Anniversary: Tales Of Symphonia Became A GameCube JRPG Favourite 20 Years Ago

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Tales of Symphonia
Image: Bandai Namco

On 29th August 2003, the Journey of Regeneration began…

Tales of Symphonia is celebrating its 20th anniversary in Japan today. The action RPG made a real splash when it launched on the GameCube — its international release followed a year later in 2004, and it has seen numerous ports to the PlayStation 2 (Japan only), PlayStation 3, Steam, and now modern consoles.

We’ve talked about the GameCube being a bit starved in terms of JRPGs, which is why Tales of Symphonia felt like such a significant moment for fans of the genre. Its use of cel-shaded visuals, anime cutscenes, and full English voice acting (which, despite being a little cheesy, many are pretty fond of) combined with the action combat made this an RPG fan favourite back in the mid-2000s.

For many, it was also their first taste of the Tales series, Bandai Namco’s flagship RPG series. In North America, the franchise may have made its debut on the PlayStation with Tales of Destiny, but Symphonia was the first game in the series to reach Europe.

The original opening in North America and Europe. Ah, memories…

Acting as a distant prequel to the first game in the series — the Super Famicom’s Tales of Phantasia — Symphonia follows Lloyd Irving, whose best friend is the Chosen, a person who is picked to go on a journey to restore mana to the world. Lloyd accompanies Colette alongside his best friend Genis in order to protect her, but the group discover secrets about the world order as they go.

The story isn’t entirely original, but what makes Symphonia (and other games in the series) resonate with so many is the cast of characters. Lloyd is a highly relatable protagonist — straightforward, acts without thinking, but passionate about what he believes in. Other highlights include Zelos, a flirtatious Chosen who sasses basically everyone, and Kratos, a mercenary with a strong sense of honour.

There’s also the game’s combat, called Linear Motion Battle System (Tales is a series that loves long names). In Symphonia, it’s dubbed the Multi-Line Linear Motion Battle System as marked the first time the series had jumped into 3D battles. While you couldn’t yet “free-run” (that came in Tales of the Abyss), you could direct your character to run towards enemies in multiple lines in a 3D environment.

Put simply, Tales of Symphonia’s popularity can’t be understated — the game has long been reported as the best-selling entry in the series, shifting 2.4 million copies as of 2021. The newest mainline entry, Tales of Arise, has reportedly sold around 2 million copies (as of 2022), so it’s probably overtaken it or is close. Symphonia also has an OVA series — which you can watch on Bandai Namco’s YouTube.

However, earlier this year saw the release of Tales of Symphonia Remastered, a rerelease that was meant to serve as a celebration. Instead, it was seen as a disappointment and launched with various bugs and issues. Bandai Namco has released a few patches since it launched. You can relive your nostalgia by listening to the official soundtrack on streaming services nowadays, at least!

Symphonia did get a direct sequel on the Wii in Tales of Symphonia: Dawn Of The New World, which was excluded from the Switch remaster for some reason. If you want more Tales action though, the Switch is also home to Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition, but otherwise, the series has seen limited exposure on Nintendo’s hybrid console. Hopefully, we’ll see more entries from this franchise on the console in the future, but for now, we’ll be re-embarking on that Journey of Regeneration one more time…

Have you played Tales of Symphonia before? Do you have any fond memories of the game? Vote in our poll below and let us know in the comments.

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