One of the best Tales games somehow has one of the worst PC ports.
Tales of Symphonia is a great game. One of the strongest (if not the strongest) entry in the Tales series, it debuted on the GameCube in 2003 and has been well-loved since, inspiring a PS2 port in Japan in 2004 and an HD release on the PS3 in 2014. Excitement has been mounting for a Steam PC port that released yesterday, but looking at the Steam reviews for the game right now, you wouldn’t know that Symphonia was one of the GameCube’s star titles.
Peter “Durante” Thoman over at PC Gamer has done an excellent write-up and analysis of exactly what’s wrong with Tales of Symphonia on the PC. He goes over why Japanese ports are actually pretty good in general right now, and why Koei-Tecmo continually fails to deliver ports at even a basic standard of quality–the ports are late, the prices are bad, and the resolution just sucks. Then he gets into the nuances of why Symphonia in particular is a mess.
First, it has no support for mouse/keyboard controls…okay, fine, not great, but not the worst thing. Then there’s the resolution, locked at 720p no matter what you choose in the Settings menu, with a locked framerate of 30fps. Again, not fabulous, but perhaps to be expected? But there’s more. Symphonia on the PC has heinously broken localizations for some languages, with some translations not even complete (they’re apparently all saved in a basic text and Excel file that anyone can just go in and mess with). There’s even weird typos in the English version. Alt-tabbing is as likely to crash your game as not. And to top it all off, the loading times are awful.
Finally, as Durante points out, this wasn’t due to a low-budget port or anything of the sort. Bandai-Namco had enough money to “protect” their game with expensive, but ineffective anti-tamper systems. I’ll let him tell it:
"Yet, there is one additional fact that tells us even this scenario—terrible as it is— does not suffice to capture the full extent of incompetence or apathy at play here. Because apparently, the budget was sufficiently large to license the “VMProtect” anti-tamper system. Which, by the way, generates randomly named executable files for each run, providing the headline for this section. Not only is this system apparently completely ineffectual—with a cracked version of the game appearing in mere hours—it also actively hampers efforts of modders (should any even show up after such blatant disregard for the platform) trying to fix what is broken with this release."
It didn’t seem to hamper Durante’s efforts, though, because he fixed it in 14 minutes, with an additional 15 for videos.
So, uh, big yikes. A game that popular from a company that big, and they couldn’t even make it work at a basic level of quality? The GameCube version is arguably better. If you still insist on playing Tales of Symphonia on the PC, you can pick up an alpha version of Durante’s fixes to make the game run much closer to how it should, but this type of release is still inexcusable in 2016. Step it up, Bandai-Namco.