Review by Phange
"Super RPG Fighter II: Turbo"
Tales of Eternia is a port of the American Tales of Destiny II (Known as Eternia elsewhere), one of the better titles in Namco's "Tales of" series. Prominent in this iteration of the series is the Craymel Arte system, as well as a psychotically fast battle system that gives most fighting games a run for their money. The game is an absolute perfect fit for the PSP, as the battle system benefits greatly from the widescreen format, the load times are non-existent, and the game is great in short spurts. Most importantly, it fills the RPG-starved PSP lineup like no other game. There's a lot to like about Tales of Eternia, but perhaps the most significant thing about the game is that the production values are first-rate. Not to mention that the storyline, characters, and locales are all very memorable.
Excellent 2D graphics that highlight the PSP's high-resolution screen. Impressively, every area looks completely different from the last... terrain is rarely reused. The animation is above-average for 2D games, and the special effects are outstanding. Notable are the well-done FMVs and surprisingly slick text bubbles, which make the game look even better than it did on the Playstation. The game looks fantastic, and the PSP's prowess as a 2D system continues to amaze me
Character portraits are well done, but aren't shown often (usually only in menus). As I said earlier, the special effects are just insane. Crazy 3D explosions that fill the entire screen are the order of the day in Tales of Eternia. The overworlds are 3D and run at 60 frames per second, which is a nice reminder that you're playing the most advanced handheld (currently) to date.
Emotions are displayed via the typical anime "tear drop" and "anger lines", and do a good job of making the game feel larger than life. The character designs are a bit commonplace, however, and none of them (aside from the gosh-darn-adorable Meredy) are particularly memorable. Small props for Farah, a kung fu master wearing a farm girl skirt and Cath, the pirate.
An above average, but not excellent, soundtrack mixed with sometimes-good sometimes-ear-splitting voicework make the game at the very least a tribute to the disc format. The battle music can be a bit annoying, and there aren't too many recurring themes in the game that are very memorable. Satisfying attack sound effects make battles more intense than they already are.
Tales of Eternia is a one trick pony, but it has a nice trick. The battle system is like RPG-meets-Capcom, in which you can directly control one character and literally move around a 2D plane, attacking enemies on the way. Three other characters are controlled by the CPU and are surprisingly smart, delivering heals and attacks at just the right moments. Unlike the Playstation version, there is no multiplayer (which made the game considerably easier because characters like Keele are far too overpowered if they attack all the time).
As an RPG, the game is pretty standard. The typical story of "mysterious girl lands in a forest, and subsequently asks you to collect rare objects around the world" is exemplified in all its cliche glory. That's not to say that Tales of Eternia lacks personality, because it certainly has a charm to it that's missing in most RPGs. Typical Tales fare such as the Wonder Chef and oddly entertaining minigames like Meredy's card game make Tales of Eternia more than an average RPG. The truly excellent 2D graphics make the game sparkle with personality, and most importantly the lack of load times (a particularly astonishing feat on the PSP) is a great bonus.
The game hasn't yet been released in the United States, and may never be. The European version is exactly the same as the American Tales of Destiny II, and is fairly priced for importing. I highly recommend this game for RPG fans, importers, or anyone wishing for a solid, entertaining game.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 03/06/06
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