Category Archives: RPG Rundowns

Tales of Symphonia Text Review and Story Breakdown: Introduction

With the PS3 re-release of this classic RPG on its way in just a couple days, I figured I’d post my satirical review of the story while it’s relevant! One or two updates per week until I’m done with them.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I wrote this script a few years back when replaying Tales of Symphonia, meaning to turn it into a lengthy video review. My heart wasn’t in it when I tried recording, though, because I’m not versed in the language of cinema and video.

That said, no reason to let it go to waste. I may not love making video reviews, but I do love Tales of Symphonia. You’ll just have to use your imagination and memory at some points where clips would have been. =P

My script is incredibly long because the game is incredibly long, so here are the tl;dr takeaways if you want to read something specific:

Part 1: Beginning – Magnius at Palmacosta

  • 1-1: Colette is written unbelievably inconsistently from the first five minutes
  • 1-2: Lloyd gets verbal smackdowns all the time early on and has a chip on his shoulder
  • 1-3: Tales of Symphonia starts a lot like Secret of Mana; also, dat Dragon Quest VII hero design
  • 1-4: Lloyd “stop apologizing, you dork!” Irving actually apologizes more than Colette
  • 1-5: What’s so weird about wings? Foreshadowing?
  • 1-6: The first big heroic deed in Palmacosta raises the classical problem of evil, which secretly raises the classical Münchhausen Trilemma and Cartesian doubt and Humean skepticism and many other things; the game dismisses this pretty quickly, but I don’t

Part 2: Saving Palmacosta – Defeating Kvar

  • 2-7: Lots of standing around during Magnius’ monologue when taking action would have helped
  • 2-8: Lloyd “you’re not allowed to apologize any more” Irving has still apologized more than Colette by the time of the second scene (is this just a translation thing?); also, Noishe is a Pokémon
  • 2-9: Raine “Sage” and “Genius” “Sage” can’t interpret the Book of Regeneration correctly but Colette can
  • 2-10: There is no part 2-10
  • 2-11: Dwarven Vow #11 is secretly the game’s most brilliant foreshadowing; also, turning into an angel seems like a positive
  • 2-12: Only Colette and Sheena are called clumsy but actually the whole party is; in fact, Lloyd even goofs up getting revenge on the guy who killed his mother

Part 3: Post-Kvar Fallout – Tower of Salvation Preparation

  • 3-13: The party is 100% sure that the angel transformation is bad and can be reversed, but neither is necessarily true
  • 3-14: Sheena needs an outfit change if she wants people to assume she’s pure and the Tower of Mana could theoretically have been skipped
  • 3-15: Turning into an angel finally seems negative when Colette loses her voice; meanwhile, Lloyd doesn’t understand that food is important
  • 3-16: Lloyd and Colette aren’t yet shown as heroes, but that makes them heroes all the more
  • 3-17: Colette and death in fiction in general hinge on character appreciation

Part 4: Tower of Salvation – Meltokio Sewers

  • 4-18: Dracula’s got the score on Colette and the entire plot up to this point
  • 4-19: Seven irrefutable proofs that Noishe must be a Pokémon (and the Renegades are bigger bunglers than Team Rocket)
  • 4-20: Girls with red hair are stellar, guys who wear pink are awesome, and Zelos is amazing; also, hints of Lloyd+Sheena (deredere), Colette+Zelos (tsundere), and Genis+Presea (ordinary crush)
  • 4-21: I can’t believe it’s not midi-chlorians and speciesism!
  • 4-22: Zelos is instantly as clumsy as everyone else except Presea and even Symphonia can’t save sewers

Part 5: Meltokio – Rescuing Colette

  • 5-23: Colette/Zelos OTP yo (no, really, they’re eerily parallel characters and honest only with each other)
  • 5-24: Sheena hates fun, Lloyd is tired of human nature, and Presea and Regal are thematically redundant story-wise
  • 5-25: Sheena’s character moves forward in Mizuho, but Rodyle sets up an amazing tee ball for Colette’s character and then nothing happens with it; also, those terrible Regal lines

23 Things Secret of Mana and Tales of Symphonia Share In Common

As noticed by someone who’s played each at least half a dozen times! I’d rank Tales of Symphonia easily in my top ten games of all-time and a lot of that came from how familiar it felt. I truly wonder how much I would have enjoyed it if I hadn’t played Secret of Mana over a decade earlier.

Major spoilers for both games, obviously!


  1. They’re action RPGs.

  3. They’re noted for great soundtracks.

  5. At least three-player co-op! Now there’s an RPG rarity.

  7. Both games have a way to break boss battles with stunlock by exploiting quirks of magic animations. In Secret of Mana you can begin casting a second attack spell before the first spell’s animation ends; in Tales of Symphonia you can cancel a casting animation to reset your combo, giving most magic users near-infinite combos. (Tip: It’s easier to get the timing down for Colette and Sheeena than for Kratos, Zelos, or Regal. Raine can technically pull it off too, but it’s much, much tougher.)

    4 down, 19 to go. And most are infinitely more interesting than the first 4!