Back in the days of the Gamecube, there were so few RPGs to sink your teeth into. Tales of Symphonia took first prize for not only the best RPG on the Gamecube, but one of the deepest and most excellent installments in Namco Bandai’s Tales series to date. Even today, it holds up against its competition with some of the finest co-op RPG gameplay, compelling story and laugh-out-loud humorous moments.
Tales of Symphonia : Dawn of the New Word is a direct sequel to the original Gamecube installment (to the point where you can load up a finished save from your old Gamecube Memory Card for a nice little in-game bonus) that centers around new protagonist Emil. In the very beginning of the story, Lloyd Irving has seemingly turned to the dark side, murdering Emil’s parents before his eyes. Longtime fans of the original Symphonia will see a lot of familiar faces in this sequel, but you might not always greet them with a smile. There are a lot of plot points that deal directly with Emil’s relationship and driving quest to avenge his parents that allow many old familiar faces to show up. It’s great when they do, because playing as Emil and his rag-tag group of adventurers this time around doesn’t really have the same charm that playing as Lloyd and his rag-tag group of adventurers did last time.
Part of the problem with this sequel is that the main character isn’t likable. Emil is kind of a wuss, and although he does eventually evolve into a confident hero, he definitely grinds on your nerves for the first few hours of the game to the point where less patient players will want to put it down for about a week before having to deal with Emil’s whining self-deprecation again. This is possibly the greatest determent to the game’s even fans eagerly anticipating this direct sequel will feel a sense of frustration that instead of playing Lloyd, they’re playing a whiny, confidence-lacking child with the courage of an undercooked string bean.
One of the new mechanics that Namco Bandai has added is a Pokemon-like monster capturing mechanic. It allows the player to capture monsters to join their party and your new pets level up as though they were a regular character. A nice little mechanic, but it doesn’t really add much to the strategy of the game. Truth be told, the studio hasn’t really rewritten this Tale’s gameplay is almost exactly the same as the original Symphonia from battle to questing to roaming the map. If you enjoy the Tales series for its gameplay, this will probably appeal to you. As a big fan of Tales of Symphona from the day of release, this game was actually a bit of a disappointment for the first few hours before it kicked into high gear, mostly due to the annoying personality of the protagonist. However, much like its Gamecube predecessor, Dawn of the New World is one of the few RPGs on the Wii. As a result, if you’re an RPG fan and Nintendo loyalist, it’s really worth sticking with the game until the story picks up. Much like the original Symphonia, there are plenty of sidequests to keep completion-ists busy, while casual gamers will appreciate the drop-in co-op gameplay during combat.
Does this game break the mold ? No. Most of these ideas have been seen before in Tales games, but at the same time, this formula is tried and true. If you’ve got a Wii and have been longing for a deep involved RPG, check out Dawn of the New World. You’ll definitely get a lot more out of it if you played Tales of Symphonia, but it’s also an enjoyable experience for new players and veterans alike.