Review by DX Xetrov
"If Tales of Symphonia was a women, I would marry it."
Tales of Symphonia
Every since Nintendo released it's Gamecube way back when, it was plagued with a problem of retaining an originally made RPG for that system alone. Final Fantasy: CC came close, but it still wasn't able to cut the cake. It seemed as if Nintendo would be cursed without an original RPG until it's death, but thankfully, Namco is here to save the little purple (or one of the other dozen color schemes) box.
Tales of Symphonia is actually part 3 in a series that has been long running in Japan. Thankfully though, much like the Final Fantasy series, Tales of Symphonia does not involve a single storyline that follows the same characters and plot throughout it's sequels. It's a brand new and fresh story for each game. Since this is the first Tales game that the US receives, we are not truly missing out on anything story wise due to the lack of the previous 2 games being translated and shipped stateside.
Tales lives up to the name RPG and actually provides a fantastic, fun, and dynamic gameplay that will keep you on your toes for a couple dozen good solid hours. I sure as hell had a great time playing this game, and I'm sure other RPG fans will as well.
Gameplay - 9/10
The game play in this build is actually very different from you classic turn based RPG. For one, your control scheme is similar to that of an Action game. Hit A to swing, B for Tech attack, X to block, so on and so on. Not only does this keep your fingers moving and warmed up, but it also makes for an interesting time fitting in strategy along with quick reflexes.
Although there are plenty of Real Time RPGs, Tales of Symphonia is a unique package compared to the rest. DURING battle, instead of fighting in full 3D, you are restricted to a somewhat 2.5D fighting style. You are only allowed to move forwards or backwards by pushing right or left. I actually found this somewhat exciting, as it was MUCH easier to hit my targets and not get lost in target switching (compared to Kingdom Hearts, and Dark Cloud 2).
More about controlling, you can change your target with R, thus shifting the camera around. Also your characters are controlled by AI with scripts that you can setup to determine what they achieve in battle. This is pretty much a staple in any RPG game, and the same standards hold for Tales of Symphonia. Or does it?
This brings me to my next point. This game is simply amazing because you can plug up to 3 extra into your Gamecube, and allow your friends to control the rest of your party. This option is not required for anything, nor does it give a disadvantage. The advantage is the obvious: a smarter system controlling what other characters do. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles sported something similar, but that was hardly an RPG, let alone a good game.
Gameplay is probably the aspect that pleased me the most.
Story - 8/10
The storyline in this game is pretty mainstream. I won't spoil anything in this review, but I'll just state that you can pretty much predict what will happen next. I still enjoyed it though, and was pretty much hooked from the beginning.
Nothing that really stands or anything spectacular in this area.
Graphics - 8/10
The graphics in this game are somewhat eye catching. Cartoon graphics for the over world and battle portions, with rare Anime Cut-Scenes in between (well, the opening at least). These graphics remind me of Dark Cloud 2 a lot, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The backgrounds are crisp and beautiful. The character models look somewhat hilarious, with a big head small body art form. I actually enjoyed playing with innocent looking characters and completely bashing monsters continuously.
The Menus and text are clean and easy to read. You can also choose to change around color schemes that the menus will be shown in.
I'm pretty sure that most gamers out there will appreciate the graphics the way they are.
Sound - 7/10
Nothing really to say here. The sound is defiantly fitting for this type of game. Although this may seem nice, the tracks can get repetitive after a while when you're constantly trying to level up. At one point, I found myself humming some of the tracks like the fan boy I am, but that soon changed after replaying the area a couple of times.
The voice acting isn't anything grand at all. Some of the voices hardly even fit the characters nature, but what can you do? I got used to it after about the first 30 minutes of playing.
Replay Value - 8/10
The final important area of reviewing any RPG game. The replay value here is VERY good. There are a bunch of minigames and subquest that must be done, and if you take everything into consideration, this game can take you a good 80/85+ hours to fully complete. It's also a very enjoyable experience finally conquering all those quest that you kept a mental note of, but just never gave the care to do.
FINAL SCORE - 8/10
This is an excellent to any RPG lover, or Gamecube owner's library. You will have a great experience playing this game, and will even find it as good as some of the big name PS2 titles. Even if you didn't have a good time with this game, at least be happy that the Gamecube finally got blessed with an RPG.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/19/04
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