Tales of Symphonia | Sword Dancer

Realistically, though, you aren’t likely to get even a majority of the titles in one playthrough of the game. If you want any hope of doing so, you’ll have to finish the game and start a New Game+. The things you can carry over are bought with Grade, which you gain or lose after every battle based on your performance. You might take your money, or an experience bonus, or the EX gems you have equipped. You most certainly will want to carry over your titles, though, so you can continue to collect them on your next playthrough. It’s addicting to play through it again with a specific goal, while choosing a different story path and experiencing each dungeon and major battle all over again. That’s why most players don’t just go through this 50-70 hour juggernaut once—they play it three, five, ten, fifteen times (I personally did my sixteenth run just for this review).

Tales of Symphonia | PartySo if you’re going to potentially fall in love and spend hundreds of hours playing Tales of Symphonia again and again, what are you going to be staring at? Well, you can get some idea from its original Japanese trailer (plus it’s just cool). It’s a cel-shaded, cinematic adventure that, frankly, views like a big anime (and a good one, considering it spawned its own OVA series). If you’re a fan of anime’s quirks, rejoice, because you’ll not only find it in the visual stylings, but also in the characters’ habits and the ways they show emotions. Icons like the classic sweatdrop come to mind.

Tales of Symphonia | Falcon's CrestIn battle, things can look a lot different. By that, I’m mostly referring to the spells, because they always have a spectacular presentation. Each one gives off a distinctive glow in a precise way, often forming elements into the shape of a weapon, for example. Physical-based characters can still have impressive techniques, but there’s nothing like the foreboding dome that signals an impending Indignation.

The music is as memorable as it is varied. Each of the playable characters has his or her own theme, which can be presented in subtly different lights for the changes of mood throughout the story. All of the cities and most of the dungeons have unique songs, although those ones don’t capture the heart nearly as much as the ones that play in certain cut scenes and battles. There are three different random battle songs throughout the game and a variety of boss themes, and of course, like in any RPG, the more amazing they are, the more rarely they come up. There are only a couple of battle themes that are unique to only one fight, but they are among the ones that shine the most. (Although Fatalize, a song that plays in some of the most fast-paced fights, remains my personal favorite.)

Tales of Symphonia | DragonThe voice acting in the game is brilliant all the way through. Besides the occasional hiccup, the cast acts out the characters’ emotions naturally, matching perfectly with the movements and facial expressions of the scene. My only complaint about the voice acting is that it’s not complete—there are many scenes, emotional ones, that could use it and can feel less powerful in their silence. I even remember one cut scene in which there’s voice acting for only a few lines in the middle, which feels especially weird.

Still, that’s just one of the very few minor problems I can think of in this game. It’s only because of the high standard that I and many others hold it to that I’ve pointed out every tiny flaw—and also because it’s such a short list. If you wanted me to give you an equally complete explanation of all the things I absolutely love about Tales of Symphonia… well, we’d be here all day. And I would most certainly end up spoiling a lot more of its wonderful storyline than I ever meant to. It’s probably better that, if you haven’t already, you check out this wonderful title for yourself… and begin your journey.

Or you can always watch me do it.

Review Score

Review copy supplied by author.

Phil Schipper
Phil N. Schipper joined the Operation Rainfall staff to review Android games, but soon fell in love with writing news articles and Games of the Past. His dream is to make a living writing sci-fi and fantasy novels, which is why he leads the Obscure Authors Alliance in his free time. Still, even in his stories, which usually involve insane people, video games are one of his strongest influences. He describes himself as "a Mr. Nice Guy with a horrible, horrible dark side."