Tales of the Abyss (Nintendo 3DS) Preview

By Az Elias 23.08.2011 15

Review for Tales of the Abyss on Nintendo 3DS

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the popular fantasy role-playing Tales of series in Japan, Namco released Tales of the Abyss on the PlayStation 2 in 2005. The game never made it to Europe, but it was very successful, spawning an anime and manga series in the Far East. Now Europeans will finally have the chance to experience the game for themselves when it launches for the Nintendo 3DS in November this year. Featuring all of the additional content added to the North American PS2 version, and with extra features that can only be achieved on the 3DS, Tales of the Abyss could be the RPG owners of the handheld have been crying out for. Following Cubed3’s recent exclusive interview with Namco Tales Studio, it is time to look closer at the highly anticipated game itself.

After Tales of Symphonia, the most successful game in the series so far, Team Symphonia’s next project ended up being Tales of the Abyss. Those that played Tales of Symphonia will see a lot of similarity between that game and this. Tales of the Abyss sees you take the role of 17-year-old Luke fon Fabre, the heir to the Kingdom of Kimlasca. Luke was kidnapped seven years prior to the game by the kingdom’s enemy, the Malkuth Empire, and completely lost his memory. Confined to the manor of his family for his own safety, he is thrown into a huge conflict when a mysterious woman breaks into his home one day.

It is the same format as previous games in the series; you move from town-to-town over a world map, clearing dungeons as you go. You can see enemies on the field map, choosing to engage or avoid them. If an enemy does spot you, it will attempt to run and force a battle situation. The battle party can consist of up to four characters, with you controlling one of them, although commands can also be issued to the computer-controlled allies through a menu. Typical battle moves apply, such as attacking, defending and using special skills. These skills and spells can be equipped to characters to aid them in battles, as well as acquire items that grant statistical bonuses when levelling-up. Most notably, the Flex Range Linear Motion Battle System resembles previous games, but Abyss was the first game in the series to introduce Free Run, which, by holding a button, lets the player run in any direction on the battlefield, rather than in a straight line only. Attacking enemies is still done in a straight line, however.

Screenshot for Tales of the Abyss on Nintendo 3DS

New to the game’s battle system are Fields of Fonons. When an elemental arte or spell is used, it will create a circle on the ground, known as a Field of Fonon. Artes and spells can be turned into even more powerful attacks when performed on a ‘FoF’ circle. This is known as a FoF Change, and is something you will become very familiar with, especially when taking down stronger foes. High level spells create fully completed FoFs, but lesser spells make incomplete circles. Depending on the level of the spell, you will need to cast artes of the same element a few times in the same area to create fully completed FoFs. Only then can you perform your more powerful elemental attack. Incomplete FoFs are useless until later in the game. Enemies even have the ability to use and create FoF circles.

Characters also have powerful skills known as Mystic Artes. These can only be used when a character enters Over Limit mode, after their OVL bar fills up. By making combos and performing critical hits, the bar will raise and you can unleash the fury with your special move. Boss characters also have Mystic Artes.

There are many features that make a return in Tales of the Abyss. At the end of each battle, you are awarded ‘Grade.’ How the battle was just played will determine how much Grade is received. Getting large combos or defeating enemies quickly nets you plenty, whereas having your party members knocked out or being inflicted with negative status effects decreases it. Grade is used at the end of the game to buy bonuses that can be used in the next play-through.

Screenshot for Tales of the Abyss on Nintendo 3DS

Cooking also makes its comeback. As you progress through the game, recipes and ingredients can be collected that can craft food for use during and after battles. These meals have different effects, such as restoring HP or curing status ailments. Cooking often will increase your cooking skill rank and even earn you new titles. Titles are another returning part of the series and can be gained in a number of different ways, including getting a character to a certain level, completing specific side quests or the aforementioned cooking system. Just like in Tales of Symphonia, titles can earn you stat bonuses and also provide new costumes.

The Sorcerer’s Ring has the same function as before, whereby it can perform a number of different abilities on the field. Your friendly little buddy, Mieu, will wear the ring to perform the various abilities learned for it as you explore the dungeons. You can use the ring as a means of activating switches via Mieu Fire, break objects with Mieu Attack, or reach new heights by using Mieu Wings. It is an important item that you will use a lot to solve the game’s puzzles.

Screenshot for Tales of the Abyss on Nintendo 3DS

In-between fully-voiced scenes, skits also play out at various points in the adventure. These are short conversations that feature anime portraits of the characters taking part in the skit, and usually bring out their humorous side and lighten the tone of the story. The portraits are animated, and will shake or move around the screen depending on what is happening. Some skits are plot-related, but some can only be seen through optional side events.

The 3DS allows for new features not possible in the original. First of all, the widescreen aspect ratio on the top screen means you can see more, making event scenes and overworld areas more cinematic, and also provides more room in battles. The touch screen lets you use special moves and cooking shortcuts, making it easier to perform these actions. Obviously 3D output is now added to give impact to event and battle scenes, and provides a better sense of the world in field maps. A mini map is displayed on the touch screen while on the field, resulting in batter pacing. Perhaps one of the most significant aspects of the game is that the load times have been reduced considerably. Many complained about the long load times of the PS2 version, some finding it unplayable and stopping playing altogether. Thankfully, being on a 3DS game card means you don’t have to worry about waiting forever for new screens to load anymore.

Unfortunately, the multiplayer co-op battles have been removed in this version of the game, and there are no additional online or SpotPass features. However, this is very minor and should have no effect on those looking for a quality RPG to go with their Nintendo 3DS.

Screenshot for Tales of the Abyss on Nintendo 3DS

Final Thoughts

Europeans missed out on Tales of the Abyss on the PlayStation 2 so this is the first time the game will be making it to this part of the world. Fans of Tales of Symphonia are likely to really enjoy this game just as much, and even if you didn’t play it, this is the first big RPG for the Nintendo 3DS, so Abyss could be just what you are looking for. North Americans who had the chance to play the original will be pleased with the reduced loading times, so the 3DS version could prove to be a much better experience. Tales of the Abyss has been given a November 2011 release date for Europe, although North Americans look like they will have to wait until 2012. Hopefully it will be worth the wait for everyone and satisfy your handheld fantasy RPG needs.

Developer

Namco Tales

Publisher

Namco Bandai

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (6 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop

Comments

Our member of the week

Looks like this is going to be my favourite 3DS game for 2011, no less Smilie. Never played the PS2 original so this will be a completely new experience for me.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

Yeah, I'm really looking forward to it as well. Going to be my first Tales game too, so everything is going to be even newer for me. Smilie

Yet again, great preview, Azuardo. You're certainly churning them out like crazy, huh? Smilie

Symphonia on GameCube was my first Tales, and I loved it. So I'd really like to get my hands on this one at some point. Graphics are a little jaggy in places, but not much of a big deal to be honest. Just having a Tales game on 3DS is great in itself.

18KB (guest) 26.08.2011#4

This game sounds massively, massively watered down in comparison to the original game. I am a MASSIVE Tales fan and it doesn't appear to be that appealing to me to have this on the 3DS. I may as well play the original on my nice big TV. Too many things taken out and 3D is not beneficial for me. It will probably be epically laggy with 3D turned on, anyway.

Julien (guest) 26.08.2011#5

^ I don't care if it's got less stuff, I am French and at least we get to finally play this Tales in Europe!!!! Not long to wait for this game!!!

18KB (guest) said:
This game sounds massively, massively watered down in comparison to the original game. I am a MASSIVE Tales fan and it doesn't appear to be that appealing to me to have this on the 3DS. I may as well play the original on my nice big TV. Too many things taken out and 3D is not beneficial for me. It will probably be epically laggy with 3D turned on, anyway.

I've read hands on impressions of this game, and it actually has a much smoother framerate than the original! Even with 3D turned on in 4 party member battles, there has been very little slowdown, which is something to be commended.

I don't think you can say it's been "massively, massively watered down" at all. Not sure what you mean by "too many things taken out", because all that's not in this one is multiplayer battles. The character models have been rebuilt to improve performance. It's got faster load times, widescreen, vibrant colours, no framerate issues, all original content intact. Nothing about that is watered down. In fact, here's some comparison shots:

3DS

Image for

PS2

Image for

3DS

Image for

PS2

Image for

I have to take back what I said about jaggy graphics on the 3DS because these shots show it looking so smooth!

Fair enough if you already have the game, but to say this is watered down is in no way true. It looks and runs better than the PS2 version in many cases. This is great for us Europeans that never got the game over here and Tales/RPG fans have every reason to be looking forward to it.

( Edited 29.08.2011 02:08 by Azuardo )

Man, the more I hear about this game the happier I am there is another Tales game getting a western release. Really would like to see Xillia make its way out here as well.

I remember clocking countless hours into Tales of Phantasia even after completing the game 100%. Even with the clunky old battle system it was a blast. probably in my top favorite five games.

And as always, nicely done Azuardo. Smilie

Thanks Duggler.

I am really looking forward to Xillia too. I hope it makes its way over. It's the most preordered Tales game in the series' history in Japan; over 200,000 preorders. With a record like that, I can't see any reason why it won't release here too.

Last and only Tales game I played was Symphonia, and loved it. Don't think I'll get Abyss straight away until a reasonable enough price for me, but it's looking really good. That and Xillia would be amazing to have.

Since Namco Bandai seems intent on screwing over Wii owners by only releasing Tales of Graces F on PS3, my hopes lie in the hands on fans translating Graces Wii. Unfortunately, the project's on hold right now as they don't want to deter anyone from supporting the PS3 release *sigh*

I still can't believe Tales of the Tempest, Tales of Innocence and Tales of Hearts on DS never made it over. I AM quite intrigued about why Tales of Innocence was recently trademarked in the US, though. 3DS port, perhaps?

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]
Our member of the week

jesusraz said:
I AM quite intrigued about why Tales of Innocence was recently trademarked in the US, though. 3DS port, perhaps?

Might be for the manga adaptation...

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

As a PS3 owner, I don't feel as annoyed as you, although I can understand it.

Would be very nice if the three DS games were ported to 3DS. I think people might prefer a 3DS Tales done from the ground up for the system, but seeing as those three weren't released out of Japan, I wouldn't be saying no to any of them.

Azuardo said: I am really looking forward to Xillia too. I hope it makes its way over. It's the most preordered Tales game in the series' history in Japan; over 200,000 preorders. With a record like that, I can't see any reason why it won't release here too.

Now that makes my day! I Always thought the Tales series was the under-appreciated little brother of the RPG genre. Glad japan is giving it more and more attention.

I played Tales of Symphonia, so I am really glad this game is coming to the 3DS, Tales of Symphonia was one of my favourite GC games

I've only really played Tales of Symphonia and I loved that. If this is anywhere near as cool I'll buy it!

anthony (guest) 07.04.2012#15

never played tales of symphonia but the cost on gamecube hasn't gone down.possible because its hard to find.it was 30 bucks i really like this on but mad at sony wish i would get the chance to play the new tales.Smilie

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