My RPGTrek continues with Tales of Symphonia. After spending some time with the original Tales of Phantasia, I decided that I needed to move on to something a bit more modern. Critics and fans alike adored this title, so hopefully it will leave a better impression on me. We find out together as your next RPGTrek story is only a click away!
Tales of Symphonia – Part 1
System: GameCube game played on Wii
Welcome to another subjective look into a classic RPG! This time, I dive into Tales of Symphonia. As most know, I start each of these experiences looking through whatever collateral I have, plus any additional media I can find on the game via the web. The artwork, especially on the box, blew me away. While typical JRPG fare, the artwork has plenty of motion with bright, contrasting colors. The protagonists look focused and determine. They pump me up!
Then I started a new game.
All of the characters seem to have de-aged by about 5-7 years. Now, I understand that in years past, video game makers made larger heads because of limited pixel or polygon counts. But, by the GameCube age, that wasn’t nearly as much of an issue. By all rights, the character models sport plenty of detail. I just dislike how they felt the need to make their heads disproportionately larger. This, in turn, makes them look a lot younger to me than their ages in the story. While I have little doubt that a large portion of the gaming population feels that this makes them look cute, it constantly bugged me.
With that nitpick out of the way, we jump into the game. A teacher, Raine, asks a group of students a number of questions. At one point she calls Colette, who holds the title of “Chosen One.” Interestingly enough, that did not seem to cause any amount of jealousy in the others. Not that I would want to be the chosen one. Unless it paid well. I like money.
Our main character and hero, Lloyd, stands in the back of the class, practically falling asleep on his feet. Despite his lack of attention in class, Lloyd quickly shows, later in the story, to be a strong friend and defender of the weak. He got his strong sense of justice from his adoptive father, Dirk the Dwarf (*giggle*). Lloyd constantly watches out for his smaller friend, Genis, who also happens to be the younger brother of their teacher.
Despite looking about eight years old to me, Collette approaches her sixteenth birthday, when destiny (or something) dictates that she must go to a temple to receive her quest to regenerate the world. As she approaches the landmark, however, Desians (i.e. elves with technology and attitude) attack her. Our brave hero and his young friend jump in to save her, but the enemy forces overpower them. Thankfully a mercenary, Kratos, shows up out of nowhere to give them a helping hand! Together, they work their way through the temple so Collette can receive her quest (Honestly, these people just need to download the new “Quests to Save a World” app!)
Remiel, an angel, explains that Colette must go to four elemental temples to unlock the way to the Tower of Salvation or something. Honestly…I was not paying much attention. Why? Because Remiel, who reveals himself as Colette’s father at some point, just creeps me out. I cannot recall ever feeling so freaked out by an ‘angel’ before. Even the ‘evil’ angels in Disgaea could learn a thing or two from this guy.
After returning home and visiting his father, Lloyd discovers Genis going off the beaten path and follows him. It turns out that Genis visits ranch of human prisoners run by the Desians. Genis feels bad for one of the older women there, who the guards treat poorly. The ruffians spot the boys, however, and they quickly run away. When Lloyd recants the story to his father, Dirk speaks harshly to him, concerned that he might have caused trouble with pointed ear devils. Lloyd discovers that his mother was killed by the Desians because of an ex-sphere he possesses. At this point, he promises himself that he will accompany Collette to help regenerate the world, which they clearly do not want.
In a wicked twist I never saw coming, once Lloyd returned to his home town, he found it set ablaze (/sarcasm). Honestly, boys and girls…for the love of all that is holy, listen to me. If you count an up and coming hero among your fellow townpeople, do not walk, but RUN away. It is only a matter of time before some calamity turns your village into a smoldering pile of ashes. I have decades of JRPG experience backing me on this.
The Desian commander explains that Lloyd broke the non-aggression pact, by visiting the human ranch, which completely justifies his actions on the entire town. He forces Lloyd and Genis to fight a creature. Suddenly, the creature stops short and attacks the commander! It tells Lloyd and Genis to run, and at that point they realize that the monster used to be the old lady friend of Genis.
The village banishes the boys for their actions, and they work their way to catch up to Collette and the other. However, at some point, the Desians capture Lloyd and Genis. They let Genis go, who eventually fetches the others to mount a rescue attempt. We succeed and with the party altogether, Lloyd makes his case to join the cause. Raine and the mercenary Kratos feel that they lack the years and experience to join such a dangerous trek (See, others think they are kids, too!)… but they eventually relent. With the team together, I decide to tackle my first true dungeon after spending a bit of time leveling my team with random encounters.
Insid the labyrinth, I fight a deadly menace unlike any I have seen outside of Dragon Quest games. I do not refer to the nasty big boss monster found at the end of these mazes. No, I speak of the dreaded treasure chest. Or, to state it more accurately, the treasure chest mimic. Seriously, this thing killed my party more than all of the bosses in the game put together. To say I felt frustrated would understate my sentiment by a factor of 43.
Eventually, I press on and terminate the most forgettable boss creature. Collette’s creepy angelic father returns to give her wings. No, he does not give her a six pack of Red Bull, but, rather, literal angel wings which allow her to flutter around in the air. Daddy creepy angel gives us some general direction to find the next seal or whatnot, and we hit the road.