|Title||:||Tales of Destiny|
|Review by||:||Ken Gagne|
With games like Tekken and Ridge Racer under its belt, Namco has quickly become a well-known publisher in the arcades and on home consoles. While other successful companies have tried to expand, Namco has returned to its roots with Tales of Destiny, a role-playing game (RPG) for the Sony PlayStation.
Destiny is a sequel to Tales of Phantasia, a little-known game for the Super Famicom, the Japanese Super Nintendo. In Destiny, the young Stahn Aileron strikes out from home to find adventure and excitement, only to too quickly have both thrust upon him. He soon come in possession of a Swordian, one of six sentient swords crafted long ago to win a wicked war. They are said to "sleep until they were called upon to battle evil once again…"
While many recent RPGs have tried gimmicks or fast-moving plots to entice gamers, Destiny follows a more traditional formula. The plot develops slowly yet remains interesting, thanks to a large cast of characters that, thanks to many unique personalities, don't always get along. Add some clever humor and it's easy to enjoy their company.
Gameplay occurs from an overhead perspective — no fancy camera angles, no rotating levels. There are many towns and sites to explore; when moving among these points, a larger world map serves as the backdrop.
The battle system is unlike any other. It occurs on a two-dimensional side-scrolling plane, and is action-oriented, not turn-based. Various button combinations can enact anything from simple slashes to powerful spells and forceful sword skills. Up to four character members can participate in war simultaneously, although only one is player-controlled. The rest can have attack strategies defined for them between battles.
The game opens with a fantastic anime movie sequence, but similar showings do not seem apparent. Gameplay graphics are bright and colorful, with big-headed characters and subtle displays of emotion. Fine details such as rapidly-disappearing footprints in new snowfall, and examinable background items, bring the game to life.
Peppy music is the order of the day, introducing battles and bosses. Overall, it does a fine job of setting the environment. Some digitized Japanese speech adds spice to the summoning of spells and the execution of techniques.
Destiny slightly suffers from a problem common to RPGs: too many battles. In dangerous locations, it is difficult to wander for more than a few seconds without being pulled into battle by an unseen foe. Fortunately, such run-of-the-mill enemies are easily vanquished. More powerful opponents exist to provide challenge at key points in the story.
Tales of Destiny succeeds in all ways. It is a traditional RPG that sets out to offer a good time without taking itself too seriously. With a complex cast and a unique battle system, it's a perfect mix for gamers looking to sit back and relax. Destiny is destined for good sales, no doubt.
This article is copyright (c) 1998, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.
Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 28-Sep-98