February 19, 2014

Tales of Innocence R Review

Posted in video games tagged , at 9:22 pm by riulyn

Although I beat this game a few days ago, I did a look over at the Tales of Innocence page on TV Tropes to fill in some of my story knowledge gaps, as I didn’t understand everything that happened in the story with my beginner-ish knowledge of Japanese. Of course I also got a little lazy with dictionary use and didn’t look up any unknown words in the skits at a certain point. Still, I don’t think understanding the story better really changed my opinion on the game.

TLDR Substandard for a Tales game in pretty much all aspects. Battle system feels watered down with stupid AI and some control issues, and the plot, while it may have an interesting premise, really does not do much and is not helped by a mediocre cast. Still, a fun diversion and not too hard to play for people not fluent in Japanese.

For a more professionally-done review, check out the review at RPGFan. I pretty much agree with that review.

So, what’s there to like in this game that I gave a downer introduction to?

  • Battle system is still Tales action with lots of techs to learn and 8 characters to play around with
  • A relationship system that goes hand in hand with skits and encourages using all members of your party in battle in different combos
  • A grid where you can decide how to spend your AP on skills and stat gains. Not that interesting though.

Of course, the only new-ish aspect to the Tales series (which looks to be also somewhat or similarly done in Tales of Hearts) is the ability to choose responses during skits with an effect on relationship gains. It was fun to see what the responses would be; choosing the different actions still fit very well with the MC’s meek/pushover/idiotic character, so it’s not as different as paragon/renegade. Of course there are plenty of other skits where you couldn’t do anything, since you only get to choose for the MC at select times. It is pretty funny, though, when you choose the “wrong” answer and you don’t gain any relationship points with the others in the skit, but they gain huge relationship points with each other.

Now that I’ve gotten the good out of the way, it’s time to get nitpicky. So what sucks in this game?

1. Battle controls are a little weird. Trying to attack shortly after doing a free run causes your character to do a weird side-swipe move instead of a normal attack and of course you can’t combo with that. Guarding seemed to be quite slow; there was a bonus “counterattack” if you timed a guard at the exact time an angry (red-glowing) enemy tries to attack you. It was usually better to just guard well in advance and take majorly reduced damage instead. In addition, I found the gun users incredibly hard to use because you had to be so accurate with their attacks. I guess it makes sense since bullets are so small, but considering the lag there seemed to be between input commands and battle action (or at least an imagined lag), you had to hope your other party members weren’t changing the height of the enemy by the time your bullet reached the enemies’ location. Finally, it appears that in the DS version of the game, the six original characters were supposed to have elemental alignments. When they added 2 new characters to the Vita version, they made them purely attack or purely magic. I think it makes the new characters more preferable for battle, especially the all-out attacker.

2. The cast. They are just so flat and unendearing. The MC is unlikeable and doesn’t become likeable (doesn’t pull a Luke). I guess it’s good to have some variety in Tales protagonists, but because the MC has the “soul” of a major powerful figure from the past, the other party members obsess over him. I suppose in some lights he could be “cute”. However, this game isn’t really aimed towards pre-teens like the cast pretty much consists of. The “adult” figures of the cast aren’t that old either. The main female character is pretty much the negative stereotypes associated with female “tsunderes”; she likes the MC but bullies him, acts like he’s stupid, denies all types of caring for him, and hates on any female who also likes the MC.

The other females in the game aren’t that much better. The mother type pretty much spends all non-plot important times thinking about food, eating it, complaining about getting fat, and then getting mad if anyone brings up her weight or eating habits. The youngest one is pretty much a brat, gets away with being a child both in the ways she plays tricks and also looks down on others (but at least she’s not annoying). The new female isn’t fluent in the language the others speak and talks really simply and also appears to deliberately misinterpret things. She’s one of those “probably was supposed to be funnier than it came off”.

Now that I’ve harped on the females, I have to say the males aren’t that much better. The “older brother” is a bit of a bully, a fiery idiot, and a pervert; I suppose he’s okay for a side character. The oldest male is “bad at showing his feelings”, which of course causes misunderstandings. Funnily he also seems to be a pushover as well. The new male character is the “let me explain things but not actually explain them thoroughly” type. Of course he holds secrets and the stupid party members are like “whatever, he’s a nice guy, let him join”.

3. The story. The story suffers from the cast the most, I think. While it has some good ideas, it feels like a good portion of the game you just wander around so you can go to new areas and explore the world. Of course, a better understanding of Japanese might have helped me understand the reason behind the traveling and certain other plot events. Really, though, I believe the cast hurts the story the most, because there is a real lack of clarity and leadership in the group. The game fixes the “clarity” of the mission in the last third but that’s because it leads up to the final boss.

4. The music. The song for the first town you are in is incredibly annoying. Combined with the fact that I spent a long time there due to it being the beginning of the game (I was looking up all the words), I don’t think I can ever listen to that song without cringing. The rest of the soundtrack is not annoying but pretty mediocre. On the plus side for me, as a video game music transcriber, the music is easier to transcribe than most. Still, one of the lamest Tales soundtracks ever.

In conclusion, I have to say Tales of Innocence R is the worst Tales game I have played. However, I still enjoyed playing the game and I greatly increased my Japanese vocabulary. My final play time was 50 hours, so that means the game is more like 30 hours in a standard playthrough. Considering I got it for ~$29 in Japan, I think the purchase was worth it for me. However, I’m sure that other Japanese games (including Tales of Hearts R which I just started) would be better worth an import.

 

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2 Comments »

  1. fminuzzi said,

    I played innocence and hearts (the original ones a few years back, so I can’t speak about the changes they made), but I had the same issues with innocence – the cast mostly comes off as annoying (them being young feels like their excuse), the battles weren’t that exciting, the music wasn’t up to Tales standards. I liked the premise of past lives, but sadly they didn’t really explore it. It’s a shame that it still feels lacking on the remake, but I suppose there’s only so much they could do without revamping it completely.
    But don’t worry, hearts is going to be much better =D

    • riulyn said,

      Yeah. I believe there are enough changes in the story to make the 2 new characters not feel completely plot irrelevant, but they really don’t don’t change the story that much.

      I’m quite excited by Hearts. I hear it has a good story so I’m looking forward to it 🙂


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