obvious that the Cube could use more RPGs. Namco comes
to the rescue this summer with the first of two such
games. Tales of Symphonia is part of the Tales series
which has failed to catch on in North America. This
version has been retooled for our tastes, apparently,
but it still suffers from some translation problems
- and that annoying anime art. When will it ever end?
Otherwise, Tales of Symphonia is a lengthy and enjoyable
RPG that should keep fans of the genre busy and out
of the sun for a good portion of the summer - as long
as you can put up with those wide-eyed, spiky headed,
always-surprised-or-in-shock, anime cretins.
could steal as much as 80 hours from your life. It's
addicting in that events continue to evolve. Characters
change their characteristics and the plot takes many
unexpected twists and turns. The fighting is in real-time
and aside from exploring, acquiring items and leveling-up,
there are interesting puzzles to solve and mini-games
to play. It's a smorgasbord of activity.
a typical save-the-world scenario, the land of Sylvarant
is virtually mana-less as its inhabitants are suffering
while monsters are attacking. A Chosen is among your
party and is born with the ability to bring mana to
the land. First the Chosen must acquire angelic attributes
by praying at various seals which bestow certain powers.
The Chosen eventually becomes an angel and flies to
wake the goddess, Martel from her sleep who in turn
will shower the land with mana. But there's also a
twist here. In addition to saving the world of Sylvarant,
there is the mirrored world of Tethe'alla which reacts
negatively in response to any positive activity to
the land of Sylvarant. You will have to balance the
effects of both worlds.
map is huge. It's rendered in 3D and gives an overall
view of the towns, dungeons and other locales. You'll
have to do a lot of travelling, much in the form of
backtracking which can get real tedious. Later in
the game you'll acquire some vehicles which will make
your journeys a lot quicker and much less tedious.
is the key to taking on bosses. Get as much experience
as you can early in the game because events don't
take place in any kind of order. Some of the first
few battles may be real simple but then you'll find
yourself facing a boss that you can't possibly destroy
until you level-up. If you die you'll have to go through
the entire dungeon again. The towns are rich with
goodies such as supplies, clues and saves. Talk to
as many people as you can and explore all nooks and
battles are a godsend. They give you a feeling of
control. You have different attacks, some of which
can be strikes or magic. Block and counter moves are
also available. Although the battles are rendered
in 3D you only have 2D movement. It's better than
turn-based battles in any case. Ex Gems will give
you super strength. With experience points you will
be able to acquire new skills but you'll also be able
to learn new skills as well.
actually hate the generic-looking anime characters.
They just annoy the hell out of me. It's like the
character models are aimed at five-year-olds. I prefer
something with originality. This style has been outdated
for 25-years as far as I'm concerned. The translation
is almost shameful, it's a mix of old-school English
and hip slang - sometimes in the same sentence. All
the characters speak this way. There really is no
individualism but then again, this did originate in
Japan which may explain some of the unexplainable.
The voiceacting is flat and uninspired. When an actor
does show signs of emotion it's often at the wrong
time. I like the background music but it does repeat.
For a game of this magnitude, there should be lots
of fresh music.
the towns and dungeons are well represented. Unlike
the characters, I would go so far as to call it art.
Textures are rich and varied, colors are well blended
and there is a great amount of detail in each scene.
Tales of Symphonia before you have to go back to school
can amount to a full-time job. You might want to take
your TV outside with you so that you can get a little
bit of sun before you have to shovel the snow again.