Tales of Symphonia Remastered [Switch] Review

By Glen Fox |
The Good

It's Tales of Symphonia

The Bad

It's 30 fps

It's uglier than the original

Loads of missing features

This Tales of Symphonia Remastered review should come with a disclaimer: Tales of Symphonia is, by quite some margin, my favourite game of all time. It’s important to note because I went in with incredibly high expectations, not to mention a strong emotional attachment. That may have skewed some of my feelings when writing this review,

Before getting into the thick of it, the remaster is a completely mixed bag. The game itself holds up remarkably, and this is something I was concerned with going in. Would the rose-tinted glasses come off playing the game nearly 20 years later? Fortunately, that’s not the case. Sure, many aspects of the gameplay are dated in design, but the story and, most notably, the characters still hold up after all of this time.

However, the remaster itself is, quite frankly, a complete and utter mess. It’s baffling to me that a publisher as huge as Bandai Namco would allow one of its most treasured releases from yesteryear to launch in a state like this. It deserves better.

Tales of Symphonia Remastered Review

We’re going to break our review down into a number of different sections so you can skip to the bit you’re most interested in if you want.

What Is Tales of Symphonia?

Tales of Symphonia is the fifth instalment in the Tales series, and the first to launch in fully 3D. It takes place in the same universe as the first entry, Tales of Phantasia, and centres around protagonist Lloyd Irving, who’s on a quest to regenerate the world with his friend Colette, the Chosen one.

Without digging into spoilers, this takes you across the world, battling monsters, bosses, and taking on side-quests. You’ll explore an overworld and various dungeons and towns, participating in side-quests and more.

The real highlight is the battle system though, which is fast-paced and full of action. It’s known as the ‘Multi-Line Linear Motion Battle System’, and sees you and three party members pulling off mad combos to defeat the enemy.

Does The Remaster Feature New Content?

No new content, no. It features AI-upscaled HD visuals, widescreen support, and all of the content included in the PS2 version of the game. For context, it originally launched on GameCube in 2003, then in 2004 a PS2 version arrived exclusively in Japan with new additions.

So, if you’re playing this version for the first time, there will be new content for you. But there’s no content in here that’s exclusive to this remaster.

What’s Good?

Fundamentally, despite the flaws (which we’ll get onto soon) this is still Tales of Symphonia. It’s an absolute masterpiece and one of the finest JRPGs of all time. Not only that, this is the first time it’s officially arrived in handheld format, and it lends itself very well to this.

For those that never had a chance to play the PS2 version, and that’s everyone who doesn’t live in Japan or owned the PS3 or PC remasters, will get to experience brand new content. That includes a HD version of the game.

What’s Bad?

Okay, so this is not an exaggeration: this is the worst version of Tales of Symphonia that currently exists. For a start, it’s 30 fps, which is half the frame rate of the GameCube original – and that’s when it hits the cap. It regularly features stuttering and frame rate drops.

It’s so bad, in fact, that when certain particle effects are on the screen, the game slows to a crawl. This happens in many areas of the game and, perhaps most irritatingly, whenever you have Colette in the party. At best it’s distracting, and at worst it can really harm the experience.

It’s also the ugliest version of the game. This is subjective, of course, but when comparing to the PC version – which I played on Steam Deck – this version pales in comparison. The AI upscaling seems to just apply a really ugly sharpening effect to everything, which, in my view, is less visually appealing than the original visuals upscaled in HD.

It also seems to be missing the cel-shaded effect from the original, which gave the visuals a nice cartoony appearance. If you look really closely, a very faint grey outline is applied to the characters, but it’s far less effective than the bold black outline of the original. Curiously, this effect is applied on occasion – particularly on weapons and other objects.

The colours are also incredibly washed out. Fortunately, if you own an OLED Switch you can pop on ‘Vivid’ mode to mitigate this. Also, this is the only Switch game that I’ve ever had to turn off ‘automatic brightness’ so I can see parts of the screen. It’s really dark in places.

Perhaps the biggest complaint though are the myriad missing visual features. The screen-shattering effect when you enter battle in the original is completely missing, replaced with a white screen. Also, whenever you open a menu or watch a skit, rather than see a transparent view of the gameplay screen behind, it’s just an entirely black screen.

Neither of these are game-breaking, but they also weren’t a problem in the original version, now almost 20 years old at this point. Also, what is game-breaking is the missing dialogue in numerous scenes. That actually gets in the way of story and character development.

Finally, there are terribly long loading screens between battle, moving between new areas on the map, and launching and closing skits. Basically, any time there’s a loading screen, it takes incredibly long.

Tales of Symphonia Remastered Review: Verdict

When you look at the number of paragraphs in good compared to bad, it’s not looking good, is it? Well, you probably learned that from the fact our only real positive was that it’s still Tales of Symphonia.

But, that’s the only real upside of this remaster. It’s objectively the worst version of the game. At best, it’s an awful port. At worst, it’s a broken mess. It runs poorly, it’s missing a ton of features, and it’s the ugliest version of the game. What sort of remaster is uglier than the original?

I can only recommend this version if, like me, you want to replay Tales of Symphonia on a handheld and you don’t own a Steam Deck. If this is not you, avoid this – at least until a promised patch fixes the game.

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