Originally a script for a video review, so some parts may stick out and, without visual aids, I recommend having played the game already! Note: this is for the original Tales of Symphonia, so if anything changed in the re-release, I haven’t touched on it here.
Quick links to other entries:
…Where was I again?
Oh, right. “I just believe” isn’t too terrible a response. We all believe in at least a few things we haven’t seen firsthand.
caption: dark matter, string theory, human rights and other Platonic notions of justice or goodness, parallel universes, life on other planets, life at ocean depths that haven’t been visited, animals you’ve never seen, countries you’ve never traveled to, the laws of physics remaining constant tomorrow
And I’ll give credit for not pulling out Pascal’s Wager.
No, not that Pascal. Wrong Tales game!
caption briefly flashed; people will have to pause if they want to read it: In all seriousness, while Pascal’s Wager may be a poor reason for Christian faith because of the specifics of our faith, namely that “I’ll believe just in case lulz” arguably isn’t a belief, it’s a pretty handy tool for probabilistic utilitarians in the tangible world. I don’t know for sure if lead-based paint, cell phone signals, sulfates in shampoo, aspartame in soda, or fluoridated water are harmful or if microwaves really so supercharge the particles inside food that our bodies’ defense systems cease to recognize them as food and begin attacking them like poison or something. I just ask myself what it would cost me to avoid them all and the answer was “not much,” so I kept microwave popcorn and tossed out everything else. No more philosophy in the rest of the videos, promise!
7) It’s Bunglers All The Way Down
The party leaves Palmacosta again, but in their absence, Chocolat’s taken to a human ranch. Everyone agrees to save her, but first they run into the ninja girl again, praying in a church. She gets huffy and flustered while Lloyd and mostly Colette disarm her with kindness and get her name, Sheena, until she can’t take any more happy power and smoke bombs out again. (Caption: Hopeless Characters: 1)
Now off to the ranch. The Governor’s assistant warns everyone they’ve been led into a trap, so Kratos and Raine want to ditch Chocolat and go save the world. Colette vetoes them because she’s the Chosen, and the assistant wants in too. Even though he can’t fight [Hopeless Characters: 2], Lloyd’s like yeah, sure, because no one knows as much as him about being told you’re worthless.
The place starts with collecting key cards, including one that Colette has to fly to (caption: how did it get up on this platform?), then turns to freeing captives, and ends with a teleporter maze (caption: hint: the right teleporter is the one with a sparkle next to it). It also brings in some real cheese as the Desians say things in battle that I can’t imagine anyone shouting with a straight face—but that’s the beauty of it.
[clip of end battle quotes; music is turned off so the voices can be heard]
Dying Desian: …I lost to an inferior being?
I hope you learned your lesson.
With Chocolat’s help, the party eventually confronts Magnius. He’s been watching the “forsaken Chosen” through a projector and seals off the freed slaves’ exit, saying he’ll turn them into monsters, so Lloyd launches his most effective attack:
…uh, Lloyd, buddy, remember when you did this? [clip: blasting a Demon Fang at Magnius in Palmacosta, Hopeless Characters: 3]
And you, Colette? [clip: tossing her chakram to free Chocolat’s mother in Palmacosta, Hopeless Characters: 4]
How about you, Kratos? [clip: slicing Magnius in the gut in Palmacosta, Hopeless Characters: 5]
Raine? [clip: kicking Lloyd in the face at the Martel Temple, Hopeless Characters: 6]
Genis? [clip: shooting fireballs into the Desian ranch to save Marble, Hopeless Characters: 7]
Might be helpful right about now! But we’ve got monologue to cover. Magnius brings up Lloyd killing Marble—who was Chocolat’s grandmother. Genis tries to explain, but the stunned girl isn’t listening. And she has great reasons not to hear him out: nobody’s more trustworthy than Magnius, who was about to hang her mother. She does the right thing and turns herself in again [Hopeless Characters: 8], and after she’s taken away, the party leaps into action. Bit late, guys.
caption flash: Technically, I’m sure everything here happened simultaneously; if this used the engine for anything from Tales of Vesperia on, it would be properly represented. It’s still fun to pick at, though.
Magnius is their first major kill and Kratos calls him a fool for opposing Colette, the accepted Chosen. While he lies dying, Raine programs the ranch to self-destruct. I don’t know how she learned this skill when computers are Desian technology, but since she’s a genius we’ll run with it.
After our heroes leave, Magnius crawls to a computer to tell ol’ Forcystus in Iselia what happened, but new face Rodyle, who deceived him into believing he was supposed to kill a rejected Chosen [Hopeless Characters: 9], hacks his system and laughs at his death. Thumbs up from me, Rodyle. You’re my kind of villain.
Now for the traitor Governor. He’s not too happy about the destroyed ranch because now there’s no chance of the Desians restoring his wife Clara. [clip: the Governor reveals her behind a curtain]
Ahh! Wh… what’s that monster?
Genis, do you use your eyes at all or are they just there for decoration? She’s a purple Marble. You can’t miss the similarities. The Governor argues that deceiving the city into false hope and massively taxing them to fund a puppet army and secretly pay off evil incarnate is morally a step above letting his wife live as a monster, but Lloyd begs to differ. They bicker over things in the past that can’t be changed and Lloyd gets royally ticked off until Colette reminds him that not everyone is strong enough to fight the Desians. He’s surprised she said that—and I guess I would be too if it only took two hits to make Magnius run home. I realize the party has extra power from Exspheres, but it was still only two—oh!
The Governor’s daughter stabs him and reveals her inner demon—and oh yeah, his real daughter is dead, and his wife actually can’t be turned back. He was tricked. [Hopeless Characters: 10] The party defeats her, but before she dies, she frees Clara to kill them—but get this. She approaches to attack, but Colette yells “Stop!” and she does, and then she leaves. Go figure.
Raine’s healing magic can’t save the governor, resolving the usual RPG conundrum, and the group promises to try and find a cure and lies that his real daughter is fine, giving him a peaceful death so he can cough up a passport.
8 ) I’m Sorry, But I Don’t Get It
With immediate threats out of the way, the party heads for Thoda Geyser in a washtub in search of a rare statue to give to the collector from earlier—and the statue’s there alright, but so is the Water Seal. Lloyd says they won’t need the book at this rate and he’s right, but Raine’s like no way.
It is imperative that we obtain that item!
arrow pointing at “imperative”: Raine getting her sci-fi on?
Sheena’s also hanging around, but Noishe blocks her—
—wait a minute. Noishe? Our wolf-horse is bigger than what they rode over in, and he was nowhere to be seen when they got on board. Is Noishe a Pokémon? Did they put him in a ball to carry him? Did they teach him Surf?
Anyhoo, Remiel grants Colette another ability and tells her where the next seal is, which backs up Lloyd’s point. If you have a guide, you don’t need a guidebook. She falls sick again and Raine names her condition Angel Toxicosis, then we get another Lloyd-and-Colette apology exchange. The writers or translators seem to have forgotten what they wrote, though.
[clip of every “sorry” since last time; Colette’s up to 12 but Lloyd’s up to 18]
However, even though it’s still not enough I do like their padding technique. Every time Lloyd says sorry, he means it, but with her she’s already said it three times in reply to him telling her to stop, which I always took to be a courtesy reflex—like not an actual apology, but more like when someone says “sorry” on the phone because they didn’t hear the other person. Maybe it makes more sense in the original Japanese because they have multiple words for “sorry.”
Hey, come to think of it, I wonder if she does this because it drives him crazy. I’d try to annoy Lloyd and get him off my back if he kept telling me how to act. [clips in sequence:
[to Colette] “So maybe you should act a little more… you know, Chosen-like…”
[to Colette] “Stop apologizing all the time, you dork!”
[to Colette and Genis] “Okay you two, we get it already. That’s enough.”]
I guess you mean well, but you’re not her father. And even the next day he’s playing catchup with her yet again when he’s already ahead. [clip of the “Getting Bored” skit:
Ah…Well, this whole seal breaking thing, it’s starting to get…
…N…no. I haven’t forgotten the people of Iselia and all the other victims.
…I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking…
You know, in the Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon, Norman Osborn has a recurring line: “Don’t apologize; I never do.” If the writers ever slipped up and made him say sorry…
You see where I’m going. Let’s move on.
9) Role ReversalasreveR eloR
With their new statue, the party finally gets to read the Book of Regeneration, which tells them where to go in great detail:
shown on screen: “Raging flames in an ancient city deep within clouds of sand overlook the city, lighting the darkness. Pure, flowing water floating, overflowing, in an isolated land becomes a giant pillar and rains down from the sky. Sublime wind, ancient city, the world’s… Enshrined in the center of a giant stone seal lurks evil, impersonating a holy force. Shining… gazing up at the summit of the gods, giving praise to the pillar of the world… from the top of the tower of ancient gods.”
No, actually it’s cryptic poetry and they really didn’t need the book. But the game takes that into account; you can skip the whole sidequest. I only mention it because some unintended comedy ensues. With all his brilliance, Lloyd figures out that the part about flames refers to the Seal of Fire. Raine determines that the part about wind is the Asgard Ruins. Genis asks what the summit of the gods is, and Colette—Colette explains to Genius Sage—that it must be the Tower of Mana. Could be worse. At least his name isn’t Fayt Leingod.
To Asgard! The party arrives just in time for Raine and Lloyd to stop a plot to blow up the place. [clip: Raine kicks the guy to the ground three times] Why blow it up? Because a spirit keeps demanding maiden sacrifices and they figure a bomb at the altar will put an end to that. Raine has a different plan and draws out the creature, thinking it must be the Summon Spirit, but…
It’s not… No, Professor! That is an evil creature. It’s not the guardian of the seal!
How does she know that? It can’t be book knowledge because then Raine should have known. Can she detect evil auras? Is that why she realized Sheena wasn’t a threat? At any rate, my point is that nobody in the party calls Raine out on her bad judgment, but I will. She misinterpreted the Book and sent them on a goose chase. So much for her being the knowledgeable party member. She’s more like the violent one. [repeat Raine kicking the guy] …but I’m cool with that.
I couldn’t fit in a 10 and 11 is more appropriate Circle of Life
So the party locates the real seal and Remiel gives Colette another skill and tells her where to go. The usual deal. Sheena shows up and loses again. The usual deal. But then she throws a wrench in everything, saying her country will be destroyed if they regenerate the world.
Well, score one for Colette. She said that if they talked things over, they could come to an understanding. Even now she tries to dig out of her what she’s prattling on about, but Sheena would rather risk her life in one-on-five a few more times than explain.
Third angel trial. Colette falls on stone but says she’s okay—but later that night, Lloyd finds out her hand is bleeding. Notice that we got from day to night without any of her companions bothering to check on her. Not even Raine, who would be healing everybody after two major battles with a guardian and Sheena.
But Lloyd thinks he finds out what’s really going on. Even though Genis and Raine are the book-smart characters, supposedly, and Kratos is the experienced character, only dumb old Lloyd has been paying attention to Colette. You know, the Chosen One. The center of the entire journey. The one person this party should be concerned with.
…alright, alright. Basically, he’s noticed that Colette 1) can’t feel anything, 2) hasn’t been eating, and 3) hasn’t been sleeping. She denies his accusations in turn, but they’re all true. And then he says she always fake giggles when she lies–and she lies again (caption: her fourth lie in the same scene) and tells him that’s not true. Be careful, Colette. Remember Dwarven Vow #11. [replay clip:]
Dirk: Dwarven Vow #11: Lying is the first step to the path of thievery!
Wait a minute. She is the party thief. [clips: Colette uses her “Item Thief” move, show her “Little Pickpocket” title] Huh. Writing brilliance! Full circle! Subtle foreshadowing!
…anyway, though, here on Earth we have terms for people who lie this often. Some of them begin with “psycho.” Or “patho.” I love Colette anyway, though—but more about that later. She finally fesses up, saying she didn’t tell anyone because she didn’t want them to worry. This is what it means to become an angel, and besides, now she can see great distances and hear faint sounds.
Hey, that’s not too bad then. It’s a tradeoff. And what’s so wrong with not needing sleep or food? She can have ten more hours of fun every day. And I say fun because she won’t need money to eat. She’ll never have to work as a waitress again unless she breaks another potion. She’ll never have to become a maid.
She even still gets to be cute. Some characters who transform and gain powers turn out really ugly. Like poor Clara. Or the Thing.
But Lloyd doesn’t think about the fact that now she’s a super girl [clip: show her “Super Girl” title] who’s transcended the limitations of pitiful, ordinary humans. Lloyd only has one thing to say:
I’m sorry. …I didn’t realize what was going on at all. I’m sorry.
First off, you’re the only one who did realize. Second, hey. It’s not your fault. Stop apologizing all the time, you dork. And he’s still going on about it the next morning. [clip of “That’s Enough” skit] But the best part is that even after all of that, Colette continues keeping secrets and gets Lloyd not to tell anyone what he’s learned. She’s not a trustworthy girl, that one.
12) Double Or Nothing, Part 1. And also Part 2. Kind of.
Next up is a destroyed town. Sheena’s there and she’s injured.
So, how were you injured?
It’s nothing. I was just a little clumsy.
Join the club. You’ll fit right in! Lloyd broke his necklace in a couple days, Genis trips to get the heroes in trouble, Colette trips to get the heroes out of trouble, and Raine triggered a bomb. Everyone badgers Raine into healing Sheena, who wants to attack the Desian ranch that wrecked the town, and they form an alliance. She warns them to watch their heads while they sleep, but we know she’s a bluff because Colette’s called her on it so many times.
To get inside the ranch, the party kills some goons for disguises. Why not break in like at Palmacosta? They’ve leveled up, they have a new ally, Colette has two more angel powers, and the Palmacosta ranch was a prepared trap while this ranch thinks the only nearby town was destroyed.
Oh well. If it’s entertaining, it’s all good.
could have busted in, opted to dress as a girl
The party sneaks in, then Colette’s Super Hearing picks up voices. How Super is her Super Hearing? Genis can’t hear anything and he’s an elf. Kratos and Colette block a fireball ambush with his magic barrier and her… arm. Must be some arm. In comes the big guy himself: Kvar, who led the Angelus Project that created Lloyd’s special Exsphere. He calls for more sorcerers, but Colette ignores the fodder and guns straight for him so the party can kill him—
[clip: the party runs away instead]
—or run away. But Kvar catches up and Lloyd says
even though the numbers are in their favor. Maybe he meant cornered. It’s all a vehicle for Kvar to explain that Exspheres are created by leeching people’s life energy and, oh yeah, Lloyd’s father killed his mother after she turned into a monster like Marble. Sheena pulls another smoke bomb from her endless supply to get them out to safety.
That night, Sheena, Genis, Raine, and especially Lloyd are angsting that Exspheres are the remnants of people who were captured and killed. Our hero is ready to rip out his Exsphere, but Kratos and Colette remind him that that would be really dumb for a number of reasons.
1) he wouldn’t bring anyone back to life by getting rid of it
2) his mother died to protect it and so it must be important even to her
3) he wouldn’t be able to complete the journey without it
4) he would basically be throwing away the life of his mother, who was a victim
5) more people would become victims in the future
I don’t understand this scene, and this time I’m not saying that rhetorically. Because of the presentation, I believe I’m expected to see a moral dilemma since they choose Colette and Kratos to deliver so many lines to convince Lloyd that throwing away his Exsphere isn’t an option, and there’s even a dialogue box to agree or not, but I never saw it as an option to begin with.
caption: note how they choose a heart and a head, empathy and logic, right-brain and left-brain, girl and guy
A girl in another town offers knowledge of a secret entrance to the ranch in exchange for the party agreeing to cure her cursed friend Pietro afterward. So back they go, and this time they make it to the big boss. They bust in on Kvar and find him talking to new villain Pronyma, but he doesn’t even turn around and acknowledge the party. Remember when Colette tried to decapitate him yesterday? Get him while his back is turned! Colette? Lloyd? Kratos? Anyone?
But Desian politics! Pronyma’s stealing his data, he’ll take her position soon, she tells him not to side with Rodyle or deceive Yggdrasill, something about a Mana Cannon… The party can fight when the story says so. They beat Kvar, but he doesn’t quite die and limps up to kill Lloyd from behind. Since Lloyd has the attention span of a common housefly and has already forgotten about the guy who killed his mother, he’s off-guard and Colette runs in to block the hit with her body. Geez, Lloyd. You kind of suck at this hero thing. [flashback clip:]
…Yes. I will atone for what I’ve done. I swear to protect Colette for the sake of those who have died because of me.
[replay clip: Kvar is about to kill Lloyd from behind and Colette meatshields him]
The murder of Lloyd’s mother has defined his life. Seeking revenge was the main reason he wanted to travel with Colette and Kvar is the single Desian most responsible for the murder. I’m not saying Lloyd needs to be Inigo Montoya, but Kvar falls to the ground and he turns his back a few seconds later? Shouldn’t he have stabbed him in the heart or at least stared at his fallen body in satisfaction? I mean, now Lloyd and Kratos finish him off, but it seems a little late.