RPGs are possibly the most difficult genre of game to create. With their trademark immense length and scale, the unique challenge of crafting a world players will want to explore and never leave for a huge playtime is… well, enormous. With so many classic franchises still ongoing, with multiple massive titles every year it makes it difficult for fans to go back and tackle older genre staples. Namco have now re-released a classic from the Gamecube/Playstation 2 era on modern formats: how does Tales of Symphonia fare in the 2020s?
Well, in many ways it’ll be the game players remember. This is no upheaval of the game but rather a move to modern platforms, removing entry barriers. However, in many ways, this modern version is simply inferior. On a technical level, it performs terribly, the visuals are washed out and dull and the frame rate is halved compared to the original release. Scratch that: at times it goes even lower. This horrid presentation is simply unacceptable, going against the idea of preservation itself. Texture issues, load times and other such bugs and crashes are commonplace, frankly awful issues for a remaster of a twenty-year-old game.
The tragedy is Tales of Symphonia itself is still a cracking romp. The cheery yet strangely dour adventures of Lloyd Irving and company may not tell a wholly original RPG tale but it’s endearing nonetheless. A unique combat system based around jumping between different planar surfaces and using the best characters per enemy type is an excellent riff on standard genre battles.
As the only way to play this classic title on modern formats, this port may be a necessary evil. However the fantastic standards of remasters and rereleases of late make this a hard pill to swallow. If you’re a fan who must play it, wait for the Sales of Symphonia. For interested newcomers, look to better releases.