Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology Review
Games in the Tales series have been around for a long, long time. We've seen them appear on the SNES, the Playstation, the PS2 and the GameCube. Some of the installments have been great fun while others have flopped. However, there've been many more games in the series than we've seen stateside. This includes a couple of titles known as “megamixes”.
Typically, Tales Megamixes would include multiple characters from different parts of the series, hence the nickname Megamix. Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology is the first Megamix to be released stateside and features a neat ability that lets you create your own character. As before, you'll get to meet up with characters from many previous Tales releases (though my personal favorite from Symphonia, Sheena, didn't make the cut) spanning the entire history of the series. In all, the game feels as if it does a good job of doing what it aims to – making a title that appeals to diehard fans of the series. However, that does leave some people out, namely those looking for a solid RPG with a solid story.
For starters, you'll create your own character, choosing a face, hairstyle, clothing and class (from a small selection at first). As the game progresses, you'll be able to switch to other classes for a small GP cost (GP isn't money, per se, but is instead a sort of within-guild currency). This poses one major issue, though – if you decide to switch class later on, you have to re-level the class from the beginning.
This exposes what is, in my opinion, the game's biggest flaw – the leveling system. Well, it isn't so much the system itself, but how you level. See, battles in Tales aren't totally random as you can see enemies in the world before you fight them. Leveling up proves to be such a pain, though, because you'll fight all of one or two monsters for each set of levels. If you decide to change classes, you'll do it again. And again. And again. Thankfully, you keep previous levels from classes you've leveled and can switch back if you feel like it.
The combat itself is pretty entertaining, though. You'll have access to a ton of different moves based on your class – be a mage and you'll have spells to fling while a fighter will instead of a nice variety of axe abilities. Eventually, you'll even be able to link these strikes into combos. If you've played most any of the previous Tales games, this combat system will be familiar to you. If you hated the system in the games before this one, though, nothing here is going to change that opinion.
Another area where the game falls flat is the story. Instead of being on a sort of epic quest styled similarly to the one found in, say, Tales of Symphonia, you instead will be tasked with completing various quests. See, you're a member of a guild that has a goal of making citizens of the world happy by helping them with various problems. This would be pretty neat if the quests made you feel like some sort of hero. However, I don't find that a band of heroes being tasked with making five sandwiches for an innkeeper makes for an epic quest. Sure, you could, in theory, skip a lot of these quests, but then you'd be hurting for money, fame, GP and all sorts of other stuff. There are some quests that will advance the story and they do feel more interesting, but they don't compare to having an actual story. This whole “get a quest, complete it, come back for another” mentality makes the game feel a lot like it was meant to be a sort of MMORPG.
The game's graphics are not much to write home about, being what you'd expect out of a PSP title. The dungeons you'll fight in are rather bland, though – the actual graphical style of each dungeon does change, but there doesn't seem to be any real 'character' in any of them. While they needed to be somewhat generic since you were sent to them for multiple quests, they could have been more than simple mazes with different art for the walls and ground. It doesn't help that you're in static dungeons instead of dynamic ones that change each time you enter them, either. At least character graphics and animations are pretty smooth. You'll find the attacks you know and love will animate in a similar (albeit lower poly-count) fashion to those in previous Tales games.
In all, Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology really isn't a bad game. If you're a fan of the Tales series, you're going to find a lot to like here, particularly a fun combat system and characters you've grown to love over the years. However, non-fans looking for an engrossing RPG are going to come away from Tales with a negative opinion of the game – the story isn't much to write home about, the quests and dungeons are overly generic, and the game just doesn't have that epic feel to it. Really, I think this game would have done worlds better had it included a multiplayer component – a lot of these flaws are instead expected in some multiplayer titles and having three other buddies running through these quests (with more challenge added in of course) would have added a lot to the game. In the end, though, I really can't recommend this game to anyone other than those that are already fans of the Tales games.