04 July, 2010

Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World

There were two games which prompted me to go for the Wii; Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World & Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers. Of all the games released for this system, those two appealed to me the most. I'm not saying they're the only two reasons to buy a Wii... I have since purchased quite a number of other games, but for this review, they don't matter. What does matter, Terr? (You might ask) Tales of Symphonia matters. The Tales series has been a long standing joy in my bleak life. Sadly, there are quite a few Tales games we didn't get here in the UK & even worse, where only released in Japan which means, at least for DS games, I couldn't get USA friends to purchase & send them to me. The most recent game, Tales of Graces, is still only a JP release since it came out '09 December for the Wii. Namco Bandai (or Bamco as my friends & I refer to it) loves the series so much it has it's own studio (Namco Tales Studio) just for producing our lovely Tales games, so please, please, please give us the Tales games we're missing! When I first started this game, I made the mistake of playing it on my 32 inch HD 1080p television... something that the Wii is so obviously not suited for. After pain & agony, I moved the Wii to my smaller CRT television where, although a smaller screen, it flourished & lived up to it's wonderful potential. After I got the 'where' to play it sorted, I restarted the game & the first thing I noticed was how alive my characters appeared to be. I don't know if I can explain it, but their movements are so real. I can't think of another game where the characters appear to be moving as a part of the game rather than just on the game... does that make sense? Well it does to me. The environment is gorgeous as well & flushed out with something going on
everywhere. Little bugs floating around or mobs hopping about trying to get your attention for a battle, it's all quite wonderful to see. I didn't get tired of it in the 62 hours it took me to finish this game. In combat, the artes, mystic artes, & burst artes are all beautiful to see. They remain much the same as other Tales games in their inception & little anime style flash screen for each characters mystic arte. I wasn't expecting the game to be 8-bit or anything, but I wasn't expecting it to be this good at all. I was quite surprised by how nice it was. A nice thing in this game is a little 'Pokemon' side thing you can do. You go out into battles, catch monsters to
battle with you, & raise them (cooking is only used for your monsters in this Tales), feed them, & they participate in battles with you. Unfortunately, this came as a problem in two ways, both of which I just took off my specs at times & rubbed my eyes in frustration. The first is actually catching the monsters. You have to match up the little elemental grid buttons around a main elemental button with the same element (brought on by artes used in battle by you AND the enemy) on at least four little elemental buttons. This is not as easy as it sounds, I assure you. I got a lot of monsters in the game, but I will tell you now only two of them I actually got intentionally. It is just way too much of a random hassle to get these things to match up! Not only that, but when you do get them matched up, you have to initiate a fully charged special arte with the other monsters in your party (you get two as part of a tutorial on the monster catching process).

The second aggravation is sort of a mixed blessing aggravation, but it caused me angst as I will speak of. When you have your two main characters in your party (Emil & Marta) you must use them, which leaves you two slots for monsters. So obviously for a while you'll be using your two main & two monsters. The pain comes when you get other 'temporary' party members to use from the previous Tales of Symphonia games. You might want to use them, nostalgia & all, but you won't use them because your monsters are better & your monsters can level. Level, you ask? Oh, didn't I say? The other characters you get for your party don't level at all. You can't get new skills, can't change their equipment, can't make them any better than they are when handed to you. Pretty much a downer if you ask me. Sure, sometimes I threw them in for nostalgia, as previously mentioned, but in the end it felt like I was wasting time not buffing up my monster allies who will end up being with me longer than the temp characters. Sadness, truly. That brings us nicely to combat & it's not much different than most other Tales games. You get your characters in battle, control one (other real people can control the other characters if you really want, but I often find it distracting & annoying) either with manual, semi-auto, or auto. I generally have it on Auto unless I'm feeling the need to farm Grade. Yes, my friends, farm Grade. It's here as well... did you actually think you'd escape it? How on earth would you play a New Game+ without it? Well anyway, you can sticky your artes to almost all the buttons on the wiimote & on the nunchuck & also depending on your wiimote swing. Move it to the right, cast an arte, swing it up & down, a different arte. That was kind of cool, though sometimes I got aggravated at a boss or something & shook the wiimote & cast artes I didn't intended to... so I eventually unbound those ones. I don't have a lot to expand on, regarding combat, because it was just like all the other Tales games. Jump in, hack, hack, arte, slash, exp, grade, items, move on. The only other time, by the way, that the motion thing comes into play is when you have to use your Sorcerer's Ring for various small explosions or the setting of things on fire!

Now we come to the music & game play, finally! Incredible is a nice word to use, so I shall. Beautiful is also a good one. I was able to listen to the music for a large amount of time playing it, & more so I wanted to listen to it while playing the game. Even little blurbs of situational music was pleasant enough to listen to. It really managed to match & compliment the game play, which was fantastic. One of my favourite things in the game play is to do with the sword you wear. You have it in a sheath horizontally, as you do with many JRPG's, but when you walk through a door, Emil moves his hands behind & turns the sword to the side a bit, so it doesn't hit the sides of the door as it walks in. Now, this isn't too obvious as it happens as the screen is fading to the next screen & I only caught it on the off chance, but now I see it every time. It's a nice little thing that not everyone at all is going to notice, but the designer put it in for whatever reason... realism? It's certainly realistic as you'd have to move it to the side a bit to get it through a door. It's little things like that, scattered around this game, that make it so much better. Well I think I might have left out one or two things, so I'll briefly gather them up. Moving from place to place is sort of nice... you don't get total control of it. You get a map, move to the list of where you want to go, click the name & off you go. It's quick, it's simple, it's easy to use. Sometimes I just want to get there & not plough through two hours of forest. The story is good, not great, but passable. I figured out pretty much the entirety of it about 11 hours into the game, but I'm an old hat at these kind of games so my RPG intuition is quite able to pick up on probable outcomes. Still, it was exciting to see how it happened & how the game turned out. I would love to see other people play this game. It's not an OMGGOBUYTHISNOW game, but I'd recommend you go out & give it a try. Maybe rent it or something. It's a game which should be played, however the way.


  1. Your review has made me want to play this game. Guess I will stomach the pokemon-like aspects, whenever I get a Wii and the game. =P

  2. stomach the pokemon like aspects? pokemon is awesome!

  3. Thanks for the review of this game! I played through Tales of Symphonia 2 several times, and the fighting system's simplicity is what makes it addicting!