Games: Tales of Vesperia finally sees the light of day in the Queen's English
Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition (PS4)
By: Bandai Namco
GIVEN their history and a gulf in quality, American electronics traditionally sell in Japan about as well as Union Jacks on the Falls Road. So it came as no surprise when Microsoft's Xbox 360 bombed in the Land of the Rising Sun – some weeks shifting single digits.
Brief respite came, however, in 2008 when Tales of Vesperia – the latest in Bandai's brutally popular RPG series – landed on Asian shores as an Xbox exclusive. Suddenly Sony's rival was selling out as fans got their fix.
Its re-release on PS3 – a more comfortable home for this sort of malarkey – never left Japan, leaving Western JRPG junkies to either go cold turkey or fanny about with translations.
The Tales of... franchise has spanned 16 titles since its 1995 debut, each boasting more spiky hair, impossibly large swords and mystical flummery than the competition. Vesperia is rightfully revered as the series' high-point – a giddy far eastern adventure that stands as one of the last generation's best role-players.
To mark its 10th anniversary, Vesperia finally sees the light of day in the Queen's English, gussied up with more bells and whistles than a music shop. Yuri Lowell's adventures in Terca Lumireis are lifted above the usual stock digital fantasy with a morally questionable yet loveable cast, each with their own story to tell.
Tackling everything from political corruption to racism, the plot is a cut above, even if the actual adventuring is a polished re-run of the town-dungeon-boss formula. Light puzzle solving and hidden treasure chests break up the overworld exploration, but it's in the series' never-bettered Linear Motion Battle System where Vesperia comes into its own.
Each fight places four of your party into an arena as they square off against man and beast. Rather than turn-based stat-juggling, you'll have full control over the lead in brawls that juggle magic, weapon swinging and recovery times.
With a severe dearth of maps and clues to sidequests, however, you'll more often than not stumble into success and may well watch the credits roll having missed much of the tastiest meat.
Making the jump to full HD and running at a velvety 60fps, Vesperia's suped-up visuals are an orgy for the oculars while the inclusion of DLC, extra music tracks, new characters and togs help earn those Definitive Edition stripes.
And while die-hards will prefer Japanese audio, its extra content comes with a full English dub. The resulting hoopla is an unfettered Japanese joy that'll ensure there's meat in your seat for around 50 hours of quality questing.
The traditional JRPG has been in decline for the past decade, yet the Tales series continues to command the hardcore's attention. With charm dripping from its oxters, Vesperia is just as good today as when it caused many a Japanese gamer to splash their yen on a filthy Xbox.