North America hasn't always been able to fully enjoy the Tales of series, with many of the titles never made it outside of Japan and older games such as Tales of Destiny are harder to track down without the help of a re-release. The Tales of Symphonia games have always been some of the most beloved so it's pleasing to see that Tales of Symphonia Chronicles allows a new generation to experience the game, but also refreshes the visuals for those who wish to relive one their favourite games.
With this new High Definition update of the Symphonia duo we are treated to updated visuals, dual audio, and some minor content extras such as costumes, new Artes, and illustrations. Sure it doesn't look as good as the upcoming Tales of Xillia 2, even despite the HD graphics, but fans of the series and genre shouldn't mind as Symphonia carries with it the accentual qualities of a classic JRPG.
The first game, Tales of Symphonia, has a loveable cast of characters, a world map with tons of depth to it, and of course an engaging battle system. The main protagonist Lloyd Irving is one of the strongest and relatable characters in the series from a narrative perspective and players will find from the very start that he doesn't feel too over powered. However, as you progress through the game Lloyd becomes stronger not only as a swordsman, but as a person. He is backed by the kind-hearted Collette, a girl who eventually becomes a savior of the world and the know-it-all magic user Genius.
The plot of Symphonia can be compared to Final Fantasy X in many ways, as the the group travels on a pilgrimage to save the world. Lloyd and company must assist Colette, the Chosen of mana, with the task of regenerating the world by unsealing the five temples. Along the way the story takes many turns that you wouldn't expect and without spoiling anything, it will make you think twice which characters to trust and what exactly the team is fighting for.
Like with all of the Tales of games, the battle system plays out in real time and can be described as an Action JPRG. Those who are familiar with the franchise know that you can move around in every direction, but up until this point Symphonia only allowed you to move left to right in a linear battle layout, with your party on the left and the monsters or boss on the right. This aspect doesn't feel aged at all and to be honest the game would be far too easy if characters could move any faster and in all directions like in Tales of Xillia.
Most of the game is spent with four characters in your party which you use to set up attacks, defence, healing, and accompany you in what are called "Unison Attacks." Unison Attacks can be triggered when the gauge is full, and it fills up depending on how much damage you cause. Thankfully if you choose not to use a full bar that was charged during the duration of a random battle, you don't have to worry about filling it up again as it returns to the exact spot you left it at. Each character will use an assigned move if the first attack connects and if you manage to find the correct combination of attacks, characters involved can perform a stronger finishing move. There isn't a way to know what attacks you'll get but it's fun to experiment with different combinations until you find a new move.Getting down to itm Symphonia has 40 plus hours of content and plenty of small secrets to find that make the experience memorable and fun, like equipping Zellos as your on screen character and talking to any female NPCs to get free items.
The other game on disc is Tales of Symphonia's 2008 sequel: Dawn of the New World. It's a much shorter game that sadly doesn't hold a candle to the original when it comes to story. The characters you knew from the prequel now take a backseat to Emil and Marta who aren't as interesting or likable.
The main new addition to Dawn of the New World is the monster catching system, which feels underdeveloped and very time consuming; making players collect monsters by lining up specific elemental Artes and abilities. It feels like the monsters aren't as strong as the main protagonist Emil and his companion Marta since you can mainly use the two of them to take down the major bosses without difficulty. Monsters will back you up, but don't expect them to be the party member with the highest stats, particularly since Tales games value from a team of interesting characters that you'll want to fully develop with a medley of powerful and flashy Artes. When you add monsters with no personality the entire premise loses its appeal.
Dawn of the New World's story focuses on Emil Castagnier's parents, who were killed by an unknown shadowy figure posing as a familiar face. He is portrayed as a coward until he meets Marta Lualdi, a young woman with the core of Ratatosk embedded into her forehead. He vows to protect her and forms a contract with the Lord of Monsters, Ratatosk, thus making him the Knight of Ratatosk. He receives the power to fight against monsters and enter "Ratatosk Mode", a more confident version of himself that not only changes his attitude but physical appearance slightly.
It's a let-down that much of the original cast did not retain their original voice actors and this can really affects the experience, but you can switch over to the Japanese option to remedy this. On the other hand if you truly enjoyed the overworld, towns, and characters of Symphonia then this sequel isn't an extreme waste of time. It's just no secret that only half of the package is truly worth a full play through.
This package is worth picking up, even if you only experience Tales of Symphonia. Just don't expect to be too thrilled with its sequel, Dawn of the New World. Hopefully in time more of the older Tales games will get an HD makeover on more recent systems so more people can experience them with the same care Symphonia has received here.
|Tales of Symphonia is back and finally more accessible|
|Japanese voice track adds sound to skits|
|More than 100 hours of gameplay|
|The sequel is a weak entry|
|Battle system can feel a bit dated|
|DOTWâ€™s characters arenâ€™t as memorable as the prequel|