Tales of the Beaten Backlog

Beating my backlog really did not make me feel as though I had accomplished some feat. Instead, I now know that I don’t have a pile of games that I may never touch. In a way, that fact is relieving but this accomplishment felt rather anti climatic. The only difference between now and then is that I can solely dedicate my time towards replaying the games I truly liked.

Instead of discussing how I enjoyed Tales of Vesperia, the last unfinished game I had or discuss the games I really think stand out in my 200 game collection, I am simply going to rant about my current Tales of.. Marathon.

Considered the “FF7” of the franchise, or the game that made the series known to jRPG fans, Tales of Symphonia is the first game from the series I played. When I went through the 36 hour tale in 2007, I remember constantly comparing it to Final Fantasy 10. Why? Because FF10 set the bar, in my book. The comparison only shows I highly regarded ToS. Parts of the plot are similar while the game play is radically different.

Unlike Tales of Legendia, I thoroughly enjoyed my replay of Symphonia. Not only did I learn how in depth the game play can be by playing the game on its hardest difficulty, mania, but I delved into the side content I previously glanced over. What I enjoyed about the replay was not the story, but experimenting with different characters and tactics to tackle the bosses that can dish out twice the damage while having twice the health. My first play through consisted of me playing as Colette because I felt as though she was broken with a certain move and I could sit back and fight long range when the battles were getting touch. However, this time, I tried to play with each of the melee fighters.

By swapping members, I noticed how my play through was not much of a cooperative effort. Instead, my AI companions were a hindrance during most battles. My healer would not heal constantly, but rather run up to the enemy and start casting even if her tactic was set to “not pursue”. My other fighters would die seconds into a battle and result in me fighting much more defensively from the get-go. I would have to turn off all of their techs except for a few to get them to fight semi-decently, although I noticed they cannot backstep or link techs.

Because I played this between Vesperia and Legendia, I saw the considerable difference in quality regarding music. Legendia’s music, in a nut shell, was brilliant. On the other hand, Vesperia may have one to two tracks that I thought was tolerable. Symphonia’s felt very average, not sucking or excelling during any scene.

Graphically, I thought the game aged well and had a much more solid presentation than Legendia. I felt as though I was exploring a complete world full of distinctive traits depending on region. The anime scenes aren’t quite as nice as Legendia’s, but they are still rather good. On the other hand, these anime scenes are drawn in the same artistic style as the in game models so the scenes don’t look out of place unlike Legendia’s.
This recent play through has not only showed the glaring problems with the AI, but I now understand why I had been fond of the game. The game could have used some polish, but the graphics, sound, and battle system all combine to make a fun and enjoyable game. The normal mode provides a venue in which a player can simply mash buttons to win, while mania provides the strategy for those who like to have some challenge. The story has a simple premise but attempts to deviate from cliches at certain points. Furthermore, there is plenty of side content which not only gives backstory for each character, but these optional segments can make your party near-unstoppable. I would definitely replay this for a third time some day, but for now I will continue with my Tales of… Marathon and play some other RPGs, such as Wild Arms and Shadow Hearts.

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