This is Objection Network’s countdown of the top 25 video game series of all-time. We’re counting down to the best franchise ever on March 31. For more info on the voting process, click here.
17) Tales (2 votes, 83 points)
Chris: This is the series I ride or die with. There have been plenty of ups and downs over the years, but as a whole, the Tales franchise ticks a lot of the boxes I enjoy as a gamer. Discovering Symphonia in 2003 was a true joy, and while that game hasn’t aged particularly well (the lack of free run and the abysmal multiplayer camera don’t hold up), the idea of a four-player co-op RPG was fascinating to me. I was in.
Now, despite the fact that this is my favorite series, it didn’t even make my top five on this list. There are a few reasons for that: some pretty awful releases (looking at you, Symphonia 2); some games never making it abroad (looking at you, Tales of VS. and all but one Tales of the World); most titles lacking a complete narrative (looking at you, Xillia 2); some soundtracks being generic as all get out (looking at you, Motoi Sakuraba). If we’re being completely honest, most plots in the Tales series are mediocre at best; it’s the cast of characters that really shines.
But I overlook those flaws for the benefits that Tales provides. A fun and hyperactive battle system that almost feels like a fighting game and rewards precision. The ever-improving skit system that gives the characters thought-provoking and often hilarious moments. Some phenomenal background mechanics that make leveling and customization feel great (esp. Xillia and Vesperia). It’s an RPG experience like no other, and I look forward to each release with anticipation.
Michelle: My only real experience with the Tales series has been Tales of the Abyss, and I genuinely loved that game. It wasn’t perfect, it dragged like mad in places, and the writers did something akin to character assassination to one of the main characters toward the end there… but it still has a special place in my heart. The worldbuilding was so carefully thought out, most of the characters were developed subtly but effectively over time, the plot genuinely interested and captivated me, and I loved fighting. Maybe I’m only remembering the good stuff because nostalgia works that way, but hey, cut a girl some slack. 🙂
Shaun: Tales games aren’t my cup of tea. Outside of the excellent Xillia, they are fine, but I would think even Chris, our resident Tales expert, would agree that most games eschew well-told plots for character moments.
With that said, I appreciate Tales for the niche that it is — active, fighting based combat, interesting characters, and skits that flesh out the world. I also have to give credit for its longevity — the pedigree of Tales isn’t as pronounced in the west, and yet they consistently deliver new, well made games that satisfy fans and achieve success. Consistency in this industry is important and hard to come by, so for that reason alone Tales deserves some credit.
Bonus credit: Being one of the last bastions of couch co-op.