Welcome all to the world of Tales of Vesperia. One of my top 5 favorite Tales of games in this long running series. Vesperia is a Japanese role-playing game that came out way back on the Xbox 360 (I can say ‘way back’ right? It has been a decade) in 2008. Exclusively at the time for the Xbox only, I was lucky enough to have owned the system and got to play this beautiful masterpiece. Jump 10 years to today and during, what I assume was short, heated argument we where blessed with Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition. This edition was actually the PS3 port of the game that was only released in Japan back in 2009. I remember huffing and puffing when i was a teenager, whining that I hated when Japan would do this kind of crap. But they say patience is a virtue, No? For those who are first time goers to the series I’ll try to explain the intricacies of this game.
Vesperia is a game set in the world of Terca Lumireis. In this world people depend on devices known as blastia to help them through life. It’s a tool that absorbs a particle called Aer, the source of all the energy for this planet. The story focuses on our young protagonist Yuri Lowell, who thought a simple blastia thief would be easy enough to catch. Unfortunately, nothing is ever that simple and he gets tangled up with a mysterious pink-haired girl named Estelle. Together with her and his ever faithful K9 companion, Repede (best doggo), they set off on a whirlwind of an adventure.
Since this is a Tales game the battle formula used in Vesperia is the same recipe that’s used in most, if not every, installment of the series. Nothing makes me happier then running around combo hitting up some baddies and throwing Artes in their faces. Artes are special attacks unique to each party member that can be learned throughout the game. Each character has their own special kind of moves based on their unique style of class. But nothing is ever free or easy and Artes will always require you to use SP (Specialty or spell points, or super possums, who knows at this point).
There are 3 types of Arte pools to use from: Base, Arcane and Magical Artes. Base Artes are your lowest level of attacks that you can use frequently without consuming too much of your SP and are the only type that allows you to cancel during a combo spam. Arcane Artes are stronger and can only be obtained through leveling up your Base ones, at least 50 times or more, or special events. Though they pack a punch they will munch down on some serious SP to use. Magical Artes (mostly used by the Casters in your party) include novice, intermediate and advance spells. They all have an elemental base to them and a radius of the spell effect on the enemies. Either through line of fire or circular ratio.
Now we dive into the more… complex part of the Arte family. Altered, Burst and Mystic Artes are special attacks that require more specific steps to be used. Altered Artes were new to the Tales series back when Vesperia first came out. They take the place of an old Arte only through the means of unlocking certain skills. Altering its original move it becomes more powerful and usually has an added element effect to it, which can be hurtful to specific enemies.
These next two Artes will require you to have a burst of power through a move known as Over Limit. Over Limit is a meter of power you can store by fighting. As the gauge increases you can activate it during any of its power levels. The higher the number the longer you stay in this mode. It is brief, but with this extra surge of adrenaline you’ll be able whack out infinite combo moves. As long as the enemy doesn’t attack you during your combo you can go to town on them.
Burst Artes can only be used during Over Limit. They are exactly as they sound and will pack a punch when activated. They can be used multiple times during Over Limit, but I always use this formula as an example. Multiple continuous hits to the face -> Arcane Arte to the groin -> Burst Arte to FINISH HIM. But you can beat’ em up however you please. Another thing to know is that depending whether or not you have an elemental based weapon equipping it can change the style of the Burst Arte.
Mystic Artes are the ultimate form of power that can be unleashed, but can only be activated under specific conditions. First you’ll need to unlock the skill ‘Special’, which can be obtained halfway through the game. Some are learned through weapons while others are through events. Second you must fill your Over Limit gauge to level 3 or higher. Finally, once you are in Over Limit mode, you must hold down the ‘attack’ button after using an Arcane Arte to unleash some serious damage and trust me these are always satisfying to use. They are stupid strong and will use up the entirety of your Over Limit so my advice is to always use it at the last second before your gauge runs out to get one hell of a combo.
Still with me? Good, because I have one final trick to throw at you. There is one more special move that you can use against your enemy. It’s called a Fatal Strike and this is another one of those goodies that was added to the Vesperia installment. Fatal Strikes can Insta-kill enemies, except bosses, but they can still do some sick damage. You also have a chance to gain stat boosts, extra EXP, extra LP (Skill Points) and higher drop rates anytime you use a Fatal Strike. How do you use such a move? It will require you to spy on your enemies stats with a fancy tool called a Magic Lens. Once you have that stat window open you’ll notice 3 small colored gauges at the bottom (Red, Blue, Green). If you bring any of these 3 gauges to zero (or empty) this will prompt one of the colored circles to appear on the enemy. Be quick when it does , because it will only be visible for a split second. These strikes can be triggered by using up attack, forward jabs or downwards strikes.
Remember that I keep mentioning these ‘skills’ you need to learn? Well they actually work like Final Fantasy 9’s skill tree. During your play through you’ll be picking up and swapping tons of equipment for your party, but these pieces of equipment actually have the skills embedded in them. In order to unlock those skills you’ll have to gain LP through winning battles. These fill a gauge and unlock the skills from your equipment. Once you’ve learned that skill it will permanently stay in your skill tree, which you can customize anytime by opening the menu screen. Optimizing and utilizing these skills will help increase your parties effectiveness during battle. I highly recommend taking the time to unlock most of these skills. I say most only because there are skills you can learn that will hinder you, but it can give you more of a challenging run through of the game for the more… Seasoned players. Depending on your new game plus settings, some of these can turn a tough game mode into downright hilarious if used well. Combo exp and minimum damage come to mind with a certain mage and her “blah blah blah ” magic.
It might all seem like a lot to follow for a fighting system, but the game does a great job at introducing these steps at convenient times in the story. You won’t have to worry about being bombarded in the beginning with all these tricks. Combat is always fun and fluid and can be played by up to four players at once… If you can find three people to tolerate for hours. Whether you play with your friends or just customize the AI’s in your menu settings the game is pretty on point.
I’ve been playing the Tales series since Tales of Symphonia came out back on the GameCube and each installment is a different adventure. Vesperia is no exception to that list. When it was announced that Vesperia was getting a re-release for the Switch I did not hesitate to get a day-one copy of the game. New playable characters, dungeons, enemies and story were just waiting to be played. Boy, was I excited… But that doesn’t mean that this newer, shinier version of the game was perfect. When games get re-released I tend to focus on all the things that were changed and these come with pros and cons.
Let’s start with the cons. The new playable characters we get in our team are Patty Fleur and Flynn Scifo. If anyone has read our review on Tales character that have been uploaded to the site then you’ll know why I think Flynn should be impaled by a Rhybgaro. For those who haven’t, I recommend swinging on over and having a very detailed read on the subject, but long story short… I hate him.
Then we have Patty, a swash buckling pirate that’s on a quest to look for the infamous Aifread (a recurring character that pops up in most Tales lore) and regain her lost memories. As a whole I don’t dislike this character I just find her… Not necessary for the plot line. You can basically feel the cut and paste parts of her story through the game. It just feels rushed and out of place like those YouTube Ads we suffer through that jump out in the middle of streaming a video. As a fighter she’s very random. Leaves everything to chance like the battle field is nothing more then a big game of Russian roulette. When I use a spell I like to throw fireballs at the enemies face please, not heal or stat boost a party member that didn’t need it in the first place. All in all, these two characters didn’t need to fit in the story, granted Flynn was already part of the main story, in the original game, in small sections, but now I have to cringe through the game with him as a party member… Yuck!
The other elephant in the room for me would have to be the voice acting. The only good thing about it was that a majority of the original cast came back to reprise their roles. Great! The new ones are… Noticeable. Patty Fleur is voiced by none other then the great Sandy Fox, who did a great job voicing a previous character in Tales of the Abyss, Mieu. Her performance as Mieu was spot on, as Patty… It was a swing and a miss. Her high pitched, cartoonish voice just wasn’t what I had in mind for this pirate lass. It was annoying to say the least.
I take great pride in good dubbing for English releases, but I can notice changes like shiny pennies in the sand. Which brings us to the hero himself… Yuri Lowell is played by Grant George this time around for the added scenes. Why they didn’t approach Troy Baker (the original Yuri) is beyond me and a little hurtful. I did some digging and it turns out that Namco Bandai didn’t even bring it to his attention. Troy was willing to return to reprise his role as Yuri, saying that it was one of his favorite characters to voice. My guess… A financial issue?
But I noticed the difference during the first 15mins of the game. I’m not saying that Grant is terrible, in fact I think he’s got Yuri’s attitude down to a T, but… He ain’t no Troy Baker. It’s a little heart breaking, but not enough to stop me from playing this game. (Editor’s Note: Honestly? I like Grant as well since he’s a perfect Yuri, but I wish, and as much as I loved Troy Baker as Yuri, that they just re-recorded all of the dialog to make it less jarring.) Judith also got a noticeably new actor, but I had no problem with her performance. In fact I think I like her over her original, but only just a little. If you can’t stand the changes in voices the game will allow you to play with the original Japanese audio as an alternative.
The only other small con that I can think to bring up is the voice quality in the new added skits. You think for a game that’s been sitting on a dusty shelf for 10 years would have newer, fancier equipment to heighten the games experience, but for some reason when I sat and listen to the skit scenes it almost sounded like a was watching a VHS. I was hoping Blu-Ray quality sound and I got a VCR??? Maybe I’m the only one thinking this, but hey… It’s just an opinion.
The pros to this game is still everything that the original one had to offer. Beautiful graphics, a fantastic music score (as much as I HATE Flynn he has one of the most bad ass fighting themes of all times), great characters and an engrossing story. The fighting is always fun to play with friends or solo and all the side story content is just as good. Pretty sure I clocked over 100 hours of gameplay.