Notes and Plans: Tales of Symphonia

Tales of Symphonia is my favourite video game of all time. It might also be my favourite narrative as well. Symphonia contains many twists, huge build up, a deep theme, and numerous culminating portions. There are large parts of the plot that I completely missed on my first and even second playthroughs.

So, I’m starting a fourth playthrough. I’m very excited about it. See, one of the things I loved about Symphonia as a child is that I could play it with my brother and sister. In many RPGs, you have a party of four characters. Very few games let other people take control of the other party members. Many of the Tales games do though! So, while I controlled the character through dungeons and towns, my brother and sister could play with me during all the fights!

I take advantage of the multiplayer as much as possible. My first run was with my two siblings, as I said. My second was solo, and it was actually the least enjoyable one for me. The third was with my good friend during high school. It was very disjointed though, as we couldn’t play very often. This fourth run will be with my roommate and friend of many years. I hope it goes well! Moving on to though.

The story was engaging enough that they didn’t mind the portions that they weren’t playing. The game was consistently interesting, and I never got stuck. See, I wasn’t all that good at games as a kid, and older titles didn’t really help the player much. I got lost and gave up on quite a few games back then. But Symphonia wasn’t one of them.

Tales of Symphonia is a plot driven narrative, as opposed to a character driven one. The game is about seventy hours, twenty longer than the average RPG. According to GameFAQs, it’s the fourth longest RPG on the GameCube. Of course, RPG game times are inflated by walking around in dungeons and on the world map, and of course fighting monsters. I would guess that the narrative elements are a little less than half that number. Speedruns hit around 25h, add about 5 for not skipping dialogue, and another 5 for skits and it’s about thirty-five hours. For comparison, audiobooks are around eight hours, longer ones hitting fifteen. Although, if you adapted Symphonia as a book, I think it would reach only about 120 000 words, assuming you cut nothing that’s narrative from it.

So, Symphonia is a huge sprawling narrative, with lots of subplots weaving in and out of it, all relevant to the main one. If you’re interested in playing the game yourself, it’s on GameCube, PlayStation 3, and Steam (Computer). I will be playing the GameCube version, but they all have the same story. My plan is to take careful notes on this, my fourth run, and compile a large review and summary in parts as I go. So, expect that here, very soon, and about once a week.

[Update: Please note that this project has long be dropped. While I do hope one day to write a critical essay on Symphonia, and likely its characters (I think the story has enough to warrant it), the project laid out in this post ended around the time I returned to University. You can still read it nonetheless.]

[I have, however, continued taking notes, and I have a file saved full of outlines and ideas. The plot has opened up to me more as I’ve grown older, and I definitely intend to do something with it…eventually.]


I’ll see you then,

Daniel Triumph.



P.S. This was published on the day I started the fourth run.


8 responses to “Notes and Plans: Tales of Symphonia”

  1. I’m so glad there’s people who loves this game … even with all the past years. I’m in love with this game, I usually tweet in the HT #TalesofSymphonia and I played 16 times in gamecube the game. I have two memory cards with more than 50 saves with my favourite moments ❤ and… yes, it's the best game of all the times and multiverses. Hah. I have so much memories and I'm so full of love that I can't explain it.
    I would love to read your posts abouts this unique game in this world. I write a review in a spanish web named Todas Gamers… in spanish, because I'm from Spain. HAH!
    Who am I? A fan! ^^

    • I’ve played Tales of Symphonia three times, although two of them were a little disjointed because if taking long breaks in the middle of the game. The last time I played was 5 years ago, and I figured I’d jump in again and see if I still like it or if it was all nostalgia. So far it’s as good I remember, so I’m very happy about that.

      The plan is to comment on it as I play through, then at the end use that content to write a review and maybe even an essay. I’m a humanities student, so essays are something I’m good at.

      I’m happy you enjoyed the game too, and also that you enjoyed the content. Hope you return when I make the next post!

  2. I’ve never played Tales of Symphonia, I’d heard it was a classic but I never really got round to playing it. After reading this I’m seriously considering giving it a go! I think I’ll pick it up on Steam soon, I’ve been looking for a game with a good story to dive into for a while and I love classic games so I bet I’ll love every minute. Thanks for sharing this 😀

    • It’s not hard to get into either, as the combat isn’t turn based. I’ve heard from others that the beginning is a little slow. I’ve never found that to be the case, but it’s something to consider if you find yourself losing interest. It picks up, and when it does, it doesn’t slow down again.

      So far, my play has been just as good as the first time, so it’s not just nostalgia that made me like it. I hope you enjoy Tales of Symphonia!

      • I usually stick with games even if they do seem to start a little slow (they normally always pick up!).

        I get an amazing feeling of nostalgia when I play Final Fantasy VIII, it’s not the most popular of the series by far and by no means the best even in my eyes, but I loved it as a kid so it holds a special place in my heart. Anyway, thanks 😀

        • I’m very happy to hear that, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the game a lot.

          FFVIII has been recommended by two friends of mine, and it’s very high on my list, so clearly you’re not alone in liking it.

          Thanks for stopping by, I hope you return 🙂

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