Tales of Destiny Director's Cut Lion's Side

Although most contemporary Tales titles have seen English releases, there once was a time when most entries remained in Japan, including the remake of Tales of Destiny for the PlayStation 2, which got a Director’s Cut with an extra play mode focusing on Lion, whose “Side” this review follows.

Combat is pretty much the same as in Stan’s Side, with four active characters in battle having health and Capacity Points that allow them to string combos, with an emphasis on launching foes into the air and continuing to hammer away at them. Given the tedium of memorizing skills assigned to button combinations, some players such as this reviewer actually found it easier to let the AI take total control of combat, and while characters do sometimes make asinine decisions such as executing aerial attacks against earthbound foes, the battle system is strong like in other series entries.

As with the main game, Lion’s Side does a nice job pointing players in the right direction in spite of the language barrier, although many cutscenes, including those present in Stan’s Side, are unskippable, and maps for some dungeons would have been welcome.

The plot is a definite draw to Lion’s Side, although like in the main game of the Director’s Cut, there are no straightforward ties into its direct sequel, the real Tales of Destiny 2 that Anglophone gamers missed out on.

Motoi Sakuraba and Shinji Tamura, as always, provide a rocky soundtrack with plenty of catchy themes, and the Japanese voices fit the characters, although they commit the usual sin of mispronouncing English words of skill names if present.

The graphics are also the same as in the main game, with two-dimensional character and monster sprites alongside three-dimensional scenery, generally well-designed, and occasional prerendered environments, which mostly play part in towns. The overworld is still the low point of the visuals, but otherwise, the game definitely looks great.

Finishing Lion’s Side takes a little less than ten hours, with a New Game+ enhancing replayability, and is overall a nice addition to the Director’s Cut, given its solid Tales gameplay, largely clear direction on how to proceed with the main game, the fresh perspective focusing on the aforementioned character even if it doesn’t tie in with the game’s direct sequel, the nice soundtrack and voicework, and pretty graphics. Not a whole lot leaves room for improvement, save perhaps the unskippable cutscenes and lack of tie-in to Tales of Destiny 2, but Tales fans, with the help of a translation guide, will definitely find Lion’s Side, like Stan’s, to be a fun experience.

The Good:
+Solid Tales gameplay.
+Mostly clear direction on how to advance.
+Fresh perspective focusing on Lion.
+Great soundtrack and voicework.
+Nice visual style.
+Plenty replay value.

The Bad:
-Many cutscenes unskippable.
-Doesn’t tie in to its direct sequel.

The Bottom Line:
A nice addition to Stan’s Side.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: PlayStation 2
Game Mechanics: 9/10
Controls: 8/10
Story: 9/10
Music/Sound: 9/10
Graphics: 9/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Difficulty: Adjustable
Playing Time: Less than a day

Overall: 9/10

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