Reviewed: August 4, 2007
Released: July 17, 2007
North American gamers were first introduced to the Tales series in 1998 with the release of Tales of Destiny for the PlayStation (which is the second game in the series). To be honest I never played this game, and I probably never will. Like the Final Fantasy Series, the Tales series has had the same fate. There are nineteen games give or take in the Tales universe, nine of which are main story arcs, and the other ten are side adventures or remakes. But North American gamers have only seen maybe a handful of the Tales games to date.
The Tales series is one of the most beloved RPG games of its times and has spanned across several systems since its First release on the Super Famicon (or SuperNES to us Americans) in Japan in 1995. At that time I was a Nintendo fan through and through, and shuddered at the thought of picking up a PlayStation and even playing a Tales game. Here I am several years and systems later, with the PS2 and the PSP and I love this series. Well the ones the Japanese actually let us have that is. This brings me to the game I am reviewing, Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology on the PSP.
Unlike all the other Tales games "Radiant Mythology" is the latest in the Tales of the World Series (a spin-off of the main series) and the only one that has been released in North America. Bummer. And also like most of the tiles to carry the "World" name it features 14 playable characters and 5 NPCs (or Non Playable characters) from other Tales titles. More noticeably Luke for Fabre and Tears Grant from Tales of the Abyss on the PS2, a game which I highly enjoyed.
The story start off as you the main character are "born" in to the world of Teresia by the World Tree in an effort to save the planet from a demonic creature from another world. The World Tree of Teresia is the source of all life on the planet is on the verge of extinction, along with all of the world's inhabitants. In this game you must join forces with other characters from the tales universe and stop the one known as "The Devourer".
Now, I have played several RPG’s in my lifetime and I will probably keep playing them until I die. The first RPG I ever played was Final Fantasy Mystic Quest for the SNES and I loved it. Now I have expanded my game library and with it my systems. I love the Final Fantasy series, Mario RPG, the Tales series, and countless others over the years. But enough about me, the world of Radiant Mythology awaits.
Radiant Mythology has one of the easiest navigation systems of any game I’ve played. Once you enter a town you are given around seven different places to go (the Guild, Inn, Tool Shop, Blacksmith, Plaza, and various other homes). Any person or place of major importance is marked by an exclamation icon. So unless you actually prefer to spend the time to hunt down your contacts like other RPG games, this game is easy to navigate.
In any other parts of the world outside of the main towns you have a main navigation map with various places to go (usually no more than three) to complete quests. The HUD (or interface) changes once entering the place you select, giving you use of an onscreen mini-map. The map can be adjusted in the option to one of three settings (Hidden, medium and wide) and is fairly transparent as not to obstruct the players view. The battle HUD is located at the bottom of the screen and is very legible unlike some portable games I've seen. All in all I impressed on this games ability to make it easy to navigate and play, and with over 300 different quests you will be playing this game for a while.
This game is similar to the game "Valhalla Knights" on the PSP only "Radiant Mythology" is easier to play. You are thrown right in the middle of a world in chaos, again. But looking past that fact (you all know it wouldn't be an RPG if it didn’t have an End of the World scenario) the customization of your character actually draws you into the game, because you actually feel like you are part of the world. The only main differences between "Knights" and "Radiant" are the species selection and the Co-Op and Versus modes features in "Knights". Sure Radiant has an Ad-Hoc feature where you can trade weapons, ingredients, armor, and items with other people, but it lacks a Co-Op mode. But for those players that loath "Crafting" in games this is a nice feature.
Radiant offers a character building seen in most RPG of its type. Your level up your character like every other RPG known to man and buy armor, and accessories to make you stronger and more resistant to certain elements. Like Valhalla Knights you can buy armor for various parts of your body like your head, chest, arms, legs, etc. on that same note the armor you buy also changes your appearance. I like this because you can create your ideal character with 1000 different equipment pieces and weapons at your disposal.
You start off with four main classes to choose from (Warrior, Thief, Priest, and Mage) and you can gain access to 6 other classes as you progress in the game. You gain access to two more class early in the game, but others are gained through quest running.
The combat system for this game is the Flex Range LMBS or Linear Motion Battle System seen in the PS2 game "Tales of the Abyss." This real-time battle system allows for free movement and attacking from anywhere one field. I personally love this combat system over the turn-based systems used one other RPG’s. It allows for a more interactive experience for the player.
The game features Artes (or abilities) that are present in all of the Tales games. You gain new abilities as you level up and you can set them to the directional pad for easy use. You can only have 8 set up at a time (4 using the D-Pad + circle, and 4 using L+ D-Pad + O), so you have to select the attack you like best for the 8 slots available, and trust me this hard. The game offers several nice attacks from ground-based attacks to aerials.
With over 1000 items to select from for weapons and equipment, this game gives you endless configurations of items to use in battle. There are various power ups (or Bottles) that can be bought or found in battle or exploration. They vary from rezing a fallen ally, increasing attack power, or even increasing enemy encounters. The game uses gel-based items as means to regain your HP and TP in battle. Also you can select allies to use items on you or the other with an "On-the-fly" access menu in the middle of a fight. This gives you the freedom of fighting and not having to waist precious seconds to heal someone when you’re in a tough battle.
There is some NPC interaction in the game. There are various people in the towns that you can talk to. They give little snippets of what is going on in the world or what they want to be. You also interact with members of Ad Libitum, the group that you join early in the game after a series of "tests". The shop owners give bits of information on how to survive in battle and such. There are Major Event scenes with includes voice, and often you are given a choice of responses. Whether or not they directly affect the story is up in the air, but it has more to do with who will refuse your request for help in quests or not. The game has side events that make you laugh, a sort of comic relief in between all the fighting. I honestly like this, because nobody likes reading dialogue the whole game and the voice events are actually quite refreshing.
This game has a pretty solid story line, although you must complete quests to raise your Fame in the game to get access to them. The more Fame you get the more the members of Ad Libitum will like you and in turn join you parties in battle. While you can't stack quests in this game (a minor annoyance), the game does have one feature I love. In most RPG’s, when you do a quest you'll find things that you don't need while looking for something else. When you complete that quest you hand over what they want, and continue on the next quest. But I hate it when, even though you have the required item to finish another quest, you still have to go out to wherever they tell you to get that item (even though you already have it), because the game doesn’t allow you to just hand over the items without doing the scripted hunting. Not so in "Radiant Mythology" , if you gained the items in a previous quest, for a new quest you can just hand them over without even leaving the NPC’s sight. I love this feature and more games should follow this example.
The controls are actually quite good. You can move in the dungeons of towns with the D-Pad or Analog stick. In battle, you free-move with the analog and what I like to call side scrolling with the D-Pad. I have two main things I dislike about the controls, the lack of camera moving and no dungeon overview map. To change the camera in the direction your character is heading you have to hit the R button. And if you’re anywhere near a corner, prepare to hit it a couple more time to get the camera to do what you want. As for the map, the only thing you have is a HUD map in the shape of a compass. It shows a close up view of the area you are in but little else. Sure it shows you where the treasure chests and collecting sites are and where you have and haven't been. But an overview map would have been nice.
The graphics in this game are a pretty decent for a portable game, I will admit and use an anime style game set in a fantasy world, of knights, priests, mages, magical knights, and warriors. The graphical themes vary upon where you are and can be broken down into four groups: World Map, Town Map, Dungeon and Town. The World Map is shown on a worn parchment, but it has the look of a painting. Instead of a head or whatever other games use to move from one place to another, there is an exact mini-you on the screen that actually walks to your destination on the map. The Town Map is beautifully done with moving flags, smoke, water, and the locations that you scroll through are highlighted with a white aura. The last two groups are virtually one in the same. The town is rendered in 3D and uses an isometric view layout. The towns are rendered a little better than what you see in the dungeons.
The dungeons however are done in 3D (like the towns) but use the third person method like most RPG’s. But even though the dungeons use basic shapes and designs, they are well designed and places like a certain Maze in the game is gorgeous by portable device standards.
Radiant Mythology graphically compares with Blade Dancer for the PSP, both being very similar in style. Being the only one of its kind in the series on the PSP in North America makes it hard to compare this game to other systems. The only title that comes close is Tales of the Abyss for the PS2. Both games have many of the same features, more noticeably the slightly altered Flex Range LMBS for the PSP. Cooking or Crafting is available in both games and Radiant Mythology even features Abyss' two main characters: Luke fon Fabre and Tears Grant.
The beginning FMV cinematic for Radiant Mythology (viewable if you don’t hit the start button) is amazing and has that anime show feel to it. The game itself has few cutscenes in it, but it does have Events screens with voice. Several of the cutscenes give you an insight to the lives of the people in the game, and some actually make you want to continue fighting. The quality is good, and there is not that many to the point of annoyance. Most of the event screens adds humor to the fold and that make this game really enjoyable.
The sound in this game is actually nice. Sure each location has its own sound or music, and revisiting those places may get on your nerves, but I found it nice that every town, store and dungeon had their unique music. The battle music never changes, really but that’s to be expected.
While the voice acting in the game was good there were no really well known voice actors in it, none that I could place any. The sounds effects were actually good especially in combat. At the beginning and end of every battle in the game the characters have like 5 or 6 different sayings so that can get old, but beyond that the voice acting was well done.
With the ability to create a custom player of your dreams, with over 1000 items at your disposal, and the ability to have multiple "New Games" present and multiple save slots, this game is a role-playing gamer’s dream. Plus with the ability to change jobs (as long as you’re not on a quest) anytime you want, this game will have you playing for a while.
You can beat Radiant Mythology in 25 hours or so, but if you really want to enjoy it you can get 45-50 hours out of it. That’s amazing for a PSP title. And it is certainly worth mentioning that for such a large and massively complex game the load times are virtually non-existent.
All in all this is a well-rounded game that would appeal to any Tales fans and any newcomers to the series. With over 300 quests and level of customization you can do to you character, I wouldn't doubt if this game is one of the best RPG’s to hit the market this year. I felt like I was really a part of this game and quite frankly couldn’t put it down. The comical "skits" in the game have actually stuck with me and I laugh even now as I write this.
I highly recommend Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology to any RPG gamer, or any gamer for that matter. It truly is a game that is worth the $40 dollars and the month of game time it will take to complete.