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The Tales of series is notorious for having mechanics that are not kind to players.


General

  • The notorious way of handling sidequests. Dozens of them have finicky timeframes to activate or complete them in, involve doing things the player would have no reason for doing without prior knowledge, and are very easy to miss because nothing indicates a sidequest has even become available. There are also games that have seemingly innocuous sidequests early on that, if the player has missed or not completed properly, will lock them out of getting a good reward later on. Fortunately, later installments made it easier on players by having sidequests marked on the map upon becoming available.
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Tales of Phantasia

  • The original version had the incredibly high encounter rate. This meant there wasn't much room for the player to move through any dungeon, before getting thrust into another battle against enemies. The Holy Bottle item helped in lowering the encounter rate a little bit, but the difference was not that big. While there was an item that the player could obtain to alter the encounter rate, said item was at the end of the very difficult Bonus Dungeon. Which didn't unlock until just before the Final Dungeon. And Holy Bottles didn't work there, meaning the player had to make it through the really high encounter rate. And several of the enemies in that dungeon were capable of wiping the party. Fortunately, the remakes significantly lowered the encounter rate.

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Tales of Destiny

  • The original version suffered from the same high encounter rate as Phantasia initially did. Just like with that game's remakes, Destiny's encounter rate was made more manageable in its PS2 version.

Tales of Rebirth

  • The typing puzzles. These required the player to input very specific answers, and accepted very few synonyms. It's the only game that has an example of You Can't Get Ye Flask in the series, and it made certain puzzles a lot more difficult than they needed to be, especially for non-native Japanese speakers. This might have played a part in why Rebirth was never localized.

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Tales of the Abyss

  • Character titles have effects. What kind of effects? The game doesn't tell you. Majority of those effects are passive, like healing certain Status Ailments if the player has the title equipped and stands still for several seconds. The worst offender, though, are Natalia's titles. Four of them affect which level of items the player will obtain from Search Points. And two of those are costume titles, which are the only costume titles that actually have an effect beyond altering the character's appearance.
  • Search Points and Din's shop. The first need to be found and have items collected from them, so the player can give them to the second, for pitiful amounts of Gald, and end up giving points into certain categories, which can result in making the best equipment of the game. If the player knew how to properly use Din's shop. And the player also knew about Natalia's titles influencing what items are gotten from Search Points, mentioned above, making the process easier.

Tales of Legendia

  • Puzzle Booths. They inexplicably show up out of nowhere, and nothing in the game hints that they even exist. Completing them without getting hints or skipping them gives the player a title for Senel, which doesn't even boost his parameters enough to be worth it, and is only available at the end of the game. Even if the player decides to play the puzzle booths, the puzzles often require long waiting times to push blocks or move things to the right spot, even requiring pixel-perfect accuracy with the Sorcerer Ring.

Tales of the Tempest

  • The game was full of these, but the battle system was particularly bad. Terrible moving range on the battlefield, unfair attack range (for enemies, not the party), and the dumbest AI in the history of videogames. AI-controlled party members would run to the opposite side of the field for no reason, stay there for a few seconds, and then return to their original spot.

Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World

  • The game automatically adjusts the party line-up, and which player controls which member, and that would be fine... if Marta didn't leave the party every-so-often.
  • The Stun status became infuriatingly frequent, even more so than in any previous Tales of game. The player could be certain they would end up stunned at least once per battle, and even more times, if the battle lasted longer.
  • The Monster Allies themselves.
    • Including the Monster Capture mechanic. To catch a monster, the player needed to be able to manipulate the elemental wheel in the lower left corner, and needed at least three of the same element in it, to be offered to catch a monster at the end of the battle... and only if the player was fighting a monster, whose enemy was actually fitting the elemental wheel. After capturing a monster and using it as a party member, the player had to deal with the fact that monsters were incapable of using items in-battle.
    • And, in order to get a monster to evolve, the player needed to cook a specific dish for it, which would determine which evolution-branch the monster followed.
  • The general nerfing of the Symphonia cast. This ties in with the Monster Allies, as the cast was likely nerfed to force the player to actually use monsters as party members, and not fill their party with the Symphonia cast instead. These characters pop into the party off and on, but they never gain experience from any battle. Fortunately, their levels are adjusted to fit around where the player should be at that point in the game. However, the cast is capped off at Level 50, meaning they are basically useless on higher difficulties or in the Bonus Dungeon.
  • The Katz quests. While they are not required to beat the game, they can be helpful in giving some good equipment. The quests have no effort put into them, being a basic copy-and-paste quest over and over, and never take the Character Development of the party into consideration, which makes them feel very weird late in the game. The quests also demand the player to be at a higher level than necessary at that point, and the quests are lost at the end of each chapter, which can lock the player out of accessing the Twilight Palace.
  • The one plot-mandated usage of the WiiMote. It involves a minigame, where the player is forced to move Emil towards a Garuda, but keeping an eye out for random bursts of whirlwinds the Garuda is sending its way, and getting hit by them will push Emil further back and lose the minigame. After managing to make it to the Garuda, the player needs to shake the WiiMote like crazy to subdue the Garuda long enough. An unnecessary, shoe-horned section for motion controls in a game that never used them again.

Tales of Vesperia

  • The player must equip skills, in order to gain extra power or additional abilities in-battle. That in itself is not bad, but the problem comes in that the player is required to use skill points to unlock abilities that the previous games' characters were able to do by default, such as back-stepping or using items on other party members.
  • The Sorcerer's Ring. Shooting it at enemies can let you enter the battle with them stunned, giving you an Advantage Encounter. However, it's difficult to aim, only has a 1/3 chance of actually accomplishing this, and can't be used at all on the world map. Furthermore, the game doesn't explain any of that.
  • The Updated Re-release of the game attempted to balance the games combo system that made many end game fights a joke (like Yuri's Duel Boss with Flynn) by introducing something called "Techouts" (basically the enemy has a set of skills or attacks they will use when their stuck in a combo). This mechanic is hated by fans of the original 360 version of the game because one Vesperia's main appeals was that the player, through experimentation and learning, could create near infinite combos, but only by taking the time to learn how. Now even a basic 30 hit combo has a chance of being interrupted by the boss just randomly breaking free. Plus this addition doesn't provide a player benefit and comes across as the developers going "Stop Having Fun" Guys.

Tales of Hearts

  • The DS version can be quite chuggy depending on how many characters are on the screen at once. This can get very annoying during some boss fights (Such as the Chalcedony Squad or some random encounters). Emulators could even aggravate this - or even softlock the game by trying to "fix" chuggy-framerates on the ROM.

Tales of Xillia

  • The overall link-up battle system. In order to unlock Overlimit, and even use Mystic Artes, the characters must be linked-up. While there is eventually a skill that allows the player to start up their controlled character's Mystic Arte without a Link Arte, they still need to be linked with another character to achieve Overlimit. This is especially frustrating, and noticeable, in solo matches in the coliseum.
  • The Felgana Mine has various shafts that need to be opened up with a pickaxe, as well as some minestones, which contain items that can help with shop building or are needed for sidequests. Downside, the player needs to button-mash one button repeatedly to charge up the pickaxe and break down the stonewalls. Absolutely pointless feature for all of one dungeon.
  • Any party member that hasn't been used in-battle for a while will begin complaining about this while walking in the field. Same with not eating for a while, with the characters talking about how hungry they are. Except they often complain right after finishing a dish.
  • Shop Building. New equipment is not automatically unlocked by progressing through the game. It's now based on this mechanic, where the player inputs resources found in the field or dropped by monsters to increase each shop type's level. This means the player needs to grind for resources or be prepared to be stuck with sub-par equipment against bosses. The shop building also has a bonus of doubling or tripling experience points earned from resources for a certain type of shop, and with a certain type of resource. Nothing in the game explains what affects this bonus or if there's even a way for the player to influence this, so the only hope is that the game is being nice and giving a triple experience points bonus to the wanted shop.
  • The mechanic of bosses automatically breaking out of combos and counterattacking after a certain amount of damage is done in the combo. It seems like an understandable countermeasure to prevent skilled players from simply stun-locking bosses, but the damage limit is so easily reached that it basically makes it impossible to perform combos against them, which goes against the series' appeal of combos and keeping enemies stunned as long as possible.
    • At the very least, the damage limit is a set value, and once you figure it out you can knock a boss down to prevent them from counter attacking and easily start a new combo. This makes it easy to deal with and not a problem, but it still runs counter to the design of the rest of the series and makes combo enabling abilities feel useless. This is fixed in Xillia 2, thankfully.

Tales of Xillia 2

  • The Debt system. To break it down, it requires the player to pay a specific amount of Gald whenever they reach that amount over and over, throughout the game, or they'll be unable to travel to new areas and proceed with the plot. What makes it annoying is the travel restrictions seem to exist as a very poor excuse to prevent the player from going to areas they aren't supposed to be at yet. Ostensibly, this is because Player Character Ludger will be able to use an above-ground subway system to travel to new areas, but even if Ludger and company could just walk to wherever they need to be, you can't go until part of the debt is paid. It also means that the player is constantly strapped for cash.
  • The changed mechanic of only allowing four members in the party while outside of towns. Especially strange because Xillia had a mechanic that allowed the player to change party members mid-battle!

Tales of Zestiria

  • While the open world and instant battle transitions gave the game a more 'real time' atmosphere, the camera has been an issue for many players. This is especially common in places with a lot of trees and obstacles, and places with narrow halls. There is no 'battlefield' to transition to, so the party is fighting in the current area, with all those obstacles and walls still being around. The open fields are okay enough with this, but battles in cities (like the second encounter with Lunarre) are notorious for camera issues.
  • The leveling-up system for equipment. Like Vesperia, each piece of equipment has an ability. But unlike Vesperia, those abilities are all passive things, like increasing stun time or increased damage against Dragon-type enemies. Weapons have randomized passives, so forging the best weapon at the game's current time is useless, since a weapon with higher parameters easily outranks them. Loads of players choose to ignore this system for a first playthrough, since it's really only necessary to know what they're doing for bonus content.
  • The Arte system having a setup of Martial Artes (normal attacks), Hidden Artes (special attacks), and Seraphic Artes (spells) being strong against one, but weak to another. The problem is that bosses can outright ignore this. Even if the player uses the correct counter, some bosses have super armor that negates it. To say this mechanic was disliked is an understatement.

Tales of Berseria

  • Hit-Stun. Instead of having a set hit-stun per move — like previous Tales of games or any other Action-RPG game, in general — Berseria uses complicated, counter-intuitive factors for the hit-stun a move can inflict. Like less hit-stun the more the Arte was used in-battle, but more hit-stun the more said Arte has been used across the entire game... The end result is that the player has no actual idea how much hit-stun a move will actually inflict, and there's no way of knowing if a combo will possibly work, even if it worked mere moments before!
  • Skill Mastery. Each piece of equipment has a passive bonus called a Mastery Skill that it grants you. If you win enough battles with the item equipped, you get to permanently keep the effects of its Mastery Skill. The problem is, the rate of the acquired experience points is based off of Grade the player has won at the end of a battle. On average, weapons have a requirement from 100 to 700 Grade needed, but the average Grade is usually a paltry 2 to 4 in total. Unless you dedicate lots of time specifically to mastering your equipment, you are bound to find new types of equipment by the time you've mastered one, which then raises the question: do you use the newer weapon and skip on the other ones' Mastery Skills, or do you keep using outdated equipment so you'll get their Mastery Skills?
  • The power of healing spells is affected by SG and a few other factors that the game simply doesn't bother telling the player. As such, healing spells come off as pathetically weak, unless the player knows what they're doing. And it forces a very defensive play to keep those spells effective. It gets especially annoying when Grade is factored in, as using items in-battle lowers Grade.
  • For some players, the mandatory skits. While this game has optional skits like the past titles, this is the first game in the series to include mandatory skits in the main story, which triggers automatically while you're in a town, in the field or in a dungeon. However, the game triggers several of these skits in a row, constantly breaking the game's pacing. It also doesn't help that these skits are three minutes long on average, which can be aggravating if you want to see the whole story. Finally, if you want to use a Denore Bottle to warp to another location, you can't use it until you've seen the story skits. This makes it especially aggravating if you want to Play the Game, Skip the Story for whatever reason, since the game arbitrarily prevents you from going any further until you see them.

Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology 1 + 2 + 3

  • Gaining Mystic Artes. Specifically, getting the Descender to learn the Mystic Arte of their class. To learn the Mystic Arte, the player must have mastered every skill that class can learn. Not too difficult, just tedious and MP-expensive. But some classes don't learn their final skill until Level 66! To compare, most first playthroughs have the player face the Final Boss with a Descender at Level 55. And that's with minor grinding, and without changing classes at all. Fortunately, this was only an issue in Radiant Mythology. The next two games changed the requirement for the Descender getting their class' Mystic Arte to be identical to the Tales of characters getting theirs, which required getting to Level 45.
  • RM1 required Tales of characters to have a certain amount of affinity with the Descender to agree to join their party outside of plot-mandated battles. This meant the player had to use other Descender-class Mercenaries, and really slowed down the work on getting the Tales of characters leveled up. Fortunately, the next two games removed this mechanic entirely.


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