tales of symphonia

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I’ve been pretty busy the past week, but I managed to squeeze in a whole seven hours on Tales of Symphonia and watched zero anime. Besides being the first non-ported GCN classical RPG ever, it features the gorgeous art of Kosuke Fujishima. (See previous post if you are not familiar with this name.) I wasn’t disappointed. The game is very enjoyable with a nice anime tint.

The game follows the hero Lloyd and the heroine Colette (which confused me since this name was used on a guy in La Pucelle) in their quest around Spira to collect summons to defeat Sin, at least for a little while. Errrr. I mean their quest around Sylvarant to clean seals to defeat Desians, at least for a little while. Minor plot points are done though asides that basically play out like a quick 4koma, and the game has a lot of humor/quirks. For example, on the boat, there’s a couple trying to do some Titanic-esque scene. While I’m barely into the plot, I can feel the suspense and twists building. It’s definitely keeping me interested. I am disappointed that there’s no story sequences told in the same anime style as seen in the opening, because the animation there is very nice.


Like most RPGs, the game mostly occurs in the map world and in the battle world. Like Xenosaga, enemies can be seen before engaging them. Unlike Xenosaga, sneaking up to them or using items to disable them is no present. One can ride mounts later on similar to Wild Arms 3. Battles are similar to Star Ocean where the player controls a single character and the AI takes care of the rest. Even though strategy can be used, battles are usually too hectic and fast to do much beyond button mash. The game has an undocumented (at least I haven’t seen it in the manual) where if other controllers are plugged in, they can control the other three characters.

There’s a nice variety of characters, but most have been fairly standard, but the fact that I can field an all chix0r party ranks highly in my book. Development is handled by equiping titles and ex spheres that influence growth; however, this is not as indepth or as customizable as I would like. Learning some skills locks out other skills, and there’s really no way for me to tell trade-offs at the moment or even what locks out what. Heck, I can’t even tell what skill I’m going to learn next.

Equipment can be upgraded via purchase or by upgrading old items a la FF8. There’s also special items that can only be purchased using “GRADE”, which is either gained or lost depending on ones performance in battle.

The graphics are a strongpoint of the game. The game is beautiful, with the characters cel-shaded and everything else not. One thing that I did not like was the lack of camera controls in town and during battle, but this aspect is no different than most FF games or Xenosaga. One can also see the strong influence Fujishima had as Lloyd looks a bit too much like Sentaro and Colette looks like Erica of Sakura Taisen fame. Emotions are conveyed through emotion balloons, similar to what one might find in manga… and there’s even a mini-game playing off that. The music and backgrounds are very good and only marred by the horrible and inconsistent voice acting. Some of the voice work on the minor characters are extremely painful on my ears.

Overall, Tales has been a solid RPG for the GCN. It’s definitely a welcome game on a console that has no other classical RPG than the extremely dated Skies of Arcadia. The game should feel familiar to anyone who plays console RPGs and reads too much Fujishima stuff. I just can’t wait to find some time to finish this game now.

More info: official site

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