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 Are Namco's decisions for the Tales games hit or miss?

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Paladin Cecil



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PostSubject: Are Namco's decisions for the Tales games hit or miss?   Fri Nov 14, 2014 7:32 am

Over the years, do you feel that Namco's decisions for the Tales games ranging from marketing to story decisions have been a hit or miss affair, or do you feel that most of their choices are good?

In my opinion, it's been a mixed bag. The good things they've done have been genius and the bad to me have been head-scratchers.

IMHO, here are the good and the bad.

Good:
The unique battle systems. I thought not making them turn-based along with the overall execution was a brilliant idea, since you experience it in a different way, but it's not overly challenging.
The cooking elements. This was such a unique idea that really added to the fun of each game, especially when experimenting with different characters.
The character skits. They're never boring to watch. They make for great character-development in such a brilliant way. One of the best ones is in Abyss when you choose to dress them in swimwear.
The character titles.
Many well-written stories and well-created characters (especially with many of the things they did with Zelos, Jade and Yuri).
The trademark hot spring scenes.
Costume changes. It's always fun to see what different outfits they'll wear.
The Tales of Fandom games.
The humor. One of the best comedic moments of the series was in Eternia when the characters were trying on winter clothing. That scene was comic gold. Along with many of Jade's lines and Zelos's behavior towards girls.

Bad:
Lack of marketing in North America. Many of the Tales games could've been much bigger games if they had been marketed more. Instead they're overall not more than cult favorites.

Too many tragic deaths. I'm not saying that games should never have them and I know they're no stranger to RPGs, but I think the Tales writers tend to add them more than they need to. Ion's was definitely one of the most painful.

Some of the choices they tend to make with certain characters. Note: The ones I'm about to mention are my personal opinion and I'm aware they're ones other fans have different views on.
A few examples:
Lloyd: In Symphonia, they make it clear that he loves Collette. One of my favorite things about the game was the relationship the two of them had and when I found out they were making a direct sequel, I would've liked to see it go farther. But instead, they decided to have Lloyd get out-of-character by putting him in a relationship with a way-older schoolteacher. I don't think anyone who played the first game saw that coming when playing Dawn of the New World and I certainly didn't think it fit him.

Zelos: This character was one of my favorite things about playing Symphonia. Overall, he is one of the most well-created in the series and has so many classic moments. But there are times that just made me wonder what the writers were thinking. Take for example the part where he expresses his views on poverty. When I saw that scene, I thought it just wasn't like him. That part was so different from what we're used to seeing of him and I thought it really didn't fit the character in any way.

(Note: This next part has a wall of text and you don't have to read all of it if you don't want to.)

Raine: This was someone I wanted to like. At the beginning of the game, she seemed okay and I had a feeling she was someone who would be cool. But they made her way too much of a human (or should I say half-elf) board of education. I'm not saying that having a disciplinary character is a bad idea, but to me, what they did with her went way overboard, to a point where I'd be more comfortable eating her cooking. Since I joined the original Tales forum seven years ago, this was something that I never mentioned before and am saying for the first time.
I know a lot of other fans think of this characteristic differently, but Raine's tendencies to treat her hands like a board of education to Lloyd and Genis bothered me in ways I couldn't describe. I know it was meant as a running gag, but in the scenes where she'd smack someone upside the head or @$$, it was painful for me to watch. When seeing Will in Legendia bop characters on the head, it was funny because it was so cartoonish, but watching Raine's use of her hand on Lloyd and Genis looked like it hurt and on each of those occasions, I never felt like they deserved it (especially since they're much better behaved than Naruto and Black Star from Soul Eater).
I'm not asking anyone to feel sorry for me for what I'm about to say, but as personal as this might sound, I actually had similar issues with my dad growing up. He would often do stuff like that to me, usually for the wrong reasons. Although we're on good terms now, he had tendencies to overreact and be overly uptight over things that weren't that big a deal.
And although it's not something I think much about now or thought much of when I started playing Symphonia, I still don't like to be reminded of those moments when I play video games.
I also don't like this side of Raine because there are 11 and 12-year-old kids who do have the parental issues I had growing up and to them, playing video games is an escape from these troubles. When kids play these games they don't want to see content that's going to remind them of the domestic issues they tend to go through in real life, and if this game had been out when I was in my early teens, I would've needed therapy.
Although some of you might see me as a wuss for what I'm about to say, I actually almost quit playing the game, but thankfully they had just gotten more careful with it and the latter part of the game turned out to be one of my best experiences playing an R.P.G. I also came close to quitting Dawn of the New World, but continued while wearing my hat with the bill down, so I'd only see the bottom of the screen at certain parts.
I'm not saying that the Tales writers are supporters of child abuse and I don't believe they are. I know that's something many people in Japan are strongly against, but I felt that making Raine behave like Joan Crawford was an insensitive choice.

Luke: Although he isn't one of my favorite characters of the Tales series, there are a number of things I like about him and because of that, he's close. I like the way that he develops and he has some great moments later in the game (especially the ending). But it upset me so much when the writers chose to give him a haircut. I know that who you are is more important than how you look, but I liked the hair he had in the beginning and I remember other fans complaining about that moment as well. It was difficult to watch, but the ending (depending on how you interpret it) made it more forgiving.
Thankfully, they didn't do that with Zelos. If they had cut his hair, there would've been as much backlash as the Nostalgia Critic would've received had he done a review of Matilda.

Yuri: I never did play Vesperia, but I did watch some play-throughs and thought that Yuri was freakin' awesome. Even though he wasn't the only good thing about the game, he did add a lot to it. I didn't see how the later parts of the game unfolded, but I've heard mixed things about the direction they have Yuri's character go in.

Ludger: I didn't play Xillia 2, but I couldn't believe it when I found out you have to have him sacrifice himself in order to get the good ending. I can't imagine what they were thinking with that.

The hot spring scene in Vesperia. I've always liked how the Tales games often have a moment where the characters visit a hot spring and there's been some classic moments like the ones in Symphonia and Abyss. After seeing those two and given that it costs an insane fortune see the one in Vesperia, you probably felt that they must've really done something epic with it. I don't know what other people thought of it, but I was disappointed and didn't think it was half as good as the others. I felt that it was quite possibly the worst one of the series because they didn't do much with it.

The way they chose to put Graces on the PS3. I admit I don't know all the details on it, but I was angered when I found out they chose to do it just because the Japanese fanbase requested it to be on that system. The reason why I disagree with this decision is because Nintendo gamers deserve to experience the Tales series as much as the Sony fans. And the PS3 was already getting a Tales game with Xillia. I heard good things about Graces, but I felt they've should've just given it a Nintendo release anyway, because it would've shown fair commitment to fans of both systems (instead it felt like they didn't like catering to Nintendo and were just looking for a reason to bail on them). If they had chosen to release a lesser-known Tales game for Nintendo like Destiny or Rebirth in its place, it would've been forgiving, but instead they chose to do a cheap remake of Abyss instead.
I know that Graces did well on the PS3, but I felt like it was an insult to Nintendo fans who were anticipating it (whether there were that many or not), because given how expensive video game consoles are these days, not all gamers can afford to purchase every console out there. And not just that, but if I'm not mistaken, the PS3 crashes a lot more than the Wii and is more expensive. If Namco had chosen to release Graces for Nintendo like they initially intended, they would've had nothing to lose. It would've catered equally to both the Nintendo and Sony fandoms and even if the game had sold poorly on the Wii, sure it possibly would've sold less, but it wouldn't have put Namco in bankruptcy.

Do you think that Namco normally makes good choices with the Tales games or do you think it's a hit-or-miss affair? If you think the latter, what do you think are the best and worst choices they've made with the games?


Last edited by Paladin Cecil on Wed Mar 18, 2015 9:09 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Are Namco's decisions for the Tales games hit or miss?   Fri Nov 14, 2014 11:12 am

They also put Graces on PS3 because the original Wii version was notoriously glitchy, and so they figured they'd make up for that with an updated rerelease, which the series was no stranger to at the time. And I don't know about everyone else, but I've had absolutely zero problems with my PS3, just like with my Wii.

Anyway, I'm fine with the series overall. My main complaints just lie with specific games/instances. That, and the series seems to have the trend of every remake being worse than the original unless it's Phantasia, in my opinion.

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PostSubject: Re: Are Namco's decisions for the Tales games hit or miss?   Fri Nov 14, 2014 10:55 pm

I have lower standards than what I usually see people say is a "good game" so I'm usually okay with the Tales Namco puts out. Except the overpriced costume DLC. **** that. According to the prices, you're telling me creating 3-4 sets of costumes took just as much time,effort, and resources as creating the rest of the game? If it's licensed costumes like Code Geass, sure I'll pay the extra money, but otherwise...

Also, I hope Zestiria really doesn't force you to use Sorey and Alisha throughout the game. If Namco continues this trend of forced parties.....ugh.....

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PostSubject: Re: Are Namco's decisions for the Tales games hit or miss?   Sun Nov 16, 2014 11:26 am

DreamSword: That's weird. How many games have they made with glitches and what causes it?
Of all the Tales games I've played (and I've played a number), I've never had that problem.
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PostSubject: Re: Are Namco's decisions for the Tales games hit or miss?   Sun Nov 16, 2014 2:14 pm

Paladin Cecil wrote:
DreamSword: That's weird. How many games have they made with glitches and what causes it?
Of all the Tales games I've played (and I've played a number), I've never had that problem.
Firstly, New Game+ on the Wii version (before it was recalled and fixed) was known to basically make the game implode on itself.

There was also the (in)famous glitch which allowed you to continuously use the same Mystic Arte over and over again.

There were more, but those are just the two that I can think up off the top of my head. Various games have had glitches and goof-ups before, but never to the extent the original Graces had. It is, to my knowledge, the only Tales game to have a recall.

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PostSubject: Re: Are Namco's decisions for the Tales games hit or miss?   Tue Nov 25, 2014 11:30 pm

I really don't think Tales will be anything more than a cult favourite. The reason why the Final Fantasy games took off is that they started with typical wizards and warriors and dragons and princess and shit, things that western gamers can relate to. Even when Final Fantasy 7 rolled around, the style of the games was mostly mature-looking and occasionally gritty. I mean you've got that whole bit where Cloud whores himself out to save Tifa, that's a lot more relatable to westerners than a happy hot springs vacation.

Tales games have always had a very Japanese feel to them, from the characters to the extra content like skits. If you ask me, Tales games are more character-focused, and unless somebody likes ALL the characters, they're not gonna appreciate the game. Final Fantasy has always focused primarily on the plot (mostly because the initial games didn't even have fixed characters.) Character development and major side story arcs didn't become a Final Fantasy thing for a while, and not as significantly as, again, skits and character quests in the Tales games.


Those are the two main perspectives I have when it comes to how JRPGs are treated in North America. I realize I'm painting in broad strokes because Mass Effect was certainly popular, but I think that's more because people have the illusion of choice and actual role-playingd an can bang alien babes, rather than have a fixed protagonist constantly waffle around and never actually confess to the female protagonist.

I think the western mainstream just cares about the goal and accomplishing it, not necessarily about the journey or the people they meet along the way. It's why they always get confused by games that have nebulous or changing objectives, or stories that take a long time to develop.


Also on the subject of Lloyd, that's exactly who I was thinking of when I thought of being really noncommittal. I mean yeah, the game sets up a relationship, but it all comes down to that one scene on the snowy balcony and then that character appears in the ending. What a shitty idea.

At least Tales of Destiny II showed that marriage IS possible in Tales land.

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PostSubject: Re: Are Namco's decisions for the Tales games hit or miss?   Wed Nov 26, 2014 4:20 am

Although I liked the balcony scene, I was hoping that the writers would take the two of them as far Cecil and Rosa were taken in Final Fantasy 4. That was one of my favorite things about that game.
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PostSubject: Re: Are Namco's decisions for the Tales games hit or miss?   Wed Nov 26, 2014 5:53 am

Yet when a couple becomes canon, the fandom often complains about it being shoved in our face XD
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PostSubject: Re: Are Namco's decisions for the Tales games hit or miss?   Thu Nov 27, 2014 6:30 am

lol That's true. But sometimes it's best to take chances, and some couples becoming canon wouldn't get as much backlash as others.
Because Soul Eater has so many Soul/Maka shippers, if the writers for that show had made them an official pairing (or if Fairy Tail's writers did that with Lucy & Natsu or Gray & Juvia), it would've resulted in a lot of praise.
And I do know that in the Ouran manga, Tamaki and Haruhi become a pairing and I've never any of the fans complain.
I don't doubt that criticism for canon pairings is common, but don't underestimate the appreciation that it can receive, too.
And as far as I know, Cecil and Rosa, Will and Kara in Illusion of Gaia, and Crono and Marle in Chrono Trigger, along with Alex and Luna from Lunar Silver Star Story didn't get any criticism for being canon either.
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PostSubject: Re: Are Namco's decisions for the Tales games hit or miss?   Thu Nov 27, 2014 7:57 am

I guess it depends on fandoms and fandom circles. With Tales though vocals opinions are often against canon pairs (I remember the Symphonia shipping wars and Colette bashing back in the days, Jude/Milla seems to get a lot of flak (mostly from Jude/Alvin shippers I'd wager) despite them being one of the most developed romances in the series, and let's not even think about Asbel/Cheria and Cheria hate; meanwhile I keep hearing praises about Vesperia for not having official couples).

Personally, I'd prefer actual developed romances (it'd be nice to have couples form before the end one of these days - hey they could even start the story as pre-established lovers, that'd be interesting to see two characters' relationship from that angle) rather than none at all. Canon doesn't prevent people from shipping what they want anyway, and if you like love stories on the side it's nice to actually see it onscreen (that's probably why I personally often ship canon pairs more easily). Also it's time Namco gave us actual queer characters instead of just doing some baiting for the fujoshi. Aska was a step in the right direction, though he was pretty stereotyped, and one of the side novels identifies one of Agria's half-brothers as bisexual in the text, which is nice but he's a very minor character in a side media. An unambiguously queer party member would be nice. Of course I don't know if they're ready to take this step yet, but if anything they're slowly getting closer, I feel. Let's keep hoping.

On a related note, when will we have a non-lolified female party member over 24? Razz
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PostSubject: Re: Are Namco's decisions for the Tales games hit or miss?   Thu Nov 27, 2014 2:54 pm

Quote :
Also it's time Namco gave us actual queer characters

You can't convince me that Emil and Pascal weren't Bi and that Rita and Estelle weren't Lesbians.

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PostSubject: Re: Are Namco's decisions for the Tales games hit or miss?   Fri Nov 28, 2014 9:50 am

Of course. There are a bunch of other characters who are probably bi or gay as well. But so far it's all up to interpretation. What I'd like is for some of them to unambiguously get together on screen ^^
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PostSubject: Re: Are Namco's decisions for the Tales games hit or miss?   Fri Nov 28, 2014 9:51 am

Yume: I'm not really sure.
I agree that homosexuality is the most accepted its ever been, but it's had a long history of controversy and due to that, there are still a lot of people who disprove it.

I don't hate gays myself and never will, but when you write and create characters for video games, it's important to do so in ways that won't make people of any sexuality uncomfortable.
I don't doubt that in recent years, there's been a few bi or homosexual characters in video games, but it is something video game writers and creators need to be careful about.
I will admit that some of my favorite anime series have featured homosexuality, such as Hetalia and Ouran (and I'm good friends with J. Michael Tatum, the voice of Kyoya and France, who's openly gay), and I wasn't offended, so I agree that it can work. But it is something you have to be cautious about.
I admit that I don't interact with gay people that often, so I don't know what gay video gamers overall think of the idea of homosexuality in video games or whether or not there's a significant amount of demand for it.
But I do know that even in recent years, there's still been a lot of anime and video game titles that didn't feature gays that didn't bother either gay or straight people, which shows that bi and homosexuality don't have to be an element in a game in order for it to be good. Gameplay and story-telling is the more important factor.
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PostSubject: Re: Are Namco's decisions for the Tales games hit or miss?   Fri Nov 28, 2014 10:29 am

Paladin Cecil wrote:
Y
I don't hate gays myself and never will, but when you write and create characters for video games, it's important to do so in
ways that won't make people of any sexuality uncomfortable.

If you go on about that like this, then there shouldn't be some other things, too. Aside from that I always thought the easiest way of doing something like that would be, if the character/s we play as (hello, there Lloyd) could choose whatever person s/he wants to be with.
A bit like Persona 3/4, I guess. This way it won't be in the main plot but still there as much as we desire it (or not).
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PostSubject: Re: Are Namco's decisions for the Tales games hit or miss?   Fri Nov 28, 2014 12:51 pm

That'd be great, and even better if this could affect the whole cast. Like, what I love in Hearts and Innocence is how the affection system works for the whole party, not just the main male character. I'd be cool if in a future title they would take this a step further and make it possible to develop romances at will between any party members according to the affection system. It would be all optional, triggerable via a sidequest, and wouldn't influence the main plot much aside for bonus scenes like in Xillia 2, some special skits, sidequests and victory quotes. Something like that?

@Paladin Cecil: I think the queer part of the fanbase would probably welcome a queer playable character with open arms. I mean, so far we settle for headcanons and fortunately there's a lot open enough to interpretation, but actual representation would be amazing, you know?
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PostSubject: Re: Are Namco's decisions for the Tales games hit or miss?   Fri Nov 28, 2014 12:57 pm

Yume Hanabi wrote:
Of course. There are a bunch of other characters who are probably bi or gay as well. But so far it's all up to interpretation. What I'd like is for some of them to unambiguously get together on screen ^^
Zelos comes to mind.
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PostSubject: Re: Are Namco's decisions for the Tales games hit or miss?   Fri Nov 28, 2014 3:41 pm

I'd kill to see an Ristelle 2.0 or somethin' that wasn't ambiguous as heck either.

Cuz let's face it, that stuff was adorable.

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PostSubject: Re: Are Namco's decisions for the Tales games hit or miss?   Fri Nov 28, 2014 8:14 pm

Yume Hanabi wrote:
That'd be great, and even better if this could affect the whole cast. Like, what I love in Hearts and Innocence is how the affection system works for the whole party, not just the main male character. I'd be cool if in a future title they would take this a step further and make it possible to develop romances at will between any party members according to the affection system. It would be all optional, triggerable via a sidequest, and wouldn't influence the main plot much aside for bonus scenes like in Xillia 2, some special skits, sidequests and victory quotes. Something like that?
A system like this would make completionists like me go insane. Especially is sidequests were locked off unless certain characters got together.

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PostSubject: Re: Are Namco's decisions for the Tales games hit or miss?   Mon Dec 01, 2014 1:39 am

How much info do we have about Phantasia and Destiny's original development?

I ask this because after a lot of fiddling, I realize you can only answer it by asking, what does Tales want to accomplish?  Final Fantasy has Sakaguchi's "Reinvent the wheel every time because it pushes you" even after he left, Shigeru Miyamoto has personal and at times counter-cultural backstories for all of his ideas, things like that.  Friggin' Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is a big giant NOPE to post-FF7 Square, as crystalized (heh) by Crystal Bearers being under threat of cancellation multiples times and ultimately morphed into a Nomura-looking game.

Most Tales games have their "RPG to X" taglines, which is good and they often life up too, but sometimes I feel the series aligns a little too closely with Pokemon in its safety, in both the comforting constancy and the growing sense of franchise strech-marks.  And that Namco has basically confirmed it themselves because people aren't hounding them about it the way people do GameFreak.  But I have not played enough Tales to form an entirely qualified opinion.

Taiyz wrote:
I really don't think Tales will be anything more than a cult favourite. The reason why the Final Fantasy games took off is that they started with typical wizards and warriors and dragons and princess and shit, things that western gamers can relate to. Even when Final Fantasy 7 rolled around, the style of the games was mostly mature-looking and occasionally gritty. I mean you've got that whole bit where Cloud whores himself out to save Tifa, that's a lot more relatable to westerners than a happy hot springs vacation.

The culture-neutrality of earlier JRPGs is s huge thing.  I do think Tales is the most accessible series for its type of game, but its type of game is anime-soaked linear RPG, it's kind of a no-prize.  There's no way to make fake-shaming in hot springs or a purposefully out-of-context "You have to take responsibility!" make sense outside that logic.

It's often (as history as shown, rightly) said that Western players were more receptive to JRPGs in the early 90's and prior not only because their cultural neutrality and Japanese control of the console space, but because Western releases deliberately tried to mitigate Japanese art direction as limitations of the hardware.  Look at the covers for any of Sega's Genesis RPGs; they look more like the original Star Wars than their in-game source material.  When the century turned and the Playstation 2, Gamecube, and Xbox proved once and for all that these things were deliberate on the part of the Japanese devs, coupled with Western games that played more deliberately to Western power fantasies, the illusion was dispelled as it should have been.   It happens in other genres too; Timesplitters 4 is never happening expressly because Call of Duty 4 replaced Goldeneye as the "popular standard" design philosophy of first person shooters and Crytek does not believe it would actually sell.

On the side, its makes the Souls series genre debates delightful to watch because modern JRPGs suddenly make a more culturally-neuter game from a Japanese developer difficult to place.

Taiyz wrote:

I think the western mainstream just cares about the goal and accomplishing it, not necessarily about the journey or the people they meet along the way. It's why they always get confused by games that have nebulous or changing objectives, or stories that take a long time to develop.

It makes sense.  Given that several genres, including RPGs as defined by Bethesda and Bioware (basically) are either about you as expressed in the game or about a world that revolves around the named character you play.  JRPGs, platformers, and most action games are odd ducks since they are usually not about the player in any way.

Taiyz wrote:
Also on the subject of Lloyd, that's exactly who I was thinking of when I thought of being really noncommittal. I mean yeah, the game sets up a relationship, but it all comes down to that one scene on the snowy balcony and then that character appears in the ending. What a shitty idea.

The concept or the execution?  I see nothing wrong with Lloyd (heck, do it with everyone- surefire way to make everyone's first run special!) bonding with a character, I see a problem with tying expressing those relationships largely in a pre-determined set of points (there were actually three dialogues) in the story rather than when Lloyd and the other would be most prone to have those heart to hearts.

Yume Hanabi wrote:
Yet when a couple becomes canon, the fandom often complains about it being shoved in our face XD

Well let's ask the great question; what does it matter?  In a subculture that ships whoever, effortlessly spawns gay doujinshi's (of either sex) under the breezy logic of "let's take whatever makes these characters friends/rivals/enemies and just add sex" (Open to a more articulate reason, I just don't think there is one! Laughing ), and in which ship-slamming is seen as entirely uncouth?  We as fans ingest these games to such a degree that I think we should be more concerned about the questions that we "actually" can't control:

Yume Hanabi wrote:
On a related note, when will we have a non-lolified female party member over 24? Razz

Like so!  We all know the reason, but its always been a short-sighted and creatively bottlenecked one. No
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PostSubject: Re: Are Namco's decisions for the Tales games hit or miss?   Thu Dec 04, 2014 5:26 pm

This might be somewhat controversial here since it's likely a lot of you haven't had a desire to move to current-gen yet, but....

No Zestiria for PS4 is really short-sighted for the west. The Western release is going to bomb in mid 2015 like that, and PS4 owners are starving for good JRPG's. Not to mention, if the console market in Japan will ever get healthy again, it'll need Tales to move on exclusively sooner rather than later, let alone doing the opposite and staying entirely on the aged PS3.

http://www.dualshockers.com/2014/09/17/tales-of-zestiria-wont-come-to-ps4-for-now-tales-series-currently-only-for-playstation/

^Hideo Baba justifying it, but it still doesn't make sense.

I don't have a PS3 (I know, I know), so I hope to catch up on Tales on PS4 (I only have Vesperia 360 and Abyss 3DS, and love them both.)

Basically, I hope there's a port. I would pre-order.
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PostSubject: Re: Are Namco's decisions for the Tales games hit or miss?   Mon Dec 08, 2014 11:12 pm

My biggest complaint is how some of the games don't get localized, especially The Escort titles, I really wanted to play Reve Unitia!

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