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Tales of Phantasia (PlayStation 1) English localization
A week after Tales of Phantasia's third anniversary (December 15th, 1998), Namco followed up Tales of Destiny (the second Tales game) with a ground-up, enhanced remake of Phantasia running on an updated version of Destiny's engine for the Sony PlayStation system.

Given the incredibly short three-year span in between versions, Namco must've felt the aging SNES was not capable of doing their creation justice, despite it being one of the most technically impressive games on the console.

In 2003, a poor-quality port of the game that mixes parts of the SNES and PS1 versions was released for the GBA. This was localized by Namco Bandai Games USA and published by Nintendo of America in 2006.

Some of the many differences over the SNES version:

  • Cooking replaces the completely useless Food Sack system.
  • A more interesting character title system. Everyone earns new ones now, instead of just Cless. While for the most part they have no effect on gameplay, they are fun to earn. Especially those earned through events.
  • A greatly refined battle system:
    • Easier to control
    • Assign artes to directionals and execute them anywhere, anytime. No more range frustration.
    • Real combos. You can link regular attacks to a base arte and link arcane artes from a base arte to pound your enemies into the ground.
    • Blocking, Manual control, 4-person multiplayer, shortcutting, adjustable difficulty and more!
  • Suzu, a new playable character.
  • Chester has artes now, making him much more useful.
  • Skit system which fleshes out the story and characters even further.
  • Additional sidequests and dungeons.
  • Revised storyline script with additional character interaction and detail.
  • Better graphics: more colorful and detailed. Larger, more colorful enemies, and the character sprites now resemble the official Kosuke Fujishima artwork.
For an even more in-depth breakdown, check out my ancient SNES/PS1 version differences FAQ. It's still missing a lot of stuff and is even wrong in a few places, but is still fairly useful.

Advantages over the GBA version:

  • Faster and more fluid battles; no slowdown and animates buttery smooth at a constant 60 frames per second.
  • Possibility of up to 4-person multiplayer.
  • Battle controls not compromised by fewer buttons.
  • Revised storyline script with additional character interaction and detail.
  • Skit system which fleshes out the story and characters even further.
  • Exclusive sidequests and dungeons.
  • Better graphics: richer palette that isn't washed out, and more detailed tile work.
So...what's the verdict? I feel it was very awesome for its time and crushes the original and the GBA port quite handily. So do most Tales fans. Obviously, I felt it was good enough to take a localization project into my own hands, and keep it alive for so many years. There are a few weirdos out there who still swear by the original, but I'll never be able to understand them (nostalgia?)... Personally, I think it hasn't stood the test of time and is nearly unplayable after getting used to newer Tales series installments. The GBA version is just technically awful and missing some key stuff that makes it very difficult to enjoy. This one is showing quite a bit of age itself now, but I find it far more enjoyable to play.


Releases
Current release:
Pre-version 1.1 fix 1 (Released: 1/9/2012)

Old releases:
Version 1.0 (full patch) (Released: 12/31/2012)
Demo Patch (Released: 8/13/2009)

Patches are in xdelta format, and are intended to only work with a perfect, clean dump of the game. Click here for patching instructions and troubleshooting.

Patching software:
xdelta UI for Windows (recommended)

ToPPatcher for Windows
ToPPatcher for Linux
ToPPatcher source because it's GPLed

If you must use ToPPatcher, know that it does not allow you to select the patch file. It expects the patch to be named "top.patch" and be included in the same directory as the application. So rename the .xdelta file included with the full patch to that and make sure it's in the appropriate place.

Project News (12/31/2012)
Patch version 1.0 has been released.

Progress (as of 12/31/2012)
Percentages (unless 0% or 100%) are only an approximation and should be taken with a grain of salt.

ASM program hacking:100%
Menu text translation:100%
Menu text editing:100%
Script/skit translation:100%/100%
Script/skit editing:100%/100%
Reverse Engineering:100%
Graphic editing:100%

Main staff / Credits
Avarice:Script proofreader
_Bnu:Script translation (~5%)
Cless:Lead, coordination, reverse engineering, ASM hacking, script editing, utility programming, and whatever else there is...
Cyllya:Script translation (~70%), Skit translation (~50%)
CzarDragon:Memory card screen ASM hack, some reverse-engineering
gogs:Consultant
Klarth:Main utility programmer (text extraction/insertion/formatting, font editing, data extraction/rebuilding)
Habilain:Main ASM hacker (dual-tile encoding, skit subtitles, prologue+battle subtitles, unlimited text characters on-screen, artes and battle menu column hacks, five lines in dialogue, World Map menu enhancements, and assistance with smaller ASM hacks)
Hino Rei:Script translation (the final ~20%), skit translation (100%), menu translation (a retranslation), and other translation-related assistance. He also checked the work of the previous translators and corrected numerous errors.
Lina`chan+Filia:Kanji for script table (majority)
nusakan0:Main script editor
Orphis:Updated single file compressor
Shinhoshi:Script translation (~5%), menu translation
Skeud:ASM hacking (variable-width fonts)
Sirius9:Script editing, beta testing

Non-staff Credits
_Demo_:Wrote decompressors
Chess Piece Face:Kanji for script table
Cless Aileron:Pre-alpha and beta testing
DeJap/Dark Force:Permission to use the Bahamut Lagoon 8x8 font.
deltaflame:12x12 kanji input (remaining)
Demon000:Elemental orb icons, "Z" for the CUSTOMIZE option on title menu
frobnoid:Original single file compressor
Gavionne:Dialogue font hacking assistance
Haeleth:Title translation assistance
Ian Kelley:Title translation assistance
Kajitani-Eizan:Elemental orb icons
Kogahazan:Beta testing
LenaAndreia:Elemental orb icons
Namco Bandai:Tales of Destiny Yes/No cloud graphics, localized legacy text
satsu:12x12 kanji input, dialogue table kanji corrections
throughhim413:Beta testing
Thundercles:Elemental orb icons
Yetika Klaine:Minor translator, some unused graphics

Special thanks also go to all those who have offered help.

New features and additions
During free time while we awaited various other things to happen in the project, we decided to try implementing some small enhancements and additions over the original game. Notable items include:

Skits and prologue battle are subtitled

A case of adding text...where none even existed before. Extensive hacks have allowed us to subtitle the prologue battle and all the skits in the game! Perhaps a standard thing to expect in a translation, but hey, adding something like this is no easy task. Not considered a part of the bonus in the ASM hacking progress.

Even more subtitling!

"What now, there's more to be subititled?" you're thinking, right? The answer is yes! We've gone out of our way to subtitle things that aren't usually subtitled in games like this.

First thing may seem rather minor: There are voice clips played when using the Cooking feature. Most characters only have one voice clip, and a couple of them have two, for a total of eight clips. We subtitled them, regardless of how small this may seem. Makes it all a little more complete!

And an even bigger thing. Something that frequently bugs me when it comes to translated RPGs and leaving the voices in Japanese: The battle voices are just a bunch of gibberish noise to the untrained ear. Nuances and dialogue completely lost. Some of it can be rather amusing...and it was always intended for you to understand it. We have attempted to rectify this problem as best as we could--by subbing even the battle voices! When you win the battle, use a shortcut, have an ally fall on you, well...you'll know what's being said! And if this feature sounds like it could get annoying or distracting, we've even added an option to the Customize menu for you to turn it off.

Of note, later Tales games have a lot more battle voice clips than the older ones, so ToP's are pretty simple. There's no conversing between characters at all.

Choose your arte names

While this may not seem like an original idea to most people not directly involved with the project, we totally understand that the arte names are a sensitive issue among some Tales fans. While I've grown accustomed to the naming convention that has risen with the official English releases, not everyone has. Therefore, we present you three naming options:

LOCALIZED: This is the default, and the official list we would have used if we did not add this feature. Nearly all arte names follow the most recent naming conventions used in official English Tales games. There are a few exceptions.

TRANSLITERATED: For those who just can't part with the original Japanese names of the moves, this simply uses the romanizations of the Japanese move names for Cless, Chester, Suzu, AND the cameo battle opponent. In addition, all spell names follow the original Japanese for the few that were modified (i.e. Explode instead of Explosion, Piko Piko Hammer instead of Pow Pow Hammer, etc).

CULTURAL: This is the same as Localized, except for one difference. Maybe you feel translated arte names make sense for likes of Cless and Chester, given their European-like heritage. But then you have Suzu, who is a Ninja, from the game's mini-Japan. Maybe hers being romanized just feels a tad more... authentic? With this option, you have the power to make it so! This is perhaps our favored option. Becomes available when Suzu joins the party.

The name selector has been seamlessly added to the Customize menu for easy toggling in the middle of the game. The setting is also written to your save file.

Additional difficulties

For the seasoned hardcore! We've added two more tiers of difficulty past the Mania rank, named by the legacy terms Unknown and God (previously known as DOOM). While Mania may be plenty hard for most gamers, Unknown, and especially, God modes are there for those looking for a grisly death. They become available after completing the game once, along with Mania.

Unknown is 4x HP, and 1.75x other stats. God mode is 5x HP, and 2x other stats. I also swear that enemies seem more aggressive, tend to deliver critical hits quite frequently, and stun you easily. Are you up for the challenge?

In a [futile?] attempt to make the new difficulties more "fair," we've implemented experience multipliers if you win a battle in those modes. You will be awarded 5x experience points if a battle is won in Unknown, and 10x in God. Experience payout for the original difficulty modes is unchanged. We did this because it seems like a near requirement in newer Tales games to enable a multiplier via Grade Shop if you want to take on the insane difficulty modes without needing to grind forever (or just stay relatively sane). Battles also take much longer to finish because of all the extra HP enemies have, so you are well compensated for the time spent.

Begin the game with a Technical Ring

Cless starts the game with a Technical Ring equipped in his first accessory slot. This will enable Manual control mode from the get-go. Originally, you don't have access to this item until an arbitrary point around eight to ten hours into the game. We felt that this was frustrating to players who are much more comfortable with that mode than Semi-Auto. ToP PS1 is now a very old game in the series, and all of the games that followed it allowed Manual control either right at the beginning or within the first hour of gameplay. So in essence, we feel we're modernizing an archaic convention by allowing this. If you feel this is cheating, you can choose not to use the item's functionality, and it cannot be sold to a shop for extra money.

Dhaos in Monster Book

We never really understood the point of him NOT appearing in the Monster Book menu. Regardless, final bosses always appeared in the Monster Books of later games in the series, so we feel this is another case of modernizing the game a bit more. We reversed-engineered the menu's code and data to make this possible.

This clears up any potential confusion in obtaining Klarth's Monster Hunter title. Even if you've managed to encounter the 233/233 monsters the original game told you during a first playthrough, Klarth will *not* earn the title! This is because the game also counts the Dhaos encounters in that figure.

Alphabetically-sorted Monster Book

The monsters originally appeared in a Japanese phonetic order in the Monster Book to make it easy to find the monster you want to look up. When the monster names are translated to English, it gets very weird. We have remedied this issue by reverse-enginnering the sorting logic the game uses, and all monsters appear in #-Z order, making it easy for you to find a monster, too!

Monster Book name bugfix

There's a feature in the game where the name of the Monster Book menu changes as you encounter more monsters. Well, supposedly. Unfortunately, that feature was bugged up bad in the original game! I guess it was an easy thing to miss in a beta test. We fixed it to make it work as we believe it was intended.

Tripled message speeds

Probably every single window of dialogue in the English version contains more text characters than the Japanese version. When limited to the original text speeds, it takes longer print out a full text box. The fastest speed became only barely adequate and the rest totally unbearable. This makes text printing at the fastest speed extremely snappy and the slower speeds more usable for those who don't want it that fast.

Our approach to this game's English text
A semi-liberal, semi-conservative localization; conservative where it matters, liberal where it doesn't. Arguably, most fan translation projects based on various forms of entertainment media try to be just that; translations; using a mostly literal approach or something quite close to it. This project is an attempt to emulate a professional, industry-style localization, but with the love, care, and attention you'd probably expect of a quality fan project.

Why localization? We feel there is little benefit to translating the majority of the game's text literally or semi-literally. After all, Tales games officially released in the US are quite heavily Americanized, and with the content of the game not really being heavily rooted in Japanese culture or mythology, it just makes the most sense.

Tales of Phantasia has a painfully boring dialogue script. Translated directly, it is sounds very dry, wooden, and soulless. Plus, Japanese tends to be a lot less direct than English, so many lines come off seemingly unclear and incomplete for no good reason. To make the writing work better in English, we attempted to carefully color it in with versatility of the language, interpolate with logical details and add more transitional phrases to improve flow, and use reasonable amounts of extrapolation to give it more character or completely replace lines that just don't work or flow well.

We consider this approach very fair. It is not our intention to alter the story or character backgrounds as we see fit. We are being very careful not to mess with the lore and mythos of the game's world or change significant story or character details. We're just livening things up a little more than they were presented via translation to make it much more accessible and enjoyable, as it was intended. However, it is also not our intention to add things like forced-sounding, blunt juvenile humor for cheap laughs, or forced-sounding hyperbole of various lines. That stuff just comes off as unprofessional. We just want the text to sound like normal English, like it was written in this language to begin with.

A few differences notwithstanding, our goal is to by and large make this project feel like a lost, official Namco Bandai localization, only without dubbed voice acting, censored or cut content, and with more effort put into it than was put into their own localization of the Game Boy Advance version (Nintendo only published it. Namco handled the localization, but outsourced the text translation and voice acting to cheaper third parties than their usual partners for the console Tales games).

Tales of Phantasia takes place within the universe as Tales of Symphonia and Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World. Though the connections are largely minor, they are there, and we feel that translating the shared terminology differently would be a huge disservice to fans of the series in English (including me; Cless). We want all the little links fully intact. Even the official GBA localization failed to hit all of them properly. Perhaps the budget just wasn't enough for them to care.

A couple very minor exceptions to the Symphonia continuity rule:

Torent Forest. This location's name was mistransliterated. As far as I know it was an admitted mistake by one of its translators, and shouldn't have otherwise happened. We have corrected this to Treant Forest in our ToP project, as it was meant to be. They are still the same place in both games. The Treant monster was also affected by this little mistake. It was, however, corrected in Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World.

Summon Spirit: In the Symphonia game localizations, the Spirits are all referred to as Summon Spirits. In a gameplay sense, it works. But as a story term, it just sounds very cheesy and pointlessly dumbs things down. It also comes off as very clumsy in many places. We are just using Spirit, which should be close enough to not be a dealbreaker to any sane continuity fans.

One very touchy subject is main character names. It took way too long for ToP to get released in any form in the west. By the time it came out, most of the hardcore fanbase was well and used to the original, Japanese-official English transliterations of the main characters' names. For these purely sentimental reasons, we've opted to use the Japanese names for the defaults.

Screen shots






Work-in-progress screens through the years, almost like a history as the project unfolded:
2009
2008
2007
2006
2004-2005
2000-2002

Contact / FAQ / Additional project info
Okay guys, listen up. READ this section before firing off an email. It is very annoying when people ask questions about things which are clearly answered by reading a bit. Any questions asked that are answered in this section will definitely be ignored.

Will you be using the PSP version character sprites?

NO. NO. NO. STOP ASKING. We only used them in a test patch.

Why did it take so long!?

Because everyone involved with this project is a VOLUNTEER, each with their own personal schedules. Even with free time, they're only obligated to work on it when they're in the mood. We strive to do very high-quality jobs; we are not the game fan translation equivalents of "speed subbers."

Where can I get the game?

Well, that's a toughie now, seeing as no online shops that stock it anymore. But there are three options for obtaining used copies that I know of:

The data on the disc of the original version and PlayStation The Best reprint is identical. A disc image from either version will function with our patch.

DO NOT ask us for a site to download it from. We won't tell you.

Can I help with this project in any way?

Are you a writer? 'Cause we're always looking for more ways to improve the script writing. If you think can provide a meaningful improvement over what we have without drastically altering meaning for a future patch, I'm all ears.

What about voice actors? Are you going to dub the game's voices into English?

Nope. Way too hard for a number of reasons.

The PS1 version is old news. Are you going to do any of the PSP versions?

Not unless there's a drastic improvement in the PSP debugging tool situation. The sad fact is, the PSP versions will require just as much hacking as the PS1 version did. And we just can't do something of this magnitude all over again without good debugging tools.

Absolute Zero already released a translation of this version, so why did you bother with this?
  • Our project actually started long before theirs. We were on year seven when they announced it. We weren't even close to abandoning it when it was announced, either; in fact, we were actively working on it and just starting to make new, major milestone progress!
  • Different end goals; we wanted a localized patch in the vein of the official US Tales localizations, both consistent with common terminology and similarity in writing style. Something people familiar with official US localizations could appreciate and feel at home with. Absolute Zero attempted to take the "direct" translation approach with minimal localization editing while generally ignoring the conventions of officially localized Tales.
  • We had already put thousands of man-hours of work into it. It was not in our interest to make that all count for nothing by throwing it all away.

Contact information

If you have a question about something not listed, contact me here. Any messages asking questions which are answered here will NOT receive a response.

SPONSOR LINKS
Play-Asia.com

Play-Asia is an import store with with a large catalog that includes Tales games and merchandise, as well as various other video game and anime-related goods.


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