GameSpite Issue 9.3: Lamentations and rending of garments

The original plan with Issue Nine was to compress the contents into three weeks instead of four, but that’s not working out so well with my schedule. So nex week will be an extra-special fourth-part update, and we’ll roll right on into Issue Ten after that. Doesn’t that sound lovely? (Let me answer for you: Yes.)

Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy
Today, Merus makes me feel good about skipping Jak. The first time I became aware of the series was during my first trip to Japan, where I was stunned by the generic uniformity of the anime-style games on display. Then I saw a cardboard stand-up of Jak and realized that competent blandness is miles better than utterly hideous character design. Seriously, what were they thinking?
Tales of Phantasia
Mightyblue fulfills our nerd-rage quotient for the issue with a look at Namco’s Tales of Phantasia (except it’s not really Namco’s, as you’ll soon see). Our boy’s view of the series is not entirely unlike mine: What a great idea, what a breath of fresh air, what a near-miss with greatness, what a promising brand bludgeoned into worthlessness by abysmal corporate mismanagement.

11 thoughts on “GameSpite Issue 9.3: Lamentations and rending of garments

  1. You know, I played aaaaall the way through Tales of Phantasia thinking, why isn’t this game better than it is? Surely it will get better at SOME POINT? But it doesn’t. The graphics and sound do create a nice ambiance, and I had a certain amount of fun mindlessly maxing out the characters’ levels, but that’s about it. For such a legendary game, it’s actually rather amazing how boring it is. People kvetch about the gratuitously profane fan translation (even though it only seriously manifests itself as such in two places), but honestly, people, I would have liked to see MUCH, MUCH MORE R-rated dialogue. Anything to keep me awake. It ain’t like there’s much of a story to bastardize in the first place.

  2. Really, the original ToP for the SFami is basically like the series’ equivalent of FF1 – a lot of the basic concepts, ideas, and so on for the series are largely present, but it’s full of rough edges and technical bugs. When I said that they were pushing the SNES way beyond specs, I wasn’t kidding. Most emulators couldn’t even run the game until someone figured out how to emulate the actual cart’s hardware. Scuttlebutt had it that the carts both ToP and Star Ocean 1 run off of were more arcane and harder to emulate than the Super FX chip.

  3. Oh, I forgot, if you really want to play a decent version of ToP with most of the kinks worked out, check out the PS1 version. Aside from some minor loading, it’s easily the prettiest and best playing version of the game, and the GBA version is truly terribly.

  4. Inojin: I didn’t much care for Jak 1 or 2, so I’d be surprised if Jak 3 was any better. From what I understand, though, it builds on the weaknesses of Jak II without capitalising on the strengths of Jak 1.

  5. I haven’t played more than a few minutes of ToP, but I do like that the characters were designed by Kosuke Fujishima oh Ah! My Goddess fame.

  6. Scuttlebutt had it that the carts both ToP and Star Ocean 1 run off of were more arcane and harder to emulate than the Super FX chip.

    From what I recall this was entirely true, given the horrible build-by-build workarounds just to run the former two for a while. “Oh, hey, we can’t crack the compression on these things, so just take these packs full of the images from the game itself and we’ll have the emulator render those instead of deciphering what the hell’s on screen. It’s cool, only 50mb or so for an SNES rom.”*

    You kids don’t know how good you have it.

    * I may be misremembering given that the site I saw explaining the workaround for the time is no longer in existence and my coding skill was assier years back.

  7. If you want to play the best version of Tales of Phantasia, it’s on the GBA under the name Summon Night: Swordcraft Story.

  8. Summon Night looked like it fixed up the combat engine, but the environments were super dull and it didn’t have any atmosphere.

    I don’t remember emulating ToP itself being that incredibly difficult, aside from getting the voice samples to work properly. Hearing that intro theme for the first time was… well, technically impressive if not musically. Stat Ocean was another story entirely. I get the impression that putting it on the cartridge took even more unorthodox hackery than Seiken Densetsu Triple.

  9. Err… Didn’t all the Tomb Raider games steal their climbing mechanics from Prince of Persia?

    I mean, the whole series was basically Prince of Persia in 3D; though admittedly the better games in the series did a better job of that than the actual Prince’s first 3D outing.

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