Tales of Destiny: Director's Cut Stan's Side

If you're a fan of the Tales series but live outside Japan, Namco hates you; hardly any of the games in the franchise receive localizations, and though other companies have offered to translate them, Namco, for some reason, adamantly refuses. Among the titles in the franchise to remain in Japan is a PlayStation 2 remake of the original PlayStation title Tales of Destiny, eventually rereleased with additional content as Tales of Destiny: Director's Cut, which provides an experience largely on par with the rest of the series.

When starting a new game, the Director's Cut allows players to play from either Stahn or Leon's perspectives, basically making the remake two games in one. In dungeons and on the overworld, an icon in the upper-left corner of the screen gradually changes from blue to pink to indicate how close the player is to encountering enemies, akin to the encounter systems of other RPGs such as Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne and the Etrian Odyssey games.

The remake uses a modified version of the Tales battle system called the Aerial Linear Motion Battle System, placing an emphasis upon aerial comboing, with each of up to four active characters now having Chain Capacity points in place of MP. Characters start the battle with their default amount of CC, with this value going up one higher than before each time they use it up with normal attacks, skills, or spells. Once this value has reached a character's maximum, it will go back to their base CC afterward.

Five characters the player controls throughout the game are Swordian Masters, with a more complicated system replacing the disc system in the PlayStation version, where the player equipped Swordians with a stat-increasing disc. In its place is a more complex system where Swordians have several layers of stat-affecting skills that the player must master by winning battles in order to unlock skills in upper layers, with a limit to how many of these skills the character can equip.

Furthermore, the player may acquire different kinds of Lens, in addition to experience and money, from winning battles, which the player can exchange at shops for money or use to "Re-Rise" equipment, which includes armor, sub-weapons, and two accessories per character, to increase its stats. Furthermore, the player has a food sack with a certain number of points that may deplete after battle to restore part of the party's HP, refillable at inns.

Overall, as with other Tales games, the battle system largely defines the remake, with a general fast pace of battle, not to mention adjustable difficulty level. However, some bosses can be a tad hard even on the easiest setting, and while the player can use ally skills with L2/R2 shortcuts, getting them to use, say, healing spells, can take some time, and item use is generally quicker. Random encounters can also be annoying, though the player can temporarily nullify encounters with Holy Bottles. Still, the battle system is as good as it was in other installments of the franchise.

Control is also largely solid, with an easy menu system and even indications on the overworld on where to go next, although the language barrier will naturally be a burden for Anglophone players, and dungeon design, given the puzzles alongside random encounters and spacing of save points (although there is a quicksave feature), can occasionally be annoying. Still, a user-friendly game.

The story is fairly original, revolving around protagonist Stahn Aileron and others fated to wield intelligent talking swords termed Swordians, with most characters having some story behind them, although the plot idea of amnesia has been done plenty times.

Motoi Sakuraba and Shinji Tamura provide the soundtrack, which sounds very good on the PlayStation 2, and the Japanese voices are largely adequate, though Johnny's battle voices are somewhat annoying. The graphics are similar to those in games such as Nippon Ichi's titles and the Mana Khemia series, with 2-D sprites and 3-D scenery (although there are some prerendered environs), with the environments having a lot of polish, though the overworld is the low point of the visuals. Ultimately, a nice-sounding and looking game.

Finally, Stan's side can take between one or two days to complete, with a New Game+ padding playtime. In the end, Tales of Destiny: Director's Cut is largely a solid special edition of the PlayStation 2 remake, preserving much of what defines the Tales series, in particular the battle system, although its other aspects, aside from the language barrier, also augment its appeal. Though a remake, it contains enough enhancements and changes to make it a worthwhile experience even to those who played and enjoyed the original version.

The Good:
+Solid Tales gameplay and control.
+Enjoyable plot.
+Great music and graphics.

The Bad:
-Bosses can be difficult, even on easiest difficulty.
-Dungeons can be annoying.
-Doesn't have an English version.

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: Hard
Playing Time: 40-60 Hours

Overall: 9/10

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