Review

Tales of Symphonia Chronicles

Written by: / / 1 Comment

Tales of Symphonia Chronicles is a new high definition re-release of the two Tales of Symphonia games released on the GameCube and Wii. For PlayStation owners it provides the first version of either game for your platform and those looking for a meaty action RPG adventure will enjoy the pack.

For owners of the previous games, Chronicles doesn’t provide quite enough incentive to buy the games again unless you’re impatient for a new Tales game to play and want to pass the time with a marginally updated old one.

Tales-of-Symphonia-Chronicles-Screenshot-001

What You Need to Know

Tales of Symphonia and Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World are action RPGs of the Japanese variety. The Tales series now encompasses fourteen ‘Mothership’ games, of which Symphonia is one, while Dawn of the New World is considered a spin-off, but still boasts a long story and its own battle and progression mechanics.

What’s New?

There is a significant amount of new content in Tales of Symphonia in this release over its original GameCube release. In one strange quirk of porting (GameCube via PlayStation 2 in Japan to PlayStation 3) the game has gone from 60 frames per second to 30. This is not as bad as it might seem since the game doesn’t rely on perfect timing in its battles, but it still makes no sense that the game can’t match a previous generation version for framerate.

All other changes are for the better, and don’t ruin the original’s simplicity and clarity. New costumes (including costumes from Xillia, Destiny and others if you have a save game from other Tales games on your system), dual-language voice tracks (awesome if you get sick of the English voice acting), new Unison attacks and new Artes (magic skills) for each character.

Tales-of-Symphonia-Chronicles-Screenshot-002

Those who have played Tales games recently might notice that Symphonia’s battle system is simpler, but I think this is mostly because later games have built off its system. The game’s ‘Linear Motion Battle System’ is a real-time system fought on a 3D battlefield, but your character is controlled on a 2D plane using some basic button and D-pad combinations to unleash physical and magic (artes) attacks. Battles are very quick, full of action, and while repetitive at times, remain fun throughout the game.

Dawn of the New World also features a monster-capture mechanic, where you can capture and battle with a huge variety of different monsters (more than 200, in fact).

What’s the Same?

These are essentially the same games released on the GameCube and Wii with upscaled graphics and a few enhancements. This was clearly a very straightforward port of the originals without very much effort placed into improving the graphics to match more modern Tales games. Symphonia was a good-looking game on the GameCube but shows its age in this HD rerelease.

You’ll Enjoy Tales of Symphonia Chronicles If You Liked…

… Tales of Xillia. Symphonia is simpler than Xillia but is therefore more accessible than the recent PS3 game. Although Tales games are unrelated in terms of storyline they are related in battle systems, and chances are if you enjoyed one you will enjoy them all, more or less.

… Final Fantasy XIII. Yes this is a stretch, but it is the most likely reference point many Westerners have. Tales of Symphonia has lower production values and a fully real-time battle system, but also has many of the structures of the Final Fantasy series, such as the overworld, town/dungeon and battle maps.

Tales-of-Symphonia-Chronicles-Screenshot-004

What I Liked

- 5.) Lloyd, the main protagonist in Tales of Symphonia, is a rare thing: A genuinely likeable main character.

- 4.) The option to choose Japanese or English voice actors for both games.

- 3.) The music that plays in the background is suitably grand and is continuously enjoyable. In fact, the collector’s edition comes with a four CD soundtrack – a testament to the amount of quality music in the games.

- 2.) The opening song and the periodic high resolution anime cut-scenes are great to watch.

- 1.) The plots, while a little cliché, are also ambitious and suitably rich for the lengths of the games (50 hours for Symphonia, 35 for Dawn of the New World). This is a meaty bundle of games for an RPG fan.

Favourite Moment

The instantaneous transition from overworld or dungeon to battle and back along with the speed of battles makes the game flow fast, and the exploring of areas is well-interspersed with ‘skits’ (small dialogues between characters, not essential to the plot) and in-engine cut-scenes that move the plot along.

Tales-of-Symphonia-Chronicles-Screenshot-003

What I Didn’t Like

- 3.) Emil is not a likeable character.

- 2.) No matter how hard anyone tries it is very difficult to do ‘good’ voice acting given the scripts of these games. Fortunately we can switch to Japanese voices, in which case the awkwardness of the script is downplayed a lot because it’s just being read. I can’t say whether the Japanese voice acting is any good…

- 1.) So much discussion about ‘race’ can get monotonous. It’s become (or always has been) a common element in the plots of Japanese RPGs and it is, frankly, a tired trope.

Least Favourite Moment

Overall I didn’t mind the dialogue in the game and the overarching story is interesting. Lines like this one by Lloyd, however, irk me with their fallacious logic: “People who can’t accept those who are different are the ones to blame!”


Tales of Symphonia Chronicles Launch Trailer


What’s Extra?

If you really need more, there are a number of side-quests to unlock specific ‘titles’ and costumes for your characters. If you finish the game with consistently high battle ranks you can use the points earned to purchase items for another play-through.

The Bottom Line

Not quite a Beethoven symphony but still long and full of interesting movements.


Tags: , ,