The Tales of franchise is a series of roleplaying games published by namco-bandai with a unique battle system, and widespread popularity, especially in Japan.
As indicated by the name of the franchise, each title in the Tales of series starts with "Tales of...". The name was born with the first game, Tales of Phantasia, released on the Super Famicom in 1995. Traditionally, the titles have next to nothing to do with the actual game; for example, Tales of Phantasia does not take place in a land called "Phantasia", and Tales of The Abyss has absolutely nothing to do with anything called 'the abyss'. The recent Tales of Vesperia included a very small reference to the title; in that world, "Vesperia" is the name of the brightest star in the night sky.
During a press conference in 2007, the series' main producer, Makoto Yoshizumi, stated that the Tales games can be divided into two distinct categories: "Mothership Titles" and "Escort Titles". The former games present a canon storyline, while the latter are a number of titles that include spin-offs and side games. However, since nearly all of the games take place in their own completely separate, unrelated universes, this distinction is of course totally meaningless.
In each Tales of game, enemy encounters are played out using a combat engine called the Linear Motion Battle System, or L.M.B.S., pronounced "limbs".
In L.M.B.S., the fight is played out on a two-dimensional axis that usually stretches wider than a single screen width. So the screen can scroll to the left and to the right, depending on where the characters and opponents are relatively located. L.M.B.S. contains a pause menu during battle which lets the player select a spell or item. As in some fighting games, it is possible to assign items or combination moves to specific buttons as shortcuts for quick actions.
As opposed to most other turn-based systems, which allow the player to control every party member, L.M.B.S. (usually) only allows direct control of one character. Other characters in the party can be set to passive mode (defending themselves only) or active mode (full computer controlled). Additionally, some games in the series do buck tradition by allowing the player to order the other characters to move to a given spot or use a specific spell or ability from the pause menu. For the titles that allow multiplayer, the other party characters can be controlled directly in combat by other human players.