Like many game developers, Namco jumped ship back in the mid-90s, leaving Nintendo and joining Sony. Tales of Phantasia, the first game in the Tales series (originally released on the Super Famicom), enjoyed a re-release on the PlayStation. Three other Tales games followed on Sony’s systems: Destiny, Eternia, and Destiny2.
Tales of Symphonia is the first Tales game to head back to its roots…on the Nintendo GameCube.
Symphonia’s soundtrack, like that of Destiny2, contains the standard number of songs for a Tales game (a little over 100)…but instead of fitting 50 tracks per disc on two disc, DigiCube chose to publish the OST (like they did with Destiny2) as four discs, giving each track its deserved “loop time”, so you can enjoy the track to the fullest extent.
The Sakuraba/Tamura combo is back on for this game, and as you can tell by the samples, the music is standard Tales style. There are even some repeat tracks from previous Tales games (such as disc 3 track 26, “Forest of the Treant”, which was originally a song from Tales of Phantasia). There are plenty of battle themes, town themes, dungeon themes, sorrow/sadness themes, inspirational melodies, world map music…everything you’d expect. This is truly a traditional RPG soundtrack.
Does it stand up to criticism? You can be the judge, what with 20 songs to sample. Personally, I’m a little disappointed with this OST. It’s all good stuff, but lately I find myself growing more and more tired of Motoi Sakuraba. It’s the same thing over and over.
I will say that, in rating discs, the first disc is terrible in comparison to the others. My favorite disc is disc 3…though 4 is good too. The “Tethe Alla” section, then, is by far better than the “Sylvarant” section.
I will note that I was especially pleased with the Staff Roll. I’ve heard plenty of Sakuraba’s end credits / staff roll, and I think most of them are mediocre at best (Star Ocean II’s “We Form in Crystals” was high quality). This staff roll is really, really good. I would ask that you at LEAST check out this Real Audio sample before you finish reading this review.
Another good track is disc 3 track 4, “A Selfish Want”: it’s jazzy. Very rarely, Sakuraba will do a little jazz number on an OST. I’m not usually impressed with these jazz pieces, but this one is quite good. Be sure to give it a listen.
For those unfamiliar with the Sakuraba style: expect a lot of powersynth, looped drums (with better-than-average fills), catchy melodies in natural minor scales, the occasional guitar and bass battle track, good piano pieces, and just…a lot of synth.
If you miss purchasing this OST, don’t feel too bad about it. It’s not the best thing in the world. But, of course, if you’re a “Tales” collector, and you don’t own this, shame on you: because it went out of print months after its release. With DigiCube’s filing for bankruptcy, this OST was available for a very short time, and then it became “hard-to-find”…It’s a solid OST, but there are hundreds of solid OSTs, and this OST sounds very “same old same old”, leaving you with that bitter lackluster aftertaste that you never wanted.
Edit: after the time of this review’s being originally written, King Records reprinted the OST alongside the Japanese release of the PS2 version of this game.