Despite the Wii’s success when it comes to hardware, software seems to be having some trouble, especially 3rd party hardcore titles. Many titles sell poorly, and titles that are part of a franchise pull numbers lower than its previous entries on different platforms. While the Japanese exclusive Tales of Graces wasn’t the biggest bomb of the Wii, it definitely didn’t push as many units as Namco Bandai would have hoped.
So, that’s the problem. Solution? PORT IT! That’s right, Tales of Graces F is a PlayStation 3 port of the original Wii title. The port includes the full original title along with a new adventure that picks up right where the original ended. The title also includes all new content all around like new moves, costumes etc.
2004’s Tales of Symphonia is the only Tales of title I have played. And right off the bat, despite not touching the series in six years and for six main entries, I could see that not much has changed. The demo was entirely in Japanese, so it could have just been that moon speak prevented me from learning about new systems. But after about two play-throughs, I felt I had a pretty good grasp on the battle system.
The battle system is pretty similar to what you have in every other Tales titles. Battles are set in real time. You have a set of arts, which are basically attacks that you can use to defeat enemies. Each character has their own set of skills and spells which they can use. And, if its like Symphonia, you can most likely switch out arts and attacks later on. Players also have to mind a stamina bar. If it runs out, players will have to sit back and chill for a second to regain stamina for effective attacks. Players also have a special move they can use occasionally that deals large amounts of damage along with an Acceslerate Mode which seemed to reduce the amount that stamina decreased.
One issue, that could just be a matter of getting used to, is the game’s awkward lock on system. You are always targeting an enemy. You can only run toward it or away from it. If you try to run left or right, your character will not move. The only way to move to the side is to dash by tapping the square button. It’s something that, after 10+ hours of gameplay, will probably become natural. But it still feels particularly clunky.
Part of this problem may be due to the camera. Tales of Symphonia used a similar lock-on setup, but always showed the battle from a side perspective. In Tales of Graces, on the other hand, the camera moves. You have no control over it, making for a somewhat awkward experience as you battle in a 3D perspective, but with 2D like controls.
Presentation wise, the game looks decent. I can’t compare it to the original, but it definitely doesn’t look far from what can be found on the Wii. The demo included a couple of cutscenes including more standard ones and the series’ “skits” which is essentially 2D models talking back and forth. But again, moon speak. I had no idea what was going on.
But when it comes down to it, it is Tales of game. If you have liked previous entries, there is no doubt that Tales of Graces F will appeal to you. Now it is just a matter of getting the title localized… Namco Bandai hasn’t been very willing with the series lately. While I haven’t heard anything for the PlayStation 3 version, the original Tales of Graces for Wii is currently getting a fan translation. It is still a work in progress, but if you want to play the title in English, keep checking back on their site.