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While it may not be as well known as Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, the Tales series has been going strong for more than 10 years. Its biggest claim to fame has always been its super-exciting battle system that actually lets you move your character around and attack the enemy from any side. The encounters are still sort of random, but there's much less menu surfing and a lot more spell casting. From what we've seen of Radiant Mythology, the first PSP Tales game to hit the US, it should encapsulate everything that makes the franchise stand apart from other RPGs on the market.
Radiant Mythology is more quest-based than previous Tales titles, meaning it's not like, say, Tales of Symphonia where you follow one storyline until the end. You create a totally unique main character and guide him/her through the entire quest via missions accepted in various ways. There is an overarching story that connects some of the missions together, though a vast percentage of the quests are optional (about 300 total). The better you do in each increases your fame ranking, however, and you need higher fame to progress the story.
Character creation isn't a new idea by any means, but this is the first Tales game that ditches the idea of a main protagonist. Instead, your generated hero will take on any look you desire, with multiple options in face, skin, voice and fighting class. It's sort of like Monster Hunter in that regard. Seeing as this user-unique character won't exist until you make him, you're mostly silent throughout the game - a fluffy little companion serves as your voice and participates in the series' staple boxed-out conversation bubbles.
There are 10 classes in Radiant, beginning with priest, mage, warrior and thief. As with Final Fantasy III, you can switch class at any time but have to climb the ranks from level one as each new job becomes available. Elite classes will open up after you've progressed far enough, plus you'll gain access to better party members as you gain levels - before each mission you have to recruit a new party of four, but excellent fighters will only flock to those of high fame and advanced level. The outset will be filled with ho-hum partners, but the more successful missions you land, the more competent followers you'll attract. The real treat is, if you're good enough, you'll attract characters from past Tales games - or even fight them.
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