Hideo Baba made an appearance at this year’s New York Comic Con to connect with fans and promote the upcoming Tales of Symphonia Chronicles and Tales of Xillia 2. As a fan of the series, I was fortunate enough to sit down and touch base with him about the series he’s extremely proud to be apart of.
VB: How do you feel about the record breaking success of the Tales series here in the states, Tales of Xillia especially?
HB: We are extremely pleased that more and more fans are picking up the series! I’ve been visiting the states more, and we’re very proud that the series has maintained it’s level of quality across so many generations and could appeal to a wider audience of gamers!
VB: How has the Tales series stayed so popular in the West with increasing volume in sales, while interest in JRPGs has been on the decline?
HB: We feel we take a lot of time to not only promote as mentioned previously, but to connect with our fanbase and take their feedback into consideration with ever new iteration of the series. We also feel the fast paced, engaging combat keeps us ahead of the curve as well.
VB: What are some of the things you’re most proud of in regards to the series?
HB: Firstly, we’re very proud of our long standing fan base that has continued to support our series over so many years now! Thank you so much to all of you. We’re also proud of our two wonderful character designers, Mutsumi Inomata and Kōsuke Fujishima. Their work continues to impress fans our the team alike, and we feel their characters really bolster how relatable the game is to JRPG fans, while still keeping things fresh.
VB: What new content can we expect in Tales of Symphonia Chronicles? Will there be any new characters?
HB: There won’t be any new characters, as we feel the story was the most integral element of Symphonia, so we didn’t want to diminish or alter the ensemble cast of characters we created that complimented each other so well. We are adding a Japanese language option for the North American release, along with new costumes and new Mystic Artes.
VB: Who are your favorite characters in the Tales series, and why?
HB: That’s a wildly difficult question for me! I love so may of the characters across many of the games. They’re all very special to me in their own way. So if I had to pick ONE, just ONE–and again, this is so hard, but; I’d pick Leo Magnus from Tales of Destiny. The way he chose to live his life, and the choices he made, I can’t help but respect him greatly. He gave up everything for love! It’s very endearing to me.
VB: Will any of the handheld Tales games, like Tales of Hearts ever be localized for US audiences?
HB: We are currently focused on bringing the newer flagship titles stateside, and handling those localizations to the best of our ability. So at this time there are no plans to bring the handheld iterations to the states.
VB: Are there any new ideas you plan to incorporate in future/upcoming Tales games?
HB: Yes, there are some! But above all else, we care about the quality of the story. And that will remain our focus, having a very story driven narrative. We would, however, like to have a more seamless gameplay experience. It’s not to say we aren’t pleased with the flow of the current games, but if we could present our story with a more movie like feel to it, between gameplay and battle transitions, we’d be very happy. We are also working on minimizing loading times too, to achieve this.
VB: Are there currently any Tales games in development for the Playstation 4? Will there ever be any plans to bring the series to X-Box One?
HB: We are looking forward to developing for the next generation consoles, but we currently do not have anything in development at this time. I think we would like to focus our efforts on the Playstation 4 again, but we have no updates or news for you in regards to that at this time!
VB: I personally bought the collector’s edition of Tales of Xillia with the awesome Milla figure in it! Will the new Tales of Symphonia Chronicles have a collector’s edition?
HB: Yes! It will feature a physical copy of the soundtrack, which the Japanese version did not include. We are also including five chibi Tales of Symphonia figures and special collector’s art work as well.
VB: I’ve heard you’re a very passionate gamer in your free time as well. What games are you currently enjoying in your personal time?
HB: I loved the new Tomb Raider! I’ve also been enjoying the new Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Duel Destinies. I’m still currently playing Monster Hunter 4, and I’ve been enjoying the new Puppeteer game by Japan Studio as well!
VB: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us and fans of the series today?
HB: Well, I wanted to thank everyone again who’s supported our games over the years. It means so much to us that we can continue to make something that we love, and that our fans love too. I would like fans to remember the emotions they felt and how the story impacted each of them specifically. In the upcoming Tales of Xillia 2, we are making “Choice” a central theme of the story. The player will now be able to make choices that greatly impact how the story progresses. We hope it will make players think about how the choices they make every day in their lives, even the seemingly insignificant ones can greatly impact what doors open and close for them. RPGs are the primary genre that’s supposed to present an amazing story, and we hope we can continue to deliver a unique, engrossing experience for all of our fans!
Tales of Symphonia Chronicles will release in February 2014, along with Tales of Xillia 2 later in the same year.