The Tales Games We Missed
These days I'm pleasantly surprised by the steady Tales releases in North America. For a period during the PS2 and PS3 era, I questioned how Bandai Namco felt about the series' potential in the U.S. market. We saw poor localization decisions, like bringing over Tales of Legendia as opposed to localizing Tales of Destiny 2 (the direct to sequel to the PS1 title that debuted the series in North America, not Tales of Eternia). And while Japan was getting entries on a regular basis, Western fans have dealt with larger release gaps and even missing games altogether.
Now it feels like the series is gaining more consistency in the U.S. market – the majority of the entries are reaching our hands. We haven't missed a mainline entry since 2008's Tales of Hearts, and that's being rectified with the Vita remake already confirmed for North America. Bandai Namco may be righting some of its Tales wrongs, but here are some entries that never graced our shores. Who knows? Maybe Bandai Namco can find a way to bring some of these over with remakes or HD collections.
Note: This list does not include mobile or online iterations.
Tales of Destiny 2
Japan release: November 28, 2002
This one may cause some confusion. Bandai Namco localized a game they called Tales of Destiny 2, but the game's actual name is Tales of Eternia. Eternia has no ties or direct connections to Tales of Destiny's plot, so it was a bizarre move. Supposedly it was done for brand recognition in the U.S, because it was only the second Tales game released in the North America. Unfortunately, giving it that name complicated matters. An actual sequel to Tales of Destiny debuted a few years later in Japan, aptly titled Tales of Destiny 2. Bandai Namco never brought it over, thus leaving English-speaking fans without the complete arc.
Tales of Destiny 2 continued the plot 18 years into the future, centering on Kyle Dunamis, the son of Stahn and Rutee, characters from the first game. Tales of Destiny 2 not only hit PS2, but also had a PlayStation Portable version about five years later. And yet, North American audiences still haven't experienced the fourth entry in the Tales series. What would be nice? A collection featuring Tales of Destiny and Tales of Destiny 2 so fans can see the story play out in its entirety.
Tales of Rebirth
Japan release: December 16, 2004
Tales of Rebirth is another PS2 entry we missed. It stars Veigue Lungberg, a young lad who never stepped outside of his village until a military attack threatens the life of his family, forcing him to look for answers by exploring the world. The linear motion battle system that the franchise uses is still intact here, but in Rebirth, character placement becomes more important as three different planes are available for party member placement. You can shift around your strategy by placing all party members on one line for an ultimate battle force, or split them up to target multiple enemies. This sixth entry in the franchise received good critical reception and sold well in Japan, even if it was a little under Bandai Namco's extremely hopeful expectations. Like Tales of Destiny 2, the game was ported to the PlayStation Portable a few years later.
Tales of Innocence
Japan Release: December 6, 2007
Tales of Innocence is the ninth mainline entry and first released on DS. Much like Tales of Hearts, a remake later made its way to the PlayStation Vita, which gives it a glimmer of hope of coming here, despite being the older of the two. I'm betting if Tales of Hearts sells well, Bandai Namco might seize the opportunity. Tales of Innocence involves people suddenly getting interesting powers and others fearing them for it. If someone with a special power is spotted, they must be captured per the law. Obviously, this causes a lot of panic and division between those with and without powers. Things take an interesting turn when the main character, Ruca, who is as ordinary as can be – merely a quiet son of a merchant – discovers he, too, possesses a special power.
Up next: Spin-offs that aren't strictly RPGs...
Tales of the Tempest
Japan Release: October 26, 2006
This DS game was originally intended to be a mainline entry, but later got grouped into the spin-off camp. It might have something to do with its subpar quality. Tempest features a huge civil war between humans and a race of highly-powerful beasts. The war breaks out after the beasts mishandle powerful technology, earning the beasts the outcast title due to using the forbidden technology that murdered many. The battle system uses one similar to Tales of Rebirth's three plane system, but in Tempest characters can morph into their beast forms during battle. Unfortunately, Tales of the Tempest isn't a quality entry, receiving poor critical and fan reception. Adding insult to injury, the game is only ten hours long. It didn't sell well in Japan, so I doubt we'll ever see this one make it to our shores, and from that looks of it – that might be for the best.
Tales of Vs.
Japan Release: August 6, 2009
As the title might suggest, this game is all about competition, not a pure role-playing game experience. Tales of Vs. is a fighting game featuring 35 cast members from 13 different Tales games. From characters like Vesperia's Yuri Lowell to Symphonia's Lloyd Irving, all duke it out in the name of resources to help their respective country. Story mode lets you pick a pre-determined duo; this mode lets you explore a world map, engage in fights, accept sidequests, unlock more characters, and see unique character arcs. With the success of other series like Persona tapping into the fighting genre, it's a shame we have yet to see how it fares in the Tales universe.
Tales of the Heroes: Twin Brave
Japan Release: February 23, 2012
Do you love beat 'em ups a la Dynasty Warriors? Then Tales of the Heroes: Twin Brave is a localization to pine for. You slash your way through waves of enemies while story mode offers some serious and humorous moments from popular characters, drawing on their experiences in previous games. Unfortunately, this game came out late in the PSP's lifecycle, narrowing its chances of ever making it here. On top of that, it features plenty of characters from Japan-only Tales games, like the aforementioned Innocence, Tempest, Rebirth, and Tales of Destiny 2. However, it also implements more well-known ones, such as Milla Maxwell and Jude Mathias from the series' most recent release, Tales of Xillia.
Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology 2 and 3
We received the first Radiant Mythology game, but it didn't really turn heads. So it's not all that surprising that Bandai Namco decided to pass on localizing the next two games in the spin-off series. These PSP dungeon crawlers have you creating your own character and meeting various popular franchise characters as you explore random dungeons. The games sold very well in Japan and were met with rave reviews, but the less-than-stellar reception of the first game in the U.S must have put Bandai Namco off from pursuing the series any further.
The Tales Narikiri Dungeon Games
These games came before Radiant Mythology games, but are strictly dungeon crawlers. The games got their start on the Game Boy Color and the first one is actually a sequel to Tales of Phantasia (the very first Tales game), beginning 205 years after its events. Interestingly enough, a remake of the first game, Tales of Phantasia: Narikiri Dungeon X, launched in 2010 for the PlayStation Portable. While these games have always been on portable systems, it's still a shame that none of them ever hit North America. Although, we're guessing that they might have met a similar fate as Radiant Mythology.
When all is said and done, English-speaking Tales fans are in a much better place than previously, receiving the majority of releases. Hopefully, if this momentum continues, maybe some of these titles still have a chance of making it over. That being said, for the first time in a long time, I feel confident about the series' place in the U.S. market. That's not something I would have said a few years ago. Still, it was interesting to look back on some of what we've missed from the beloved franchise.
Which of these games do you wish Bandai Namco didn't pass on?