Today marks the 20th Anniversary of the Tales of series. The first game, Tales of Phantasia, was released on December 15, 1995 for the Japanese SNES. It wasn’t until 2006 that the U.S. would see this game via a GBA port. That said the first Tales games that arrived here was the second, Tales of Destiny for the PS1 in 1998. And as long as we’re going through firsts, this writer’s introduction to the series was Tales of Symphonia, regarded as one of the best, for the GameCube in 2004.
Tales of Phantasia began with a developer called Wolf Team and was published by Namco. Wolf Team began in 1986 and had a good number of games under their belt before they even tackled Tales. They remained the lead developer, as Wolf Team, until 2003 when Namco gained control of the team through a buyout and branded the company as Namco Tales Studio. There’s been a few other changes to the teams and names, but let’s skip that and get further into the series itself.
There are currently fifteen games in the mainline series with two of those being sequels (Destiny and Xillia). Tales of Eternia and Symphonia also had sequels, though they’re not considered part of the main games. The series has had a league of other spinoffs as well including different genres of games, manga, anime, toys, and so much more. It’s a huge series in Japan right next to Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. Sadly, both DQ and Tales have more of a niche fan base in the U.S.
As to the games themselves, each entry has their own plots and worlds similar to Final Fantasy’s approach. Like the settings, the action RPG systems change from game to game as well, again, like Final Fantasy. Unlike FF though, one of the franchises’ key elements are skits. These dialogue passages through travel are both funny, as well as insightful character building techniques that more RPGs should implement.
For the most part every Tales game is worth playing. Sure, some entries are better than others, but there’s no real sour mark for the series. It’s been a long twenty years and the sixteenth title, Tales of Berseria for the PS3 and PS4, is in the works. Not much is known on the game, but it’s sure to be out in 2016. Will it become the best? Who knows? For now, let’s wish the Tales of series a very happy 20th Anniversary.
Tales of Games (Based off of the Japanese Releases)
- Tales of Phantasia (SNES 1995)
- Tales of Destiny (PS1 1997)
- Tales of Eternia (PS1 2000)
- Tales of Destiny 2 (PS2 2002)
- Tales of Symphonia (GameCube 2003)
- Tales of Rebirth (PS2 2004)
- Tales of Legendia (PS2 2005)
- Tales of the Abyss (PS2 2005
- Tales of Innocence (DS 2007)
- Tales of Vesperia (Xbox 360 2008)
- Tales of Hearts (DS 2008)
- Tales of Graces (Wii 2009)
- Tales of Xillia (PS3 2011)
- Tales of Xillia 2 (PS3 2012)
- Tales of Zestiria (PS3 2015)
Special Notes: Check out the video retrospective on the Tales of series on the accompanying YouTube Channel, ReActionExaminer.