Relive the classic tale or experience it for the first time in this worthy HD collection.
I remember picking up my Gamecube thanks wholly to the release of Resident Evil 4 and once I had one of my own, I began to track down other notable titles that were released for it.
Right at the top of that list was “Tales of Symphonia” a multi-disc epic RPG from Namco, and when I finally got my hands on it, I wasn’t disappointed.
The story, characters, combat engine and even the graphics were excellent for its time, and I had a blast seeing the adventures of Lloyd and company to its conclusion.
Over ten years later, the title and its lesser known sequel make their debut in HD, and while some aspects of the experience haven’t aged too well, it proves once more that a good story and a likable cast of characters is timeless.
Although I could very easily give a synopsis of the two game’s storylines, I will simply say that they are of their time and while they are not bad by any stretch of the imagination, they aren’t anything particularly special either.
Many titles have come and gone since then that have pushed the boundaries of storytelling and character development (thankfully), but I firmly believe that the original Tales of Symphonia was one of the first few that laid down the groundwork in terms of betraying expectations and introducing well executed twists to the all-familiar formula.
The cast of characters are still just as charming and enjoyable to listen to banter on and on about this and that. Also, the games both include the option for Japanese or English voice acting, which can be switched at any time.
While that wouldn’t be such a big deal in most cases, the skits in Tales of Symphonia 1 are not voiced when set to English, while it’s fully voiced on the Japanese setting. Given the frequency and quality of these skits, I would actually recommend that everyone play Symphonia 1 in Japanese for the best experience possible.
Symphonia 2 luckily doesn’t have this issue and can be enjoyed equally on either setting.
Before I continue on, I must address that Symphonia 2 was not exactly critically acclaimed on its release like its predecessor, for good reasons.
The new characters introduced in Symphonia 2 aren’t very interesting, and it feels as though they managed to take a lot of the spark out of even the returning original cast, with poorly written lines and a story that felt dull in comparison to the original.
The only real positive side is the upgrade to the visuals the Wii platform afforded the title, but overall, I would agree that Tales of Symphonia Chronicles exists on the merits of the first game and not its sequel.
While the characters and storyline remained as enjoyable as I remembered it, the graphics and combat engine for Symphonia hasn’t fared so well.
It wasn’t too long ago that I finished my play through of Tales of Xillia, and that title really showed off just how far the Tales team has come in crafting their art.
The graphics and combat engine in Xillia were both beautifully executed, and to compare how far they’ve come in that area to the simple and dated engine in Symphonia is an unmistakable difference that’s hard to ignore.
Still, that is not to say the title is offensive to look at or a bore to play, but it’s most definitely an upscaled version of a Gamecube title, through and through.
As I mentioned previously, Symphonia 2 is the better looking of the two for the obvious reason that it came many years later on more advanced hardware, but it’s nothing to write home about either.
Symphonia 2 also introduced a monster capture/ally system, but it felt as uninspired and a hassle to use as it did many years ago.
Considering this is an HD collection celebrating a ten year anniversary, I had hoped that they would include some extra content on the disc in the form of makings of and other goodies, but there is no such content.
It’s basically the two games selectable after booting up the game and that’s all there’s to it, which is disappointing because I feel they’re doing the bare minimum in that aspect where other notable HD collections like the ICO/Shadow of the Colossus went the extra mile to pack the disc with neat extra content.
Still, when it’s all said and done, Tales of Symphonia is a classic that I’m sure many have missed due it being exclusively on the Gamecube in the States, and this is the perfect opportunity to check it out in its definitive form.
After the credits have rolled on the first title, players may or may not want to check out its sequel. Just go in with lowered expectations.
Fun Tidbit – Dwarven Vow # 10! Play hard and play often!
Review copy of game provided by publisher.