The anime style character designs scream RPG.

I don't understand how all those magazines can complain about ToD's graphics.

The game's battle system.

The animated intro is beautiful.

Tales of Destiny

In Tales of Destiny, you are Stahn Aileron, a stowaway on a giant dragon ship. In this flying machine, Stahn finds a mysterious sword (that talks and gains experience) and soon becomes involved in a quest to save the planet. Sounds pretty basic, but the game manages to throw in well-developed characters that add depth to the story.

Along with the strong plot, the game manages to add little bits of comedy just as everything begins to get too serious. The game opens with a lengthy animation sequence containing some of the best-drawn anime that Iíve seen in a while in a game. Unfortunately, you wont see any more of this brilliance until the end of the game (but at least I can count on Lunar: SSS to give plenty of it when it comes out next month).

The music that accompanies the intro sounds beautiful, and the in-game music always fits the mood. The sound effects are crisp and include voices for each character. During battles, each character calls out the name of his/her technique or spell, which make the action more enjoyable. There's even a sound test option at the title screen that lets you hear the 1000+ sound effects and all the songs. I just wish more companies would get off their butts and do the same!

Perhaps the best part of the game are the battles themselves, which take place with SDCs (super deformed characters, for those of you who are new to this). The player has the option of controlling Stahn, or setting him to auto mode (which takes the fun out of the battles). No turn-based fighting here. During the fights, you can make Stahn run around and block or attack at will. Enemies that get hit become stunned for a split second (as do your characters). The rest of your party (up to three other characters) act according to the strategy you chose. Each character will then attack with special moves, spells, or basic attacking techniques. For Stahn, each is set to a combination of buttons on the controller. The best part about this is the ability to get off powerful combos against your foes by timing the attacks of just a couple of characters; of course, the more characters the more hits. There is even an item that tells you how many hits you managed on your combo (much like in some fighting games)!

Running is available while in towns, etc., even though the walking speed itself is faster than most other games. In addition, you can set the button layout on your controller for maximum control. Sweet little options like setting text background color, and switching formation during battle give the game that extra boost. You also get to move objects around while walking about. The only bad thing is the world map, which is done in some weird 3-D style.

This game is recommended for all role-playing fans as well as newcomers because of its variety. I leave you now with two words: Ice Tornado!

Hernan the Eternal Champion