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Tales of Phantasia

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

A tale of 2 games

Product: Tales of Phantasia (iOS) | Publisher: Namco Bandai Games | Format: iPhone | Genre: RPG | Players: 1 | Version: US | App version: 1.0.0
Tales of Phantasia (iOS) iPhone, thumbnail 1
Tales of Phantasia is a game of two parts.

On the one hand, it's a sparkling port of a classic JRPG that's positively dripping with adventure and possibility.

On the other, it's a JRPG with in-app purchases that render one half of the game almost completely unplayable.

The hardest of the hardcore RPG enthusiasts and those not averse to dropping $1.99 / £1.49 at the end of every dungeon will find a lot to like in the free-to-play Tales of Phantasia.

Your mileage and enjoyment will certainly vary, however, if you're not a member of either of those groups.

Tall tales

Before you can even dive into the admittedly great story of Tales of Phantasia, you're confronted with one of this port's most frustrating qualities - it requires an active and stable internet connection at all times.

If you're playing this at home or somewhere with reliable wi-fi, chances are you won't even notice this issue. This compulsory requirement can be quite annoying, though, if you decide to play Tales of Phantasia on the road.

Once you're square with that, you follow a great - if convoluted - story here about two young heroes who are pulled into an epic battle to defeat a dark sorcerer.

IAPs explained
Tales of Phantasia offers four different IAPs from which to choose.

With the Villager's Memory (99c / 69p) and Soldier's Memory ($1.99 / £1.49), you get flat payouts of XP to level-up your characters - 10,000 and 45,000 points, respectively.

A Holy Lamp (99c / 69p) prevents random encounters for a predetermined number of steps.

Finally, the Miracle Orb enables you to be resurrected after a defeat with substantial buffs to all members of the party. These set you back $1.99 / £1.49 apiece.
This big baddie's pulled a full-on Sauron, however, and is stuck in a pair of women's jewellery items - so you'll be fighting his underlings for most of the game.

It takes a little while for the story to really get going, and the Japanese-only voice dialogue during the opening scene can leave Western players confused. Things really pick up, mind, when Cress and Chester set out hunting from their home village.

From then on, it's almost impossible not to be drawn into their experiences.

In terms of combat, Namco Bandai employs the touchscreen in a bright and innovative way. To wit, your taps determine the sort of attack your characters execute. A tap on the top third results in a thrust, a tap in the middle yields an aerial attack, while a tap on the bottom third results in a simple slash attack.

Top stuff, and it makes battles a lot of fun to play through.

Chasing its own tale

Then, though, there's the IAP side of the coin.

During the aforementioned hunting trip, you're confronted with Namco Bandai's ugly reliance on IAPs at the first boss battle.

After getting gored by a boar, you're instructed to use a Miracle Orb to revive your party. Happily, you're given one of these by your mom. By using it, your party is resurrected on the spot, with some pretty hefty buffs to their stats thrown in to boot.

After encountering the boar, though, YOU are left to foot the bill for these orbs. Worse, they're not exactly cheap. Oh, and you might need more than one to defeat a particularly troublesome boss.

I'm afraid I am, little hero man

You'll probably never need one during routine random encounters, but Namco Bandai has amped up the boss difficulty in Tales of Phantasia by such a silly degree that it's almost a prerequisite to use a Miracle Orb to vanquish them.

Factor in the new scarcity of save points in this port and, thus, the very real possibility of losing 30-45 minutes of work if you don't pay for an orb, and Tales of Phantasia quickly becomes rather hard to recommend.


Ultimately, however, Tales of Phantasia is a free download. So, if you're willing to spend hours slogging to grind for the XP needed to give you a better shot at toppling each dungeon's boss, it's a fair deal.

Alternatively, if you don't mind shelling out some cash to clear each dungeon, you're presented with a great story and an intricate world to explore.

I expect, however, that those two hypothetical groups of players represent about 5 percent of those who will play Tales of Phantasia. The other 95 percent are well within their rights to delete this game after completing the first dungeon.
Tales of Phantasia
Reviewer photo
Matthew Diener | 3 February 2014
A port with potential ruined by obtrusively implemented IAPs, Tales of Phantasia is only for those with deep pockets or saint-like levels of patience
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