I finally finished not only the Tales of Symphonia game for the GameCube (played on my Wii since I never owned a GC), but I also watched the OVAs for the show. And I have a few things to say about each. Mostly about the game, but a bit about the OVA.
Also since this post actually broke the 1000 word mark I’m going to try out what I believe to be a page break function. I’m also trying out the Publish on specific date/time feature, but that’s just for fun.
The Tales of Symphonia game I’ve been playing on and off since last year. Early parts of jRPGs always leave me vulnerable to being distracted. Another bad habit I have is getting lost the moment, or very shortly after gaining the ability to fly (half the jRPGs I never finished fall into that category unless I find a walkthrough). But after 45 hours of some pretty epic moments, and a lot more plot twists, I did complete Tales of Symphonia. The best (and maybe only?) full fledged RPG on the Gamecube. This was the first time I ever played a 3D Tales game, and while the combat was still in the same style of other Tales games. I seem to have founder memories of the 2D combat from the Tales of Destiny series(in the US Tales of Eternia(my favorite Tales game so far) was called Destiny 2).
The story itself was fine, and the plot twist of there being a second world was totally obvious and I almost want to call it a Tales Trope of having a second world be it dimensional, attached like a really large moon, or even time travel, open up at around the 20 hour mark. Collete bugged me though, there should never be a character that desperate to always have a smile on her face, and be totally ready to sacrifice herself like that. That’s why my favorite character was Sheena, in fact for most of the game my party was made up with her because summons are awesome, our hero Lloyd, Raine the healer, and Genis the spellcaster(he was easy to combo with.) I used to have Collete in there instead of Genis, then I liked to think that Lloyd was totally a pimp, but after the third time of Collete getting kidnapped I decided I wanted a more stable party.
The game felt kinda long. You save the world four times before the game is over, each time with some kind of plot twist occurring that either makes your efforts worth nothing, or in one case almost destroyed the world. And the game is never actually hard, or at least I never died unless you count the three battles that you fight someone who is FAR beyond your abilities and your supposed to fail as part of the story. The combat isn’t bad per say, but it isn’t exciting after 15 hours and by then you still have 25 more hours to go, probably one of the reasons why Tales games allow you to control any of the party members. If your tired of playing the hack and slash main character you can try out the spellcaster, or healer, the loli with a giant axe, or maybe the guy who kicks things. Also, one thing that I’ve always respected about the Tales battle system is it’s aim of being as short as possible. Thinking back on Final Fantasy, and going, DID I REALLY spend 15 minutes on that boss fight!~?!?? The longest boss fights in Tales are like 3-5 minutes, the average run of the mill monsters last between 5-30 seconds or so, anything longer and your probably not hitting that A button enough.
The AI doesn’t suck too badly for the rest of your party. Sure there were a couple times when I thought my healer was going to heal me right before I died and then discovered that she was instead casting it for someone else….. Or the times when both she and Sheena would stop and try to pull my soul back out of purgatory at the same time…. But those times aren’t too often, and you can go in and change some basic functions for the AI if you feel the need, like telling them to stop wasting all their MP TP right at the beginning of the dungeon leaving none to heal you with when you get to the boss.
As far as the dungeons went, there was a decent amount of variety. With the use of the “sorcerer’s ring” each dungeon would give it a different function. The water temple would use it to create water to fill pots with, the sewers would use it to make you small(during wich time you could fight GIANT SEWER RATS!!!!) and so on. Basically giving you ever so slightly different puzzles to work with. They were also never tooo long, some almost got there, but being able to see the monsters allowed you to just run past them if you want, and that helps even it all out.
I was kinda disappointing by the lack of animated cut scenes. Going back to the PS1 games there were a good amount of these scenes, and those games were on 2 CDs back in the day. This game was on 2 GC disks, so I was expected loads of animated cut scenes and plenty of voice acting all around. The ending of the game was pretty much all animated, and there was a bit of good animation at the end of disc one but other then that not really. <_< After looking it up I also found out that they didn’t dub the “skits” while the Jp version did have them with voice acting.
In the end, the game was enjoyable. If your a Tales fan, and haven’t played this go for it, should still be very easy to find and the GC as well should be very cheap at this point, or go all out and play it on a Wii. Though out of all the Tales games I’ve played so far I’d only rate this one as #3 on my list with Phantasia and Eternia taking 1 and 2 respectively.
Once I got to the 40 hour mark and could taste the victory, I decided to complete ToS I would also have to watch the Animation, I watched Phantasia’s and enjoyed it, so why not the same for Symphonia. The OVA is a mixed bag. I enjoyed it, the actual quality was pretty good, and the story it focused on was well paced and told. They even kept in a good amount of what makes these characters stand out.
THE problem with it, they end the OVAs only at the 20 hour mark of the game. Right at the moment of the first major plot twist and reveling that there is a second world. And during the end while the song and credits are playing they show each of the new characters that become main characters during that 2nd arc, including the big bad…… BUT THERE IS NO SECOND ARC. Everything about the thing is set up feeling like there is more, and yet there isn’t. I’ve even looked around on google, and the best I’ve found is that on the commentary or something the second arc is “being worked on” or something. <_<
Back to talking about the OVAs, like I said earlier the part of the story that it focuses on is well told. After experiencing movies like .Hack//GU Trilogy, where pretty much half of it is completely different from the games. It was nice seeing OVAs actually staying true to the story of the game and changing only the smallest of things to make it fit all in 2 hours. And if that second arc does someday come out, I would have no problems recommending it to the people who enjoy RPG stories, but don’t have the patience to play through them. Until then, it’s all just one giant cliffhanger.
Next jRPG on the list, Eternal Sonata for the 360. Don’t expect a review or anything from me on it for at least a year(my standard time to beat an RPG) The next one I WILL beat, probably Xenosaga ep2 or maybe Digital Devil Saga part1. There are also no plans at this moment for Tales of Vesperia or Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World. I’ll play them eventually, but I’m not exactly fanboying over them.
P.S. Does anyone else notice how a large majority of the Tales games end with ia, Phantasia, Eternia, Symphonia, Vesperia, Legendia….. I wonder if that was on purpose or something that happened.