The world has been run dry over the years and in the end, there were only four countries left: the Holy Kingdom of Hazel, the Knight States of Fleswelg, the New Imperial Nation Niddshogg, and the Free States Alliance of Dyne. Every few years, the World Tree bears a single Great Fruit, the one and only source of Mana in the world that can be used to grant wishes and make a country prosper. This is certainly not enough to sustain all four countries. So, the devised solution was to hold an event where fighters, called Sigurds, gather after collecting a certain amount of flags, starting with the Skuld Flags. These flags lead to battles, and the last team left is given the fruit to bring back to his country.
Not a most complex story, but this is a fighting game. I find the most interesting aspect of this game, though, to be the character relationships and interactions. As you all know, Tales of Vs. is a crossover game. Unlike most crossovers, though, the characters don’t travel from a different world where Tales of Symphonia happened and end up in the world of Tales of the Abyss or something in the next stage. Here, characters have different roles and are actually part of a separate world. These new roles, however, are extremely reminiscent of their original roles in their respective games.
Taking an example from a less spoilerific point, Lloyd is Colette’s guardian and she wishes to be the chosen one of the World Tree. Cless is Lloyd’s teacher, as well as the top knight in the Holy Kingdom Hazel who had also participated in the previous Yggdrasil battle three years ago. At that time Cless was also involved in an accident that happened with the World Tree. Kratos is a mercenary hired by Cless to fight as a partner because the rules of the Yggdrasil battle forbids otherwise. Some parts look familiar?
I still find the most amusing pair to be Yuri and Farah. The other three pairs were all from the same game or, in Kyle and Leon’s case, sequels to the same continuum. Yuri is a random wanderer that is forcibly dragged into the partnership by Farah, who’s fighting to bring prosperity to her village. They’re from different worlds that it’s interesting to see them interact. Yuri, being the more practical one, occasionally insists that Farah set up traps or ambushes, which she persistently refuses.
Aside from the story mode, there are also several other options. Most of the modes allow for 1-2 players. There is an arcade mode, where you choose a team and opponent teams (including characters you haven’t unlocked) appear in a set order. Survival mode is where you try to fight for as many battles as possible against opponents with increasing GP (grade points). Like Super Smash Bros., there are also special battles, where your team is predetermined and you have to win with certain conditions (Using Tear and Collette? Fine. Using them and winning against Lloyd and Luke without using any techniques? Oh boy…) I have never tried this for myself, but apparently you can download new special battles from the web.
There is also a specific wireless mode, where you create a room and fight against opponents over the net. All of these battles also net you more GP, whether you win or lose (although you do get more if you win), so this is actually a good way to train for the Yggdrasil Battle Mode.
Another extra that many have probably heard of is Tales of Wallbreaker, a minigame in Vs. The goal of the game is to wham your opponent into the wall and throw him or her out of bounds. Aside from the blast of nostalgia from the graphics, you also get to use many of the characters you aren’t able to in the main Vs. game. On another note, what I said last time about the pamphlet? Ignore that. The instructions for Wallbreaker takes the cake for the cutest thing I’ve seen in a long, long time.
After you finish certain events, usually when a character has been recruited or when you’ve finished a scenario, you earn BGM that can be listened to at the sound test. You can also watch, at any time, any scenes you have seen up to that point. There are also collectable cards that can be earned after finishing certain events or completing certain conditions. You can view your collection in the item library. The text implies that after collecting three, something will happen, but seeing as I haven’t done that yet, I can only speculate.
Quite honestly, Tales of Vs. was very fun to play. There are a few factors that take away from the game a bit, though. Being on the PSP, you can expect one of these to be the loading times. Normally, I could endure this, but even I was starting to get a little grated when long loading took place between every battle, especially during the survival mode when it was one battle after another. On the plus side, this means that there is literally no loading during the fight itself.
The camera is also a bit interesting. Normally, it’s not actually a problem, but the range on the screen is always either “how much of the map can fit in the screen?” if your opponent is out of range, or “let’s show only the area between you and your opponent!” if he’s close enough. As such, and because there are no actual camera controls, the easiest way to change the camera is to change targets. This actually isn’t much of a problem usually, but if there are no enemies on the screen, the camera zooms in so that you only see your own character, making it difficult to run on the map and collect items or limit balls.
Other than these small problems, I can’t say I’m unhappy with this game. I’m going to see if I can finish the rest of the routes in the near future, *cue evil laughter*.