The last time I spoke with Tales producer Hideo Baba, I was a welcome guest in Namco Bandai?s Japanese headquarters. You can go ahead and read the fascinating interview I had with him here - we spoke about the series? long lifespan, the console market and, more importantly, the Western appeal for JRPGs such as Tales. Today, with Tales of Xillia, Baba is hoping he can spark a revival for the franchise in Europe and the US.
is a departure from previous Tales
games, in that the intended audience is a slightly older one. The core theme that runs through the game is one of ?conviction? - the power to achieve anything you set your heart and mind to, no matter what obstacles are in your way. This is represented in a fantastical adventure led by two contrasting characters - Jude and Milla.
As you play through the game, Baba explains, you understand the core aspects of the story and the messages of conviction regardless of whether you pick the hero or the heroine. But, playing twice over as both leaders is recommended, as you get unique and interesting perspective of the story this way. Here?s what he had to say as I caught up with him following our 2011 discussion.
SPOnG: Were you satisfied with how fans in the west responded to Tales of Graces f on PlayStation 3?
There are many differences between the Japanese and European markets, and as a result it?s difficult to release all of the Tales titles in the West. But, I?m really glad to hear very positive feedback from European fans following the launch of Tales of Graces f. There was a big gap between the release of Dawn of a New World and Graces f, but the fans really enjoyed it and I?m glad and satisfied with the response.
SPOnG: Do you get time to listen to any of the feedback or concerns from Europe when developing future titles?
Well, the reason why I came to the UK [for MCM Expo] is that I believe that Xillia is a big part of relaunching the Tales franchise for the Western market. I really want to increase the fanbase in the West with this title. I think that whether Xillia succeeds or fails will have a big impact on the future of the Tales series in the Western market.
SPOnG: When we last spoke in 2011 you mentioned that Xillia was an attempt to bring an older audience into the Tales series. Do you think it succeeded, and do you think this is an approach you?re going to continue with?
Tales of Xillia managed to really exceed expectations in Japan, with over 730,000 units sold. It?s the second biggest success in the franchise. I believe that Xillia works well for many users and I want to continue going down that path - mixing the fans? demands with what we want to implement ourselves into future titles.
SPOnG: You also said you felt the PlayStation family of consoles was the best home for the Tales series. Have you had a chance therefore to look at the PlayStation 4 and what that could possibly bring to the RPG genre?
The reason why Xillia was released only on PS3 was because that is the console where most of the users want to play Tales games. When more and more users decide to buy a PS4 and want the Tales series on that platform, that will be when we re-assess things. Nowadays though, I need to consider the fans and their demands in deciding which console is the best to release the games on.
SPOnG: In addition to that, have you had a chance to play with the PlayStation 4? What?s your opinion of it from a developer?s point of view?
Of course, I cannot say anything about whether I?ve played with PlayStation 4 or not [laughs]! But I have information about the spec of the console. The CPU, GPU and memory is very much improved over the PlayStation 3, and I believe that PlayStation 4 has very strong potential from a developer?s perspective.
This is just a possibility of an idea, but the improved specs could allow us to have more characters or monsters in a combat sequence, for example. So there are many different ways in which we could advance the future of the Tales series with PlayStation 4, on top of just the visual effects.
SPOnG: Thank you very much for your time.
Thank you very much.
Tales of Xillia is being launching on August 9 on PS3