Namco Bandai's Tales of franchise is immensely popular in Japan, rivaling even the most final of fantasies. The latest release, Tales of Xillia, sold over 500,000 copies in its first month in Japan.
While the series enjoys the spotlight in Japan, things are quite different in America. Ever since the release of Tales of Vesperia on Xbox 360 in 2008, the series has been quiet, much to the chagrin of fans. Since then, Namco Bandai has skipped localization on the PS3 version of Vesperia, Tales of Hearts, Tales of Innocence, and Tales of Graces.
The hiatus on the franchise will be lifted with the release of Tales of Graces F, a PS3-enhanced release of the original 2009 game. It will be the first original Tales game to hit US shores in more than three years. Also coming soon: Tales of the Abyss for 3DS, a port of the PS2 classic. These two releases are part of an initiative to revive the series in America, and make it a growing focus for Namco Bandai.
"There's going to be continued support for the Tales series that we've never had before," Namco Bandai associate brand manager Josh Sepielli told me. "We've taken a lot of steps as a company from the point we've released Vesperia to where we are now. There's a lot more coordination with Japan when we're getting these games, when we're getting information. We're going to start getting the timing closer together. We're very focused on being a lot more international."
Namco Bandai is taking a page from Square Enix's playbook. Final Fantasy XIII-2, for example, had localization begin during development. As a result, there's only a one month delay between the Japanese and English language release of the text and voice-heavy game.
"Moving forward, there's going to be a lot more support for the franchise," Sepielli reiterated to me when I asked him if Tales of Xillia is coming to the US. While it seems likely, given his enthusiasm for the franchise, there's still one issue that has the franchise's future still in doubt.
"The fan base is very hardcore; but at the same time, they don't make a very large audience," Sepielli admitted. "I'd be lying to you if I said if these games bomb, they're going to turn around and make Xillia."