There are very few games I have played more than once, and even fewer that I played three or more times. I don’t know why I wanted to play Tales of Symphonia for a third time, but I was able to complete the game and master the game by beating it in 13 hours and 31 minutes.
The only other games I’ve speed ran through were Golden Sun and Donkey Kong Country. Since I don’t have much experience in this regard, I figured it would be fun to try, especially now that I remember the puzzle solutions like the back of my hand.
Speed running through the game provided a new angle towards many aspects, such as the game play and music.
Perhaps this happened because I went from mania to hard, but I found this play through very easy. Without carrying anything over, I was able to beat the final boss 20 levels lower than my previous play through. Furthermore, I did not find myself ever using items. For those who watched my stream of mania can attest that I was popping items every 5 seconds during boss fights. Part of me feels as though I got better, but part of me believes hard makes it so the AI isn’t as much as a hindrance as mania.
Instead of controlling Lloyd, as I did on mania, I decided to play as Zelos. What I realized is how Zelos is not as fun and seems to lack techs that could chain well. He has some of the same moves as Lloyd, Raine, and Genis, such as Demon Fang, First Aid, and Thunder Blade, but being a jack of all trades implies he will not be particularly strong in any area. As the player, the last thing I want to do is stand back and cast, so of course I rush to the front lines. Simply put, I was using the same combo over and over since it was the only one he had.
While controlling Zelos, I noticed how Lloyd has manuverability over everyone else. With moves such as Tempest and Rising Falcon, Lloyd has jump over enemies and go from side of the battlefield to the other almost instaneously. None of the other characters can perform such a feat. Rather they could knock the enemy down, and one can instantly appear on the other side of the enemy. With a big boss or enemy, knocking them down over and over is simply not as effective as appearing on the other side.
Because I couldn’t hear the top notch voice acting, I learned to appreciate the music. Honestly, I was never a fan of Sakuraba’s work whenever he composed for the Tales of.. Series. I personally think he has done a better job on Valkyrie Profile and Eternal Sonata, but I will admit the OST for ToS is not as bad as I originally thought. However, I still don’t think its very good or memorable.
Knowing I can play through this game so quickly gave me a rush of satisfaction. Barely do I put my own challenge while playing a game so this play through felt rather fresh. Furthermore, it has inspired me to try and master more of the games I love. For example, I intend to do a Pistol only run in Uncharted (maybe first on hard then crushing). Even without giving me the drive to start new challenges, I can cast this game to the side and know I have explored all of the content and understand the depth of the battle system. Now what, though? Don’t think I have forgotten how I intend to play through all of the Tales of… Games I have. Tales of the Abyss is next!