Tales of Symphonia was released back in 2004 for the Nintendo Gamecube, and was ported to the PS2 a year later, and Dawn of the New World released for the Wii in 2008. This collection of the two games is based on idea of eschewing the notion of a ‘Remaster’ or ‘HD’ port, seeking only to faithfully transfer the titles to the PS3 as closely as possible. This of course means that no extra effort was made to improve the games, aside from a few small aspects. And the flaws inherit in each of these titles are more painfully made aware.
Tales of Symphonia is based on the PS2 version, and while it’s still a good game, there were some issues regarding the transfer from Gamecube to PS2. First of all the most noticeable thing is its framerate. While the original game ran at a near constant 60 frames, this version runs at a consistent 30. While it doesn’t affect the game too negatively, it is a small blemish to the once flawless combat experience. The sensitivity to character movement while on the field is also a bit too high compared to the Gamecube version. I should note that this also applies to Dawn of the New World. While the game hasn’t received any retexturing, it does benefit from the 720p upscale. So at least the models look a bit more presentable. Although the models do show their age, they are still nice to look at. Music sounds as good as it ever was, and the voice acting is still the same. Unfortunately this means no time or money was spent tracking the voice actors down to record new lines for the skit segments. This is because the original localization budget was unable to afford to also include voice work during these segments, as a way of keeping costs down. At least the two games now support the Japanese audio tracks so you can listen to the skits and story events completely voiced, but it’s not the same; a nice inclusion nonetheless.
One oddity that I did notice was that the screen also was cropped a bit on the sides, in order to look somewhat decent on a wide-screen display. Unfortunately this also means that the field of vision on the world map is somewhat limited. Also as a side effect of the cropping, the screen seems zoomed in a bit too much, and the result you get is that the left and right sides of the screen have a portion that is cut-off. This is not a problem with my particular display, as it was a consistent issue no matter what my display settings were. And the gamer lacks any window resizing options. The game was clearly not designed for wide-screen, and the team made no effort to re-code for wide-screen options. Tales of Symphonia is still a solid gaming experience in this collection despite the lack of any extra work done to the game. The only advantages to playing this over the Gamecube version would be the extra titles, weapons, and Artes you can obtain, almost as if making up for lack of 60 FPS. You can even get extra unlockable costumes by having save data from Tales of Xillia and Tales of Graces F.
Tales of Symphonia on the other hand, is a different story. Made back in 2008, it was designed with many of the amenities that modern Tales games enjoy. But, it also falls short in several areas. It’s made for wide-screen, so there were no display issues I noticed. Once again, the game is a simple transfer, with no re-texturing done, and only slightly benefiting from an upscale in resolution. The combat in the game plays more like Tales of the Abyss, where you can free roam about the battlefield. In Tales of Symphonia, the game was in 3D, but you move strictly on a 2D plane, only adjusting when switching targets. This is where Dawn of the New World begins to reveal as itself a disappointing sequel though.
The combat has many of the features which recent Tales games employ today, but as this was a Tales game made back in 2008, it lacks the polish found in those later titles. It also hurts than even taking into earlier games like Tales of the Abyss, it’s just not as well designed. Combat isn’t as fluid as Tales of Symphonia, and the AI of you party is relatively brainless. Many times the larger monster party members will get in you way. This is also exacerbated by the fact that the battle arenas are much smaller than other titles. There are many times where you won’t be able to free roam around an enemy because they are on the edge of the arena. Almost as if realizing this, the game auto-blocks for you, provided you aren’t attacking and are set to Semi-Auto. The aforementioned AI can be adjusted, but the options available are limited, and are also character/monster dependent, rather than being across the board.
The story also is very uninteresting, and the locations you visit in the game are just retreads from the previous adventure. The world map has also been reduced to a basic map with a location selection. Music also is mostly a collection of remixed tracks from the previous game. Voice acting for the returning characters has also been recast, and the quality is mostly not as good, along with the other mostly mediocre new cast. While there were some improvements in the game, all of these shortcomingsmake for a much shorter and pretty unremarkable entry which could have been a lot better. Not a bad game by itself, but compared to its predecessor, it’s a big disappointment. As it stands, the collection as a whole is somewhat hard to recommend to players who already own each of the two games. And if you haven’t played either of these, then only one of these games is more worthwhile, despite it being an inferior version to the Gamecube release. Trophy hunters might be interested, but unless you can’t find a copy of the Gamecube version, I’d pass on this. Otherwise it’s a decent collection. Just don’t expect too much from the second game.