Our interview with Hideo Baba, Producer of the Tales series

I was lucky enough to be able to interview Hideo Baba during the London MCM expo recently, who’s best known for producing games in the Tales series and for his infectious enthusiasm.  Sadly, to due some recording and time issues, we’re unable to give direct quotes. I took notes so will be able to relay all information, however.

 

I’ll hopefully be able to put his love of a cat plush from Tales of Xillia 2 into words, as it was being ferociously stroked during the entire interview. I loved it.
 
Firstly, I inquired as to what Baba-San feels is attracting Western fans to the series. Tales is more popular in the West than it’s ever been, and demand for sequels and worldwide releases is at an all-time high, and Baba-San feels that the in-game Skits have much to do with it.
 
For those unaware with the series, Skits are optional conversations between party members; similar to Social Links in Persona 4 but Skits have been around since the series’ origins in 1995.
 
Baba-San realises that Skits are very popular with players, as they allow you to become better acquainted with them, and that they add much more flavour to the game itself, as well as JRPG’s as a whole. Many JRPG’s are accused of being ‘the same’, and Baba-San feels that Skits are unique and help the series to stand out in both Japan and Western regions.
 
milla-skit-jpg
Next we spoke about collector’s editions, their popularity and how the team decides what’s included in them. The selection process is a mix of fan demand and what the team thinks would be great, unique and collectible items – hence the pocket watch in the Tales of Xillia 2: Ludger Kresnik Collector’s Edition. Apparently, the West are able to get their hands on gorgeous Collector’s Editions that are sometimes greater than those in Japan, leaving fans amazed at the contents, or as Baba-San said, fans are like “whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!”
 
Baba-San’s aware that figures are very popular as collectible items, and are part of the reason as to why the Xillia, Xillia 2 and Symphonia HD collector’s editions have all sold well and have been in high demand. Artbooks and items you’re unable to get elsewhere, such as the pocket watch, are also highly sought after.
 
This also links in to how the series has become much popular in the West, as these special editions tend to sell out very quickly, something Baba-San was more than happy to agree with. The Ludger Kresnik edition managed to sell out within a couple of weeks, although the Day One edition is still available.
 
Ludger Kresnik CE
 
With Tales of Zestiria confirmed as a PS3 exclusive, it begged the question as to why Tales isn’t coming to PS4 or Xbox One yet. When asked, Baba-San said that they currently have no plans for a Tales title on those system, but recognises the power they have and what they can bring to the series. Will we see a Tales title on PS4 and Xbox One someday? It seems to be most likely, especially with the series growing more popular by the day, as evidenced by quicker and more localisations, including the recently announced Tales of Hearts R for Western shores.
 
Lastly, I asked what Baba-San’s personal favourite Tales instalment is, and it turned out to be Tales of Fantasia. The reasoning for this is due to it being the first Tales title (released in 1995), and that it also featured Skits which were unique at the time. Although many other games now feature systems similar to Skits, Tales is a pioneer in when it comes to optional teammate bonding in-game. When I told him that my favourite, and first, title is Tales of Graces f, he didn’t seem very surprised as many people started playing the series via Graces f.
 
tales-of-phantasia
 
Sadly, I didn’t have time for much else due to issues mentioned earlier and a time limit, but I’m thankful to Bandai Namco, Baba-San and his translator, and the MCM Expo for giving me the chance to meet and interview such a lovely and passionate man. He was also very kind and signed my copies of Tales of Graces f, Tales of Xillia and a Tales of Xillia 2 poster.

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