Ported from the Wii, in English, and with an ‘f’ at the end. It’s ‘Tales of Graces’…bigger, badder and Tiger Festival better on your PS3.

In addition to always flying business class, dining on fine caviar and cavorting with celebrities, there are several good reasons why it’s good to be a game reviewer. For starters, you might very well possess a vivid enough imagination to conjure up said slew of imaginary perks. Second, the occasional and welcome slap upside the proverbial gaming head in realization just how awesomely robust the gaming world truly is.

See, Downtown Jimmy has this ridiculous knack of bestowing upon this reviewer the most obscure of titles (NIS America’s entire catalog, for example) in a near-endless quest to: a) produce gaming surrender and/or b) recognition of just how deep and weird the rabbit hole of game development truly is. More often than not – and with review scores to back it up – these adventures, however, produce c), unexpected entrée into entire series and studios long overdue for an introduction.

As far as first impressions go, the ‘Tales of Graces f’ entrée certainly did not rock my DualShock menu. Odd-looking anime characters combined with a promised grandiose exploration of the bonds of friendship do not make for an alluring review intro. Touché’, Downtown Jimmy; you’ve won again.

From a purely logistical level, Tales of Graces f is the Wii port of its 2009 Japanese namesake, the extra ‘f’ signifying more content and a graphics upgrade. (Who knew the potency of but one letter?) I’ve clearly been living under a J-RPG rock, as Graces f is the 12th offering of a ‘Tales’ (no ‘Sonic’ puns, please) series over 15 years in the making…a mystery to this reviewer until now. In all geologic fairness, however, Tales remains a series best known to Japanese audiences almost exclusively. Thus, consider it a small gaming miracle that Namco Bandai took the console plunge on a bona fide North American port of a Tales title.


From what the oodles of wikis dedicated to the Tales series declare, not much has changed in overall game mechanics and engine over the past decade and a half plus. J-RPG stalwarts of dualizing (combining) elements into better ones, leveling up battle and spell skills toward primo character parties, finally equipment and weapon upgrades are there for your Graces f pleasure.

What is new, however, is vital to gameplay. Graces f adjusts the series’ Artes (specialty chain) combat system a bit, opting for a Style Shift Linear Motion Battle System (SS-LiMBS) comprised of two unique fighting styles, per character. To elaborate and via real time combat, there’s both A (basic attacks) and B (more sophisticated specialty moves) combat options, rechargeable strikes which regenerate and chain following solid tactics and defense. Because we can, insert new sidestep and circle tactics available following defensive stance and movements.

The thing about Graces f is that it simply makes sense. By ‘sense,’ I’m referring to the ocassionally convoluted for a newbie but always accesible system that aspires to play fair. Switching characters in combat is seamless, likewise dualizing items toward maximum value. The game auto-applies needed health remedies, likewise packs smart AI-controlled teammates who strike and heal with purpose.The same thumbs up for navigating Graces f’s various environs, big enough to have some fun but never stupidly designed toward endless roaming.

Perhaps in recognition of yahoo’s like me discovering Tales for the first time, Graces f packs a near-constant tutorial when you need it most, with subtle teaching points…but never hand holding…as the game progresses. As time flies, things begin to make more sense not out of memorization rather familiarization.


Related – and let the record state – Tales of Graces f is a terrific English language port, where dialog and character development is simultaneously engaging and funny. The game’s protagonists evolve from adolescence into adulthood, and with it appropriate story, dialog, and skill elements. Sure, there’s the occasional hiccup of naming a character ‘Tiger Festival,’ but as a collective, Graces f is randomly laugh out loud funny and always entertaining. Not surprisingly, attention to detail is astonishing; cut scenes, post fight quips, environments and monsters are all lovingly portrayed.

On a more sophisticated level, however, is where Graces f really shines. The game’s advertised bonds of friendship carry with them deep subject matter, addressing dynamics of families, sexuality, chronic illness, and moral definitions. One can’t help but become attached to Asbel and his buddies, a terrific slew of kids then adults who truly inspire at times.

If there’s one criticism of Tales of Graces f – and a legitimate one at that – is that it’s quite slow moving. The game prides itself on exploration of every subtle nuance of the worlds explored, to include talking to everyone multiple times, tackling every path imaginable, numerous side quests, and a whole lot of walking around. Story progression is ridigly fixed, where what should be minutes of gameplay time mandates ten times that due to plot design.

With this being said, the more Graces f made me stall, the more I appreciated its artistry. Perhaps it a product of being new to Tales, but I was amazed at just how much the game tries to engage its player on more than a controller level. While I confess to button mashing to occasionally skip dialog en masse, I only did so in hopes something really cool was just up ahead. It’s no wonder the J-RPG genre is so beloved.


Tales of Graces f is a fantastic, souped up port of the similarly named 2009 Wii offering. One of the rare J-RPG’s to hit North American PS3’s, the game’s worth the translation wait. Series newbies, however, should expect a decent learning curve, also a slow moving Tale that takes hours to get warmed up.

  • The few, the proud, the PS3 J-PRG
  • Captivating storyline
  • Engaging all-around experience
  • Modest learning curve
  • A bit strange at times via translation
  • S-l-o-w progression
Quote: "Tales of Graces f is a fantastic, souped up port of the similarly named 2009 Wii offering. One of the rare J-RPG’s to hit North American PS3’s, the game’s worth the translation wait."
Reviewed by Paul Stuart - 05.23.12 - Platform Reviewed: Playstation 3

Similar Reviews: Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World (6.5) | Tales of Vesperia (8.5)


Tales of Graces F

Namco Bandai

Tales Studios


US Release
March '12



Players 1