The Tales of (テイルズオブ, Teiruzu obu) series, is a Japanese role-playing game which is localised as the Tales series worldwide. The franchise is developed by Namco Tales Studio, previously know as Wolf Team ((株)ウルフチーム, Urufu Chīmu). Wolf Team was a Japanese video game development company founded in 1986 and a branch division of Telenet Japan (also known as Nippon Telenet), a group within Namco which consisted of some of the current Namco Tales Studio members as well as Telenet Japan employees at the time. Later on Telenet Japan joined tri-Ace before dissolving their partnership with Namco, leaving Wolf Team to act as its own party before officially being renamed as Tales Studio in 2003 and later Namco Tales Studio. Namco Tales Studio was originally the primary developer of the Tales of RPG series, as it had been since the series' beginning. In November 21, 2011, it was announced that the current Tales Studio would be dissolved and would merge with their publisher, Bandai Namco Games. On February 24, 2012, it was announced that the 80 people of the Tales team would join Bandai Namco Studios, but still act as their original grouped unit with aid from their publisher.
Main Titles and Themes
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Escort and Spin-off Titles
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Since the first installment was released in 1995, the Tales series has grown to include the main entries and multiple spin-offs that derive multiple gameplay and narrative elements from the main entries.Except when indicated by naming, the main Tales entries are separate from each other apart from gameplay mechanics and themes.While Tales titles are often ported to new consoles after their original release, these remakes are rarely localized. The 2007 Nintendo DS game Tales of the Tempest was originally seen as a main entry in the series, but in 2007 was classified as a spin-off.
The series debuted on the Super Famicom with Tales of Phantasia in 1995, and introduced multiple elements that would become staples of the Tales series. It was released in the west on the Game Boy Advance in 2006. It was also ported to the PlayStation, PlayStation Portable and iOS. The PlayStation received two original Tales games: Tales of Destiny in 1997, which was the first title to be released in North America, and Tales of Eternia in 2000, which was released in North America as Tales of Destiny 2 in 2001.
Five titles have been released on the PlayStation 2. The true direct sequel to Destiny, Tales of Destiny 2, was released on the PlayStation 2 in 2001 across Asian territories, and ported to the PlayStation Portable in Japan in 2007; both versions have yet to receive a western release. Tales of Symphonia was released in Japan on the PS2 and Nintendo GameCube. The GameCube version was also released North America and Europe. It was the first entry to feature 3D graphics for its characters and environments and the first to be released in Europe. Tales of Rebirth was released in 2004, ported to the PlayStation Portable in 2008, and has yet to receive a western localization. Tales of Legendia and Tales of the Abyss were both released in Japan in 2005, with both being released in North America the following year. Legendia was the first and only Talesgame developed by Namco internal development team "Project Melfes", while Abyss was developed by the same team that developed Symphonia, and used its same graphics engine. Abyss was later ported to the Nintendo 3DS, and released in Japan, North America and Europe.
Tales of Innocence was released in Japan on the Nintendo DS in 2007. A remake of the game, Innocence R was released on the PlayStation Vita in 2012. Neither version has been released in the west. The first release on seventh-generation consoles, Tales of Vesperia for Xbox 360, was released in Japan and North America in 2008 and in Europe in 2009. A Japan-exclusive PlayStation 3 port was released in 2009 as well.Tales of Hearts was released on the Nintendo DS in 2008. A remake, Hearts R, was released in 2013 in Japan and 2014 in North America and Europe.
The twelfth entry, Tales of Graces, code name Project Tales of Ten released on the Wii in Japan in 2009. A PlayStation 3 port, Graces f, was released in 2009 in Japan, and in 2012 in North America and Europe. Tales of Xillia, the series' 15th anniversary title, was released in Japan for PlayStation 3 in 2011 and in North America and Europe in 2013. Xillia's direct sequel and the fourteenth main title, Tales of Xillia 2, was released in 2012 in Japan and 2014 in North America and Europe. The fifteenth main title, Tales of Zestiria, was released in January 22, 2015 in Japan and it was released in North America on October 20, 2015. The sixteenth main title, Tales of Berseria, was produced for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4; it released in Japan on August 18, 2016.
Escort and Spin-off Titles
The series has received a small number of sequels, and a large amount of spin-off titles and subseries. With the exception of Tempest, worked on by multiple staff from the main series and treated a precursor to Innocence, they are derivative rather than original works. Three direct sequels have been produced: Destiny 2, Xillia 2 and Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World (also known as Tales of Symphonia: Knight of Ratatosk) the latter of which was originally a planned mothership. Eternia received an MMORPG spin-off for PC platforms titled Tales of Eternia Online. Multiple crossover games have been made for mobile platforms, including Tales of Link, the Tales of Mobile series, Tales of Card Evolve, Tales of Kizna and Tales of Asteria. Two titles for the PlayStation Portable have been released in Japan: Tales of VS. in 2009, and Tales of the Heroes: Twin Brave in 2012. The main spin-off subseries is Tales of the World, which has grown to include ten games beginning with Tales of Phantasia: Narikiri Dungeon, released in Japan on the Game Boy Color in 2000. Only Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology has been released in the west. A second sub-series, Tales of Fandom, includes two games released respectively for the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 in 2002 and 2007.
Media and Animation
The Tales series has expanded into other media, including CD dramas, manga and anime. Multiple Tales games have been adapted into anime OVAs and TV series. The Symphonia OVA was released in three parts between 2007 and 2011, and released as a single collection in 2013. Abyss was adapted into a 26-episode TV series between October 2008 and March 2009. Phantasia and Eternia have also received anime adaptations. The series' first theatrical film, a prequel to Vesperia called Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike, was released in 2009 in Japan and 2012 in North America. A made-for-television anime based on the opening sections of Zestiria, Dawn of the Shepard, was produced as part of the 20th anniversary celebrations related to the title. It was also released on the game disc. A full series based on Zestiria began airing in July 2016. The first cour gained a prologue which totalled into 12-13 episodes, featuring 2 episodes (Episode 5 and 6) to be based on Tales of Berseria, and the second cour gained 12 episodes and ran from January 2017.
Books and audio dramas have also been made. Phantasia received multiple CD dramas, including four collected into anthologies in January and March 2000. As well as a stand-alone drama in December 2001. Symphonia received seven audio dramas following the game's plot. Two CD dramas for Legendia were respectively released in August and September 2005. A manga of Phantasia was written and serialized in 2008 and 2009, while Abyss received three manga adaptations in the years after its release. Symphonia was adapted in both novelizations and a manga serial. Others to receive adaptations of these kinds are Destiny, Graces and Xillia.
Recurring Gameplay Elements
The Tales series is classified as a role-playing video game series. Multiple gameplay elements carry over from entry to entry. The main unifying element is the combat system, the Linear Motion Battle System (LMBS for short). Considered as one of the mainstays and building blocks for every main entry in the series, it undergoes multiple incremental changes and alterations from one installment to the next. Introduced in Phantasia, it is a real-time fighting system similar to a brawler, as opposed to the majority of RPGs at the time ofPhantasia's release which primarily used turn-based battle systems.
Some features introduced in certain games have proven popular enough to remain in future installments like "Free Running" (the ability for a character to freely roam the battlefield). Elements of turn-based combat are also present, though to a lesser degree: an example of this is Destiny's "Chain Capacity" feature (the number of skills a character can perform), which appears in later games in the series. The battle system for Legendia was deliberately designed to be similar to a brawler: the stated reason was that the team wished to combine brawler combat with the story and leveling mechanics of a Tales game. Characters generally use Artes, which are special attacks characters can perform in battle. Players can usually only control one character, though a multiplayer option was implemented for Destiny and has reappeared in later Tales games.
The battle system's name for each installment is augmented with descriptive titles representative of features of that game's battle system: examples are the "Style Shift" system from Graces (characters shifting between two types of Artes) and the "Fusionic-Chain" system from Zestiria (a human character merging with a magical character for a brief period to deal greater damage). Characters are awarded with "Titles", nicknames which sometimes grant boons to them in battle when assigned to them. In the majority of Tales games, when navigating the overworld or environment and encountering an enemy, combat took place on a separate battle screen. For Zestiria, combat took place in the same space as exploration.
Most Tales games have skits, side conversations between different characters that can be both dramatic and comedic in nature. They are commonly portrayed as character portraits or profiles, with text along the bottom of the screen. They were first introduced in Tales of Destiny, though the majority were cut from the English release. 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 skit voice tracks, were included. The first English release to include fully voiced skits was Vesperia: they had been planned for Abyss, but were cut due to space issues. Another recurring feature is the Cooking system, where characters learn and prepare dishes to restore health and forms of experience points.
- The routes of the series were based off of an unpublished manga and the end result was that the entire plot and script and character names changed, except for a few locations and a tweaking to the title.
- ↑ Tales of Ten was the reference name given to Tales of Graces when not including titles co-developed with other studios or developers.