The lights are on
bonding characters, and fantastical backdrops have been Tales' calling cards.
Recently, the franchise hit its benchmark 15th anniversary. With Tales of
Xillia on the horizon, we dive deeper into the upcoming release and take a look
at the series' evolution. We had the pleasure of interviewing producer Hideo
Baba, who discusses the push to bring more titles to the U.S., the new
direction of Tales of Xillia, and how Namco Bandai sustains the Tales
We're seeing many RPG franchises fade. Why do
you think the Tales series has lasted 15 years?
The unique evolution
in the game design, the new gameplay provided for each title, the theme
described in the storyline, the way of portraying the world, and the creation
of attractive characters that play an important role in the fantasy world - I
consider these essential elements of the Tales of series. They have been working together with the new
features suited to the times to last for more than 15 years.
What are some of the challenges of keeping a
series fresh after being around for so long?
What I always keep in
mind is, "the reassurance in the freshness." This means I always consider the
best balance between innovation and the basic strong points of the series,
which allows [players] to enjoy the basic features as well as the new gameplay
with ease. For example, the storyline and the world were created from scratch
to enhance the brand new fantasy world and theme for each title, though some
titles such as Tales of Xillia and Tales of Xillia 2 are set in the same world
as an exception. On the other hand, we develop a battle system for every title
where anyone can enjoy it with the simple and real-time control and feel
What are some of the biggest changes to the
series from the start until now? How has it evolved through the years?
I think the biggest
change is [the shift from] 2D to 3D in the game design, responding to the
changing times. Tales of Symphonia, which is the most successful title
overseas, was the first installment developed in 3D. The 3D graphics allowed us
to change the way we express characters' emotions. With each new title, the
character designs inch closer to lifelike proportions, so we include additional
graphical effects to keep the cute anime and water color-style textures of past
Are there any special touches to Tales of
Xillia to celebrate the series' 15th anniversary?
The most special touch
is the first collaboration in the 15 years between two character designers who
worked on lots of Tales of titles before: Mustumi Inomata (Graces, Rebirth,
Destiny) and Kosuke Fujishima (Abyss, Vesperia, Symphonia). This first
collaboration led us to develop two different main characters in the series for
the first time.
In the 15 years, what has been your favorite
installment so far and why?
I have been asked this
question many times, and I always like to say my favorite title is the first installment
of the series: Tales of Phantasia. Tales of Phantasia is the root of the 15-year
history, and where the series' basic features were solidified.
Up next: The character creation process, entries that didn't make it over, and the mature art style in Xilla...
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