Change Is Inevitable In Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World

By Jenni . November 24, 2008 . 12:25pm

Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World is a game about change. But not just the idea of changing a world, a person or the direction of a society. It branches out and takes a broader look, looking at the motivations and causes of change, the gradual steps and advancements as a change is happening and the results and repercussions of such change.

 

The opening movie begins with a live-changing event. The town of Palmacosta is ravaged by Martel Church followers, led by Lloyd Irving, because a rebel group called the Vanguard was rumored to be station there. Our hero this time around, Emil, watches Lloyd murder his innocent parents, and runs because he can’t do anything. He comes upon a girl being accosted by people from the Church or Martel, and saves her from them.

 

Both the decimation of the town by a figure previously established to be not only a hero, but a good-hearted and likable character, changes not only the lives of any survivors of the Palmacosta event, but also casts a shadow of doubt on the mind of the player. When I first heard that Lloyd and Collette, the two heroes of Tales of Symphonia, would be the villains of Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, I was incredibly skeptical. I had invested hours helping them save the two worlds of Sylvarant and Tethe’alla, thought I knew their characters and what they were capable of. By beginning the Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the World in this manner, Namco Bandai is able to create doubt in the minds of returning players and create a vivid image in the minds of newcomers.

 

The other two striking changes both take place over a longer period of time, throughout Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World. These are changes in Emil, our initially introverted hero, and in the new world created by the combination of Sylvarant and Tethe’alla. The changes in the world, and how these changes have impacted the lives of people of both worlds, is incredibly obvious, but you don’t get to see and comprehend the entire impact until you really get into your travels with Emil and Marta and see how each place has changed. The depiction of the town of Luin in the beginning especially helps players realize that, even if they knew what the two separate worlds and their towns were like in Tales of Symphonia, they likely won’t even recognize them now. The lake in Luin is completely dry, and while some of the people (and even animals) may be the same, the locations and attitudes have transformed.

 

The change in Emil, tends to be a tad more subdued. Yes, within the first hour or two he does experience a somewhat sudden breakthrough concerning his personality, demeanor and the way he’s been living his life. This breakthrough does help him decide to give up everything he knows to try and make a difference. But people don’t change that easily, even when they do meet people who help them decide that something about them isn’t working and they need to improve it. Emil starts by taking the right steps – standing up to his abusive uncle, deciding to step up and aid a person depending on him and helping to protect a town and its people even though they’ve always hated him. But he can’t change overnight, and players get to see throughout the game how Emil gradually does grow from a shy, traumatized and scared little boy into a man.

 

Of course the game isn’t obvious about the theme of change. It doesn’t beat you over the head by pointing out the obvious, or narrate what you can watch happening before your eyes. Instead, its sort of infused into the background. If you don’t pay close attention, you won’t even realize the progress the world and its characters are making. If you do, you’ll gain a much better appreciation for the game.

 

Images courtesy of Namco Bandai.


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  • Vrakanox

    awesome game, playing it right now.

  • lostinblue

    half assed low budget spin-off, played it in Japanese already.

  • Volcynika

    Eh, might pick this up over the holidays, since there’s not too much to look at for the Wii on the rest of the year, but 2009 already has a good handful of titles I’m waiting to get.

  • Aoshi00

    I haven’t finished Tales of Symphonia yet, but this sequel w/ a changed world reminds me a little of FFX & FFX-2. Sometimes one wishes the game would just end at that point instead of seeing the aftermaths to come. Despite the silly dress spheres in FF X-2, the changes in Spira, for better or wosre, were valid considering things wouldn’t stay status quo.

  • Chris

    Oh, the themes of change this game has. If only the writing didn’t come off like an anime on the cartoon network. Characters using baby nicknames for each other, the heroine crushing on the oblivious hero. Not a single character comes off as having greater emotional maturity than a ten year old.

    (As opposed to the other Tales games which come off as an anime geared toward just old enough an age group never to be licensed in the US so it gets fansubbed the hell out of on bittorrent.)

  • Jenni

    @ Vrakanox: I’m really enjoying it too. :D

    @ lostinblue: A spin-off maybe, but I don’t really think its that low budget. The mini dialogues between characters are all voiced (which is nice) and I like how it uses motion capture scenes that aren’t animated to advance the storyline. Sometimes, when a game suddenly jumps to an animated or FMV sequence (which looks totally different from the rest of the game), it can be a bit jarring. Just because it doesn’t look “next gen” and may be a bit slow to start, doesn’t mean its low quality.

    @ Volcynika: I hear you. Its like after Animal Crossing: City Folk, no other “monumental” titles are being released in 2008. It seems like its Nintendo-wide as well – it looks like there may be a bit of a quality DS title drought in December as well. If you liked the original Tales of Symphonia, chances are you’ll enjoy this as well.

    @ Aoshi00: That is such an appropriate comparison! It is a lot like that. (I actually adored FFX-2. It was so campy sometimes that it made me overlook some of the smaller quirks. XD)

    @ Chris: I know exactly what you mean. It doesn’t help much for me, because the second I started to hear Marta speak, I thought, “Tohru!” (Fruits Basket)

    But, if you look at some of the characters, they seem like just preteens or teens. So I’m kind of willing to ignore it. Especially since I’ve developed a fondness for Tenebrae and the fabulous Johnny Yong Bosch is voicing Emil.

    This game’s storyline would also fit nicely on that Fox Kids cartoon block or in Disney’s Jetix block. I almost wonder if perhaps Namco Bandai did it purposely since the Wii does have such a wide audience? Perhaps they wanted to create a more family friendly storyline that would be alluring to new gamers who purchased the Wii and yet be tolerated by seasoned Tales of fans.

  • Nika

    @aoshii; Yes it indeed reminds me of FFx-2 now that you mention it. In the way that both games weren’t exeptionally good, but that I enjoyed them a lot.

    @Chris; I wouldn’t put it that bluntly, but yeah some of the writing was a bit immature, and very cliche-ish.

    @Jenni; I also came to love Tenebrae (although I’ve never heard his english voice). His eccentric attitude always made me laugh. I was a bit dissapointed with Righter though, for one I expected him to appear more often, and I totally misjudged his rule. (ok I’m just a whiny fangirl when it comes to him)

  • Vrakanox

    I understand what you all mean about the storyline and all, but I would say Regal Bryant is very mature. Like Jenni says, they act based on their age. You have to remember the main characters are just children. Anyway I really like all of the characters and it’s a fantastic game to enjoy with a few friends.

  • lostinblue

    @ Jenni: (Quote) A spin-off maybe, but I don’t really think its that low budget. (/Quote) Well, it is certainly low budget all around. For one they didn’t even “waste” that much money doing new assets, let alone some graphical effort going on. GC wasn’t a PS2 already, let alone a Wii.

    @ Jenni: (Quote) The mini dialogues between characters are all voiced (which is nice) (/Quote) Nice, but they promised to go after the original voice actors for the sequel, and instead because of the union and non-union crap we had voice actors that weren’t even contacted to reprise the role, they were informed of the game existance by the fans. This game was even low budget when it comes to voice over treatment, next to a proper installment.

    Although yes, they didn’t record skits before, and do now, and thus must have had some kind of shame in not recording them for this one. But the production values are low.

    @ Jenni: (Quote) and I like how it uses motion capture scenes that aren’t animated to advance the storyline. Sometimes, when a game suddenly jumps to an animated or FMV sequence (which looks totally different from the rest of the game), it can be a bit jarring. (/Quote) Well, if you’re talking about motion captured in-game cutscenes they look crap to me as well, better than the rest of the subpar graphicall effort (or lack of it) sure, but they certainly don’t seem that good.

    @ Jenni: (Quote) Just because it doesn’t look “next gen” and may be a bit slow to start, doesn’t mean its low quality. (/Quote) Well, and it certainly doesn’t mean they did any effort whatsoever as well when they’ve (Namco) shown they can do better, inexperienced third party’s on the Wii are doing RPG’s that look miles and bounds better, and well, it’s still a game made on the prospect of recycling assets, Wii owners deserved better, Tales fans deserved better, Tales of Symphonia fans deserved better. it’s not horrible, sure.

    As for how it starts, it starts out as the worse Tales beggining ever, it’s just too darned slow. Abyss was slow but this one really takes the cake, it’s not even enjoyable at first, just a chore.

    Well, just the

    Regarding the FFX-2 point, FFX-2 was made straight afterwards and for the same platform and by the same team, this? it was forked 5 years afterwards by a third rate team while the original one was too busy to make a game for a new, more powerful console and recycle old stuff.

    It’s half assed, it’s low budget, it’s lazy, it’s disrespectful for the platform and their userbase.

    Is it a horrible game? no it isn’t, and on that I can agree, but it’s still a lack of respect, and has a pretty bad approach to it… cheap approach.

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