Tales of Symphonia
Recently, I've been going around saying "Most of Gamecube's best games came from Dreamcast." It's a hyperbole, not a lie. Tales of Symphonia is a JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Game) that came out for the Sega Dreamcast maaaaany many years ago. Despite it's age, it has made a pretty remarkable impression on Gamecube and RPG fans alike. There are many notable qualities this game has. From it's adorable graphics, to it's deep story, this game really kicks ass from beginning until...you put it down. Notice I didn't say "end". It's true- I haven't finished this game yet, but I will. Don't worry. The question today is the same as it always is with I Put This Down:
Why did I put it down? Why did I pick it up again? What do I think of it now?
Why did I put this game down? Well let's see. I suppose the answer is that I simply didn't have time to play this game. Believe it or not, between my band, school, sleep, friends, working out, getting mad chicks, getting beefy, buying Red Bull, and donating large sums of money to charity, I didn't have a spare 80 hours of my awesome life to designate to this game. It is a shame too because I really do enjoy this game. Tales of Symphonia is the first real RPG I've ever played, so the new gaming experience was very exciting. This game is often praised for it's amazing character development, graphics, fighting style, and soundtrack. The dungeons are fun because the 1 item you have that pertains only to dungeon exploration changes with every dungeon, affectively creating as many different puzzles as there are dungeons. These are all claims that I found too awesome to be true while reading about the game, but it turns out that they are, in fact, true. Those were just a few reasons why the game was all the more difficult to pause. Unfortunately, in the end, the amount of fun the game was to me was not enough to keep me going for more than 20 hours at a time. Ultimately, I put this game down.
But then I picked it up again! I think I just missed playing it. The thing about Tales of Symphonia is that the story makes you want to play the game. It's like reading a good book - you may not love reading in general, but what the hell, are you just going to put down the damn book without fucking finishing it? You're already 20 damn hours into it you scumbag! Just finish it and learn what happens. The game is fun to play and the ever-growing story counteracts the sometimes repetitive gameplay. Maybe you find yourself pressing the same buttons over and over, but the reason WHY you're pressing those buttons changes, and so does too your feelings towards the repetition. Considering the game has 80 hours to god damn do it, the character development IS really flawless. You got some dudes betraying you, some people dying, some friends destined to become enemies, some unlikely alliances, all while optional cut scenes take the development one step further by providing you with windows into the personal lives of each of your team members. Is the viewing of these scenes essential for the understand of the story? Not at all, but they are a good example of the steps game designers can take in order to ensure that those who may put this game down pick it up again. As you guys know, this isn't a review, so I can't talk about gameplay that much, but I will say that the fighting is fun as hell, as it takes place in real-time akin to Viewtiful Joe or even Super Smash Bros., and navigating the open hub world is very fun and rewarding. When a developers give you a big map, they want you to get lost. They want you to appreciate what they have created, and I do. I so do, Namco.
So what do I think of it now? I love it. In the end, Tales of Symphonia offers an exceptional gaming experience. Nothing is too challenging, nothing is too annoying. Everything is perfect as far as I am concerned. The idea of playing an 80 hour game is daunting to me, as, like I've said, I've never played an RPG before (I know this isn't even the longest RPG out there, dickhead, so don't yell at me), but I anticipate feeling really good when I beat it. It will be rewarding and I look forward to it. I do feel like I will wind up putting it down in increments of 20 or so hours, but that's fine by me. If spending 80 hours on this game is inevitable, then I might as well enjoy every last second of it. Seashells. Forever.