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14. Tales of Symphonia
Namco Tales Studio | Namco | 2004
A rollicking fantasy adventure with action-packed gameplay and lovable characters... and a plot that doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense
What made it so great?
It takes talent to transcend a nonsense plot. Symphonia's plot doesn't twist so much as it sprains. But the characters are so likable that you'll let it sail by with a shrug. Hero Lloyd is predictably naive, but it plays well off of his friend Colette's dopiness, tutor Raine's cynicism and swordsman Kratos' battle-hardened experience. You won't want to, but you'll fall in love with the cast.
Even more important are the game's battles. You take direct control of Lloyd, whose two swords make slicing up enemies simple and fun. In fact, Symphonia is that rare RPG where the battles are addictive. You'll find yourself chasing enemies with the intent to push for higher combos, and striving to earn new special attacks to optimize your strategy. Backed up by three computer-controlled allies, the battles are swift and never dull. Add in truly appealing, butter-smooth anime-style graphics and you have a game that looks great and plays better.
Get ready to play
There's not anything you need to know to get ready for Symphonia - it's not really a sequel to any other games, and the game does a great job of teaching you the basics before throwing you to the wolves. If you're looking for a quest that'll suck up the hours, this is GameCube's numero uno RPG.
Been there, done that?
Sega's Skies of Arcadia Legends also refreshes the traditional RPG. Its characters are just as likable, but the battles are much less fun - made up for by a stunning world and an addictive story.