RPGamer Feature - Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology Interview

Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology
Developer: Tales Studio
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Release Date: July 2007

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RPGamer recently had the chance to talk to Peter Garza, a Localization Producer for Namco Bandai Games about the upcoming PlayStation Portable RPG, Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology. We talk about everything from alternate realities to why everyone should go out and purchase the game. This interview will give everyone the chance to find out for themselves if this title is for them.

Could you first start us off by explaining a little about Tales of the World's story?
Peter: You are summoned from the World Tree as a Descender – a champion for the world. Upon your arrival, you embark on a journey to save the world of Terresia from the ravages of the Devourer. Along your journey, you will meet both new and old Tales characters and participate in a series of quests. In total, there are about 300 quests that will have players journey all over the world of Terresia.

What really sets Tales of the World apart from other Tales game is main character – it’s you! This is the first Tales game to put the player into the main role of the character. All other previous Tales games put the player into the role of a pre-defined character.

Since we are not putting the player into a pre-defined role, we need the player to define themselves. This is where the player customization system takes place. Just as soon as the player starts a new game, they will be asked to customize the look and class of their character. Their character can be male or female, have different visual characteristics that include everything from hair and class to the character’s voice. There are four basic classes to start with—warrior, thief, priest, and mage—but elite classes will open up by taking on various challenges as the game progresses. Armor and weapons affect your character’s in-game appearance; there are thousands of possible combinations that players can use to create their own unique style.

Will the story move forward through in-game cutscenes or will this title have any CG/anime cutscenes?
Peter: There is an opening anime movie, but the events within the game occur in-engine. This actually allows your character—as you design him or her—to appear in the events, rather than watching your character always show up in a predefined outfit.

Since TotW features so many characters from different titles from the series' past, how is this explained in the story?
Peter: Even though Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology has a number of Tales characters that weave in and out of the story, the story itself has no relation to any other Tales games. The basic premise is that characters from previous Tales games actually live on Terresia, and just go to their respective worlds for the different games. But then they come back home to Terresia. So there is no real relation between the world of Terresia and the other games’ worlds.

Well… there are some characters that make an appearance due to a previous Tales story. I’ll let players experience that for themselves.

In total, there are 19 characters from other Tales games, some of which are making an appearance in the U.S. for the first time.

Is there voice acting outside of battle cries? Are there any returning voice actors from past Tales titles?
Peter: Voice acting has been a pillar of the overall presentation in Tales games and Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology is no different. Expect to hear a wealth of voice acting, some of which we think will sound very familiar.

Unfortunately, we are not able to speak about the specific voice actors.

Could you explain a little about the battle system and how it might differ from or even be similar to past Tales titles?
Peter: We are very pleased that Tales of the World will feature the widely popular FR-LMBS battle system found in Tales of the Abyss.

The FR-LMBS battle system is a real-time 3D battle system that requires quick reflexes and a constant attention to your position in relation to your party members and enemies. Players will control one character on screen (casting magic, doing melee damage, etc.) and have the option of setting up buttons on the PSP for shortcuts to particular characters in your party for a specific action of your liking.

For example, if you’re battling a boss that suddenly does a massive attack – you’re going to want a quick heal. If you have Tear or Raine in your party, who are a great healers, you’ll press the L button and the directional button that is mapped to her healing spell. She'll start to cast, and you are then healed during the battle in real time.

Your party during combat is controlled by AI. However, there are a number of combat variables players can change on an individual basis. Variables like "arte" (special attack) usage and distance from enemies are some examples of combat variables that can be adjusted by the player – even during combat.

Another aspect of the FR-LMBS battle system is the high hit combo system. The further into the game you go, the more fun it is. There are several levels of "artes" that can be chained between characters. If the timing for attacks between you and your party are on target, combos can go into the hundreds.

How are job classes handled?
Peter: The player can initially choose any of the four base classes: warrior, thief, priest, or mage. A little way into the game, the option to change classes opens up. You can switch freely between these initial classes, but your level will not carry over between classes. So if you are a 10th level Warrior, and you switch to a Mage, you will start as a 1st level Mage. If you switch back to being a Warrior, you will go back as a 10th level Warrior.

At various points in the game, you can take on challenges to open up elite classes, like a Ninja or a Magic Knight. You’ll have to prove yourself worthy of the class, though, and these are some of the toughest fights in the game. Once you open up an elite class, you can switch to and from it as well, but it will cost you Grade Points (earned at the end of battles) to switch.

Will players be able to save anywhere outside of battle or can this only be done at save points?
Peter: Players can save anywhere in a town or the world map, but once you enter a dungeon, you can only save at save points.

Did the PSP offer any challenges for you in regards to localizing the game?
Peter: Nothing too big. The only one I can think of was regarding button configuration. In Japan, the circle button is the primary action button, so during battle, normal attacks are the circle button and artes (special attacks/magic) are performed with the square button. Switching the button mapping to Sony’s recommended layout for North America makes the X button the button for normal attacks and the circle button the trigger for artes. That in and of itself is no big deal.

However, there is a feature in the battle system called a Unison Attack. That is a special mode when all your party members can gang up on one enemy. It was triggered by a combination of the arte button and square button. So in Japan, it was X and square, which is pretty easy to press with your thumb. However with the circle being the arte button in the NA version, triggering became a combination of circle and square. That combination is not fun to press in the heat of battle. So we left the Unison Attack trigger unchanged: X + square.

Other than that, it’s been pretty painless.

Why was infrastructure support cut for the NA version? Were there any other changes to the game besides this?
Peter: Infrastucture was cut for a number of reasons that I can’t really go into. However, the game was rebalanced to compensate for that. Many infrastructure-only items in Japan, like gag weapons, are included in the NA version. Mercenaries, adventurers you can hire to join your party, were capped at level 60 in Japan, but that has been changed for the NA version. Item drop rates have also been tuned from the Japanese release.

Is there anything you would like to tell the readers about this game that they may not already know?
Peter: It’s really really fun! Really!

Seriously, though, it is a very fun RPG with great characters. One playthrough of the story will take somewhere around 30 hours, but there’s easily 200+ hours of other stuff to do. The quest structure breaks up the action and makes it ideal for a portable platform.

If you’ve never played a Tales game before, don’t let the fact that past characters appear turn you off. Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology is a great way to get introduced to a lot of characters in a short time. Who knows, maybe you’ll want to find out more and take a look at the other games.

Finally, when can readers expect to see this title on store shelves and will there be any type of pre-order campaign?
Peter: Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology will be in stores this July! Ask your retailer for it!

RPGamer would like to thank Peter Garza for taking time out of his busy day to answer a number of questions for us and Namco Bandai Games for setting up the interview. Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology will be available in stores next month with a suggested retail price of $39.99 and rated "T" for Teen by the ESRB.

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