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Archive for the ‘Videogame Hidden Gems’ Category

Looking back at Harvest Moon

Posted by videogames On August - 1 - 2008

By Alice Moran

There is a lot of convention here, but not videogame convention.

There is a lot of convention here, but not videogame convention.

Nintendo’s strength has never lain in conventional videogames. Golden Eye 64 aside, they’ve rarely pulled off an amazing first-person shooter, and their racing games usually peak at the industry’s standard of “average.” The only reason Nintendo’s made it this far is because of their ability to pull off the odd, strange, and downright absurd. Think about it: the system’s name is built on a plumber fighting a dinosaur. One of my favourite game series follows this plot: You’re grandfather dies, and leaves you his run down farm. You’re job is to restore the farm, get married, and have children; essentially, the goal is to have a pleasant life. Seriously.

If you’ve never played Harvest Moon before, right now you’re probably thinking that’s the most boring idea for a videogame ever. Its huge worldwide fan base would beg to differ. Believe or not, the Harvest Moon series, so far, has 14 installations for Nintendo and two for Playstation. The 17th game in the series, Tree of Tranquility, will be released next month for the Wii. Two more incarnations, Rune Factory: Frontier and Exciting Animal March*, are expected to be released in 2009. The games sell so consistently well that they’ll likely keep making them for years to come.

The original Harvest Moon was released for the SNES in Japan and North America in 1996 and 1997, respectively. Unlike other RPGs at the time, it had zero combat involved and focused more on character interaction and other choice aspects of RPG. When the game was re-released as downloadable content, it was met with much praise by old and new fans alike.

Harvest Moon 64 followed up the original game’s story line in 1999. The game was highly successful, with popular video game website IGN.com rating it an 8.2/10 and calling it “addictive.” Harvest Moon 64 existed in the same world as the original but about 50 or so years later, and the technology of the world had barely advanced at all. Some of the original characters even made appearances. One of the bachelorettes, Ellen from the SNES game, appears as an elderly woman living at the town bakery. The SNES bachelorette Maria seems to have passed away; however, her granddaughter is not only her spitting image, but she has the exact same personality and name. The raw charm and appeal of this series is so great that the plot is barely altered from game to game. The legions of die-hard Harvest Moon fans never seem to complain and in fact seem to delight in old plot points and characters returning. The entire franchise of this game thrives on its tradition, rather than continuing the story arc or adding features to lengthen the game. Not that they’d need to. The average day in the game takes around five minutes to play through. And the only way to beat the game is to play for an allotted amount of time, usually two-and-a-half four month years, or 270 days. Multiply by those five minutes and you have 1350 minutes of gameplay. When you reach the end, forgetting to take care of any one minor detail leads to a less than perfect ending, and in the case of Harvest Moon 64, it causes your father to publicly shame you.

You have to love Nintendo.

HARVEST MOON: TREE OF TRANQUILITY will be released August 28th.

*Exciting Animal March is a loose translation of the Japanese title, WAKU WAKU ANIMARU MAACHI. Obviously something is lost in translation and the title will no doubt be changed to something else for its North American release.

Reviewing “The Longest Journey”

Posted by admin On November - 27 - 2007

The Longest Journey
FunCom, 2000

By Diana Poulsen

I felt that itch, one I hadn’t felt in years. It just wouldn’t go away and it could only be filled by one thing… After about eight years I finally decided to return to PC gaming, in particular adventure gaming. I am not sure why I felt this need — but I was drawn to The Longest Journey. Despite the fact that it had won numerous awards I had never heard of it until I saw the box at the store and thought, “Okay, I’ll give that a go.” Read the rest of this entry »

Hidden Gem — Fatal Frame

Posted by admin On October - 30 - 2007

Fatal Frame (Xbox and PS2)
Published and Developed by Tecmo

By Diana Poulsen

Honestly, I’m a scaredy-cat. Paradoxically, I adore scary games because they have unique stories and make me jump out of my skin. Horror games typically have engrossing decayed and dilapidated environments that are so beautifully imagined and detailed that they leave me in awe. Fatal Frame is my favourite series of games and I will complete my Fatal Frame reviews with the game that started it all, and is the only game in the series that I haven’t yet finished.

The original set the precedent for the entire series. It introduces the camera obscura, your weapon in the game, and the re-occurring plot: human sacrifice gone horribly wrong. I mean really, could human sacrifice go any other way?

Primarily, you play as Miku Hinasaki who goes looking for her brother, Mafuyu, since he disappeared nine days ago after entering the Himuro mansion. Mafuyu had gone to the mansion to search for his mentor, Junsei Takamine, and Takamine’s team who have also mysteriously disappeared in the mansion. Miku slowly discovers the nature of rituals that occurred in the mansion through visions, scraps of paper and tape recordings. The series of tape recordings verbally illustrate what happened to Takamine and his team. The recordings are creepy to say the least. Slowly you listen to each member grow more and more terrified, paranoid, and delusional with each tape you find. It is disturbing and profoundly fascinating!

The story itself is pretty freaky and is the most successfully scary story in the entire series. The bizarre thing about Fatal Frame is that on the front of the box it says it is based on a true story, but that sentence is not on the Japanese version. The story is actually based on a very popular Japanese urban legend about haunted houses and how the people who explore them are “spirited away.” Meaning, they disappear. Of course, this only adds to the tension the game produces. It’s put into our minds that this is real, when of course it couldn’t be. Right?

The tension and heart-pumping action is built upon by the ambient music that accompanies the decaying and creaking environment of the maze-like mansion. The music slowly builds throughout the entire game, creating anxiety in the player. You’ll hear a woman playing an instrument, then the string snapping as her ghostly form disappears. On top of that, ghosts — and not ones that attack you — randomly appear from nowhere to scare the crap out of you. You’ll see faint apparitions on wall and floors, scream a little, and then take a picture of the thing that just scared your pants off. Oh, and there’s a ghost with bloody sockets where eyes should be, that chases you and wails with yearning, “My eyes! My eyes!”

There’s also a weird travelling back in time. The game works in chapters; as each chapter goes along, broken stairways will become fixed and nailed shut doors will become open. I constantly thought to myself, “Wait — wasn’t that broken? But it’s fixed now…”

Fatal Frame is the scariest game I have ever played. Not just for the atmosphere but also for the bugs that plague the PS2 version of the game. I would have completed the Xbox version, but my friend wanted their Xbox (which I had borrowed) back. In the PS2 version of the game, you will find yourself caught in invisible boxes that you can’t get out of, or you’ll endlessly loop running down stairways until the ghost chasing you kills you. The viewfinder in the camera is organized in a way that makes it very hard to see how much of a charge you have on the camera. It’s the Xbox version that introduces the circle of symbols that light up, which will be a constant throughout the series.

I thought I was a scaredy-cat, but then I found out that people I know who play games like Siren and Resident Evil won’t play Fatal Frame because they see the ghost following them out of the corner of their eye. Maybe I am braver than I think.

Hidden Gem — Condemned: Criminal Origins

Posted by admin On October - 30 - 2007

Condemned: Criminal Origins (Xbox 360)
Developed by Monolith Productions
Published by SEGA

By Alexander B. Huls

I don’t frighten easily. I get unnerved, unsettled, creeped out, even disturbed. But I don’t every really get scared. Like, so scared that the only way I can release the pent up fear is to scream out loud, with a few swear words thrown in to help appropriately ebb the fear welling up inside of me. And maybe pee my pants a little.

Condemned: Criminal Origins proved to be the exception to the rule.

The game was the first one I bought after buying my Xbox 360, and having heard of its frightening reputation, I decided to prove how manly was, test the fates, and play it in the dark. I subsequently spent the next thirty minutes with my heart beating in my throat and — despite that obvious obstruction — screams squeezing through and words spewing out that would make my mother blush.

So, what makes it damn scary? Well, in a word, atmosphere. The game is set in a world going to hell around you, F.B.I. Agent Ethan Thomas. Strange things are happening around town, including birds dying and increase in violent behavior amongst addicts, who like to taunt you by calling you “asshole” and hunting you down. Then they ferociously try to club you to death with whatever items they can find lying around. Throw in a serial killer named Match Maker who likes to position his victims in staged scenes involving mannequins (if you didn’t find mannequins frightening already, this game will ensure you do from now on) who frames you for the murder of two other agents and taunts you about it. You’ll feel like you’re wandering through a world-on-the-brink dreamed up by Nietzsche or Clive Barker (minus horrible creatures).

With the entire world drenched in a darkness that can hide a coked-out addict ready to lunge at you with a horrifying scream and wrench, and amazingly designed sound that details everything, especially the enemy you can hear nearby, but can’t see (which really messes with your mind), you’re never really at ease in the game. It gets to the point where your anticipation of something popping out at you makes it that much worse when something actually does (hence, screams). Sometimes, that will be the above-mentioned addicts who are actually smart enough to run from you and hide somewhere in order to pop out at you later when you walk by; in other cases, it’ll be the serial killer himself. In one frightening sequence I was chasing the killer into a subway station when he popped out from a door he was hiding in and shoved me down some stairs. I’m pretty sure that shaved a year off my lifespan.

Once your enemies appear and attack you, it doesn’t get much better. The sickening sound of metal meeting bone, grunts of pain, frantic yelling on account of the physical exertion of swinging heavy objects in the heat of battle, and the specific timing required to land a blow in the first-person fighting mode all make it so that your heart doesn’t really have a chance to catch up until your enemy lies dead at your feet.

Now, in case you’re thinking, “That doesn’t sound so bad” and “Well, maybe you’re just a wuss,” let me assure you that that isn’t the case. I had suspected that too. So a while back, I had some friends over and asked them to play — with the lights out — and see how it would go. Their screams in the dark assuaged my concerns, proved how scary the game was, and made me feel a little bit better about the fact that I had peed my pants again.

Hidden Gem — Gabriel Knight

Posted by admin On October - 9 - 2007

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers (PC)
Developed and Published by Sierra

By Graham Tsui

I used to love PC graphic adventures. Actually, I still do. But the glory years of those “point and clickers” we old-school gamers knew and loved throughout the late 80s and early 90s is over. Times change, and games evolve. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t worth playing anymore — some of the best graphic adventures of the 90s featured excellent scripting, appealing graphics, and great innovations in video game voice acting. One of these games was Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers.

Released in 1993 by Sierra (the makers of the King’s Quest and Leisure Suit Larry series), Gabriel Knight offered gamers a complex labyrinthine story involving voodoo cults, murder mysteries, romance, and estranged families. Like many of Sierra’s graphic adventures of the time, Gabriel Knight was played from a third-person perspective with all the action and characters clearly visible onscreen. Characters were controlled by using your mouse to select from a limited assortment of “action” icons in a menu (such as “move,” “pick-up,” “open,” etc.).

The CD version of the game came with actual voice acting, which was still something of a novelty for video games at the time. But Sierra went even further and decided to have voice actors act out the dialogue for the ENTIRE GAME – a big deal in 1993. They even went out and got professional actors and voice actors to do it. Two names people will recognize today are Tim Curry, who played the eponymous Gabriel Knight, and Leah Remini (of King of Queens fame), who played Gabriel’s long-suffering assistant (is there any other kind?), Grace Nakamura.

All this is fascinating historical stuff, but how good is the actual game? I’m pleased to report that it still holds up as fine entertainment today. The dialogue is witty, the story is gripping, and the voice acting is a lot of fun to listen to. Sierra’s “point and click” interface is easy to use, so gamers can concentrate on the story rather than how to get your character to do stuff (which was a problem for many PC gamers before mouses came into use). The graphics are a little dated (it was actually a bit dated even when it first came out), but it’s definitely not bad enough to cause eyesores or massive complaining amongst less discriminating gamers.

All in all, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers is an example of a top of the line game from the glory years of the graphic adventure genre. If you want to give the game a try, a bit of searching through the internet might yield a (wink, wink) “download” or two…

Hidden Gem — Earthbound

Posted by art On October - 2 - 2007

Earthbound (SNES)
Published by Nintendo
Developed by Ape Studios

By Graham Tsui

Back in 1995, when RPGs were just starting to emerge as a major genre in console gaming, Nintendo released a quirky, offbeat game called Earthbound for the SNES. Throwing a significant amount of promotion behind it, Nintendo hoped that it would take off with U.S. gamers starved for more RPGs. It ended up falling short of expectations, but ultimately developed a loyal cult following that has thrived to this day.

Better known in Japan as Mother 2, Earthbound is actually the second game in the quirky Mother series, although the first was never released in North America. At first glance, the game appears to be laughably crude. The graphics are aggressively and deliberately rendered in a sub-par manner more befitting an 8-bit system rather than a 16-bit system. Outlines of buildings and characters look as if they were rendered with an MS Paint pen tool. If you think that’s strange, that’s not even the most unusual aspect of the game. Earthbound is one of the few RPGs that take place in a quasi-20th-century setting. Your main party is made up of kids who could have walked out of a Leave it to Beaver episode. There are no elves or goblins or other monsters often associated with medieval or fantasy settings. Instead, you get to fight street punks, corrupt policemen, hippies, and my favourite enemy, the “Annoying Old Party Man.” (I’m not kidding, that’s what it actually says on the battle screens.)

The battles are actually the only conventional things in the game. They handle exactly like early Dragon Quest games — turn-based, menu-driven affairs where stat “boxes” represent your characters as you fight in first-person perspective. Much like Chrono Trigger, you can see random enemies onscreen before you encounter them, but it takes a certain amount of skill to avoid most of them.

The main draw of the game, though, is its offbeat tone. Many characters speak in non-sequiturs. Ridiculous events happen for no logical reason at all. Though the main plot has something to do with stopping aliens from conquering the world, subplots involve a travelling jazz band, a crazy cult bent on painting the world blue, and a bunch of weird creatures too shy to talk without a self-help book.

It’s that tone that makes Earthbound such a unique RPG, and what has attracted the loyal following it has gathered over the years. While it may not be for everyone, it’s definitely a must-play for RPG fanatics looking for something different. So go into your closet, dust off that old SNES, and raid your buddy’s collection of SNES games to see if you can find a copy in his collection to borrow. If you don’t have any moral issues with downloading and playing ROMs, that’s also an option, at least until Earthbound is finally re-released for the Wii as part of their Virtual Console library of games. After all, it is your moral imperative to protect the world from annoying old party men. Because if you won’t do it, who will?

Hidden Gem — Baten Kaitos Origins

Posted by admin On August - 7 - 2007

Baten Kaitos Origins
Nintendo Game Cube, 2006

By Diana Poulsen

I’ll be perfectly honest with you. I adored Baten Kaitos despite its horrific voice acting, and was even more excited for its prequel, Baten Kaitos Origins, than I was for Final Fantasy XII.

For those of you out of the loop, the Baten Kaitos series is set in a world where humanity dwells on a series of floating continents above the miasma of the Taint Clouds. The majority of people in the Baten Kaitos world have wings, or wings of the heart, allowing them to fly short distances. Sorry, no intercontinental flying, but eventually you’ll get a ship, so that helps.

Each continent in the Origins world is unique, reflecting the culture of the people who live there. There is a city in the clouds, one devoted to trees, one that glitters with the highly polished metals it’s made from and another that is completely done in claymation. The world, however, is sadly recycled from the first game, making the game feel dated. Despite that, the graphics have a familiar and colourful warmth about them. The game does feature some initiative, including two new continents, a completely new world, and a colosseum where you can battle to prove you are a champion fighter.

In Origins, this time around you only have three players: Sagi, Milly, and Guillo. Sagi, the main character, is a Spiriter, meaning that he can talk to an invisible guardian (i.e. the player) and ask for you advice. Sagi is polite enough to address you by name, though he has an odd habit of shifting between worlds during key battles. In one minute you’ll be opposing the enemy armies attempting to infiltrate a continent, and then you’ll be in another world. This helps create the two separate storylines and the overarching mystery of the game. Of course, when you get back from this trip and return to the first world no time will have passed, so you’ll still have a battle on your hands.

Similar to the original game, Origins has an intricate plot with dips and dives and it continues the overarching theme of faith (not to be confused with religion) versus science or more simply put, the trouble caused by paradigm shifts. Origins also helps fill in some of the plot gaps and major questions of the original. Fighting-wise, the game continues the card battler system of its predecessor, though it simplifies it somewhat. The ‘apparently annoying’ defensive phase is gone, and no longer does each character have their own deck. All three characters now share the same deck, so you’ll have to have enough attack cards to cover everyone and insure that you don’t have too many. The game is entirely about balance and strategy. The boss battles are challenging, relying on both skill and strength. If you lose in boss battles you’ll have to tweak your deck to make it the most effective against the baddie you are fighting. It’s not simply about being in a higher level, you need skill.

I recommend playing Baten Kaitos before playing Origins, because while it is a prequel, you may not appreciate the story without knowing what’s going to happen in the future. It’s a bit like Merlin, sometimes living the future first gives you a better grip on the past. Overall, it’s a budget title. Origins has a great story, but seems to be meant for the fan of the original game. It gives further depth into a world that turned some of us hard core turn-based RPGers into card battlers.

Hidden Gem — Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem

Posted by admin On April - 16 - 2007

Hidden Gem: Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem (GameCube)

Published by: Nintendo
Developed by: Silicon Knights

By Diana Poulsen

“I tried… I tried to tell them, but… they wouldn’t listen to me… Damn them! Damn their eyes! They didn’t believe me. Strange creatures… the world in peril from unseen foes. The death! The DARKNESS!” – Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem

Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem is another great game lost in the underrated Nintendo Gamecube, probably because it was one of the earliest titles released for the system. The game begins with abstract mathematicians Alex Roivas (read her last name backwards) who has come to her Grandfather’s home in Rhode Island after receiving a call from the police. She is needed to identify a body: her grandfather’s. Alex is unsatisfied with the police’s investigation into the murder and decides to solve the mystery herself. This leads her to the Tome of Eternal Darkness, which tells the story of several generations of people trying to save the world from Ancients. Each story is a chapter in the game that the player experiences themselves, always returning back to Alex after the “story” is done. The narrative is fabulously written and voice acted, and it often feels like something right out of an H.P Lovecraft novel.

Throughout the game you’ll play as the different people who got suckered into trying to stop the Ancients from destroying the world. Your characters know just as little as you do, and as they learn things, so do you. One of the coolest concepts is that you revisit areas of the game several times as hundreds of years pass, and these areas change with development. You’ll visit a church when it’s first constructed in the middle ages, then later as a Monk during the Spanish inquisition, and finally as a WWI soldier and reporter when the cathedral is transformed into a makeshift hospital. The game even features alternate paths, as the big baddie you’ll be fighting against is decided by what object you pick when playing the character Pious Augustus, who begins the nightmare. There are three different ‘villains’ (Xel’lotath, Ulyaoth, Chattur’gha) in total, so you can play the game at least three times and each time will take about 12- 8 hours to complete.

Ah, but of course I am forgetting the kicker. Eternal Darkness is the only game that messes with the gamer. Your character has a sanity meter, and when the meter drops your character goes insane and strange things begin to happen in the game that affect both the player and the avatar. For example, the game will simulate audio visual errors and will ‘delete’ your game when you are saving it, and you’ll at times even unexpectedly die. Your character will eventually snap out of it and scream “This can’t be really HAPPENING!!” Some of the insanity effects are pretty cool and others are down right creepy, which is why I love this game so much!

Sadly, despite critical success, this game did not do very well on the market, which is a shame because it’s easily one of the best games on the GameCube, and one of the best and most original video games ever. If you see it in the used section snatch it up, it’s totally worth it. Leave the lights on when you play though. Trust me.

Curious? Check out the trailer.

Review — Ms Pacman

Posted by admin On March - 4 - 2007

MS. PACMAN

Midway, US release: 1981

By David Razi Dryburgh

Most people probably haven’t even played Ms. Pacman, and I can understand why. Similar name, same principle, and, really, a girl playing videogames? But then again, maybe such pagan thoughts were commonplace in the drug-addled minds of the 1980s arcade-going community. Science and cell phones have taught us better.

I hadn’t ever played Ms. Pacman until just a few months ago, but when I did, I was blown away. Or rather, I would have been, had I played it back when it came out, two years before I was born. A friend of mine happened to have one of those 6000-in-1 bootleg Nintendo cartridges and forced the game on me (because real friends pressure you into things) and I got really into it. Most incredibly, the mazes actually change. Now I know what you’re thinking: “But Dave, the maps changed colours in the first Pacman game.” Well that’s right, sport, but in Ms. Pacman the whole map changes its layout, not just the colour. See what I’m saying now? Mind-blowing.

The map changing actually introduces a significant element of difficulty to the game, especially when the walls are set wide apart and steering your little puck babe around isn’t governed for you by the tight confines of neon walls. Additionally, the ghosts no longer move on a set pattern, but randomly, making it hard to predict their movements. But if you’re anything like me, then you only ever played Pacman when drunk or a pre-schooler — neither scenario lending much to one’s ability to notice the patterns of scary ghosts trying to hide under my bed or kill my buzz.

Ms. Pacman pioneered Co-op gameplay. Okay, I’m not really sure about that, but I can’t be bothered to verify that, and chances are, neither can you, so let’s move on. You and a friend can alternate playing OR play together, with one player distracting the enemy ghosts while the other tries to collect the pills to save the world. Or are they eating them? I mean, are Pac-people, like, rodents? Anyway, it really makes things fun. Especially when you smack the controller out of the other player’s hand and claim the high score.

Now, between every few levels there’s what used to pass for a cut-scene. Pacman and Ms. Pacman meet, then they get married and eventually hatch a litter. I thought this was kinda cute until they stopped changing and it kept repeating the same one over and over. I guess the programmers didn’t expect you to survive very long. As if that wasn’t odd enough, the names of these two people struck me as perverse. Pacman sounds like a surname, very much like Freeman or Birdman. So if Ms. Pacman is a Miss, and unmarried, it would seem that she’s getting it on with a possible relative. I hope that for game sprites Pacman is a common last name, like Smith or something.

There’s a lot of good reasons for gamers to go back and experience Ms. Pacman. For one, game nerds suffer notoriously from yellow fever. The fetish, not the viral disease. Not only is she yellow, but have you seen those hooker boots she wears? You know she puts out. I’m not sure at what point she sprouted legs, but it certainly will make photoshopping PacPorn a whole lot easier and more dynamic.

Pros: Genuine fun, anyone can play, chicks seem to dig it.

Cons: Can be entirely frustrating.

Bottom Line: A totally neat way to kill a few hours, beats the HELL out of its predecessor. BURN IN HELL, PACMAN!

Hidden Gems — Tales of Symphonia

Posted by admin On January - 14 - 2007

Tales of Symphonia (GameCube)

Published by: Namco
Developed by: Team Symphonia

By Diana Poulsen

I recently found Tales of Symphonia while rummaging through a bargain bin, and hey, who doesn’t like a cheap game? Normally, I lose interest in an RPG about half way through and occasionally finish it a few months later, or in the case of Final Fantasy VII 9 years later… I’ve being playing Tales for 65 hours and I am still not bored. I still need to play it… must… play it… my preciousssss…

The story follows friends on what is, initially, a quest for world regeneration, but slowly you begin to realize there is a more to your quest than what you are being told. If you play a lot of RPGs, you’ll have run into a lot of these storylines before (racism, saving the world, betrayal, good intentions pave the road to hell, etc.), but at least Tales seems to know that it has some real cheese moments. It openly talks about the stupidity of racism and discrimination, without being preachy. It just says that it is stupid to judge someone because of their blood (half-elves) and you should judge someone by their actions. The dialogue and interactions between characters is what really makes the story, and it’s accompanied with excellent voice acting. Throughout the game you build relationships with different members of your team. You are directed to have a relationship with one in particular, but you don’t have too. The characters who you become friends or soul mates with will affect the outcome of the game.

While the story and dialogue are good, it’s the real time fighting that holds my attention. You attack with the first character in your party, and everyone else attacks on their own accord. The other characters have good artificial intelligence, so they will know when to heal you. You can select different battle tactics for the CPU controlled characters, and you can manually control with shortcut commands and menu commands. Also, another player can simply plug in and take control of a character in your party. For once, you aren’t forced to control the main character all the time. When you get bored of him you can learn how to fight with another character. This feature creates variety, and keeps the player interested — because it creates a new challenge. The variety makes it a joy to replay and obtain the alternate endings and higher levels of difficulty.

The most annoying part of the game is you can’t make Z-skits go faster, especially annoying if you are fast reader. You can skip through all the other text at your own pace, but the Z-skits you can’t. You can stop them completely, but you can’t make them go faster.

Cooking, anime style graphics, a great sound track, great dialogue, and RPGing battle that is fun and not overly repetitive easily make Tales of Symphonia the best RPG on the Gamecube, and it is tied with Final Fantasy VI and Fatal Frame II: The Crimson Butterfly for my favourite game of all time.

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