Americans Hate Tingle: Emil gets a lot of criticism from the western fandom for being whiny, feminine, and spineless. In the 2009 Tales Character Poll (an annual survey of Tales Series fans in Japan), Emil came 10th out of every single Tales Series character, was ranked 12th in the 2010 poll, and 11th in the 2013 poll. And this is a series that has Loads and Loads of Characters in each of their respective games alone.
Made even more evident in the 2014 poll, where he takes 8th place, making him the most popular Sympohnia character.
Anvilicious: The constant usage of the infamous phrase, "Courage is the magic that turns dreams into reality." So much so that this has actually become a joke in the fandom, at least when it's combined with another of Emil's statements. However, the use of it in the not-so-final battle is actually pretty good, because Emil is trying to use it to make Richter stop fighting him. Doesn't work, though.
Anti-Climax Boss: The final boss. Despite the Crowning Music of Awesome and the sheer amount of damage he can do in one combo, the fact is that the game's difficulty can't really keep up with just how broken Emil and Marta are.
Special mention to the battles directly before and after the "final boss" - Aqua's monster form, while having plenty of HP, is basically just a punching bag with little means of actually harming the player. Ratatosk himself only has the same base artes that you do to use against you, and has one of the lowest HP of any boss ingame.
Badass Decay: A zig-zagging variation with "Ratatosk Mode". In it's first major appearance, Emil flips out and beats the tar out of soldiers, but after that, it gradually starts appearing more and more frequently in moments, usually for silly reasons... then suddenly, it flares back to dramatic when it starts taking over for extended periods outside of battle, on it's own + without Emil's knowledge/memory, as well as darker moments like hanging a poor soldier over a bottomless pit. Then finally, you learn it's not really a 'mode' at all; it's Ratatosk himself. The characters themselves get more and more worried as this drags out, with good reason, before and after The Reveal... and on a second play-through, it may no longer be as silly as it was.
Base-Breaking Character: Marta. Some see her as a supportive pillar that provides Emil with some much needed self-esteem, others see her as a clingy jealous girl that constantly bothers Emil. Still more people say she started as the latter but grew into the former.
Contested Sequel: Opinions are heavily split over the sequel. Some feel it's a dumbed-down waste of time, others think it's a perfectly fun sequel.
Most of the criticisms of the game come from problems arising from most of the effort at the time focusing on Tales of Vesperia. You only get Emil, Marta, and whatever monsters you can recruit for most of the game, and other characters you acquire can't gain levels, and the traditional free-roam overworld of the series is removed. Plus the soundtrack, which aside from a few Crowning Music of Awesome bits, is largely synthesized remixes of Symphonia's. One other problem someone can have is that the game has quite a fewHopeless Boss Fights, having one at the start with Lloyd (which the player will likely lose in a matter seconds), three with Ritcher (though the latter two can be won, particularly if you've over-leveled/gotten good equipment), plus the fight with Brute is no picnic even if it isn't hopeless. Even worse is that after the actual Final Boss, you have two extra fights (the first you're supposed to lose, and the one after affects nothing but one scene).
Some critics despise the game for the trivial fact that the English voice acting was changed. This complaint is often the most vocal of all complaints and many hate the voice direction for the new characters.
Demonic Spiders: End-game Vanguard soldiers become this once they start going into Over-Limit, rending them immune to flinching, meaning Unison Attacks are useless against them, and long-range attacks and Mystic Artes are the only way to damage them without retaliation.
Hawk and Magnar are able to use skills to simulate Over-Limit as well, making far tougher than they should be.
Die for Our Ship: Richter/Emil fangirls remain in denial that their slash pair was never meant to be even though Marta/Emil is painfully obvious since the beginning, and hate Marta for it.
In all honesty; Alice actually is the type of character you usually expect to join the main party in a Tales Series game given how she's a little girl with healing powers... but then reveals herself to be rather sadistic.
Richter, who has a considerable fandom (Japan and English).
Foe Yay: Emil and Richter. Possibly Alice and Marta. Decus initially assumes Emil got a crush on him at first sight.
Fridge Brilliance: Why does Richter have a Mystic Arte that is the opposite element of his character element? Because he's trying to be something that he's not. He's actually a kind and caring individual, but he is resorting to cold-hearted evil as part of his Batman Gambit to resurrect his friend.
One could easily make the same case for Ratatosk. After all, his strongest Arte is Light Element and his apparent element is Dark.
Yuan is the new caretaker of the Giant Kharlan Tree, which contains Martel's spirit. He and Martel were planning to marry before she was Stuffed in the Fridge. Where else would he be?
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Emil's mancrush on Richter goes from hilarious to creepy once their full backstories are revealed and you consider how it must look from Richter's point of view.
Game Breaker: The most notable is Speed Cast Marta. Marta gets a total of 3 (stackable) Speed Cast skills, and equipping all 3 enables her to be able to instantly cast any spell. Using this with Photon, a multi-hit move, and you can trap any enemy in an infinite combo.
Next is Emil. With the skill Accelerate (which he can only get from two weapons, the Echo Tracer and the Nether Traitor, the former being forgable as soon as you reach Triet Ruins and strong enough to be Emil's best weapon in stats until the Lightning Temple, and the latter being Emil's best weapon, after a lengthy sidequest), the lag on his moves is significantly reduced. What this means is that Emil can now pull off incredibly long combos (and two separate infinite combos) with ease, or just spam Havoc Strike until the enemy dies.
Finally, Lloyd. While not even close to being as powerful as he once was, he also has an infinite combo which you admittedly won't be able to use without a lot of TP restoration items. Even without that though, he's fast, outrunning everyone in the game but Emil with Fiend Fusion.
Monsters in general can break the game clean in half very easily. It's not difficult to get a monster 20-30 levels above everyone else.
Genius Bonus: A little squirrel appears when you start solving a puzzle in the Ginnungagap. Seems random, but this is because in Nordic mythology, Ratatosk, the guardian of the World Tree... is a squirrel. Knowing this can also make mentions of "the demon lord Ratatosk" a Crowning Moment of Funny, from Richter of all people (since he's the only one who seriously believes that Ratatosk is one).
As well, although the name of the World Tree is never revealed, people with passing knowledge of Nordic mythology will also have no problem guessing that it is Yggdrasill. (Or people who played the prequel and/or sequel games.)
Goddamn Bats: Actual bats too. The Were Bats attack very quickly and come in packs, and tend to swarm around your characters and deplete their health before they can retaliate.
Ho Yay: Watching Emil and Richter interact for most of the game is a little like watching a high schooler's first awkward romance.
There was a bit of this in Flanoir wen you first meet Decus, with his "You must have a crush on me too!"
How about Zelos being the first one to figure out there's a fake Lloyd going around... because Lloyd doesn't smell like that! Not to mention that even Emil noticed he "worships the ground Lloyd walks on". At least he only pretends to be stupid at times.
Emil also thinks Regal would look dashing in a suit, holding a rose between his teeth.
I Knew It: Everybody who played the first game, even for fifteen minutes, knows that there was absolutely no way in hell that Lloyd Irving would ever become a villain.
Most Annoying Sound: "Courage is the magic that turns dreams into reality." By half an hour in, some players get a bit twitchy whenever they hear that.
"You're using too many items/Artes!" - even directly answered by Emil and Marta (in response to whoever said the aforementioned quote), saying "It's my choice!" and "But, this is more fun.", respectively.
"Oh healing power..."
Narm: "Courage is the magic that turns dreams into reality." It can seem such a lame phrase; as Arc Words they may/may not fit into the story well, but everyone keeps saying it.
Not to mention the game flashing back to that conversation every five minutes for the first hour of play, then having next to no flashbacks for the rest of the game, even when they might actually be helpful.
Possibly, Marta's Mystic Arte. After a pretty cool incantation, she leaps up into the air with some glowing effects and then... near-dead silence followed by damage (and healing to the party). Apparently the god of healing's volume isn't that high.
One of the fights the player must lose is interrupted by Commander Brute laughing as the screen goes blank. If the player performs Marta's special attack at just the right moment, he starts laughing contemptuously over her appeal to the god of healing, interrupting the animation with a fade to white.
Emil's origin story. Identity of one dead kid, body of another dead kid, animated by an ancient spirit bent on genocide.
Scrappy Mechanic: The way the game automatically adjusts the party lineup and which player controls what would be just fine... if Marta could stop leaving the party every-so-often.
For that matter, not letting the original party level up.
Screwed By The Budget: The game was deemed an 'escort' (side) title in the series and given limited budget. Either this shows and makes things worse, or it's shows and isn't a problem.
That One Boss: The Light-Frog Nasdroviae. Get it down to less than a quarter health and it will automatically perform two healing spells to bring itself right back to 50% health. Plus it's guarding while it's doing all this, so unless you pull off a REALLY well-coordinated combo (or have a high dex stat on a character/monster, ie guard-break) you're not going to stop it once it starts. It's no pushover in combat, either, and your only chance is to whittle it's health down just above 1/4 health and then break out the best combo you can manage, ending it in a Unison Attack, and hope it's enough to kill it in one go.
The fight with Hawk in Altamira, where he learns his Over-Limit skill and starts zipping around the battlefield, bringing your party members to near-death in only two hits (barring good equipment/levels/monsters).
That One Level: The Temple of Lightning for some, mainly due to backtracking in it's design, and the random lightning bolts that can lock you out of the best/neutral endings if fourteen hit (though if you keep moving, and keep an eye on the two-second visible-indicator of where they'll hit, they're easily avoidable).
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: The entire original Symphonia party. Not only can they not level up, making them quickly become useless in battle, the story keeps finding one rather contrived excuse after another as to why the entire group can't stay in the party the entire run of the game once met, something that the Tales series is usually pretty good at avoiding. The amount of wasted plot and character development potential as a result is staggering. What's more, this is the only reason why the Mons system is even needed in the game at all.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The "a shapeshifter did it" explanation of "Lloyd"'s actions in Palmacosta is a big letdown. There were orbs that cause insanity as a plot point, giving us an excellent opportunity to examine the darker side of Lloyd's character and give his fairly cliche character some interesting development, yet nothing was done with it.
The Woobie: Emil, both before he gets thrown into things, and particularly after the truth of things is revealed.