I Play(ed) Tales of Destiny! (P.S. It Kind of Bored Me)

So, after going and playing through more than a handful of hours of Chrono Cross (which you can check out over on my blog page!) I decided to take a look at other old PS1 RPGs that I own that I have either never beaten or for the life of me barely remember anything about the game.

After some eliminations this lead to me to one of four options - Beyond the Beyond, Thousand Arms, Tales of Destiny, and Final Fantasy 9. Of those, I sort of cut things down to Tales vs FF9. Beyond the Beyond I know is a game that's very rooted in an older style of RPG. I may give it a go some time, but, after being so frustrated with Chrono Cross I decided not to push my luck with something that may frustrate me for really dumb reasons. Thousand Arms also got knocked off of the list for a similar reason. I've never beaten Thousand Arms, but I remember parts of it. The one thing I remember most of all though is that it is a very Japanese ass Japanese RPG. I won't get into it a lot, but, the dialogue and what not in the game does not hold up well (though the unique battle system and some of the interesting systems they have in there still make me want to go back to it some day, just not today.)

So, I was staring down Tales of Destiny and FF9. I've never beaten Tales of Destiny before. I've owned it for a real long time, but never played more than a few hours in. FF9, on the other hand, I've beaten all the way through. I could not tell you anything about the story in FF9 though beyond a point and the very, very end. However, I wanted a small break from the Square Enix style of RPG so I went with Tales of Destiny. (As a side note, Suikoden was also on the list, but, my friend is currently borrowing it, so, I took it off the list for the time being.)

Oh, also, I'm playing the PS1 version, not the better, enhanced, PS2 version.. Because holy crap does Namco-Bandai love having two versions of every single Tales game.

Oh Tales of Destiny, where do I start with you.

How about with an image.

No Caption Provided

The effort that I went to to get that image sums up how I feel about the game, unenthusiastic with very little desire to put much effort into it.

Ok, ok, you may be worried that I'm just going to start going off about how bad the game is. Don't worry, I don't think that is going to be my intention here. For the record, I have yet to beat it. I've played it for maybe 11 hours and I think I'm maybe about halfway or so through the game (if I'm not and I have another 20+ hours ahead of me, then I really don't think I'll finish it.) That being said, the main things to focus on really are the negative things, but that doesn't mean that I think this game is bad. I kind of just think that the game feels half-hearted and like it fell short of some real potential. I'll cover each of the different things that has bugged me the most, starting with the thing that has bugged me the most.

The Combat

Ugh.

Ugh.

UGH.

The combat of this game. The battle system is fine. The line battlefield with four characters and real time action is fine. The concept behind the combat is fine. I actually really enjoyed the later iterations that they took this system in with Tales of Symphonia and the like. My problem with Tales of Destiny though is that the combat is so freakin' easy.

If the graphics looked like this, maybe combat would be more interesting.
If the graphics looked like this, maybe combat would be more interesting.

I was something like six or seven hours in before I fought what I even thought was my first boss fight (against a man named Batista. No, not that Batista.) I then looked up an FAQ/Walkthrough for ToD and found out that, surprisingly, this was actually something like the 11th boss fight in the game. It turns out that I had done just under half of the boss fights in the game. They were so easy that as far as I was concerned they were just normal fights. Even the boss fights though (of which I've had several of now) are so bloody easy. I've killed a couple of bosses in 30 seconds to a minute. And I think I'm even somewhat under leveled. It's just so easy. The problem here though is that when you have an active battle system that's supposed to be really engaging, but then your fights are real, real easy, it's still real, real boring.

The best thing I can compare this to is something like Persona 4. Ok, ok, yes, comparing something from very different time periods, but it's two different styles of combat. P4 is a turn based combat system. But when you're fighting things at level, it feels like every battle matters. Every battle feels random and as long as you didn't waste a bunch of time grinding levels, things can really still feel dangerous. Boss fights feel like boss fights, they feel threatening. ToD, on the other hand, even with an active battle system, is just boring. The fights are so boring that I began to realize that every 'zone' of enemies will have something like only 4-6 different possible monster encounter builds (and even then, it's mostly just how many of what monsters show up) except that the monsters per zone is only about 4 monsters big. So every fight feels the same. There's no reason to not just blow through your TP (the points you use for mana and special abilities) and just annihilate everything because you recover some after every fight and eventually you get so many TP that you will almost never run out. Even if you do run out though it doesn't matter because you can just stop using them, still do every fight in about 30 seconds, and get back to full in just a handful of encounters. And boy oh boy will there be enough encounters for you, but I'll get to that next. In this same vein though, you get 3 other party members and you only control one directly.

Instead... They look like this (the game still looks good in my opinion, don't get me wrong.)
Instead... They look like this (the game still looks good in my opinion, don't get me wrong.)

It feels like all of the fights were designed for you to be able to win them completely by yourself to make up for somewhat unreliable AI party members. The problem then, however, is that when you then have your 3 party members actively helping you (or even worse, when you issue commands to your party members) fights are just fields of slaughter for the enemies.

So something else weird, this kind of connects in with combat, is how it deals with encounters. That's maybe a bit of a weird thing to say, but, some games give you random encounters, some games let you see the monsters on the field and you fight them and then they're gone (i.e. Chrono Trigger, Persona 4, Earthbound, etc.) Tales of Destiny? It has both. I couldn't tell you why it includes both on-screen enemies for some locations and then random encounters for everything else. I can tell you though that I hate it. This game is so easy it doesn't need random encounters. The random encounters also happen way too often when you're in a random zone. When the enemies are on screen it feels like there's actually just enough. It feels right in those zones, like that's how it should be for the whole game.

Now I'm something like "14" or "15" bosses in out of about "26". I'm 11 hours in. I just don't want to keep playing the combat. I appreciate what it is and what it does, but because it's so easy, I'm just so bored by it. It's so easy it's just not fun to play it. I can enjoy a combat system that I don't particularly love but that is actually challenging and engaging at the same time. I don't even have boss fights to look forward to because even those are absurdly easy, and thereby, uninteresting.

The Story

The Main Character. I like to think his image alone sums up what character design is like in this game. Not bad, kind of just nothing special.
The Main Character. I like to think his image alone sums up what character design is like in this game. Not bad, kind of just nothing special.

The story in the game isn't great. I won't complain about it very much, but it's just a very, very standard fair. The characters aren't bad though, they're kind of average, sort of stereotypical (but not painfully so.. partially because they almost never talk about anything at all.) I'd probably be more willing to keep playing if I felt like there was much hope for some serious character development. The most development to happen so far was with a character named Mary. The short of it is that I just got her to recover from her amnesia she's been suffering from the whole game. Even that though was just like 5 minutes or something of dialogue of her and her husband and then me kicking some ass and now she's out of my party for almost the entirety of the rest of the game as a result.

Then again, the Tales games have never had particularly strong story I feel like. Symphonia feels like it's had the strongest story so far, but even that wasn't fantastic, it was just pretty good, slightly above just average. So I can't hold it so much against the game other than to say that I wish they had more of a focus on a better story, or, at least a better character story. I think the character stuff has gotten a lot better, but the overall story seems to pretty much still come down to "bad guys want to destroy/rule world because that's what all bad guys want and for no reason other than just because they're bad guys" and that only carries something so far.

That's About It

Sadly that's really all I can think of to say about the game. I find myself bored and uninterested with it.

Has anyone else out there played through this game before? If so, can you tell me if this game picks up at all? I'd love to know if I'm like just on the other side of this game seriously picking up, or if maybe there's actually some challenge somewhere to be had in this game, or, hell, even just how LONG the game is. If it's taken me 11 hours to get Mary her memory back, how much longer do I have to go in the game? Am I about halfway through? Less than halfway through? Do I have another 20+ hours to go? I kind of want to finish the game to mark it off my list, but, if I have another 20 or so hours to go, I just... no, I won't do it, I have other shit to play.

It's really not that I dislike the game, I just feel very apathetic towards it. It at least ranks somewhat higher than Chrono Cross does so far though, so, that's a good thing for it!

I may try and finish it up sometime. Right now I'm playing some Bully but I'm looking at some of my older RPG collection debating what I may want to go to next or if I just want to finish up Tales of Destiny before touching another RPG in my collection. We'll see though!

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