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Tales of the Tempest (Nintendo DS) Review

Review for Tales of the Tempest on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The Tales series may well have been predominantly focused on Sony systems, but the focus at the moment is on the latest role-playing adventure that has only recently been released on Nintendo’s DS system over in Japan from Namco’s Tales Studio. However, quite a lot of the game’s development was actually handled by Dimps (the team that worked on Sonic Rush). So can the game really stay true to its strong roots or will this be more of a side-story to the main series? Ahead of its Western release, Cubed3 decided to take a close look at it…

The first generation of Nintendo DS games may have looked no more than Super Nintendo remakes, but now various companies are pushing the system much harder, and this is definitely evident in Tales of the Tempest. The game starts with a sharp, crisp and colourful intro movie, complete with a very addictive song playing over the top (Vs. by Japanese popstrel Misono; comes highly recommended), showing what the DS can actually do. Thankfully this is not the last of the FMV scenes in the game either, plus the main game is extremely attractive as well. All models, be they character or location ones, are nice and chunky 3D, with plenty of detail to make sure it does not look like a basic old school PlayStation game and the game really does move with more than enough speed for an RPG. Between the appearance of this and Final Fantasy III, the DS is proving itself to be a force to be reckoned with.

Role-playing games, though, can not always rely on visuals to help improve the quality; as if the soundtrack is poor then the atmosphere of the adventure can be severely dashed. It is with great pleasure then to find this has one of the strongest musical scores of the Tales series so far. Many of the tunes are rousing, action-packed themes that build up tension perfectly, but they are perfectly balanced with upbeat, lively tunes that help to keep the game interesting, as well slower, more melancholy pieces that bring a much needed emotion element to the game. Certainly one to use your headphones on!

Screenshot for Tales of the Tempest on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The Tales series of RPGs have had similar traits through the years, despite the storylines all being significantly different from each other, rather similar to how the Final Fantasy games work. Ever since the first in the franchise, Tales of Phantasia arrived on the Super Nintendo over a decade ago, Namco’s Tales Studio has cranked out game after game complete with slightly modified takes on the tried-and-tested gameplay. Therefore, although it may be Dimps working hard behind the scenes on Tempest, the distinguishing Tales mark is still easily recognisable, such as the linear motion battle system and the cooking fun that can be had to create new items.

However, this time round the battle mechanic has been updated to gives players three planes to fight on, making battles a little more strategic than they have been in the past. Well, that was the plan, but sadly because of the ability to use the touch-screen for fighting in real-time you tend to just end up rapidly tapping on an enemy until it dies, removing any real skill aspect. And if you follow this cheap way of progressing, which comes far too naturally, you will find yourself stumped towards the end of the game when you actually have to think about switching your team round (only three can fight at any one time out of your team members that accrue over time). So beware on that front. You may think you will be able to avoid this problem with ease, yet this brings up another concern: random battles and the main overworld.

Screenshot for Tales of the Tempest on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Okay, so old-school RPG fans will be used to constant random battles, but normally there is a nice balance between the amount of enemy encounters and the interactivity of your surroundings and ease of getting to new locations. Tempest is naughty in that you literally fight every five or six steps (for some reason the encounter rate seems to increase when using the stylus to move, rather than d-pad...), yet to get from one location to another is extraordinarily arduous. Taking a quick glance at the map you are given will normally show you where you need to head to, however things are nowhere near as simple as that. First of all the running pace is too slow, meaning it takes an age to reach a new destination (conveniently spread very far away from your last point of call). Secondly, that 'direct route' you see on the map just is not possible to take due to invisible 'walls'. Yes, whilst maybe not walls as such, if there is a slight incline, you will certainly not be able to go over it. Instead you must take the longest route around even the shallowest of embankments. Add in the third factor, those pesky random battles, and you had better make sure you know where your next destination is, or else you will have to suffer all of this again when travelling back!

Screenshot for Tales of the Tempest on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

When it comes to fighting, as ever you should be sure to have equipped your team with the most up-to-date equipment from various villages and towns you have visited; weapons, armour, special items and in-battle moves (special techniques that can be assigned to different button combinations). Your computer-controlled allies can have their tactics tinkered with easily via the in-game menu and it is here that healing or power items can be doled out as well in the midst of a fight. What you can also do is create your own items using the cooking function, which this time has been re-jigged for the DS, so that making meals / items is turned into little mini-games! Hopefully this is not all painting too negative a picture of the game, because apart from those issues highlighted, working your way through is actually quite fun; the characters are all lively and have strange personalities, the various locations are all very picturesque and the story (if you can follow it in Japanese) is more than mildly intriguing, with the trials and tribulations of poor Caius, his friend Rubia and the numerous twists and turns in the tale keeping you going through to the final stages. It may not be perfect, but for the first Tales on the DS is manages to be one of the better RPG experiences.

Many people have bemoaned that this Tales outing is far too short in comparison to previous adventures. And whilst this is true to some degree (stick the battles on ‘Easy’ level and expect to see the credits after about ten-to-twelve hours), this is handheld gaming and long-term RPGs are more suited to home consoles, rather than quick bursts whilst on-the-go. And anyway, there are three levels of difficulty to choose from, plus various side-quests and extras to unlock as you work your way to the final battle. For anyone that struggled with Tales of Phantasia on the GBA, and was somewhat put off because of that factor, Tales of the Tempest will definitely be more to your liking, far more palatable.

Screenshot for Tales of the Tempest on Nintendo DS- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Whilst good on paper, the amended battling becomes a frantic stylus-tapping affair and the overworld is needlessly large to extend the game. Other than that, the game is definitely tight in the control department, with a solid story and fun puzzles.

Graphics

Out of the current crop of DS games, Tales of the Tempest likens itself to Square Enix's FFIII remake, with wonderful 3D graphics and lovely cut-scenes. Very tasty indeed!

Sound

From the opening real song to the beautiful tunes found within the game itself, Tempest tugs at the right places and makes this one of the best DS soundtracks to date.

Value

This is definitely not the longest RPG you will play on the DS, but for short bursts it proves to be great fun. Can 12 hours suffice on a handheld? If it proves to be as enjoyable as this overall, then yes, especially with extras thrown in.

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

About this score
Rated 8 out of 10

Looking at the negative points throughout this review may lead you to believe 8 is too generous, but the positives actually out-weigh the problems and Tempest will definitely appeal to those who found Phantasia too intense and Symphonia overly long. It almost places itself as a 'Tales for Beginners', which, when considering the DS, seems pretty apt. With decent sales in Japan so far, do not expect this to stay un-translated.

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08.12.2006

5

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Developer

Tales

Publisher

Namco

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (40 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date None   

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

GReat....better than famitsu 28/40


Aww.... another game on to my wishlist...draining my pocket money fast...

( Edited 13.10.2012 03:23 by Guest )

Avoid Games Like the Plague, productivity++

Symphonia was not long! I like the get every bang for my bucks Smilie. Will definitely pick this up.

( Edited 13.10.2012 03:23 by Guest )

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I think Famitsu was overly harsh on the game, probably because Namco didn't pay up, if you catch my drift...

Symphonia grew a little tiring towards the end for me, but it's still one of my fave GC games, so don't get me wrong :-Smilie

( Edited 13.10.2012 03:23 by Guest )

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I am looking forward to this one again thanks to your review, Adam. Nice job! :-Smilie

( Edited 13.10.2012 03:23 by Guest )

C3 Moderator
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

No problem Jacob! Smilie Glad I got my hands on this one. I had to use an online translation guide to grasp the full extent of the story, but thoroughly enjoyed it.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a Q2 2007 release in the US...

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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