Tales of Symphonia is often lauded as one of the strongest entries in the Tales series. As such, when it was announced that a 10th Anniversary HD Edition (entitled Tales of Symphonia Chronicles) would be released, fans were as pleased as punch. What does ToS Chronicles add or change, and how does this classic stand up to the test of time?
ToS Chronicles actually features two full games: Tales of Symphonia (henceforth ToS) and its sequel, Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World (henceforth ToS: Dawn). The original ToS was released back in 2003 in Japan and 2004 in North America for the Gamecube, with ToS: Dawn being released five years later in 2008 on the Wii. ToS Chronicles combines both onto one disc for the PS3, a platform which should make Tales fans feel right at home. The two biggest additions to ToS Chronicles from the games’ original iterations are the HD graphics upgrade and the inclusion of both an English and Japanese voice track - which I believe may be a franchise first.
Concerning the HD graphics, the game looks much improved (below is a comparison video captured by Richard Eisenbeis of Kotaku). Visuals look much crisper - I especially noticed a contrast in the character’s faces. Being able to play the game with a Japanese voice track with English subs is especially exciting for me, as I prefer Japanese voice acting in JRPGs most of the time, but there’s also a bit of an added bonus here as well. If players choose the Japanese voice track, the in-game skits will be fully voice acted.
There are some smaller additions here as well. Since the Tales of Symphonia found in ToS Chronicles is based off of the Japan-only PS2 version of ToS, the additional content found in that version is also included here for the first time in a western release. This additional content includes two new animated cutscenes, some new side quests, and a Mystic Arte Attack for each character. Players can also receive additional costumes for ToS characters - more if their PS3 has Tales of Graces or Tales of Xillia save data on it. ToS: Dawn has received some additional changes from it’s original North American release as well, inherited from features found in the PAL territories release. These additions include head accessories for characters and Gallery Mode, a mode where players can view a library of illustrations and skits.
It should be clear by this point that despite the aforementioned upgrades and inclusions, ToS and ToS: Dawn are pretty much exactly the same games as their original versions. That’s why this is an impressions piece and not a full-blown review. ToS Chronicles is a love letter to Tales fans who either played ToS in the past and would love to experience it again or somehow missed out on ToS the first time around. You shouldn’t hesitate to get this version if you fall into one of those two camps. If you hated ToS the first time around for any other reason than the Gamecube controller, then there’s nothing here that will change your mind.