For almost a decade now, fans in the West have pleaded with Bandai Namco Entertainment (formerly Namco Bandai Games) to release Tales of Vesperia in the West. I don’t mean the version that was released in 2008 on the Xbox 360, but instead the 2009 Japan-only release on the PlayStation 3, which included two new playable characters and extra content that was cut from the 360 release. Unfortunately, that never happened, that is until now with the release of Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition.
Was it worth the wait? Definitely. I still wish it actually didn’t take so long for the game to be released with all the extra features a decade later. Tales of Vesperia is in my top 3 “Tales of” games of all time. The experience it offers is top notch with an ensemble of characters, a great story, a battle system that still feels fresh and fun even a decade later, and the Definitive Edition only adds to the enjoyment. That includes the addition of Patty as a new character, who easily became one of my favorite characters in the game.
Tales of Vesperia is set in the world of Terca Lumireis, where the inhabitants rely on technological devices known as Blastia for everyday life. These include the Barrier Blastia to protect towns and cities from monsters, and Bodhi Blastia gives users that are equipped with it increased strength while also being able to use different skills and magic.
Yuri Lowell, the main character in Tales of Vesperia, was raised in the lower quarter. He’s a former knight who left his order as he felt he didn’t belong by just following orders and watching people get trampled and used by those with money and power. Thus, he became someone who would do whatever was necessary to help those less fortunate, even if it meant taking matters into his own hands.
Yuri is quite an interesting character. As the story progresses, you see him shoulder all the burden upon himself, even if it means lying or hiding things from his friends. It’s not just Yuri though, the whole cast has unique personalities that really bring the story to life in a way that works perfectly together.
Those who played the original game can look forward to a new, yet familiar experience as the Definitive Edition features quite a bit of new content, including an expanded story that adds elements of the prequel film Tales of Vesperia: First Strike that was released back in 2009 in Japan (2012 in North America), along with added scenes with voiced dialogue. I was quite happy with the fact that Bandai Namco Entertainment included the option to play the game with either English or Japanese voice acting, but there was a bit of an issue with that feature. It seems that not all of the original English voice actors returned to reprise their roles. There are times when this is clearly noticeable, especially with Yuri who was originally voiced by Troy Baker, but for some reason didn’t return. As a result, Grant George was brought in to voice Yuri where needed.
I also mentioned that Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition included two new characters, and well, that’s half true. Flynn did appear in the original game as an important part of the story, and while he joined the party, he was only playable for a short time. Now, he becomes a fully playable character once he joins the battle. Patty Fleur is a brand new face and is easily one of the best additions to the game. She isn’t just added to bolster the game’s roster but is integrated in a way that makes her feel like a big part of the experience. Patty makes her first appearance in the game a few hours in. As you progress, she appears a few more times in some cute and hilarious ways as she eventually joins your party.
Even after a decade, Vesperia’s battle system doesn’t feel dated. In my opinion, even the previous titles, including Tales of Destiny, Tales of Eternia, Tales of Symphonia and Tales of Abyss, all still hold up quite well. Vesperia uses the “Evolved Flex-Range Linear Motion Battle System,” which gives players the ability to jump and run around the battlefield smoothly in real time. Each character has a unique fighting style, and with four characters, you can bring the nine characters who join your party into battle. The combinations are endless and let you create some pretty unique combos. You aren’t stuck to using one character either as you are also able to switch out between your party members during battle, or you can team up with your friends, as each one can control a different character through a local four-player multiplayer option.
I really enjoy how simple yet deep the game gets with its battle system. Using Artes requires TP, and while you can combo into them, later in the game you are able to link your Artes by equipping different skills. By equipping different weapons each character can learn different skills that can be equipped by spending skill points. These can really make a difference in fights, since they offer various benefits such as enhancing your character’s defense, increasing health, and cutting cast times to name a few.
If you are new to the Tales series, Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition would be an excellent introduction. The series has such a rich history, and Vesperia is easily one of the best entries in its 24-year existende. This isn’t just a simple port. It goes far beyond that. The enhanced visuals help the 10-year-old title look fantastic. Everything about the game is pretty smooth. However, I did notice a bit of slowdown during some skits, but nothing that took away from the enjoyment.
Overall, Bandai Namco Entertainment took a game that was already excellent and made it even better. If you love JRPGs, Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition is a must play as well as a great way to start the year, which is already full of some must-play titles. I played the game on the Nintendo Switch, and honestly, I think it’s easily the best way to enjoy Tales of Vesperia as it’s just as much fun to play in handheld mode as it is in docked mode.
Also, Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition includes various costumes that you can equip on your characters; some of which were only available as DLC, and a few are brand new to this version. Being able to dress up your characters in various costumes is fun, especially when some include various Bandai/Namco characters and a few costumes from other Tales of games.
Either way, any version you get of Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition will be an excellent experience, and hopefully it leads to Bandai Namco Entertainment releasing HD Remakes of older Tales of titles like Tales of Destiny, Tales of Phantasia, and possibly bringing the actual Tales of Destiny 2 over to the West.