The Gamecube has been around for quite a while but we haven’t seen a whole lot of solid RPGs make their way on the platform. The PS2 and Xbox have been blessed with some great ones but the Gamecube once again has been left in the dark. So can Namco fill that void or will the Cube still be without a great RPG. Read on through the review to find out.
Whenever I sit down to review an RPG there are a few key features that all of the great ones have in common. First you want to check the story and see if it is interesting. Then you want to see if the combat system is deep enough to provide enough strategy for the game. And then last but certainly not least the game needs to be addictive, one in which you don’t want to put down. And that is something the Gamecube has yet to get and hopes to get with Namco’s latest - Tales of Symphonia!
Tales of Symphonia takes place in Sylvarant, a land in which is having a shortage of mana. Mana is very important in this land for it provides them with magic but as well as to support life. In the game you play as Lloyd Irving, a teenage boy who sets out with Colette Brunel to try and rid the world of this shortage and make everything back to normal once more. The story moves on throughout the game and in fact has many twists and turns that will keep you on your toes. The game stays interesting throughout but can be hard to follow at times, due to poor voice acting. Luckily you can do the smart thing and turn the voice acting off and just read the dialogue.
One thing that has always bothered me about RPG’s is the abundance of random battles. I mean I can understand a few here and there but in many RPG’s we are given a ton of these random battles. Well Namco at least made me happy when they took out most all random battles. There are chances of random monsters running into you but after playing this game for sometime you will become very talented at dodging your opponents to avoid these sorts of random battles.
The game is not all about fighting either, you will also be going through the game by doing many small little puzzles that kind of help to mix it up a little in the game. These puzzles don’t come up a whole lot during the game but they are often enough to give you some time away from the battles.
The Tales series has always been one that has remained in 2D even throughout the new consoles, and is somewhat still intact to this day. Although now the game has 3D battlefields it still has the 2D style to it. In the battles you can only go backward and forward and therefore if your enemies are clustered together you can hit many at the same time. The whole idea behind the battle system is to fill up a meter so you can have your team attack in unison. You can also summon spirits in the game, which will become quite a huge factor in the battle system.
If the game has one weakness it is the difficulty to start the game. Many will be turned off by the extremely hard boss fights to start the game. I can tell you that I had a lot of trouble getting through the first few hours of the game. This is one that is going to take some time to get into but if given the right amount of time will be very rewarding.
Overall the gameplay of Tales of Symphonia stays true to the series. The battle system in my eyes is one of the best to make its way onto the Gamecube. There are so many good things going on in the game that it can be hard to grasp. And to top it all off this is not a short game either as it will take you a good forty hours to complete.
If you get an average gamer to look at Tales of Symphonia you would probably find a lot of negative remarks on the games graphics. This isn’t a game with the high resolution graphics nor will it have the stunning cut scenes. But instead Tales of Symphonia brings its own unique artistic feel to the visuals.
Tales of Symphonia goes to a type of cel-shading that really works well with the Japanese style art. The characters in the game are heavily colored and have plenty of detail to them. The environments are also nicely done with plenty of color and plenty of different styles to keep the game feeling fresh.
Overall the graphics are not perfect with some of the game not having the level of detail that you would expect but for the most part it is a good looking game.
Tales of Symphonia is a game that starts off quite difficult, but given some time, the game becomes more and more entertaining. The level of strategy is very high in the game and as you move through the game the strategy becomes more and more important. As you make your way through the game the battles become even more complex and that raises the fun factor in the game quite a bit. Not only are the battles fun, but the puzzles throughout the game are a nice breath of fresh air.
Tales of Symphonia doesn’t make any ground breaking moves to the RPG genre but it does give Gamecube fans an RPG to be proud of. If you are a Cube owner in search of an RPG don’t hesitate to pick up this one up.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.