Tales of Destiny II was one best and last PS1 RPGs.
Tales of Destiny (proper name: Tales of Eternia) was the first Tales of.. game to reach the States. It wasn't a hit, but whoever thought to localize this game thought it was a good idea to release it as Tales of Destiny II so it wouldn't confuse people. In the long run it was a bad idea, as they eventually re-made Tales of Destiny on the PS2 and then gave it a sequel, Tales of Destiny II. So just like there's two Final Fantasy II and III's, there is also two Tales of Destiny II. Tales of Eternia was eventually re-released on the PSP, with it's proper title.
However, I played the original release of Tales of Destiny II on the Playstation, and like all Tales of games, it was fun. If you like puzzle dungeons, they have it. If you like quick battles, it's there. If you like a storyline that isn't afraid to be goofy, and then turn around and get serious, this is the one. Everything I enjoy about Tales of.. games is here for the most part.
My ONLY problem with the game is the controls. The backgrounds are in a flat 2D, but the camera angle is isometric. If you slightly bump into anything, this will make your character stop in his tracks. This also makes for TERRIBLE block puzzles. I hate them because you can never line them up correctly. I also dislike the camera angle because you can't see what an exit is. For example, in Final Fantasy 7 and Legend of Dragoon, you can turn on a button that will show you where all the exits or entrances are. There was one town in Tales of Destiny II where I was suppose to find a library, but it was between two houses, there was no road or door to it. I was running around that town forever until I accidentally triggered it. While this graphical style and camera angle makes the game look really damn good, it can be frustrating in some ways.
Tales of Destiny II is a team-based Action RPG. Most encounters are randomly generated, however there are a few dungeons that have visible enemies. Once you get into a battle, you control over one character, usually Reid the fighter, while the rest of the cast fight along your side. The battles are in a 2D frame, like the previous games Tales of Destiny and Phantasia, and later Legendia. You can hack away with the X button as your melee attack, and set up four special moves with your O button. You can even set 2 short cut attacks with the L2 and R2 triggers. You can assign those to anyone. During battle you can pause the game with a menu, with this you can set any move you want with any character, or even change equipment, use items, change formation, change skills or even change strategy.
The more times you use your special moves, the more points you get. Once you get to a certain amount of points or levels, you'll gain new skills. If you gain enough points with some skills, they will blend into other, creating weird combo attacks. Each character has their own special abilities. Farah is a melee fighter that uses light magic. Meredy and Keele are magic users, both can use the power of the Craymel Spirits. Each character holds a cage, and you can place these Craymels inside the cage, granting each character special magics. This is similar to Golden Sun a bit.
Your Craymels can gain levels alongside your characters, and learn new skills too. Once you find more Craymels through out your journey, you can "Fringe" them by mixing them to create even more spells. Once you use your Craymels enough in battle, their Vitality will max out, and then you can unleash their special powers.
The dungeons are fun to crawl through, despite the high random encounter rate. There are a ton of puzzle solving to do as well. I love love LOVE the save feature to this game. You can basically save at any point in the game, as long as you're not in a battle or in the middle of dialog. Each dungeon has 3 crystals in them. There is one at the start, one in the middle (which usually has a camp next to it to refill your health) and one right before the boss. You don't need to save at these crystals, but if you save your game in the middle of a dungeon and restart, then it will bring you back to the closest crystal.
Tales of Destiny II can be kinda difficult at times actually. You can only carry 15 of each item, and even normal encounters can knock a ton of HP out of your characters. Any slight bump into an enemy will cause your character to miss their magic or special moves. It's certainly not bone crunching difficult, but it is one of the more frustrating Tales of games.
----------Characters / Story----------
You play as Reid, a young hunter, and Farah. As they are chatting about life, they witness something crash down to earth. As they search the area, they find a space ship with a weird girl that can't speak any English. Her name is Meredy, she was sent down from another world called Celestia. As Reid and Farah finally put the clues together, they realize that Celestia is slowing crashing down to their world, Inferia, so to put a stop to it they must find all the Craymel Spirits across both worlds.
The story was good for what it was. The characters were definitely cool. The dialog and some of the plot points seemed weird to me. Not my favorite Tales of.. storyline, but it still holds up by todays standards.
I love the graphical style here. You can tell they put a ton of effort into this game. All the backgrounds are 2d static backgrounds, like you would see in a PS1 era Final Fantasy game, but instead of CGI it's 16-bit era style graphics but highly colorful and more detail than you can ever imagine from a 16-bit game. It definitely blows the original Tales of Destiny away in terms of style and hardware.
There are a TON of cutscenes. Some are Anime based, while most are CGI based. I don't think they hold a candle to any of the Final Fantasy games, but they're still pretty fun and exciting to watch.
The special attacks are pretty damn amazing, some of these attacks look better than anything on Tales of Legendia or even Tales of Symphonia 2.
Ok, this one is tough one. On one hand, I'm highly impressed by that this game has voice overs in most of the dialog. On the other hand, the voice acting is pretty bad. The music is very good and very rememberable.
The world map is like any other Tales of.. or Final Fantasy game. It's just an overhead map, small icons on the screen that represent your characters, towns and dungeons. There isn't very many secrets until later in the game where you can travel underneath the sea (kinda like in Final Fantasy 7). The world seems small initially, but you can travel between two worlds like in alot of Tales of games.
The game flows fairly linearly, however if you do get lost you can press the Select button on the world map and your characters will tell you what to do next. This isn't so important, but I just want to point out that it reminds me alot of the skits that later Tales of.. games used.
----------Time to Complete Game----------
Three discs game but only about 35 hour long game. There was a few sidequests I knew I skipped, but oh well. The ending was cool.