Tag: tales of series

My Top Fifteen Favorite Video Game Tracks

If you’re friends with me for any long period of time, one of the things you end up having to deal with is how much I like video game music.

I source this love to being a pretty sheltered kid – I wasn’t allowed to listen to the radio, but I was given pretty much free reign in regards to soundtracks. Disney movies, of course, were a big favorite for me (I still sing a certain song from Mulan to myself every time I encounter Attila in Civ 5), as well as various Broadway shows (while I never made the jump to being a true theatre kid, I went through a Phantom of the Opera phase like so many others) and instrumental movie soundtracks. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not musically inclined at all, really – I played both oboe and cello briefly but the combination of ADD and my instructor’s palpable frustration with my short-term memory being garbage caused me to throw in the towel pretty quickly. But the few times I could manage to figure out a song on my own when fiddling around with a piano or keyboard? Always, always movie-related. I’m pretty sure my mom got tired of my showing off my attempt at the Indiana Jones theme on her piano to any unsuspecting visitors!

So despite my lack of technical talent, I still saw the world in terms of how it should be scored. My best friend and I spent huge amounts of our time in middle school trading soundtracks (she introduced me to Star Wars first by way of its score, and when she got me to play some Sonic game with her the only thing I was interested in was using my tape recorded to capture some stage’s bgm that I found particularly attractive) and making lists of how we’d soundtrack particular situations, people, etc. We were lucky enough to be in an “advanced” English program together that actually allowed us to make radio plays and short movies with our classmates, and I’m pretty sure we annoyed the hell out of our classmates when we demanded to put in the extra work of background music for some scenes. I still remember the look on one kid’s face when I told him I thought we should edit in a particular Jackson Browne song as the audio for a scene about some video we were making for class. I think both due to the fact that I was a 12-year-old suggesting a Jackson Browne song (hey, my dad was OBSESSED with him and that love turned out to be genetic) and the fact that I was voluntarily suggesting more work. Heh.

Anyhow, all this is to say, that it was probably completely unsurprising that when I started playing video games in college, one of the aspects that could hook me on a game was its soundtrack. Years later, my friends still have to deal with my nerding out over the music in a new game and spamming their messenger with various youtube links to whatever tracks have caught my fancy.

After doing this the other day with regard to some music in Blade & Soul (ohgod I love the faction pvp music so much), it occurred to me that I could totally inflict that habit on unsuspecting readers here, too.

And thus, this post is born. I’m thinking I’ll do a few posts for variety – favorite character themes, favorite battle themes, favorite ambient background themes, etc. But this one, the first one, will simply by my overall top fifteen video game tracks of all time, with one caveat: only one pick per game. Otherwise this list would be way, way too weighted towards the Tales Of and Shin Megami Tensei series.

So let’s get right into it!

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Tales of Xillia Localization Announced & Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike Now Available!

Note: This is an old post ported over from a gaming blog that I used to write alongside my longtime friend Mento. Images did not survive the import process, and unfortunately I have no idea or record of what they were, so these posts are presented in all their jacked-up, ugly glory. Sorry!


So it looks like my instinct to avoid any and all character/plot spoilers for Tales of Xillia just in case Namco decided to localize it turned out to be right. This past week, the upcoming English localization for Tales of Xillia was announced by Hideo Baba. It was also said that if Xillia does well in its 2013 NA/Europe releases, they’ll be strongly considering giving us the upcoming Xillia 2 as well. So all in all, excellent news for English-speaking Tales fans!

Tales of Xillia allows you to choose between main characters – will you pick Milla or Jude?

Tales of Xillia is a deviation from the classic formula in that it allows you to choose which of the two lead characters you want to focus on – you’ll experience differences in the plot and certain enemies based on your choice. I’ll probably play both paths, of course, but I plan on going Jude’s route first – from watching his gameplay videos, he seems to be a martial artist with extremely high agility, which is basically my ideal Tales type. Or for more of a Tales reference-heavy way of saying it, he looks like the artes of Senel Coolidge (Tales of Legendia protagonist and one of my all-time favorite video game characters to control in battle) with the ability to run in, hit the enemy, and be across the field before said enemy can react (a trademark of high-agility types like Tales of the Abyss swordsman Guy Cecil, another of my favorites). He also gets a cute Leon Magnus costume, so, uh, yeah. I think they basically crawled into my brain to create my perfect Tales character when Jude was conceived – not that I’m complaining. At all.

I can foresee many amazing combo chains in our future together, Jude~ I can hardly wait!

Milla Maxwell, on the other hand, seems to be more of the classic Tales ‘Magic Swordsman’ type. Think Kratos Aurion and Zelos Wilder from Tales of Symphonia, Flynn Scifo from Tales of Vesperia, or really any of the Tales of Destiny characters that wielded Swordians in battle. These characters fight with a mix of flashy offensive sword attacks and equally impressive magical skills to allow them to exploit enemy’s elemental weaknesses – some even have healing abilities in their bag of tricks as well. These types tend to be incredibly versatile in battle, which may explain why Milla seems to generally be the more popular of the two leads – at least from what I’ve seen on YouTube.

It might also be because for spoilery plot reasons that I’m not privy too yet. Or maybe it’s just because fuck yeah, a female protagonist for once!



Speaking of Flynn Scifo, if you were one of the many who played Tales of Vesperia and enjoyed it (or just read Mento’s review of it and thought it sounded interesting), you might be happy to know that the English dub of the Vesperia prequel movie has been released and its now available for purchase at Amazon.

Twin knights Hisca and Chastel Aiheap join Yuri and Flynn for their adventures prior to the game.

Tales of Vesperia ~The First Strike~ covers the incident that lead Vesperia main character Yuri Lowell to leave the Imperial Knights – an event that was briefly alluded to in the game a few times, but never really expanded upon. While the plot largely focuses on Flynn and Yuri (Flynn is actually given far more backstory here than he was in the game, so my fellow Flynn fangirls/boys should take note~) and some new characters, you’ll also see cameos from a few other familiar faces.

Yup, she was a blastia geek even back then.

Overall, the movie is very well-done and quite interesting if you found Vesperia’s characters and world even a little bit compelling. There are some voice acting changes for the recurring cameo characters – for example, Rita Mordio is no longer voiced by Michelle Ruff, but by Luci Christian instead – but Sam Riegel and Troy Baker do return as Flynn and Yuri, respectively, which is nice.

Considering that Sam Riegel is flawless as Flynn, this is nothing to be mad about.

So all in all, not a bad time to be an English-speaking Tales fan – let’s hope that NB keeps up with this streak of actually localizing things, because that dry period in between the original Vesperia (Dawn of the New World never happened, shut up) and Tales of Graces F was pretty sad for all of us non-Japanese speakers!

That’s why, in the interest of getting more things localized down the line, I hope that if any of this looks even remotely interesting to you, you’ll pre-order Xillia (whenever it becomes available to do so) and purchase (rather than torrent) the Vesperia movie. NB has basically said that money talks or they walk in this situation, so let’s do what we can!

Otherwise… Alvin will point his gun menacingly at you. Or something. I guess. Scary!

Tales Of, Star Ocean & Muramasa Combo Videos

Note: This is an old post ported over from a gaming blog that I used to write alongside my longtime friend Mento. Images did not survive the import process, and unfortunately I have no idea or record of what they were, so these posts are presented in all their jacked-up, ugly glory. 

I know that it’s terribly uncool of me, but I have to admit to absolutely adoring watching various JRPG combo videos on YouTube. Mostly of Namco Bandai’s Tales Of series, just because the gameplay in those lends itself so perfectly to massive, awesome-looking chain combos finished off with flashy cut-in attacks – as Mento said in his review of Tales of Vesperia, they do not skimp on the spectacle. The Star Ocean series is another one that I enjoy, which makes sense as its battle system is reminiscent of Tales (given that part of the Star Ocean team worked on Tales of Phantasia before founding tri-Ace, this is not surprising). But truly, on days where I’m feeling very lazy – too lazy to go play the games myself, even – I like to take “YouTube journeys” through all the awesome combo videos that get produced. Today is one of those lazy days, and I figured I’d share some of my favorites with you guys as well – that way I can at least pretend that I’m being productive by watching all these movies!


[Tales of Vesperia] BATTLE COLLECTION ~RAINBOW~ by ssrai
Since I already mentioned Tales of Vesperia, let’s start off with my favorite Vesperia video. It’s by ssrai, who will turn up many times on this list – and you’ll understand why, I’m sure. Lots of fatal strike and cancelling abuse, but it sure does looks awesome. I think my favorite part is Rita’s totally rude interruption of Estelle’s Mystic Arte, and the cute edit with Estelle’s joke arte directly after =3


[HD720p] Star Ocean 4: Combo Demo by whiteblue3
This sure is a pretty game, isn’t it? The PS3 version of Star Ocean: The Last Hope is one of the games that I was really missing when my PS3 was in weird breakup purgatory, and it’s next on my list of games to finish up after Tales of Graces f. Seeing this video, you can understand why, right? I prefer to main Faize and Meracle, but Meracle – the blue-haired catgirl – is by far the superior combo machine.


[Tales of Destiny] – Ultimaniax ” BLACK “ by ssrai
I couldn’t resist posting this one – another ssrai creation – mostly because Mento seems endlessly amused by my reluctant Leon Magnus (of Tales of Destiny fame) obsession. You see, I really was NOT a fan of Leon at all, until I made the “mistake” of playing as him in the first Radiant Mythology game. The RM games give him the arte set and fighting style of the Tales of Destiny: Director’s Cut remake, and holy hell did that remake turn Leon into one of the best Tales characters ever, gameplay-wise at least. I’ve eventually come to sort of love his ridiculous tsundere personality and pink cape, but his number one attraction for me is that amazing fighting style, and this video puts it on perfect display – also with some spoilers for both Destiny and its sequel, Destiny 2, so do be warned!


[ToGƒ] Tales of Graces ƒ [Combo Movie] – To Protect by asndarknessdragon
I actually used this particular video to convince a number of people to buy Tales of Graces f, and maybe it will end up convincing you, too – who knows? The player does an excellent job of chaining together Assault and Burst arte trees, Accelerate Modes, and badass finishing Blast Calibers for an awesome summary of how each character plays. Then we get a little weirder, with what you may initially think are hacks – but the ability to basically create an entire party of one character is actually a real function of the game! So yeah, Graces f is basically a combo addict’s dream, this video isn’t an exaggeration at all. Awesome, right?


[TALES OF THE ABYSS] – Ultimaniax – (special combo edition) by ssrai
Another one from ssrai. This was the PS2 version of Tales of the Abyss, which recently received an upgraded port to the Nintendo 3DS. I seriously think that Namco Bandai should just hire this guy to produce these videos as trailers for their Tales games, because this video really just comes off as such a perfect advertisement – you get to see the different playable characters and the ways they can each combo, as well as little teaser bits of the story. Well done.


Muramasa: The Demon Blade – Seven Samurai Combo Vid by luc1dox
The video is a little weird in sound quality because the guy was playing on an emulator, but it’s still pretty incredible – especially since he didn’t take the cheap route of just constantly spamming Momohime’s artes to get the hit count up. A nice look at the combat in Muramasa: The Demon Blade, and one of the few combo videos of this game that I really liked (many of them just consist of the aforementioned spamming of the same few artes, which isn’t that interesting to watch, let’s be real).

That’s all for today, though maybe another time I’ll do another post like this – less Tales-focused, perhaps, but no promises… it’s an obsession, I can’t help it!

Tales of Graces f: Some Thoughts, Part One

Note: This is an old post ported over from a gaming blog that I used to write alongside my longtime friend Mento. Images did not survive the import process, and unfortunately I have no idea or record of what they were, so these posts are presented in all their jacked-up, ugly glory. 

First things first, I’ll just get this out of the way – this isn’t a full, proper review of Tales of Graces f, because I haven’t been able to finish the game yet! Not by choice, of course – if I had my way, I’d be living and breathing this game. But I’m (hopefully only temporarily) separated from my PS3, and thus my adventures on Ephinea have to be put on hold for a bit. Insert all my QQ ever right here, cause I am totally sad about this turn of events =(

This is a pretty accurate description of how I feel about the game right now. I NEED MY FIX!

I am extremely close to finishing the Main Arc, though – I’m just running through a bunch of sidequests before tackling the final dungeon. After that, it’s on to the Future Arc (the “f” part of the game) and then back to the Main Arc to tackle the delicious bonus dungeon. I hear that you get to fight butlers in there, which means that it’s going to be the best thing ever, basically.

Anyhow, on to some random ramblings about the game, since even if I can’t play it right now, it’s still totally devouring my brain.

I just felt like this was as good a place as any for an image of watermelon heads. #1 attachment fo life.

First of all, I make no secret that my favorite Tales Of game – and really, probably my favorite video game overall – is Tales of Legendia. This still stands, but I think it’s safe to say that Graces has edged out Tales of the Abyss and Tales of Destiny for my #2 favorite Tales spot. It’s just that excellent.

For me, the best part of the game is the newly tweaked combat system – given that I’ve always preferred running high agility characters in these games who can sweep in, unleash an attack, then be across the battlefield before the enemy can retaliate, it’s really no surprise that I’m absolutely in love with the system of dodges, guards, and quick-steps that Graces has introduced. Here’s a particularly Cheriawesome example of how useful those dodges can be:

Every time the game popped up a CC+whatever message, that meant that Cheria had successfully dodged a part of that rather OP attack. And given that many bosses have single artes that can easily nuke your entire party unless you’re quick with the dodge function, it’s a good thing that using it is so damned fun. I can’t even lie, I’d have battles where I’d waste so much time just evading every single attack and laughing at the poor little enemies trying to touch me because I found it so entertaining!

As for what exactly CC is, it’s basically the replacement for TP/MP. Instead of moves costing mana or tech points, the moves you use depend on how much CC you have stored up. Successfully dodging, guarding, and comboing can all restore CC; you can also increase your minimum or maximum CC by dualizing Rise and Exceed shards into your weapons and armor. At the very beginning of the game, you may find yourself constantly running out of CC, at least with some characters (for example, I found my beloved Pascal sort of weird to handle until I’d increased her CC range a bit more), but don’t worry – that problem takes care of itself very quickly, especially with the addition of the B arte tree once you clear the Childhood Arc and get control of adult Asbel and Malik in the Main Arc’s first dungeon.

And if you don’t make Malik and Asbel the unstoppable Box Brothers, you are doing it wrong.

The two arte trees are another fun addition, or at least I think so. The A arte tree is based on CC – depending on the amount of CC you’ve got in your tank, as well as which way you’re aiming the joystick, you’ll perform various artes that combo perfectly into each other. The B arte tree, on the other hand, is much more classic Tales – you map specific artes to various directions, and activate them by holding the joystick in the desired direction and pressing the B arte button. Most characters can swap between the two freely, with Asbel as the one exception. It’s okay, though – his “extra step” is a damaging sheathing/unsheathing, so it’s not like you’re leaving yourself open or breaking a combo. Also worth noting are that A artes are based off your physical, or P ATK stat, and B artes are based off your cryas, or C ATK stat. So it’s important to raise both stats on every character, unlike previous games where you could focus on either Physical or Magic stats.

At the end of this particular A-Arte combo, Sophie apparently joins Cruxis or something.

Speaking of skills, you don’t learn them via leveling up in Graces. Instead, you are constantly earning titles – not really a new thing – except that in this game, titles are used for far more than just a minor stat boost or costume change. Each title has a basic boost – for example, something like giving you a resistance to a certain status ailment as long as that title is equipped – as well as 5 ranks, and each rank will unlock some sort of boost – whether it’s a new arte, a status boost like increased CC or HP or ATK/DEF, or a costume. You rank up by earning SP, which is obtained after every battle and as a reward for doing sidequests. Once you’ve unlocked all five ranks, you can also make the decision to “master” the title, which will enhance the basic title boost. I personally found the title system both easy and engaging, but the game does offer an automated title management feature for those of you who don’t want to worry about it all. Congratulations, you have now earned the “Total Lazyass” title!

Cheria and Pascal demonstrate part of the title-leveling system. They’re so helpful!

This is getting pretty long, so the last thing I’ll talk about today is the Mystic Artes/Eleth Gauge system, since places like YouTube and GameFAQs tend to get flooded by people wanting to know how to perform all the super-shiny cut-in mega-attacks. It’s pretty simple, though, so don’t worry. You unlock your Mystic Artes through titles, just like everything else (with the exception of Pascal – her 2nd and 3rd level MAs are unlocked via poking around the Sable Izole laboratory and fighting a fake treasure box on Mt. Zavhert, which enables her to have all three of her Main Arc specials way before the rest of the party – further proof that Pascal is just awesome). Then once you enter an Eleth Rise (basically what was previously known as overlimit – you’ve got a gauge that raises during battles or via using certain consumables), you have the ability to unleash your Mystic Artes (the particular MA that you activate depends on the level on the Eleth Gauge during the Rise – to use Pascal again as an example, 1 will activate her Emerald Strike, 2 will activate Sapphiring Squad, and 3 will trigger Ruby Inferno) and/or use all A and B artes without any CC cost. Basically, Eleth Rise means that you have a free pass to rain down a whole lotta hurt! Once again, here’s Pascal demonstrating – you can see her trigger Ruby Inferno, and then, since the Eleth Gauge went back up to 1 during her first MA, she’s able to instantly trigger Emerald Strike as well, before the timer runs out. Nice, right?

The other side of the coin is Eleth Break. When this happens, the enemy gets the exact same abilities as you would during a Rise: the ability to use special and Mystic Artes if they have them, and the ability to freely combo the hell out of your face. My advice? If the screen turns yellow, run away from the enemy and get ready to dodge, because you’re probably about to get nuked if you don’t pay attention! Especially a certain mid-boss that loves to spam Killing Field. She’s got my favorite voice acting and design of the game thus far, but after a few of her Eleth Breaks, even I was ready to just let her die. With that said, the feeling you get when you first manage to dodge an entire Killing Field? Bad. Ass.

Hell yes, we’re the best. TAKE THAT, KILLING FIELD.

Anyhow, that’s enough for now. Since I’ve gone over most of the basic combat mechanics in this post, I’ll bring this entry to a close. Expect more posts tackling other aspects of the game, because oh my goodness do I have a whole lotta feels about this amazing game. To finish this one up, here’s a pretty nice, spoiler-free sample of what combat looks like in Tales of Graces f. It’s a non-plot related cameo fight against Kohak from Tales of Hearts, brought to you by omegaevolution and Hubert the combo machine~

You can purchase Tales of Graces f for the PS3 here. Do it up!