on September 23, 2004
After much waiting, wailing, and gnashing of teeth from its owners, the GameCube finally got its own RPG. And what an RPG it got!
This game is absurdly fun to play. Control in both the overworld, dungeons, and battle is effortless, with the controller utilized to good effect in almost every instance. Item use and character development are easy to control. However, if you want, you can get very particular about your character's growth thanks to the 'title' system. The Strike/Technical divide, which is poorly explained by the manual and the game, also allows for a more general way of controlling your character's growth. The application of EX gems and their associated skills allows still finer control of your character's abilities. But again, you can play the game very well and have a lot of fun without getting too deeply into any of this.
The real-time battle system will be a bit confusing to those used to the more standard turn-based gameplay of other console RPGs. The learning curve is pretty shallow, however, and the inability to directly control the other members of your party is not as much a handicap as you might think. The AI is reasonably intelligent (though the characters sometimes position themselves oddly or run around for no apparent reason), and if necessary the player can command them to use particular skills using either controller shortcuts or the battle menu.
The learning curve for controlling a given character, as I said, is very shallow... you can learn to control Lloyd, Kratos, Zelos, and Sheena in only one or two battles. Regal, Presea, and Collette require a bit more work (or at least they did for me), and Genis and Raine will be hardest (mainly because they're useless as melee fighters, and everyone else is either primarily melee or at least useful for it). Carefully assigning your battle skills to your controller and preparing unison attacks will allow you to create combos and special attacks that look awesome, but it's just as fun to assign a few stock skills and wail away on your opponents.
Again, battle strategy is as deep as you want it to be. The game sets defaults which are reasonably useful, but if you desire it, you can adjust strategies to fit your own approach to battle. Also, you have the ability to adjust individual strategies in battle through the menu, or switch the whole group to an alternate strategy through D-pad shortcuts. As with other aspects of the game, battle strategy is scalable to your level of interest and expertise.
I have not tried multiplayer, but I have seen complaints that the tendency of the camera to zoom in on Player 1 in battle detracts from the experience. Multiplayer for this sort of game is an iffy prospect anyway, and the AI is sufficiently competent that you don't NEED your pals to pick up controllers, so I don't view this as a weakness.
The gameplay unites RPG strategy with good old-fashioned button-mashing fun, and that makes for a great experience, IMHO.
With the caveat 'for a game', as always. Despite some cheesy lines (and I mean REALLY cheesy), the story of the game is nicely plotted, and most of the characters behave believably. The twists in the story are both interesting and plausible, and the game makes effective use of foreshadowing without being ridiculously heavy-handed about it. The only problem is that you have to devote some time to the game before the plot picks up; the first part of the game makes it seem like it's going to be the standard 'beat the dungeons and save the world' story that's been standard on consoles since the first Legend of Zelda game.
Cel-shading. Some love it on general principle, some hate it on general principle. If you belong to either category, I can't help you. However, if you like a game that just looks good, then you won't go wrong with this one. The overworld graphics are rather bland (and the black-blob monsters in the overworld are atrocious), but everything else is very nice. The choice to use blurring as a method of introducing perspective was a mistake, but this is the only complaint I can level against the cutscenes and town areas. The character designs are pretty standard (slender build + narrow chin + absurd hair) for anime, except for Regal. Monster designs, however, are generally good, and the appearance of the special moves in battle is good overall and fantastic in a few cases. As long as you're not a cel-hater, this game will be lots of fun to look at.
Most of the voice acting is good (the post-battle exclamations particularly so). However, the guy playing Kratos sounds like he has a head cold, which makes his delivery fairly weak. The music is passable; not really inspiring (until the end credits, which inexplicably have much better music than most of the game), but not distracting. A few places have really catchy tunes associated with them, however (Katz Village), and generally the music is at least nice to listen to. The main weakness, however, is the z-skits, which should have had voiceover (and apparently did in the Japanese version). A few lines here and there are over-emoted, but generally voiceover quality is high.
An abundance of side-quests and mini-games (although these tend to be of little interest to me), the Grade system, and the ability to reshape the story in several places makes this game a lot of fun to play multiple times. Winning it once might take 60-80 hours, but in all likelihood you'll want to win it at least twice, and maybe more times than that.
OVERALL: SUPERB (92%)
Hours of excellent gameplay and an engaging story are paired with eye-pleasing graphics and surprisingly good voice acting. If you have a Gamecube, this is an excellent choice. Hopefully Namco will be releasing future 'Tales' series games over here as well.
on August 5, 2004
I have edited this review after finishing the game. (...)
A long time ago, the tree of mana whithered away because of a ferocious war that raged across the lands. A hero gave his life to save the tree. This so grieved the goddess of mana that she left for the heavens asking her angels to awaken her for if she slept the world would whither away like the tree. Thus the angels job became to guide the "chosen one" to the heavens so that she/he may awaken the goddess and regenerate the world. Now A young girl named Colette the Chosen One, has recieved her calling and she must journey to regenerate the world. Her Best friends Lloyd (the main Character of the game), and Genis decided to go with her to protect her.
The plot starts off feeling eerily similar to Secret of Mana. Not only that it seems like a cheesier version of that to begin with. But as you delve deeper into Lloyd & Colette's journey it starts to come into its own. This game has depth. It deals with issues of politics, religion, discrimination, & friendship. There are many twists and turns all supported by a brilliant & complex cast of characters. Further every so often you have the option of following conversations between your characters as they journey which help add more depth to their characters.
Now on to the graphics & sound. The visuals are gorgeous. The Colors are bright, and the locations are lush. The animation is smooth, and after some major events you are treated to a hand drawn anime cut scene. The sound is pretty good too. Characters taunt and chatter as they battle. You can also hear them recite incantations as they cast spells. The music is nice but I felt the game lacked that one memorable piece that every single final fantasy (FF) game seems to have. My major complaint with the sound is the voice acting is pretty cheesy. It has its strong moments but for most parts I think it could have been done a lot better.
The Battle System is awsome. You can see enemies on the overworld map, or in dungeons. They will chase after you but you can avoid them 85% of the time. Once you do fight, it's a lot of fun. You can move around the field, choose a target and execute attacks. Its almost like SOM except cooler. You can jump to avoid attacks, or block if you wish. Further you have techs (magic attacks & skills) that you can execute, and you can unleash combined attacks on enemies using your party for super damage. And lets not forget combos! You can string together techs to hit the enemies a huge number of times. My highest is 72 hit combo but if you link your party's attacks properly you could go higher. Your party members do a pretty good job of fighting along with you, and even using techs (spells) to heal you etc. You can customize their behaviour using a myriad of options to set AI priorities for each of your team members.
Ok some negative things now. I think one thing that this game really lacks is that its missing that one great event, like the opera house in ff6, or the ballroom dance in ff8 that really made those game memorable (atleast for me). I wish there was that one great scene that I could go back to my GC, reload the game and watch over and over again. Regardless the game is still amazing and memorable as a whole if not for one event. I would highly recommend this game. It is a lot of fun. (...) Stop reading and start buying!
on October 15, 2004
A salesman recommended this game to me. I've been waiting forever for a good RPG for the Cube, he said it was a great game. Boy was he right.
OK, so at first the storyline seems really clichéd and predictable. Just wait. The plot has so many twists and turns; I found myself shocked more than once, jeez, you sure don't expect half of the things that happen.
Everything is so smooth. So, the characters aren't breathtaking during the cutscenes (their movements seem strange sometimes), but the landscapes are nice and so are the battle scenes. The few anime cutscenes during the game are simply BEAUTIFUL.
I personally adore the music in this game. I found myself pausing the game just to listen to it many times, and saving as many of the midis for the game as possible. ^__^
The sound effects are usually just as amazing as everything else. I just sometimes found the voice acting strange (but VERY rarely)
O__O I LOVED the characters (especially Kratos, so what if he's a bit clichéd). Such variety, such cool costumes ^__^
Once you've finished the game, a harder mode becomes unlocked and you can use your GRADE (sort of like experience points, but not) to start a new game with certain extras.
Overall (not average)
This is a definite must buy for the Cube. The game had me completely enravelled, it was definetly one of the best games I have ever played (and I've played a lot). I almost garantee that you'll like it ^__^
on July 12, 2004
Tales of Symphonia, a game like no other for the Nintendo Gamecube. Seriously, there are so many unique features in this game that it should have it's own genre! Okay, but this reveiw isn't to butter you into buying this game, it's to inform you about it, so lets get crackin'!
STORY: The plot of Tales of Symphonia starts out like most other RPGs - Enter Lloyd Irving, a teenage swordsman. Along with his friend Genis, he must accompany The Chosen, an angelic girl named Colette, on her pilgrimage to save the world. Along the way, many characters will join and leave them as they help Colette save humanity.
CHARACTERS: The characters play a major role in Tales of Symphonia. Each is fully customizable, although they each have certain skills that imply which job they'd be best suited for. Although Lloyd is the default character, you can choose to control another if you so desire. I particularly like this, because the player can form their own customized battle style and character, whether it be strong Kratos, versitile Colette, or healer Genis. The characters also affect the plot as well. Depending on your realationships you forge with your fellow party members the plot and course of the game will change accordingly.
MULTIPLAYER CAPABILITIES: Another thing that seperates Tales of Symphonia from the rest of the RPG pack is the multiplayer capabilities. Unlike most other RPG games, you are able to battle on a team with three other friends who are each controlling a different character in your party, via the Nintendo GameCube controllers. So, instead of watching you play with a dull expression in their eyes, your buddies can get in on the action too.
GRAPHICS: Lovely cel-shaded graphics decorate the world of Tales of Symphonia. Characters are painted with vibrant colors and scenery is characterized with amazing detail. Cutscenes, however, make the game even more special when cel-shaded graphics become anime masterpieces. Yes, that's right, cutscenes are in anime, and characters are blessed with the voices of skilled actors (such as Tara Strong, Bubbles in Cartoon Network's The Powerpuff Girls, and Jennifer Hale, Prier in Mastiff's La Pucelle: Tactics.)
EXTRAS: Tales of Symphonia is lavished with goodies that only add to it's uniqueness. Characters are able to learn special recipes and cook meals for their friends. When a meal is cooked, you can see an anime cutscene of the rag-tag group devouring it hungrily. Also, a special Titles system is introduced with the creation of Tales of Symphonia. Players can earn special titles that enhance one aspect of their fighting style. Like, "Turbo Waitress" might increase Colette's speed, and "Defender" might increase Genis's defence.
All together, I think Tales of Symphonia will be a GREAT game. Take pride in adding it to you GameCube collection, because it surely will be what gamers will be talking about over the water heater.
on August 4, 2004
Until I read reviews, and decided to buy it
good voice acting
crazy battle action(And it's multiplayer, all right!)
A great story with tons of twists and turns
Some characters have diffrent costumes(But don't really get to use them till the end)
Side quests are pretty fun
The game has a bit of humur(Which I like)
So far the best RPG on the gamecube
While it may be long 52 hours for me, the game promised 80 hours
Not many animated or FMV sequences, which is rare in RPGs
diolauge can run a bit long(But thank God not as long as Xenosaga)
Replay value is all on you
This game has alot to do, and man the story is just gold. This game really suprized me like Dark Cloud 2 did, and those who have a gamecube or love RPGs gotta get this. This is one of those rare gems that come by every once in a while\
on October 4, 2004
Hm, where to begin... "Tales of Symphonia" is actually a pretty standard, though fully-fledged and very fulfilling, Role-Playing video game. You have a world in peril because of a war fought long ago, a sleeping goddess who needs to get kicked outta bed (>_<), a klutzy but kind-hearted young girl as the long awaited savior, an academically-atrocious but tough and reliable young man as her best friend and constant companion, and an odd-ball assortment of interesting characters who are either tagging along for the ride or get picked up along the way. And of course, a diabolical organization of demi-humans bent on killing said savior and ruling the world.
Or so it seems.
The pride and joy of this game isn't in innovative new concepts, like the real-time battle system. It is in the fabulous execution of long standing RPG traditions:
--The plot twists and turns at many points across the breath of the game, sometimes obvious and sometimes not. However, it is a compelling tale all the same, drawing the player right in. I am NOT about to go into this in detail, as it would inevitably spoil some of the many surprises that await eager players.
--The characters are real and can be identified with. Also, the game uses "skits" (which pop up while simply trekking around the world, or in response to certain events) to flesh out these characters for the player, and to evolve their relationships to each other. Missing certain skits will in fact effect how the characters react to each other much later on in the game.
--The voice acting is surprisingly good, especially considering that this is a dub from its original Japanese (many game dubs are semi-notorious for their lack of "emotion" and "connection" with the characters they're voicing). And better yet, only major events or sequences are voice-acted, so you never really get tired of hearing the character's voices. Indeed, I actually found myself looking forward to the next major event, if only to hear said voices again.
--The musical score is pretty standard fare, but original, and very effective at its purpose: setting the mood for a scene or battle, then staying out of your way as you focus on the characters and dialogue. The battle theme for the certain boss battles toward the end of disk 1 is a personal favorite of mine.
--The visuals vary, from mediocure (you most likely won't notice, having better things to focus on) to spectacular (enough to make you sit up and exclaim, "WOW!"). True, the animated cutscenes seemingly promised by the game's amazing opening are few and far between. However, the cell-shaded landscapes and people actually seem to fit the "mood" of the game overall. Again, "anime conventions" define most of the characters looks (i.e. mostly realistic, except for too-large eyes, impossible hair, and the occasional bit of floating clothing). The biggest problem is a blurring effect that seems to have been intended by Namico to show depth. While not very effective, its easily ignored.
--Character animations are very good. While on the map and in towns and dungeouns, there are times when two characters don't quite line up (ex. when exchanging an item), in battle they look very good. The attack sequences and spell effects, however, look fantastic all over, and are expertly combined with SFX and vocal battle cries to a truly immersive, heart-pounding experience.
Which brings us to the battle system. Real-time. That's right, this game dispenses with the old fashioned Final-Fantasy-III-(VI in Japan) pause-menu-menu-command-action-repeat forumla. By moving a particular character into the top slot in the character list, you can take direct control of that character in battle, from an option on the Techniques list. A simple, basic attack with that character's weapon of choice (for Lloyd, a sword slash) are carried out with the 'A' button, variations of that with a direction on the Control-stick and the A button together. Special attacks (multiple rapid slashes, a power-strike, etc.) and spells (Fireball, Heal, etc.) have to be assigned, but the format is the same as normal attacks, only applied to the 'B' button. Also, even while you're controlling you favorite character, you can quickly and easily cue another character in the battle to use a particular attack/spell of their own, provided you assign that technique to a shortcut, 'C-stick up' or 'C-stick down', ahead of time. Finally, we get to 'Unison Attacks'. I wont go deep into them, but then, the name pretty much speaks for itself. Whatever you do, though, don' ignore them. Certain combinations of techniques by certain pairs of characters, when used together in a Unison Attack, result in a bonus "Compound Special Attack" at the end. These compound techniques are one of the best ways to deal lots of damage to those thick-skinned bosses you'll encounter throughout the course of the game.
Thus ends my exposistion on the largest piece of innovation this game has to offer. If you're the type who always goes for the lastest and "greatest", you're probably not going to find Nirvana here. However, as fellow reviewer Moogy Mac "Jeff" said:
"There are obvious nods to other fantasy oriented storys and games, but these handled in the form of homage, not blatantly ripping off."
If you are looking for a good solid ride, and don't mind strutting proudly through the first 20 hours or so of the game (of which seems to be the clichéd-to-death "off to save the world" standard fanfare) with your head held high, go ahead and buy this game. Once you, Lloyd, Colette, and the others make it up the Tower of Salvation that first time, only to have all their (and your) hopes come crashing down around them (you), you'll be ~hooked~!
on July 23, 2004
Until now, the Nintendo Gamecube has had a serious drought as far as the RPG genre goes. The only RPGs that the Gamecube had were the mediocre Evolution Worlds and Skies of Arcadia Legends, which was a Dreamcast port rather than an original game. Namco saw the opportunity to relieve Gamecube owners searching for an RPG and released Tales of Symphonia exclusively on the system. The game has proved to be simply oustanding in every respect.
First off, the graphics are excellent. This uses a style much like the cel-shading seen in games like Wind Waker and Playstation 2's Dark Cloud 2. Typically, I don't care for this graphical style since it's flawed in its exectution. However, the designs of the characters and scenery used in this game have proved to work very well with cel-shaded graphics. The characters are fluidly animated and the world is full of color, which makes the game an absolute joy to behold. In battle mode, the characters and enemies are both detailed and well animated and the techniques used by characters are well-done as well. The only weakness in the game's graphical appearance is evident in the overworld where the player travels from location to location. The game suffers from somewhat poor draw distances as far as locations and the enemies, which just seem to appear as the character approaches them. However, this isn't a large flaw, and is a flaw that's easy to look past. Overall, the game has a very strong graphical presentation.
The sound aspect of the game is also strong. The musical score, which is important in any RPG, is great here. The songs that play in towns, battles, and in the overworld are all very fitting, and most of the songs are very well composed as well. The score really helps to draw the player into the game and it's all well done overall. The only aspect that mars the overall aural aspect of the game is the voice acting of the characters. While by no means bad, the voice acting is mediocre quite a bit of the time (namely in the story scenes, in battles, the voice acting is fine.) Luckily, the voice acting can be turned off from the menu, so it doesn't hurt the game. Despite the relatively weak voice acting, the sound is good overall.
The story of the game has proved to be very good. It has an enthralling storyline where the characters of the story are on a pilgrimage to restore the world (much akin to the plot of Final Fantasy X), but as players will soon discover, there's much more to it than there initially seems to be. The story becomes deeper and more complex and it works very well overall. The story also really helps to flesh out the characters of the game so that the player gets a better idea of the personalities and motivations of the characters.
The gameplay is the aspect of Tales of Symphonia that Namco really excelled at. The game is set up like a standard RPG where a player goes to towns, travels in the overworld, and of course, faces several battles with various enemies. The battle system of this game is where it manages to stand out from the crowd. Tales features a battle system that can be likened to a fighting game or a 2D sidescrolling action game. The player takes control of a character who has complete control over the character. The player can move the character at anytime and hits the A or B button to use one of several attacks at the player's disposal. The player continuously hacks away at the enemy and moves on to the next. While it seems simple on the surface, there's quite a bit of depth to the fights and the fighting never gets old (which makes leveling up a joy rather than a chore.) The difficulty of the battles is ideal. The fights are never too easy, yet, not too difficult either. The difficulty is reasonable throughout and it compels the player to continue playing rather than frustrating the player with impossibly difficult battles. Considering that battles are an integral part of any RPG, Tales' battle system really helps it to stand above the rest of the RPGs currently being released.
Overall, Tales of Symphonia is fantastic. The story, graphics, and sound all work together with the fantastic gameplay system to create a unique RPG experience unlike anything the Gamecube (or other current systems for that matter) has seen before. Any fan of RPGs or fan of games in general would do well to check this game out.
Very Highly Recommended.
on July 13, 2004
The game is an rpg where you go around fighting monsters, gaining levels and such, and battling huge and very hard bosses. Inthis game it is very easy to dodge the enemies so you don't get into a battle, but that also means you'll die very easily against the boss. The game has 2 difficulty modes and 1 mor unlockable one. The battle system is what makes the game shine. It's a real time action battle where you control 1 person in the battle. The rest are played by computers. But, if you have 3 friends and 4 gamecube controllers, you can do multiplayer. No GBA used in this game. There are nine characters in all but you only get to keep 8... The world is huge and theres many sidequests to do. This game also has anime cutscenes. The game is 2 disks long and takes around 60-80 hours to beat. All the characters in the game have english voice acting with over 10000 lines. Your characters can have relationships and that will change the ending.
on June 30, 2004
OK, this really isn't a review; it's a run-down of things that I've found out from various sources (Gamespot, Namco, etc.). First of all, you HAVE to see the graphics. Cel-shading is used for this game, but it's the best I've ever seen for the Gamecube (Budokai 2 for PS2 has AWESOME graphics, though). Go to Gamespot for movies and such and check out how beautiful it looks; I decided to preorder the game just by going through screenshots. You should also know that the game has anime cutscenes, which look really clean.
Anyway. This game promises a lot; it promises to be upwards of 80 hours in length (just for comparison, the Wind Waker was advertised as 40 hours) thanks to its two discs. It's an RPG, but only a few will recognize the name (the Tales series was never really big here in the US). Changing the standard, turn-based RPGs, the Tales series has stood out because of its real-time battle system. It adds a lot more depth to the battle system than normally possible (sorry, Final Fantasies), and with the presence of a huge number of spells and complex combos that are available, you will actually enjoy the battles even after a month of playing. Also, the enemies are actually visible (think Earthbound), and if you get near them, you go to the battle screen and fight. The last little thing about battles is cooking; it seems that this is a complex "little" idea that lets your party members make some kind of food with a variety of ingredients. It also serves as one of the MANY side quests in the game, for there are 24 recipes in all for different types of food (you can even add your own ingredients to the recipe!).
The game's voice acting is also pretty top-notch. While the lip synching isn't that great (mouth moves in some random way) and the motions look the same when a person's talking (some characters just stick their hands out in the same way every time they're talking), but the fact that the ENTIRE script is read out to you by top-notch actors is pretty amazing.
Another, pretty unique feature of the game is that your characters are customizable to the extreme; if you use a certain type of magic (healing, etc.) a number of times, you advance in that category alone. This lets your characters develop into specialized fighting machines.
Normally, I would talk about the story now, but since the game hasn't come out yet, (...) Thanks for reading, and you better get this awesome RPG if you know what's good for you.
on September 29, 2004
This game caught me off guard. I had pretty much written off the GameCube as a legitimate vehicle for great RPGs after no great original titles had come out. Yes... "Skies of Arcadia" is amazing, but this was a game ported from another system. "Tales of Symphonia" is a GameCube exclusive in the U.S.A. for the time being. It has a somewhat cell shaded look to the characters, but many of the environments have more of a water-color look to them. In my opinion, the graphics look rather boring in screen shots, but in action, they can be really stunning. Overall, I found the cell-shaded aspect of the graphics to be much more satisfying than what was exhibited in Nintendo's own "The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker." This is the exact reason I was hesitant to pick up this title. I was disappointed with Zelda, so I was apprehensive when I saw the cell shaded aspect of the graphics here. Do NOT let this be a turn-off for you.
This game has got to be about the most fun I have had on the GameCube system. I am extremely impressed with the battle system where you control a player chosen character in your party in real-time. It makes the battles very action packed with plenty of player involvement.
Sound is very good. I was really impressed with the voice acting. It is endearing and fits the animated character design really well. The English localization for the game is spot on. Music is hit or miss, but the voice acting and battle sounds make up for this. I had heard that the game would make about a 700 page book, and after having played through it with most of the side quests, I can say that I have no trouble believing this through all of the spoken and written dialogue between the characters.
Story? Where to start. I had heard the story to be cliche fantasy, but I found I was really impressed. There are obvious nods to other fantasy oriented storys and games, but these handled in the form of homage, not blatantly ripping off. It starts out with a formulaic introduction, but the well written story quickly forges its own very interesting path. The player becomes emotionally involved with the characters and their quest, even though some of them are in archetypal fantasy/anime roles.
"Tales of Symphonia" is a stellar experience. Gameplay and graphics are polished and top-notch fun. The characters and story are interesting, and the sound is engrossing. GameCube players should not miss this, and I go out on a limb saying this... but I would say it has the polished qualities of a system seller. My hat is off to the folks at Namco for bringing RPG starved Nintendo players an absolutely fantastic game. One word of caution. There are rumoured to be "anime" cut scenes, but doon't get your hopes up for a lot of them as there are only a few. I hope the upcoming "Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean" (also from Namco) is half as good. Nintendo should take a cue from Namco on this one. I never thought I'd say that!