About Tales of Phantasia


Super Nintendo Release

Front of the box for the SNES version Japanese box front
Back of the box for the SNES version Japanese box back

Tales of Phantasia is a Super Nintendo RPG by Namco, released in Japan in December of 1995. This version of the game never officially left Japan. However, in January of 2001, an unofficial fan-based English translation was released by DeJap Translations. This made it possible for us to experience Tales of Phantasia completely in English through video game emulation.

Scan of GamePro preview GamePro's preview

Tales of Phantasia was the first RPG for the SNES to feature a full-length J-Pop song and full voice acting (in battle). Furthermore, the battle system is none like anyone had experienced before. They take place in a separate battle sequence like in any other RPG, but it plays like a 2D version of Secret of Mana. Tales of Phantasia was never officially released in North America because they felt RPGs weren't popular enough at the time and that it wouldn't be worth it. I have a scan from the November 1995 issue of GamePro previewing Tales of Phantasia (view it to the left). I suppose a North American release was considered at one point.

Tales of Phantasia has a fascinating history about the fact that it was stolen! Yes, you heard me right - Namco stole the idea for Tales of Phantasia. This story is explained in detail in the following video: Name STOLE Tales? The History of Tales of Phantasia.

PlayStation 1 Release

Front of the case for the PSX version Japanese case front
Back of the case for the PSX version Japanese case back

In December of 1998, Namco released a remade Tales of Phantasia for the Sony PlayStation 1 in Japan. Like the SNES version, this version also never left Japan. However, on Christmas Day in December of 2007, the unofficial fan-based English translation was released! This was thanks to the efforts by throughhim413 and Gemini of Absolute Zero Translations. It wasn't 100% translated, though. In December of 2012, Phantasian Productions released a 100% complete English fan-translation.

Namco gave this PlayStation 1 release a huge overhaul! Practically everything was remade: graphics, animation, soundtrack, etc. They even recreated the world map in full 3D! Suzu became a playable character, Chester has techs, Klarth can summon Pluto instead of Chameleon, Arche's annoying death spells are replaced with attack magic spells, Mint gets a new voice actress, there are new side-quests, and there are all-new sprites for all characters! It's pretty exciting.

Game Boy Advance Release

Front of the box for the GBA version NA box

In August of 2003, Namco released Tales of Phantasia for the Game Boy Advance in Japan. Because of the success of the recently released “Tales of” titles, Namco finally decided to officially release this game in North America/Europe three years later in March 2006 (sheesh, three years later!).

This GBA version mixes elements from the original SNES version and the remade PSX version. Klarth can summon both Chameleon and Pluto. The character sprites and skills were taken from the PSX version. Suzu is a playable character. There are all-new side-quests not found in either the SNES or PSX versions.

Tales of Phantasia: The Animation

Cless and company in The Animation

As most of us are into anime, it's a dream come true whenever an anime series is created based on a popular RPG. In late 2004, almost a decade after Tales of Phantasia's SNES release, the classic gaming community was shocked to hear about a Tales of Phantasia anime series in the works. It was officially released in North America in January 2007 (of course, fansubs were leaked before this date).

The expectations of RPG fans were met! This anime series was very well made and gorgeous. The only unfortunate thing about it is that with only four episodes it's a short series. If you want to learn more, I have a whole section dedicated to Tales of Phantasia: The Animation.

Sony PSP Release

Suzu summoning a frog The new sprites

In September of 2006, another remake of Tales of Phantasia was released! This time for the Sony PSP, called Tales of Phantasia ~ Full Voice Edition. This version of the game is largely based upon the PlayStation 1 release and contains completely redone voice acting which is now used for most story events. There are also new battle sprites for the main characters that are more on par with those of later games in the series, such as Tales of Eternia. They also added a grading system, also from later games of the series. Click here to view some screenshots from the game.

Unfortunately, this PSP version never left Japan, and an English fan-translation is not available. People say the reason why it was never brought over was because Nintendo still held the license for the English version of Tales of Phantasia in North America & Europe.

iOS Release

This was bizarre. So in January of 2014, Bandai Namco released a version of Tales of Phantasia for iOS in North America. It was a port of the PlayStation 1 version. It added touch-screen controls, achievements, and leader boards. It also included voice-overs and improved animations. However, Bandai Namco took it down from the app store after a few months. They apologized for the inconvenience. They never gave a reason as to why they removed it. While some enjoyed the game, others were frustrated with its monetizing system. It was free-to-play but ramped up the difficulty level with in-app purchases in mind. Click here for some screenshots.


Four brave souls challenge the source of all the evil

Once upon a time in a fantasy world plagued by war, a group of four brave souls challenge the source of all the evil. It seemed all was lost until one of the heroes defeated the enemy with a powerful spell. The four heroes were able to seal this great evil to be forgotten forever - or so they thought.

Sending children to another time

The next scene in this story takes place years later with the children of those who sealed away the great evil. The sealing was accomplished by combining the power of two pendants. A foolish dark knight is somehow tricked into stealing the pendants, to break the seal that conceals the great evil. He defeated the heroes and kidnapped their children. With the two pendants in hand, he broke the great evil's seal.

A remaining hero sends the children to another time so that, maybe, the world will have another chance. What will become of the children? How could they possibly defeat someone that their parents could only seal away? Who is the great evil and what is his purpose? Only time will tell as they venture on into several strange, yet familiar worlds.

Battle System

An early battle

In Tales of Phantasia, you have the typical random battles like in any other RPG but with a twist. The battles are real-time yet with action RPG features (like in the Seiken Densetsu series). Each character has their special skill. Cless (or Cress in the GBA version) has his real-time fighting skill, Mint can use healing magic (also called Mana), Klarth (or Claus in the GBA version) can summon spirits, and Arche can use attack magic. Hence, Cless is the only one with fighting skills while everyone else plays the supportive role with magic.

At default, the characters automatically cast their magic randomly in battle. You have the option to disable any spell from being randomly cast so you can save their TP (task points). You have complete control over Cless but you can pause the battle any time. At any time you give a command to one of your characters to cast a spell, or you can use an item.

Cless's Skills

There are several different ways you can have Cless attack. He learns tons of special attacks throughout the game. At a given time, only up to four special attacks can be assigned to Cless for battle. Like with magic, his special attacks consume TP as well. If you have Cless attack while he is far away then he will run towards the enemy, hit them, and run back. If you press down while he runs then he'll stab the enemy. If you have Cless walk up to the enemy then he can attack them several times.

Cless's four slots for special attacks are split up into 2 categories: long-range and short-range. When Cless is far away from the target, press B to initiate one special attack and press Up + B to initiate the other. And when Cless is close to the enemy then those same buttons will initiate his short-range attacks. And to run away from a battle, get Cless to one of the ends of the battlefield and press either the L or R button (depending on which side of the battlefield it is). If Cless is defeated, you can still escape with your other party members.

My Opinion

The Super Nintendo version

No question about it - Tales of Phantasia is one of the best RPGs on the SNES! It's up there with Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 6. The graphics and animation are so detailed that you'd swear you're playing a PlayStation 1 game. The soundtrack is so good I still listen to it today. The story is so interesting I don't skip dialogue when I replay the game.

The battle system is my favorite part of the game. With the wide range of attacks/abilities available along with a fair amount of challenge, the game remains highly entertaining even years after my initial playthrough. The battles are so much fun. And the game doesn't get repetitive. If you ever feel that it does get repetitive, you can mix things up and select different attacks.

Cless's reflection in the water

What continues to amaze me is the amount of detail in the game. If you walk toward a musical band in a town, the game's music will slowly transition to the band's music as you walk closer to them. As you walk through a cave you'll see lizards and bats moving around. When you walk across the side of a river or lake, you'll see your reflection in the water. Birds are always flying by - even during battle!

I can't recommend Tales of Phantasia enough. It's a classic that never gets old. Its overall beauty is so blissful and relaxing. I'll repeat, Tales of Phantasia is up there with Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 6. Seriously. Even today in gaming communities, people are still talking about it. It helps that people have the option to play either the SNES, PSX, or GBA version. Whatever your flavor, you can experience Tales of Phantasia in all its glory!

The PlayStation 1 version

I haven't fully played this version. So far I can tell you that it's fantastic. It's a pleasure to re-experience the graphics and animation that I love from the SNES version in improved 32-bit; plus mixed with 3D effects.

As for the remade soundtrack, I have mixed feelings about it. There are several songs that I prefer in the SNES soundtrack because the instruments made the song 'stronger'. The PSX soundtrack is generally softer and subdued. You can listen to the differences for yourself on this site's Music page. I embedded the same selection of MP3s perversion of Tales of Phantasia, so that you can easily preview how each song sounds.

On FantasyAnime's social media, I've posted about Tales of Phantasia a lot and have absorbed every one's opinions throughout the years. I can easily say that this PlayStation 1 version is widely regarded as the best version of Tales of Phantasia (that is, the best version you can play in English). I still hold the SNES version in high regard. But yet, for those of you who are new to Tales of Phantasia, the PlayStation 1 version is the version you should play.

The Game Boy Advance version

The bloated battle sprites

Bleh. I am not a fan of the Game Boy Advance version. It's heavily watered-down! The lesser quality is most obvious when you view the battle animations and hear the soundtrack. Tales of Phantasia's soundtrack is one of my most favorites. To hear it watered-down like this hurts my ears. The battles feel slower; as if the GBA is having a hard time running the game. I don't like that they used the battle sprites from the PSX version because they feel too big for the screen. They look bloated and they irritate me.

The North American release removed the J-Pop song and credits from the opening. The bland English voice acting doesn't get my adrenaline pumping at all. Several aspects of background detail were removed. For example, birds no longer fly in the background and your reflection no longer shows in water. And then there's the usual Nintendo censorship of all hints of sex and violence. Overall, I am extremely dissatisfied with this version. I don't recommend it.

Other Games

Direct Sequels (Japan-only)

NARIKIRI DUNGEON (Game Boy Color) - Tales of Phantasia: Narikiri Dungeon was released for Game Boy Color in November of 2000 in Japan. It has a turn-based battle system that looks similar to Tales of Phantasia. The dungeons in the game are randomly generated, similar to the Mysterious Dungeon game series.

SUMMONER'S LINEAGE (Game Boy Advance) - Tales of the World: Summoner's Lineage is another sequel to Tales of Phantasia. It is a turn-based strategy RPG released on GBA in 2003 in Japan, featuring Klarth's descendants.


TALES OF SYMPHONIA (GameCube, PlayStation 2) - This is the title released in North America in the summer of 2004 (Gamecube only). Official sources have confirmed that it's set in the same universe as Tales of Phantasia, and fans have found many references to the SNES classic in Tales of Symphonia, which leads many to believe that Tales of Symphonia is set about 4,000 years before Tales of Phantasia.

Cross-overs (mostly Japan-only)

TALES OF ETERNIA/ TALES OF DESTINY II (PSX) - In this game, Cless is featured in a cameo battle in the coliseum. The name Tales of Destiny II is only for the North American release. The real Tales of Destiny 2 released on PS2 does not feature cameos from Tales of Phantasia.

TALES OF FANDOM VOL.1 (PSX) - A puzzle game featuring various characters from the Tales series, including Chester, Cless, Ami, etc.

NARIKIRI DUNGEON 2 (Game Boy Advance) - Tales of the World: Narikiri Dungeon 2 was released in October of 2002 in Japan. It features all characters from Tales of Phantasia, Tales of Destiny, and Tales of Eternia. The battle system of Nakiri Dungeon 2 is similar to Tales of Eternia's battle system, but only with three characters instead of four.

NARIKIRI DUNGEON 3 (Game Boy Advance) - Tales of the World: Narikiri Dungeon 3 was released in 2005 in Japan. Same as part 2, except Nakiri Dungeon 3 also includes all characters from Tales of Destiny 2 and Tales of Symphonia, and 2 characters from Tales of Rebirth. The battle system is similar to Narikiri Dungeon 2, except that its movement system in dungeons is similar to a strategy game.