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 Symphonia 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 Awesome Music 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.
Awesome Music: The remixes of tracks from Tales of Symphonia mostly range from passable to "Jesus hell, was this composed on a Casio keyboard!?" The more somber version of Far From Our World, though, could actually be considered better than the original.
Badass Decay: A zig-zagging variation with "Ratatosk Mode". In its 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 its 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.
Captain Obvious Reveal: Lloyd didn't really become a villain. 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.
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 Awesome Music 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 Richter (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.
Enjoy the Story, Skip the Game: The general consensus seems to be that the gameplay is a passable Tales gameplay bogged down by unnecessary Mons mechanics (especially when the reason most people would play a sequel to Symphonia is to play with the original characters in their party, not a bunch of random monsters,) and that said mechanics are too convoluted for their own good. When the previous characters do appear, however, they're still as entertaining as ever, and certain new characters like Tenebrae play off them very well, and while Emil is a Base-Breaking Character, he's also frequently compared to Luke fon Fabre from Tales of the Abyss, who is also purposefully insufferable to start with before undergoing major Character Development partway through.
Even most of the haters of this game think Alice is a pretty cool girl. 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, whose relationship throughout the game resembles a Reincarnation Romance plot. 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.
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 Funny Moment, 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.
Hilarious in Hindsight: There's a poster of Lloyd that has a mask that the protagonists consider tacky, and Lloyd's, effectively, a masked vigilante in the background here. That said, his previous actor, Scott Menville, voiced another masked vigilante, Robin.
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.
Magnificent Bastard: Richter Abend, a former scientist seeking to kill the genocidal spirit Ratatosk and to resurrect his friend Aster, who was killed by Ratatosk. To accomplish this, Richter makes a pact with the demons of Niflheim, who give Richter the strength to face Ratatosk and a promise to resurrect Aster on the condition that Richter kills Ratatosk, which will destroy the barrier stopping the demons from invading the mortal world. However, Richter devises a plan to doublecross the demons by sacrificing himself after Ratatosk is dead and Aster is revived. Exploiting the tension between the peoples of Sylvarant and Tethea'alla, Richter uses Solum's core to control Brute, the leader of the Vanguard, turning it into a violent anti-Tethe'allan movement. Richter uses this ethnic violence to cover up his quest to find and kill Ratatosk. Along the way, Richter befriends Emil and teaches him self-confidence. After Emil stops Richter's plans, Richter works together with the newly-reformed Ratatosk to hold back the demons of Niflheim for a thousand years.
Misblamed: There are a number of fans of the first game who claim that the games voice cast being changed was because Namco was too lazy or cheap to rehire them. While it is possible this could of been the cause, one look at the original voice cast makes it clear this wasn't their fault; the majority of the voice actors were union voice actors, who are notoriously hard to work with because they often require projects to contract them a while in advance, and tend to be very costly to work with. This also means that sequels are very difficult to do with union voice actors because the amount voice actors in question will often only do them if it works for them. This is why after Symphonia came out, the series switched to hiring voice actors that didn't use unions as it was easier to reach out to them, more cost effective to work with, and overall easier to work with since they could actually reuse the voice actors if needed and could reach a larger diverse pool of voice actors.
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.
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 cuts into an interesting plot idea. The Centurion Cores cause insanity, giving us an excellent opportunity to examine a darker side of Lloyd's character and possibly take his character in a new direction. Instead Deceus is revealed to been the one doing it.