Back at New York Comic Con in October, we had a chance to talk (via a translator) with Hideo Baba, producer of the Tales franchise from Namco Bandai. Along with being an incredibly friendly and upbeat person to talk to, Mr. Baba was more than happy to answer our questions about Tales of Xillia, the series as a whole and video games in general. Read on below to see a transcript of our interview.
Dan Furnas: How are you doing today?
Hideo Baba: Good, good.
DF: We are here with Hideo Baba, producer of the Tales series. Jennifer, would you like to start us off?
Jennifer Griffith: Good morning.
HB: Good morning.
JG: I guess my first question is, “How did you get started in the video game industry and what drew you to it?”
HB: When I was an elementary school student, I started playing games on NES, and I loved games so I wanted to create games, so I entered the game industry.
JG: What part of the creation process do you enjoy the most?
HB: So, basically I enjoy all the process of creating games, but especially I what I enjoy most is the battle system and the storyline such as the playable characters and the relationship with them.
JG: Building on the creation process, where do you draw your inspiration from?
HB: I think the daily news is very important in creating the game because in the Tales series, each [game] has a main theme which is reflected in the current era’s problems and issues.
JG: Which is your personal favorite Tales game, if you can choose?
HB: This is a very difficult question to answer because I love every title and every character. If I have to select one, I love Leon Magnus from Tales of Destiny. He protects his strong convictions and gave his life to protect his most important person, and his life is very dynamic. He is a very popular character in Japan, and I like him very much.
DF: With Tales of Xillia coming out [in North America] next year, what should fans look forward to most?
HB: I really want the fans to look forward to the character designer’s collaboration. It actually is the first title where the two main character designers, Kousuke Fuzushima and Muzumi Nowata, work together for the first time. The storyline is portrayed from one of these two lead characters point of view. This is the first time in the series.
DF: Besides having two lead characters, are there any other big differences between Xillia and the previous games?
HB: So another new feature is the Linear Motion Battle System. It’s a new battle system for Xillia where the two characters can link together in battle to make big attacks. The gameplay system is very different, but if you can consider Tekken Tag Tournament, it’s very easy to imagine how the characters can link.
DF: That sounds like a lot of fun. So, even though the first Tales of Xillia game hasn’t come out here yet, are there plans to bring the second game over yet?
HB: We cannot make official announcements as of now, but concerning the first one being delivered into western countries, I would want to bring the second one to the same countries.
JG: We know that Tales of the Abyss was ported to the 3DS, and we were wondering if there are plans for any of the older games to sort of give new life as a port to a new system.
HB: Becuase the Tales of team is not a big team, the number of members are limited. So, while making a main title like Xillia and Xillia 2, there is not enough people to make a port title. So, we don’t have any announcements or plans now about porting titles, but if we can do it, we will announce it as soon as possible.
DF: Are there any Tales of games planned for the Wii U system at all?
HB: I’m sorry, I don’t have any plans to release for Wii U.
DF: Since Namco is helping work on Smash Bros U, will there be any crossovers with any of the Tales characters?
HB: Smash Bros. is being led by Nintendo so we don’t have any right to introduce Tales or Tekken characters; so I don’t have any announcements planned for that.
DF: I know that the Namco Tales studio was brought back into the main Namco studio. What kind of changes happened because of that?
HB: So, basically, the development style was not changed at all. The Tales studio was moved to our headquarters, and everyone is now in one building. I think it’s a good change because they can communicate with everyone like Tekken and Soul Caliber, so it’s a good change.
DF: Now, I know you said you weren’t planning on making any games for the Wii U, but have you thought about incorporating any of the other new technologies such as motion control or voice commands from the Kinect or Playstation Move into your series?
HB: Basically, an RPG game plan is to play for a long time, so I think there is a problem introducing motion control or voice recognition system. We need to resolve the problems so the player can enjoy the game for a long time and cannot be bored with the motion control or other new technological systems.
JG: So, we know there are more Tales games that have not been brought over, but are there any particular games that fans particularly ask for?
HB: I’ve received so many requests from fans to release the Playstation 3 version of Tales of Vesperia to the western countries. I have a Twitter account and I receive so many requests about Vesperia for Playstation 3.
DF: Do you receive many requests for Tales of Innocence R?
HB: I have some but the number is much more for for Vesperia than Innocence R.
DF: Is there any chance of it happening?
HB: So the team is mainly working on the new titles like Xillia and Xillia 2, so concerning the PS3 Vesperia, there are so many skits added for the PS3, it will take a long time to localize it. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough time to localize it. I receive so many requests, I think it is necessary to consider the possibility. I know it’s challenging, but I really want to think about it.
JG: The last question that we have is, “Where would you like to see the Tales series go in the future?”
HB: So, I really want to keep developing titles so young people can receive a message from the storyline and they can be cheered on from the storyline. They can decide something to do like “I’ll go challenge myself and study!”
DF: I think that’s a great message to send with the games. That’s our last question, so thank you very much!
HB: Thank you very much!
So that wraps up our interview with Hideo Baba. Surprised by any revelations? Any questions you wish we would have asked? Let us know in the comments!
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