Tales of Phantasia

Tales of Phantasia

Tales of Phantasia

16-bit too late.

That Tales of Phantasia should peek its head around the curtain of GBA gaming so late in the system's life with scarcely a ripple of applause seems immensely unfair. Had this game been released three or fours years ago, the ovation would have lasted for weeks, the far-reaching repercussions from its release sending shivers down so many Super Nintendo developers' now crooked backs.

This game is one of the SNES era's Japanese RPG greats; a marvel of Mode 7 twizzling 2D/3D exuberance, a world bristling with super-deformed charm, stretching and reaching long narrative fingers over hours of delightful adventuring. Released late in the Super Nintendo's life, this, the first Tales game, never got to travel further than its birthplace of Japan, forcing swathes of hungry importers to dust off Kanji dictionaries before nursing Aspirin-soaked translation headaches. As with other high-profile missing-in-translation Super Nintendo RPGs such as Secret of Mana 3, the game has since only been playable via emulation and a fan translation, left cobwebbed and untouched in a dark broom cupboard off videogaming's bright halls of fame.

So think about what this means: One of the last great games of the RPG super-era now on a GBA in full, perfectly ported portable magnificence. Maybe we're the only ones that care anymore. Maybe, with the Tales-branded games seemingly everywhere now and PSone conversions (and homebrew SNES emulators) showboating across PSP screens the world over, there's little triumph in such technological marvel. Perhaps this has just come too late in the day, robbing such a move of any implication that we might see more of the greatest sprite-based RPGs ever created receive similar honour. Imagine: Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger, Bahamut Lagoon, Star Ocean or so many of those other games that make contemporary RPG storytelling sound like a primary school English class project on a GBA. To think that might not happen makes us want to cry a bit under our ever-so-slightly rose-tinted glasses.

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