They've Turned A Classic JRPG Into An Always-Online, Free-To-Play Joke

They've Turned A Classic JRPG Into An Always-Online, Free-To-Play Joke

Last week Namco Bandai quietly released the English version of classic 1995 JRPG Tales of Phantasia onto iTunes. It's just like the fully-voiced PSP version of the game, only with sloppy touch controls, in-app purchases, fewer save points and an always-online requirement. Can we not do this?

I am all for publishers bringing classic games to mobile devices. Why should the emulation crowd have all the fun? It's easy enough to take a game like Tales of Phantasia, tweak the controls, maybe add in some simple new features and release it unto the world anew. Just make sure the added features are the ones players want.

An always-online requirement is not one of those features.

In order to play Tales of Phantasia on iOS, you have to be connected to the internet. The game will not play or save without an active internet connection. It's constantly querying the network, which means your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch is using more juice (and bandwidth) than it should.

What are the benefits of an online requirement for a single-player role-playing game? Well, there's the login bonuses.

They've Turned A Classic JRPG Into An Always-Online, Free-To-Play Joke

That, and it helps ensure no one abuses the game's in-app purchase system.

We're introduced to in-app purchases during the game's first mini boss fight. A wild boar appears and completely decimates the two-man party. But wait, Maria gave players a Miracle Orb, a special item that allows them to resurrect in mid-battle with greatly-enhanced stats!

They've Turned A Classic JRPG Into An Always-Online, Free-To-Play Joke

Some players — experienced players — might have no problem navigating the game without resorting to purchasing power-ups. They'll have no issue with the incredibly over-sensitive, untweakable movement controls. They'll acclimate themselves to the odd battle system, which asks the player to touch certain portions of the screen to perform certain attacks, but does not clearly indicate those portions on the display. Those players will be fine. Everybody else, hold on to your wallets.

Nearly two decades later, Tales of Phantasia is still an amazing game. Control issues aside, I'd gladly play a premium price for an offline version of this port.

But that's not what we've got here. Namco Bandai has taken a beloved classic and twisted it into something borderline evil. Let's hope they aren't planning to make a habit of it.


    Is it me, or has most news from Japan in the last few years usually been along the lines of "turned into a joke"?

    Last edited 29/01/14 12:04 pm

      I hear you Neo, I hear you.

        Hey! Who's interested in FF6 on iOS which freezes when Kefka meets Leo?


    Always online for a game almost 10 years old...?


    This is pretty much indefensibly terrible.

    That's really disappointing, but not at all surprising :(

    What the heck? My comment is awaiting moderation? My comments haven't said that in a long time :S What changed?

    OH WTF?!

    Is this some kind of a damn sad joke? A lot of people were asking for the PSP rerelease a while back because it was considered the "complete" version w/ the added Suzu side quests. So years later what do we get? This POS micro transaction always online crap? GOD DAMN YOU NAMCO BANDAI!

    I don't get it... Sure it's always online and includes optional in-app purchases. It's also a free PSP game.

      It's always online for a game that was never online to begin with, meaning they're jamming in "features" that the game never should have had to begin with. Then there's the fact that it being always-online means that it continuously drains your phone's battery... something that should never happen when a game, especially one that was originally intended to be played single player without online components, is a single-player game on the go. To add insult to injury, the in-app purchase popups also ruin the immersion.

        Er, oops. Didnt' finish.

        Furthermore, they made the enemies harder and removed save points because they are trying to give people more incentive to buy stuff with in-game money. Again: They ruined the balance in the game specifically to drain money from players. That's completely inexcusable for a game that was never designed nor never needed that sort of crap.

    As I've read, it looks like how a SNES classic should on iOS (Pay attention Square Enix) however is tweaked to be a wallet abusing mobile app. A disguised JPRPG Candy Crush.

    The setting has also been locked to the highest difficulty and some saves have been removed all together.

    So, if you're a pro who loves the game- you're going to love this. If you're not, hold on to your wallet for dear life.

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