Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology

If you're a fan of Namco-Bandai's Tales series, you might as well give up and learn Japanese; hardly any of the games see English translations, and though other companies have offered to localize them, Namco-Bandai, for some unfathomable reason, adamantly refuses. That aside, there are two types of Tales games, Mothership titles, considered part of the main series, and Escort titles, which include spinoffs. In 2007, Namco-Bandai's American branch decided to localize one of the Escort titles, Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology, which consequentially had the honor of being the first of the spinoffs to see a foreign release, providing an experience on par with the rest of the franchise.

Upon starting a new game, the player customizes a character's various aspects such as name, gender, hair color, skin color, and initial class, including Warrior, Thief, Priest, and Mage. Radiant Mythology features three towns and a handful of dungeons, with the player, at each town's Guild, able to take on a mission consisting of various tasks such as gathering a certain amount of an item, killing a certain number of a particular enemy, and so forth. Enemies are visible wandering the dungeons, with battles beginning when the player contacts them, and foes, regardless of the player's level, will charge the player, although many times they're easily avoidable.

If the player contacts the enemy normally, battle will begin with the player able to select the escape option to flee after a certain intervention, but if the enemy takes the player by surprise, the escape option becomes unavailable. In battle, the player and his or her party of up to three allies whom they can hire in town (although sometimes, allies will refuse the player's offer to join) squares off against the enemy in real-time combat. Radiant Mythology uses a variation of the Tales battle system present in Tales of the Abyss, where the active character targets and enemy and can hack away at it or use Artes, with linear movement while targeting, although the active character can freely roam the battlefield with the PlayStation Portable's analog stick.

In or out of battle, the player can customize A.I. for allies, with item use available in battle, as well, and no wait time to use items again unlike in other Tales games, which can really come in handy in tough fights such as that with the final boss. It is also possible to chain normal attacks with Artes, with these special skills coming in three varieties, Base, Master, and Arcane, which the player can link as well. The battle system works decently for the most part, although changing classes resets the player's level to one (although changing back to used classes brings to player back to the level they were at when changing classes), and some grinding is consequentially necessary to make it through the game. The last boss is also somewhat cheap, but otherwise, the gameplay is mostly solid.

Controls are solid for the most part, with an easy menu system, easy shopping, good direction on how to advance, decent dungeon design, and the PlayStation Portable's built-in sleep mode, although since the game is nice to players when they die (simply taking them back to town), it is odd that the game uses save points. Still, interaction is near-perfect.

The story isn't anything special, focusing on a defender of Terresia created by the World Tree to save the planet, with plenty of characters from other Tales games playing some part as well, although the game doesn't really add much to their stories. The translation is near-perfect, aside from the baffling change of "Woodrow Kelvin" to "Garr Kelvin," but otherwise, the plot neither hurts nor helps the game.

Motoi Sakuraba and Go Shiina provide the game's soundtrack, consisting of occasional tracks from other Tales games (mostly in battle when the player is performing a mission where a Tales character joins them). The original pieces, such as the Doplund theme, are decent, as well, although the voice acting is mostly hit-or-miss, and not good enough to prevent players from skipping through it. Like in Tales of the Abyss, moreover, the game retains the anime opening's theme song but replaces the vocals with an instrumental. Overall, a decent-sounding game.

Radiant Mythology uses a visual style similar to, but not exactly like, Tales of the Abyss, with decent character models and scenery (though the texturing is bland at times), alongside the fact that different equipment affects the protagonist, and generic mercenaries', appearances. All in all, the game looks as nice as it sounds.

Finally, the game takes somewhere from twenty to forty hours to complete, depending upon how early the player can take on the final boss (it took this reviewer nearly forty hours with the grinding necessary after changing classes). Ultimately, Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology is another solid Tales game, what with its solid Tales battle system alongside most other aspects, save perhaps its plot, being solid, as well. Given the presence of Tales characters unfamiliar to Anglophone players, however, it's somewhat baffling why Namco-Bandai chose to localize this particular iteration as opposed to say, one of the Mothership tales games rereleased on the PlayStation Portable, but it's still a solid experience.

The Good:
+Solid Tales gameplay and control.
+Nice variety of quests.
+Great music and graphics.

The Bad:
-Changing classes starts the main character at level one.
-Last boss is somewhat tricky.
-Story is so-so.

The Bottom Line:
Not the best Tales game, but still enjoyable.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: PlayStation Portable
Game Mechanics: 7/10
Controls: 9/10
Story: 6/10
Music/Sound: 8/10
Graphics: 8/10
Localization: 9/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Playing Time: 20-40 Hours

Overall: 8/10

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