The games in the Tales series offer just about everything I want in a JRPG. They have excellent battle systems. They’re full of goofy but lovable characters. They let you play dress-up, and they’re more than willing to be ridiculous.
And they’re also full of delicious-looking food.
Cooking is a gameplay mechanic found in most Tales titles. It’s not a major part of the games — you can pretty much ignore it entirely — but it’s there to play with if you wish. As a fan of crafting systems, I spend a lot of time cooking in Tales. And without fail, it makes me really freaking hungry.
I’m not sure why the food in the Tales series is so appetizing. The art is bare bones, and the descriptions don’t amount to much more than a list of ingredients. But every time I pick up a Tales game, I walk away craving things like mabo curry and fruit parfaits.
Part of the problem is that the characters spend so much time talking about food. I have intimate knowledge of everyone’s favorite dishes and cooking abilities. I know that Sheena from Tales of Symphonia makes a mean miso stew, and that Richard from Graces f has a deep appreciation for fermented soybeans. The games practically force you think about food, even when you’re not the one cooking it.
So great is the power of Tales that I once spent hours figuring out how to make a vegetarian version of Sophie’s favorite food, crab omelettes. It took a bit of research and a 45-minute drive to the nearest Asian supermarket, but it was absolutely worth it.
I don’t understand why the Tales games make me ravenous when games like Cooking Mama don’t. Still, my Tales-inspired cravings are one of the reasons I love this series so much. Some games make me want to go on grand quests or fight epic battles. Tales just makes me want to eat things, and that’s kind of fantastic.