If you’re a fan of JRPGs, you’ve likely heard of Tales of Symphonia. Originally released in 2003 on the GameCube, this game is often hailed as a classic of the genre, featuring a sprawling world, a complex narrative, and real-time combat that’s still fun to play even after all these years. The game has been re-released a few times since then, but the latest remaster for the Nintendo Switch leaves a lot to be desired.
First of all, it’s important to note that the remaster is based on the 2014 PS3 version, which already had some technical flaws. The game is locked to 30fps, which is a downgrade from the original GameCube version’s 60fps. The art style has also been compromised, with inconsistent rendering for the anime-style character outlines featured in the original release. Some scenes also have dialogue that is missing in the PS3 and Switch versions, which can be confusing for players.
While these issues are disappointing, they’re not deal-breakers. The real problem with the remaster is that it introduces new technical flaws that make the game less enjoyable to play. Loading times between maps are now several seconds long, which can really break the immersion. Colors are less vibrant, with the game’s brightness being turned down in all scenes. Textures have been upscaled with AI, which results in visual details becoming blurry and indistinct. The battle UI now features texture seams that weren’t present in any other version, and small icons and text fonts now have visible compression artifacts. The pause screen now features a plain black background, and the animation that transitions between exploration and combat is completely missing. Cutscenes also appear to have lost the ability to crossfade, now abruptly jump-cutting between shots.
It’s worth noting that the game does run at 1080p, which is a record high for console versions of Symphonia. However, this is small consolation when you consider how much has been sacrificed to achieve this. In fact, if the remaster had just been an emulator running the GameCube version in HD, it would’ve been an improvement. A fan-made emulator rendering the game in 4K shows that there are no compression artifacts in the UI, no visible texture seams, the character outlines are fully intact, and the game runs at a smooth 60fps. All aspects that the official remaster fails at.
It’s a shame that the latest remaster of Tales of Symphonia falls so far short of expectations. While the game itself is still a classic, the technical flaws in the remaster make it difficult to recommend to anyone who’s played the original. If you’ve never played the game before, you might not notice these issues, but for anyone looking to relive their fond memories of the original, this remaster is a disappointment. Hopefully, future re-releases of this beloved game will live up to its legacy.