At first glance, Tales of the Tempest seems to be somewhat low budget. Much like all of the other Tales games, there’s a full motion video complete with a J-POP song, except a vast majority of it consists of footage from the in-game engine, with roughly ten seconds of actual anime quality animation. The in-game graphics don’t fare much better – after seeing games like Mario Hoops, which showed that the DS could pull off some quality 3D graphics, these visuals look like an early PSOne game. At least the soundtrack seems pretty good so far, which seems to recall classic Motoi Sakuraba works like the original Star Ocean rather than his lackluster scores of the console Tales games.
While you’ll still be fighting real-time battles, they feel a lot different from the other games. Similar to Tales of Rebirth, there are three lines on the combat field which you can jump between. However, if you=re used to holding up or down on the control pad in order to execute various sword maneuvers, you’ll end up attacking the adjacent row, which is a bit strange. At the early stages in the game, it seems like you can just run up to a bad guy and slash away (either by the buttons or with the stylus), although you can try to hop around them and attack from the sides. It feels a bit clumsy altogether, but it=s workable.
I’m not a fan of Mutsumi Inoma’s artwork to begin with, so the furry boy and doll-like princess that adorn the cover look uglier than usual. The game begins with the two, Caius and Rubia, being chased out of their village as it comes under attack. Pretty typical stuff, although since the voice acting only shows up in battle, the characters don’t seem all that interesting, and that’s what really carries the better Tales games. So far it looks to be shaping up to be competent but unremarkable, and even more low budget than usual – at least it’s a lot better than Xenosaga I & II, Namco’s last DS RPG effort.