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Platform: Gamecube

Genre: Role-Playing

Publisher: Namco

Developer: Namco

ESRB: April 2004


Related Links:

Review: Golden Sun (Gameboy Advance)

Review: Kingdom Hearts (Playstation 2)

Review: Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land (Playstation 2)





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Tales of Symphonia


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The Tales series is one of those RPG franchises in North America where you pretty much can’t blink looking at the shelves if you want to pick it up in stores on these shores.  Two installments in the series made it our way for the Playstation in the form of Tales of Destiny and Tales of Destiny II, both fun little romps in how they fused a predominantly role-playing experience with a touch of fighting game sensibility and even threw in a downright gorgeous 2D presentation to top things off.  Unfortunately their shelf life was often brief, showing up in force for the first few weeks then virtually disappearing in most areas.  But for those of you who missed the boat on the PSX installments, you’ll get your chance to see what all the hubbub was about when the series makes its way to the Gamecube, in 3D no less, early in 2004 with Tales of Symphonia.


As far as back stories go, Tales of Symphonia’s is common enough.  Thousands of years in the past a battle took place against an incredibly powerful evil, with a hero and a goddess emerging triumphant and the evil being sealed away.  With time the battle passed into legend and people slowly forgot about what happened.  As this took place energy slowly seeped into where the evil was sealed, feeding it strength so that it could one day return.  At the same time Silverland, the world in which the game takes place, was slowly running out of mana as its population devoured this precious resource.  Now with things being decidedly bleak, Lloyd, a young hero in the making, must set things right, both stopping this reemerging 

evil and dealing with the mana shortage.  Joining him are Collet, who some believe to be the reincarnation of the goddess from the ancient battle, and his friend Genius Sage.  Making their journey all the more difficult is that Silvaland has a parallel world called Teseal.  The problem comes in that if Silverland flourishes it will cause Teseal to be racked in turmoil.  That in mind Lloyd and company can’t just destroy the evil and stock up on mana or Teseal will be ruined, so they must find a way to achieve their goals while at the same time striking a delicate balance that will allow both worlds to prosper.




A noticeable difference between Tales of Symphonia and passed Tales games is that the series is making the leap into 3D visuals, doing away with the pixel-based art the series has traditionally been known for.  In an interesting twist though, the artist who set the standard for how early Tales games would look in their 2D for, Kousuke Fujishima (artist for the Sakura Wars series, and manga series Ah My Goddess and You’re Under Arrest), will be returning to handle the art in Tales of Symphonia as it heads into the 3D horizon.


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Also returning with a twist is the game’s battle system, the “linear motion battle system” found in all previous Tales games, now being replaced with the “multi-lined motion battle system” that follows the same principles as the its predecessor only taking into account the three dimensional plane that will now be present due to Tales of Symphonia’s leap to 3D.  Basically players target an enemy, choose their attack, and commence combat just like passed games only with the whole concept of depth perception being brought into the fray this time.


While RPGs have been conspicuously absent thus far in the Gamecube’s life, it looks like that will soon change with tremendous force with this title as well as Baten Kaitos and Final Fantasy: The Crystal Chronicles on the horizon.  Tales of Symphonia could be something to look forward to for RPG fans with its story’s slight twist on a role-playing standard as well as the tweaked battle system.  Hopefully this installment in the Tales series will get a more whole-hearted release from Namco than the relatively limited runs its older brothers on the Playstation had.


- Mr. Nash

(November 11, 2003)