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"If there is evil in this world, it lurks in the hearts of men."

Tales of Phantasia is the first mainline entry in the Tales Series. The game was released on December 15th, 1995 in Japan on the Super Famicom.

The story begins when best friends Cress Albane and Chester Burklight return from a hunting trip to find that their entire village has been destroyed, and their families slaughtered. Swearing of revenge is imminent.

It turns out that the culprit needed Cress' heirloom pendant to unlock the seal on Dhaos, the legendary Demon King. Picking up a White Magician Girl (Mint Adnade) and a guide (Trinicus D. Morrison) along the way, Cress and company arrive just in time to see the seal broken and Dhaos freed. Unfortunately, Dhaos is only vulnerable to magic, and the World Tree that powers magic has been dead for a century.

With the last of his powers, Trinicus flings Cress and Mint a century into the past, where they land in the middle of a world war between the human country of Midgards and the evil forces of Dhaos. As Cress and Mint are unable to use magic, they recruit a half-elf witch called Arche and a human summoner called Claus F. Lester. Together, they must figure out a way to Save the World and defeat Dhaos once and for all.

Some stuff that became common themes throughout the series started here. Arche kicks off the Tales Series' fine tradition of exploring racism through elves. Claus redefines long-distance relationships with the help of the Spirit of Creation. Dhaos sets the standard for Tales Series villains as Well Intentioned Extremists. Also, there's a minor time paradox in there.

Phantasia played many RPG tropes straight, but on the technical side, it was nothing short of a marvel. Programmer Hatsuya Hiroshiba found a way to fit full voice acting for all the moves and spells and a full opening song into the plucky Super Famicom cartridge, with room to spare for brilliant arrangements of Motoi Sakuraba's gorgeous themes. The early version of the Linear Motion Battle System was a bit rough around the edges, but when the game was remade for the PlayStation in 1998, the control scheme was redone to fit Tales of Destiny's revamped "command" style, and all sorts of little extras were dropped in, from an extra character to little graphical coolnesses.

Phantasia also invented many of the series' set pieces. A huge number of the moves that later Tales Series swordsmen would use come straight from Cress' playbook. Phantasia also introduced the basic spell list, most notably the high-level magic "Indignation" (which comes with its own incantation too).

There was a remake for the GBA, which was the first version to get an official English release. While there are a few incredibly awful spots in the localization, such as the "Kangaroo War" for Ragnarok (apparently the result of a spell-check mishap) and the poor quality of the voice casting and acting, most of the fanbase's issues with it are a result of Nintendo not taking... liberties... with the script that the best-known Fan Translation did. (If they had done so, the game almost certainly wouldn't have got by with anything less than an "M" rating.)

There are English patches for the SFC and PSX versions available online. There are also two versions for PSP, one being the "Full Voice Edition" and the other being paired with an Updated Re-release of the Game Boy Color sequel, Narikiri Dungeon. Recommended in general, but especially for people who liked Symphonia, just to play "spot the continuities." Unfortunately, neither version was released outside of Japan.

In 2014, however, an iOS port (based off the "Full Voice Edition") was released in September 2013 in Japan, which was followed by an English translation in January 2014. However, Namco Bandai eventually shut down the game servers and quietly pulled it from the App Store later in 2014, leaving the game completely unplayable. Namco Bandai cited poor response as its official reason (expected given what they turned the game into).

Due to Executive Meddling (most likely brought on by a desire to make the game better compete with the then newly-released Chrono Trigger,) the original development team schismed and mostly broke away from Namco after the game released, going on to reform into tri-Ace and create the Star Ocean series.

A four-episode OVA based on the game was created in 2004, and licensed and dubbed by Geneon three years later.

Due to the fact that about a decade passed before a canon English translation was released, there's a bit of conflict about what some of the characters' names are. In order to reduce confusion, please use the official localized English versions of the character names, and not the DeJap versions.

A psuedo-sequel called Tales of Phantasia: Narikiri Dungeon was released for the Game Boy Color in 2000. It would later get an Updated Re-release on the Playstation Portable (along with the original Tales of Phantasia game) as part of the Tales of Phantasia X project celebrating the 15th anniversary of the game's release.

The story is set one hundred and seven years after the conclusion of Phantasia, and focuses on two twins named Dio and Mell. One day, the two twins are met by a mysterious woman who prophesies a "doomed future" for them both unless they complete the Ordeal of Spirits, a trial where they must seek out and test themselves against the twelve Summon Spirits of Aselia. While doing so, the twins explore the aftermath of Tales of Phantasia, travelling through time and space to speak with the alumni of Phantasia and uncover deeper insight into their thoughts and motives. The Updated Re-release adds another character to their party: Rondoline E. Effenberg, a mysterious time traveller looking for Dhaos, the Big Bad of Phantasia.

The key feature of the game was the ability of Dio and Mell to "dress up" as various character classes (Fighter, Thief, Mage, etc.), gaining new powers depending on which role they were portraying. Their wardrobe included the outfits of various Tales Series heroes and villains, and even cameos from various Bandai Namco Entertainment games. The concept proved so popular that it formed the basis for two more Narikiri Dungeon games, though they would be released under the Tales of the World banner.

Contain examples of:

  • Absurdly High Level Cap: Confirmed to be 999. To compare, the party finishes learning most of their skills by level 55, and the most difficult parts of the game can be conquered just a little past level 70.
  • Acrophobic Bird: Averted. One puzzle requires leaving Arche behind to stand on a switch so that she can fly out of a hole later, and in a scene after defeating Volt she's asked to go fetch treasure chests that are normally inaccessible. There's some Gameplay and Story Segregation to this, though - she'll only use her flying abilities when the plot demands it.
  • Aerith and Bob: Cress Albane's parents are Miguel and Maria. Clearly, someone decided not to pass down the Hispanic heritage.
  • After the End: A meteor impact thrust society back into the dark ages, from which it is only just emerging.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: It does this with the Big Bad. It's mentioned that Dhaos actually was trying to save his own people who needed mana to live whereas your races didn't, and that if you look at it from their perspective, you're the villains. Whenever Arche would bring up this possibility, Cress would just begin shouting at her.
  • Almost Kiss: In the Tower of the Zodiacs, Artemis says Arche needs to kiss Cless before he'll allow them to meet Luna. The two are almost kissing when Mint rushes in saying "it's not right" to do it. Then Luna's voice interrupts as well, telling Artemis to just let them pass.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Averted with demons. Some are evil and aligned with Dhaos, but Chameleon, Gremlin's Lair, and Pluto are all demonic spirits who can be recruited to help save the world.
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: In Narikiri Dungeon, Dio and Mell discover that their past selves are Dios and Meltia, the two people responsible for destroying the World Tree of Derris-Kharlan, turning it into a wasteland and kicking off the events that led to Tales of Phantasia.
  • And I Must Scream: Remember the sarcophagus Dhaos was sealed in at the beginning of the game? The one he was trapped for ten years in? Remember how he was able to mind-control Mars to an unspecified extent? Yeah, that confirms he was conscious the entire time he was sealed in there, only kept from starving to death because of his magic. Can't exactly blame him for losing the last few shreds of sanity he had after that.
  • And Man Grew Proud: The war between Fenrir and Odin is what left mankind vulnerable to a meteor strike in the first place
  • Anime Theme Song: Yume Wa Owaranai/The Dream Will Never Die. Fully voiced on the Super Famicom, too, something almost unheard of at the time.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Shares a page with the rest of the franchise here.
  • Anti-Villain: Although he does a lot of terrible stuff, Dhaos is trying to save his own homeworld from destruction. It's only too bad he considers it so far above this one that he regularly Beam Spams everyone with no regard for the consequences.
  • Arc Words: "If there is evil in this world, it lurks in the hearts of men."
  • Art Evolution: A strange version in that it happened between versions; the in-game character sprites of the SNES version were based on an earlier artists work on the game, but the portraits and general artwork all used the newer character art. This resulted in characters on the SNES version looking very different in-game compared to their portraits (Claus in particular is almost completely different). Later versions changed the sprites to be based on the newer artwork.
  • Artificial Stupidity. Averted for the most part. The ranged characters like Mint, Arche, Chester, and Claus will stay clustered in the left part of the screen if you tell them to. Your spellcasters will, for the most part, figure out which spells don't work on enemies through trial-and-error until they settle on a spell that does. However, there's still problems like Mint repeatedly trying to use Hammer skills on an enemy that's clearly immune to them (like bosses,) sometimes doing that instead of healing or buffing, and sometimes your other spellcasters will still spam spells that clearly aren't working or aren't as effective as another spell in their arsenal (even if they casted that one earlier in the fight.) Fortunately, you can turn off spells to keep them from using them.
    • Mint's other problem is also the fact that the AI can't predict what'll happen, so she will start casting spells with a cast time (like Pow Pow Hammer, Acid Rain, or Sharpness) when Cress or Suzu are taking damage and not cancel it to swap with a heal.
  • Ascended Extra: Suzu goes from an NPC in the SNES version to an optional hidden party member in all future versions.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Sword Rain technique causes Cress to attack with a flurry of stabs that deal massive amounts of damage. Unfortunately, each hit also pushes the enemy backwards while Cress stays still, so unless you have your opponent pinned against something (or your opponent is the type to keep running into your sword,) you'll only get in about three hits at best; not worth the amount of TP the move consumes. Unless you first corner the enemy to the edge of the battlefield, which then most of your attacks will not be able to push the enemy further back, in later games, Cress gets pushed back by himself though.
  • Badass Normal: Chester; Cress has the legendary Eternal Sword, Arche can cast devastating spells, Klaus can summon elemental spirits to fight, and Suzu is the next successor to the Fujibayashi ninja clan. Chester is just a guy who learned to use a bow to hunt. Even more obvious in the SNES game, where he doesn't learn any skills, and yet has the second highest damage output of the party, just behind Cress.
  • Bonus Dungeon: Lower floors of Moria, overlaps with Marathon Level for longevity, and to some degree Drought Level of Doom
  • Broken Bridge: Due to the time travel mechanics, this is handled quite strangely. In the present time period, a literal broken bridge blocks passage from Euclid to Venezia until the plot actually requires the party to go there... 100 years in the past. Incidentally, due to how little time is spent in the present to begin with, this means the latter is completely inaccessible in the time period in which the party first visits Euclid. However, considering how future Venezia isn't much different from past Venezia, this probably doesn't mean much.
  • But Now I Must Go: At the end of the game, Claus and Arche have to return to the past. Arche is a bit of a subversion, since, being a half-elf, she'll still be around in 100 years (though, at best, her relationship with Chester will in her point of view be taking a 100 year break) and they can just visit her whenever, but Claus... well, must return to his love, with the little dirty magazine (and tons of other books) he got from the quest. But there's no real chance he'll survive to see Cress & Mint again.
  • Call-Back: If you cast Indignation on Dhaos during your fight with him midway through the game, he shouts "Sonna... Sonna bakana!", just like he does when it's cast on him in the prelude fight in the intro (of course, due to Time Travel shennanigans, it's technically the same fight with different people involved, so it makes sense for him to say the exact same things.) As a Shout-Out to this, every Bonus Boss version of Dhaos in later games in the series has responded the exact same way when Indignation is cast on him.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Arche blows up at her dad after she sees her mom alive in the Hidden Elf Village, as he'd told her for years that her mother was dead.
  • Calling Your Attacks: As usual for the series, but notable for having it on the SNES.
  • The Cameo:
    • The PSX port onward added a cameo fight with Lilith Aileron, Stahn Aileron's sister. Beating her earns you the "Swordian Dymlos" weapon as well as Stahn's "Final Fury/Satsugeki Bokouken" arte for Cress.
    • One of the Narikiri skins in Narikiri Dungeon X transforms the player into Asbel Lhant, complete with his move pool. Another turns the player into Asuka Kazama complete with a tenstring as her Mystic Arte.
  • City of Canals: Venezia
  • Chaste Hero: Cress. It happens when Arche is explaining why she left Mint alone in the White Forest to meet the Unicorn. Cress also seems to struggle with understanding the implications of Mint and he sharing the same bed.
    Arche: Because... well... once, there was this guy, and...
    Cress: ...and what?
    Arche: ...and... you know! So I thought the Unicorn wouldn't see me!
  • Competence Zone: Total aversion of the "Too Old" type. Claus is pushing thirty while the rest of the group average age 16, Suzu pushing it down, being age 11, but he's the brains of the operation from the moment he joined and does most of the talking to other people.
  • Compressed Adaptation: The first half of the game is crammed into the first half of episode 1 of The Anime of the Game. Ironically, the OVA actually does a pretty good job of telling the story- many fans believe it makes more sense than the game does.
  • Convection Shmonvection: Played straight in one dungeon and averted in another.
  • Cosmetic Award: The titles your characters can earn in this game are purely for aesthetic purposes, unlike titles in some of the later Tales games. However, one title does allow Cress to use his ultimate attack.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: Early in the game, Cless knells over to a slug while protecting Mint after fighting his way out of Mars' mansion. This is despite the slugs you face in the mansion not posing any real threat.
  • Determinator: Chester level grinds himself while the others sleep so he can catch up to them. Only in PSC version and onwards.
  • Disc-One Nuke: Several candidates depending on version. In the SFC release, Maxwell qualified but was toned down in the PSX release. Indignation qualifies in either version. Gnome can be obtained really early as well, though he's incredibly hard to beat at that level. By Sequence Breaking (or using the behind-the-counter trick in Olive Village) and saving up a load of cash you can acquire advanced weapons for Cress long before you'd normally get them (simultaneously offset and built-in in PSX release since Gungnir is a great weapon gained by story progression, but in SFC version Gungnir is underwhelming). An early example is the Knight Saber found in Toltus after the attacknote .
  • Disc-One Final Dungeon: No, Dhaos' castle isn't the last level of the game; there's still about a third of the game to go after that.
  • Doomed Hometown: Though it becomes a thriving city in the future, named after Cress' father.
  • Dual Wielding: One of the spirits has four arms, enabling him to quadruple-wield little staff-spear things. That make lightning.
  • Early Game Hell: Phantasia can be super difficult in the early stages that, oddly enough, will probably last all the way through the first half of the game due to the fact that you will personally play Cress while all the AI characters are mages that Cress has to protect. New players will find it VERY difficult trying to use Cress to push enemies away from the mages in the back row and/or protect them from both direct and magical assaults. Also, since this game is played on a 2D plane in battles, it's easy to get sandwiched between hard-hitting enemies and stun-locked. After the entire team gains a handful of levels, the HP and MP to stand up to bigger fights, and Cress has plenty of higher powered Artes under his belt to pummel enemies with, the game starts to get a bit easier.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: no cooking, no Dark Wings, no skits, and in the SNES version, no Mystic Artes/Hi-Ougi. The battle system of Phantasia also comes as a little odd for modern Tales players — Chibisized sprites, a slightly slower-paced battle system, a lack of primary attack combos, and a few other things. The art style is musty, muted and more realistic than the pastel style that would later define the series' aesthetic. Later console versions implemented cooking and skits among other things, bringing Phantasia more in line with the rest of the series.
    • From a story perspective, Phantasia also lacks several of the character tropes almost always found in later games, like a Guest-Star Party Member or a Lovable Traitor. There is also no real Chosen One until Tales of Eternia (and even in that game that aspect is minimal), while in later games the party often revolves around the chosen character. The popularity of many of those character tropes started with Tales of Destiny. Incidentally, most of those tropes were inserted in the GBA and PSX's Updated Re-release.
  • Enemy Scan: Magic Lens items. Can be used to fill in entries in the monster encyclopedia. Getting 100% completion of this gives Claus a new title when you start a new game+ on the PSX version.
  • Engrish: Some of Mint's spells are announced in what is ostensibly supposed to be English.
    Mint: FAAAAA-STO EI-DO!!note 
  • Evil Is Not a Toy
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Arche puts her hair up in a ponytail after Rhea leaves her body. This is actually how she normally has her hair, but Rhea wore it down.
  • Fantastic Racism: A core plot element.
  • Fighting a Shadow: The remnant of Dhaos in Narikiri Dungeon, comprised of his anger towards Dios and Meltia.
  • Final Boss Preview: At the end of the Present time period, the party encounters Dhaos, who wastes no time in showing the awesome power of his Dhaos Laser.
  • Fantastic Science: Sorcery is treated this way (even more so in the prequels). Your party visits three separate "magical research labs" over the course of the story, and Claus considers himself a scientist.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: A Duel Boss in the second part of the game is forced by all the characters other than Cress having hangovers after a night of party on the sea. The official translation changes this to "ate too much."
    • Mint didn't get drunk. She was just very seasick.
  • Gag Dub: The famous/infamous fan mistranslations of the SNES version has Claus asking Cress which girl he would rather sleep with, and Arche dreaming about having sex with Cress after getting drunk.
    • It is indisputable that Arche was having that sort of dream, even the official translation made it clear. The dialogue just was not as explicit as the SNES fan translation suggested.
    • Not to mention a far more explicit version of the series' traditional hot springs scene.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: One of the major goals in the early part of the game is to find people who have magical powers in order to defeat Dhaos, because humans cannot use magic. Nope. Not even a little bit. Shoot plasma bolts and lightning? Heal people with light? Turn into a giant flaming bird? Teleport?! No problem! But they can't use magic.
    • Speaking of defeating Dhaos, in the story he's supposed to be completely immune to anything but magic, which is why the party is gathering magic users. However in most versions other than the original;, anytime the party fights him any of the party can whack him with nonelemental weapons and purely physical arts as much as they want and it'll damage him, though he might be resistant against physical attacks during some fights, he's never completely immune. (This one veers on Acceptable Breaks from Reality, though.)
    • It also has to be noted that Mint is a real sore thumb when it comes to the "magic" thing. Apparently her healing arts don't count as "magic", but then the game never, ever explains what the hell the source of her power is. It's sort of vaguely "divine", apparently... and it doesn't count as "magic" for the purposes of Yggdrasil being dead and defeating Dhaos. The OVA tries to patch this hole with a flashback of Meryl explaining that Healers do draw on the mana produced by Yggdrasil, but it is less energy intensive and can work off of the greatly reduced output of its dead husk. There's still the question of why healing artes do not require elven blood, which Mint is explicitly stated to not have.
  • Guide Dang It!: Unlike later Tales games, the Sorceror's Ring is an equipable item not central to the plot. Because of how little it's used, leaps of logic like "Shoot it at that jumble of mechanical parts over there" or "Use that tiny little spark to thaw out a switch" are easy to miss.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: This game introduced the series' tradition of using half-elves and other hybrids to explore themes of prejudice and racism. Half-elves possess the same life-span and magical abilities as their elven parent, but are psychologically much more similar to their human parent, though it's ambiguous whether that is biological or the result of the elves ostracizing the half-elves and forcing them to live among humans.
  • Harder Than Hard: Besides Hard mode (unlocked in SFC release by pressing XYBA at the same time on title screen when starting a game, made a selectable option in PSX release), once you finish the PSX version you may unlock Mania difficulty. All enemies have 3x HP (compare with 2x HP in Hard mode), do 50% more damage (compare to 25% in Hard) and worst of all, you do not regen a chunk of TP after every battle. Short of powerleveling through it, Mania is incredibly difficult.
  • Healing Hands
  • Health/Damage Asymmetry: Partially averted. Enemies use spells that hit just about as hard as yours. The real difference is that you have heals, and they simply have a lot of health.
  • Hidden Elf Village: There's the standard one in Ymir forest, and then another hidden village of Ninjas behind it, hidden from the Elves that are living in the first Hidden Elf Village.
  • Hot Springs Episode
  • Humans Are Bastards: In the game, the blame for the whole shitstorm is distributed among several parties (Though Dhaos hiring a PR department could have prevented a lot of it), making Dhaos well-intentioned but decidedly threatening and genocidal, while humans are understandably defensive, though arrogant and foolish. The anime however, goes to great lengths to shift Dhaos actions so that he tried his best to warn humans of the consequences of their actions, while the latter ignored absolutely everything he said for no particular reason.
    • The clearest example is the Mana Cannon, a highly destructive, very environment-unfriendly weapon. In the game, it was built to have a chance against Dhaos forces, which were attacking precisely because humans were developing that kind of technology. Part of the vicious cycle is that if Dhaos were not attacking, the weapon would not have had a reason to be ever built or used. In the anime, humans built the weapon even before Dhaos showed up for... no bloody reason.
    • The Mana Cannon existing before Dhaos in the OVA might seem like a retcon, but it's actually (very, very) vaguely implied in the game: the elves stopped communicating with humans ten years or so before the Past section, due to "humanity's foolish actions," which we can assume to be magitek research. Of course, the elves clearly never bothered to tell humans what the problem actually was, so yeah. Poor communication all around.
  • Infinity -1 Sword: In the PSX version, Gungnir is a likely example.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: Excalibur, acquired at the end of the Moria Mines Bonus Dungeon.
  • Invocation: I dwell amidst the abounding light of heaven...
  • Joke Weapon: The "Glossy Magazine" and Namco Gamer for Claus (though the latter has the highest attack power out of all of Claus' weapons.)
  • Just Between You and Me: Averted, and played straight in the same scene. Mars waits until after Dhaos' revival (an unstoppable process) has begun to rant and threaten you. Dhaos himself, however, lets your party escape through time because he'd rather rant and threaten you than just blast you with his lasers.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Reisen, the head of the magitek research, whose actions basically kickstarted the entire plot of the game by killing the Yggdrasil and antagonizing Dhaos to the point of making a peaceful solution impossible, never gets so much as fired from his job or even called out on everything he's responsible for. His absence during the future timeline despite being a half-elf indicates that he was killed in Dhaos's attack on Midgards, but this is unconfirmed.
    • Mint gets off a very subtle What the Hell, Hero? on him in the OVA. In the aftermath of the destruction caused by his Wave-Motion Gun, a small child is digging through debris trying to find her parents.
      Mint: (To Reisen) Aren't you going to help this little girl?
  • Killed Off for Real: The Dhaos that was defeated by Edward and released by Mars. The party just assumes he escaped through time again when his alternate-timeline self in the Future starts causing havoc, but the player clearly see what they didn't in their haste to escape: he quite clearly remains prone on the ground as the Mausoleum collapses, and his body is crushed under falling debris. Amusingly, the party never does learn this either.
  • Lethal Chef: Arche, in the PSX and GBA versions
  • Lethal Lava Land: Twice.
  • Light and Mirrors Puzzle: Except with prisms.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything:
    • Volt will power up the aviation devices just by doing so unexplained. Afterwards, these devices never seem to require recharging.
    • Assuming the sparks from the sorcerer's ring are electrical, there's no real reason why they should light torches so easily. (Ever tried to light a fire with just sparks?) There's also the instance in Fenrir's cave where just one burst of these sparks defrosts a lever in an ice wall. (Ever tried to defrost a lever in an ice wall with just sparks?) Not only that, the lever becomes so hot instantly that it burns Cless' fingers.
  • Limit Break: In the PlayStation version, Cress, and only Cress, received the first Mystic Arte in the series, the "Meikū Zanshouken/Dark Blade". Due to Early-Installment Weirdness, it worked more like a Desperation Attack, as Cress needed to be at full health and THEN lose enough of it to be on critical levels to use it. He also needs a special title in the GBA. He can also obtain "Satsugeki Bukouken/Fatal Fury" by beating Lilith, since it counted as a normal Arte at the time.
  • Little Miss Snarker: Suzu.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: The present's overworld music isn't used much due to how little of the game is spent in that time period.note  Averted with the town music in that time period, however, which is reused in the future.
  • The Lost Woods: The Depths of the Treant Forest, accessed though a sidequest, has a large map that is easy to get lost in.
  • Love Triangle: Up until Chester joins your party, this happens among Cress, Mint, and Arche.
    • Though its more like "Cress X Mint with Arche having an unrequited crush on Cress" then an actual triangle. Must be way she gave up the hopeless pursuit once Chester became an option.
  • Mage Species: All elves have the ability to sense mana and use magic. Pure-blooded humans lack these abilities entirely. Half-elves and humans with more diluted elven ancestry share the elves' abilities.
  • Magical Guide: Norn in Narikiri Dungeon.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Half-elves live longer than humans
  • Medieval Stasis: part usage and part aversion. Not much happens between the "past" era and the "present" era, but the "future" era is beginning to rediscover Magitek lost in the meteor impact
  • Monster Arena: The City of Euclid in the future holds an arena inside of the castle.
  • Moral Myopia: Dhaos willingly and eagerly pulls off numerous atrocities against humans through the course of the storyline, and then calls humans violent and greedy.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Mars' name in the De Jap Fan Translation is Malice. Mars isn't anything to sneeze at either, since it's the Roman name for the god of war.
  • Nature Versus Nurture: A major point in Narikiri Dungeon, as Norn wished to see if Dios and Meltia were inherently evil beings, or good people whose morality had been heavily skewed by circumstance.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Cress realizes that he and Dhaos both trying to achieve the same thing for their respective worlds and they see each other in the same way.
  • Off-Model: A particularly famous example in the SNES version, as the field and battle sprites for our heroes were consistent in-game... but did not match Fujishima's concept and promotional art at all. Their seldom-seen portraits in-game matched the art, but the sprites? Well...
    • Cress was a reasonable enough facsimile of his concept art (although the color of his armor wasn't right). Chester was also relatively on-point, save for having more earth tones in his clothing than his art and having Eyes Always Shut, for some reason, instead of the smaller-but-still-there eyes of his art.
    • The other three went all over the place: Mint wore a blue and pink dress and shawl and had a hat which resembled a flapless ushanka more than her art's little nurse cap. Arche wore a green vest over a heavy blue dress with a matching blue shawl... which is nothing like her loose-shirt-and-puffy-pants ensemble in the art. Claus, however, is the most radical of all: he wears a reddish scholar's gown with a very long, almost dress-like dark green tunic beneath that, dark greenish-grey boots, a mortarboard cap complete with tassel which matches said boots, also has greyish hair tied back in a ponytail and a fair complexion similar to his fellow castmates, and while all of the SNES sprites looked a little squat and chibi, especially in battle, Claus looked pointedly and purposefully overweight. Needless to say, none of this matches his concept art even remotely, even if the sprite itself was a good match for the character (and some fans even prefer the SNES interpretation).
    • The differences were dramatic enough that one of the selling points of the Playstation version a few years later was that the sprites were far more true to the original art, and every game since has labored to make sure the promo and in-game art matches.
    • A funny little exception to note here is that Dhaos, of all people, does not have this problem; perhaps due to his larger sprite, the artists were able to make sure that even on the SNES he matches Fujishima's art dead-on, down to the smallest detail that the SNES will allow.
    • Part of this may well have been the developers trying to work around memory limitations on the SNES to give the enemies and backgrounds that slight bit of extra space - while Cress seems to have a unique color palette, eagle-eyed observers will note that Chester and Claus share a palette (compare their outfits), as do Arche and Mint (they were a bit more clever about this one, but compare Arche's dress to Mint's hat, Mint's dress to Arche's hair, and the trim of Arche's vest to Mint's hair). The outfits were thus reworked to reduce the party's memory footprint. Which is also why Dhaos is fine - being a huge boss who can hog all the memory allocated to the "enemy side", the artists could get him right without worry. And the PSX and beyond, of course, didn't need to worry about memory as much.
  • One-Hit Kill: The urchin enemy in the lower levels of the Moria Gallery is a tiny enemy that inches towards your party. It also can't be hurt and instantly kills on contact. Needless to say, if you ever encounter one, run like hell in the other direction.
    • Hell Lords in the bottom floor of the Sylph Mountain have the ability to cast Summon Lich, which at that point in the game, is a guaranteed Total Party Kill without some severe level grinding.
  • One-Woman Wail: The first time Origin is summoned in the OVA.
  • Only Sane Man: Claus is usually the voice of reason within the group.
    • Considering the way Claus acts sometimes this would be fairly frightening if it weren't for the way NPC's keep pointing out how young the rest of the party is. In a role reversal, Arche plays Only Sane Man for a brief period in Midgard.
  • Opening the Sandbox: Once you get the ability to fly in the future the world becomes an open sandbox with access to areas limited primarily by your ability to handle the challenge.
  • Outside-the-Box Tactic: It's a running gag that the final boss, Dhaos, is susceptible to the Indignation spell. In cameo appearances in later games, he dies to one use of the spell.
  • Pamphlet Shelf: Numerous bookshelves throughout the world contain snippets of information, sometimes giving veiled, minor game advice, sometimes just giving flavor text and lore.
  • Penultimate Weapon: Eternal Sword, a generally superior weapon and the stuff of legends but Excalibur is a good deal better and in PSX version so is Gungnir (and arguably several others such as Bahamut's Tear and Luck Sword).
  • Perfect Play A.I.: The Odin, Galf Beast, and Lilith fights all work this way. Ordinarily bosses need to be balanced for fighting your whole team at once, meaning they need to occasionally channel for large attacks so they can hit the team members hiding behind and healing Cress. Not so for these three, which are all one-on-one fights. Because of this, they're instead designed specifically to relentlessly assault Cress with quick attacks to interrupt his, all of which are very likely to knock him down or back. They'll continue doing this until he's cornered, and then keep spamming attacks until he's dead. Victory in these fights purely comes down to not losing momentum against them at any point, as doing so makes it very difficult to get back into it. Abusing attacks that are hard for the AI to halt is key in this.
  • Permanently Missable Content: The game does its best to avoid this, as after you travel to the future you can still revisit many locations and obtain most of the spells and skills that you missed in the past. But some things (mostly titles and recipes) can still be missed:
    • There are two as early as the first few minutes of the game, with Ami's Stuffed Cress doll and Chester's Kind Brother title, which must be obtained before Toltus' destruction.
    • Elwin and Nancy's sidequest (which give the Bridal Gloves and the Cupid title for Mint) can end early with no rewards if the player doesn't do some of its steps at the right time.
    • For Claus' Monster Hunter title, the player needs to catalog the full data of every enemy in the game. This is done by scanning them with a Magic Lens and getting all their item drops (and items to steal with Suzu for some enemies in the future). Some enemies are exclusive to the present or the past or even some very specific fights, so they must be fully registered before those parts of the game are over. There's a similar deal going on with his Item Collector title (obtain every item in the game at least once), as a few items can only be gotten in specific timeframes. Some shops in the present and in the past also have unique items on them, but for items obtained through other means, the aforementioned Stuffed Cress and Bridal Gloves count as examples. These collections can carry over to a second playthrough, but they can be completed on the first one.
    • Likewise, some recipes - and by extension the characters's titles for mastering them all (in versions that have them) - can be missed if the player doesn't have them by the time they travel to the next time period. But the worst offender is French Toast's recipe, because the chef that teaches it is in Hamel, and that city is destroyed not too long after you first visit it.
    • Cress' Ishitori Master and Mach Lad titles can only be obtained in the past version of Alvanista, because in the future, the Ishitori Master's descendant plays a different minigame and the harder race in the future is only played as Chester (who gets his own title for it).
    • A few of Arche's spells can be missed, and there's a title for teaching every possible spell to Arche. Some examples are the one in the past version of Dhaos' Castle (Rock Mountain or Distortion depending on the game's version) because that castle doesn't exist anymore in the future and Judgment/God's Breath in Thor at the end of the past section of the game. Thor can be revisited in the future, but for some reason the spell won't be there if the player doesn't get it in the past.
  • Pet the Dog: Rondoline's backstory in Narikiri Dungeon X is essentially a big Pet the Dog for Dhaos: she befriends him despite his quietly sinister exterior, to the point where she is stunned to find out he is considered a "Demon King" in the future.
  • Prepare to Die: When you meet Demitel Cress says "You killed Rhea's parents. Prepare to Die". Though, he should've at least said hello and give his name first.
  • Point of No Return: None for the endgame, you can save anywhere in the final dungeon and still leave, but once you reach the last room of the Underground Crypt, you're sealed off from the Present and the same applies for the Past when you set sail for Thor's nautical location. Luckily, some things can still be obtained by the end of the game, but not all of them.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Come ON, Dhaos, an FYI would have been kinda useful! In either timeline!
    • They could have avoided all that, if only Dhaos had opened his damn mouth.
    • It wouldn't have hurt for the heroes to spend more than five seconds considering what Origin had to say either.
    • Dhaos did attempt to communicate. It went ignored because Reisen blocked them all.
  • Port Town: Venezia
  • Posthumous Villain Victory: After the heroes defeat him for the final time, Dhaos uses his dying breaths to reveal that he's a member of a Dying Race, whose people pinned all their hopes of survival on him coming to the world of Aselia and harvesting enough mana to create a mana seed... and his wars with the human race have been an effort to suppress and destroy their Magitek, which threatens mana's existence. The heroes conclude that he was a Well-Intentioned Extremist who had noble goals but horrible methods of achieving them, and mourn for his doomed people. As the ending plays, Martel, guardian spirit of the Yggdrasil, is shown transforming Dhaos' corpse into a mana seed and sending it to his homeworld.
  • Random Drop: One of the quests in the game requires you to find five Basilisk's Scales, which drop from, as you would imagine, Basilisks. Unfortunately they're a somewhat uncommon encounter and the drop isn't guaranteed. Later in the game a pair of dungeons requires a special charm which randomly drops from enemies, though they are much more common.
    • You can also get each charm by using a Rune Bottle on the version found in the dungeon that requires it - the Rune Bottle turns each charm into the other, and you need the fire charm to survive the ice dungeon (though not in the GBA version) and the water charm to survive the lava dungeon.
  • Rescue Romance: Very early on in the game, Cress rescues Mint from Mars' mansion. Later on, the storyline hints at romantic feelings between Cress and Mint, particularly during the Snow Means Love moment.
  • Scenery Porn: It would be remiss to discuss Tales of Phantasia without mentioning that it ranks among the most graphically beautiful games released for Super Famicom, and probably the most graphically advanced RPG of the 16-bit era. Effects now taken for granted like reflective water and mirrors, rippling water effects, realistic weather, etc were revolutionary at the time this game was released. Also, contained far more voice acting than most 16-bit console RPGs, and the music is considered among the best of any SFC game. This level of detail required a 48MB cartridge; compare with Chrono Trigger at 32MB, and Final Fantasy VI and EarthBound at 24MB. Star Ocean is the only other game for Super Famicom/SNES to require such a large cart.
    • Incidentally, Star Ocean was made by the Tales of Phantasia team after they left Namco in disgust.
  • Shout-Out: The Moria/Morlia Gallery, an ancient cave where the dwarves used to live.
    • There are several pieces of equipment taken straight from The Tower of Druaga. Collecting them all earns Cress the Gilgamesh title.
    • One of Claus' book weapons is the Necronomicon, and another sounds like The King in Yellow.
    • The collectible statues are all modelled after other Namco characters: the Statue of Bravery and Love are Gilgamesh and Ki repectively from The Tower of Druaga, The Statue of Friendship is the eponymous character from Klonoa and the Statue of Justice is the main character from The Legend of Valkyrie who also appears as Odin's aide.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Ishrantu is briefly seen fighting Cless and Claus in the anime's opening, but he never actually shows up.
  • Slice-and-Dice Swordsmanship: Subverted through the magic of separate Slash and Thrust attack statistics. Phantasia has four weapon types for Cress - high Thrust spears, high Slash axes, and balanced swords and halberds... and a few exceptions like the super stabby sword Dragon's Fang.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Not so much sliding, but it certainly does have an underground ice cave, and in keeping with tradition of ice levels, it's also a rather difficult level. Bonus points for ending with That One Boss.
  • The Slow Path: In the ending, Arche and Claus return to the past. Arche, however, is a half-elf with the potential to live for centuries, and she anticipates meeting her friends again in the present (her future).
  • Smash Mook: Golems found throughout the game. Feature very high hit points, and typically use attacks that, sure enough, smash your party, often resulting in being flung backwards and/or stunned. Frequently found serving as meat shields for mage enemies and have a really nasty habit of surrounding your party, which can be problematic.
  • Snow Means Love
  • Spell My Name with an S: Cress, Claus, Morrison, etc. etc. The previously accepted English spellings were (and still are) in use in the Japanese versions' cast lists. Not helped by the fact that there were two english translations and an OVA, and they all used different spellings/pronunciations.
  • Spice Up the Subtitles: In the De Jap fan translation, the dialogue when Arche tries to convince a boat captain to take the party to Alvanista, the conversation between Cress and Claus on the boat, and the dialogue when Arche falls into a drunken sleep and dreams of Cress are either suggestive or just downright raunchy and would never pass the censors.
  • Stupid Sacrifice: Edward Morrison, a war hero and powerful sorcerer, sacrifices his life to save some random kid an Enemy Of The Week had taken hostage.
  • Swirling Dust: In the OVA, there's an updraft of dust around the edges of Klarth's summoning circle right as he finishes "purifying the area".
  • Sword and Sorcerer: It's not until you've gotten through half the game that you're allowed any party combination but this. You start off with Fighter And Healer, after which the Glass Cannons show up.
  • A Taste of Power: A rather minor example, but if you enter Cress's father's dojo after his village has been raided, you can find the sword of the general who led the raid. It is a fair amount stronger than what you have at the time. However, you will lose it when Cress gets imprisoned in the next town over. But if you do the unconventional option of leave the sword behind, go to the next town where Cress gets imprisoned, and THEN go back to his hometown after escaping to get it, he can carry it with him the rest of the game, though it will become outdated after the initial confrontation with Dhaos that leads to Cress and Mint being separated from everyone else.
  • There Is Only One Bed
  • This Cannot Be!: Dhaos's reaction to Indignation. He keeps doing it every time he and that spell show up in other games, too.
    Sonna... sonna bakana!/It can't beeee!
  • Throw the Book at Them: Claus. He is a Summoner, not a physical attacker, but he WILL whack enemies with his book if they get too close.
  • Time Travel: Thanks to dividing timelines, it turns out that the final boss of the game is not the guy you've been trying to get revenge on all game long. Basically: the one you hate was defeated in the prologue and sealed away, and is killed about halfway through the game; the final boss is completely different, having split off from the original when your party replaced their own ancestors in reenacting the same prologue battle. Dammit, time travel!
    • Time Paradox: Dio and Mell cause one in Narikiri Dungeon when they kill their evil past selves. To resolve the paradox, the twins become one with their past selves.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: Claus' weapon, which include the Necronomicon, The King in Yellow, the Liver Ivonis, The Celaneo Fragments, G'harne Fragments, True Magick, Requiem for Shaggai, Cthäat Aquadingen, and the Seven Books of H'San (which many of the names were misspelled in the English GBA version). Ironic, considering Claus is the Only Sane Man.
  • Uneven Hybrid: Quarter-elves and more diluted elven descendants exist, possessing human life-spans and elven magical abilities.
  • Unicorns Prefer Virgins: The Unicorn only lets virgin women near it. In the first game, the flirtatious Arche thus has to leave during the portion of the quest where you seek it out. In Tales of Symphonia, Raine notes she shouldn't bother trying to go near it, and Kratos doubts that Sheena can. She can.
  • The Unintelligible: Volt speaks either in Binary or in symbols, depending on your version. Most of the reason he fights you seems to be because he's pissed that you can't understand him.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Claus looks weird but no one seems to notice, even though he does all the talking for your party. No one seems to think it's at all strange that Arche follows you around on a floating broom either. The first example is lessened in the SNES version, where, as noted, Claus looks more like the fussy intellectual he is in-plot as opposed to a suspicious mystic.
  • Tsundere: Arche. She's not very fond of Chester when they first meet each other.
    • Chester feels the exact same way about Arche.
  • Waif-Fu: Suzu is a little girl, both in terms of age and size, but easily the most deadly physical fighter.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Dhaos kicked off the Tales Series time honored tradition of villains that are trying to save the world by murdering thousands of people.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Done with spectacular pointlessness on the part of Dhaos, who chose to wipe out his mind-controlled servant Mars the moment he was unsealed, despite the fact that Mars had pulled off Dhaos' release almost perfectly.
    • To be fair, Mars acted as though Dhaos was his to control, and even arrogantly demanded that he grant him his power. Dhaos' reaction was predictable to say the least.
    • Even more understandable, given that Dhaos had kinda basically been buried alive for a full decade, and didn't even have the benefit of being in a sort of stasis. Kind of a miracle the man had enough scraps of sanity to form coherent sentences after that.
  • You Killed My Father: Cress' motivation against Dhaos after his entire home village is destroyed by Mars.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Perhaps one of the most triumphant examples of this — they practically say the trope word-for-word!