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!

Some (Tidal Wave) Blah Blah Blah About Tales of Vesperia

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 guess it’s a weird coincidence that both Sarah and I were playing a Tales game when this whole thing began, but our tastes only really seem to run parallel when there’s Eggbears to threaten or balls to love.

Case in point.

That said, I recently finished my first playthrough of Namco Tales Studios’ perhaps most widely well-received entry in their long running Tales franchise: Tales of Vesperia. Following the adventures of a former knight turned vigilante, Yuri Lowell, as he brings together a ragtag team of oddballs and saves the world from some vaguely threatening sky jellyfish thing (though not the friendly sky jellyfish thing that carries the city of Myorzo around). I guess that’s not particularly descriptive, given the similarities to every JRPG ever, but it’s not really the story that drives these games. I’m of the mindset that, if you want a good story, you might want to check a bookshelf. Not to be too reductive, of course, since the medium is still developing, but Tales and the other superior RPG franchises tend to exceed in areas that books cannot follow.

Which is to say, Tales’ strength is in the player agency of developing their characters: Each have their own little side-quests and backstories which you, as the player, can choose to chase down and complete. You see little conversations play out after certain story beats, but also occasionally to congratulate themselves for a task well done or a particularly difficult move (such as the series’ overly grandiose Mystic Artes). There’s something rewarding about having your team of JRPG archetypes (I kid; they play around with some very standard concepts, let’s say) discuss what just happened, or what you just did. It’s a staple of the Tales series that you can get as much or as little commentary from your team as you wish, in those optional little “talking heads” moments.

The other staple being, of course, the LMB System, which finds itself updated (or simplified, in the case of the handheld iterations) in every new Tales game. The LMB System – short for the Linear Motion Battle System – is how Tales presents its combat: It’s a real-time brawl set in a Fighter game type mold, where you and your target share the same 2D plane (it helps if you consider that you and the opponent are standing on the same tangent cutting through the 3D playing field) and you can pull of special moves (or “artes”) by combining the special attack button and an analog-stick direction. You can fully customize what artes are assigned where, as well as some degree of real-time control over your teammates, either by setting their general tactics beforehand or having specific artes of theirs mapped to the other analog-stick. Though the fights are fittingly chaotic, there are a suite of options presented to personalize your chosen fighting style, which you are given ample advancements towards thanks to a plethora of mostly passive skills, which the character learns from weapons they’re attached to much like Final Fantasy 9’s spin on learning new abilities. While it sounds complex, it’s a system these games have used since their very inception, so anyone who has played a game in this series can easily get to grips with any changes. If all else fails, you can run forward and mash the attack button: It’s more effective than you’d think. It’s advice that’s served me well whenever I find myself playing Tekken, at least.

Vesperia is probably the longest I’ve ever spent with a Tales game (it’s also the newest one I’ve played, so maybe there’s some correlation there), so that’s probably a commendation in and of itself. But let’s try a little harder than that: The mark of a good JRPG is one where you are fully engaged in the experience – whether that’s watching a gloriously rendered anime cutscene or rolling through a dungeon mostly free of any sort of narrative element. It’s a tough juggling act: Without a worthy narrative, the fighting is without context and feels pointless; without decent combat, the story is just too much of a chore to bother pursuing.

While Tales rarely leaves its comfort zone, never having the sort of wild swings that the Final Fantasy series might from game to game, it has created and perfected a model that works. It’s a fantastic series that I never mind revisiting from time to time.

JRPGs never skimp on spectacle, do they?