Cooking (料理 Ryouri?) is a common feature found in several Tales games. This gameplay mechanic enables characters to create edible foods that can restore HP or temporarily boost the parameters of party members through the use of recipes and ingredients discovered throughout each game.
The primary function of the cooking system is to create food to restore the health of all battle party members after the end of a battle. The party usually has knowledge of one recipe at the beginning of each game, but more can be acquired throughout the game. After obtaining the necessary ingredients, usually bought from specific shops or dropped from enemies, the party will be able to cook a dish, which has a chance to restore a certain percentage of all of the characters' HP, while also providing additional effects such as recovery from status aliments or increased parameters, as dictated by the chosen recipe. Cooking does have a chance of failing, in which case the ingredients are still consumed but the result will have reduced or sometimes adverse effects.
In addition to this primary function, cooking is also very often a source for several skits, commentating on a specific character's cooking skill, whether it is good or horrendous. Several games also feature titles that are rewarded based on certain requirements related to cooking. In all games cooking is featured in, it is still possible to rest at inns or use items such as Apple Gels to recover health. Cooking simply provides an extra option that is often much cheaper and more beneficial than these alternatives, especially due to the additional benefits that can be gained from certain recipes.
Appearances in Original Titles
Tales of Phantasia
The cooking concept is first introduced in the PlayStation remake of Tales of Phantasia, continuing on throughout all later releases of the game. It builds from the Food Sack system used in the original Super Famicom release of Tales of Phantasia, as well as its sequel Tales of Phantasia: Narikiri Dungeon and all versions of Tales of Destiny. Recipes are gained mostly by talking to professional chefs who live in each town during each era. This game sets the basic foundations of the cooking system as a means of providing increasingly larger HP and TP recovery benefits with each new recipe learned by the party. Cooking can only be performed manually between battles, but it can be done only once after each battle encounter. Any attempt to cook more than once between each encounter will provide a message stating that the characters are full and cannot eat again. The basic food ingredients can be eaten as if they are consumable items, also recovering HP and TP for the party, but the amount recovered is minimal and very inefficient compared to using them for cooked dishes.
When a recipe is cooked, the character who performed the cooking will gain some mastery with the dish, reducing the chance of failure and also boosting the quality of benefits gained. The level of mastery is denoted with stars for each recipe, granted on an individual basis, and each character requires varying numbers of successfully cooked dishes to gain a single star for any given recipe. Lesser counts of successful dishes are required for those recipes that a character enjoys most, such as native Japanese dishes for Suzu Fujibayashi, whereas Arche Klein requires the greatest counts to achieve full mastery because of her inability to cook decently. Full mastery is earned at five stars, and the mastery of all dishes for a single character grants a title to that character.
Tales of Eternia
Cooking is further expanded in Tales of Eternia with the introduction of the Wonder Chef, a character who can be found in most towns disguised as some mundane but out of place object. Upon interacting with the Wonder Chef in his disguised form, he transforms and grants the party a new recipe before vanishing in a burst of smoke. While most recipes are gained in this manner, others require the full mastery of selected recipes, and the required masteries must be held by at least a single character. Cooking can be toggled within the menu to activate a single recipe automatically, immediately after every battle or an interval of five or ten battles, regardless of if the characters need the healing or effects provided by the dish. Other activation conditions are also available, such as ending a battle with one or more characters poisoned or knocked out. Once the set condition is met at the end of battle, the dish will be cooked as long as ingredients are available to cook it.
Upon the failure of cooking any dish, a random elemental shard is acquired by the party, and it can be used to increase the vitality of the Greater Craymel associated with that element. This will increase the concentration of Craymels of that element during the start of the next battle, making it easier to summon the Greater Craymel. Strategic use of shards can enable the party to summon multiple Greater Craymels in consecutive order immediately at the start of a battle. Since shards are gained through cooking failures, significant benefits are offered through cooking regardless of if it is successful or not.
Tales of Symphonia
Tales of Symphonia allows players to cook immediately, starting off with the basic "Sandwich" recipe. As the player goes through the game, he or she will be able to find the Wonder Chef in many places through the game, often disguised as common household items such as a plant or a table. He does not need to be found in any specific order, but finding him can reward players with useful recipes such as "Paella" or the incredibly useful "Miso Stew". One point in the game also requires the player to learn the "Curry" recipe from Tabatha in order to satisfy the needs of a gnome in the Temple of Earth.
The game frequently nominates either Genis Sage or Regal Bryant to be the best cook in the party, depending on the dish. Sheena Fujibayashi is also known to be very good at dishes such as "Curry" or "Miso Stew". Raine Sage is said to be, without a doubt, the worst cook in the party. This fact is frequently shown in the game, as Raine can usually only get to about two or three star skill in any recipe, when the max tends to be about five on average and seven in total. Raine's recipes also often include strange ingredients that should not even be in the recipe. Notably, each recipe has a different maximum for the character's skill in the recipe, depending on their proficiency at cooking that recipe and also by their personal taste.
Tales of Legendia
The cooking system is known as Baking in Tales of Legendia, since unlike other games in the series, the menu only consists of bread-based products. Baking can be accessed in any town in the game when going up to any oven in certain resting areas. Unlike the newer games in the series, baking items are unable to be used to be healed when on the victory screen. Instead, baked items can only be used from the "Basket" key item. In a change from most other incarnations of the cooking system, the player is able to use more than one baked item between battles. The only known horrible cook in this game is Will Raynard's daughter, Harriet Campbell.
Tales of the Abyss
Cooking appears once again in Tales of the Abyss, although it takes a less prominent role than it does in Tales of Symphonia. Tales of the Abyss contains a total of twenty recipes, which are obtained throughout the game by talking to NPCs, looking at books, or going to certain locations. Every character is able to obtain a max of three stars of skill in every recipe. Titles can be obtained by mastering every recipe for each character, although this can take quite a long time. Out of the main six party characters, Luke fon Fabre and Natalia Luzu Kimlasca-Lanvaldear are said to be the worst cooks due to their royal upbringing, while Tear Grants is said to be the best cook in the party.
Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World
Cooking in this game functions different from the other installments in the series. Instead of healing party members, cooking now helps monsters gain higher statuses and evolve into higher classes. Out the entire cast of the game, Marta Lualdi and Raine are the only known horrible cooks.
Tales of Vesperia
Cooking also makes an appearance in Tales of Vesperia. The PlayStation 3 version of the game confirms Flynn Scifo to be a terrible cook. There is no specific best chef among Yuri and the others, as everyone can master all recipes and earn a title that emphasizes their skill, though the party tends to consult Judith often on things such as seasonings and flavor. In a humorous new twist for the series, Repede can cook dishes despite being a dog, though he always turns any recipe into Dog Food, providing minuscule healing for everyone while he benefits the most from it.
Tales of Graces
In Tales of Graces and its PlayStation 3 port, Tales of Graces ƒ, there are two methods of cooking: one is dualizing which allows to combine two products for a small prize and other requires the Eleth Mixer which depending on individual dish to appear during battle under certain circumstances or after the battle.
Tales of Luminaria
In Tales of Luminaria, cooking is done in the "Dishes" sub-menu. Recipes can be found by talking to NPCs, looking at books, doing meal-oriented missions, obtained in certain events in a character's Episode or obtained via event rewards during the Fave Fest. The recipes can be filtered into five different categories ranging from appetizers to drinks. Each character can only use 2 dishes in battle, except during the Secret Missions.
To master a recipe, a chef's hat (in a total of five per recipe) can be gained by cooking the same dish by intervals of 10, 20, 40, 80 and 160 times. By cooking a character's favourite dish or dishes 300 times in their recipe missions, they will yield a character-exclusive recipe that only the said character can use for maximum effects and neutral effects for the rest of the cast. Recipes obtained during the Fave Fest have potent healing effects for a specific character until it's expiration date; if past, will have its potency diminished and be disliked by everyone. Ana-Maria Marschner is confirmed to be a terrible cook since her recipes inflicts negative effects to anyone trying to eat it except Charles who can have positive effects upon eating them.
Appearances in Crossover Titles
Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology
Cooking in Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology can only happen with the use of the menu. Unlike other games in the series, characters can only cook if their cooking level is at the demanded level. Cooked foods can only be used through the item menu. Certain food items such as "Rice Balls" and "Mabo Curry" can be used as mission items.
Tales of the Rays
In Tales of the Rays, cooking is done by sending characters on a cooking order. Many characters possess special skills that improve effectiveness of cooking, prevent or unlock some recipes from being performed, provided that at least two characters sharing the skill are sent on the other.
Tales of Crestoria
Cooking in Tales of Crestoria is done by selecting a dish recipe to make and assigning a character to do a dish associated with it. Some characters are more proficient with different types of cooking, allowing to obtain a Fine or better version of a dish. Dish recipes are mainly unlocked by completing Main Story.