Japanese games are slowly making a resurgence. Games like Dark Souls and Persona 4 have recaptured our attention, after many developers struggled to make hits that resonated with the American audience. Games like Quantum Theory, which poorly emulated Gears of War, proved to be duds--something that has Japanese developers going back to the drawing board.
Hideo Baba, producer of Namco Bandai's Tales series, said that Japanese designers are returning to what made their games so appealing in the first place. "I feel like a lot of Japanese developers, especially ourselves, we've really taken an effort to go back to our roots," he told us. "We look at what we started with and what we're good at, and we really tried to make an effort to strengthen what our foundations are."
The upcoming Tales of Xillia marks the franchise's 15th US anniversary, and with its big-eyed anime characters, it's clear that this is a game meant for Japanese tastes. "With regards to the Tales franchise, we've never made an effort to 'westernize' it," Baba said. Staying true to its identity is what helps the franchise stay so endearing to its fans. "We feel that Western developers are good at certain things, while Japanese developers are good at other things. Rather than us trying to copy Western developers, we really try to look within ourselves and try to improve ourselves. The Tales franchise has been a personal struggle to better ourselves and the franchise."