Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice Review


It’s been a little while since I played Disgaea 2, but I’ve been meaning to jump into 3 for a while now. The strategic gameplay of the series is always a blast. It really brings you in for a big challenge from start to finish that’s for sure. You have to consider a lot of angles when playing. While the core story is definitely a bit weaker than the first two, it makes for a great game either way and one that you don’t want to miss.

The game starts by introducing us to Mao. He’s the son of the Overlord and his goal is to rise to that position by destroying his father. The reason he wants to do this is because the Overlord broke his video game console a while back. To that end, Mao has decided that he will need to figure out what powers a hero since heroes usually take the Overlord down. Once he is able to figure that out then he will be ready to roll. To that end he captures a hero named Almaz and steals his title. Now, this gets a little meta and the game isn’t afraid to break the 4th wall but bear with me here. So effectively everyone has a title which actually affects how you act and think. Now that Almaz’s title has been taken he is slowly becoming a demon. He has to find a way to get into Mao’s heart (Which is located as basically a department store that you can walk into) to steal his title back. Will either of the characters get what they want?

Most of the game takes place at school or on campus as Mao tries to locate how to find a lot of power. Heroes are almost mythical in the demon world because of how rarely they appear. Everything is backwards in this world so to be an honor student you need to keep on cutting class and just being mean while the delinquents are people who attend class and are nice to others. It’s a fun dynamic and there are 3 little minions who show up in basically every chapter of the game to try and cause trouble. They’re always fun to have around for sure.

As a main character Mao is decent. He has his entertaining moments and I do like that he is always trying to set the record straight that he has no friends. The guy has a lot of secrets and a fascination with live experimentation so even by the end he isn’t a true hero. Still, he does end up fighting with the villains so you are at least glad to have him on your side at the very least. Almaz is the other main hero and he’s pretty fun. His plot is about getting Princess Sapphire to finally notice him but he is content to stay in the shadows until he works up the courage. He protects her from a distance and all. A one way romance like this can always be rough but at least the demons aren’t too hard on him about this.

Sapphire is a solid Princess though and one of the better ones of recent years. She has the brilliant idea of going to destroy the Overlord before he even thinks of kidnapping her. That’s pretty proactive so I can certainly get behind that. Princess Peach should consider capturing Bowser next time instead of waiting for the inevitable. She can fight which is always a pretty good skill to have as well. Her super strength punch and Buzzsaw even scare Mao at times.

Mao’s rival is a solid character as well. As leader of the delinquents you’d expect nothing less. One supporting character who could be annoying most of the time was the cook though. Literally all of his lines are using food lingo. I can appreciate good puns and all but I felt like he would never actually get to the point so he didn’t really serve much of a purpose at times. He gets a lot of hype and is apparently super strong but the game doesn’t do much with that concept.

As an RPG there are tons of other characters of course but those are the big ones. You’ll enjoy the story, there’s a lot going on. For the gameplay, it’s the same as in previous titles. You control up to 9 characters and maneuver them through a chess board of sorts. The idea is to take out the opponent fighters. Sometimes this will be straight forward and you just run to take them out while at other times there are a bunch of obstacles to get past. The levels become more like a puzzle as you have to decide how to attack the enemy. A good strategy is just as important as your level ups here.

The game holds nothing back so you will likely need to go replay levels a bunch before clearing the game. It’s difficult to level everyone up here since only the character who beats the enemy gets the level up this time. So by the end of the game I had 4 really strong fighters and my other guys were scrubs. It was worth it though. Then you want to save money to buy excellent equipment. The equipment will really come in handy since it boosts your stats massively. For example you can switch out your weapon with 100 attack power for one with 700 and suddenly you’re blasting through everyone. The toughest part is always choosing between buying a new weapon or new armor. I always prioritized weapons first since it makes the grinding quicker but ultimately you will need armor or you will fall. My strategy is to sell off all the equipment of all my other fighters and only stick to 4 but of course this is risky. It’s a great way to raise funds short term though.

There’s a whole lot of depth to the gameplay as you can also upgrade attacks here. Doing so makes them more powerful but drastically costs more magic meter as well so sometimes getting it too strong can actually be a bad thing. Then you can go to class to have the students give you money or unlock more levels at the shop. There is definitely a whole lot to consider here. The main story took me over 20 hours and there is a sizable post game story as well. This game can easily last you 50+ hours so there is a ton of replay value here. I would definitely recommend sticking with it

Naturally the soundtrack is also pretty solid. You’ll recognize a theme or two from the original game in addition to the new ones. Then you’ve got the solid graphics which go all out with the special attacks as always. It really knows how to make everything look really high tier. I do low key wish you could skip the cinematics on the special moves eventually since it takes up some time but I suppose after putting so much effort into the attacks they don’t want people just skipping them each time.

Overall, Disgaea 3 is a solid way to end the trilogy. The game has a lot of heart and depth to it. It’s a very complete RPG that excels in all areas. While I would say that the first two defeated it, you’ll definitely be invested in the game. It may be very difficult but you always feel like you have hope even if you need to go back and earn some more level ups again. Sometimes that’s just something you have to do. Going back to get stronger is a noble quest at all times.

Overall 8/10

Mario & Luigi Dream Team Stats and Records

Stats time!

Play Time 38h 16m
Total Pillows 41/52
Total Beans 106/143
Mario Level 35
Luigi Level 35
Excellent Rate 83%
Block-recovery Rate 75%
Enemies Defeated 1757
Escapes 90
Times KO’d 27
Times Damaged 526
Mushrooms Eaten 208

Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr’s Journey Review


The Mario & Luigi series has been a fun one to play through. Bowser’s Inside Story has often been known as the best one in the series and I can see why. The story is a blast and it’s just nice to see Bowser getting a star role like how he is here. The game does have a few new mechanics in there that aren’t my favorite but for the most part this takes everything from Partners in Time and improves upon them. Making this a very complete Mario game that you’ve got to check out at some point. Then you’ve also got the new bonus game Bowser Jr’s Journey which is surprisingly substantial considering that it’s a bonus experience.

In Bowser’s Inside Story the plot starts with a pandemic going across the planet. Everyone is turning into Blorbs which is a fancy way of saying they are all swelling up like balloons. Peach calls an emergency meeting but did not invite Bowser. He isn’t happy about that and bursts in. Shortly afterwards he eats a poisoned mushroom and sucks everyone inside himself. Now there is nobody to stop Fawful from taking over the Kingdom and ruling the world. Nobody except…Bowser! Little does he know that Mario and Luigi will still be providing some help though from inside his belly.

There’s quite a lot more story to go through here but that’s the general premise. It’s nice to really see Bowser’s side of things here. Finally you have a lead going straight after the villains instead of going to a bunch of different castles the whole time. Bowser’s just a lot of fun. Mario and Luigi still can’t really talk here while Bowser constantly gets a ton of great lines and moments which really helps him out here. You have to love his confidence. A lot of things go over his head but the guy just seems very genuine. He’s a villain, but one who at least does care about his minions which is always good to see.

The gameplay is your classic turn based adventure. You can use special combo attacks (Which are much, much stronger than normal moves so you really need to use them) hammers, or jumps. You also can move around the overworld and enemies appear so by jumping on them or hitting them with hammers you can get a pre-emptive strike which is very useful in battle. The only parts of the gameplay that I found to be pretty weak were the moments in Bowser’s stomach when you have to jump up and down to make him wake up and blasting the orbs to make Bowser giant. These moments happened a little too often and always took forever. Not a big thing of course but a minor area where things could have been improved.

Beyond that, I had no real complaints with the game. The story was a lot of fun and the gameplay was smooth. I felt like leveling up wasn’t quite as daunting as the previous games. In part because this time I actually understood how the bonus multipliers worked this time around so I didn’t waste it all in HP. Definitely not a fun moment that time. Fawful also works really well as the main villain. I loved his catch phrase “I have chortles” as he starts laughing. Basically his grammar is majorly messed up but in a pretty fun way. He certainly enjoys mocking Bowser so you know the main character will get his revenge at some point. His second in command Midbus was also pretty impressive. A guy who can fight with Bowser toe to toe has got to be crazy strong. It also helps raise the stakes in the game which were already pretty high. Having an end of the world threat was great. Also quick shoutout to Peach for actually having telekinetic powers in this game. She only used this in one scene but it was impressive. I guess she has been training.

In Bowser Jr’s Journey we see the events of the main game from his perspective. Bowser Jr is a pretty ungrateful guy who really does as he pleases. He’s not here to make friends and all the Koopalings get upset as he continues to disregard their opinions as he searches for a very sketchy “cure” to the Blorbs. One by one the Koopalings leave until Bowser Jr’s group consists of him and Morton. When a trio of new villains working under Fawful appear Bowser Jr must rethink his approach. Is he really going to be able to save Bowser if none of the minions want to work for him anymore?

The story is pretty emotional in large part because we’ve already seen how polite and heart warming Bowser can be. The guy’s just fun to hang around and he does treat his minions well. Bowser Jr is the opposite and is incredibly unlikable. I was not expecting him to be quite so mean all the time so that did come as a bit of a shock. Regardless, I would definitely have to say that the game had some good story arcs going. The story was actually crafted really well which helped the game succeed.

The gameplay is pretty different as it’s more like an automatic game where you watch your minions fight. You can cheer them on and issue several special attacks/power their moves up but it’s not super interactive. Prepare to play old levels quite a lot here in order to get their levels up to snuff. Playing the elements here is most important. Flying minions beat ground minions. Ground beat throwers and throwers beat flyers. If you put your team in a good formation that makes the most of this then you will be in a good position to do a lot of good. Tactics are more important than level ups but if you really just want to skate by just find a level that you can beat without having to help out at all and have them run it over and over again. Before long you’ll have made it to the end of the game. It’s surprisingly tough but as with every game that has a level up system, you can ultimately persevere.

I liked the game. It’s a pretty simple title that doesn’t have a lot to it in terms of gameplay variation and such but that’s fine. It’s really just a side adventure you’re playing around with. If anything you could play it during the main game to try and keep them in sync. What was particularly impressive was the story since it was actually pretty engaging. I never would have thought Bowser Jr would be the one to be able to lead his own adventure but here we are.

The graphics are pretty good. The character models are very sharp and the backgrounds really stand out. The whole thing looks really modern. Then you’ve got a catchy soundtrack as well. The best theme in the game for me has to either me the final boss of Inside Story or the general Bowser encounter theme. Both themes are actually pretty intense. The final boss even sounds like a Kingdom Hearts theme. You can really hear the usual instruments and themes at least. It helped really make the game feel like a big deal. In terms of replay value, I’d say this game has a good amount. Keep in mind that the main stories for the two combined should take you around 40 hours. (It took me 43) If you then work on getting all levels ups and beating all levels then this would probably get you to around 47 hours.

Overall, This is a game with mountains of content. It’s clear why this has always been a standout game for the Mario series. I’ll be starting Dream Team pretty soon but it’s definitely got big boots to fill this time around. I have little doubts that it will be another good installment though as the series has been consistent. The fact that this is really two games in one just makes the whole thing even better. Jr’s Journey gameplay may take some getting used to but it can quickly become addicting once you’re into it. I almost went and 100% completed the game just because I felt like it so there’s that. Sometimes you just never know when a game’s going to just go off like that.

Overall 8/10

Bonds of the Skies Review


I can’t say that I was familiar with this game before it came out but the fact that it’s from Kemco was a really good sign because they have quickly solidified themselves as one of the leaders in mobile gaming. Whenever their games get ported to PS4 you know you’re in for a treat. To date Asdivine Hearts is one of the gold standards for RPGs. I would put it up there with fellow titans Kingdom Hearts 2 and Final Fantasy XIII. The sequel was a little weaker thanks to the story but the gameplay was still top notch with a lot of strategy. I’ve never played a game like that where I got all the characters to the max level 99 and still couldn’t beat the final boss without working on my magic some more. This game is on the shorter side next to those but still delivers a complete experience.

So in this world there exist a few Grimoa. These are the deities of the land. 3 of them decided to split their powers into a kid of sorts while the flame one decided not to do so. Well, many years later various towns start being attacked by a fire monster and all of the deities assume the fire one is responsible. This leads Nogard, the wind Grimoa to go to a small town and recruit the help of a man named Eil. Eil is a mild mannered guy who just wants to do the right thing. He’s not really much of a fighter but will absolutely help in order to stop these villains from having their way with the world. He suits up but this will be no easy quest. He must find two other humans to partner with the other two deities. Only then will they be strong enough to take on the Fire dragon and save the planet.

The story is pretty straight forward with a classic formula. You go to each town to find a new partner until you have a full team of 3. After that you go to different islands to find the kid deities and then you’re set for the final boss. There aren’t really any big twists or turns here beyond the usual although you do get a ton of dialogue. The game should take you between 7-10 hours to complete. There isn’t a whole lot of grinding necessary as your levels will do well for the most part but it’s also worth noting that grinding isn’t all that painful here for people who don’t like it. As I mentioned, Kemco is an old pro at this. The gameplay speed is incredibly fast. You can also put your guys on auto battle mode in order to take out the minions. Now, it’s a little less advanced than in their later games as auto mode means the can only fire off a generic strike so spells are off the table. It’s still a fair compromise for not actually having to control them. It means instead of running away from encounters you can fight through all of them in order to keep your level doing well. The EXP you can earn in the dungeon right before the final boss is insane so don’t be afraid to stay there and grind for a bit. In less than 10 minutes I got my guys from level 60 to 75 in this place and it was just enough to claim victory.

The gameplay is that of a turn based style. You have the option to use physical attacks, magic, or items. In general I recommend only having one skill equipped because then you can equip a lot of passive boosts which are far more useful in my opinion. You only ever need 1 real skill here. Perhaps 3 for Avi as the team’s medic you want her to have the main 2 healing spells as well. Fight like this and you’ll have a very balanced roster. In addition to the usual equipment you can also equip which monsters you want to have at the ready. I stayed with the default ones throughout the whole game but it’s a nice way to add more variety.

The graphics look pretty nice. I was surprised that only one of the Grimoa got a character portrait as the others talk so having one would make sense. In general you get the feeling that this game didn’t have a big budget the way some of the others had but they still did a pretty good job of getting all the fundamentals in. The animations are really smooth and the game does look quite nice. I definitely wouldn’t dock any points there. This is a game that’s aged really well. The soundtrack is also pretty solid. It’s all nice and fast paced which works pretty well with how quickly the gameplay moves. Note that you can speed up the gameplay to 3X by clicking L1.

Aside from the story you do have some post game content to work on. There will definitely still be some quests around and I think there are two dungeons. The Platinum trophy is definitely pretty achievable. I don’t expect it should take you more than an extra 2-3 hours to get the rest of the trophies. It’s something that’s worth doing if you completed the game since you’ll already be so close to doing so.

As for the main characters, Eil is decent but not great. He’s a very timid character. Throughout the game everyone mocks him quite a bit for being too nice and always talking in a worried way. It’s a fairly interesting character arc at times but I never felt like he really came into his own. A little more confidence would have gone a long way. His ally Iks is a lot more outgoing by nature and isn’t afraid to stand up for himself. If anything you’ll feel bad for him a bit when Eil sets up a trick against him. Iks is a solid companion to have. Finally you have Avi who wants to do her part to save the world but has a hard time being straight with the group. She’s used to withholding her feelings at all times. She gradually becomes close with the group though and the 3 make for a solid team. I’ll give her props for being bold enough to walk up to the other two demanding they hand over their Grimoas at the time they met even if that’s probably not how transferring ownership works.

Overall, Bonds of the Skies is definitely a pretty great game. It’s like a pocket RPG that you can quickly blast through and get a feel for the genre. I can’t state enough how seamless the gameplay is here with all of the quality of life upgrades in. Even little things like speeding up the gameplay for grinding and auto battle are things that more RPGs should add but surprisingly this is one of the only companies to do so. Playing through it just never feels like a chore and this is a very balanced game. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone that wants to check out an RPG title.

Overall 8/10

Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time Review


Mario’s certainly had quite a few RPGs over the years. It’s always been interesting to see Nintendo balance having both the Paper Mario series as well as the M&L titles. It used to be that the former would have the darker plots while M&L would have the hype dialogue. Gradually the Paper Mario games turned into the more fun titles without much of a plot and I’m not deep enough in this franchise to see if it’ll go the same way. Well, this is definitely a fun sequel and I would put it above the first game. The story is a little on the short side for an RPG but at around 15 hours I can’t reasonably say that it’s super short either. It’s long enough and gets the job done.

The game starts with the team deciding to time travel to the past for fun. Apparently that’s the kind of thing you do when you’re bored now. Peach heads to the past but when the time machine returns there is a monster in there instead of Peach. The Mario bros are able to barely take him out and head to the past. There they are quickly defeated by the Shroobs. Fortunately they are saved by Baby Bowser as well as Baby Mario/Baby Luigi. Now these guys are going to need to team up to find out where the present Peach is and save her. The stakes are high because this group is also looking to conquer the kingdom in general. They already own the Mushroom Kingdom in the past and Mario must now stop this from happening in the present.

Of course along the way a lot of hijinks ensues and you know Bowser will want to have a word in. Surprisingly Bowser’s role here is rather small. He gets a solid role at the end of the game though which was pretty tense. I was definitely not expecting things to go that way. The game does not disappoint with the climax. It’s pretty high-end as you would expect from an RPG experience. The boss has more than one phase and it’ll take everything you had to win. The game is rather difficult if you don’t stop to get some extra level ups along the way. I spent a few hours just going back to get level ups and the final boss was still pretty tough.

The best advice I can give it to really spam the Copy Flower and the Mix Flower. These are really your best options if you ultimately want to score the win. You can deal hundreds of damage just by using the flower once and at the same level my standard attack would do around 70. I don’t see how you can beat the final bosses without these items. I ran out of items the first time I tried to challenge the final boss and ultimately that put me in a real spot. I wouldn’t lose since I was good at dodging the attacks but I couldn’t deal enough damage to ever win. See, the boss has 3,000 HP and she is protected by a lot of other parts. The idea is to destroy the shields and then attack her but the shields regenerate every few turns. So by the time I would destroy 2 shields another would pop up so I would never get to the actual villain. You need the items for this fight. I can tell you that right now.

Also, it’s important to use the roulette to increase other attributes. Initially I was putting everything into Health but I didn’t realize that the roulette gets worse and worse if you focus on just one stat. You’ve got to increase them all to really put yourself in a good spot. It’s the only way to get far here. I recommend always increasing HP, Attack, or Defense. They’re the only 3 stats that really matter if you ask me. Earning XP isn’t super easy in this game though. Enemies don’t respawn unless you time travel so it can take a while to get anywhere. Additionally the EXP amounts just aren’t great. I beat the game at Level 25 and just getting to that point took quite a long while.

The gameplay is classic turn based although it’s fairly interactive. Pressing buttons at the right times will allow you to extend a combo or deal extra damage. You are also given the option to dodge enemy attacks if you time the buttons correctly. It’s a nice little touch that keeps you sharp the whole time. You can’t just space out as the enemy uses their moves. It’s not quite as crisp as your average RPG but I’ll give Nintendo props for keeping things different here. I do think it’s a pretty good idea.

As for the graphics, I’d say that the game looks pretty clear. The character sprites are on point. The animations are a little limited along with the sound effects so you’ll see and hear the characters do the same things a lot but at the end of the day it always feels pretty in character. The soundtrack is okay but the game was really lacking a danger theme. As a result even during the really serious moments you would have a happy theme play and it could dampen the mood a bit. The game could have really used a dark theme or something with a little rock for these moments.

There isn’t much replay value in this case because there isn’t anything to do after beating the game. You can earn more level ups I suppose but there isn’t much of a reason to do so with no post game. It’s short for an RPG as I mentioned but you can get it for a decent price nowadays and 15 hours is nothing to sneeze at. Additionally, the game is just a lot of fun. The dialogue is on point. Now, Luigi does get thrown into the dirt quite a bit as the series always love making fun at his expense. If you’re a big Luigi fan then this could be a rough ride for you. For the most part it’s all done in good fun but you may have doubts.

Overall, Mario & Luigi Partners in Time is a solid sequel to the first game. I thought that the story was a little better and I do love time travel adventures. It’s not a game that will stick with you for long as it’s off to the next thing right away but it’s a solid title nonetheless. I look forward to playing the next one soon. I feel like back in the day Bowser’s Inside Story was known as the best game in the series so I’ll be interested in seeing if that’s the case. I’m definitely expecting another really solid adventure. Mario hasn’t let me down before and I don’t expect he’ll start now.

Overall 7/10

Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World Review


It’s time to look at the sequel to the original Tales of Symphonia game. As I recently beat the first one I knew it was time to jump right into the sequel. It’s definitely a very worthy successor. Is it as good as the first one? Well….it’s a tricky one. I do appreciate that we no longer have to worry about big dungeons and there are a lot more cinematics here. On the other hand, the original game had the better story if you ask me. So overall I would say that the original wins but it’s very close and that’s definitely impressive considering how good the first one.

It’s been a few years since the original game’s events concluded. The heroes succeeded in merging the two worlds together but this didn’t result in the perfect utopia that they expected. Instead of war about to break out between the half elves and humans, now there are big battles between the inhabitants of both worlds. The Church of Martel seems to have become more radical as well. The game starts with Lloyd appearing and murdering everyone in the city of Palmacosta. Emil barely manages to escape and saves a girl named Marta as well. We then skip forward a few years. Emil doesn’t remember these events and has had a pretty tough time of it. Nobody likes him as they believe him to be a bad luck charm. One day he meets up with Marta again who is being chased by a bunch of villains. She asks him if he will serve her as a Knight of Ratatosk and since he has nothing to lose, Emil agrees to this and gains a lot of power.

Marta explains her mission. She has to find all of the Centurion Cores and awaken them. This will restore Lord Ratatosk who will bring peace to this chaotic world. There are a lot of questions here to be honest but Emil doesn’t care. He’s finally found someone who needs him and so he has a purpose at long last. Emil agrees to help but he also wants revenge against Lloyd along the way. Emil doesn’t understand why people seem to love Lloyd so much despite the guy being a mass murderer. Most people don’t even believe Emil. Then you’ve also got the Vanguard which is an army of extremists who are trying to murder everyone and Emil’s mentor of sorts named Richter is a part of their group. The heroes will definitely need to take some sides here.

There’s a lot of story going on here and that’s why it’s always interesting writing reviews for an RPG. It’s a lot different from my standard game reviews where the plot doesn’t have to be mentioned much. Even from what I’ve written below, there’s just so much more to get into. Of course, it’s a story that is constantly evolving as you go through the chapters so you don’t want to get into it too deeply either. Needless to say there is a very large cast of characters here along with a ton of plot twists. You’ll need to play through the game in its entirety to really get the payoff here. I’ll still give a few thoughts here.

One of the big plots here is naturally involving Lloyd and how he went from being the main character of the first film to now seemingly murdering a bunch of people. If you played through the first game then I’m sure you’re thinking that there’s no way Lloyd would actually be evil. It would certainly be a bold move though that’s for sure but it would likely be a very unpopular move that would turn the fanbase against you. Well, the game explains why he’s doing all of this by the line but I just don’t buy into it. The whole thing is a huge stretch if you ask me. The guy’s just out of character, there’s no other way around it. It’s great to see him of course but he just doesn’t act like Lloyd.

It is always nice to see the old cast show up when you’re with a new group though. To date the game that did this the best was the second Golden Sun game. It was handled masterfully. Here you aren’t squarely against the old cast although you do get to fight Lloyd a few times which was neat. The game comes so close to making Lloyd the final boss which was impressive. It’s also just hype to see the characters acknowledge that Lloyd and the others saved the world a while back. It’s rare to go back to a world where the heroes are now famous for saving the world from the brink of disaster. Richter managing to fight off the whole original group was certainly impressive.

The game also retroactively shows us why the villain from the first game had some good points. Uniting the planet did nothing to stop the class battles. It just switched the sides. Now people from both planets are getting into even more fights than the old days. The characters are far from perfect and the world is in desperate need of someone saving it once more. The problem is that without a tangible villain to fight against for the most part, this battle is a lot tougher on the heroes. Then you’ve got the fact that Emil and Marta are working for a powerful spirit named Ratatosk who may or may not be evil.

So it’s a very ambitious story and certainly one that I enjoyed quite a lot. As for the characters, they’re definitely solid. Aside from Lloyd, I’d say that the rest of the old characters are in character. I’m glad that most of them are still trusting Lloyd although I don’t blame the ones who stopped due to how shady he is. If Lloyd doesn’t trust them then why should they trust him right? For the new characters, I’ll start with Emil. I can’t say that I’m a big fan of his. He’s just too timid. The guy backs down to everyone and always tends to panic. When the others get in trouble Emil is forced to call out for Ratatosk mode to save the day each time. Emil’s standard form is just in over his head and to save his character he would have needed to get with the program a lot sooner.

As for his Ratatosk mode, that’s when Emil’s at his best. It’s a similar dynamic to Jekyl and Hyde or Yugi and Yami Yugi. They are effectively different characters. As Ratatosk, Emil is a fun character even if you may not be able to call him a very heroic one. He’s always ready for a fight and isn’t passive this time around. When there’s someone in his way Emil will just blast through them. I wouldn’t have minded if he was in this form all the time. Then you have the heroine Marta. She’s a pretty unique characters. For starters she is constantly flirting with Emil due to admiring him after he saved her as a child. Emil doesn’t remember this and isn’t as brave as Marta expected him to be but that could also be why she was enjoying teasing him the whole time.

Beneath that she has a solid character arc though. Like Emil she has a lot of reasons for being fairly withdrawn and creating an external persona. She wants revenge on some characters but tries to hold this back. At the end of the day she is doing what she can to save the world and does well at this. I would say that she is better than the heroine of the first game. So the these two characters make for a solid duo. Then you’ve got Richter who is one of the major players of the game. He’s definitely a solid villain. No matter what justifications he uses, one of the guy’s first appearances is to try to murder Marta so there’s no way you can stretch him into being a hero. The guy has his goals and the motivations are solid but he definitely goes too far in trying to achieve them. He has the best theme in the game though which makes it extra fun whenever he appears. I also liked his weapon of choice.

The game’s story has a ton of cinematics which is fun because it makes this feel like a movie type event at times. There is always something happening and a benefit of being a sequel is having a lot of nostalgic moments everywhere. Pretty much every town is accurately recreated from the first game including the dungeons. The hub world is gone so now you go directly from place to place. I was definitely pretty cool with that. The graphics are quite solid and the soundtrack is good. While the first game wins with the music overall, I really liked Richter’s theme as well as the various remasters from the first game.

There’s definitely a lot of replay value here. The game itself is over 20 hours long and there are a lot of side quests and bonus cutscenes you can experience during the game as well. Add onto that the various collectibles and this will definitely last you for a while. It’s not quite as long as the first game but still quite long in its own right. There are also some new mechanics compared to the first game like being able to train up monsters. While it’s always sad to see them go back to level 1 when they reincarnate, their stats go quite high. They were super valuable during the final bosses here and they level up faster than the human characters so at least to me it seemed to balance out pretty well.

Overall, Dawn of the New World is a great sequel to the first Tales Of. I definitely recommend picking this up whether you’ve played the first one or not. Either way it’s a great RPG that really succeeds in every area. The fact that most of the dungeons are already completed when you start the game is fine by me. It just means that there’s more time to focus on the story and battles. We get quite a few action scenes in the cinematics like Lloyd taking on Richter or the main duo going up against Alice and her partner. The story gets quite deep at times and doesn’t pull its punches. The ending is pretty tragic in some ways but I was glad that at least some of the characters got a happy ending here. It would have been pretty sad if the game had cut out a bit early. Hopefully they bring these characters back for another adventure some day.

Overall 8/10

Tales of Symphonia Review


It’s time to look at one of the biggest RPG titles out there and Symphonia definitely lives up to the hype. It really excels in every area from story to gameplay to music. The game is also quite long. It took me 37 hours to conquer this title and typically I finish RPGs quite a bit sooner than that. The longest ones are still the Final Fantasy titles which tend to put me through the wringer but there is no shortage of content here. Additionally I really didn’t do much of the side missions so there’s a lot of untapped content here.

The plot changes quite a lot but I’ll just leave you with the main synopsis. The game takes place on a planet known as Sylvarant where a kid named Lloyd lives. He’s not known as one of the best students but he has heart. His childhood friend Colette has been selected as the Chosen which is a great honor. She will go around the world and unlock all of the steals which shall regenerate the world. Currently the planet has been in decline due to the mana levels running low. Once Colette has completed her duty then this will end. Lloyd decides to go along with her in addition to his best friend Genis, their teacher Raine, and a bodyguard known as Kratos. There are a lot of seals though so they will have to move quickly. Additionally they will have to watch out for the Angels, Desians, Government, Rebels, and a few other factions.

Right away the game introduces you to the fact that this planet is pretty messed up. For starters, there are human farms that exist on all of the countries. Desians use the humans as slaves in these places and the world just accepts this as a necessary evil rather than taking them down. The humans live in fear all across the globe. Then you have the half elves who are considered less than human and discriminated against throughout the planet. They certainly don’t have it easy and with each group having another one to look down on, nothing is changing. Lloyd wants to change all of this but he isn’t sure where to start or how to do it. Whenever he tries to save someone it ends up backfiring which does hurt his confidence quite a bit.

In game reviews I don’t usually write much about the plot in part because there isn’t a whole lot to say. RPGs are different in that respect because they have such a long story that really goes into detail thanks to how lengthy the game is. You’ll go through several parts in the story that will feel like the climax and then the story suddenly transitions. There are quite a lot of twists and turns here as well as a really large character cast. There were 2 villains that vanished for so long that I even forgot they were in the game. It was almost like a surprise that they returned although of course they had to return at some point. It was only a matter of when and not if they would return.

The gameplay is a real time 2D fighter. You use magic or physical attacks as you smash away the opponent’s health bar. You can have a team of 4 fighters running around so when it’s one enemy it’s best to completely overwhelm them. Watch out for knocking an enemy down since they will gain temporary super armor to all of your attacks. There’s a good amount of strategy in the fights but if you want to just whack away you can also focus on gathering extra level ups. I made sure to fight quite a lot so that I was over Level 60 in time for the final boss. I’ve noticed that in most games if you’re over Level 60 you’ll be okay and it worked out for me. I lost to the final boss once but I quickly regrouped and won the next time. As long as you have a good plan you’ll be set. The gameplay is very smooth and very easy to get used to. There are also several points in the game where you are forced to make changes that affect the next few scenes which is cool. That part seemed ahead of its time.

If there is any negative with the game it’s just that at times it can be hard to know where to go. The game can be vague with directions and the map doesn’t help for new areas since it doesn’t show up until you visit it. If you don’t know where to go then your only bet is to check the huge hub world and talk to everyone or look it up. Some of the puzzles could also be a bit much as you’ll have a huge dungeon where getting the puzzle wrong means backtracking several floors. I could have done with less puzzles and more focus on just fighting through. I suppose this was meant to be a breather from the action though.

The graphics are very solid. As is the custom with Tales of titles we do have some anime cutscenes here. There aren’t a whole lot of them or anything like that but when they come it’s definitely a lot of fun. The opening is solid and the graphics in game also hold up really well. We get nice voice acting for a lot of the scenes as well which is always fun. On a technical level, it can be hard to tell which cutscenes are on auto play and which ones aren’t though. There is no visual indicator most of the time so you either have to wait a little longer before pressing A to continue or just risk it and click A after the line is over. I think what they could have done is in any cutscene where there is voice acting, set it to auto play.

Then we have the soundtrack which is definitely very solid. The main battle theme is very catchy which is good since you’ll hear it a lot. The “danger” theme as I call it is also really solid and shows up in a lot of cutscenes. Then you have the various boss themes as well. It’s an excellent all around soundtrack that has a good amount of variety. It’s all pretty catchy and works out quite well if you ask me. This is definitely the level of quality I would expect to see.

It goes without saying that the game has a lot of value to it thanks to how long it is. In terms of replay value I would say there is a lot less since by the game it’s not like you can go back to do most of the side missions. Still, if you take care of them from the start then you’ll be well off. As far as I know there isn’t a post game but with 37+ hours at the ready you’ll have definitely had your chance to see the world in the meantime. The writing is definitely on point and the character cast is pretty solid. I’ll talk about them briefly now.

Lloyd is the main character and he’s a solid lead. He’s pretty head strong and jumps right into action. While he blames himself for getting a village blown up and a lot of lives lost, he did make the right decision. Everyone would have preferred he ignore the human farms so it would be less work for them, but ignoring evil just makes you complicit in it. Lloyd may not be the strongest guy around but he does a really good job in taking down the villains and acting right away. He does his best to come up with ideas that work out for everyone as well. You really can’t fault a character like that.

Then you have the heroine Colette who has to suffer with this great burden of being the Chosen. Often she keeps it to herself and never complains. She’s a very solid character who is willing to make any sacrifice if it’ll mean helping the world. She’s a very nice heroine and also a good fighter. Colette is definitely not a character you will forget about anytime soon. Then you have Lloyd’s best friend Genis who is less remarkable than the first two. I feel like he can go a bit too far with constantly insulting Lloyd if we’re being honest. His elemental attacks are solid though and he’s a good support character. He’s just not as strong as the rest of the cast.

Then you have Raine who is the wise member of the group. She definitely gets really into her studies. She is always around although I’d say her role is a little smaller than the first 3 characters. You’ve also got Presea who joins the main cast later on. She is emotionally distant compared to the rest but that ties into her origin here. She’s a fun character and fits in pretty well with the group. She definitely isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Then we have Regal who is a pretty solid fighter. I disagree with his decision to keep his hands chained the whole game but at least he has a reason for it. He can also fight really well which is handy for your ally to have here. You need other capable fighters.

Then we have Sheena who was a ninja antagonist at first but eventually she came around. She’s one of the more entertaining characters. At first her quest for revenge was treated rather lightly as she kept failing over and over again but as a hero she is very dependable. Without her summoning abilities the heroes really would have been in trouble quite a lot. She’s also pretty quick to call Zelos out on his antics. From the supporting characters I would say that she was the best one. The other characters in the party couldn’t quite match up.

Finally we have Zelos who is also a Chosen fighter so he’s pretty tough. He doesn’t take things very seriously compared to the other characters though and loves to goof around. He’s an entertaining character even if I wouldn’t say that he’s one of my favorites. The guy always makes his presence known though and that’s important for a side character. Then we have the mysterious Kratos who is a great character. I would go as far as to say that he is the best character in the game. He has a lot of questionable moments in the title to be sure but he’s definitely solid. The guy gets a ton of hype throughout the game and is certainly one of the strongest fighter. Without this bodyguard around the characters would have been doomed many times over.

Then we’ve got a whole slew of villains such as the Grand Cardinals and other factions. They’re all pretty solid. The only villain who I’d give a thumbs down to was the doctor with glasses. You’ll know him when you see him. The rest were pretty solid and all look pretty good when they’re getting in on the action. King Yggdrasil is the highest ranking villain and he’s definitely solid. For a villain you always want to make sure that their motive at least makes sense and I can get on board with his plan. Naturally it is an evil one as he is a villain but the fact that you can follow the logic of it is what’s important. He’s a very interesting figure and puts up a solid fight. There are many other characters of course but these are the main ones.

Overall, Tales of Symphonia is excellent and it’s one of the main reasons why I am a huge fan of the RPG genre. By the time you’ve completed the game it’s like you’ve just completed a whole experience. You’ve gotten to know the characters for many hours. In a way it’s like playing through an interactive anime. I’d definitely consider RPGs to be one of the best genres for that reason. I would still put fighting games as the absolute best of course, but RPGs would be second. I won’t go too much farther into it since eventually I plan to have an editorial ranking the genres at some point but of course it’s tricky because there are so many sub genres and such. Regardless, whether you typically like RPGs or not, I would definitely recommend picking this one up. Symphonia is the perfect Tales of game to start you off on the franchise.

Overall 8/10