Tales of Eternia
We give you the latest on Namco's newest RPG offerings for the PSP.
The PSP's library grows with each passing week, and while we've been treated to high quality racing and puzzle games, it was only a matter of time before a publisher released an RPG for the system, that game being Namco's spectacular-looking Tales of Eternia. Featuring wonderful graphics and some the fastest PSP load times ever witnessed, it may wind up being one of the system's brightest games.
If you fancy yourself an RPG historian (or you're just someone who plays lots of videogames), then Tales of Eternia will look very familiar and for good reason, as it's merely a port of the PSOne title Tales of Destiny II. It's a nice mix of pastels and the intro features anime characters and tons of butt-kicking rock music. It's just a tad bit over the top, but it actually adds some much needed charm and personality to the game and it's very much appreciated.
An RPG is only as good as its story (and its battle system, which I'll get to) and Tales has an interesting one. It revolves around three characters that are on a quest to stop their worlds from colliding because, as I'm sure you can imagine, two planets bumping into each other is pretty messy. Their adventure will naturally take place in dungeons that just so happen to be crawling with all sorts of nasty creatures, and you'll have to lay an anime-styled RPG smack down on anything that gets in your way. The game runs off what Namco calls a Linear Motion Battle System, which allows you, playing as one character, to attack within a 2D space (so you can only move left or right).
Visually Tales of Eternia is a mixed bag. On one hand the cut scenes look fantastic spread across the PSP's wide screen but the in-game 2D visuals are old school, but once you check them out you'll realize that this isn't a bad thing. The entire game has a very simplistic and cute appearance and I'm guessing that's the artistic style its developers were aiming for, so it was never their intent to wow you with polygons. Instead you'll be treated to a game that looks a few notches better than SquareEnix's Chrono Trigger which I really don't have a problem with. However, I do take exception to the world map, which looks very much like an aged PSOne title.
Even though we're being treated to a cool story and some sweet-looking graphics Namco's greatest accomplishment are the load times. Lasting only a few seconds, they allow you to hop from town to exploring to battling in a matter of seconds. Personally I think the videogame media's taken the PSP load time issue and made a fuss about nothing (which makes them appear to be whiny crybabies), but if you hate waiting more than thirty seconds for a screen to load then Tales of Eternia will most certainly please you.
Even though it's just a port I'm very excited about this game. I've been looking for a deep and engaging adventure game for the PSP (because all of these sports and racing titles are getting old) and it may be just what the game doctor ordered. While Namco hasn't announced a U.S. release date, expect more Tales of Eternia info at this year's E3.