The Tales series, against all odds, remains one of the few long running J-RPG series still standing tall on home consoles. With 17 main entries, some titles will receive more of a spotlight than others. One title that is not often talked about when discussing the series is the PS2’s Tales of Legendia.
Personally, Legendia is one of my favorites, even if it does play too much by the “Tales” book of cliches.
Tales of Legendia Was a Conservative Effort
Legendia did not set the world on fire when it launched in 2006 (US). The PS2 was on its way out, and graphically, Tales of Legendia was less impressive than the GC’s 2003 Tales of Symphonia.
Tales of Legendia looked like a first generation PS2 game instead of a late generation one. Its artwork is fantastic (still looks good), but the technical implementation of its visuals had a ‘budget’ feel. Given that Symphonia had a bigger world, Legendia’s cheaper feel hindered its reception with critics of the time.
Action based party battles took place on a 2-D plane (with 3-D characters), and that might have been disappointing to some. I found the battles to be quick paced, and action packed affairs, however, so I didn’t have a problem with this take on the combat’s formula.
Legendia Focused on Story, and Humor
Where Tales of Legendia really shines is in its character development, and storytelling. No, Legendia doesn’t have the series’ greatest plot line (I think Vesperia does), but it might have the best character development.
Tales of Legendia’s optional ‘skits’ are some of the best that you will see in any game. I never missed them, as they were packed with awesome dialog and humor. The story between Senel, and Shirley is the typical ‘Quiet anti-hero jerk type defends, humble girl (Ferines) that is being tracked down by an evil empire’ tale, but the way that Namco handles the cliched storyline is masterful.
Norma alone makes the game worth a play. She is endearing and funny in unimaginable ways. The rest of the cast is cliched as can be. The usual bandit, the ‘Smart alec’, The Knight, the dumb beauty, etc. but the writers here did a great job in maximizing every character within their pre-established cliched personality.
Tales of Legendia has to be funniest light-hearted JRPG I have played on the PS2, which is one of its biggest strengths. Conversely, the lack of a truly strong villain hurt the overall story a bit, but the main cast saved the game for me.
I think I said it best when I reviewed the game 15 years ago:
The fact that there was not a strong Villain throughout the entire campaign, and yet I kept playing and playing, engrossed completely in the story, serves to underline the brilliance of the party’s character (members).
When it Ends, it Begins (Really!)
Perhaps the one of the oddest things that Tales of Legendia has going for it, is its ending, and post ending content. If you only play the main storyline (30-35 hours), you will walk out of Tales of Legendia feeling disappointed, seeing it as an average game at best.
However, stick with for the post ending content, and you will find that Tales of Legendia is a Tale of two Tales. Finish the game, and the characters (which are so endearing) have some lose ends. Namco dubbed this second part of the storyline the “Character Quest”, and if there was ever a ‘post credits’ content worth playing, this was truly it.
Easily, the Character Quest takes up to 30 hours to complete. It is not just extra content filler either. An argument can be made that the second half of Tales of Legendia has a better storyline than it first ‘main’ one. Thus, Tales of Legendia cannot be properly, or deservingly judged based on its first 30 hours, this is a game that must be played all the way to the end of the Character Quest in order to appreciate the greatness of its characters and its writing.
A Must Play
I gave the game an 8.5 back in its heyday. Its visuals, cliched overall storyline, and the lack of a strong Villain were my biggest gripes with it. Still, very few JRPGs have made me laugh as loudly, or have kept me engrossed for as many hours in single seatings as Tales of Legendia did. That in itself makes it a special game for me.
With only 400,000 units sold, one would think Legendia sells for a high price on Amazon. Thankfully, it sells for a moderate price as the game can be purchased for under 70 dollars (in new and used forms).
Tales of Legendia is a game that I highly recommend to both, fans of the series and fans of J-RPGs in general. Experience it if you can, you won’t regret it.
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