Tales of Symphonia

Tales of Symphonia

Spin us a yarn.

Tales of Symphonia

If you a JRPG fan odds are high you’ll know all about the Tales series, which has seen about 20 odd titles released under it over the years and has had a few ups and downs along the way.  The latest title to come from the Tales series is a remaster of the classic Tales of Symphonia, though worth noting this is technically a remaster of a re-release of a port, as the game first hit the Gamecube in 2003, before jumping to the PS2 a year later and then showed up on the PS3 in 2013.  This is an important fact as this remaster is built off the back of the PS2/PS3 build of the game, as the Gamecube source code has been lost to the sands of time.  If you’re a purist this may cause some issues for you, as it’s seen that although the PS2 build had upgrades added, it was also downgraded to run at 30FPS from the Gamecube’s 60FPS.

In a lot of ways Tales of Symphonia is a perfect slice of where JRPG were in the mid-2000s, as its tale tries to handle a lot of heavy topics in – what can only be said to be – an awkward way.  From racism, genocide, slavery, abuse of children all told by a cast who sound like they have just rushed home to watch the latest episode of Spongebob Squarepants, but it is an extremely dense tale that you can easily get lost that is equal parts convoluted and compelling.  You play as a gang of young warriors out to battle the forces of evil, making the mana flow once again and forge more than a few new friendships along the way.  All the time jumping between dimensions, being betrayed and searching for a “magic” thing to save the day… it’s pure JRPG-fare.  This is a double edge blade as fans of all things JRPG will see what’s coming a mile away, but the annoying though likable cast holds you through it all.

If the story was a blast from the past, gameplay in Tales of Symphonia is every bit the same as it’s very much “traditional”, which is not a bad thing.  Though it does throw in a few fun twists, where you are mostly exploring the world talking to quest givers or getting stuck into some Final Fantasy-esque battles, all the while banking XP to level up your party; and of course being this traditional, you’ll be grinding out more than a few fights to get your party as streamline as you want.  Combat is based on a Multi-Line Linear Motion Battle System where your party of 4 square-off against your standard JRPG baddies.  You get to place your party how you see fit and give them orders during the battle thanks to a pause and command system.  Damage dealt to the enemies will also fill a “Unison Gauge”.  When this is full, a “Unison Attack” can be triggered, allowing the whole party to use a flurry of attacks on a single enemy.  Combat has a number of options that sees you getting as involved as you really want, to the point you could just sit back and manage items and switch tactics.

With this being a remaster a lot of the work on Tales of Symphonia is going to be handled on the visual front, and on the whole the game looks good with characters having their cell-shaded look, while the world around them looks ok… but there is a bit of a disconnect in art styles.  Sound work is solid across the board from the soundtrack to the voice acting, even if its pitch starts to grind on you after a bit, and the stunning anime styled cut scenes look great as well.  Tales of Symphonia is like a portal to a not-so-long-ago time, where JRPGs ruled the high seas.  This was a title that may not have got to shine as bright as it could have because of the crowded market back then.  Now some 20 odd years on, the game is finally getting a chance to breathe and fans – though maybe divided – can enjoy the upgrades, whereas newcomers have a classic slice of JRPG to explore.

An review copy of Xbox Tales of Symphonia was provided by Namco Bandai’s PR team, and the game is out now on Xbox, PlayStation, Switch and PC for around £40 depending on platform.

The Verdict


The Good: Great combat | Dense story | Blast from the past

The Bad: Blast from the past | Art styles jar a little

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Stuart Cullen

Scotland’s very own thorn in the side of the London gaming scene bringing all the hottest action straight from The Sun… well… The Scottish Sun at least, every week!

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