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02-23-20 12:31 AM

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scout360pyro
06-22-15 01:29 PM
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janus
07-05-15 04:50 PM
Rating
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Diamond In The Rough

 
Game's Ratings
Overall
Graphics
Sound
Addictiveness
Depth
Story
Difficulty
Average User Score
8.9
8.3
6.3
8.3
9.3
8.7
8.7
scout360pyro's Score
8.7
8
7
8
9
7
9

06-22-15 01:29 PM
scout360pyro is Offline
Link | ID: 1177975 | 2023 Words

scout360pyro
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 Tales of Phantasia does not do much to draw you in at the
beginning. It has a rather brief and confusing opening that uses voice
recordings rather than text to explain, and given the GBA hardware that means
whatever is being said is mostly incomprehensible. Nothing in the battle
mechanics is explained at the start, nor does it get explained later on in the
game. It is possible to screw yourself over very quickly if you do not
understand certain functions of this system, such as the fact that you can aim melee
attacks upwards to target airborne enemies. Timing definitely plays a critical
role in battle, and sadly this is not explained to the player either. But even
so something about this game interests me, despite the many problems I see with
it. I look at this game and see hidden potential, a very large amount of hidden
potential. The actual game mechanics are very well made, and allow for a
surprising amount of variation and freedom with game play. The problem is that
the graphic design is as every bit as bad (in terms of menu design, color
scheme, fonts) as the game play is good.



The game play and mechanics of the game are good, but the
graphics are washed out, and the on screen text at some points is REALLY poorly
done color wise... white letters on light backgrounds? Anyways, this game has
some real potential to it, but it needs a bit of a makeover. I like the battle
system though, well, once I figured it out, that is. The best way I can
describe the system is that of a RTS Platformer. You can pause to select items,
skills, or strategies, but you control the movement and attack direction of
your character. You can also have certain skills hot keyed to the B button and
the D pad. Different attacks have a certain pattern of movement to them, and
you need to be aware of the timing involved. Fortunately, the game by default
makes this as easy as possible to understand. It results in the attack
movements seeming rather slow, telegraphed, and choppy, but it teaches you the
timing of things better than if it was smoother and faster. A menu setting
allows you to speed this up slightly to increase the battle difficulty. In some
ways the battle system actually reminds me somewhat of the melee battle style
sometimes used by Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones arena mode, only with a far
greater variety of skills, people, attacks, and movement allowed.



The game's movement system, though it sticks to four directional
movement on the actual “rooms” of the game, also allows you to run and even
drag/move certain objects around the level, allowing for hidden mini-puzzles on
some occasions. I think the drag mechanic is rather interesting, and it reminds
me of the game boy color Legend of Zelda games where you could drag and push
blocks around, though it is nowhere near as heavily used here as it was in Zelda. The running aspect, though it many might remember it best from the Pokémon
Ruby and Sapphire versions, was used as early as the SNES with Chrono Trigger,
and it is a joy to see it being used here. There is an over world map system
similar to the one used by Chrono Trigger, Golden Sun, and the early Final
Fantasy games, though it is most like Golden Sun in appearance. I like that you
have 3 options for recovery of health and mana, or “tp” as the game refers to
it. You can sleep in a bed, often purchased from an inn, use recovery items in
and out of battle, OR you can choose to cook yourself a meal. If you have the
required ingredients, and have not eaten recently, the cooked meal heals an
overall percentage of the entire party’s hp and tp, rather than a set amount.
While starting out this may benefit the player little due to the low quality
meals they can initially prepare (only a ten percent restoration), I can
certainly see the advantages later on as the characters get leveled up.



Despite the poorly done intro, the rest of the plot is not
that bad. It certainly moves faster than I expected, and does a great job of
building the player up for the first major plot twist. Before you even manage
to regain your composure and wrap your head around that first twist, tales of
phantasia lashes out again with another twist, swift and brutal. The
interesting thing is that the rapid pace of this allows for some new characters
to be introduced with little issue, and integrates them more effectively than
most rpg games ever manage. Someone was definitely putting a lot of time and
effort into this game, that much is certain. It may be a bit rough on the
surface, but underneath there is far more depth than you would expect. I almost
wonder if the lack of tutorials was on purpose, because the game was designed
to challenge the player to figure out the mechanics themselves. The battle
controls are rather instinctively familiar to those who have played platformers,
and remind me of some of the translated Japanese rpgs I have seen, such as Star
Ocean, in that they are meant to give the player less time to react than a
traditional turn based or even event based battle style would.



Overall : 8.7

Despite the problems I have with certain features of the
sound, story, and graphics in this game, I have to rate this highly. The
baseline mechanics that form the foundation of game play are amazing and unique,
and if it were not for the poorly chosen “decorations” of the game, I would be
rating this 9.5 or higher. The level of detail in the graphics is amazing, the battle
system surprisingly challenging and addictive, and the plot deceptively well laid
out despite a rather shaky start. There is hidden depth to this game underneath
the unappealing exterior of its introduction, and I cannot stress enough the
need for interested players to look beyond it before they decide whether the
game is worth playing or not.



Graphics : 8

The game has a nice level of detail in its textures for the
backgrounds and the sprites, better than Chrono Trigger even. The world has
moving parts within its background, and has an excellent level of detail. I
especially like how the bookcases are done. The way they show a glass door over
top of the books is a really nice effect, and helps add depth to the scenes.
Potted plants, loose books or papers on desks and tables, detailed rugs and
carpets, a lot of work goes into interior and exterior design of the towns and
buildings of this game. They make use of light and shadow from windows,
different materials and styles for the floor in different sections, such as
using a cheaper looking cobblestone for a basic hallway where there is little
room for decoration, and switching to more ornate stone or wood tiling for
rooms. The forests are beautifully made, and give off a kind of mystical feel
as you walk through them. Even in the battle screens the forests are detailed
in the background, to show a sharp contrast to fights that happen in open
fields, where the background is a blue, slightly clouded sky. The thing is the
graphics are a little TOO bright. Not enough darker coloring is used, and it
ends up making me feel like I am playing with sun shining on my screen. Because
the in game letters are completely white, it can make it especially hard to
read them when they are displayed without a menu box as a backdrop. On top of
that, the menu system is a bit irritating in that you cannot see how much
money, or gald, you have (as far as I can tell). You need to go find a shop
keeper and check with them, or keep a mental tally of your general wealth. This
makes grinding for money a bit irritating at times.
If it wasn’t for this I would rate the game a solid ten for
graphics.



Sound : 7

The quality of the games music and sound effects is good
enough for GBA hardware, and the characters in game voices as they perform
their techniques are not too bad, seeing as how they are more for effect rather
than trying to convey actual, important information to the player. But the
quality of the voices used in the intro is slightly worse than that, and for
the game to rely on THAT to introduce the player to the game is a terrible
idea, because it is very difficult to understand what is being said. It acts as
a major turn off to players looking to try the game out, and drives me nuts as
I try to understand what the developer’s reasoning was for doing things this
way.



Addictive : 8

The battle system, as I mentioned earlier, is a very interesting
and dynamic thing. It gets the player actively involved and on their toes, and
is unlike anything I have ever seen before in an rpg game. It does have an
option to let the character move automatically, which you can toggle with a
key, but even then the movement is interesting enough that you still won’t get
bored. It also helps that the game’s ai for your character is not much brighter
than the ai for the enemies, which encourages players to keep a close eye on
things if they do decide to put it on autopilot.



Story : 7

Honestly I would normally rank the story at an eight or
higher, but the way it opens in the introduction cost it those extra points.
First impressions are important, and for all of the time and thought put into
the actual game’s plot and progression, the opening does not measure up. Horrible
opening aside, tales of phantasia does a great job of trying to get the player
emotionally involved from the very beginning. It works by getting players attached
to various characters with heart warming dialogue and character development,
before ripping them away with all the cruelty life can offer. Then, as our
grief turns to anger, they provide a target that treats us as nothing, further
angering us. Very quickly you become uncertain of who to trust, as supposed
allies betray you without warning, and the bonds you share with those who fight
with you only deepen as you find that the only people you can truly rely on are
those at your side.



Depth : 9

This game is a lot deeper than I thought it would be. The
battle system alone has a surprising amount of depth and potential, with the
combination of platformer and rpg elements. There are deceptively intricate
levels of placement and timing at every level of combat, though you do not need
necessarily need to master them to succeed in this game. Different techniques,
equipment, and various items and methods of recovery make the game interesting
outside of battle as well as inside it. The characters can gain various titles
as they level up or complete hidden side quests, adding yet another layer of
depth into this game.



Difficulty : 9

Tales of Phantasia certainly is challenging, though it keeps
from being TOO challenging for the player, provided you figure out the basics
of combat early on. Different enemies attack different ways, and at different
intervals. Because of this, depending on the combination of enemies, as well as
what they are trying to do in particular at a given moment, a great deal of
quick thinking and adaptability, with a bit of timing, is needed to avoid
taking too much damage as you progress. It is certainly harder than most rpgs
in this aspect, but it is not impossibly hard! Once you begin to grasp the full
range of motion you have in movement and attacks it becomes easier to
understand and adapt.

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07-03-15 11:48 AM
janus is Offline
Link | ID: 1181436 | 65 Words

janus
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Question: did you copy/paste from Word? If so consider using the pasting option included in posts (you can see the Word symbol).

Anyway, this review is a masterpiece. You give abundant (and non redundant) details, your structure is very clear and you make abundant comparisons to other games, which is essential in my book. I wish I could give you more than a 5
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07-05-15 04:44 PM
scout360pyro is Offline
Link | ID: 1182453 | 624 Words

scout360pyro
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janus : Yes, I did copy this from word. While I was playing the game, I was writing down my thoughts in notepad to make sure I did not forget them. (I had both the game screen and notepad side by side to make it easy to type) I used Word to check the spelling on things before I put it into the review text box out of habit, I guess.

Honestly, as much as you may wish you could rate this higher (I am flattered, btw) I wish even more that I was able to control my ability to write instead of randomly pulling things out and finding gold every now and then. I write best when I a write from the heart, when I am inspired and truly believe the words I am typing. I truly believe that Tales of Phantasia is a diamond in the rough, just waiting for a bit more polish to bring it to its full potential. The best way to do this is to show how it uses similar mechanics as other, highly successful games in addition to the unique ideas it brings.

All games to an extent can be broken down into a mix of story/plot, graphics, and mechanics. The different roles these three play may overlap to varying extents at times, but in general I see them as having 3 main roles, using fishing as an analogy:
The graphics of the game are the lure. They are what you see first, and make up much of what is advertised. You can easily appeal to a much broader audience on graphics or snippets of  the game play alone then you can with words.
The plot is the hook. Sooner or later, the novelty of the graphics, no matter how good, will wear out. Before that happens, they players need to get hooked on the game, and one of the best ways to do that is with the plot. This may not apply to all games (arcade style games in particular, as they try to hook you with the mechanics more than the plot)  but it certainly can be applied to most modern video games. The plot works in tandem with the graphics and the mechanics to immerse you in the game, but often it is the plot that pulls you back AFTER you stop playing and go do something else. Wanting to know what happens next, whether your expectations will come true or not, and similar desires is how the plot keeps the player playing.
And finally, the game mechanics are the fishing line. No matter how tantalizingly awesome the game looks, or how enchanting the story it has, even the most hooked of players will get away if the game cannot meet the pressure of their expectations. The mechanics are the meat of the game, the structure that everything else is built around, from a developer's viewpoint. They are the bridge between the player and the fictional world created with the graphics and plot. Coming back to the fishing analogy, if the mechanics are too easy or hard, the player will either get bored or frustrated, and leave. The mechanics need to work in sync with the graphics, plot, and the player in order to keep bringing them back to the game. (Though lately many games instead try to reel the player back to a promised sequel or dlc)
The player needs to feel like they are being challenged, yet also feel that they are capable of reaching the goals the game sets for them. They need to be able to immerse themselves in the game with little effort, and not be jerked back to reality by dissonance between various elements of the plot, graphics, and mechanics.
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scout360pyro : Unless you are in a hurry to post, you can use the tricks to structure your text they teach at school. Start by putting your ideas on paper, then review and structure them, and finally put the finish touch. Although I sometimes post my review right away during Tour de Vizzed, I always write them in Word first so the structure is polished
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