle Dunamis and his efforts to restore history as it once was, deals with the events that take place eighteen years after Stahn Aileron's exploits in Tales of Destiny. A new movement led by Elraine seeks to revive the goddess Fortuna and worship her. Aided by Barbatos, an ancient soldier on the losing side of the War of Heaven and Earth who lusts for revenge, Elraine will not permit interference with her plan on the part of Kyle and his allies.
Tales of Symphonia, the fifth entry in the series was released in 2003 for the Nintendo GameCube and was subsequently ported to the PlayStation 2 with additional content. The game was the first in the series not to be made by the original team, Team Destiny but Team Symphonia instead. It was also the first 3D game in the series. The game which carries the characteristic genre name RPG of Resonating With You (君と響きあうRPG Kimi to hibikiau RPG ) follows the story of Lloyd Irving who must help and protect one of his best friends, Colette Brunel who is a Chosen. He must help the Chosen on her Journey of World Regeneration as his world of Sylvarant is slowly dying due to a lack in Mana the life force of the world. This is done by traveling from continent to continent, awakening the Summon Spirits that sleep at ancient shrines known as "seals." With every seal released, the Chosen comes closer and closer to becoming an angel. Once the Chosen fully transforms into an angel, the world will be regenerated.
Tales of Rebirth, the sixth entry in the series was released in 2004 for the PlayStation 2 and was subsequently ported to the PlayStation Portable in 2008. Unlike its predecessor Tales of Symphonia, the game was made by Team Destiny and reverted to a 2D game with sprites instead of 3D models. The game which bears the characteristic genre name RPG Where You Will Be Reborn (君が生まれ変わるRPG Kimi ga umarekawaru RPG ), follows the journey of Veigue Lungberg lives in a small village, Sulz, located in the cold, yet beautiful northern region. While he has never stepped foot outside of the village, he feels he has no choice to leave after his familiar surroundings and family, including Veigue himself, come under attack from a mysterious outside military force.
Tales of Legendia, the seventh entry in the series was released in 2005 for the PlayStation 2. It was the first 3D Tales game made by Team Destiny. The game uses the characteristic genre name RPG Where Bonds Spin Legends (絆が伝説を紡ぎだすRPG Kizuna ga densetsu wo tsumugidasu RPG ) and follows the tale of Senel Coolidge, a young expert of eres, who is drifting in the ocean on a small boat with his younger sister Shirley. As food runs out and their strength deteriorates, an island suddenly bursts through the mist and approaches the boat with astonishing speed, engulfing it in waves. When Senel and Shirley awake on the shore, they realize that the island they are on is actually an enormous ship called the Legacy.
Tales of the Abyss, the eight entry in the series celebrated the series tenth anniversary when it was released in 2005 for the PlayStation 2. It was the second title by Team Symphonia and the last title in the series for the PlayStation 2. The game with the characteristic genre name, RPG of Discovering the Meaning of Life (生まれた意味を知るRPG Umareta imi wo shiru RPG ), revolves around Luke Fon Fabre, the young son of Duke Fabre of the Kimlasca Kingdom is the Light of the Sacred Flame, the scion of Lorelei's power, destined to bring prosperity to Kimlasca. Since being kidnapped seven years ago by the Malkuth Empire, he has been kept confined to the Fabre family mansion. The shock of the kidnapping has erased all of Luke's memories prior to the event. One fateful day, a mysterious woman breaks into the mansion and sets off a chain of events that drag Luke into the center of a massive conflict between those who would do anything to see the Score carried out, and those who would see it broken forever.
Tales of Innocence, the ninth entry in the series marked the first Mothership title developed for a handheld, the Nintendo DS, and was released in 2007. The game bears the characteristic genre name, RPG of Connecting Thoughts (想いを繋ぐRPG Omoi wo tsunagu RPG ). In the game the Imperial Capital of Regnum kept itself in peace during the long-lasting world war. Slowly, people with a "special power" began to appear. Feared by normal people, Regnum set out a law to capture all people with special powers. One day, Ruca, the son of a merchant in Regnum, realizes the special power within him.
Tales of Vesperia, the tenth entry in the series marked the jump of the series into the seventh generation when it was released for the Xbox 360 in 2008. It was then ported to the PlayStation 3 with additional main characters, twice the voice-acting as well as tie-ins with the first movie in the series, Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike. The game bears the characteristic genre name RPG of Enforcing One's "Justice" (「正義」を貫き通すRPG "Seigi" wo tsuranukitōsu RPG ). The game follows the tale of Yuri Lowell an ex-Imperial Knight turned vigilante who was arrested while attempting to catch and thief and is jailed in the Imperial Castle. During his escape he meets a young princess, Estelle who is searching for his best friend and Imperial Knight Flynn Scifo. The two of them then set out from the Imperial Castle to find both Flynn and the thief.
Tales of Hearts, the eleventh entry in the series returned to the Nintendo DS and was released in 2008. It was the second Mothership Title to be released on a handheld. The game uses the characteristic genre name RPG of a Meeting between Hearts (心と出会うRPG Kokoro to deau RPG ). The game follows the story of Kohak Hearts, who was in search of a Soma together with her brother, Hisui Hearts. Along the way an enemy, Incarose assaults them, but they manage to escape to the sea. They are brought into a little village of Seeble, where they meet the protagonist, Shing Meteoryte. Since Shing has a soma he intends to go within Kohak's Spir Maze in order to cure her. But, the plan doesn't go well and Kohak's spiria ends up shattered into pieces and placed everywhere around the world. From there Shing's adventure of recovering Kohak's spirune begins.
Tales of Graces, the twelfth and latest entry in the series and was released in 2009 for the Wii. The game bears the characteristic genre name RPG of Discovering the Strength to Protect (守る強さを知るRPG Mamoru tsuyosa wo shiru RPG ). The game follows Asbel Lhant, the eldest son of the feudal lord Aston, he is a bright and cheerful boy who spent his childhood like any other carefree boy does: enjoy everyday together with his irreplaceable friends. After an unknown incident occurs, a strong determination awoke within him which led him to enlist himself in a knight's academy in the capital. Graces takes place seven years after the incident. In his eighth year, Asbel has grown up and established himself as a fine knight. However, at the death of his father, Aston, he gives up his dream to become a knight and takes over his father's position of a feudal lord.
In addition to the main games of the series, there are several "Escort Titles" which are side-stories and of games from the series. The first of these titles, Tales of Phantasia: Narikiri Dungeon, was released for the Game Boy Color in 2000 as a sequel to Tales of Phantasia. Five games in the "Tales of the World" subseries have been released for hand-held systems.
A Fan Disk for the series, Tales of Fandom Vol.1 was released for the PlayStation in 2002. The second volume, Tales of Fandom Vol.2 was released for the PlayStation 2 in 2007. Currently the fan disks are only released as the last Tales game for that current (console) generation. Tales of the Tempest, released for the Nintendo DS in 2006, is currently the only Escort Title with an original plot and cast.
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 are available outside of Japan.
A 2D fighter escort title known as Tales of VS. was released for the PlayStation Portable in 2009. It featured 35 character from 13 past Tales games, fighting with each other in free for all battles or team battles of up to 4 players in a battle. the game utilized the same LMBS system in previous games but used stages with unique designs and special attributes rather than the plain flat fields of normal games. also featured its own unique story mode with animated cutscenes, skits and other content.
Four anime series have been produced and released in Japan based on games in the series. The first, Tales of Eternia: The Animation, 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 from 2004-2006, and Tales of Symphonia: The Animation being released in 2008, with the second half currently in production. Tales of the Abyss was adapted into a full 26-episode television anime series that was originally broadcasted from October 3, 2008 through March 20, 2009.
The first theatrical anime film of the series, Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike , was released on October 3, 2009 and was a prequel to the Mothership Title, Tales of Vesperia. It featured new characters as well as provided backstories to existing ones from the game.
The games in this timeline take place in the same world but many years apart from each other, with the exception of Tales of Symphonia and its sequel.
Tales of Symphonia takes place at least four thousand years prior to Tales of Phantasia, presumablly about the same time as the year 1 of the Aserian Calendar, with its sequel Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World starting 2 years after the events of Tales of Symphonia. Tales of Phantasia takes place in three different time periods, with the "present" time being the year 4304 of the Aserian Calendar, "past" being 100 years prior (year 4204) and "future" 50 years later (year 4354). Its sequel, Tales of Phantasia: Narikiri Dungeon, focuses on Mel and Dio and takes place 104 years after Tales of Phantasia's "present" time. Tales of the World: Summoner's Lineage takes place 411 years after Phantasia's future in the year 4765, with Claus's descendant Fulein K. Lester as the protagonist.
Tales of Destiny tells the story of Stan Aileron, and the other Swordian Masters. Tales of Destiny 2 tells the story of Stan Aileron and Rutee Kartret's son, Kyle Dunamis, taking place 18 years after its predecessor, and several other different time periods, including an altered timeline.
"Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology" and its direct sequel feature the same secondary character 'Kanonno Earhart,' although her second name is not mentioned in the original. It can be assumed that they are within the same timeline, although its premise means that the main protagonist of the original game is absent in the sequel.
The series possesses a battle system reminiscent of fighting games, called the Linear Motion Battle System, in which the player moves on a horizontal plane while executing attacks in real time. In later 3D games, the player is also able to move freely, but can only attack while locked in to a horizontal axis. While the series used the LMBS for the original game, the battle system has now been expanded into over ten different versions based on the original LMBS system. Usually, the player has direct control over one character, and can move and direct this character in any way he or she chooses. By pressing the attack button along with a directional button in different directions, the character can perform various kinds of attacks, ranging from simple slashes and thrusts to ground-to-air or air-to-ground attacks. Some later games added the ability for another controller or handheld to be used so that multiple people could participate in a battle.
There are several different versions of the Tales battle system, all based on the original LMBS system created in Tales of Phantasia. Since Tales of Eternia, new twists to the original LMBS system have been added to various games, from multiple lines in Tales of Rebirth, to full 3D movement in Tales of the Abyss, aerial combat in Tales of Destiny (PS2), and the ability to call in inactive party members in Tales of Hearts.
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, was not commonly used until Tales of Destiny 2. Upon completing certain requirements or performing well in battle, the player earns GRADE points. After completing the game, this accumulated GRADE can be used in the "GRADE Shop" to buy certain bonuses for the next playthrough.
Unlike other role-playing games where the player often may have free control over the party members' abilities and growth, Tales gives each character mostly unique skills or magic (both referred to in the english versions of Tales of the Abyss onward as Artes) that no one else in their respective game is able to acquire. For example, in Tales of Phantasia, only Cress can use sword skills, while only Mint is capable of learning healing magic. In most games of the series, when a skill or spell is used it consumes TP (Technical Points).
In later games of the series, after the basic attacks are used, a skill can be linked into that attack to do a larger amount of hits and damage, which has been expanded on in differing ways by each game. Magic is usually divided into only two categories: attack magic and healing/support magic. Attack magic is used for dealing damage to the enemy, while healing magic is used to heal the party or to provide support.In particular titles of the series, some characters are able to use Summon Spirits, powerful forms of magic that usually are one of or the strongest attack or healing spells.
Another attack that is common in the series are "Hi Ougi" (秘奥義), most commonly known as "Mystic Artes" in the English versions. Usually they are secret special attacks that have one or more requirements and are often the most powerful attack in a character's arsenal, capable of large amounts of damage or healing power. With the exception of Tales of Legendia, they have been in every Mothership Title since Tales of Eternia, and recently now make appearances in the Escort Titles, ports, and remakes as well.
Cooking is a gameplay element used in many Mothership Titles. Usually, a player must first find a recipe, or receive it from the mysterious "Wonder Chef", and can then cook it to recover hit points, technical points, or gain temporary stat boosts. In some games, however, HP is recovered either through each step taken or based on certain recipe set ups. Tales of Hearts is the only Mothership Title to not include food in the recovery system, using the similar "Recovery Stones" instead.
The series usually has a large number of items that can be used to affect both you and/or your enemy during battle. In every Tales game the HP restorative items are called "gels" or "gummies", medicinal snacks that are often given the flavor of various fruits. Instead of recovering a set amount, they often restore a certain percentage of HP (or TP), or sometimes have other effects. There are also many status-curing items in the games, usually labeled as various types of "Bottles".
There are many other types of common items in the series, including the "Sorcerer's Ring", which makes an appearance in almost all Mothership Titles of the series, and usually plays a primary role in solving most puzzles of the games. In many titles of the series there are various "recording" items to acquire, such the Collector's Book, which records the various items the player collects.
In every Mothership Title and several Escort Titles, there are several pieces of equipment to buy, sell, find, and equip to your party. Many pieces of equipment, from weapons, to armor, to accessories appear in several titles of the series. Swords are the most common weapon of the series, and to date at least one character in every Mothership Title uses a sword, though several characters of the series have also used weapons such as staffs, axes, bows, gloves, guns, and spears. A common part of equipment in the series is the "oddball" or unorthodox weapon that a member of the party is able to equip, such as straws or paintbrushes. Sometimes in the series there may be a powerful weapon (usually a sword) gained through the plot, such as the Eternal Sword. Many weapons of the series make numerous appearances, like the "Last Fencer". Defensive equipment in the series often includes things like armor and robes. Though the number or types of equipment that can be used usually changes from game to game; for example, instead of equipping armor in Tales of Hearts, the player must increase a character's defense. In most of the games, only weapons and shields change a characters appearance.
A popular concept in the series is to have various sidequests and minigames throughout the game's world. Often, completing sidequests or minigames gives characters a "title". Sometimes titles serve no gameplay purpose, though other times titles may give a character certain stat increases when leveling up or even change the outfit of a character.
Though most games of the series are unrelated, many games of the Tales series have plots that revolve around real-life themes or topics of philosophy, such as racism, loss or the meaning of life. The villains or antagonists are often those who are trying to change or "improve" the world through methods that are often considered "evil" even if the villains' intentions are good, usually as a result of the specific themes of the game. It often is a group of fairly young heroes that start out in with a simple task or a simple life that eventually are taken into a struggle that determines the fate of the entire world that serve as the protagonists of the story.
Spirits are often a common recurring element of the plot and/or gameplay of several games, and many of them have made reappearances in games of the series. Besides the Spirits, characters that have appeared in more than one game of the series include: Pac-Man, Namco's mascot; Aifread, a pirate, or pirate king; a man with an uncanny love for cats; and the Sword Dancer, a powerful hidden boss that usually fights with the party more than one time within the game. Cheagles, a creature that first appeared in Tales of the Abyss, also makes appearances outside of its original game. Namco characters such as the Valkyrie have made appearances as enemies in Tales games. The series often features extra costumes party members can wear, that sometimes references other Namco characters and/or games, such as Gilgamesh. Often, characters from other Tales games will make cameo appearances, or be referenced, both inside and outside of battle.
Since Tales of Destiny, almost every Tales game has used skits, systems in which the player is able to hear conversations between the cast, and sometimes any NPCs that happen to be along with the party. Though they are often presented in various ways throughout the series, they usually use animated character artwork. The Japanese version of almost every Tales game has had at least most skits in the game voiced, while in the localized versions, only Tales of Eternia , Tales of Legendia, Tales of Vesperia and Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World have had all of the skits voiced.
Tales of Phantasia was developed by Wolf Team in 1994 and published in 1995. Most of the Wolf Team staff involved left Telenet Japan after the game was released and then formed tri-Ace, who now make the Star Ocean and Valkyrie Profile game series, published by Enix (now Square Enix). After Tales of Phantasia, the Tales games continued to be developed by Wolf Team and published by Namco until after Tales of Destiny 2, when both companies formed the dedicated joint venture Namco Tales Studio, and moved the Wolf Team staff to the new company. The only remaining staff from Tales of Phantasia at that point were series director Eiji Kikuchi and music composers Motoi Sakuraba and Shinji Tamura.
The series has had several producers and directors for the series. Eiji Kikuchi often serves as a general director for most titles of the series. Yoshito Higuchi and Hideo Baba have recently also had prominent roles as directors and/or producers.
The series has also had numerous programmers for its battle system. Yoshiharu Gotanda was originally the battle (and total) programmer for Tales of Phantasia. After he left, Shinji Hirachi became the battle programmer for Tales of Destiny and Tales of Phantasia (PS), until Tatsurou Udo became the battle programmer for Tales of Eternia and, with the exception of Tales of Hearts, the battle programmer for all 2D titles of the series since. Osamu Hisano was the battle programmer for Tales of Symphonia, and had the same role for Tales of the Abyss. Usually serving as support for the battle system, Yoshimasa Tanaka was the planner for Tales of Heart's battle system.
Namco Tales Studio has developed every subsequent Mothership Title in the series other than Tales of Legendia and Tales of Innocence, which were developed by Project MelFes (a Namco in-house development team, with members who worked on the Tekken and Soulcalibur series) and Alfa System respectively.
Another thing popular with fans is the use of naming each game as by a specific "team" each game was developed by. "Team Destiny", which has been with Tales studio since Tales of Destiny 2, are often cited as the development team of Tales of Destiny 2, Tales of Rebirth, and Tales of Destiny (PS2). "Team Symphonia", named after the first game they developed, Tales of Symphonia, are often cited as the development team of Tales of Symphonia and Tales of the Abyss. However, since Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, the formerly distinct split between the two teams have begun to diminish, and all recent Tales Studio games since then (Vesperia, Dawn of the New World, and Hearts) haven't been created only by "Team Symphonia" or "Team Destiny" staff, using a mix of staff members of both games instead.
In 2007, series producer Makoto Yoshizumi announced two classes of Tales games, "Mothership Titles" and "Escort Titles". All of the main games up to Tales of the Abyss became "Mothership Titles", while Tales of the Tempest was classified as an "Escort Title", thus removing it from the main series, Tales of Innocence was classified a "Mothership Title", and became the first one on the Nintendo DS.
Every Mothership Tales game has used character designs of either Kosuke Fujishima, Mutsumi Inomata, or Kazuto Nakazawa. Kosuke Fujishima was the character designer for Tales of Phantasia, but did not return as a character designer for the series until Tales of Symphonia, later returning for Tales of the Abyss and Tales of Vesperia. Mutsumi Inomata has designed for the greatest amount of titles within the series, beginning with Tales of Destiny, and returning for Tales of Eternia, Tales of Destiny 2, Tales of Rebirth, Tales of the Tempest, Tales of Innocence, Tales of Hearts, and Tales of Graces. To date Kazuto Nakazawa has designed for only one game of the series: Tales of Legendia. Daigo Okumura is often the designer for many of the antagonists and major NPCs of the series, and was the character designer for Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World.
With the exception of Tales of Legendia, which was composed by Go Shiina, Tales of Innocence, which had a score composed by Nakamura Kazuhiro, and other Escort Titles, Motoi Sakuraba has been the primary composer for the series, along with Shinji Tamura. The series has made use of a vocal opening song since Tales of Phantasia SFC, though it has used various singers. To date, only Tales of Vesperia has used a vocal song in the localized version of the game, while the localized versions of Tales of the Abyss and Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology have at least used the instrumentals of their respective opening songs.