Game review: Tales of Symphonia - Part 3

TL;DR: It pissed us off.

Written by ritabuuk and dubiousdisc
Posted on March 10th 2018

Please know that this page is going to be full of unmarked spoilers for Tales of Symphonia, so, if you don't want spoilers, don't read this page. Sorry, but the way this game is, and the way we are going to be talking about it, there is no way we can mark them.

This is Part 3 out of our 4-part review of Tales of Symphonia. We're assuming you're coming from Part 2 of this article, but, if you're not, probably go read that first.

Raine can't wait one evening for science

So, we sleep in the dwarf's house, and we wake up, and Raine is missing! Oh no! In all the off-screen dialogue that happened last night, she apparently never stopped talking with Zelos about Stonehenge, so he tells us that's probably where she went. We imagine this dialogue might have been interesting to actually have witnessed ourselves so that we can understand when she goes missing and have our own deductions on where she might have gone, instead of having characters standing around talking about another time off-screen when they were standing around talking... this is like fractal levels of show don't tell.

Zelos tells about Raine telling about The Otherworldly Gate
They are telling about telling!

So, because Las Vegas has the legend about Stonehenge, we can assume that Raine has gone alone to Las Vegas to check it out immediately.

By the way, why did Raine go alone? Why didn't she say to everyone in the morning (and especially her brother Genis) that we should all go to visit Stonehenge because I think it is of personal importance to Genis and me, and also, considering that our next task is to make pacts with the spirits of Sylvarant, finding a gate to Sylvarant might be a good starting point, just maybe?

But, okay, she couldn't contain herself for 8 hours, so she went without any sleep, alone, as the wimpy healer in the world full of monsters (which is only an important point when it is convenient) to visit Stonehenge by herself without saying anything more than leaving behind some sort of badly-written note.

Okay... so we go to Las Vegas to try to find Raine. As we are leaving, Altessa offers to fix Presea's Key Crest for her, in a way that is better than what Lloyd did to it previously. Lloyd tells Presea that she should accept the dwarf's offer. Nevermind how he has been carefully asking her what she wants to do, is she okay with going inside the house of the dwarf that you hate, is she okay with spending the night in the house of the dwarf that you hate, now it is just, you better take this gift from the dwarf that you hate and you are not allowed to make a decision in this case. It is wrong for him not to ask her, and it especially stands out considering he was asking if she was okay with all the minor things, but now on this major thing, he's commanding, not asking.

On the way to Las Vegas, we have like 29 cut-scenes. In one cut-scene, we introduce Mithos to Noishe. Mithos reveals that Noishe is the same name as the mythical first living being of all the worlds who will one day become human.

Noishe and Mithos
Let me unveil my tragic backstory.

Mithos then has a private conversation with Noishe, where Mithos is talking as if Noishe is THE Noishe, which obviously must be the case because why would the game even drop this point if it's not important, and Mithos is all suicidal, and Noishe makes doggy sounds, but Mithos can understand what Noishe is saying. Also Mithos is talking as if he is probably THE Mithos, and yeah, what a surprise.

Considering that Noishe was found in the woods with baby Lloyd and his dead mom, and Noishe only talks with doggy noises that only Mithos seems to understand, how did Lloyd know his name? Did he have a nametag?

Mithos and Genis also have a conversation that goes, we kid you not:

Mithos and Genis
  1. Genis

    Mithos, you lived by yourself, right?

  2. Mithos

    That’s right.

  3. Genis

    Where are your mother and father?

  4. Mithos

    ...They’re both dead.

  5. Genis

    Just like mine...

  6. Mithos

    Really? We’re kind of alike, aren’t we?

  7. Genis

    Yeah, we are. I think we can be good friends.

It's, again, like the writers had a note to themselves that Mithos and Genis form a friendship, bonding over the similarities of their past and upbringing, but instead of actually writing that happening, they just put it unedited into the dialogue, like, there, good, done.

Alicia

Presea talks with George
Sorry, I mistook you for your sister that I knew was dead. Easy mistake, right?

Once we get to Las Vegas, we go around asking every bikini woman if they saw Raine. Eventually, we find an old man at a monument who mistakes Presea for her sister Alicia, and she says, no, she's my sister, and the old man is like all, oh right, of course, Alicia died a long time ago, how silly of me. And this is how Presea learns that her sister is dead. Nice.

There also seems to be some obvious plot point that will be relevant later that the old man calls Alicia her older sister, but Presea previously called Alicia her younger sister and who knows what this could possibly mean? It turns out later that this was only to emphasize that Presea is older than she looks, but we already knew this! The game is the one who keeps forgetting, not us!

CEO's pass
Just hand that out, why don't you.

In any case, the old man gives us his personal ID card to Corporation Corp Headquarters, and tells us to visit Alicia's grave at the memorial at the top of the building.

It turns out that the old man is George, the genius acting President of Corporation Corp, and so we, a bunch of kids and weirdos and Zelos the Chosen One and Wanted Criminal, just go to the headquarters and flash the CEO's ID card to get past the security guard. The security guard does not find it strange that a bunch of kids have the CEO's ID card, and apologizes for not immediately knowing that we had the CEO's ID card and he will let us pass, of course, of course. Is this really the best security?

Also, if you stop at the President's Office on the way to the roof, you can see George is there. He somehow passed us on the way back to Corporation Corp Headquarters, and was able to get past his strangely literal security guards without his ID card. If he was coming back here already, why didn't he just escort us and let all the security crew know that we would always be welcome everywhere in Corporation Corp Headquarters. If the game needed an item in our inventory to be sure, couldn't we get our own CEO-approved guest passes? What planet are we on?

Alicia
Let me also unveil my tragic backstory.

So, we get to the roof, and there is a garden with a tombstone in the middle, and there is an Exsphere embedded in the tombstone. It is Alicia's grave, and the Exsphere is Alicia's Exsphere, and while Presea is there in shock at the fact that her sister died while she was a zombie, suddenly Alicia's ghost appears, the last remnant of her consciousness still contained in the Exsphere, and she has come before us to say that she was murdered and we should find her murderer, who was her master!

To which everyone yells that of course it was awful that she was murdered and her murderer deserves to suffer!

Meanwhile Regal is at the front gate of town, kicking at stones, and thinking about how nice everyone was when it was revealed that he was a murderer, and everyone said that they were sure there must be some reasonable explanation and they won't hold something minor like being a murderer against him.

The characters of this game are like... fair-weather activists who are only activists so that they can look good, and who always say what they think is the right thing to say without ever stopping to consider if they are contradicting themselves every five seconds or just bending their own ethics to suit whatever they really want to do.

Alicia's ghost fades away mid-sentence, obviously leaving something very important unsaid. Of course.

  1. Alicia

    Yes. By killing me, he…

Convenient rumors
Such convenient rumors!

As they go to leave, Mithos has a momentous moment where he concludes, "Exspheres are a terrible thing." Wow. Welcome to the game, Mithos.

So, on the way out of the elevator, we happen to overhear two random saps saying, "Isn't it cool that our city has a legend of the gate between worlds opening every full moon at Stonehenge, and it is going to be a full moon! What a cool legend!" Smooth, game, smooth.

Three days after, we go to Stonehenge

Stonehenge
We still can't land...

So, we fly to Stonehenge, and we for some reason can't land there. We are not sure if we were just not quite doing it right or what, but we tried going back to the inn (to let time pass so maybe it would be night?) and even though it was just as sunny, we tried again, and okay, this time we got to Stonehenge.

You are from Sylvarant
Aren't you listening, Lloyd?

Raine is standing at Stonehenge and has a big reveal that when she was a child and Genis was an infant, they were kicked out of their home, the secret village of the elves (not even the elves like them, huh?), and were left to die here in Stonehenge, and must have at some point been teleported to Sylvarant. So, she remembers Stonehenge... and apparently devoted her entire life to finding Stonehenge in Sylvarant, but could never find it because it never was in Sylvarant, it had been in Tethe'alla all along.

Raine
Everything about every character in this game must be directly linked to their tragic backstory.

This is the reason why she is obsessed with learning about various ruins, because she was trying to find the place where she and Genis had been abandoned. She's not allowed to just have an interest and to pursue her interest, it has to be because of a ~childhood trauma~ of course.

Before anyone can think about the question of why did even the secret haven of the elves banish two young half-elves to the mystical gate between worlds and leave them there... suddenly Sheena's friend Kuchinawa shows up with a legion of the Pope's soldiers and declares that he will finally have his revenge and kill them all!

Sheena is all, what the heck are you talking about, revenge what?

And Kuchinawa is holding Sheena responsible for the death of his parents ten years ago, because they died when she tried to form a pact with Volt the first time. Now that she is able to go around forming pacts with spirits left and right, it proves that she wasn't trying hard enough the first time, ten years ago, and therefore should be held personally responsible for their deaths.

It's like, Sheena, when you were first learning how to drive, you got into an accident and killed my parents. I accepted that it was a mistake, but now, ten years later, I see you driving a car without any problem... which means you must have hit my parents on purpose before, and now I must kill you in revenge!

Sheena in a car
Nice wheels, Sheena.

By the way, the plot never explains it, but, ten years ago, Sheena was ordered by the Elder to form a pact with Volt, so it is not something she just decided to do at random. And we just learned in a cutscene that she is 19 years old, so ten years ago, she was under 10 years old at the time. Geez.

Sheena is all, okay, but kill just me, not Lloyd or the others. And Kuchinawa is agreeing, but Zelos is all, fuck this, grabs Sheena, and they all jump into the portal that just opened behind them, and they disappear to Sylvarant.

By the way, if this portal opens once every full moon, and assuming their moon is on the same schedule as our moon in the real world, that means the portal opens as often as every 28 days, so why is passing between the worlds such a rare and unheard of thing? And people in town talk about it. It's not a mysterious, unknown thing. It's as common as a period.

Once they are in Sylvarant, Sheena is pissed off that Zelos saved her life. Zelos is all, hello, eveything he was saying was bullshit, and did you see all those guards were the Pope's Guards? Somehow Sheena didn't notice that obviously Kuchinawa is in league with the Pope, which probably means he's betrayed not just Sheena but the entirety of Japan, and that there was no way the Pope's Guards were just going to let Zelos and the rest of them just walk away. How did super-spy ninja-assassin Sheena miss this detail? We knew they were the Pope's Guards as soon as they were on screen. We fought them and they were labeled as the Pope's soldiers. Come on, Sheena.

Is Zelos the only one here with a brain?

No, there's Colette too, whenever the game lets her talk. Colette points out to Sheena that sacrificing yourself is never a good answer (don't make the same mistake I did).

We then dump Mithos on the mayor of Palmacosta, because the world that has lower-level monsters is too dangerous for him. Bye!

The rebuilt human ranch

We were sent to Rodyle's new human ranch, where the Renagades were plotting how to destroy the Mana Cannon that Rodyle was building.

Sound ring
This makes very little sense.

In this dungeon, the Sorcerer's Ring emits soundwaves that are the right frequency for all the equipment in the dungeon. So it is used to open doors, turn the circuit-mobile, and change the color of the teleporters. It is kinda dumb that we needed the ring to do these things, since it could have all just been, push a button.

Why, if Rodyle is obsessed with security, did he put a ring-changer in the beginning of his fortress that allows anyone with the Sorcerer's Ring -- something that he, himself, may not actually have -- to open all his doors and so on? I mean, this is a problem with a lot of games, but this is a very egregious example. Games need to put some care into ensuring that the video game logic doesn't clash so horribly with... just... logic.

Anyway, the first part of this dungeon had an actual, real, classic puzzle of needing to light up the entire floor by running on it. If you step on a lit floor tile it turns off, and vice versa. Very classic, it was very refreshing to see here, the camera angle was a little strange, but it worked out.

Then the party makes a really big point of how there is only one elevator, but we for some reason can't change that control to go higher. So to get the guards to bring the elevator down (we think? this plan made very little sense), we are going to release all the prisoners and create a situation that the guards must come and investigate. There is like a pagoda of prisoners, and to unlock the doors, we just need to trigger the ring to make the sound at each of the buttons all around the pagoda. Just, hit all the buttons, right? It then has the audacity to play that "You solved the puzzle!" sound, just because we pressed all five buttons. My god.

Despite all this big deal of there being only one elevator, as we go higher and higher through the dungeon, it can't possibly be all the same elevator shaft. It's really obvious that there must be more than one. So much for that.

Circuit
Beep beep beep boop boop

The circuit part was okay, but totally reminding us of The Angry Video Game Nerd's review of the Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure video game, and that is not a good thing to say. It does look like it was better than Bill & Ted, but again, it would have been improved by being able to see more of what we were doing, and not needing to try to solve a puzzle involving planning with just the view through a toilet paper tube.

The maze
This part was... eh.

The color-changing teleporters were also okay, but again, if you have no idea where the teleporters are connected to, you just have to brute force it and try everything, and that's not smart or fun. Also, every time you teleport, the camera jerks all around the world, which gives us nausea.

Overall, this dungeon was okay, it had some actual puzzles, and multiple things going on. Just, it was kinda forgettable, and evidenced by, when we went to write our reactions, we completely forgot what happened here, even though we had played it just a few hours earlier.

Rodyle and stoic death

Anyway, we reached the depths of the ranch, and Rodyle unleashed the sea water on the escaping humans -- the ones we set free before, but didn't bother to escort to the exit. In fact, it is presented as if the only reason we bothered to free the prisoners was because it happened to be useful to us, not because anyone in the party wanted them to be free. Nice. The sea water, oddly, is treated as if it was acid or something, like, as if it killed them immediately. However, we never really find out if these people lived or died, and the only victims ever mentioned are Botta and his group... but we suppose all these prisoners died too, just no one cares, and it is arguably because of the party's negligence in rescuing them that they ended up dying. What the fuck.

Rodyle
Tasty cucumber!

Rodyle uses some weird crystal (was it an Exsphere? Cruxis crystal?) that turns him into a melting cucumber monster, and we have to fight him. He realizes he is dying, so he's going to kill us too, and he sets the building to self-destruct so that we will die with him.

Botta and his crew come in and tell us that they will deal with the self-destruct, and we should leave out the hatch. But then, we are locked outside in the safety, and Botta and his crew are trapped inside with the sea water rising to drown them. Lloyd and Regal try to open the door to save them, but Raine points out that opening the door will kill them too, since they are in a domed room, so this way at least Botta saved them. And Botta says they have completed their mission and has what is meant to be the dramatic moment of closing the blinds so that they can accept their fate of dying.

Except... why should we care about Botta and his crew of default half-elf soldiers? This is even less momentous than Corrine's death.

So, now that we are safe -- we actually realize we are not safe. This is where Rodyle was keeping his rave dragons, and they all come and attack us. The first time we fought them, these dragons were hard. But now, they are pretty easy, and go down in just a few hits. Of course, this is the moment where, after battle, everyone is saying how there are so many dragons, and it all is totally hopeless, clashing oddly with the actual gameplay where, despite just having the entire dungeon and the boss battle with Rodyle, the dragons were not posing any difficulty whatsoever. So we have the cutscene of everyone cowering in fear, and Genis brings out Mithos's pan pipes, the memento of his sister, which are made out of Linkite nuts, so that it summons Aska the Light Summon Spirit, and Mithos sweeps in on a borrowed rocketship and saves us all! How many deus ex machina moments are there in this game?

Mithos on the plane
Deus ex Mithos.

So we then have a conversation where everyone is shown riding their own private rocketship, and whatever.

Note that, in our conversation with Mithos, we just drop the information without half a thought that Yuan is a double agent. No need to keep that hushed or anything. Mithos ends up waiting outside while we go talk to Yuan (for reasons; nothing shady here at all).

We go to Yuan and tell him that Botta died to complete the mission and to save them all. To this, Yuan goes, "ah", and Lloyd gets pissed off that it wasn't a more grandiose reaction to Botta's death. Once again, Zelos is the voice of reason all, look, they've been together a long time, and he will mourn in his own way, let's give him some privacy, shall we?

Also, they try to return the rocketship that "their companion" borrowed, and Yuan is confused, but accepts it, saying to himself that they already had all their rocketships and none were missing. Dun dun dun.

Master President Duke Regal Bryant III, and also a pedophile!

We then bring Mithos back to the dwarf, and there it comes out to Regal that Alicia was Presea's sister and that they must avenge her by killing her murderer! With Zelos desperately trying to stop this conversation from happening (guys, is this really the time *sweatdrop*). But they blabber it all out, and then Regal is all, we MUST GO TO LAS VEGAS.

Duke
And I'm also the bowling champion of Tethe'alla, six years running, and owner of a library card, and...

So, we do, and Regal comes into Las Vegas, and we go to the Corporation Corp Headquarters, and people are dying on the ground. We go to the roof where Vharley is harassing George for a password to the mines, and Regal is all, the password is my retina scan and voice print, because I am indeed the President of Corporation Corp, Duke His Highness Regal Royal the President III. Also Master.

Alicia's ghost comes out and is all, yes, this is my Master whom I love. And the whole history comes out that they were a pedo-item, and George intervened because that was kinda disgusting, not to mention that he was the President and she was the maid, and the age difference, and, god, and through some contrived plot that didn't make sense, she ended up being sold to Vharley a human trafficker, and she became a failed experiment, and was turned into one of those zucchini-monsters, and she begged Regal to kill her, because she loves him, and cannot bear to be like this, and please, I want you to put me out of my misery. So he did, and then he turned himself into the police, went to jail, and has been angsting ever since. And the whole reason he was chasing us in the first place was because the Pope agreed to arrest Vharley if Regal managed to capture Colette. But now, Alicia's ghost asks him to please stop angsting already, she never wanted him to angst in the first place, so please stop that and let me rest in peace. Note that even as she says how much she loves him, she still refers to him as Master, and it's just very uncomfortable. And he promises to take the manacles off once the game is over, because he only has the one character model.

Talking to Alicia
"Stop angsting already! I can't bear to listen to you whine, and I'm dead!"

So Alicia is able to rest in peace, and Lloyd destroys her Exsphere before the last remnants of her consciousness become trapped eternally watching from inside it, and now she is fully dead for real. So, finally the obvious is out, but with some unexpected doses of pedo-ness. Lovely.

Once the cut scene is over, Regal gains the title of "El Presidente". We just.

We were checking some things on the wiki, and apparently George objected to Regal and Alicia's relationship not at all because of the age gap, as we had presumed, but because of their different stations in society. Ew.

Also, if Regal was already the president, what does the opinion of his like, secretary, even matter.

  1. George

    I thought it would be damaging to your reputation if you were dating your maid; that’s why I sold her into human trafficking.

How does George still have his job after this? How are he and Regal even on speaking terms? Why does Regal not seek revenge against George at all? Is it because he looks too much like a generic NPC to waste time murdering him?

Regal: Where did you hear about Alicia
"I hope you haven't figured out her age yet..."

When did this happen anyway?

Canonically, Presea is 28, and Regal is 33. Alicia is Presea's "little sister", so let's say, at least 1 year younger. While siblings that are less than one year apart exist, Alicia is notably Presea's little sister, and this game would have spelled it out in some way if they were very close in age.

We know Alicia's death must have happened after the dinner party where Zelos mentions having seen Regal, because Regal surely did not show up in chains. That would have also been mentioned. Zelos says he was 7 at the time. Zelos being canonically 22 during the game makes Zelos and Regal 11 years apart, so 7 + 11 = 18; Regal was 18 at the dinner party.

We are also guessing that, whenever Alicia's death happened, it was further in the past than last year. It seems too established. We're going to guess it was at least three years ago for Regal to have incorporated angst so thoroughly through his character.

We're going to put the minimum possible age at which Alicia could have left her home to become a maid at 7. Which we agree would be horrendous, but bear with us. We're also going to put the maximum possible age at 10, because Presea stopped aging at 12; Alicia is younger than Presea, and left before Presea stopped aging, so before Presea was 12, and before Alicia was 11, leaving only 10.

This also means that Presea and Alicia must be a maximum of 3 years apart.

When Presea talks with George, he mistakes her for Alicia, and mistakenly refers to the deceased Alicia as the older sister. Since Presea's aging stopped when she was 12, this means that Alicia must have been, or least looked, older than 12 when she died.

Alicia
How old does she look to you?

As for when Alicia died, you can make some guesses based on the character model of her ghost. We're going to guess that she was at most 20. Because Alicia is said to look older than Presea, Alicia died between being 13 and 20.

If Alicia died at 13, Regal was 19, and needs much more than symbolic shackles. If Alicia died at 20, Regal was 29, which is... legal, but raises some eyebrows. Our personal guess, given Alicia's character model in comparison to what Colette looks like... Colette is 16, and we'd say that Alicia was younger than Colette, but not by much. So, we'll say 15. In that case, Regal was 22, and a monster.

For once, we hope that what happened here is that the developers sucked at their jobs and didn't have the timeline in mind. Because the other option is that they were intentionally making one of their main, respectable party members into a pedophile. In either case, we're still looking at Regal with disgust.

Running around, and also the truth on Kate

We went back to Sylvarant and went to the dungeons where we could meet the spirits Sylph and Ifreet. They were exactly the same dungeons as before, just walk through the solved dungeon to the end, and fight the Summon Spirit in the final room. We are glad we didn't need to do any more bullshit in the dungeons, but it feels kinda lame somehow. There is no new part of the dungeon at all? Nothing new happens inside? All the monsters are still level 5? Maybe just teleport us there at that rate.

Aska for last
Convenient.

Then we wandered around for awhile... how do we even find the last Summon Spirit, Aska of Light? In the meanwhile we found someone in Japan who told us that the Spirit of Darkness is in the mountains south of Meltokio. There is a spirit of Darkness? Oh, and his name is SHADOW, lol. Okay though, it's a lead of some kind. Okay.

So, we go there, but we can't see, because it it ~dark~. Instead of lighting a candle or getting a flashlight or using the primary flame function of the Sorcerer's Ring... nope, we can't see. We need to go to the Elemental Research Facility to research how to undark the darkness.

So we go there and they can give us the special Blue Candle that we need, but first, oh no, Kate is about to be executed because she helped you, oh no.

Regal knows that there is a secret passageway between the colosseum and the jail, so we sign up for the colosseum with the intent sneak into the jail and break her out. Somehow we thought that the colosseum was going to be a more interesting part of the game. It will be later, but, at this point, it was just one random encounter you have to do with just one character, and then, after the battle, the guard that was guarding the door to the jail is mysteriously missing, so we can just go through the door. We didn't need to access the door while we were fighting, we didn't need to find the key, we didn't need to do anything sneaky at all, we didn't have to do jack shit, just somehow, after we win, the guard had to go take a leak or something and just left the door unguarded and unlocked right there. How could we have expected that to happen? At first, after the battle was over and we were back in the same exact room, we were worried we had done something wrong, and needed to do another colosseum match and try again. But nope, now the door is inexplicably unguarded. What the heck.

Saving Kate
Yeah, you're scum, but it's ok.

Anyway, we rescue Kate, and we learn that she's the daughter of the Pope, from an affair he had with an elf, scandal! She admits that she was happy to do the experiments on Presea because it meant that her dad was actually paying some attention to her, and that she was able to be useful to him. Lovely. Anyway, she asks us to leave her in Presea's town of Ozette so that she can have some time alone to think in the smoldering ruins of nothingness and without any transportation to go anywhere else. Okay.

Kate is sorry
Sure, just tell Presea you're sorry, that fixes everything.

There's a cutscene where Raine comments that Kate's actions had nothing to do with her being a half-elf, and it was all just so that she could be recognized by her dad, who hated her. Except... he hated her... because she was a half-elf. So, yeah, her actions had everything to do with her being a half-elf. This is the loathsome sort of argument made by someone who doesn't understand the concept of privilege; your social status does indeed have a huge impact on the person you become. But *all that matters is how hard you work and the person you choose to be*. If this what the writers themselves believe, then obviously they don't understand their own privilege and just attribute all of their successes to their own skill and hard work, when, given how awful the writing of this game is, some privilege must have been involved here.

The Temple of Darkness

Anyway, we now have the Blue Candle, so we can go to the Temple of Darkness. Which is a mess. We do really like the design and aesthetic of this temple. The paths are all at strange angles, jutting through the air, and creating a huge maze of ramps and stairs. Lovely. However, it kinda just made us want to go play Quake instead, heh.

Piece of Shadow
How did it get there?

The gimmick of this dungeon is that, somehow, pieces of Shadow have gotten severed and lost throughout the temple, and trapped in places where they can't get past the light that is on. Who went through the Temple of Darkness turning on the lights? Also, wasn't this dungeon so dark that we needed a special candle? But the main puzzle requires turning off the lights? Ummmm, someone wasn't thinking here.

The ring-changer makes the Sorcerer's Ring emit a cloud of darkness. And you use darkness to extinguish the lights.

The darkness cloud is also used to activate blocks that have bulldog faces on them. You shoot the darkness at the nose, and a purple cloud stays inside the nose, making the block active. The blocks are paired based on the color of their eyes. If you pull one block with red eyes, it will push out the other block with red eyes, which is in some other part of the dungeon. You can only have one set of bulldog blocks active at the same time, and if you activate another one, the others will reset.

The problem with this is, first and foremost, how stupid is the idea of using Darkness to turn off the light. When Rosy was designing the elements of The Gifts of Darkness, we had a brainstorming session of basic Darkness magic spells, and we started off by saying, of course, it won't be turn off the light, so let's think... and in an hour we had brainstormed like 20 better ideas. For the team working on Tales of Symphonia... clearly turn off the light was good enough.

Also, activating the bulldog blocks has absolutely nothing to do with Darkness, doesn't have anything to do with anything, and doesn't actually make any physical sense (unless they are saying Darkness is used in teleportation, and there's a portal or something between the two halves of each bulldog, but, ehh, that's a stretch to think they intended it that way).

Most of the time when you push the blocks, you can't see what is happening elsewhere in the dungeon, so it is really unclear what is or isn't being achieved.

Piece of Shadow
Just follow us please ♪, come along little darkness ♫, or we kick you in the face ♪...

Also, one set of bulldogs has green eyes, and another set has almost the same color, but we guess yellow eyes, so that was confusing until we figured out what was going on.

Shadow
Shadow, the summon spirit of DARKNESS can you get any cheesier

So, you go around the dungeon moving the bulldog blocks and turning off the lights so that you can herd the pieces of darkness down to the bottom of the dungeon. But you might as well be herding cats. When you get close enough to the piece of darkness, it starts vaguely following you and squiggling around, but it mostly gets stuck on everything, and never goes in the direction you intended. So that was a bit awful. We started singing at them, please little darkness, come with me... we kept needing to count that indeed all five were still following us. We feel like we now know a bit about being a poor shepherd.

We finally deliver the pieces of Shadow to Shadow, and he is not a spirit of many words. We are a bit surprised that we still needed to fight him, given that we put him back together, but whatever, we fight him, and make the pact.

Now it is just Aska, right?

Revisit all the important places for character-specific cutscenes!

We have to make a pact with the Spirit of Light, but since this will sever the last connection and we don't know what will happen, first we must go and say goodbye to everyone, and everyone needs to decide if they will come with us and possibly be stuck in Sylvarant (since they don't know if they'll be able to come back...) or if they are going to sit this one out and never see us again and remain in Tethe'alla.

We go to the library and Raine is all, I'll miss books. And she can't care about ruins anymore now that the mystery of Stonehenge is solved. Oh please.

And we go to Japan and Sheena is stuck coming with us, and the rest of them don't have enough time to move to Sylvarant, so whatever, whoever is in Sylvarant will stay there forever, and whoever is in Tethe'alla will move to their new secret home in Tethe'alla and nevermind the whole plot point of everyone in Japan moving to Sylvarant.

Genis goes to say goodbye to his boyfriend, and Mithos has a hissyfit, and Genis seriously contemplates staying in Tethe'alla to be forever with his new boyfriend. Remember the plotpoint about how sad he is that he is going on this whole quest instead of accepting his seat at that fancy smancy university in Sylvarant? Remember that whole plotpoint about how he has such a raging crush on Presea? We mean, we are glad he forgot about that, but now his entire dialogue is centered around Mithos Mithos Mithos. This shipping is much more savory to us, because at least Mithos is likewise Genis Genis Genis, but why does Genis have such a one track mind, and does he have no shame at all? Genis still feels the need to immediately chime in whenever Presea is mentioned, but now it is almost like an afterthought and a compulsion, rather than the new raging crush he now has on Mithos.

And we went to Meltokio where Zelos has a whole conversation about how Meltokio is not that great because it has this artificial boundary between those in high society and those in the low society, and how, as a member of high society, his life is all structured and decided, and if you are a member of low society, you are poor and that is all you can ever be. He then almost kicks some beggar child, which was weird and out of character. The best we can think here is that he is thinking that, if he stays in Tethe'alla, and the worlds are severed, there is no longer the need for a Chosen One, and he will no longer be special and will be relegated to low society. But, how can he have both the insight that this whole system is bullshit, but also just spew nastiness at some street urchin? Because bad writing.

Then we go to Ozette with Presea, and while she says she is completely untied to this world, she will be sad to leave behind her father's grave.

We stopped in Snow town, and Snow town is still useless.

We went to Las Vegas, and Lloyd won a free ticket to all the amusement rides and the mega-suite of the hotel. But before we can use that, I guess since we came here last, we get stuck in the final loop of cutscenes...

Regal needed time to think if it was more important that he helps us save the world, or if he should stay president of his company. Which he hasn't been presidenting for however long has it been that George has been taking care of things. Also, since when we need Regal? He's not needed on either side.

So, Lloyd and Colette teleport to a campsite outside of Meltokio and wait for everyone to come with their minds made up. It turns out everyone is going to Sylvarant for whatever bullshit excuse they came up with. Raine all, Sylvarant will need to rebuild after the worlds are severed, and so it needs good teachers! Like me! The one who was shown in the beginning of the game abusing my students! And Tethe'alla totally doesn't need any teachers!

Anyway, everyone gives their reasons, and Zelos is all like, what, everyone is going to be stuck in that backwater world??? Fine, I am coming too. Besides, what good will a Chosen be in Tethe'alla once the worlds are severed, and instead I can retire and meet new hunnies in your world.

So, after the cutscene, we go all the way back to Las Vegas so that Lloyd can use his free ticket, because, geez, come on, we are not leaving that unused!

The amusement park

Amusement park
Alright, who do you pick. Only one friend.

We finally went to the fucking amusement park, and... it was a letdown. We first went to the Tea Cups, and the game asked us who we wanted to bring on the ride with us. Since there are obviously three rides, we thought we could pick three different characters, one for each. We decided we wanted to take Colette on the Ferris Wheel, because she would be sure to like that, and it would probably be hilarious to bring Zelos on the roller coaster, and Presea deserves to have a fun time in an amusement park what with everything she's been through, so, Presea can ride the tea cups with us.

However, even though they didn't tell us, it turned out that whoever we picked to ride the tea cups would be the only party member that could go on any rides with us at all. So we went on the tea cups with Presea, and unfortunately, she didn't seem to have much fun. She got kinda sick. We then went on the roller coaster with Presea, and she got even more sick. Poor Presea. She didn't even look twice at the Ferris Wheel by then. That was a let down.

We can no longer ride anything with anybody else, but Lloyd can ride the Ferris Wheel or the Tea Cups all alone like a chump.

Amusement park
Someone else took this screenshot, and it's all we would have wanted...

We half wanted to reset the game to try with another character, but it had been a long time since our last save, so nevermind. If only the game had told us what the deal was. Also, what sort of free pass is this? You can only bring one friend around once, and the rest of the day you are alone? Where did everyone else go in the meanwhile anyway?

Then we go to the hotel, and a big deal is made about the fact that the special room is for Lloyd only. No one else can join him in the mega-suite. Not even Regal, who owns the place is allowed to visit Lloyd in the suite... well, given Regal's history, maybe that's a good thing. Lloyd sneakily lets Colette in so that they can talk a little bit, and Colette tries to explain to Lloyd that he deserves this nice vacation after all he has done, and he should enjoy it, even if he says he doesn't deserve it. And this is mirrored by how Colette never accepts that she deserves anything. She got really close to confessing that she loves Lloyd, but she failed, and left. Ah well.

Why is it that Lloyd is able to go on the amusement park rides and stay in the mega-suite only because he happened to be the millionth visitor or whatever? Why can't Regal offer the party anything? Or if that's not fair and Regal doesn't want to do that, why can't we pay for it? Maybe we win the free ticket, and then can go again for money, but why is it that whenever you go there before you have a free ticket, the employees all say that you must have a free ticket to ride? They all spoil that Lloyd will win a free ticket later, and they have no way of knowing that, and just, what the heck?

It would make more sense if the park was just closed when we went there the first time. But that still doesn't explain why we only get to go on the rides with one person once. It would have been fun and lovely if we could choose to pay to ride with all of the party members in turn. If they wanted this to be counting towards the hidden relationship values, and that's why they limited it, hey, if we want to pay for it, that's already the barrier. So what if we pay all the gald to ride with everyone? If we bump up all the relationship values, just make the price be the right price for that.

Maybe it is weird to pay for it with Regal right there? But isn't it already a bit suspicious and possibly a conflict of interest that Lloyd won the millionth visitor ticket? Wouldn't he need to be disqualified since he is Regal's friend to avoid the appearance of it being rigged?

To solve this entire problem, if the amusement park was just in another town and not owned by Regal, then it would not be weird for us to pay for it. There is no plot reason why Regal needs to own this amusement park anyway.

Aska and Luna and two fucking trees in five minutes

So, after our shitty adventure in the amusement park, we went back to Sylvarant. To find Aska, we need to resurrect the Linkite tree. Way way back in our playthrough, we happened to find a wandering caravan, and the family there told us about how if we find the Linkite tree, we might be able to find Aska. This whole thing was sounding like a super unlikely and lucky optional sidequest of something like, how to catch Mew, and if you're up to that challenge, these are all the hard things you'll need to do.

However, now that we must find Aska, we realize this is a mandatory quest for progressing through the game. And if we had attempted to do it before this specific point in the game, it wouldn't have been possible! Boo!

Exactly right now we need to find the tree that is dead, and we need to once again find that wandering caravan, and we need to learn how we can resurrect the dead Linkite tree with the Summon Spirits now that Sheena is in the party this time.

By the way, this whole mandatory convoluted quest is not at all noted in the Quest log. It's clearly presented as like the big quest of the game, but then it is like, swept under a rug or something. And you have to do it, so why is it so hidden?

While we were stumbling around trying to find out where we needed to go, we accidentally went to the fishing village and we see the party's impostors tormenting monster-Clara. So Raine just says like, BE HEALED, and then, poof, Clara is healed. The end. And the impostors realize the error of their ways. The end. Both of these entire plot points are suddenly over. They have been haunting us for like half the game, and now, poof, they are done. How unsatisfying. And Clara is just going to live a quiet life, since yeah, her husband and daughter are dead and... Poor Clara.

Also, if Raine can now just poof the zucchini-monsters back to people, why did she make no attempt to save Rodyle? Because he's a meanie and must suffer?

So, we finally find the caravan, and then go back to the tree, and Sheena does her thing, and the tree is revived, and usually this would be the beautiful high point of the game, but it just looks like ass. It's a cheap model of a tree with a few leaves tacked on and unimpressive cinematography. And we can see the box where the grass texture ends. We've seen AMVs made in The Sims and even G-mod videos with higher production values than this underwhelming travesty of resurrecting the amazing tree of shit.

Dead Tree
Before...
Live Tree
...and after. That's the most underwhelming resurrection ever.
No pact
Sounds like an unhealty relationship...
Luna
Luna

And Aska comes and says, "Where's Luna?". Who's Luna? What? Sheena somehow knows who Luna is and that Luna is in the Temple of Mana. And tells Aska that we will meet him there, and we can make a vow with Aska and Luna at the same time.

So we go there and once again go marching through the dungeon that we already completed to get to where we can summon the spirits. The developers even have the audacity to put in an optional conversation where Lloyd breaks the fourth wall and asks, "Why couldn't we have a Quick Jump?". And the name of the conversation is "For Lazy People". So the developers knew that this was tedious and stupid, but instead of fixing it, they just insult the player for finding it to be tedious and stupid.

But you know why it isn't a quick jump? Because right before the top of the temple, we bump into Kratos and have a cut scene. Kratos is all, "No, don't do this, you are making a mistake!" And Yuan shows up and says, "No, we know exactly what we are doing!" And Lloyd and everyone runs ahead to sever the last link without even fully understanding what will happen or why Kratos is desperately trying to stop them because, eh, we want to do this, whatever.

So we fight Luna and Aska, and there is an ANIME CUTSCENE of the Tree of Mana being resurrected... except it is freaky and destructive and clearly messed up! And it destroys Palmacosta! Which by the way, is where Clara was. Clara who spent the entire game as a monster and who we finally just turned back into human. Just in time to die in a tidal wave. Wow. A moment of silence for Clara.

Now we need to fix this, and Sheena is going to do the summonings in the staircase of the Mana Cannon ???

We're saving Chocolat? Finally?

Chocolat
She's probably dead by now.

In the meanwhile, we go with Kratos to the human ranch where Chocolat is being held. So now Chocolat is a plot point again. They even do this whole thing of Lloyd saying he'll go to the ranch because he can't trust Kratos to go alone, and Colette is all, "And you remembered that Chocolat is there, didn't you?" And he says yes, and the game is all congratulatory, all, oh, how good Lloyd is, he promised that he would save Chocolat a million years ago, and made zero effort to actually save her, but considering that we have to go there anyway, now he will save her, and isn't that so good of him! We still don't know why we couldn't go save her back before we left Sylvarant the first time, and when everyone knew she was there. What are the chances that the intel we had that she is in that particular ranch is still even true, considering that earlier in the plot the villains kept changing her location? Once we knew she was there, why did we make no effort to save her? We were able to walk all the way back there, and everyone just acted like it was still the beginning of the game. Whyyyyyyy?

Infiltration
They caught and executed the trained spies, but a bunch of kids, that will do.

So we go to the human ranch and there's the whole stupid thing of needing to split into two teams again. This time, since we've learned our lesson from the previous times this has happened in the game, we very carefully assign the teams so that they will both be balanced. Here we have Lloyd, and we bring Kratos because the whole point of this was so that Lloyd can keep an eye on Kratos so we'll put them on the same team, and Kratos can do a minor healing move, so we will also bring Zelos who can do a minor healing move, and let's bring Colette too. On the other side, they have Raine as the major primary healer, Regal and Presea for strength, and I guess Genis can go with them. Yes, okay, we think we can deal with being both of these teams without too much of a problem.

Two teams
No! Not again!

So Lloyd, Colette, Kratos, and Zelos are going around the dungeon. We find Chocolat and free her. She doesn't hate Lloyd anymore because the other prisoners knew Marble and they could tell her how Marble had been friends with Genis and that everyone had been telling the truth when they said that it was more complicated than Lloyd just murdered Marble. Chocolat needed to go to a concentration camp to learn this. Yikes.

Then the rest of the dungeon. In this dungeon, the Sorcerer's Ring shoots Mana which... opens doors. You shoot this rainbow beam that turns on the light next to the door and the door opens. There is no puzzle whatsoever. We don't even know anymore (and clearly neither do the designers).

Dodge
Just take the beam to the face.

And you need to dodge the laser beams, but they just hurt you a little, so actually, if you don't care about that, you can just run through them and take some damage and whatever. You are going to have at least one healer on your team, so what difference does it really make. At first we were being really careful to dodge them, since we assumed reinforcements would come, and we'd need to start over or something, but once we bumped one by accident and saw it was just minus 300 HP. Well, who cares then, just run through, whatever.

Forcystus
What are you doing in this game, get back in Pokémon Ranger.

We meet Forcystus at the end, and I guess we got a special sort of cutscene because Kratos was there. They got to have an argument of which one of them Yggdrasill loves more. And Zelos is just all, omg, shut up. Once again the voice of reason, and the one we identify with the most.

Okay, we fight. It was a bit tough without Raine as the healer, but we did it. Forcystus fell into the reactor, and nobody even cared.

Reactor
Serendipitous tripping.

We go to turn off the computer, and Lloyd and Colette are both, uh, none of us know how to work computers. And we had a moment of, oh shit, we did the teams wrong, we should have brought Raine. We didn't realize we needed her computer expertise here! But then Colette tripped and unplugged the reactor, and, okay, that works. Somehow. What the fuck reactor is this?

So we go outside and we are back with the whole party. So, this time, we didn't need to play as both teams. We hate this game so much. Why doesn't it tell us these things. Oh my god.

So, even though Forcystus fell into the active reactor, he emerges from the shadows all, "It will take more than that to kill me!" Okay, there's hard to kill, and then there's just ridiculous. And he yells all derangedly about how he's going to kill as many lowly humans as he can before he dies. He shoots at Chocolat, but Colette jumps like a ninja into the beam to save her and, in the process, the beam rips her sleeve (that's it?).

Lloyd stabs Forcystus and kills him, and that's in the end, how he died. Not from falling 1000 stories into an active reactor, but just, that one last stab from Lloyd was all he needed.

Later, Lloyd and Kratos talk about how Forcystus was a hero for the elves, and Lloyd has a pensive moment and comes to the amazing revelation that someone who is a hero to one side is the enemy of the other side. Oooo, no shit, wow, how philosophical. And, oh, maybe in another universe we could have even been friends! We are talking about the same guy who was just yelling, "I am going to bring as many of you inferior lifeforms down with me before I die, mwhahaha!" while Rambo-style machine-gunning around!

And Lloyd gives the signal, and Sheena does all her summoning thing and they shoot the cannon at the tree and the tree goes away and Martel is still alive and everything is okay again.

Colette needs a dermatologist

Skinnnn
Nothing a little moisturizer won't fix.

Anyway, since Colette's heroic self-sacrifice tore her sleeve (wait, we thought she was against heroic self-sacrifice now?), we can see that her arm is covered in green hexagons. Lloyd reassures her that he still loves her and she is still beautiful and she passes out, understandably.

Everyone decides that we will bring Colette to Iselia, even though Lloyd and Genis are banished there. They don't even wait outside or anything. Just, nevermind that we are banished. Somehow they are in, and the townsfolk are grumbling about it.

It obliquely comes out later that Colette is sick because of Lloyd's Key Crest not being good enough. This is an important point, but no one says it outright, unless we just zoned out or something? Well, whatever.

Everything is bad
...and I'm not letting you out alone to get murdered by racists.

While Colette is sleeping, Lloyd and Genis decide to go for a lovely walk in the town where they are banished. Zelos decides to go with them because, uh, you probably shouldn't go walking around alone in the town where you are banished. Thank you, Zelos, yet again.

So, they go walking around town, and everyone is pissed that the banished people are just waltzing around, and they are pissed that Colette was a total failure who failed the entire world regeneration thing, and since the Tower of Salvation is malfunctioning and there's been all these earthquakes and the whole thing of the disgusting tree, it must be a sign that the Chosen failed so hard this time that the world is coming to an end! Gasp!

To be fair, yeah. What should they be thinking?

Look at this
The mayor is a meanie-poopoo!

The mayor is causing a whole ruckus because he somehow now knows that Raine and Genis are not full-blooded elves, but actually half-elves (who told him?). And he is frothing at the mouth and practically inciting the town to stone them to death. Suddenly, Chocolat, who is an outsider by the way, is all, "You should be ashamed, half-elves are people too, and Colette has done so much and you have done nothing!" And then the entire town does a complete 180 and are all in support of Genis and Raine and Lloyd and Colette and everyone, and the mayor is a poopyhead, and just... this was just a pitiful exercise in taking down a strawman racist and just, sigh.

Zelos asks Raine why she didn't give the mayor a good smackdown of a comeback, and she's just all, "I don't waste my time talking to pigs," and Zelos, all "Okay, okay, geez." He was trying to be supportive and she had to make it all awkward. And three minutes ago, she was all, "Sylvarant needs good teachers, like meeee!" And now she won't deign to talk to the racist mayor to even attempt to teach him not to be racist. Right.

Now all the dialogue in the entire town changes, so instead of grumbling against Colette and all of the party, now they are all singing our praises and hating on the mayor. This game is like written by a five year old, and this is an entire town of five year olds.

They bring Colette to Dirk to try to fix her Key Crest. Right before we get there, Kratos has a conversation with Lloyd saying that the sum total of dwarven knowledge was split across the worlds, so Dirk knows things that Altessa doesn't know and vice versa.

Who split the dwarven knowledge across the worlds? How exactly? Did Yggdrasill specifically pick out the dwarves that knew these things and the dwarves that knew those things and put them on different worlds? Did he split them like how you split a houseplant in two - by the roots? Are there actually more dwarves than Dirk and Altessa, or, are they the only dwarves left? There's no indication that there are any other dwarves, though, at the same time, there's nothing about them being the last dwarf or the only dwarf of their world or anything like that. People talk about "the dwarves" as if there are more than one, but if there's only one per world, how would they know there is more than one? How would there even be a plural form for the word? But there's no other dwarves in the game, and it's either ask Altessa or ask Dirk and that's it. Nothing about, maybe some mysterious third dwarf might know. It really seems like they are the only two dwarves, even though that also doesn't make sense.

Dividing a spider plant
Dwarven pornography

Was it always just two dwarves? Are the dwarves immortal, so it was always Dirk and Altessa in particular, and so splitting them was easy? Though why do the two dwarves have mutually exclusive knowledge on Key Crests? And for that matter, how are there only two dwarves and they are both male? Do dwarves reproduce by parthenogenesis? By anal sex? By being split in half like a house plant? Does each of the two offspring keep exactly one half of the knowledge of the parent dwarf? Actually this kinda makes sense, in a stupid way. Dwarves in Tales of Symphonia are like houseplants.

Anyway, this illogical factoid about the perfect split of dwarven knowledge is dropped just in time for us to arrive at Dirk's house and for Dirk to say, yeah, I have no idea how to help, sorry. Try asking Altessa. Thanks.

Kratos leaves, and the vacancy he creates in the party is immediately filled by Sheena returning.

We now have a moment to talk with the whole party. Lloyd talks with Regal about how Colette too often hides her true feelings and just shows everyone a happy face all the time when she is really suffering on the inside, and it would be better if she would let us know how she really feels because we care about her and want to help her and blahblah.

Literally in the next conversation Lloyd has with Colette, she says that she's worried about this ugly scaly thing happening to her. And Lloyd tells her not to be sad, because that makes him sad, and all of us sad, so be happy. So she says okay, and hides her sadness deep inside, as always, and puts on a happy face, because she doesn't want to be responsible for making Lloyd sad, and her feelings are less important than not making Lloyd sad. This is three seconds after he said that Colette shouldn't do this sort of thing, and then he turns around and tells her to do it. And yes, he has done this many times throughout the game.

For the record, the thing of telling someone not to show their emotions because it makes them sad, and blaming someone else for their own emotional well-being, is high on the list of warning signs of someone being emotionally abusive.

Poor Colette.

Dwarf 2: The Re-Dwarfening

So, to go talk to Altessa, we fly back to Tethe'alla. We just... fly back. No problem whatsoever. No one comments on how unexpected it is that we can still do this. After all that build-up about how we might not ever be able to travel between the worlds again, now we just, get back on our rocket ship, and now we are back in Tethe'alla?? Why? How? What are the worlds bound by now, the plot?

Altessa tells us to go to the library to check the story of the Hero Mithos in case it says something about this. Coincidentally it does! And it aligns with the hints Kratos has been dropping all game.

Zelos casually asks, so, do you guys all actually trust Kratos? And when the party says that we do, he's like... ooookay.

We have to go off, and we are working out the logistics of bringing Mithos back to Altessa's house, and Mithos is all, "Don't worry, I can walk alone through the desert with the monsters and no means to defend myself, and nevermind the fact that I am recovering from a concussion" -- which he got while the tree was causing earthquakes and he saved Tabatha from a falling boulder -- "I've got this. You go on ahead."

And Zelos is just like, side-eying the whole party as they are going along with all this shadiness.

That papal intrigue arc comes back!

So, we were told to read more in the royal library in Meltokio. So, we go to Meltokio. We go through our usual Zelos-approved sewer entrance to get into town, and we click Yes to Quick Jump into town, as we are wont to do. This time, however, we flash into the middle of the dungeon. What, what, what is going on? Then we are whisked into a cutscene where we see Vharley talking to a knight about how His Majesty the King only appears to be sick, but it is I, Vharley, who has been poisoning the King, in an assassination attempt, to murder the King, on the orders of His Eminence, the Pope, who has sent me this poison so that I, Vharley, can murder the King on behalf of the Pope, thereby indirectly making the Pope an assassin of the King!

For a better game that deals with this topic, please see The Witcher II: Assassin of Kings.

We then have a stilted conversation about how we better stop Vharley and the Pope and save the King, because then, as Raine says... the King will be in our debt. Whoa, says Sheena to Zelos, what game are we in? Zelos shrugs.

In debt
Most of the screenshots in our article were taken from other people's Let's Plays, but this one we pre-emptively took it ourselves while it happened, because we were just beside ourselves.

Vharley hears us having this drawn out and stilted conversation and is all like, "Who is there?" Meanwhile, the game is showing all the party members standing RIGHT THERE in essentially broad daylight, so how did he possibly not notice? Then Regal and Presea are all surprised at, omg, it's Vharley. HOW DID THEY NOT NOTICE. We know in-engine cutscenes are going to be limited, but they could have put like, something between them, maybe there's distance, a wall between them, a door, they're on a balcony, something, anything other than this weird dramatization of a cut scene.

So then Presea comes out of nowhere and gives him the ax, literally. And he's dead. So now the revenge arc for Regal and Presea is complete. And somehow this doesn't feel satisfying at all. We wanted this guy to be dead, but just like with Clara, suddenly poof, Clara is healed. Suddenly poof, Vharley is dead. We as the player had nothing to do with any of this. It's just a little build up, we unknowingly walk into a cut-scene, and then the arc is over and it all means nothing. Boo.

We knew we needed to save the King, but we were a little unsure of where we needed to go, so we checked the Quest Log. And it told us that we needed to go confront the Pope! Wait, when did anyone ever say that was what we were doing? Is that really the best course of action?

The pope's office
Confront the pope! (?)

Oh, well, so we go to the Office of the Pope (how the hell did we reach there??) and we just lay all our cards out immediately all, WE KNOW YOU ARE MURDERING THE KING WITH POISON. Which is like the stupidest thing you could ever do in this situation. We are in his office, there are papal guards everywhere, all he has to do is say, I don't know what you are talking about, by the way, aren't you wanted criminals? Guards, seize them!

Why did you try to kill your daughter?
Because boohoohoo!

Instead, there's this drawn out bit of whether or not Zelos is at all useful as the Chosen One or not... and they drop that Zelos has a sister?? And why do you hate Kate if Kate is your daughter?! It's because she's going to out-live me bawwww it's weeeeird. Don't most parents want and expect their children to out-live them? Even if they're not half-elves? What?

It is also implied here that in the past Zelos has opposed the pope's anti-half-elf laws. But we've had dialogue with Zelos before about how he can't just stop hating half-elves so quickly, because he's had his entire upbringing causing him to hate them. But now he seems totally pro-half-elf. Has he had some sort of major change of heart? Off screen? Or what happened here?

Anyway, under threat of Presea's ax, the Pope gives them the antidote, which was conveniently in his upper desk drawer, right there. Why does he have it so handily. Why is it real? Isn't that like damning evidence against him, just sitting in his top drawer? And why does he even need to have the antidote, his goal was simply to poison the King and make it look like an illness, not to ever use the antidote on him.

Wouldn't it make more sense for him to not have the antidote, but we manage to coerce him into telling us how to make the antidote, and now we go on a quest to get the necessary ingredients and then make the antidote to cure the King? Not that we really want that, but it would make a bit more sense. Well, whatever.

The Pope then calls the guards and flees into a secret passageway. The guards come, and for some reason, Colette springs into the air, angel wings aflutter. Zelos takes this opportunity to declare her as the second coming of Spiritua, the Angel of Death, who has come to get revenge on them all. But he, The Chosen One, begs for her mercy and will cleanse the world of the misteachings of this pope if only she will spare them. She agrees, and Zelos sends the converted guards to remove all his wanted posters and to capture the Pope instead. That's actually hilarious.

Here it is suggested that the previous Chosen One from Sylvarant is the legendary Angel of Death in Tethe'alla, and DUNDUN, but nevermind, I don't know anything about that, let's go save the king. This never gets explained.

So, Princess Hilda lets Zelos save the King, and yes, the antidote was the antidote, and the King wakes up and is all, get out of my sight. You want to see the library? Fine, but don't let me ever see your face again, I am sick of all these popes and Chosen Ones and just get the hell out. Some gratitude for you, huh? Lloyd starts to complain, but Zelos is all, it's fine, let's go.

Hilda
Hmm hmm...

Given that Princess Hilda seems to get along quite well with Zelos, uh... there might be a reason the King hates him so much, eh?

Anyway, we go to the library, and nobody but Lloyd and Genis are animated as they look through the bookshelves. Everyone else just stares at the books' spines in utter confusion. What are books anyway. What's the squigglies?

They are about to quit when Colette literally trips over the correct book, which flies through the air all sparklily. Raine is able to read the elvish language of the book and learn the ingredients they need to cure Colette. One thing we need is a Mana Leaf, which we should be able to get from Elf Town. Elf Town is a super secret place that apparently nobody can visit without the human King's permission. Even though it's the town of elves.

So Zelos asks Princess Hilda to get the permission for us, and she says, "well, since it is you, I will see what I can do. ;)". She gets the permission and we go to the Forest of Bullshit.

The Forest of Bullshit

Only in certain places
Yeah, only next to specific sorts of flowers, of course.

This time, the Sorcerer's Ring makes instrument sounds. But only when we are near a flower. And based on the color of the flower we play the sound near, we can call for an animal to do a thing. So if we play the sound near a pink flower, a boar will come and headbutt whatever is near us. If we play the sound near a blue flower, a fish will swim along a pre-determined path. If we play the sound near a white flower, an eagle will pick us up and carry us along a pre-determined path. By the way, when we first arrive in the forest, there are only pink flowers. If we find the blue seed up in a tree (?) and plant it on the central island of the forest, suddenly blue flowers will sprout (in sympathy) next to all the lily pads throughout the forest. If we find the white seed in a treasure chest that was floating out in the middle of the pond, and plant that seed on the central island, white flowers will sprout on all the dead tree branches throughout the forest.

This is most certainly the dumbest dungeon mechanic we have ever heard of.

Butterflies
If we're not having trouble, are we supposed to avert our gaze?

Also, you don't really need to even solve any of what you need to do next, because a butterfly will be fluttering around the next flower.

And even if it weren't for the walkthrough butterfly, it's once again not like you solve anything here with your brain. It is a complete mystery what will fall from the tree when the boar headbutts it, or which way the fish will swim, or where the eagle will carry you before you just blindly try it on every flower.

In the end, you need the fish to push the fruit all through the water of the entire dungeon before you can pick it up. Why couldn't you just pick it up in the first place? Was everyone too squeamish to get their gloves wet?

By the way, this dungeon consists of bridges and docks all through the water and connecting the trees, with tree branches and tree roots providing ramps and other walkways throughout. It looks decent, but trying to walk through it, the camera angles create all sorts of weird optical illusions where you can't tell how far apart two bridges are. Plus, there is one part where the root crosses in front of a bridge and at the exact part where the bridge in the background is, there is a visual glitch that causes Lloyd to levitate out in space way in front of the root he is actually walking on, so it looks like he is now walking on the bridge. But the bridge is actually much farther away than it appears, and he is still totally on the root. The camera angles and screen-changing also does weird confusing things.

Here, the game designers saw The Legend of Zelda and Ixataka from Skies of Arcadia from the other room, and then made this. Without playing either.

This dungeon was the worst of this game, and one of the worst ever we've ever played. Which is a bit sad, since we think they were going with some cute ideas here, but it really, really didn't work out.

Quaint Elf Town, where the elves commune with nature!

Wrong to flirt
It is especially wrong for Zelos to be flirting with the elves here, uh...

So, we arrive to Elf Town. In Elf Town, half-elves are not allowed. Humans, yes, half-elves no. If they have something against half-elves, letting humans in seems like a bad idea, you know? (Especially Zelos). Also, we are very subtly told on the way in that we better not refer to Mithos as a hero while we are in Elf Town.

Also, Kratos is at the front door. Lloyd bombards him with questions, and Kratos is just, what do you hope to gain by asking me these things. You are running out of time. Bye.

So, we get inside Elf Town, and all the NPCs here talk about how elves are elfing around, and how elves are so different from the humans.

This is essentially a tutorial about how not to write non-human races.

For example, one elf is all, "We elves experience time differently than humans". But since he's never been a human, and lives in a secluded town with only other elves around, how could he possibly know that? And another elf is all like, We Elves Commune With Nature. But for them that's just normal, and how would they know to point it out as being different? The only case in which conveying that information would at all be possible would be that of an elf who has had a lot of experience living with and interacting with humans, and so has the distance and insight into both worlds. But the remote elves of the remote elf town theoretically don't get to interact much with humans.

Theoretically. We talked with an elf who was all, oh I've never seen a human before. But there were other human tourists in town! We think there was even one inside the same building!!!

We've even found a kid who was all, "You don't look that different from elves. We're all the same." Puke.

You need the staff first
We need to go mug the Elder first.

Ultimately, we go to the Elder, who tells us that the herb we need is only in the secret forest and we're not allowed in. What's that about needing to go to it? We only need a leaf. Can't he go there on his own and get us a leaf if we're not allowed? But instead we manage to convince him to let us go to the secret forest because that's the next dungeon, silly, and you must let us pass.

So he gives us his staff as proof that we have passage. Yeah, because a group of humans bearing the staff of the elder elf totally is a sign of trustworthiness, and in no way would make anyone possibly think that we've mugged him.

By the way, we've been waiting since the beginning of the game to see actual elves since the game has been talking about half-elves half-elves half-elves, and now it's just... too little too late.

The Forest of Blowing

So, to get the Mana Leaf, we have to go through the whole forest of the blowing flowers. The flowers blow air when you put Kirima fruit on them, and wither when you put Amango fruit on them. Here the Sorcerer's Ring puts you in a bubble for a few seconds, and if you time it right, you can be blown across the map on the belches of the flowers to reach different cliffs.

Farting Flowers
How... charming...

This dungeon is definitely one of the better ones of this game, but, as Rosy points out, it brings to mind that quote from Miyazaki. He was talking about movies, but it also applies to games: games can bring you to beautiful worlds and let you fly over the rooftops and so on so on; they can bring beautiful fantasies to life and let us experience things we could never otherwise experience.

In this part of the game, we are in the beautiful forbidden forest of the elves, the only place where the mystical Mana Plant grows. There are flowers everywhere, and there is a waterfall as its centerpiece, and we can fly through this forest. And it looks like ass, and the flowers are farting. This would be the moment in the Miyazaki movie where Lloyd is flying with Colette, and it is beautiful and touching, and maybe while they are in the air, they even sneak a little kiss, and it is adorable and in all the gifsets on Tumblr.

Instead, we get Lloyd in a T-pose getting bounced around by the belching farting flowers, which, periodically, we need to kill in order to solve the puzzle (with a gruesome anthropomorphic reaction of wilting and death).

It's a good thing that we had the staff of the elder to prove that we are allowed to be here, killing the flowers.

We now see why Zelos was all, don't be too excited about the forest of the elves. Even he finds all these farting flowers a bit too coarse.

The Bog of Eternal Stench
Pbbbtttttt!

By the way, we are describing the grossness of this dungeon, but the game is not framing it as gross. That would have been funny, if we had just wandered into like The Bog of Eternal Stench from Labyrinth. But the game is still presenting this as the lovely forest of the elves as we ping-pong Lloyd around on flower-farts.

Glider
Air vents worked out just fine in Glider

This is a relatively common mechanic in games, and honestly doing this just made us long for other games. Usually when this mechanic of bouncing on currents comes up, it's with fans or air vents or something, and you turn them on or off. Not belching flowers that you fertilize or poison to make them happy or dead.

Why did they have to die? Why couldn't they just close? Or turn? Or something? They made the point that the wilted flower was so sad, and we give it the Kirima fruit, and aww, now it looks happy, yay! But this flower is blowing in a way we don't like, so just wilt it and make it be pathetic and dead. Serves it right, fucking flower.

By the way, the game never explained what the Amango fruit was for. Given that the game has been hand-holding us and in fact punishing us for being remotely adventurous and just trying things, Rosy was all, don't try the Amango fruit yet, they said it would be maybe useful later. I am sure there will be a whole cutscene about it, just like there was the ham-fisted cutscene for using the Kirima fruit to revitalize the plant. But they then never ever explained it, and it was up to us to experiment and figure it out. While that would generally be a good thing, this game is just going and changing the rules all over the place. Usually it punishes us for catching on or trying things before the cutscene happens explaining things. So this time we waited for it to explain itself... and then it never did.

Is experimenting and seeing a plant die really a sign that you did the right thing?

Also the game won't let you use the Amango fruit on some flowers, because they are critical to the puzzle. So, the first flower we finally tried to use the Amango fruit on, the game tells us, no, this flower won't take the Amango fruit. This happened with the second flower we tried too. So, we figured, see, we're not supposed to use it yet, we guess. Maybe the Amango fruit is for these blue flowers? No? Not them too? It was awhile before we tried again (doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity), and finally we did see a flower wilt, and then realized it was part of the puzzle to make some of the flowers wilt, and just, they couldn't think of something else.

One of the major plot points of this game is I AM TIRED OF PEOPLE NEEDING TO SUFFER BECAUSE OF ME. But just go kill the flowers that are just inconvenient to your progress, sure, go ahead.

Amango
It is the Amango Tree. The tree that grows Amango.

Anyway, it's really hard to see what's even going on with the puffs of air, and the physics are highly questionable.

Honestly, lately the game has been feeling unfinished. Like these are the first drafts of dungeons that then never got completed and polished. They were running out of time and still had like 29 dungeons to do because they spread themselves way too thin and just, aaa.

This dungeon was also very drawn out, and if you mess up, it dumps you back at the beginning of the dungeon.

The worst is at the very end: there's the last twist that you need to go behind the waterfall. Considering that we found the secret chest behind the waterfall near the base, and all we had to do was jump at it... here, we jump at it. Except here, we fall down down down to the beginning of the dungeon. Thankfully, we just saved, so we just reloaded the save file, thank god.

The way you solve this is to jump into the air-puff of the only other possible flower to use. This triggers a ping-ponging around where no input is needed by the player and then you dam half the waterfall with a giant boulder. You can't see that this boulder is even there, so it's just, you have the one flower, do that instead. There's, yet again, no puzzle here. This isn't being smart. This is just doing the one thing you can do and just seeing something happen. If a giant cow fell from the sky and dammed the waterfall, it would have been just about the same.

And isn't using a giant boulder to dam an entire waterfall just a mite bit extreme? How do the elves obtain the Mana Leaf when they need it? Do they put the boulder back up on the mountain after you leave?

Storyteller
But you'll have to hear a story first!

So now that we leave, we are treated to THE PLOT, courtesy the unnamed and ungendered and unimportant elven storyteller who is the literal exposition elf, as said by their nametag.

And we hear that the Hero Mithos was and is indeed Yggdrasill, and he split the world in two, together with his party members: his younger sister Martel, and his friends Yuan and Kratos. Dundundun, said nobody ever.

Note the entire party was half-elves except for one human. Who we already know is Kratos because Forcystus had his hissy fit that Kratos is even a human and why does he get to be an angel, wahwahwah.

Getting the rest of the cure

Then we went to Las Vegas to see where the Zircon went. Regal has a completely underwhelming conversation with George about how Vharley is dead now and the revenge was really unsatisfying. 0 out of 10, would not revenge again.

Then we find the paper saying where the Zircon was shipped to, when, poof, ninja clips his hand through the paper, mwhahaha.

Kuchinawa reminds us that he exists and he is a ninja and he still hates Sheena and he wants revenge. And Lloyd is all, Sheena, don't you dare sacrifice yourself, or I will hate you forever. So instead, Sheena challenges Kuchinawa to a ninja duel to end things once and for all, and Lloyd is all, okay, that's cool.

Sheena convinces Kuchinawa to give the paper back, since they need that for Colette, and instead gives him Corrine's bell as collateral. Who?

So, we learn the zircon is in the University, and we go there, and rumors of the Angel of Death have gotten really out of hand. Anyway, they let Zelos have the zircon, it's just right behind this door. Actually, it is right behind this door, behind the next door, and conveniently hidden behind Lloyd's feet when he first enters the room which caused us to look through the entire University like idiots until we happened to go back to that room and move slightly so that we could see the treasure chest right there. We hate everything.

The last step is to go to the Tower of Salvation. To do that, we need Zelos's Cruxis Crystal to unlock the door, since he is indeed, let's not forget, the Chosen One of Tethe'alla.

Seles
Seles

Except his sister is currently holding onto the Crystal for him. It's probably a plot point later, since the Pope name dropped her at all. So now we can finally go to the Southeastern Abbey!

Last time when we were there, there was a whole thing of, only women are allowed in the abbey, go away. This time, we just all waltz in with nobody saying so much of a word. If you hadn't been there before, you would have never heard this thing about women-only, and it never amounted to anything anyway. We are once again punished for having gone there early.

Anyway, Seles love-hates her brother, and gives him the crystal, and seems to put Zelos into a very weird funk for actually the next few cutscenes even. That's a long memory for this game.

The Tower of Salvation. Again

So we go to the Tower of Salvation, Zelos opens the door while having like a funky nervous laugh and funky way-over-cheerful-even-for-Zelos, and we go inside, and there's the dead bodies floating around and everyone freaks out.

Pillar
Remember when you knocked into the pillar and I was wearing almost nothing?

And there's this whole plot point of, do you remember that pillar? That means that both Towers of Salvation are actually THE SAME. But no, we don't remember that pillar. Oh, there's the cutscene showing how Lloyd accidentally hit the pillar and knocked it over. Why would anyone remember that? Lloyd doesn't remember Yggdrasill's name after five minutes, doesn't remember who Yuan is five minutes later, he forgot all about Chocolat, how does he remember this random pillar? And couldn't another pillar in the world have fallen down? This proves nothing. Couldn't the game have made this point in a better way? Couldn't it be a scrap of torn clothing or a piece of a broken sword or anything a bit more distinctive and memorable than, a random fallen pillar?!?!?

Then Kratos shows up in his villain outfit and is all, of course it's the same you dummies. Now fight me.

So we fight, and even though we win, we lose. Remember that when you play Tales of Symphonia, everyone loses.

So, black winged angels come and take us to heaven, and lock us in heaven jail.

Heaven Jail, where all bad angels go to get spanked

Welgaia
Are you a good angel or a bad angel?

WHY DOES HEAVEN EVEN HAVE A JAIL if it is established to be a place where all the angels are happy and perfect forever???

Anyway, it is revealed that the only reason Kratos dropped those hints about how to heal Colette was so that we could conveniently deliver the ingredients and Colette directly to the bad guys, and they can fix her body, and then use her in their evil scheme again! Mwhahahaha!

Lloyd angsts a bit, and then tries to bust down the bars (that they couldn't possibly slip between), to no avail. So instead, Regal unleashes the Kamehameha Wave from his hands and REGAL PUNCHES the bars, obliterating them. When the party is all, whoa, what the fuck, he reveals that he is indeed not Foot-Handed!!! Regal was indeed trained in the art of Hand, but since he has vowed to never use his hands again to cause pain, that is why he always instead uses his feet, which are much weaker than his hands. But he can make this exception in this case because he wasn't causing pain, he was freeing Lloyd from Heaven Jail.

So next we try to use the teleporter, but can't. Colette goes to investigate with her wingalings, and there's a oh shit moment where we play as Colette all alone, but all she does is move a block and then it's over. It seriously was under a minute. Why bother? It got us simultaneously afraid of Colette dying and excited for a dungeon where we play as just Colette, and then it's over. It was nothing. Whyyyyy?

So we go to Angel Town, where we talk with the angels about various heavenly political topics and angelic clothing trends, but then all the head-spinning cutscenes are going on about how the angels are living dolls and unable to think and have lost their souls and are basically dead and don't talk. But we just had a whole conversation with them? They're definitely not going all "...". They are talking. Heck, they probably overheard us shit-talking about them, and excuse you.

We eavesdrop on the angels just casually dropping the plot in gossip to each other.

Welgaia hub
Not that way, to the first plotpoint first.

We started going one way, but Rosy realized that it was obviously the next part, but we better go back and trigger a cutscene or something before exploring, unless this is all for naught. Because, remember, this game punishes exploring. And she was right, we back up and have a cutscene about how we have to find something something first whatever.

We then head towards an obvious teleporter, but Raine says we better gather more information first. So we go around, talk with every angel, and then try again, but Raine stops us again. It turns out we need to investigate not the first computer (that does nothing and can't be investigated), not the second computer (ditto), but the third computer, which, unlike the other two, is visibly turned off... until Colette trips over it, and somehow supplies it with power. We were willing to be gracious and believe it when she tripped over the power cord of the reactor and turned it off. But how do you trip to turn something on? Denise is very clumsy in real life, and, she has to say, that's gotta be a first.

The third computer tells us to use the emergency exit teleporter. Okay. So we go back to the teleporter and Raine says we still need more information. What?! Okay... It turns out now we can also investigate the fourth computer, which has a bunch of text files open, explaining the plot.

One of the text files reveals that the whole reason Mithos set up this world this way with the two worlds vying for a limited amount of mana, and the cycle of decline and prosperity, is so that neither world will ever be prosperous enough to develop enough technology to create an atomic bomb. Really.

Sigh. Okay, now we can leave. And we leave alright. We turned off the game and left the room. It's gotten to computers just infodumping the plot. That's enough for now.

Okay, next time playing, we finally get to go through the teleporter and we are in a place where EVERYTHING LOOKS THE SAME. There's also junk that you can't interact with strewn about everywhere. We didn't notice the button for opening the doors for a long time because it looks just like more generic machine junk that you can't interact with. The only other thing you can interact with are the small boxes, which are treasure chests here. But not the big boxes, you can't open those.

Then we go into the zero gravity place, and Zelos really enjoys floating by like a cool dude, and thinking of the kinky possibilities (that Lloyd doesn't get).

(Zelos really is a character from another game. And we want to play that game)

Zero Gravity

Slidy block puzzle
Not again.

Anyway, this whole zero gravity thing is to explain why this is another sliding-on-ice puzzle, minus the ice. Because once you start moving in one direction, you can't stop until you hit something else.

These puzzles were better than the ice one because:

  1. You can actually see the entire room at once, so no more of those nauseating camera jerks, and you can actually plan out where you want to go because you can actually see.
  2. You can very easily get back to the beginning to reset or leave, rather than it being impossible to do so.

The major flaw here instead, is that there are several possible objectives apparently when you start the puzzle; there are multiple doors and elevators accessible. However, there is actually only one thing you can ever really get to. And everything else is either utterly unsolvable, or leads you somewhere where you can't get anywhere.

Basically, half of each room is entirely inaccessible to sliding to, but instead is only accessible from an elevator. So the blocked part just makes you feel like you are being really dumb as you try to get there for far too long.

This, coupled with the fact that we didn't figure out that we could push the button to open the big barriers yet, meant that the first time we went to this part of the game, only one part was accessible, but we were just floating around for no reason trying to solve the unsolvable parts of the puzzle that are just there looking solvable, but are really impossible, and distracting us from the actual goal.

There should not be a sliding puzzle where half of the room is inaccessible. That's not how you do this. There's a certain expectation about how these sorts of puzzles are supposed to work. And this is not it. The expectation is that, if there is more than one goal, that means that there is a solution for reaching each goal (possibly of varying difficulty). That's the point of a puzzle. But here, you are breaking the rules, and making it be actually one linear path through the entire zone, because you go in one door and that lets you reach the other side of the room that looks perfectly accessible but is actually completely off-limits otherwise.

Instead of putting half-baked twists on poorly designed versions of classic puzzles, just do the classic puzzle, and do it well, please. (See Machinarium)

This part isn't fun, because it is entirely linear and once you get on the right path, it is really obvious how to go (and in some cases is the only way you could go). There is no joy in solving this, because, yet again, it can barely be considered solving. And the time that we were stuck was not because we were working out a challenging solution, but because it hadn't explained what the rules were and didn't present any way for us to know what the rules were (and no, we don't mean Raine or someone reading a manual at us or telling us the right answer).

The Sword of the Game, and Mithos is evil (no way!)

Neener neener
Neener neener, you can't touch it!

We finally escape the Hallways of the Same, and wound up by the door with the Sword of The Game right there. Instead of leaving this hell immediately, everyone stops to contemplate the sword and why it is just sitting right there. So Lloyd, ingeniously, just goes to touch it, and Yggdrasill shows up all, "Ha! You can't touch it neener neener neener, because you're not a half-elf, hahahaha! And it's out in the open just to distract you, and because I know no one can touch it but me, hehehe!"

They yell at Yggdrasill and learn that his grand scheme is to create a world without discrimination by making everyone be exactly the same, and to create a world without weapons by making everyone too poor to have weapons. Such genius and insight. Yggdrasill is a fascist genius!

Since he is such a genius, he talks to Genis and tries to get him to join his side on the Half-Elf Revolution. And Genis even takes that stereotypical step forward so that Lloyd can yell, "No, don't listen to him, it's a trick!" Barf.

But Genis says no, so we fight Yggdrasill and beat the snot out of him. He was much easier than Kratos. But then after the battle, the cutscene is all, of course, "What strength, what power!" At least they have the decency to show that we have indeed at least wounded him, to the point where he needs to retreat.

Pronyma
Such wasted design.

As he is retreating, Metal Angewoman is there to support him. She's been a villain all along in the game, but hasn't amounted to much yet, and we're waiting for her to become relevant. Here, she hurls a shadow ball at Genis, but Yggdrasill jumps in front of the attack and takes the hit so that we all can be "confused" and when Yggdrasill leaves, he drops the pan pipes, which we guess were fixed and apparently inside his ass.

So now, we have all the ingredients to help Colette, so we go back to Altessa's house. While Colette is being treated, we have some conversation with Mithos, where Genis has finally caught on (some genius sage) but rather than asking some useful question, he asks Mithos all, "We're friends, right?" "Right." "Like, really friends, right?" "Right." "Okay."

Two teams
Now eat your food!

Meanwhile, Lloyd is also being in a moody funk over worrying about Colette, and so Zelos is trying to entice him to eat and get his mind off things. You need to eat to keep up your strength.

We hope that this is actually genuinely what was going on here, because that was cute and right and in character for Zelos.

We then learn that the food was all drugged. We think the game here is trying to make us think Zelos is evil, but we really hope this is a red herring, because if Zelos was trying to get Lloyd to eat drugged food, we'd think he'd be a bit less obvious and more smooth about it. It could have been just unfortunate timing that he was goading him to eat while the food just so happened to be drugged and poor Zelos. We can hope.

So, Lloyd was drugged and falls asleep right after eating with all his clothes and boots on, and wakes up in the middle of the night with Yuan leering over him all, "Do you want to meet your father? Mwhahahaha!" Then he brings Lloyd outside where Kratos is being held at many sword points, and Yuan does a whole, "Kratos, if you want your son to live, you will do what I say!" And Lloyd is all, "No, no, that's not true! That's impossible!" And Kratos all, "Search your feelings, you know it to be true!", and Lloyd goes "NOOOOO! NOOOOO!" And jumps into a pit. No, not really.

Lloyd monologuing over Kratos
Except for those farting flowers, those can die whenever I want.

Meanwhile, Yuan knocks out Kratos, and Lloyd is still freaking out, and Colette comes out the door and is all, "no matter who your father is, Lloyd is still Lloyd, just like you reassured me that even if I become an angel, Colette is still Colette". So Lloyd goes to Kratos and talks to him, and Kratos groans in his pain-sleep, and Lloyd gives his motivational speech of all, "you may be my father, but I disagree with everything you have ever done, and I am going to make it so that no one needs to be sacrificed to save the world any more".

Sonocomics: Mithos kicking
We're glad we're not the only people who noticed this. (Comic by Sonocomics)

And Mithos comes out and says, "that's a really corny speech", and blows up all the guards, and blows up Yuan, and then just starts kicking Yuan's unconscious body in the stomach over and over and over and over with this slow and emotionless kicking, and doesn't stop until you press A to continue the dialogue, so we just watched him do this for long enough for it to get really creepy.

And so, Altessa and Tabatha show up and Mithos attacks them too, and then Genis and everyone come outside (so much for being drugged, by the way) and there's the whole point of, oh no, why is Mithos attacking Tabatha when just the other day he saved her from the rocks. And Mithos all, I hate her, I hate her face, she looks too much like my sister... dundundun and nobody was surprised and Genis is all, "so it's true?" And Mithos says, "yes it is true that you should have never trusted me, and I never trusted you either, mwhahaha."

I was the villain all along
I was the villain all along!

And Mithos transforms into Yggdrasill and he was in disguise all along , and Metal Angewoman comes by all, wait you're still hurt let's go.

NOW HOLD ON

We knew since his introduction that Mithos was OBVIOUSLY *THE* MITHOS, but we thought there was some sort of time travel going on, or something cool and interesting happening here, like somehow they caused a rift and maybe changed the past by talking to Mithos before he became Mithos, and that maybe Yggdrasill just saved Genis's life because of vague memories from the distant past, or maybe we are responsible for what Mithos did in the past or, we dunno, some sort of time travel thing or something, you know?

Mithos
Nobody ever noticed the resemblance.

But now, the game is meaning to tell us that Yggdrasill, looking like a child, joined our party and didn't bother to come up with a fake name or a fake appearance or anything, and this was all meant to be some sort of clever trick, and no time travel involved. He called himself Mithos, the heroic hero Mithos, with just the hope that these bunch of idiots would just assume he was someone else named after Mithos, like, back when Denise was in Catholic school, her janitor was named Jesus, but everyone knew he was not Jesus Christ. We mean, Mithos was right, the party is a bunch of idiots, and somehow nobody seemed to notice that he looks just like Colette who looks just like Martel, and nobody even thought twice about how he knows details of the life of the Hero Mithos that aren't actually in books, and just...

We saw this coming a million miles away from the first moment Mithos was on the screen, and yet we didn't know it was going to be this stupid.

This game keeps doing the thing of, we see the plot twist coming from miles and miles away... like we knew Raine and Genis were half-elves and not pure-blooded elves for ages, and then the plot twist is revealed and it.... doesn't matter at all. We knew the Exspheres were people, we saw Marble become an Exsphere, it was so obvious we didn't even know it was supposed to be a plot twist, and then it is revealed, and after one philosophical discussion of ass... it doesn't matter at all. We knew Sheena was from the moon... just, all these twists that are neither surprising nor twisting... The reason it is called a plot twist is, because unexpectedly something is revealed, and now everything is different from what you thought. Here, it's like they pretty much give us the answer in advance with, we dunno, is that supposed to be subtle foreshadowing? And then it is revealed and the plot doesn't even wiggle, let alone twist. We dunno. It sucks.

So, since Mithos hit Altessa directly in the organs, now Altessa is on the death bed, and didn't we just do this plot?

But we need to go to Snow Town to get the super good doctor, giving Snow Town the slightest reason to exist, finally.

Snow Town finally has a point! Kinda?

Flanoir
So this is when this comes into play. Barely.

In Snow Town, Zelos is suspiciously absent, and then we see him having a suspicious soliloquy by the church, hoping that his idea will work...

And we are still hoping he's the red herring and his idea is to sacrifice himself for the sake of the party, and not that he is eviiiiil. But let's see.

The doctor is skeevy, but he's going to go treat Altessa, and the rocket ships become a plot contrivance again, because now the rest of the party will escort the doctor, but Lloyd and Colette have to stay behind at the inn in Snow Town because that's convenient for the plot. It lets them have a private conversation on the balcony in which Lloyd says he promises to save the world without anyone needing to be sacrificed, except maybe Kratos, depending on how much Lloyd decides that Kratos sucks or not. Because Origin is sealed by Kratos's mana, and apparently, to lift the seal, Kratos maybe probably needs to die. And Lloyd is not sure if he likes Kratos enough to stick to his moral decision. Some hero.

Bunny charm
That depends on how much you spent on it.

So, Altessa will be okay, and Tabatha is rebooting, and we talk to the party about possibly killing Kratos if we think he smells, but even after that, how can we hold the sword if only half-elves can do it, and Raine and Genis are too chicken to do it (we couldn't hold a swooord, geez, that's too much weight for our dainty delicate little magic-user arms). So Zelos says he can do it, because "I am a Magical Swordsman, and as the Chosen One of Tethe'alla, I've had weird experiments done on my blood that basically makes me a human with elf blood -- so a half-elf, right?" Sheena is clearly having thoughts about this, but the rest of the party is yaaay, and off we go.

BUT FIRST, SIDEQUESTS!

References

Notes

  1. Actually, Yggdrasill is the disguise of Mithos, but Mithos' childlike form serves as the disguise of Yggdrasill.
  2. We found out later that the people who stay with Lloyd in Snow Town depend on your relationship values with them. For us, our best friend was Colette. It's anyway the most canon path.