Sailing the Blue Skies since 2001.
Tales of Symphonia (GC)
Wow, this game is really amazing. I haven't played a RPG so full of depth since Skies of Arcadia, and although this game isn't quite the near flawless experience Skies is, this is certainly a high class title. The game's graphics are simply amazing; at times jaw dropping. This is by far one of the best examples of cel-shading I've seen, outside of Zelda: Wind Waker and Dragon Quest 8. The characters are very enjoyable and attachable (I like all of the playable character's voices and personalities...enough to get an art book of it), and despite a somewhat trite storyline (that at times seems ripped right out of Grandia II...which was ripped from elsewhere), it is compelling and kept me interested. The game has so many sidequests it's mind boggling, the battle system is one of the best I've played (I like having a bit of real time control in combat, and this is ALL real time ^^ ), there's plenty to do and explore, and it's a blast to play. The music is great on the whole (I own the soundtrack), and the ability to choose your battles is a nice plus. There's hardly any complaints here - even those who said the game ramps up on difficulty too quickly apparently aren't too knowledgeable at RPG's, for I had no problems with that (it's called leveling-up, folks ^_~ ). I am very satisfied and pleased with this game...enough to proclaim it as my favorite game of 2004. Thank you Namco for releasing it here.
The "sequel" is out now, and reviews have been fairly decent. Alas, some of the original cast have had their voices switched (sigh), and our new heroes are torn from the grand book of RPG clichés (whiny teenaged boy and ditzy but admirable girl!...hey wait...isn't that Colette already? XD ), so I think, for my sake of my cherished memories of this game, that I will avoid it. I haven't even seen it in any stores anyway...