Altered Artes are artes that are used after modifying another arte in some manner or form, such as equipment or gameplay mechanics. The first usage of the localized term came in Tales of Vesperia, although previous games have had mechanics with similar names in Japanese involving the term "henka" (変化?), which translates to "change" or "alteration".
Appearances in Mothership Titles
Tales of Symphonia
The system for altered artes in Tales of Symphonia has no official name, but it involves dealing elemental damage to activate secret artes that are unlisted in menus within the game. When a character deals damage with a certain element through items, weapons, or artes, one of his or her artes may change into another, similar move. In the Japanese versions of the game, the character voices the name of the new attack. In the localized releases, the original arte name is voiced, but the arte banner at the top of the battle screen displays the name of the new attack.
For example, if Lloyd Irving deals Fire-elemental damage and then uses Rising Falcon after using it over 200 times, it will instead become the classic Rising Phoenix. This new attack always replaces Rising Falcon whenever Lloyd is dealing Fire-elemental damage. Most characters have at least one elemental variant attack. These attacks are derived from physical artes only. There are no altered spells.
Tales of Rebirth
In Tales of Rebirth, Veigue Lungberg can change each of his base artes into altered versions by equipping certain accessories associated with each arte through a system known as Henka Tokugi (変化特技?, "Altered Force Skill") and stylized during battle with a label above the arte name that reads the arte's attack property followed by the word SKILL. When the appropriate talisman accessory is equipped, the original arte will be replaced with the new one if the Force Gauge is full. For example, by equipping the "Majin no Tamashii" (魔神の魂?) accessory, his Zehhyoujin will become the traditional Majinken. The original arte can still be used with the same shortcut if the Force Gauge is not full, at a cost of reduced damage and healing effects.
Tales of the Abyss
Tales of Destiny (PS2)
Although the original PlayStation version had no such system, the PlayStation 2 remake of Tales of Destiny introduces its own variation of the altered arte system, known as Henka Jutsugi (変化術技?, "Altered Arte"). Similar to Veigue in Tales of Rebirth, Stahn Aileron can alter artes through equipping various gauntlets and performing specific artes in some way. For example, when he has the "Bronze Gauntlet" accessory equipped, if Stahn uses Majinken while running, the attack will be replaced with Souhajin.
Unlike previous iterations of the altered arte system, most of Stahn's altered artes can be learned normally through leveling, save Goushourai. However, this system allows him to use certain artes earlier than he would learn them normally. Stahn also has a similar system that enables his spells to be altered while he is airborne during a combo, known as Kuuchuu Shoujutsu (空中晶術?, "Aerial Magic"). This system allows Stahn to change his spells into unique attacks that have no spellcasting delay. These attacks work only if an enemy has been staggered at some point during the same combo chain. This system is shared with Leon Magnus in the Director's Cut version of the game.
Tales of Vesperia
Tales of Vesperia is the first localized game to use the term Altered Arte (スキル変化技 Skill Henkawaza?, "Skill Change Arte"), and it is the first game to feature altered artes as actual magical spells. Through equipping various passive skills, certain artes will alter into other ones. These skills are, specifically:
- Chain (連撃 Rengeki?)
- Hell Fire (紅蓮 Guren?)
- Crucible (剛烈 Gouretsu?)
- Athenor (烈震 Resshin?)
- Alembic (俊敏 Shunbin?)
- Gale (疾風 Shippuu?)
- Dispersion (拡散 Kakusan?)
- Great Deluge (水塵 Suijin?)
- Bastion (守護 Shugo?)
The new altered arte will replace the original arte in battle as long as those specific skills are equipped. Different altered artes require different skills. For example, Estelle's Holy Rain alters from Holy Lance with "Great Deluge" as the only required skill. However, her Revive requires "Hell Fire", "Athenor", "Gale", and "Great Deluge" to be equipped when using Resurrection. After 100 uses for strike artes, or 50 for magic artes, the arte will be learned as a separate attack that can be used without the required skills, and the skills themselves will no longer trigger that specific altered arte when using the original attack. This only holds true for the traditional artes. Altered burst artes cannot be learned separately and will always require the skills.
The PlayStation 3 port of the game provides another class of altered artes, all learned from costume titles rather than skills, serving as cameo references to the protagonists of the games from which the costumes are based. These artes simply require the title to be equipped, and they will be learned separately after 50 uses, regardless of whether it is a strike or magic arte. Altered artes do not normally fit into the linking system for artes. An altered arte will only link from a basic strike combo, and they cannot be linked to or from any other arte, which severely impacts their use in combos. The remedy to this is the series of "Super Chain" skills, which allow altered artes to fit into the linking system.
Tales of Graces
In Tales of Graces, altered artes are available exclusively to Asbel Lhant and Hubert Ozwell, with an alternative implementation used by Pascal. All altered artes are obtained through Altered Arte (術技変化 Jutsuwaza Henka?) skills, which are learned through titles associated with each specific arte. In Asbel and Hubert's case, this enables the altered arte itself to be chained after the original arte by holding the .
Each altered arte is identical to existing artes that can be learned and used separately, but the skill that enables each altered arte is usually available earlier than the standalone arte itself. Altered artes also provide for more varied combos by conserving shortcut usage, allowing several artes to be activated from a single arte shortcut, which, in turn, allows more unique artes to be used in full combo chains. In the PlayStation 3 version of the game, altered artes can be performed using the right control stick shortcuts by holding down the "Burst Style" button after activating the arte. Holding down a direction on the right control stick will do nothing. The PlayStation 3 version also allows altered artes to be performed during the second strike of an arte. Some altered artes were changed in the PlayStation 3 version.
Asbel's altered arte chains enable him to use "Burst Style" artes and transition into the "Assault Style", allowing various "Assault Style" attacks to be used immediately without going through the standard tier progression. At the end of an altered arte chain, his sword is automatically sheathed. Hubert's altered arte chains consist entirely of "Burst Style" artes, but each chain is cyclical, allowing him to indefinitely continue any given chain by holding down the "Burst Style" button, provided he has enough CC to use each arte.
Pascal has a separate set of skills that allow her to progress through tiers for her elemental magic. These skills are not explicitly labeled as "altered artes", but they follow a similar functionality. If she has the proper skill for the spell involved, it is possible to press thewhile holding the "Burst Style" button after chanting a spell and delaying its execution. In the Wii version of the game, this will consume the normal amount of CC to begin chanting the next tier spell for that same element. However, in the PlayStation 3 version, this only costs 1 CC to perform. This decreases the casting time for the new spell by the amount of time that was used for chanting the previous spell involved. In the Wii version, however, this causes CC consumption to be cumulative as a spell is extended into its more powerful forms, resulting in a much higher cost to activate a spell of a higher tier compared to normal spell activation costs.
Similar to Asbel and Hubert's implementation of altered artes, this does provides the advantage of allowing all spells of a given element to be mapped to a single shortcut. In turn, this enables the player to decide if it is more advantageous to cast weaker spells quickly or extend them into higher tier spells, providing the opportunity to cancel the more powerful spells and still deal damage through a lesser spell if the character is in danger of being interrupted during spellcasting.
Tales of Xillia and Tales of Xillia 2
In Tales of Xillia and Tales of Xillia 2, there are two special abilities that provide an altered arte effect. The first is Alvin's "Charge" (チャージ Chaaji?) special ability allows him to store charges after he attacks. Most of his artes will change to a stronger, charged arte version if he uses one while he has a charge. Milla Maxwell, Milla, and Jude Mathis have access to the "Spirit Shift" (魔技 Magi?, "Magic Arte") special ability. For both Millas, this allows them to alter their spirit artes into elemental strike artes based on the duration of the arte shortcut button press. Jude's version allows him to alter specific martial artes into elemental variations under the proper conditions.
Appearances in Escort Titles
Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World
In Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, the returning cast of characters from Tales of Symphonia do not retain their elemental variant attacks from the original game, but some characters obtain those artes as new attacks that are now fully integrated into their movelists. However, an altered arte system does exist in this game. Through passive skills, Emil Castagnier can change his base artes into elemental variations that change the elemental properties of the attack and may also change its function. For example, by equipping the "Tenebrae" skill, his ranged Demon Fang is converted into a close-ranged slash, with an additional a Dark-elemental attribute that affects the Elemental Grid.