Tales of Symphonia Text Review and Story Breakdown: Part 4

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:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 5

18) Plot Pretzel

Before we set off, Raine delivers the final dungeon disclaimer that there’s no guarantee they’ll return. She and Lloyd get the slow dragon and are last to arrive, while Martel and Kratos are already inside. The others move in and find Remiel, who explains that Martel will lose her heart and memory to become a true angel. Raine also knows a few new details. She promised Martel earlier not to say anything, but now reveals that she’ll die.

Oh, that Martel and her web of lies. To think Lloyd actually believed he found out the whole truth.

But Remiel clarifies: only her heart will die:

Remiel: …and her body will be offered to the Goddess Martel.

Wait, wha—but—the unicorn told us she is Martel. Unicorns can’t be wrong, can they?

Remiel: By offering her body, Colette will revive the Goddess.

Okay, I guess we’ll go back to Colette. Raine and Sheena bring up Tethe’alla and he says that reviving Martel will bring both worlds peace, but Lloyd’s like screw that noise.

If you sacrifice yourself, your friends who love you… and your family… and… …and me… we’ll all be sad. It will be the same as sacrificing all of us!

And if she doesn’t, she’ll be sacrificing all of you and every other being on the planet. Genis knows this too and stops Lloyd from interrupting while Remiel backs him up:

Remiel: Are you saying that you would choose the Chosen’s soul over the entire world?

Even that’s understating the case, because “the entire world” includes Colette. If she walks away now, she’ll still die too. Lloyd tries one more appeal anyway because Remiel’s her father, but…

Remiel: When I came down to play the role of guardian angel, you inferior beings just started calling me her father on your own.

Plot twist count: 1

You know, Remiel old pal, it would probably be better to reveal these things and drop the inferior being catchphrase on us after you’ve taken Colette away. But she has telepathy now

Because of the high concentration of mana in this tower? Yeah, let’s run with that!

and tells Lloyd it’s okay.

Every time I met Remiel, I felt… that he was not my real father.

Of course she did. She also picked up that the Windmaster was a fake Summon Spirit and that Sheena was harmless. Let me point out, though, that playing along with the father thing when she knew better means she was spinning another lie. Do we know even one concrete thing about this girl from a story perspective? Who is Colette? What is Colette?

You said it, Drac.

Colette! …I’m sorry! I couldn’t save you… I’m so sorry!

Well, Lloyd, it’s not like she ever encouraged you to or even implied it would be okay with her if you tried, or that “save” is an appropriate term. Actually, she always said the opposite. And it’s not your fault. Stop apologizing.

I promised I wouldn’t make another mistake, but it looks like I have again…

She wanted to do this, so how could you have prevented it? Stand with your arms out and block her from ever leaving home? Kratos would cut you down. Barricade her doors and windows at an inn? Genis wouldn’t be cool with that. Neither would the management. And it wouldn’t even work because her weapons and her magic—

Anyway, Colette flies backward, saying it’s time—and there go her heart and memory. We know because her eyes turn red instead of blue and a hilariously ill-timed text box pops up to say she learned Sacrifice. Remiel enters full evil laughter mode because he’ll become one of the Four Seraphim, whatever that means.

Cruxis, the angels, the Goddess Martel… it’s all a big lie, isn’t it?!

Well, you’ve got two angels right in front of you, so at least that part’s not a lie.

The party beats him up and he wonders how ultimate power could lose. If you were real ultimate power, you would have already been one of the Four Seraphim. Lloyd tells Colette he’ll restore her, but Kratos arrives to say she’s only a puppet now. The dying Remiel asks for pity from “Lord Kratos,” but doesn’t get any–and now we learn:

…I am of Cruxis, the organization that guides this world. I am one of the Four Seraphim, sent forth to keep close watch over the Chosen.

Plot twist count: 2

He didn’t technically deceive them, though. If Colette merges with Martel, the world will be saved.

Is that not what you wanted?

No. No, apparently it isn’t! Boss fight round two ensues. You can lose and still move on, but we’ll go with the winning route. Lloyd realizes that Kratos held back, but since he’s a good guy he wants to kill him anyway—but another angel appears with fresh new evil music. Who are you?

I am Yggdrasill. Leader of Cruxis… and the Desians!

Ah. Got it.

Plot twist count: 3

Yggdrasill’s undefeatable and uses a magic purple sword to send Lloyd flying. He’s about to obliterate everyone, but a fireball shoots toward him from… Botta? Botta. …Botta. Not too happy to see that Colette is a full angel, he runs in with fodder soldiers and Yggdrasill wipes out most of them, but Botta and the last guy standing carry off everyone’s unconscious bodies and Colette’s soulless body, wrapping up this giant series of twists.

Remiel’s evil: figured it out
Kratos is an angel: didn’t figure it out
The Desians and Cruxis are the same: didn’t figure it out

The party wakes up in the desert base from back when Lloyd was captured. And these are no Desians—they’re the Renegades, who dress like Desians for cover but actually oppose them. Here we learn that Cruxis angels are half-elves who evolved with Cruxis Crystals, an advanced Exsphere that was put on Colette. And, oh yeah, both the Church and the Desians are Cruxis’ pawns. I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised about that. The odds of finding a legitimate church in a Japanese RPG are nil unless the title begins with “Dragon Que.” So summing it all up, the party’s been tricked by Kratos, tricked by Remiel, tricked by the Renegades, and tricked by Cruxis. The entire journey has been a lie. It’s beautiful.

The existence of a Renegade force opposing the Desians: didn’t figure it out

19) Info Dump 1: It’s A Whole New World We Live In

Yuan and Raine exchange lines to piece together loose ends. The Renegades tried to kill Colette to stop the revival of Martel. You know, you could have just explained the situation to her and then helped her hide away. I mean, you guys have evaded Cruxis pretty well yourselves. No need to kill her.

Now that she’s completed her transformation, though, she’s a living weapon with no soul and they don’t need her. They need… Lloyd?

But before they can explain why, the group escapes. With no leads on how to restore Colette, Raine pries some info out of Sheena, thinking that people in Tethe’alla might know more about Cruxis Crystals. Oh, and yes, they have a Chosen, a world regeneration ritual, and a Church of Martel. Lloyd asks a great question for once:

…But if they’ve been carrying out the regeneration that many times, why
hasn’t Martel’s vessel been completed already?

When writing my review, I thought it might be a plot hole, but after playing through one more time I believe the answer is that mana types vary like blood types and Martel has an especially rare one. I only found it mentioned in one or two throwaway lines, though—it could have been emphasized more.

Anyway, the Renegades were the ones who enabled Sheena’s travel to Sylvarant, so now the party uses their machines to fly the other way. Who’s up for a new world? The adventure’s just beginning! (music cues up, then abruptly cuts off: )

…and then they crash on a mountain because the machines are powered by mana and the world regeneration turned Tethe’alla’s supply off.

We find out how dumb Sheena is when we get to the base of the mountain and she starts following Lloyd and believing he knows where to go until he reminds her he doesn’t live in this world. They’re meant for each other. Maybe. Meanwhile, Noishe is angry over the cra—Noishe? Noishe?

What. How. How is Noishe here? Let me run through this insanity.

Noishe couldn’t have reached the Tower of Salvation.

He’s bigger than the dragons the party rode, so he couldn’t have flown with them. And yes, they needed to fly because the tower is way out over the ocean, so far it doesn’t even appear on the world map, so he couldn’t have walked either.

Even if he could reach it, he wouldn’t get there in time.

Even if he runs on grasslands as fast as dragons fly, you’d think the rocky terrain around Hima would slow him down and so would swimming through the ocean.

Even if he got there in time, he wouldn’t know where his friends were taken.

The Renegades picked up the party and flew back to their base on the other side of the world, but even if Noishe was there, they wouldn’t have known to take him with them too. Noishe can carry the entire party on his back, so maybe he has enough energy to swim half the ocean, but he wouldn’t know where to go. I don’t think he can track their scent from another continent.

I know there are some amazing stories about lost pets, but still.

Even if he knew where they were, he’s not strong enough to break into the base and find them.

Everything falls apart here. I might be able to overlook everything else, but there’s no way he got into the base. He has no fighting ability, but the Renegades are powerful enough to attack Cruxis, so he’s outmatched in power—and he can’t just sneak in because he’s huge.

Even if he broke in, he can’t ride a Rheaird to Tethe’alla.

Rheairds are about the same size as him and they’re shaped to accommodate a human or elf. You can’t just jump through the dimensional portal. In this skit he’s angry because the crash scared him, so he was on a Rheaird—but that can’t be.

Even if he rode a Rheaird, he couldn’t get down the mountain afterward.

Noishe won’t go near areas with monsters

The story explanation for why you can cheat your way through a battle-free overworld with him but not through dungeons.

but the party just ran down a mountain trail full of them. If he’s scared of monsters, he would have stayed cowering up on the summit.

So with all of that in mind, how did he get here? Apparently he really is a Pokémon.

Even if he’s a Pokémon, even your average Team Rocket grunt knows that when you capture someone you’re supposed to take away their—oh, never mind.

Even one-offs like Atilla and Hun made better decisions with taking their captives’ stuff than the Renegades.

20) Hat Trick Romancing; or, Romance of the Three Odd Couples

There’s a research academy in the imperial capital, but Sheena has to go report to her chief. Lloyd thanks her for her guidance and she goes blushy on him. Maybe they really are meant for each other. Meanwhile, even without a soul, Colette’s still the funniest character in the party. You kick that dog.

The party soon sees a red-haired girl walking down the stairs and right away I know she’ll be awesome. How many girls with red hair in Japanese media aren’t awesome? I don’t even have to include excellent “redheads,” who are more of an orange color…

see also Lina Inverse from Slayers, Rachel from Advance Wars: Dual Strike, Ashlynn from Dragon Quest VI

…but real red. They’re almost always standouts

and sometimes even my favorite character in a cast full of lovable characters.

Even in the worst scenarios, they’ll be the only characters I like in a cast

or at very least a nice character design.

They tend to be upbeat and like giving salutes or wearing hats. Or both. Typically they add humor to the story with their quirks. They don’t play a role in danger or drama very often, but when they do, the scenes usually work because we like funny characters for making us laugh, and if we like them then we care what happens to them.

Anyway, the girl bumps into our puppet angel and—

(Zelos starts talking in a male voice)

Oh. …oh. Hold on. (rewind effect)

The party soon sees a guy in pink walking down the stairs and right away I know he’ll be awesome. How many video game guys wear pink and aren’t awesome? We’ve got Dan Hibiki, Luigi, The One True Captain Falcon, Mega Man, Ragnar McRyan, King Dedede…

This is the famous Zelos, who bumps into Colette and immediately flirts with her until she throws him halfway across the plaza to kick-start their tsundere romance. Seriously, though, if there’s one thing we should all be able to agree on, it’s that she has her best moments when she has no soul. Well, maybe here she’s also being propped up by how great Zelos is.

No offense, but I’m not interested in talking to guys.
…I hate this guy already.

I love this guy already. He puts everything in perspective.

I’ll see you again my lovely lady, ♥ my cute little angel, and… uh… you other people.

The party manipulates its way into the castle with the help of Presea, who shows no emotion about anything and is on her way to deliver sacred wood. Genis takes an interest in her and tries to carry it for her with Lloyd’s help, but…

Oh my… w… wait a minute! Arrgh… this thing is heavy!

But Silent Supergirl saves our dudes in distress and continues dragging the haul herself.

I’ve lost all confidence as a man.
Me too…

If they were this funny before now, Colette would have been out of a job.

21) Info Dump 2: Of Exspheres and Half-Elves

The group meets with the king, the Pope, and Zelos—who’s the Chosen.

The Pope tries to kill them, but Colette punches out his knights. No, really. She just slams her fists into their armor and they back off. She must have some arm. [replay earlier scene when she blocks Kvar’s henchmen’s fireballs] Raine bargains to abandon Sylvarant in exchange for their lives, and Zelos is sent to watch and make sure they don’t return to the other world.

I am the great Zelos Wilder. But you can just call me Zelos.

Next up, our heroes cross a giant bridge made of Exspheres and fill their new guy in on how Exspheres are made. They’re all horrified by the bridge, but The Great Zelos Wilder is a wizard of logic and hardly cares because the dead can’t be brought back anyway, so it’s off to an academy for an info dump.

Releasing seals fused Colette more with her Cruxis Crystal and sent her mana out of control, but a Key Crest can make it manageable. I usually don’t like when fantasy stories try to explain magic,

but at least this only takes forty seconds. In Tales of the Abyss they go on like this for half an hour. And then do it again, and again, and again.

(cut to Tales of the Abyss video)

actual dialogue in the first twenty minutes

Luke: What’s a hyperresonance?
Tear: An isofon-induced resonance.

actual dialogue a few hours later

Jade: Looks like isofon research. 3.14159265358979323846… This is Lorelei’s fonon frequency.
Luke: Lorelei? Isofons? “Fonon frequencies”? What the heck are you talking about?
Tear: “Lorelei” is the name for the aggregate sentience of the Seventh Fonon.

So we need a Key Crest, and fortunately there’s a broken one for sale right around the corner. And The Great Zelos Wilder is the Chosen, so he gets it for free. Lloyd fixes it and puts it on a necklace, finishing Colette’s birthday present a few months late—but before we can get anything heartwarming going, it doesn’t do any good in the end.

Dirk might do a better job, so the party pressures Zelos into helping them go back to Sylvarant, but Papal Knights are listening in and arrest the group for treason. Yes, even Colette. To avoid haymakers to the gut, they simply have to approach her slowly. They also take blood samples. You see, Tethe’alla has a caste system where half-elves are trash, and Raine and Genis are officially revealed to be half-elves for anyone who didn’t notice, so they’re taken away to be killed.

Everyone else is locked up to get lectured on racism until Sheena bails them out. We do learn that Presea is a Cruxis Crystal test subject, but that was even more obvious. She can be saved if Raine and Genis are saved.

And so the party saves them, then gets lectured about racism again. Well, people make fun of the cliché anti-racism message, but hold on. These biological tests work, so there must be a difference between elves, half-elves, and humans, right? Like, if a golden retriever discriminated against a St. Bernard, wouldn’t that be speciesism—ah, whatever.

22) Back(?) In Action(?)

The Rheairds can be fixed if Sheena meets Volt, but first the party has to retrieve them. Zelos knows a way to transport them, but Yuan is waiting and catches everyone except Colette in a trap.

Zelos… is clumsy.

Well, he’s in our party, after all.

(replay clips: Lloyd getting zapped in Triet, Lloyd breaking the necklace, Colette tripping on the golem block, Colette using Item Thief, Genis tripping at the ranch, Genis tripping in Triet, Sheena falling on the Ossa Trail, Raine triggering a bomb in Asgard)

Yuan’s soldiers take away the Rheairds, then Pronyma shows up. She’s the leader of the Desian Five Grand Cardinals and she’s here to get Colette. She’s about to destroy the lameduck Key Crest, but our heroine taps into the magic of friendship and willpower to regain her soul and push her away. She asks everyone why they’re in a magic barrier thing

Note: Colette couldn’t see anything without her soul.

and Pronyma tries to sneak attack her, but she’s like “Screw you dude lady” and smacks her away again. What, the leader of the Desians can’t even handle Colette on her own? But the force of Colette’s swing sends her off-balance and she breaks the machine powering the barrier, saving everyone so we can wash away this drama and info overload and go back to comedy.

All right! Good job, my little Colette! I think I’m falling in love!
Hahahahaha! Now that’s our Colette!
Some things never change…
That brought back some painful memories…

Oh Colette. (laugh track plays) She was happy when Lloyd gave her the necklace,

Note: Colette could see everything even without her soul.

but—Kratos appears to interrupt and tells Yuan that Yggdrasill has summoned him. And Yuan has wings now and heads out, Kratos reminds Lloyd he can’t do anything about anything, and Kratos heads out, and there we go. Lloyd doesn’t like hearing what he can’t do, though, so he swears to change the entire system of worlds stealing mana. That’s a lofty goal. It’s like swearing you’ll change the system of crops needing soil because you want to prevent starvation.

But this is fiction, so just sit back. The fact that a character states a goal is the evidence that it’s possible.

Speaking of that, Colette can feel things again and she’s hungry.

…It looks like I still have wings, though.

At least she kept one plus!


No, Lloyd. You can’t even argue that wings are bad.

Hmm, just like I thought. Colette is definitely cuter when she smiles! ♥
Let’s see, you’re… Zelos?

Note: Colette could see everything even without her soul.

Lloyd welcomes her back, and she’s…

Glad to be back!

That’s sweetly-delivered, but then again, she’s glad to be pretty much anything. She’s happy if she’s dying, happy if she’s not dying, happy if she’s leaving her friends behind, happy if they follow her… Alternatively, it’s all an act and she pretends to be happy so others will feel at ease around her in any situation, but I’ll cover that later.

The next course of action: The Great Zelos Wilder will sneak the group back into Meltokio to meet Sheena’s contacts. Through the sewers. Like every other game in history, the sewer is the worst dungeon by far. It’s ugly, has brooding music and tiny, hard to hit enemies, and leads up to a slow sequence of repeatedly pushing blocks over the same snaking path.

And it ends with a hobo ambush. You know, last dungeon everyone fought the leader of the Grand Cardinals on top of a mountain. Before that they fought one of the Four Seraphim in the Tower of Salvation. Now they’re fighting hobos in a sewer. I know they’re actually convicts, but they’re so lame they don’t even get boss music. And they don’t deserve it!

Even when a bigger convict smashes Zelos’ head into the floor, he gets run off in no time without a battle. Get used to it, though. He’ll never become any more interesting!

4 thoughts on “Tales of Symphonia Text Review and Story Breakdown: Part 4

  1. Pingback: Tales of Symphonia Text Review and Story Breakdown: Part 2 | Project Dreamblazers

  2. Pingback: Tales of Symphonia Text Review and Story Breakdown: Introduction | Project Dreamblazers

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