Tales of Phantasia review

alex9234’s Sunday Review

Back with another review, and have decided to review a game from a system that I haven’t covered for a while – the Super Nintendo! Time to review the game that indirectly gave birth to TWO major game franchises – Tales and Star Ocean. Due to internal conflicts between Wolfteam (this game’s developer) and Namco, many of the Wolfteam staff that worked on this game went to form tri-Ace, and create Tales’ sister series, Star Ocean, which shares many gameplay elements with Tales. And now we’re reviewing the game that gave birth to Tales and Star Ocean, Tales of Phantasia, which came out on the Super Nintendo in Japan in 1995.

The Plot

Tales of Phantasia starts off with four heroes stuck in a battle with a sorcerer named Dhaos. Before he is defeated, he travels 7 years into the future where he is met by the heroes’ decendants, who seal him away with two magic pendants. 10 years later, two men from the town of Totus Village, Cless Alvein and Chester Burklight, return to their village to find it razed by a dark knight named Mars Uldole, who kills most of it’s inhabitants including Cless’ parents and Chester’s sister. While Chester mourns, Cless goes to track down those responsible.

He decides to head to the town of Euclid, and visits his uncle in hopes that he can help him out. Unfortunately, Cless’ uncle is forced by Mars to turn Cless over to him. Cless has his pendent stolen and he is thrown in jail.

Cless manages to escape from his cell, and teams up with a priestess named Mint Adenade. Cless and Mint are once again reunited with Chester, and the trio meet Trinicus D. Morrison, one of the four heroes who sealed Dhaos away 10 years ago along with Cless’ parents and Mint’s mother.

After hearing that the pendants have been stolen, Morrison, along with Cless, Chester and Mint, go off to the mausoleum where Dhaos was sealed, but are too late as Mars has released the seal. Dhaos then kills Mars and Morrison sends Cless and Mint 100 years into the past where Dhaos is waging wars with his demon army across the planet. After learning that only magic can harm Dhaos, Cless and Mint team up with a mage named Arche Klein, and a sorcerer names Klarth F. Lester. The four of them then plan to defeat Dhaos before he becomes powerful and alter the current timeline for good…

The Gameplay

The combat in Tales of Phantasia is action RPG based, which has been the series standard ever since, though it is 2D instead of 3D which is in most of the current entries. This game used the Linear Mode Battle System (LMBS), where the fight is played on a 2D terrain that stretches wider than a single screen width, so the screen can scroll to the left and right, depending on where the characters and enemies are located. You press A to use Cless’ normal attack, B to activate his special, Up on the D-pad and A to do a thrust attack, and Up and B to activate your alternate special attack. Y changes targets, and X opens the battle menu (pauses game). You also also force a certain character to use a spell/attack in the battle menu. L and R walks you to the left or right ends of the screen and begins the escape countdown. You can only control your main character in real time.

The start menu and inventory screens are like most 16-bit RPGs from this era, and like all Tales games, this has the food storage system. You don’t do cooking in this game, but the food you procure throughout the game (like at shops and in dungeons) restores your party’s HP and MP after battles.


The open world and town layouts resemble that of Final Fantasy V and VI respectively and are fairly easy to navigate. The open world utilizes the Super Nintendo’s Mode 7 effects very well.

The Characters of Tales of Phantasia

Character designs by Kosuke Fujishima

Cless Alvein – Age: 17 – Cless is the main character of Tales of Phantasia. He is the son of Miguel and Maria Albane, two of the four heroes who sealed Dhaos away. He is friends with Chester. Since being sent back 100 years in time, Cless and his friends go out on a journey to defeat Dhaos and save his current timeline.

Chester Burklight – Age: 17 – Like his best friend Cless, Chester grew up in the same village – Totus. Chester had a sister named Amy, who was unfortunately killed by Mars during his raid of the village to track down the pendants. He is very impulsive and does things without thinking of the consequences.

Mint Adenade – Age: 18 – Mint is a priestess. She is the daughter of Meryl Adanade, one of the four heroes who sealed Dhaos away. Like Cless, she had one of the pendants, but she had it stolen from her by Mars and was thrown in jail. After breaking out of jail with Cless, she joins him in his quest to defeat Dhaos.

Arche Klein – Age: 17 – Arche is a half-elf magician. She uses a broomstick as a weapon and to fly around (the reference to Kiki’s Delivery Service). Due to her status as a half-elf, she has been discriminated against, but despite that, she still maintains a bright personality. She joins the group after Dhaos killed her friend Rhea Scarlet during his raid of Hamel village. It’s also revealed that she has the hots for Cless and has had perverted thoughts about him. More on that later…

Klarth F. Lester – Age: 29 – Klarth is a sorcerer with a massive knowledge of spirits. Thanks to his magical rings, he is able to summon spirts after defeating them. He lives with an assistant named Mirald Rune, and she helps him with his research. Mint comes to him for help with defeating Dhaos, and though he is hesitant at first, he eventually joins the group shortly after.

The Boat Scene

This is probably the funniest scene in the game by far. Arche takes the cake here. While on their way to the Kingdom of Alvinista, the group brings up a bunch of suggestive themes. Arche tries to bribe a sailor by giving him a blowjob (no, really!!! LOL), Klarth asks Cless which girl he likes best, Klarth and another passenger get drunk together, and so does Arche. After passing out, Arche starts to have sexual fantasies about Cless, which startles Klarth and the person who he got drunk with. Klarth decides to not tell Cless about what happened.

You won’t believe how much I laughed my ass off at that scene.

My Thoughts

I got my Tales of Phantasia repro cart from a friend of mine for my birthday. I wanted to play the original SNES version so badly, as the GBA version’s script was altered drastically and the PS1 version never came out here. I then played it, and I wondered why this was never released outside of Japan originally. This game is great. The story is excellent, there are many hilarious cutscenes, the graphics take full advantage of the Super Nintendo’s hardware without the use of ANY special chips, and the music is excellent. DeJap Translations did an excellent job with the fan translation for this game as well. The sound is also excellent for a Super Nintendo game. This is one of the few games that has actual voice acting, and the only one with an opening vocal song – “The Dream Will Never Die” by Yukari Yoshida. AND IT DIDN’T USE ANY SPECIAL CHIPS!!! Now THAT is impressive. This (along with Star Ocean) is the LARGEST Super Nintendo game ever made, clocking in at a whopping 48 megabits of ROM data. Again, with NO CHIPS!!!

Though I do have my gripes. The enemy encounter rate is ridiculously brutal, the battle controls feel clunky and dated and do require some time to master, there are lots of cheap deaths, and the boss battles can be painfully difficult (again, due to the dated battle controls).

Though age has taken a bit of a toll on this game, the positives still outweigh the negatives. Tales of Phantasia is one of the best RPGs on the Super Nintendo. It’s not the best RPG on the system, but worth playing. Get yourself a repro cart of this when you can.

My score: 8.5/10




Published by alex9234

A skeptical game writer who doesn't believe the gaming press.

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1 Comment

  1. Actually, rather than the GBA version, DeJap’s translation is the one that altered and deviated from the original. They also added some dialogues that weren’t even in the original japanese script.
    Other fan translations followed the original more closely like the GBA’s.


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