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Tales producer: Japan going 'back to roots,' avoiding 'westernization' of games

Japanese games are slowly making a resurgence. Hideo Baba, producer of Namco Bandai's Tales of series, said that Japanese designers are returning to what made their games so appealing in the first place.

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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."

Level-5 CEO Akihiro Hino recently echoed those sentiments, saying Ni no Kuni attempts to recreate "the good old days" of JRPGs.

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."

From The Chatty

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    January 21, 2013 10:00 AM

    Andrew Yoon posted a new article, Tales producer: Japan going 'back to roots,' avoiding 'westernization' of games.

    Japanese games are slowly making a resurgence. Hideo Baba, producer of Namco Bandai's Tales of series, said that Japanese designers are returning to what made their games so appealing in the first place.

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      January 21, 2013 10:05 AM

      Shacknews, you misspelled appalling

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      January 21, 2013 10:08 AM

      So Japan is going to continue to make 90s games on 2010's budgets?


      ok

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        January 21, 2013 10:18 AM

        Haha, this. I love how they blame the west for their horrible games.

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          January 23, 2013 6:21 PM

          They didn't.

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          January 23, 2013 10:37 PM

          Haha, I love how you lack reading comprehension, as expected from someone who has "monkey" in his username.

          Japan is blaming themselves for trying to copy western games, they realized that.. And you might get ass-devastated by this, but here's the truth: It's not really Japan's fault that the west has horrible game design and are too focused on "WE MUST MAKE CINEMATICS ON PAR WITH HOLLYWOOD MOVIES" which sells so much obviously because they're marketed for the lowest common denominators and casuals.

          So yeah, don't be all "WAAAHH WAAAHH JAPAN IS BLAMING WEST FOR THEIR GAMES THAT ARE NOT MY CUP OF TEA BUT I'LL CALL THEM HORRIBLE AS IF MY OPINION IS A FACT" when they're simply just telling the truth.

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        January 21, 2013 11:48 AM

        It seems that they're still good at making small simple games. But the more yen they throw at them the more the gap between polish and (lack of) gameplay appears.

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      January 21, 2013 10:10 AM

      Dark Souls > Skyrim. Right?

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        January 21, 2013 11:00 AM

        Yup.

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        January 21, 2013 11:51 AM

        Heh. Good one! You'll reel someone in with that one for sure.

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          January 21, 2013 11:59 AM

          Other than Skyrim, it's been a bad few years for western RPGs. I just made my point inelegantly.

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        January 21, 2013 1:44 PM

        The people who make the game don't consider it a JRPG - there's been a couple interviews where they straight up say "we don't like JRPGs and set out to make something else."

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        January 24, 2013 2:04 PM

        I agree Dark Souls is way better than Skyrim in my opinion, but i wasn't that big a fan of Skyrim.

        Then again while similar theres quite a few differences, so maybe they shouldn't be directly compared.

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      January 21, 2013 10:24 AM

      I am quite weirded out by the hair with detailed lighting sitting on top of the flat shaded face. You can't have it both ways!

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        January 21, 2013 11:06 AM

        Curse you. Now that's all I can see.

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      January 21, 2013 10:26 AM

      I'd be fine with that. I kind of miss the distinct differences. Too much homogeneity these days.

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        January 21, 2013 11:05 AM

        This is my take. There are plenty of crap Japanese games just like there are plenty of crap Western games. My tastes tend to gravitate towards Japanese design philosophies (their games are just more mechanically interesting than Western games are to me), so to see it extinguished by a mass Westernization would be most saddening.

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        January 21, 2013 12:39 PM

        I agree with this. As much as I don't give a fuck about JRPGs anymore...that isn't the only genre that comes out of Japan and I really just want to see people making the games they fucking want to make.

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      January 21, 2013 10:42 AM

      I know they've avoiding Westernizing games, but goddamn Tales team/Namco, you could at least fucking *release* the games over.

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      January 21, 2013 10:44 AM

      Folks in charge of Tales are idiots. They either never release the games or release them near AAA titles.

      Who thought it was a good idea to release around FF13 (before the hate sunk in)? Shit like that doesn't help your sales. Oh let's release it around a sequel to Mass Effect, that's an even better idea!


      Idiots.

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      January 21, 2013 10:56 AM

      This is a good thing. They need to be advancing their games while maintaining their own styles rather than try and do these weird bastardizations of both styles that just end up not appealing to anyone.

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      January 21, 2013 11:10 AM

      All pray same.

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      January 21, 2013 11:29 AM

      I thought the demo for Ni No Kuni was pretty terrible. There's no explanation of the combat systems and they throw you into boss fights almost immediately.

      They just carved out sections of the game to show off running through narrow corridors until the next story beat.

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        January 21, 2013 12:03 PM

        I couldn't enjoy it at all. Honestly the whole pokemon summoning little critters thing seemed lame and confusing.

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          January 21, 2013 12:28 PM

          I was kind of hoping it would be like a pokemon for consoles but managing your pet was kind of a hassle since you had to dodge the enemies with both you and your pet.

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      January 21, 2013 11:30 AM

      Japan had many right ideas during the middle of Playstation 2's run. They came up with some of the most amazing and creative ideas at the time and ultimately much of them have been forgotten.

      Just look at Shadow of the Colossus, Kamatari Damacy, Okami, Viewtiful Joe, Shinobi, and the first Ninja Gaiden. These games were Japanese gaming at their best. Somehow it just didn't translate over to the current generation.

      In terms of RPGs, Matrix Software has done some good work on the DS. Their remakes of classic Final Fantasy games were fantastic. Maintaining classic JRPG gameplay with a new layer of some semblance of balanced challenge pacing.

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      January 21, 2013 11:51 AM

      There actually was a "good ol' days" of JPRGs? Man, I never liked those things. Sometimes I wonder how many gamers just liked 'em because they were from Japan, which was seen as being "cool" back in the old days of videogaming, when we had to climb uphill both ways to buy our games at a Software, Etc...and we liked it.

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      January 21, 2013 11:51 AM

      True story. I have never played a JRPG.

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        January 21, 2013 1:05 PM

        Ever played really old CRPGs, like Wizardry 1?

        Then you have!

        Ho ho!

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          January 21, 2013 1:57 PM

          My early CRPGs were Bard's Tale, Might and Magic, and the old gold box SSI games. :(

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        January 21, 2013 2:26 PM

        Try Anachronox! It's the best JRPG made in Texas!

        It's actually pretty solid, and quite hilarious. http://www.gog.com/gamecard/anachronox if you are actually interested. It's not perfect, but it's good. I actually laughed when Square Enix purchased Eidos "to develop their western portfolio," specifically because of this game.

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        January 23, 2013 6:23 PM

        Play Chrono Trigger. Most perfect masterpiece of a game yet created.

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      January 21, 2013 12:05 PM

      I somehow imagine that Square will eventually remake FF7, and it will be awesome and everyone will buy it and it will be a massive success and that will prompt them to keep making games instead of dieing out like they should have a long time ago.

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      January 21, 2013 12:23 PM

      Well I guess you can't lose if you don't play.

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      January 21, 2013 12:34 PM

      nothing but good news

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      January 21, 2013 1:02 PM

      Japan has some of the most iterative and conventional games in their popular genres (RPGs, horse racing management, etc)

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      January 21, 2013 1:26 PM

      Good, now maybe they can make a Resident Evil which doesn't suck balls.

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        January 21, 2013 7:27 PM

        yesterday i was watching a RE1 walkthrough on youtube and wow, i fogot how awsome the first 2 were

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          January 21, 2013 8:57 PM

          Yeah, even Code Veronica and 4 were awesome. They seem to be afraid to make it survival horror anymore which I don't understand. They somehow got it in their head that everybody in the US only wants to play Gears of War.

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      January 21, 2013 1:27 PM

      The last JRPG I played all the way through and loved was Grandia 2 on the Dreamcast. I think it's about time for new one.

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      January 21, 2013 2:33 PM

      So do the Japanese now like Western style games now? Or is it just that Japanese games have fallen out of favor here.

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      January 21, 2013 7:20 PM

      :"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."

      The sign of a bad article is a generalized false beginning

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      January 21, 2013 7:21 PM

      japan has owned the gen. I am sick of generalized garbage articles

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      January 21, 2013 7:28 PM

      Sometimes I am embarrassed by the generalized obvious lack of informed comments on this site. But then again i cant blame you when the article takes out of context comments puts a negative spin on japan like persona 4 and dark souls were the ONLY 2 GAMES, and then builds a crappy article.

      Japan has been fine this gen. You dont think they made westernized games in the past? really? go read up on game history 101

      So let me get this straight, persona 4 and dark souls were the only 2 good japanese games and what? mario galaxy, valkyria chronicles, 7th dragon, ect were all shit? come on

      articles like this make me puke

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        January 21, 2013 8:40 PM

        No, but Dark Souls and Persona 4: [insertwhatever] are the most recent ones. People have short memories and at least for consoles manufacturing for many games stops a year after release making them more difficult to acquire exacerbating the short term memory. I think you might be a little too invested in the topic, reading into the article some slights which are not there.

        As for Mario Galaxy... I think it many ways, Nintendo frequently gets separated from "Japanese games" as they are their own powerhouse.

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      January 21, 2013 7:29 PM

      i think the fact that they so often think of games in terms of japan vs. the west is itself troubling

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        January 21, 2013 7:32 PM

        I am just sick of twisting quotes, the writer generalizing a false point, and calling this journalism

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        January 21, 2013 7:32 PM

        i agree; however, there are distinct differences in design philosophy that are kind of refreshing. just like how europe is known for hardcore PC games, simulators, sports front office sims - it's their angle and some fantastic games come out of that.

        japan shouldn't try to copy american-style gaming because it's not what they know, and it's not necessarily better, just different. we need persona and mario and FF and we also need dead space and skyrim.

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          January 21, 2013 7:35 PM

          westernized japanese games started all the way back in the nes days

          pretending it just started now is not only false, its bad journalism.

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      January 21, 2013 10:16 PM

      When did Japanese games stop being Japanese? They've always been inscrutable.

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      January 26, 2013 4:55 AM

      A game series with "Tales of" in the title, avoiding westernization?

      Yep, sure.