...Tales of Symphonia




*spoiler warning*

    There's a lot of talk in the gaming world about "replay-ability".  What is replay-ability?  It is the extent to which a game varies each time it is played.  For example, the Legend of Zelda games can be played multiple times but no matter how you play it it always ends the same. There are side quests you can do and those will be new if you skipped them the first time around, but the core of the game never changes.  Very low replay-ability score.  Other games require you to make choices (who to talk to, where to go, what to get) which, much like a chose-your-own-adventure novel, significantly alter the course of the story. This is evidently the current preference among gamers. 

    Personally I find that it drives me crazy.  I want to play a game once, beat it, and move on with real life.  I hate having questions that won't be answered unless I play again and make different choices...

    What does this have to do with Tales?  Well, Tales has a high replay-ability factor.  Why do I say that, you ask?  There are so many choices in Tales, many of them can affect the outcome of the final plot, most of them affect what you are told about the past.  For example, someone knocks on your door at night.  If you choose to speak with them they will tell you something that reveals a piece of their past, their dreams for the future, or something about their relationship with you.  However, if you choose not to speak with them another character will come and you can make the same choice.  If you choose one character you will not ever know what the other characters would have said...

    *spoiler begins here*

    The biggest instance of this is the night scene in Flanoir.  Colette comes to speak with you.  Most people (following the plot and the fact that Lloyd obviously likes her) would talk to her.  But, if you say no, others will come.  If you say no to everyone in your party Kratos (who has already left the group by this point) will come.  He will tell you the story of how he met Ana (Lloyd's mother).  Much later you will find that this choice had an even bigger effect on the course of the story.  If you chose any character other than Kratos to speak with Zelos betrays you, but then returns to the group and rescues you all.  He and Kratos work together and, though only Zelos travels with the group, both remain your allies.  However, if you were feeling obstinate and didn't want to speak to anyone and stumbled across Kratos, Zelos will betray you and you will have to kill him.  In his dying breath he will show remorse, and Kratos will rejoin your party.  In this version you learn a lot more about Kratos' past, his personality, his motivations, and you learn why he was following you around (or going before you) all through Tethe'alla. But, you loose a lot of side story and side quests, such as the rescue of Princess Hilda, and the hot springs scene...

    *end spoiler*

    Since the game already takes between 40 and 80 hours to finish I find the thought of replaying it annoying!  (But I obviously did it anyway... It was ten months apart though...)