Tales of Symphonia Review

At the end of last summer I posted a review of Tales of the Abyss. Playing ToA caused me to become extremely interested in the Tales Series. The Anime FMV, the character development via skits, and the fun battle system all combine to make a unique RPG experience. Tales of the Abyss is easily in the top 5 RPGs I’ve ever played. I was listening to the soundtrack just today and was reminded about how incredible it was.

Tales of Symphonia doesn’t beat Tales of the Abyss in my book, but its still an excellent game. It was originally released on the Gamecube, and I picked up a used copy to play on my Wii. I’m extremely glad I did. Having never owned a Gamecube I could have easily missed out on this little gem. In many ways I feel like Tales of the Abyss was the natural evolution from this game. Everything was just a little better: the story, the character development, the battle system, etc. But Tales of Symphonia still comes out as a great game, even when compared to Abyss.

I spent around 40 hours playing through the game. There was a plot twist I didn’t see coming, which is always nice. The main problem with doing a review of Symphonia, after I’ve played Abyss, is that I feel like I’m just going around saying, “It was good…but Abyss was better.” If you’re a fan of the Tales series you’ve probably already played this game. If you’re fan of JRPGs I highly recommend Tales of Symphonia. If you’re a one of those new gamers the Wii is bringing in, why not try a “hardcore” game like Tales of Symphonia. It’s certainly fun, and worth the $20 to pick up a used copy. Besides, it’ll prepare you for Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, the direct sequel that is releasing exclusively for the Wii this November.

I have lost…

…all faith in the human race. This article is the worst piece of so-called journalism I have seen in a very long time. It is filled with fear-mongering. It is filled with bad research. Wait. Scratch that. It is filled with a lack of research. Yes, that’s correct. The research descended so far into the negative that it, in fact, wrapped around so that it was able to fill something. With nothingness. The end of days approaches.

But, in more serious terms, this guy has no idea what he is talking about. Mass Effect is not some sex simulator. I mean…the very idea is amazingly idiotic. It’s the same old rhetoric. Video games are evil. You can have sex with a grapefruit. They are designed to make our young boy want to have sex with a grapefruit. We all know that grapefruits are gay. Video games make men into homosexual pedophile rapists! It’s happening in your home! HIDE YOUR GRAPEFRUITS FROM YOUR TEENAGE SONS! But, ya know, don’t actually be a parent and look at the rating of a game.

Now, I know parents are busy. I know many parents don’t enjoy video games so they aren’t going to play them to see what is in them. That’s fine. I understand. But parents do have a responsibility to look at the ratings of games. I also think that stores like EBGames need to get their act together and ID younger people trying to buy M rated games. But what parents do not need is articles like the one linked above. All it does is create irrational fear. Again, Mass Effect is NOT a sex simulator. It has a sex scene. It is rated M. Is your child under 17? Do you not want them to see that scene? Do not allow them to play Mass Effect. I know, I know. There is the worry that they could go to a friend’s house and see it. They could also see porn at a friend’s house. The possibility exists that they might smoke a cigarette at a friend’s house. Yet no one is storming down the tobacco companies saying that they are attempting to kill off our young people. I realize that there were lawsuits in the past. I realize that things are not exactly equal. I’m simply pointing out that video games are not an insidious evil.

In the end though, what do I know? I’m a libertarian, and a gamer. I have a strange urge to go find a grapefruit.

Games, Game Ratings, and Children

I truly want to believe that the day will come when people stop being paranoid about games. There is a belief out there that all games are designed and intended for children. This belief leads to the conclusion that there is a worldwide conspiracy among game creators to destroy the minds of children by exposing them to mature content. It’s simply not true.

I’m going on this rant because of a recent story I read on CNN. I think that its very interesting. The group is absolutely right. There are games that will never be suitable for children. But should they be? If I had children, I probably wouldn’t let me six year old watch The Lord of the Rings trilogy. But it’s rated PG-13. My job as a parent is to discern if my child is ready for that. Video games should be viewed in the same way. There is no way I would allow my 12 year old to play Manhunt 2 — I won’t even play it! But I’m not going to allow my 12 year old to see Saw IV (or whatever number we’re on now) either. Video games of ratings the same as movies. No one is suggesting that all movies must be acceptable for children, in fact some of the most critically acclaimed movies aren’t really for kids (cf, Brokeback Mountain, Saving Private Ryan, Munich, among others). I see no reason the same should not hold true for games.

In my opinion the issue here is that the media/parents see games as things for children, not for adults. As a result they have this idea that they may pick up any game at a store, and it should be fine for their child. The fact of the matter is that this isn’t reality. There are games designed for a variety of age groups. All games have a rating icon that is more clearly displayed than most movie ratings. They don’t take a rocket scientist to decode (E – Everyone, T – Teen, M – Mature). These rating icons also include, much like DVD movie rating icons, the reasons the game was rated at the level it was. I can only think of one game that I’ve played and enjoyed rated M, and that’s the Halo series. But I’m fine with there being M rated games, in much the same way I’m fine with there being R rated movies.

So, my plea is to parents. But, as a youth pastor, I also try to do my part. In particular, we don’t play Halo at a youth ministry gathering because of its M rating. I personally don’t have a problem with the game, and I have yet to figure out why its rated M and other FPS games are rated T. But, my opinion doesn’t matter. It has been rated M by the ESRB, and so since we have students under 17 at our youth ministry, no one plays it. I get complaints, and will get them in the future. But that’s life, I suppose.