Initial release date: August 29, 2003
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, GameCube, Xbox One, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows
Composers: Motoi Sakuraba, Shinji Tamura
Developers: BNE Entertainment, Namco Tales Studio, Namco, MORE
Series: Tales, Tales of
Publishers: BNE Entertainment, Namco, Nintendo Australia, Namco Bandai Games America Inc.
Designers: Kōsuke Fujishima, Takashi Hasegawa
"Review Copy Provided By Bandai-Namco"
2003 was a magical year for gaming for me as a kid because there were so many amazing games that were coming out that year for the Nintendo GameCube such as Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and one of my all time favorites being Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Endless Ocean and also Skies of Arcadia Legends. I remember seeing an advertisement in Nintendo Power Magazine for Tales of Symphonia and I was immediately sold on this game due to its looks and the fact that it was an action RPG and had anime like characters that looked incredibly cool to me. I remember playing it and eventually spending my entire summer that year 100% the game and falling in love with the characters and story.
Fast forward to a decade later in 2013, and we have the PS3 rerelease that included the controversial sequel Dawn of the New World that originally was a Nintendo Wii exclusive. This port was based on the Japanese exclusive PS2 release that added more content such as story content, weapons, side quests, and more but, it unfortunately ran at 30FPS instead of 60FPS like the GameCube version. In 2016, we saw a Steam release of Symphonia that was essentially a port of the PS3 version that ran at 30FPS but gave tons of graphical settings not seen in the PS3 release. Here we are 20 years later in 2023 and the game is again being ported, this time to all current gaming platforms while being dubbed “Tales of Symphonia Remastered” which is also based on the prior PS3 release. Does Tales of Symphonia still hold up 20 years later? Let’s find out!
The Story of Tales of Symphonia centers around the people of Sylvarant having to find those who are known as the Chosen of Mana or Chosen of Regeneration, who will go on a pilgrimage that will see them regenerating the world. Colette Brunel, is the Chosen of Mana for this era as she was born with what is known as a Cruxis Crystal and is tasked by the Church of Martel to go on the Journey of World Regeneration. Colette is then joined by her childhood friends Lloyd Irving and Genis Sage as well as her school professor Raine Sage and vagabond swordsman Kratos Auron as they set out on an adventure that will forever alter their destinies and the fate of the world.
One of the things I always loved about the Tales of series is in how it will borrow a story premise from popular media and use that to lure you in for it to only subvert your expectations with constant plot twists before your adventure ends, and Symphonia is no exception as it borrows the plot point shown in Final Fantasy X with Yuna’s journey only to subvert that entirely.
The gameplay of Remastered is the same as its previous releases as it focuses on exploration, dungeon crawling, action battles, and puzzle solving. As stated before, this port of the game is based on the PS3 Chronicles version which itself was based on the PS2 Japan only release of the game in 2004, thus making this version run at 30FPS. The game starts of fairly slow with both the plot and the combat as the game really wants to focus in on your party being incredibly inexperienced and well in over their heads when it comes to the challenges that’s they come up against. You’ll mainly have your standard attacks that can be modified if you press or hold up, down, or towards your enemy and you’ll have access to your “artes” which are special abilities and attacks that utilize TP and can range from series staples like Demon Fang, Sonic Thrust, Beast, First Aid, and Stalagmite. Usage of Artes will drain your TP which can be recovered by either physically attacking your enemies or using orange gels.
You can assign strategies your teammates to have their A.I. act according to the situations that they are in, or if you’re playing with friends then you can all play together controlling each of the 4 onscreen characters. Dungeons start off easy enough but eventually go on to become a battle of attrition as they will test your patience with the puzzles and between the puzzles, constant difficulty spikes, and length of the dungeons and their pacing, you’ll find yourself often being tired of them as the story goes on.
Graphically, the game looks the same as the Steam and PS3 versions which took the PS2’s visuals instead of the GameCubes, and added additional details to the character models and added more black lines outlining the cell shaded characters and environments. If you were expecting this to have graphics on par with something like Tales of Arise, then you’ll sadly be let down as it is every bit the 2003 game with some updates here and there.
On The Nintendo Switch, the game runs at 720p at 30FPS in handheld mode while in docked mode it outputs to 1080p 30FPS. On PS4, the game runs up to 4K at 30FPS and on Xbox One X, while on Xbox One and One S the game runs at 1080P at 30FPS. Playing the game on PS5 or Xbox Series X|S basically gives you a 4K image at 30FPS. On The Nintendo Switch, the games colors are muted and dull in comparison to the GameCube, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, and Steam releases. On PS4 and Xbox One, the games colors pop brilliantly almost as much as the GameCube original and make the game really good for something that came out 20 years ago.
When it comes to the performance of Tales of Symphonia in Remastered, I have to say that I am incredibly disappointed in how it performs on the Nintendo Switch especially given how this version of the game that’s ported has never had anywhere near the issues that it does on the PS3 or Steam releases.
I noticed that’s this port of the game has a ton of loading, something that has never been present in any other version of the game from the original release on the Nintendo GameCube all the way to the Steam release. Whenever you go to different section of the various towns and dungeons, you will see that the game will fade to a black screen and need to load for 5-10 seconds, sometimes 15-20 seconds, which made me not want to explore due to the insane amount of loading times. The fact that there are so many loading issues just baffles me to no end and makes me wonder why Bandai-Namco would release the game on the Switch in such an unpolished state. The fact that this happens the worst on the Switch version and also occasional happen on the PS4 and Xbox One versions is confusing to me.
The other issue I noticed was the fact that when you either go to the menu and go to the Status section, the background is removed and all you will have is the character art and a black background. This doesn’t appear in the GameCube, PS2, PS3, or Steam versions of the game nor is it present in the PS4 or Xbox One versions.
There is oddly, a ton of slowdown in this particular version of the game where you will experience it in battles, during the field, transitioning into battles, as well as during in-game cutscenes. Why this happens is a mystery and I hope this is something that they can ultimately patch out down the road as the previous Tales of game to come to the Switch, Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition, didn’t have any of the issues that Tales of Symphonia Remastered has.
As happy as I am that Tales of Symphonia has been released again for a new generation to enjoy, I must say that the Nintendo Switch version of the game is hands down the absolute worst way to experience this legendary game. With unusually amounts of slowdown, graphical glitches, loading screens every time you change scenes or go into the menu, and input latency with wired and wireless controllers, make Tales of Symphonia Remastered on Nintendo Switch the absolute worst way to play this game and is something you should avoid until Bandai-Namco patches out the issues or it goes on a deep sale as this just isn’t wort spending money on in its current state. If you can get it on PS4 or Xbox One then that will be the way to play unless you can get the Steam version or the original GameCube release.