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Tales of Rebirth
Platform: PlayStation 2
Publisher: Namco
Developer: Namco
Genre: Action RPG
Format: DVD-ROM
Release: US TBA
Japan December 16, 2004



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Does this remind anyone else of Hanpan?
 
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The classic Tales battle system.
 
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Whoo! Skinny Dipping time!
 
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Everyone loves menus!
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Chris Winkler
Preview First Look
04/12/05
Chris Winkler

Upon its November 28th 2002 release in Japan, Tales of Destiny 2 sold like bottled water on a hot day, achieving a sales performance rivaling that of Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts. 850,000 copies seemed like plenty of reasons for a second PlayStation 2 installment of Namco's flagship RPG series, but the company decided to release Tales of Symphonia for the GameCube, initially at least. Shortly after confirming a PlayStation 2 remake of the game, the company eventually satisfied PlayStation 2 owners' wishes for a new Tales game with Tales of Rebirth. Following its December 2004 release in Japan, the game has already sold more than 500,000 copies.

As evident by the striking character designs, Mutsuki Inomata has returned to reprise his role as character designer. As with every Tales installment, the animated movie sequences are done by Production IG: the studio behind Ghost in the Shell and its visually impressive sequel Innocence. The in-game visuals look like enhanced, sharper versions of Tales of Destiny 2's, as the development team at Tales Studio once again created a virtual world whose characters and backgrounds look like a hand-drawn comic. The camera system however has been changed. Instead of the standard quarter view, the camera now follows the protagonist from a side view. Furthermore, depending on the protagonist's position and movement on the field map, the camera zooms in or out.

The popular J-Pop duo Every Little Thing has provided the game's main theme. The ballad carries the title "Good Night".

Tales of Rebirth takes place in a world where humans and Gajumas (beasts) coexist. In ancient times, both races joined forces to found the kingdom of Galegia. At the age of 60, the Gajuma king Ladras Lindblum, who has wisely governed the kingdom for years, gradually weakens and dies a mysterious death. On the day of his death chaos breaks out in the kingdom and since then people refer to this day as The Day of Ladras' Fall. His only remaining blood relative and heir to the throne is his daughter Agate, who is being advised by Zilva Madigan. The latter is often referred to as princess, due to her close ties to the imperial family.

The game's 18-year old protagonist Veigue Lungberg lives in a village located in the cold, yet beautiful northern region. This orphan, whose parents died when he was but a small child, has been raised by the family of Claire Bennett, the game's heroine. Veigue is reticent and unsociable, but when he is with Claire he becomes softer. While he has not given any thought to leaving the village, he begins pondering this option after he and his surroundings come under attack. Other characters include a 13-year boy named Mao, who is traveling with the powerful Gajuma warrior Eugene Gallardo. Other character include Annie Barrs, a 15-year old human girl who hates Gajumas, the hot-blooded Tytree Cerowe, a beautiful, but cold fortune teller by the name of Hilda Rhambling and a small animal known as Zapie.

In the world of Tales of Rebirth, six Sacred Beasts represent the six elements. These deities appear in different forms. For example, one looks like a winged horse and another like a powerful beastman.

System-wise, Tales of Rebirth introduces players to the newest version of the classic Linear Motion battle system. The game's 3 Line Linear Motion battle system is geared towards action rather than strategy, making the real-time battles even more dynamic and fast-paced. While the battle map and the sprite-based characters will be in 2D, the development team has managed to add an additional layer of depth. Party members and enemies are positioned along three lines.

The Technical Point-based system of previous installments has been replaced by the so-called Force Gauge. This square-shaped gauge shows the amount of technique and skill-related force at a character's disposal. These skills can be set by the player, using the cross button. Once the gauge has filled up, players can unleash these powered-up special techniques on their foes. Unlike Technical Points, the Force Gauge slowly but surely fills up, as the battle rages on. Depending on the respective skill or technique, it may take more or less time until the gauge has filled up. Hence players will have to carefully ponder, which skills they want to set. A second, lengthy gauge known as the Rush Gauge, is located in the lower left corner of the screen. It measures a character's emotion. With the gauge fills up during battle, a character's attack power will increase, while at the same time decreasing his/her defense.

The battle system also includes Secret Justice moves. These are extremely powerful combination attacks triggered by an attacking character and a supporting character. Considering the amount of damage which can be dealt with these moves, it should not come as a surprise that the conditions to pull them off are very strict.

Another feature aimed at providing players more depth and customization is called Enhance. After successfully completing a battle, players will earn Enhance Points (EP). Those points can be used to power up weapons and armor. Enhance will not only allow you to raise a weapon's parameters, but also unlock latent added effects. That way, one can gain access to nifty skills like "Damage 200%" or "Protection Against Status Abnormalities." Furthermore, enhanced features from a weapon can also be transferred to another weapon.

What is referred to as a world map by the game's makers is not a traditional world map connecting towns and dungeons, but rather just a map. Upon accessing this map, players can not only check their party's current position, but also the location of cities and dungeons they have visited on their journey through the game so far. Last but not least, the world map also offers a very convenient feature, by letting you check out the inventory of each store.

On the field map or in a dungeon, a so-called Force Cube sits in the lower-left corner of the screen. This white cube functions similar to the radar screen in other games. While it usually spins slowly, it begins to spin violently, once an enemy is nearby. This allows players to avoid encounters, when they are low on health or for other reasons prefer to avoid an enemy encounter. Another newly implemented feature is the Summary Book. As its name suggests, this book will summarize the game's storyline up to the point at which the player has progressed in his/her play-through. The Battle Book, on the other hand, explains all the technical terms related to the game's battle system, ranging from Enhance to Force Gauge to 3 Line Linear Motion battle system. The Reference Book will help you keep track of your item, weapon and armor acquisitions.

Mini-games have always been a trademark of the Tales series and Tales of Rebirth continues this tradition. Serving the right food and drinks to the right customer in a restaurant, navigating a raft down a river full of obstacles and enemies or fortune telling by reading tarot cards, are among the plethora of mini games to try out.

Tales of Rebirth has been released in Japan on December 16th 2004. Namco Hometek has not yet announced a North American release, but given the success of Tales of Symphonia, there is hope that the second PlayStation 2 installment of the series will not remain a Japan exclusive title.



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