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I’m probably going to say this every single time I write a post about Tales of Symphonia: it’s that time again…you know, the time where I write an article that no one asked for about a JRPG that’s almost twenty years old.

Wow, time flies. It’s already been…let me check my calendar…four days since I wrote about this game. I’d say it’s about time for me to do so again.

One thing I’ve seen some people asking about online is why Tales of Symphonia is so hard. That’s an interesting topic to me, so I’ll try and tackle it here for you.

TL;DR Explanation: Why is Tales of Symphonia so Hard?

Frustrated Man Holding Head

Image by daveingreece from Pixabay

So, just why is Tales of Symphonia so hard? Well, honestly, it isn’t.

Not if you play it on normal difficulty, anyway. Sure, if you’re new to the game or JRPGs in general, you might get lost in the world or not know what to do next after a certain plot point, but…the combat isn’t going to break you at all, as long as you don’t progress to high-level areas before you’re ready for them.

Now, if you choose to play it on Hard or Mania levels, then things get a little spicier. You’ll notice a huge difference in how combat works, because the game really cranks up the challenge level between difficulty modes.

Read Next: Why is Tales of Symphonia Multiplayer?

Tales of Symphonia Difficulty Levels

Game Over Screen

Speaking of difficulty modes, let’s look at them quickly so you get an idea of what they are. There are three difficulty modes in the game: normal, hard, and mania.

Normal is precisely what you would expect. It’s the default setting for the game, and it’s really manageable as long as you follow the story at a leisurely pace. Rush ahead to a temple you’re not ready for, however, and you might get your butt handed to you on a silver (albeit blood-splattered) platter.

Then there’s hard mode. It makes the combat more challenging, and you can access this mode at any point in the game outside of battle. There is no effect whatsoever on gameplay outside of enemy encounters.

Finally, there’s mania mode. You won’t have access to this one until you’ve beaten the game at least once. Think of it this way: if normal mode is a mild bell pepper, then hard mode is a jalapeno and mania mode is a ghost pepper.

Read Next: Why is Tales of Symphonia so Popular?

What Happens When You Choose to Play Harder Difficulties?

I’ve kind of touched on how the harder difficulties affect combat, but I’d like to delve a little bit deeper into that here. What exactly happens if you flip on Hard mode, then charge into battle?

First, the damage you take is doubled. Prepare to watch the health of your party rapidly drain like a bucket with a hole in the bottom every time you fight anything.

On top of that, each enemy’s stats are increased by 50%. Then, in addition to doing additional damage, you have to deal with the fact that you won’t be hitting as hard because your enemies are simply stronger.

For mania mode, you take even more damage and the enemies are even stronger than in hard mode. Like I said, it’s a ghost pepper when compared to the jalapeno of hard mode.  

Furthermore, although this isn’t confirmed anywhere, I swear you get status effects inflicted on you more often when you play on Hard or Mania mode. In my first playthrough on Hard mode, I found myself getting poisoned in the beginning of the game almost constantly. It was extremely costly having to shell out Gald for Panaceas – an item I use very rarely in Normal mode – after every few battles.

Here’s Your Game Plan


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

So, you’ve decided to play on Hard or Mania mode, and it’s seemingly impossible. What should you do – give up and retreat back to the comfort of Normal mode?

Not necessarily – all is not lost. You have a few different options before you.

One option is to try playing Tales of Symphonia with other people. The combat is multiplayer and can support up to four players. You’ll find that, when you don’t have to deal with your party’s wonky AI, the battles are much easier even on harder difficulties.

My second recommendation is to grind, grind, grind. The higher in level your party gets, the less intimidating and frustrating each battle will become. By the time you get to your 20’s in level, your party will have a wider array of spells and attacks to protect themselves with.

You’ll also want to keep your inventory stocked. Max out your gels, life bottles, and status effect items – you’re going to need to them. Even if that seems like overkill, remember that it’s better to have and not need than to need and not have.

Wrap Up

Tales of Symphonia can be insane on its higher difficulties. It can even be hard if you’re just unfamiliar with the system and you’re playing it for the first time.

I encourage you to keep trying, though. The game is tremendously rewarding, because the plot and characters are worth sticking around for.

Want to see what I mean when I talk about how the characters are worth it? Try reading my definitive ranking of Tales of Symphonia characters.

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