At Comic-Con in New York, we spoke to Tales series producer Hideo Baba about the upcoming English localization for Tales of Xillia, Tales of Xillia 2, the Tales series in general, Baba-san’s thoughts on the western market, and other subjects.
Find our full transcript below.
— First, I’d like to talk a bit about the Tales series in general…
Baba: The Tales of series are Japanese RPGs developed Japanese developers which describe worlds of swords and magic. We [the Japanese] grow up surrounded by anime and comics, and we like to implement the features of anime and comics in the Tales of series.
— Is there one character in the Tales series that you can really relate to or particularly love?
Baba: That’s a difficult question to answer. I like all the characters! But if I need to choose one character, this time I’ll pick Milla from Tales of Xillia because I really want the young women in the world to see how cool she lives and how she spends her life.
— With Tales of Symphonia, you had this sort of dynamic story element where, depending on your choices, you either kept Zelos or Kratos. Do you plan on having more dynamic story elements like this in future games where your decisions affect the story?
Baba: Actually, in the next title, Tales of Xillia 2, which will be released on the first of November in Japan, the player needs to make decisions throughout the story many times, so I think this is a very similar system to Symphonia.
— But do these decisions have an effect on the overall story?
Baba: If I talk a lot about how the decisions have an effect on the story, I will spoil it. So I cannot talk a lot about this. But I want to implement similar systems in future Tales series titles.
— Up until Tales of Xillia, the Tales series has not seen a female protagonist. And even in Xillia, she’s paired alongside a male protagonist. In the future, do you see any Tales games as having a single, female protagonist?
Baba: The idea sounds very interesting and possible, but we don’t have any plans to have a single female main character in future titles.
— What goes into deciding which platform a Tales game is developed for?
Baba: I understand that fans in western countries have some interest in the formats, but the biggest market for the Tales of series is still in Japan. And so in Japan, most fans expect to have the game on the PlayStation format, so we are now releasing the titles only on the PlayStation format.
— Can I ask your thoughts on the Wii U?
Baba: We don’t have any plans at the time [to bring the Tales series to Wii U]. But the Wii U is very unique hardware, which has one big screen [on the TV] and one small screen [on the controller], but with the console for development of an RPG, the players need to play for a long time, so we need to create a game in which the gameplay will help players feel less stress.
— Recently, you said you were considering the feasibility of dual audio in Tales of Xillia. Have there been any developments on this?
Baba: I’ve been making efforts to include both Japanese voice-overs and English voice-overs. But with the Japanese voice-overs, it’s not just about data, but the licensing problems. But we are making efforts to resolve this problem.
— Let’s be frank. What does Tales of Xillia have to do in order for Tales of Xillia 2 to be brought stateside?
Baba: Since we’ve decided to release Tales of Xillia 1 in western countries, I really want to bring Tales of Xillia 2 to western countries, as well. But I need more and more users to continue showing interest in Tales of Xillia 1. So please enjoy the game and share your feedback with friends!
— It was recently revealed that Tales of Xillia 2 protagonist Ludger won’t be very chatty until the second playthrough. What went into deciding this, and how will it effect his character development?
Baba: One of the main concepts of Xillia 2 is that we want players to become the hero Ludger. Part of the gameplay involves players selecting his actions and emotions. So, to help players feel that they are Ludger, we on purpose did not include voice-overs on the first playthrough. The voice-overs have a really strong effect in the game, and if Ludger speaks with his voice, the players cannot feel that, “Okay, I’m Ludger,” because his voice is different from the player’s voice. So I chose not to implement voice-overs on the first playthrough.
— Recently, in Japan, you released Tales of Innocence R for PlayStation Vita, and in 2009, Tales of Vesperia for PlayStation 3. Are there still chances for these titles to come stateside?
Baba: The Tales series team is always working mainly on development of the new titles. Because the number of staff members are limited, the main focus is creating a new title, like Xillia or Xillia 2. So the number of titles which can be localized for western countries is limited, unfortunately.
— Can you, at least, officially shut down a possible localization for Tales of Vesperia on PlayStation 3? There may still be fans holding back importing.
Baba: This is no official announcement that [localization of] the PlayStation 3 version is shut down. Of course, there is the still the possibility. But I don’t have any plans or an official announcement about the localization of the PlayStation 3 version of Vesperia, as of now.
— Recently, you’ve been overseas promoting Tales of Graces F and Tales of Xillia. How have your trips overseas changed your views on the U.S. and European markets?
Baba: Compared to the Japanese market, the U.S. and European markets are still growing up, and becoming bigger and bigger. But console JRPGs and Japanese animations are not so much recognized [in the west] among fans. So I think we need to keep promoting these types of RPGs and Japanese culture, because there is still the possibility of potential users in there.
— Is there anything you specifically like about the western markets?
Baba: The graphics in western games are very photo-realistic, such as Uncharted, Assassin’s Creed, Skyrim. Capcom had Dragon’s Dogma, which is an RPG and performed well in the western countries, as well. But I like these characteristics in western games. I don’t implement these features in the Tales series. But I do enjoy these features in the western games.
— I want to talk, for a moment, about remakes. Tales of Innocence R was your latest remake. And hidden artwork in Innocence R hinted at Tales of Hearts being the next. Is Hearts R your next remake, or do you plan on more remakes in the future?
Baba: (Laughs.) I’m sorry, I cannot talk about what’s coming next. But the remake titles are important titles to the latest handheld or console, and can be enjoyed by both current and new users of the Tales series. So I want to remake titles as much as possible.
— A form of a remake, I guess, that we’ve been seeing lately are HD remasters. Will the Tales series ever receive an HD remaster?
Baba: Of course there are very wide and broad possibilities, so I can’t deny the possibility of an HD version. If the timing and performance power of the team allows for it, it’s possible, I think.
— If you can make any game you like without having to worry about sales numbers, etc., what would it be?
Baba: If I don’t need to worry about things such as sales or budgets, I personally like open-world RPGs such as Dragon’s Dogma or Skyrim, so I would like to develop a title like this. But I don’t mean I want to turn the Tales of series into an open-world RPG.
— Is there any type of game design you particularly enjoy?
Baba: I enjoy a lot of games. But especially I enjoy the game design of Gravity Rush.
— Is there any message you would like to give to fans regarding the Tales series and the coming release of Tales of Xillia?
Baba: I want to continue to release as many Tales games as possible in western countries. And I want to shorten the time between the Japanese and western releases. Right now, it’s a long time, but I want to shorten it. So stay tuned and thank you for the support!