The unique Tales of Symphonia for Nintendo GameCube is an efficient recreation. I’ve fond recollections of renting Symphonia on the GameCube again and again from a neighborhood video rental retailer within the 2000s, and I feel it nonetheless holds up immediately. Tales of Symphonia Chronicles on the PlayStation 3 can also be a reasonably good recreation: it shows the unique in HD, has additional content material, and it runs fairly easily (regardless of its downgrade in framerate from the GCN unique).

Tales of Symphonia Remastered, alternatively, is not a great recreation — particularly on Nintendo Swap. It offers no new updates or upgrades (actually, it has much less content material than its predecessor as a result of it lacks the Daybreak of the New World spin-off included in Chronicles), runs at an unsteady 30 fps, has horrible load occasions, has enter lag when docked, crashes occasionally (particularly earlier than cutscenes), and has compromised audiovisual high quality. Whereas it’s admittedly extra available, it’s ostensibly the worst technique to play Tales of Symphonia.

Tales of Symphonia Remastered begins out like a well-known journey down reminiscence lane. Its opening hours observe cute, big-hearted teen Lloyd and his pal, studious boy Genis, as they search to accompany this recreation’s “Chosen One,” Colette, on her journey to open elemental seals and save the world. I really like the opening few hours of Symphonia, because it hits acquainted light-hearted first-area vibes, but it surely additionally doesn’t wait round to handle heavy stuff; all through this recreation, Colette and gang encounter nice injustices like mass torture, slavery, and genocide, all whereas they grapple with the traumas of demise and common adolescence. After I revisited these opening hours on this “remaster,” I couldn’t assist however really feel that one thing was off.

The Symphonia crew looks out at the horizon
The Symphonia crew seems to be out on the horizon. Besides Sheena who’s busy ‘mirin.

After getting reacquainted with the sport’s solid, setting, and themes, I started to really feel a paranoia that this isn’t the Symphonia I bear in mind: loading screens are rampant and completely black or white, menu backgrounds should not clear, the controls really feel wonky and delayed, and the framerate appears inconsistent. Checking my unique copy of Symphonia on GameCube (with EON’s GCHD add-on connected for HDMI assist), I decided that it regarded, sounded, and performed a lot higher on GameCube: there isn’t a enter lag, the framerate is a rock-solid 60fps, menus are clear, voices are clearer, load occasions really feel shorter and fewer frequent, and the textures look extra uniform — within the remaster, many background textures look stretched, and highlighted/foreground textures look a bit shiny.

On PS3, it’s a comparable story: whereas the framerate is 30 fps, it additionally seems to be, sounds, and performs higher than this Swap “remaster.” That is exceptionally irritating, as a result of every model (together with the PS2 model) has gotten progressively worse, a singular achievement in mediocrity. I received’t lie — I’m a bit upset in regards to the sorry state of the Swap “remaster.” What makes me extra upset, although, is that I personal each the GCN and PS3 variations of this recreation, and I’ve to complete the worst model of it to finish this evaluate. I’m trapped in a reverse Goldilocks situation the place I’ve entry to 2 bowls of “good” porridge, however I’ve to eat each chunk of a 3rd bowl that tastes like Child Bear received his boogers all up in it. Readers, I can’t let you know how terrible it’s to spite end a online game for evaluate, however that’s simply what I did with Tales of Symphonia Remastered.

I’ve to say, the timing of this “remaster” couldn’t be worse. Followers of early 00’s gaming have had an excellent week taking part in Metroid Prime Remastered and the brand new Recreation Boy emulators added to Swap. These lovingly crafted revisits of nostalgic properties have confirmed to be — exterior of a pair hiccups like Prime’s doorways — nice successes to date. The eye to element with the Recreation Boys’ visible choices and easy emulation, along with superb graphical and management updates to Metroid Prime, reveals that video games of that period can nonetheless be smash hits with the precise stage of polish. It’s supremely disappointing that Symphonia‘s “remaster” will perpetually be remembered as an antithetical runt to 2 massive successes in modernizing previous video games.

A screenshot of Tales of Symphonia Remastered depicting protagonist Lloyd, wearing a red jacket, looking upwards at a sword comprised of ominous purple light.
Lloyd’s massive sword can’t save this recreation from its legacy of mediocrity.

Whereas I’m important of this “remaster,” I do admit that the unique recreation is a reasonably compelling one, and whatever the lackluster therapy of it, there’s nonetheless a lot to like about Tales of Symphonia. For starters, the story is a banger: it follows Lloyd and gang as they search to revive life-saving mana to the world, with loads of monsters, enjoyable bosses, and difficult puzzles alongside the way in which. I notably benefit from the shake-up of taking part in a assist position to the “Chosen One” of the sport. Colette is the Chosen One right here, however the recreation largely facilities round the remainder of the social gathering and their trials as they information her on the journey to turn out to be an angel and save the world. There are additionally a number of main plot twists alongside the way in which to maintain issues attention-grabbing, particularly key because the story will take gamers 60 or extra hours to complete.

The gameplay in Symphonia is addictive as properly. It has acquainted turn-based fight tropes like merchandise utilization, “final” strikes, and spellcasting, however these are accessible largely in a pause menu throughout real-time motion fight. By way of a mixture of directional button combos, expertise, and guarding strikes, the fight balances combating recreation controls and technique to improbable impact. Fight is easy, difficult, and rewards cautious play. Moreover, supporting social gathering members are extremely customizable, that means that you could ask them to preserve magic, go “all out,” or use largely bodily or magical damaging strikes, amongst different issues. Plus, a few of their weapons have visible representations, a pleasant improve from video games previous the GameCube period. Whereas there’s some grinding concerned right here to beat just a few onerous bosses, the sport rewards persistence and technique, and button-mashing received’t work within the harder fights.

Talking of fights, I like this recreation’s battle music. Whereas some RPGs of this period have some actually repetitive battle tracks, Symphonia‘s felt contemporary all through 60+ hours of play. In actual fact, the entire soundtrack is filled with bops, because of Motoi Sakuraba’s extremely memorable rating. It’s the proper combination of sunshine and heavy to match the sport’s tone: it’s peppy and upbeat when it desires to be, but it surely typically has a somber melancholy that basically sows the emotions of the sport’s heavy themes, particularly when the cel-shaded and mildly cutesy visuals don’t essentially do them justice.

The unique Tales of Symphonia is an excellent recreation (made worse in Tales of Symphonia Remastered), however the unique product is admittedly not one I’d name excellent. I feel that, like most Tales video games, its heavy themes generally mismatch with the extra light-hearted and humorous tone (and visuals right here). That disconnect has the likelihood to come back throughout as unempathetic to present real-world humanitarian crises. I discover it attention-grabbing that Japanese video video games have a historical past of censorship within the West surrounding non secular allegory (of which Symphonia has a ton, as properly), however the identical video games not often think about the impression of themes like mass killing in a society that’s extremely delicate to violence — the unique Symphonia got here out shortly after 9/11, and this “remaster” comes out within the midst of an period plagued with shootings.

Raine issuing capital punishment to her much younger brother, Genis, after kicking other child Lloyd across the room
Raine issuing capital punishment to her a lot youthful brother.

Possibly I’m overthinking it on this case, however I wish to consider that recreation makers must be dealing with themes like genocide and slavery with the utmost care, and having Thinker’s Stone manufacturing unit/focus camps doesn’t really feel cautious to me, particularly when the sport’s characters gloss over these components in dialogue, and even joke about it once they destroy them (presumably killing civilians). We’d additionally think about condemning and even leaving out problematic youngster abusers/genocide apologists like Raine.

Despite these gripes, I feel these in search of an excellent RPG will discover one in Tales of Symphonia. Nonetheless, for these seeking to play it by way of Tales of Symphonia Remastered, I simply can not suggest it in its present state on Nintendo Swap. For followers of the unique, or Tales followers usually, this “remaster” will possible be a stack of disappointment, from framerate inadequacies to efficiency points to audiovisual hiccups. Newcomers might discover worth on this “remaster” on PS4 or Xbox as a result of the unique Tales of Symphonia has coronary heart, and Tales of Symphonia Remastered is its most available model. Nonetheless, it’s the unlucky fact that they may nonetheless be taking part in a compromised model. This “remaster” doesn’t reduce it by trendy requirements, particularly when it seems to be worse, sounds worse, and performs worse than a recreation 20 years its senior.

Protagonist Lloyd looks at a cartoonish caricaturization of himself on a wanted poster, and asks "Am I this ugly?"


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