I’ve written a guide for a video game! My Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World walkthrough can be found hosted on GameFAQs.com and I can tick one thing off my list of things I’ve always wanted to do. The guide is designed to help you get the most out of the game, finding all the goodies and hidden items as well as meeting all the requirements for unlocking trophies and accessing optional dungeons. It is hopefully written in a clear and easy to follow manner, there’s no fluff or fanciful writing just plain, straight forward instructions. If you have any comments on it feel free to contact me. The guide itself can be found here: http://www.gamefaqs.com/ps3/765389-tales-of-symphonia-dawn-of-the-new-world/faqs/71534. Catch it while it’s still got that spangly *new* symbol next to it.
Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World (such an unnecessarily long title!) is the sequel to one of Namco Bandai’s most popular and successful releases, you guessed it, Tales of Symphonia. The sequel was most recently released as a bundle on PS3, with the original, titled Tales of Symphonia Chronicles. Originally it was released on the Wii though this is very definitely just a port of the game and not a remake.
Graphically it stands up well but there are no outstanding visuals involved. As a sequel game there are a lot of cut corners. The game takes place in most of the same areas as the original Tales of Symphonia and feature the same layout and design, though some look a bit different due to the strange weather effects currently affecting the land and have a few extra rooms added. The enemies in the dungeons whilst different to the original game, are mostly the same as those featured in Tales of the Abyss. The story suffers from a major case of ‘How come we never heard about this in the first game?’ with a whole new mythos surrounding a being called Ratatosk being brought up. The actual antagonist of the game is somewhat more well rounded and has a much more interesting motivation. Throughout the game you will be seeing the entirety of the original main cast, to the point that you may begin to wonder why this game bothered to introduce newbie’s Emil and Marta. Especially since in the first half of the game the pair will do their best to be as annoying as possible.
Seeing the old characters again is a double edged sword, if you enjoyed them the first time around then the sequel gives you more of their personalities and querks to enjoy, particularly in skits, but at the same time you might not appreciate their lack of development between titles, the occasional changed voiced actor or Lloyd’s involvement in the plot, the reason of which is doubtless worked out by the player within the first few minutes of the game but thought of by any of the cast. The other significant point of Dawn of the New World is the decision to include monster capturing and the ability to use monsters in your battle party. The system is sound, if simple, though there is very little encouragement to really utilise it. The game’s difficulty doesn’t tend to force much skill or tactical thinking out of the player and since you have two main characters, one of which must be used at all times, and usually a choice of two out of nine guest characters you may well find yourself rarely using monsters except for a few brief moments when no one else is available.
All in all Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World is an acceptable game. It’s nowhere near outstanding, but there is also nothing that can be described as truly terrible in it either. Fans of the original game should give it a go, but remember to take it with a pinch of salt. If you’ve never played the original, or you’re looking for your first Tales game, then this one isn’t for you.
I’m sure I don’t need to tell the writers out there of the importance of rewriting. Whether fiction or non-fiction a rewrite can turn something mediocre into something great. I know a lot of people finish a piece of work and read through it only to think: ‘This is crap.’ Fortunately for me I usually finish and whilst I don’t think I’ve crafted the next Shakespearian masterpiece I think: ‘This is okay.’ That doesn’t mean I don’t rewrite it. Everything I write will always get at least one rewrite once finished, which will include the usual spell check and punctuation corrections but also the rearranging of sentences to make them more pleasing or better to understand. Often entire paragraphs will appear and disappear during a rewrite and in particular if a plot point late in a story is changed I need to go back over the rest in order to maintain the continuity.
Sometimes though a complete rewrite is needed. The same idea, the same writer but a second go. The difference can be astonishing. My story The Tower, which was the first short story I wrote solely for this blog needed rewriting. I felt I had made a mistake by making it about the character, The Master Builder (The laziness of me not even naming him speaks for how unimportant he was.) I used him as a means to describe the world around him, the world of this tower on which all these people live. But I realised that the character that embodied the themes of the tarot card on which is was based was not The Master Builder, nor one of the actually named characters Nebuchadnezzar and Nimrod, not even of a human. The central character is the tower itself, a building and home that the inhabitants treat more like an idol and a god. So I rewrote the story to tell it from the tower’s point of view. Whether the story itself is better I can’t say, but I feel it now fits better with the theme of its tarot card and the theme of the short story collection Le Cirque Des Moirai in general.
If you’d like to read the rewrite it’s on this page here: The Tower
The last story has now been uploaded: The World. Again its title is after the tarot card of the same name, I went with a rather self-indulgent and literal translation of the card. As such the story is not so much a story, but like Wheel of Fortune before it, more of a description or encyclopaedia entry. It describes the world in which all of my Le Cirque Des Moirai short stories have been set, though some stories have vague settings and haven’t been placed. As a side note, the are too many stories to fit neatly in the menu so please either click a direct link or go to the Le Cirque Des Moirai page to find the list of stories.
You might have noticed I called this my last story, that is because I have made my way through the major arcana cards of the tarot from which I was drawing my story ideas. I’m going to take a break and return with a new idea, probably after Christmas, this time focusing on writing episodes following a character and single story, as I have been told that the problem with short stories for many people is that they end before they’ve really gotten to know the characters, is this the case for anyone else?
I am also toying with the idea of continuing story writing for the tarot, using the lesser arcana, but writing them much shorter as flash fiction. I am slightly wary of the medium however as I have never gotten a good grasp of how long, or indeed short, a flash fiction can be, whilst still being considered a flash fiction. Feel free to illuminate me on the subject.
For anyone who is curious as to the placement of my short stories in the countries mention in The World they are as follows:
The Tower, The Magician and Death all take place in The Plains of the Fallen, before they are called that.
The Empress is in the faerie lands, specifically The Land of the Flower Fairies.
The Hanged Man in Samsara.
Justice in Gekh
The Chariot in Vulia, and in the future The Lovers too.
The Hermit in Breton.
Strength and my flash fiction, Magic in the Kitchen, in Deutcheim.
The Devil, Rite to Live and the introduction to Le Cirque Des Moirai, take place in Oerlis.
The Fool in the untamed northern lands.
The Hierophant in the mystical east.
The Star, and my unpublished novel (A little sneak preview), take place in Pheone.
And finally Temperance takes place in Norgardt.
The short stories are staying up and I would be very greatful for any feedback any of my readers can give.
This week’s story is something of a sequel to an earlier one, The Tower, and also connected to The Magician. It follows what happens to Nebuchadnezzar after the disaster. The three stories work nicely together, I think, to tell the beginnings of different languages, magic and werewolves in this fantasy universe. You can find it on it’s own page here, and in the menu.
I enjoyed coming up with this story, I had already developed the idea when researching for The Tower, which had led me to the Tower of Babel story. There was a fair bit of mention of King Nebuchadnezzar II. I chose to make him a religious leader instead of a King, focusing on the stories of him building many of Babylon’s temples. He appears a fair bit in the Book of Daniel, where he has a dream that needs interpreting, this is where the gold, silver, brass and iron statue comes from.
For this story I took the chance to focus on another element of his story, the madness of King Nebuchadnezzar. It’s said that he went mad and acted like a beast, until he acknowledged the rule of Heaven. This seemed like the perfect start to a werewolf tale. You might also notice that I slipped in references to Nebuchadnezzar’s prophetic nightmares of a felled tree.
Werewolves were persecuted throughout history in the same way as witches were and their are several theories for the widespread belief in them ranging from people with excessive body hair to diseases that cause animalistic lunacy. Rabies is one such possibility and I tried to slip in a few of the symptoms to represent Nebuchadnezzar’s madness including feeling hot, hydrophobia and a violent nature.
This week’s story is a little shorter than the others and as usual is on its own page, here, so as not to clutter up my homepage and make scrolling through old posts more difficult than it has to be.
Once again taking inspiration from Tarot cards, this one being The Chariot, I went with the meaning of victory, but also snuck in literal chariots. I decided on a tale of one man wanting victory at any cost and another man filling a Jiminy Cricket role and suggesting that victory shouldn’t happen at the cost of other people’s lives. I tried to subvert the expectation that the first man, Titus, would learn the error of his ways and focus somewhat on the cultural expectation of the world he lives in.
Fun fact: I didn’t come up with the character names until after I’d written the story, so in the first draft I had the brother’s names as Jeff and Manylayers.
This week’s story is now up here, and in contrast to last week it’s a lot sunnier and brighter in tone.
I was heavily influenced by the green nature spirit in Fantasia 2000. If you’ve seen either Fantasia film then you’ll know that the images are created to correspond to the classical music, so that they tell stories without any dialogue. I’ve tried to emulate that in my writing, giving no dialogue or inner monologue, just a description of the events occurring. Similarly the nature spirit in Fantasia 2000 tries to bring the forest to life but is halted by a volcano, all turns out well though as the now fertile land can be forested with ease. The fairy empress in my story brings the flower fairies to life, there is no climactic disaster for her to deal with but there are extremes of weather as I tried to focus on the seasonal changes plants have to deal with, all of which is circular in nature.
Do tell me if you enjoyed reading it and how you think I might improve, or what you might prefer and I’ll see you next week.
This week’s story has been posted to a page right here and in the menu.
The tarot card inspiration for this story was The Devil card, and I went with a very literal interpretation of that and decided to simply write a story about a devil. Since the devil is meant to be evil, and I didn’t want to write a story about the one devil that wants to be good as the card implies negative meanings, I tried to come up with ways to have a good guy in the story but focus on the devil, often by making the devil a tempter figure.
My original idea was to have a small child who hears voices that make him or her do bad things, the voices being the devil’s, or that the devil was possessing the child. But this seemed a bit too similar to the demon in my other story The Moon. Then I considered an older character one who worked in partnership with the devil character and who explored the concept of immorality. But then I decided to be a bit more in depth with the devil character and have an element of ‘who is the real monster’. What if it wasn’t the devil making the human do bad things but the other way around. I then threw in a hunter for some action sequences, named him Abel and as you might guess the man in the cathedral though unmentioned is called Cain.
I had originally considered writing this story as a horror, instead of an action thriller with a few dark tones. In that mindset the murdered women were going to have been cannibalised, possibly with gruesome descriptions and I would have played up the devil more having it stalk Abel inside the Cathedral. I didn’t feel dedicated to the genre though so went with my standard prose rather than end up with a half-hearted horror.
Do enjoy reading it and I’d love to hear any thoughts you have.