Lost In Translation: Tales of Destiny 2

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By Hayes Madsen on July 9th, 2021

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Tales is one of the longest-running JRPG franchises in history, and one of the only ones that’s stayed relevant in the West all those years. Despite that, there are still a handful of Tales titles that have never made their way West and increasingly look like they never will, without a bit of fan help. Chief among those titles is Tales of Destiny 2, a direct sequel to the first Tales of Destiny, but maybe not the sequel that Western fans know.

A Rocky History

The first Tales of Destiny released on September 30, 1998, in North America, and it simply failed to catch on compared to other JRPGs of the time. Destiny looks like a SNES game, which wouldn’t normally be a problem, but it was being propped up against games like Final Fantasy 7, which was released almost exactly one year before. Final Fantasy 7 completely redefined JRPGs, and suddenly the genre was flooded with games trying to emulate Square Enix’s success. This was something noted in countless reviews for Tales of Destiny, like IGN’s that stated “Graphically Tales of Destiny is a solid effort. The introductory cinematic is truly stunning, and well-worth watching through even though it really doesn’t do too much to set up the story for you. The actual in-game graphics, however, are somewhat disappointing.”

After Destiny, Namco decided to rebrand the next game in 2001, Tales of Eternia, as Tales of Destiny 2 in the West. However, Eternia isn’t actually related to Destiny in any way, which led to some confusion from fans. Unfortunately, one year later the actual Tales of Destiny 2 was released in Japan on the PS2, but due to low sales from the two previous games in the West, it wasn’t localized. It would be three years before another game, Tales of Symphonia on the GameCube, would be released in the West.

At the time there may not have been a demand for Tales of Destiny 2, but Bandai Namco has never officially said why the game wasn’t localized. There would have, of course, been a problem with what to name Tales of Destiny 2, but the cost to localized it on PS2 likely just wasn’t worth it. At the same time, Tales of Destiny: Director’s Cut, and a full remake of the original game, never made it West either. The series continued to struggle breaking into the West, even with cult classics like Symphonia and Vesperia.

Tales of Destiny 2 was a surprisingly big hit in Japan, with the PS2 version of the game selling over 1 million copies across its lifetime. It’s also an important piece of the story, picking up eighteen years after the original and focusing on Kyle Dunamis, the son of Stahn and Rutee, the protagonists of the first game. In a surprising twist, the game’s villain Barbatos kills Stahn, and Kyle ends up in a conflict to save the world. Bandai Namco had a second chance to localize the game when it re-released on PSP in 2007, but again the PSP’s low reception in the West killed those chances.

It seems like Tales of Destiny 2 just kept running into roadblocks, and it’s the only sequel to a mainline Tales game that hasn’t been localized, with Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World and Tales of Xillia 2 both getting releases. Fan’s hopes were high that Bandai Namco might announce a Tales of Destiny Collection with the 25th anniversary, but as the year goes on that’s looking more and more unlikely. Luckily, nearly twenty years later a group of fans is finally giving people the chance to properly experience Tales of Destiny 2.

A Tale 20 Years in the Making

In May 2021 a group called Lumina Tales announced the Lumina Destiny Project, providing full English translations for both Tales of Destiny: Director’s Cut and Tales of Destiny 2. The group is putting a ton of effort into making this feel like a full-fledged localization, with the announcement post saying,

“This patch is being lovingly crafted from the ground up; we donโ€™t just want to provide Tales of fans a translation of a game that has been left in the dark for nearly two decades; we want to elevate the game, to allow every fan to have the best and most streamlined experience possible. Every line of text in the game will be not only translated into English but also edited with the aim of feeling as if youโ€™re playing an official release.”

Interestingly, some members of the Lumina team also worked on the Geofront fan translations of Trails From Zero and Trails to Azure that have now officially been picked up by NIS America. For example, Ribose served as the programmer on Trails to Azure and they’ll also be the programmer on Tales of Destiny: Director’s Cut. The translation patch will be available for both PS2 and PSP, and the team is even making some improvements, like an indicator that lets players know when new skits are available.

At the time of the announcement, Lumina Tales said text in the game was roughly 75 percent complete while editing was roughly 20 percent complete. There’s certainly a ways to go, but with fan translations becoming more prevalent it’s great to see Tales of Destiny 2 finally getting its due. With NIS America making the unprecedented move of working with a fan translation as well, who knows, maybe there is some hope for Tales of Destiny 2 getting an official release someday. I can’t in good conscience finish without saying, as well, that Tales of Destiny 2 has one of the most incredible opening animations of the whole franchise.

Settled for being a writer, considering Gundam Pilot isnโ€™t a real occupation.

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