SFC Game 100 – Tales of Phantasia

Game 100! Although if you include the SRPGs I played it’s actually game 128. Also, last week was 6 years since I started the blog. I have approximately 30 games left so probably it will take another 2 years or so to finish the Super Famicom games.

Today’s game is one that I played some years back. Since I did everything in the game I won’t play it again, but I wanted to mention it because it’s such an important game. It was developed by Wolf Team, which made Hiouden, a game I played before. I noted at the time that many of the spells in that game reappear in Tales of Phantasia.

This is, of course, the first game in the long running and popular “Tales of” series. I’ve played all of the games through Vesperia. I tend to like the 2D ones better — my favorite entries in what I have played are Destiny 2 (the Japanese one) and the DS version of Hearts.

The game pushed the limits of what the Super Famicom was capable of, with a 48 megabit cart. This is one of the largest carts of any SFC game, beaten or tied by only a few other games (Tengai Makyo Zero and Star Ocean are two of them, which I will be playing). This space was used for things like the vocal opening song and voice clips for the characters using their various moves and a few lines of dialogue. The music was done by Motoi Sakuraba, who had done Hiouden’s music.

The character designs were done by Fujishima Kosuke, a popular manga artist who also did designs for the Sakura Taisen series and would go on to design characters for some of the other Tales Of games.

The battle system is action-ish, but in a way it’s more of a real-time command entering system than a true action game. When you make an attack, Cless (the only character you can control) runs forward to attack an enemy. As you level you will learn new moves that can be used either close to the enemy or far away (you equip different types for each). When you use a move enough you master it, and by mastering multiple abilities you learn combination “ougi” moves as well. All of these abilities take TP.

You will get other characters who essentially stand behind Cless and either cast spells or shoot a bow. You can order them to cast spells through a command menu. I found that a lot of the game was spent in the menus queuing up the spells; you have to be fast and aggressive because if you let the enemies get too far on your side, they will start attacking the defenseless magic users and you’re in trouble.

One common complaint is the very high random encounter rate. You can buy holy bottles to cut the rate which helps a lot (even if you use a holy bottle all the time, you will still fight more than enough enemies).

The story involves a group of heroes who sealed away a powerful sorceror called Dhaos, who can time travel. The descendants of those heroes have to team up to once again defeat Dhaos and restore peace to the world.

Here’s a video I made when I played it (14 years ago!) of the final battle, with my Moria-beefed party. I was playing on an actual Super Famicom thus the video quality. The SFC later got donated to byuu/near.

The game has been remade many times — the Playstation and GBA versions were basically enhanced ports but the two PSP versions were full remakes. I played the first PSP version and didn’t like it as much because it seemed like there were way too many pincer and back attacks, which doesn’t work well with this system where Cless is the only one who can really fight.

All in all this game is fine, but the later Tales games are much better; playing this one (especially in the SFC version) is probably mostly interesting to people who are big fans of the series or who just like the Super Famicom.

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