The Let's Play Archive

Tales of Symphonia

by wdarkk

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Original Thread: Tales of Symphonia: Wow, that was an amazingly corny speech.


About the Game

Welcome to Let's Play Tales of Symphonia. Tales of Symphonia is a Action-RPG developed by Namco Tales Studio and published by Namco for the Gamecube. It was THE big rpg for the Gamecube (1.2 million sales worldwide), and one of the top 4 games in terms of how much time I spent playing them. It spawned a Japan-only ( ) special edition for the PS2, as well as a sequel for the Wii. Nintendo apparently spent a shitload of money on voice talents for the US release, as they got some seriously top-notch voice actors.

Tales of Symphonia has a plot that I actually like, with a lot of twists. In recognition of this, I request that plot elements not be spoiled, even behind spoiler tags. Seriously the foreshadowing is so heavy the game spoils itself sometimes. The plot's one major flaw is that it does rely on characters being massively stupid in places.


These are the characters seen in the opening, or seen or mentioned in the first and second update. More characters will be added as they are met, and their descriptions will be updated. Major spoilers will be put in with spoiler tags.

Lloyd Irving
Lloyd is a dumbass. I think he's honestly the dumbest JRPG protagonist I've ever seen. He's the boyfriend of Colette Brunel, the best friend of Genis Sage, and the student of Raine Sage. He fights with twin swords. Later on we will explore more of his many and varied dumb moments.

Colette Brunel
Colette is just as stupid as Lloyd, and clumsy to boot. People I know characterize her as "annoying" but I don't think it's too bad. She is the Chosen of Mana, destined to Regenerate the World. As can be seen in the intro, she has or will acquire wings. She fights with chackrams, although many of her attacks involve her summoning magical hammers or balls.

Genis Sage
Genis is a young Elf boy who lives in the village of Iselia with Lloyd, Colette, and his older sister Raine. He "fights" with a Kendama but is really a spellcaster. He's the only true offensive mage we can get. He gets the shit smacked out of him by his sister a LOT. Someone call Child Protective Services stat!

Raine Sage
Raine is an Elf like her little brother Genis, and is apparently the only schoolteacher in Iselia. She's our primary healer and fights with a staff and offensive Light-elemental magic. In Japan she's called "Refill Sage" due to her function of refilling our health bars. She also has a few hidden quirks...

Kratos Aurion
Kratos is a mercenary hired to protect Colette. He also narrates the story of the goddess for some reason.  He's also second-in-command of the bad guys. 

Sheena Fujibayashi
Sheena was a mercenary assassin hired by Tethe'alla to assassinate Colette based on the advice of the Renegades. We beat her up twice, then teamed up with her to save some guys. Yay us. She's from Mizuho, which is basically Japan if everyone were ninjas.

Zelos Wilder
Zelos is Tethe'alla's Chosen, and a bit of a lady's man. He's now escorting us around the place. Certain parts of this description are a lie.  A bit? Heh.  Also, the Pope doesn't like him very much.

Presea Combatir
Presea doesn't change facial expressions (ok, her eyebrows sort of move when she gets sad but it's almost impossible to see in the post icons). Her ribbon...does not spin.

Regal Bryant
He's a murderer, but so are we so he can hang out with us.

He's a dog, ok? A DOG!

The sleeping goddess, who must be awakened to prevent the destruction of the world.

An ancient hero who sacrificed his life to provide mana to the world.

Asshole Half-Elves who love to oppress everyone else. Current primary stabbity death targets. It's been revealed that they're pawns of Cruxis, and that the Renegades, who look exactly like Desians, are also dicks but oppose the Desians in addition to fucking with the party.

Mysterious Narrator
Mysterious Narrator is the perspective we view events from. Don't post your guesses as to who MN is without spoiler tags  although it shouldn't be hard .

Battle System
Wikipedia refers to the battle system as Linear Motion Battle System but I prefer to call it "fighting-game lite." You have basic attacks, special attacks, and block. All characters can "chain" together 2-6 regular attacks without pause, and most of them (except the dedicated spellcasters Raine and Genis) can chain together n-1 regular attacks and a special attack (n being the number of normal attacks they can chain). You can also chain together n-1 regular attacks, a level one special, a level two special, and a level 3 special.

Like in most RPGs you can use items in battle (and you're gonna need to unless you're drastically overleveled for many boss fights). There's a variety of health/mana restore items (called Gels), revive items (Life Bottle), enemy scanning items (Magic Lens), and restoration items (Panacea/Miracle Bottle).

You can have up to four party members on the field, one of whom must be Raine. I'm technically kidding about having to use Raine, but as the only character that can both heal and res without using items, if she's in my party she's in my active party.

Character stats are pretty standard, with the exception of Lloyd having thrust and slash attack power separate. I've never given a fuck about it. Each character has a weapon type dedicated to them (excepting Kratos and one other character, who both can use one-handed swords or daggers).

"Overlimit" is this game's equivalent of "trance mode" from FFIX. When you accumulate enough "tension" from being hit or eating good food, you get a black "glow" around you. While in overlimit, you cannot be interrupted while attacking and some characters can use special abilities. Some enemies (offhand I think only bosses) can go into overlimit.

Super Moves
Super moves are present for Lloyd, Colette, Sheena (sort of), and Genis in the GCN version, and for all characters in the PS2 version (bad Namco for not releasing it in the US).

Grade is a special currency you get after battles for doing well. It is used in certain stores and in the new game+ menu. Depending on various factors (primarily time taken) it can range from +15 or so to -15 or so (I'm sure it can go higher/lower but I rarely see anything even approaching those limits).

Cooking is a very important part of the game. Each character has a "star rating" for each recipe. At the beginning, each star is empty and must be filled by cooking the dish with that character. More filled stars = higher chance of successfully cooking the dish, capped obviously by the maximum number of stars you have. I believe you can still fail even with max number of stars in a dish, although it's rare. Cooking a meal at any time after a battle, even if you're in the villain's lair, even if you're on a time limit, is one of the more incongruous elements of the game, but I won't let it worry me. As to what cooking DOES, it provides you with a boost to HP and/or TP, one or more stat bonuses, clears one or more debuffs, or some combination of the above depending on which character and dish you select. I can't recommend ever using the debuff removers since Raine exists and you can only cook if you have completed a battle between now and when you last cooked.

Exspheres and EX Skills
Exspheres are special power-amplifier devices that are attached to your body and provide a tremendous boost in fighting ability. Additionally, you can set up to 4 gems in the Key Crest around the exsphere to provide you with additional skills. These are called "EX Skills" and come in four different levels. Each gem provides access to all the EX Skills of its level, with the exception of the EX Gem Max which provides all skills of all levels. Each EX gem sets one skill, and each must set a different skill. Some combinations of gems result in compound ex skills, which are generally more powerful than normal ex skills (one provides a guaranteed res each battle, and another prevents almost all spellcasting interruption).

Techs is the name used in ToS for what other games would call "spells" or "skills". They're everything you do that isn't a regular attack, block, or movement. Some are learned from leveling up, some from plot events, and others have more esoteric requirements.

Tactical vs Strike
"T" and "S" affiliation is determined by EX skills set (or by items that change your type, if you decide to waste a slot equipping them). They provide different level 2 and level 3 techs depending on what type you are, and each have advantages and disadvantages.

Titles are sort of like your "class" in some games - everyone starts out with a basic one that describes what they do, and they acquire others as they level or progress the game. They don't control what skills you get, but affect your stat growth. The default ones leave you with the default stat growth, the better ones add to your stat growth, sometimes by a LOT. When I announced I was going to do this, someone requested that I get some of the more difficult titles to get, but after reviewing it really doesn't feel like any of them are truly "difficult" since you can either cheese or level grind past most of them. I'll still try to show off the ones that come closest to real difficulty though. Friendship First is one I intend to get; in order to get that one you have to have any characters die for 1/4 of the game, and doing so will provide a good deal of difficulty. I hate Gels! can suck it, it's just annoying and I have a strictly better title already. Strategist I might try to get, depending on my ability to withstand the most evil children in the game.

Difficulty Levels
Tales traditionally has 3 to 4 difficulty levels: Normal (wimpy), Hard (requires actual skill), Mania (very hard), and in some cases Unknown (bowl-clenchingly hard). We'll be playing on Hard up until the "no deaths" criteria is satisfied, then Mania.


Mana is a magical, intangible substance that is as essential to life as water or air. The world of Sylvarant once had a great tree of ever-flowing mana, the Giant Kharlan tree. The Great Kharlan war with the Desians consumed so much mana that the tree withered and died. Mithos, the hero, brought about the end of the ancient war and sealed the Desians. Now, mana is provided by the soul of Mithos, also known as the great seed. This however isn't very much mana, and less and less has been provided recently. Colette, the Chosen of Mana, must go on a Journey of World Regeneration in order to provide the world with Martel's Blessing (and more Mana). Along the way, the Desians will oppose her.

Desians are a group of Half-Elves that oppress and savage the human population of the world. They keep countless prisoners in their "Human Ranches" and kill any who oppose them, and others for seemingly no reason. As a result of this, even Half-Elves not with the Desians are mistrusted and hated.

Summon Spirits are powerful beings that provide elemental mana that supplements the great seed.

Martel is the sleeping goddess, who must be awakened by the Chosen of Mana to halt the decline of the world.

Angels are holy beings empowered by Martel who send oracles to the Church of Martel. Their organization is called Cruxis.

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