Out of the few Tales games that I’ve played, I will have to say that Tales of Symphonia is up there in terms of a favorite Tales game and as a JRPG. Sadly, my Gamecube version (of which I still own) decided that it wanted to start freezing on me so I couldn’t finish it. So, you can probably imagine how glad I was when Tales of Symphonia Chronicles was revealed and, eventually, released.
Being the 10th anniversary of the game’s release on the Nintendo Gamecube, it seemed fitting that Tales of Symphonia would see an HD remaster. Alongside Tales of Vesperia, it’s seen as one of the best games in the Tales series. Thankfully, the amazing game that is Tales of Symphonia carries over really well into its HD release. You’ll also find its Wii sequel, Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World paired alongside to garner more playtime.
In Tales of Symphonia, you take on the role of Lloyd Irving and a colorful gang of characters like elf siblings Raine and Genis, kickass kunoichi Sheena, and enigmatic mercenary Kratos among a few others as they guide the Chosen One, Collette, on a journey to regenerate the world. Tales of Symphonia makes use of the Multi-Line Linear Battle System where throughout the fight a meter called the Unison Meter will fill. Activating the Unison will allow you to combine techs together without the cost of TP. Combine the right attacks and you can pull off some interesting attacks. You can also equip skills to characters by combining EX Gems you earn, buy, or find throughout the game. Everything else like the music, skits, and combat, which is as fluid as ever, carries over nicely from the original as well.
Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World places you two years after the original where the world has pretty much gone to hell again due to a few feuding factions. Main characters in this game include the soft-spoken Emil, an orphan who is made a Knight of Ratatosk, and the cheerful Marta, a young woman who carries the core of Ratatosk, God of Creatures with her. Characters from the previous game do make an appearance and even join your party at various intervals but it’s usually only for specific points. To fill the lack of party members you have, Dawn of the New World allows you to make pacts with monsters you fight which can then fight with you, learn their own skills and abilities, and level up. The battle system used is similar to Tales of Destiny and Tales of the Abyss with full 3D movement but makes use of elemental properties which can determine Unison attacks used or how effective attacks are. While the game plays and controls just fine, the game does have shortcomings in its characters and by its very linear exploration.
There aren’t too many changes with the re-release besides a few additions and some cosmetic changes. The graphics have been touched up a bit–especially in Tales of Symphonia. The game seems a bit more colorful than it was originally and some of the cel-shading looks much more refined and sharper. Dawn of the New World, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have received as much refining as its predecessor did. A really awesome addition is the inclusion of dual dialogue, English and Japanese, for both games. I’ve played Tales of Symphonia and the dub was tolerable but I’ve heard from many sources that one of Dawn of the New World‘s lacking points was its English dub. The addition of Japanese dialogue can help soften that blow to your ears if it’s something you greatly dislike. There are also other additions like new techs, Unison attacks, and skits among a few other small things. If you have save data from Tales of Graces f and/or Tales of Xillia, you can expect to receive a nice bundle of extra costumes and titles when you start up as well.
Tales of Symphonia Chronicles is a fine HD remaster and I’m glad that Namco Bandai made efforts to bring it over to the PS3 as great as it turned out. Everything from the music, combat system, and graphics carries over very well and, even to this day, it still stands out as a JRPG gem. If you’ve lost your older copy of Tales of Symphonia or have never played it before, I’d suggest going for it. Many have said this already, but Tales of Symphonia IS enough itself for the price of purchase (especially seeing that retro stores could charge around the same price for a Gamecube or PS2 copy) and you get the addition of Dawn of the New World along with it.
Now, Namco Bandai, will we get a re-release of Tales of Vesperia?