Tales of Symphonia review

alex9234’s Sunday Review

Hey guys, welcome back to another edition of Sunday Review for the first time in a while. I wasn’t in the mood to do another review for a while because of school and work, but now that I’m done with school, well, why not write another review, eh?

Anyway, this time I’m going to review a game that I was meaning to get to for quite some time now, but didn’t because…well…I guess I didn’t feel like it. I’m gonna tackle what is probably the best RPG on the Nintendo GameCube and what is probably the best Tales game (well, I’ve heard others say Abyss is better though), Tales of Symphonia, which came out on the Nintendo GameCube in 2003 in Japan and in 2004 in the U.S.. Though it was ported to the PS2 later on, It never came out in the west, and therefore I’m reviewing the definitive version. Anyway, let’s begin.

The Plot

Tales of Symphonia takes place in the world of Sylvarant – a world that is slowly dying because of a loss of Mana, which is an energy source that is needed for magic and life itself. As crops begin to wither and hardship sets in, the people turn their hopes to the Chosen, a servant and messiah of the Goddess Martel, who can save the world by completing the Journey of World Regeneration. In order to save the world’s mana, the Chosen must travel from continent to continent, awakening the Summon Spirits that rest at ancient temples known as “seals.” Once all the seals are released, the Chosen is one step closer to becoming an angel. Once the Chosen fully transforms into an angel, the world will be saved.

17-year old Lloyd Irving, along with the Chosen – his childhood friend Colette Brunel, and her guardians Raine Sage and Kratos Aurion decide to go on the journey of World Regeneration. As the game progresses, Lloyd and Co. learn many things about the World Regeneration journey. The first revelation is that becoming an angel means that the Chosen must gradually give up aspects that make him or her human. With the first seal released, the Chosen loses the ability to eat. With the second seal released, the Chosen loses the ability to sleep. With the third seal released, the Chosen loses the ability to feel physical sensations, and after the fourth seal is released, the Chosen loses her ability to speak. Once the fifth and final seal is released, the Chosen is forced to sacrifice him or herself. Once the process has been completed, the Chosen’s body becomes one with the Goddess Martel.

Seeking advice from the angel Remiel, Lloyd, Colette, and the rest of the group head to the final seal to complete the process. Upon their arrival, Kratos betrays the group along with Remiel, and it is revealed that they are part of the evil organization known as Cruxis. Lloyd and his group barely escape death, and then head to the world of Tethe’alla – which is a world paralell to Sylvarant. They go to Tethe’alla to find answers, and learn that both worlds are competing for each others’ mana. Soon, Lloyd and his group decide that they must save both worlds by severing the mana link between them. Therefore, the group goes to make pacts with all the Summon Spirits that reside on Tethe’alla, but then this causes a catastrophe in Sylvarant, as a giant tree emerges and begins to cause mayhem, destroying cities and towns. After managing to stop the tree, Lloyd & Co. decide that they must fuse both worlds together. In order to do this, Lloyd & Co. must take out the head of Cruxis, Mithos Yggdrasill, as well as making a pact with the Summon Spirit Origin, in order to wield the Eternal Sword, which can save both worlds. Can Lloyd and his group stop Mithos, Kratos and the rest of Cruxis and save both worlds?

The Gameplay

The Tales and Star Ocean series are both sister series, and both share similar gameplay elements. Symphonia’s gameplay, like all of it’s predecessors, is action RPG based, and takes place in real time – casting spells takes time, using items takes time, but you can move your character across screen where you can attack enemies at will, as long as you’re Lloyd or any other character that can wield a sword. You can control Lloyd, as well as any other character in battle, and you can change the tactics that other characters use to fit your personal preference. Damage dealt to an enemy fills the “Unison Gauge”. When this is full, a “Unison Attack” can be triggered, allowing the party to use techniques simultaneously on a single enemy. When certain techniques are combined, a special attack results in additional damage.

After the battle ends, a currency called Grade is awarded or subtracted depending on how you performed in battles – this is used to purchase bonuses in New Game +. It has a bigger open world that that of Star Ocean games – you move Lloyd across one big world where the towns appear small and the enemies as big giant black blobs which are the same size as Lloyd is. No random enemy encounters either – you pick your own fights. You can also cook food in this game, if you have all the right materials to do so. Food is used to help replenish health and MP after battles.

This game’s Skill System is built around the EX Gems, which come in 4 ranks. Each character can equip up to 4 EX Gems and set abilities to said gems. The abilities you learn will determine if your characters will learn Strike or Technical techniques and spells. You can also gain EX Skills through the combination EX Gem abilities.

The Characters

Lloyd Irving – Age: 17 – Lloyd is the main character of Tales of Symphonia. Orphaned as a child, he was taken in and raised by the dwarf Dirk. He joins Colette’s journey after learning that his mother, Anna, was killed by the Desians – a group that works for Cruxis. He eventually becomes the one who is chosen to wield the Eternal Sword which has the power to save both worlds.

Genis Sage – Age: 12 – Genis is Lloyd’s best friend and is the younger brother of Raine Sage. He is a child prodigy and is also a very good cook (have him cook if you want your food to turn out good. That way you can recover lots of HP and MP). Both he and his sister are half-elves, but to avoid discrimination, they pass themselves off as full-blooded elves. Genis and Lloyd attempt to save Marble, an elderly woman that Genis befriended, from a Desian human ranch – a slave labor camp. However, he fails, and the Desians attack their home village of Iselia, and both he and Lloyd are exiled. That is when Genis, along with Lloyd, join Colette’s journey.

Kratos Aurion – Age: 28 – Kratos is a mysterious mercenary who was hired to accompany Colette on her journey. He is also one of the main villians of the game, as he is a high ranking member of the Cruxis organization who was ordered to ensure Colette completes her journey and becomes a vessel for the Goddess Martel.

Raine Sage – Age: 23 – Raine is Genis’ older sister and is the village of Iselia’s lone schoolteacher. She is a calm and pragmatic thinker who does not trust other people. Plus, she is a terrible cook and somehow, can’t do laundry either, so she has to rely on Genis to do all the cooking and housework. She also has a bad case of aquaphobia, due to an incident in the past where she nearly drowned after falling off a boat. Like her younger brother, she is a half-elf, and they pass themselves off as full elves to avoid discrimination. In the past, she and Genis escaped Tethe’alla at the Otherworldly Gate because Tethe’alla was a hotbed of half-elf discrimination. Because of the Otherworldly Gate, she becomes fascinated with ruins of any type and therefore, she will drop what she was doing and focus solely on exploring the ruins.

Colette Brunel – Age: 16 – Colette is Lloyd’s childhood friend, and is the Chosen who is destined to take on the journey of World Regeneration – this is due to the fact that she has a Cruxis Crystal. She was raised with the fact that she needs to die in order for the world to be saved, and has gained a truly selfless nature because of that, and she hid this fact from her closest friends. Colette, at a young age, was also taught how to read angelic language. As she and the party travels to the seals, Colette gains more angelic powers, but loses her humanity as a cost. Once the party approaches the last seal, it removes her personality and leaves her as a lifeless shell for Martel to possess. After learning that their journey was a scheme plotted by Cruxis to revive Martel, they flee to Tethe’alla to cure Colette…

Sheena Fujibayashi – Age: 19 – Sheena is a professional ninja from the village of Mizuho in Tethe’alla (and this game’s Ms. Fanservice. Seriously, can you not tell?). She is always accompanied by Corrine – a man-made Summon Spirit. She is the only summoner in the party, and she forms pacts with the Summon Spirits she encounters so she can call them for help. Early in the game, she was sent to Sylvarant in order to assassinate Colette, because her world, Tethe’alla, is also competing for mana. However, she eventually joins the party as they set to merge the two worlds together, ending the competition for mana.

My Thoughts

Tales of Symphonia remains one of my favorite games for the GameCube and one of my all time favorite games. I first got this game my second year of college and I remember putting in countless hours in, sometimes staying up extremely late at night to complete a certain segment of the game. I enjoyed the gameplay, the controls were very solid, the EX Gem system was very well done, and the real-time battle system is excellent. I did enjoy the story, as Lloyd’s journey to save both Sylvarant and Tethe’alla kept me on the edge of my seat and guessing the whole way through – plus the plot twists were excellent as well. The cast of characters are all great and some of them are really hilarious, especially Raine and Sheena. I also liked the food system as well, because it really helps after battles when your party’s HP and MP are depleted and it saves you from going into your items often. Overall this is a very fun RPG, one of my all time favorite games, and is probably the best RPG on the GameCube.

My score: 9.5/10





Published by alex9234

A skeptical game writer who doesn't believe the gaming press.

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