The Tales series is Namco’s big RPG franchise, and Symphonia is arguably the most popular of the franchise in the West, or at least the most well known. I’ve had my eye on this game for the longest time, but back when Gamecube games were still frequently sold at every GameStop, it was initially pretty pricey for a used copy, and when I finally had the money, I could never find it. Shame how life works out that way. Now copies of the Gamecube version have skyrocketed in price, further causing me to put off this game. Luckily Chronicles is a much better alternative, as it’s A: easier to find and cheaper, and B: comes packaged with the sequel Dawn of the New World. So if you just want to play the game and aren’t one of those people who demand that you play games on the original console it was on, fuck them and buy this.
Onto the game itself. It’s remastered from the original Gamecube game, but even having not played the original, I can tell it’s just lightly touched up instead of an HD remake. It’s basically just lightly remastered to where it looks better than hooking your Gamecube up to an HDTV. So while it definitely doesn’t look bad, it could look a lot better, as there’s some pixely parts. One thing to keep in mind, is that it’s not advertised as an HD remake, so it’s definitely blind to criticize it as false advertising when it isn’t. I would definitely recommend against looking at comparison pictures or videos, as many of them do a piss poor job as they either find the blurriest picture they can find, or there won’t be any difference.
Having played some of the first three Tales games (Phantasia, Destiny, Eternia), I had an idea of the gameplay style, so I wasn’t walking into necessarily brand new territory. I will say the initial plot doesn’t seem that impressive. It kind of rings like Final Fantasy X with how Colette is on a worldwide journey accompanied by her guardians to spread world regeneration, and that sounds pretty similar to Yuna going on a worldwide journey to rid Sin. The characters are also very cliche, so hopefully as the game goes along, it will change up a bit, or maybe it’s hopefully one of those games where the gameplay makes up for the plot. Out of the four Tales games I’ve played, this one probably has the second least interesting initial plot, following behind Destiny.
The gameplay so far is pretty much the same as the previous installations I’ve played. You’re in a 2D plane, and you control one character and button mash your enemies, while the rest of your party is on AI. Can’t vouch for the newer games, but if you played the 2D games, then you’re in familiar territory. This is considered the first 3D game in the series, and this is where I have some slight issues. This is a 3D game with a fixed camera. So outside of the world map, there’s no rotating camera. You should keep in mind, that for a game from 2003, this isn’t exactly unusual, even Final Fantasy X and X-2 had this camera style, as did many others.
All in all, so far it’s not a bad game. I definitely would have gone nuts over this when I was younger when it first came out, but now it’s just alright. I’m looking forward to how the plot and the battle system evolve, so hopefully it ends up living to the quasi-cult status it’s gained over the years.