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Tales of Legendia
Platform: PlayStation 2
Publisher: Namco
Developer: Namco
Genre: Action RPG
Format: DVD-ROM
Release: US Winter 2006
Japan 2005



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The gigantic Ruin Ship in motion.
 
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What a beautiful landscape.
 
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Senel on a shopping spree.
 
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Senel checks out the situation.
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Chris Winkler
Preview First Look
04/12/05
Chris Winkler

When Namco officially announced the development of Tales of Legendia for PlayStation 2 in February, the company caught many by surprise. After all, only three months had passed since Tales of Rebirth had hit Japanese retail store shelves on December 16th 2004. And it took the company almost two years to release a second Tales game on PlayStation 2 (not counting the remake of Tales of Symphonia,) following the release of Tales of Destiny 2 in November 2002. But the series' success on Sony Computer Entertainment's hardware (Tales of Destiny 2 and Tales of Rebirth have recorded combined sales of 1.4 million copies in Japan), has probably persuaded Namco to send a third title to retail stores this year before the anticipation of next generation hardware will take its toll on the sales of current generation software.

Visually, Tales of Legendia is comparable to its predecessors, as it retains the cartoon-like visuals which have become a series' trademark over the years. The game's world will also shine in full 3D. With Kazuto Nakazawa, Tales Studio however has brought in a newcomer to the series to draw the game's character designs. This should not suggest that Nakazawa is a young nobody, though. His track record includes the animation part of Kill Bill Volume 1, El Hazard, Record of the Lodoss War: Eiyuukishiden and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Since this is a Tales game, it goes without saying, that none other than renowed anime studio Production I.G. is responsible for producing the game's animation sequences.

On the aural front, Namco has stuck with the popular practice of hiring well-known J-Pop artists to perform the main theme of a high-profile game. In case of Tales of Legendia, the chosen ones are Tomiko Van and Ryou Owatari, better known as Do As Infinity. The title of their song will be "Tao".

System-wise, Tales of Legendia is a return to the series' roots. Gone are the Force Gauge and three lines of Tales of Rebirth. In their stead, the development team opted for the classic single line connecting the party members (up to 4) and their opponents. The Force Gauge was also replaced by the well known TPs. For those unfamiliar with the series, TPs are consumed when players opt to make use of special techniques. The new Cross Over Linear Motion Battle system is described by Namco as a fusion between the series' traditional linear motion battle system and fast-paced fighting seen in games like Tekken or Soul Calibur. Special techniques and skills are now referred to as Claw Techniques. Similiar to their predecessors in previous Tales installments, one can distinguish between two different groups: Arts-based (special techniques) and breath-based (for instance Grave or Lightning).

Tales of Legendia's world is covered with water. As the small boat of protagonist Senel Coolidge and his little sister Shirely Fennes approaches the gigantic Ruin Ship, raging waves swallow the siblings' ship, forcing them to board the massive structure. Despite looking like a huge island, the Ruin Ship is indeed a large man-made ship. So far Namco has revealed the following characters:

Senel Coolidge is Tales of Legendia's protagonist. The 17-year old boy is a capable fighter who earns his living by protecting the order of the sea by fighting monsters. Since the spontaneous Senel usually does not explain his actions, he is often mistaken for a blunt chap. Before boarding the Ruin Ship he has lived together with his sister Shirely on a small boat.

Shirely Fennes is Senel's 15-year old sister. Usually a calm person, Shirely has a strong will and is determined to go on, once something has been decided on.

Will Reynard is the first person Senel encounters upon boarding the Ruin Ship. Originally a scholar of natural history, Will currently serves as a peace officer. As the oldest member of the party, Will is very conscious about the flow of time.

17-year old Chloe Valens is a gifted warrior. She is known to yield from a noble family, but the motivation that made her board the Ruin Board is unknown. Despite her serious attire, she sometimes still acts like a typical teenager, thereby also having a cute side to her.

Norma Biatty is a female treasure hunter looking for a mysterious treasure. Known as Ever Light, this treasure is rumored to grant its discover's every wish. The bright 16-year old likes to joke around and laugh a lot. Even at times when she just can't hold back her sharp tongue, one just can't despise her.

Moses Sandor is well-known on the entire Ruin Board as head of the mountain bandits. Since his family has made its living by taming monsters, it does not come as a surprise that Moses is always accompanied by his pet monster Giedt. Despite his savage looks, he is in fact a kind-hearted person.

Dressed like a clown, Jay is an elusive 16-year old. He is a capable collector of information and has a good sense of strategy. On the other hand, he is not very sociable and often ends up throwing insults at his companions. Since he grew up on the Ruin Boat, he has developed a strong attachment to the gigantic ship.

Grune is beautiful woman who has lost her memory. No matter how desperate a situation may be, she always manages to keep her calm composure. Always smiling, she is also able to calm others.

Whether Tales of Legendia will become a legendary title remains to be seen. However, the game at least looks like it can deliver the same qualities fans of the series have grown to love. Tales of Legendia will be available sometime this year in Japan. Namco has recently announced a US release for Legendia, which will hit late in 2006.



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© 2005 Namco.
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