HomeReviews3/5 ReviewTales of Symphonia Remastered Review

Tales of Symphonia Remastered Review

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The terms remake and remaster are batted around frequently in today’s gaming landscape, but they are not interchangeable. A remake for example, is a full re-creation from the ground up of a particular title. A remaster can be anything it seems, from a small graphical overhaul to a brand-new soundtrack with prologue and epilogues added.

Tales of Symphonia Remastered brandishes the remaster banner but, in reality, this is more like a simple re-release on consoles. And in one way, it even takes a step backwards from the original release.

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There can be no denying the quality JRPG that Tales of Symphonia was and still is in terms of story and game itself though. Released back in the West in 2004 for the Nintendo Gamecube, it is the fifth mainline entry to the Tales series. Much like other JRPG juggernauts Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy, an intricate knowledge of previous titles isn’t required to enjoy a middle-entry title; they are largely independent of each other. And as a first furore into the Tales series, you could do a lot worse.

Tales of Symphonia starts off in the world of Sylverant where, 4000 years ago, a race known as the Desians were sealed away after trying to rob the planet’s mana. Now, that mana is depleting, and the Desians have turned up again, kidnapping the peaceful residents and subjecting them to biological experiments in facilities known as human ranches.

Closer to home, you play as a young man named Lloyd Irving. His best friend Collette has just been summoned to the local church to receive the mission of regenerating Sylverant. Her pilgrimage will mean her travelling to various places to collect elemental seals.

It all sounds a bit Final Fantasy X in the first few hours. Lloyd is very much a Tidus figure; on the annoying side and arguably, not really the star of the show. His inclusion into helping Collette on her pilgrimage is largely also because there are no other options but to let him tag along.

That Final Fantasy X comparison only gets Tales of Symphonia so far though. It isn’t long before this ever-increasing group help Collette discover that actions on Sylverant have a major impact on a parallel-world known as Tethe’alla…

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Tales of Symphonia follows the same beats as JRPGs of the time with an overworld to travel between locations that help push the story forward, and of course, battles in between. These are not turn-based, but a simplified form of real-time combat. Instead it uses something called the Multi-Line Linear Motion Battle System. It is very basic, despite what this name suggests. In essence, Lloyd or any character you control is on a 2D plane in this faux 3D battle screen. His highlighted target is who he will run towards and act as a tether with. Defeat this enemy or highlight a different enemy and you will move to the next target. If you can remember fighting games released at the same time where it was a 3D environment but still played out in a 2D setting, it is very reminiscent of that.

To action a basic attack you can just smash away at the A button. Special attacks are assigned to a directional button and the B button. This doesn’t feel optimised at all as you are likely holding a directional button anyways, using a standard attack and marching towards an enemy. It is a hangover from the original release that could have done with a bit of a revamp.

There are plenty of other mechanics that get introduced on your quest to help keep things interesting. Unison attacks, EX Skills, techniques and more will all be unlocking as you progress.

When not fighting, various button prompts pop-up in the bottom left. These are known as ‘skits’ and see the party members conversing about all manner of things. Some are humorous, some unlock new abilities and some have no bearing at all as to what’s going on in that current moment. These help flesh out the characters because, as your party grows, you will likely have a set team that you will rarely deviate from.

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However, whilst in the Japanese dubbing, these are fully voiced, in the English version, they are simply text based.

That said, the less heard of the English dub the better. There may have been a time where the voice work sounded crisp and clear but in Tales of Symphonia Remastered it feels like things have been recorded on a potato.

Another major missed opportunity is in the frame rate. In the original Gamecube version, Tales of Symphonia ran at a smooth 60 frames per second. This remaster runs at 30, and I cannot think of one single reason why this is acceptable.

In fact, the remaster as a whole runs pretty poorly it has to be said. There are momentary freezes whenever you try to open a door and the load times that will have been present on older versions are still here. There are not even any optimisations for Xbox Series X|S consoles. Now, nearly two and a half years into this console generation, this feels a little bit lazy.

Tales of Symphonia Remastered is a brilliant JRPG. Some areas such as the battles and overall sound feels a little dated, but it is still very much a playable game. Where it is let down is in the remastering details, or rather lack of. A drop in frame rate is completely unexplainable, and the load times and freezes are unacceptable as well. It gives the overall impression that Tales of Symphonia Remastered is much more of a cheap cash grab than a meaningful remaster that preserves the Tales of Symphonia legacy.

Tales of Symphonia Remastered is on the Xbox Store

Richard Dobson
Richard Dobson
Avid gamer since the days of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Grew up with the PS1 and PS2 but changed allegiances in 2007 with the release of Halo 3.
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