Tales of Symphonia : Part 1
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Welcome, everyone, to the very first recap of Tales of Symphonia. Before I get started, a few administrative items are in order to prevent my poor, 12-year-old self from getting flooded with wank. First off, I just want to say that while I am aware that many forumites that suggested this game for the site (and I appreciate the interest), for future reference, I don't want anyone to assume that obnoxious and repeated begging for a particular recap is a welcome or effective course of action. That's what Tidus would do, and you don't want to be like him, do you?
Second, I am sure that the high level of interest means that many of you have your own ideas of what you'd like to see in this recap and would not hesitate to share those with me. While I always love it when people come to this site and tell me how much funnier they are than I, I'm just going to have to be a big stick-in-the-mud and insist that you keep it to yourself. I know this is akin to asking you to shoot kittens, but humor me just this once.
Now that I've got my CYA points out of the way, let's begin! Tales of Symphonia, as you will soon learn, is about as groundbreaking as the latest CSI spinoff. There is very little -- plot- or character-wise -- in this game that you haven't already seen in spades. Except for one thing, and that's James Arnold Taylor doing a voice that doesn't sound like a surfer dude on speed. But that'll come much later, so forget I said anything for now. I'm only pointing out this complete lack of originality so that you guys don't wade through all the recaps going, "Wait, is this familiar, or did I smoke crack today?" Trust me, you've seen it. And maybe you've also smoked crack today, but that's not really my business.
Speaking of completely unoriginal features, the opening screen eventually fades into an anime montage sequence, accompanied by the usual heart-pounding orchestral opening theme. With the way the movie spastically switches shots in an effort to fit in as many as possible, I could probably spend several pages recapping it in detail. But that would ultimately be a waste of my time, since very few of the scenes actually occur anywhere in the game, anime-styled or otherwise. I felt kind of cheated when I realized this, because I was kind of looking forward to seeing that oversized zombie skeleton fighting our heroes on top of a cliff.
The most prominently featured characters of this dramatic opening are, not surprisingly, a young man and young woman. Our hero, in his flamboyant red clothing, has turned away from the Tidusy path of skin-baring and has instead chosen to cover his entire body, down to his fingertips. So even if I end up hating his guts, at least I won't be subjected to looking at his uncovered body parts. Small favors. He also has the hero brand Spiky Brown Hairô, as well as a pair of phallic swords and an orb embedded into a gold setting on the back of his hand. This is obviously a very special magical testicle, as the camera makes sure to stop its ADD-addled scene switching and actually focus on the thing for several seconds.
The heroine, with her long blonde hair and freaking wings at one point in the intro...well, dogs know she's a Mary Sue. Just in case we didn't get how awesomely special she is, we get to see her standing around with glowing wings, standing in a field, standing on a boat, fighting monsters with a pair of undoubtedly useless metal rings, running her finger over the hero's hands, and snuggling up with the hero in a snowy town. Wait, is she someone important? Like the hero, and unlike her counterparts in most Final Fantasy games, this young lady wears a long tunic that -- you might want to sit down for this -- completely covers her chestial and assial areas. Seriously, not a single errant exposed buttcheek to be found. I guess I lied when I said this game had only one original feature. At least I'll have something to comfort me during the many hours of hearing how Speshul and Strong and Wonderful this girl is.
The title screen appears again after this, and I obviously select New Game. I sure hope I get to hear some serious exposition! Boy, am I ever in luck. Over a backdrop of some beautiful overworld scenery, a lone male voice narrates this game's Sunday School lesson (boy, am I lucky to get to recap two of these in one update!). Like any typical Sunday School lesson, this story is full of nonsense and contradictions. Like any typical RPG, this story turns out to be complete bullshit by the end of the game. Like any typical recap, I'll slog through and nitpick it anyway.
Now that I'm on my second playthrough, I actually recognize the voice, but it means nothing to us at this moment in the recap. I'm only bothering to bring it up because if I didn't, you guys would hurt yourselves in your frenzied dash to the keyboard in order to point this out on the forums. And we wouldn't want that.
Okay. A really fucking long time ago, there was a huge tree that served as the "source of mana." You should trust me when I say that this game will be a lot more entertaining to read about if I change "mana" to "manjuice." It'll be more entertaining for me to write, anyway. I'm sure you guys wouldn't want to destroy one of my few sources of entertainment -- it's lonely and sad being a 12-year-old homosexual penis-challenged sex addict, after all.
But oh noes! An unspecified war somehow caused the tree to shrivel up like Squall's pecker near Rinoa, so "a hero's life was sacrificed in order to take its place." The tragedy of this unnamed dude becoming a tree made "the goddess" very, very sad. So she went back up to heaven where she undoubtedly sat outside in cold weather sans jacket and hoped her friends would all feel sorry for her. She probably threw in a few wankst-ridden LJ posts as well, just to drive the point home and maybe get some sycophantic compliments. You know, if she's a goddess and was hanging around the earth during this war, maybe she could have...I don't know...ended the war or used her magic goddess powers to regrow the tree. Something more proactive than acting like an emo drama queen.
"The goddess left the angels with this edict: 'You must wake me, for if I should sleep, the world shall be destroyed.'" I'm not even going to focus on the whatthefuckery of that piece of the story. I'm just going to point out that if I were the goddess...well, we'd all be screwed. Luckily, this particular goddess is not the lazy sack of shit that I am. "The angels bore the Chosen One, who headed towards the tower that reached up unto the heavens. And that marked the beginning of the regeneration of the world," the Mysterious Expositor finishes as we fade out.
I've played this game all the way through and I'm still confused. If only there were someone, possibly a foaming, rabid fan of this game, who could write me a Bible-length explanation of all this!
Obviously I'm totally kidding. Really. Kidding. Hands off the keyboard, please.
At the end of this Tale of Bullshit, the camera zooms in on a quaint little building in a quaint little village, having the decency to black out before it runs headfirst into the wall. Naturally, white text appears over this black screen, accompanied by a voice actress speaking the line. "Lloyd Irving, wake up!" commands this voice of authority. The screen fades in on a cel-shaded version of the hero from the opening sequence, standing in front of a window and snoring. A blackboard eraser flies in from offscreen and hits him in the face, waking him up. I'm going to assume that the white powder that flies everywhere is chalk dust and not something thrown in to make the setting a little more familiar to the game designers.
The camera pulls out so we can see that Lloyd is standing in the back of a classroom holding a set of buckets. Unless he's rehearsing for his role as a broom in Fantasia: On Stage!, I think we can assume that this is one of those old-fashioned classroom punishments. The owner of the irritated female voice approaches him, an anime-style speech bubble over her head filled with an angry black scribble. This game often gives us these types of clues as to the characters' current moods, because such things are subtle and easy to miss, especially for idiots like us. PissedOff!Chick has shoulder-length silver hair and is quite the looker. She wears a long, brownish-orange tunic that, like the one belonging to our Mary Sue heroine, also shows no extra skin. Well, this can't be right. I'm stuck wondering what horrors the game designers have in store to make up for the fact that I'm not being forced to stare at half-naked women. Is Tidus's penis going to appear from offscreen or something? Not that any of us would notice.
Anyway, this silver-haired lady turns out to be the teacher, Professor Raine. Despite her hair color, she appears far from elderly. So she must be under 25, then. Lloyd's DURR-esque response indicates that he isn't the most academically-minded individual. This might be a little bit too obscure for us to pick up, so hopefully we will gain more clues as to Lloyd's intelligence level at a later point. I hope we don't have to wait too long!
With an irritated sigh, Raine gives up on getting a coherent answer out of Lloyd, so she moves on to the next character on the Introduction List. "Genis, how about you?" Raine asks a prepubescent boy with even longer silver hair. Before I go any further, I will answer the burning question in all of your minds: yes, the name Genis rhymes with Penis. At this point, I face a major dilemma. On one hand, I will probably go for the rest of my recapping career without ever finding a more perfect opportunity to nickname a character Penis. On the other hand, I previously found an awesome opportunity and took it, so I already blew my wad, if you will. That sound you hear is ten thousand asshats wanking that the recappers aren't too shy about reusing our own jokes or even nicknames, for that matter. But the nickname Penis is special, and should never, ever be used lightly.
I debated over this serious, serious matter with both Kelly and Sam, and in the end, Sam pointed out that you guys would be horribly disappointed if I didn't nickname Genis "Penis," so I think that settles the matter.
Before I get on with things, I would just like to point out that Genis's original Japanese name was Genius, since without putting his main trait in his name, the subtlety of his characterization might be lost. Thank goodness the translators changed his name to something less ridiculous and snarkworthy, like a word that is one letter away from being male genitalia.
So I just gave away that Penis is the Boy Genius of this game. He proves this by expositing in his girl's voice, "Mithos, the hero, brought about the end of the Ancient War in the Holy Ground of Kharlan." Raine accepts this answer and adds, "Correct. Afterwards, Mithos, the hero, formed a pact with the Goddess Martel to seal away the Desians whom caused the war." Wait, could all of these random names and events being thrown at us turn out to be important at a much later point in the game? Surely not -- this is just a totally meaningless history lesson. Wouldn't that be an awesome twist, though?
Also, I think Raine may have just used "whom" improperly, though I'm hardly the expert on that. And if we can't trust our Smart Videogame Characters, then whom can we trust? Or would that be "who"? Shit.
Lloyd, crappy student though he may be, cannot resist this chance to join in on the expositing. "But the Desians came back and are now causing everyone to suffer!" he ejaculates. Oh, by the way? Lloyd shares a voice actor with Yaibal. So far, this fact hasn't caused me to hate Lloyd's fictional guts, strangely enough. Raine points out that the content of Lloyd's uncontrollable fit of exposition is what they learned yesterday, duh. "When the Seal weakens the Desians reappear. Just like they have now." Okay, so these Desians, whatever they may be, are hanging around and making everyone miserable, and the kids just learned about this in class? Is this a School For Retards? Well, no, that can't be since we already know that Penis's IQ is off the charts. The game designers told us so, and they never lie.