Warning before you read this: I get heavily invested into video game stories. Crazy, I know. I mean, it’s not like people get so invested in other media, such as movies, to the point that they chase directors off of Twitter. I really delve into the story of two games in this post and provide quite a bit of analysis. You’ve been warned!
This post contains spoilers for Tales of Xillia and Tales of Xillia 2.
This is an incredibly detailed critical analysis of Tales of Zestiria‘s mechanics based on playing the import. The author is my friend Radiant Roar, who is a long time expert on the deeper mechanics behind modern Tales of games. There’s a few minor spoilers for certain party members and boss names in the post but is otherwise spoiler-free. This post covers the game’s mechanics and is not a critique of the game’s story. It’s definitely worth a read.
Last year I saw Pacific Rim and really enjoyed it. It had kaiju and space aliens and giant robots, what wasn’t there to like? And then earlier this month, I read Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s All You Need Is Kill, which featured aliens and mech suits and weird time loops. Yet another enjoyable story. (The film based off of this novel, Edge of Tomorrow, isn’t too bad either.) It would seem that I’ve hit a theme in my media consumption… This PSP RPG I just finished only followed in this bizarre theme of fighting off alien invasions.
Back in 2006 an anime called The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi debuted, seemingly generating a following worldwide soon afterward. The anime followed a high school club called the “SOS Brigade” and their wacky adventures. The main conflict of the series was that the leader of aforementioned club, Haruhi Suzumiya, possessed special abilities to manipulate the world around her that she ironically was not aware of. And so, while claiming that she wished to hang out with aliens, time travelers, and espers, she subconsciously allowed for such beings to join her club with her while being unaware of it herself.
The 13th game in a popular, long-running Japanese RPG series starring a female main character for the first time in the series’ history. Unfortunately, the game faced some issues during development resulting in some disappointment among fans. Eventually a sequel was released that fixed many of the issues in the first game while introducing a new male protagonist and a weird, somewhat bizarre plot.
Think I’m talking about Final Fantasy XIII? Nope! I’m referring to the 13th “mothership” title in the wonderfully prolific Tales of series, Tales of Xillia.
So, Tales of Xillia. What is there to say? I’ve been a huge fan of this series since 2005, so of course I had to get this game as soon as it came out. This is the ninth Tales game I’ve finished now? I’ve kind of lost count at this point. I love this series, and it’s slowly creeping up to the same level as Final Fantasy on my personal hierarchy of favorite game series.
Before I go into detail about Project X Zone, let me first clarify something. I love crossovers. Video game crossovers, movie crossovers, book crossovers, cartoon crossovers, crossovers that bring together two completely different mediums. I love ‘em all. When Dissidia: Final Fantasy came out for the PSP 5 years ago, it was like a dream come true. Finally, after 20 years, there was a game that brought together characters from different Final Fantasy games. The fun fighting aside, it was even more fun watching the different characters interact even if the game’s plot and writing left something to be desired.
And that’s what I love about crossovers. Seeing characters from different “universes” interacting. Crossovers tend to highlight the similar themes across different stories as well as the differences between them. I find it all incredibly fascinating.
So when Project X Zone was originally announced, I was pretty excited. But considering the fact that its PS2 prequel, Namco x Capcom, was never released outside of Japan, I wasn’t very hopeful. I figured the game would have to be dubbed (ultimately, it wasn’t), and finding a voice cast for such an insane amount of characters would probably be crazy expensive. Plus, was there even demand for this kind of game outside of Japan? (Or in Japan, for that matter. Apparently the game didn’t sell all that well in Japan.)
When I was growing up, I tended to play the games that my older brother purchased for the NES and later the SNES (and later the Playstation). My brother picked up Final Fantasy for NES, and so I would later play Final Fantasy II (IV) after he finished it on SNES. When I later learned of other JRPG franchises, I noticed the Dragon Quest franchise. I don’t think we’d ever played it. And if we did, I don’t remember it. My brother, in some conversation a long time ago by now, mentioned that Final Fantasy had appealed to him over Dragon Quest because in the former you could see your characters while you’re fighting.
And so we became two of millions of Final Fantasy fans.
This post isn’t about the Final Fantasy series, for once. Nor is it even about Dragon Quest. I just wanted to bring attention to the way Dragon Quest presents its battles for most of the series (up until IX, I believe?). You only see the enemy. You don’t see your own characters. Later on you’d get to see graphical displays of the spells you cast and so on. Such a way of presenting battles never really appealed to me.