Tales of Symphonia
Namco was courteous enough to let us direct some questions to Nao Higo, the man primarily responsible for bringing Tales of Symphonia to North American shores. Several questions (actually, an entire other interview) were (was) omitted due to time constraints, so a quick Q&A session is what follows. Much information is divined nonetheless -- have a look!
Nintendojo: What are some of the other games that the team members have worked on?
Neil Higo: My localization team has worked on titles such as Xenosaga Episode 1, Smashcourt Tennis Pro Tournament 2, Soul Calibur II, Breakdown, R: Racing Evolution, Tekken 4, Ace Combat 5 and more.
ND: What were the biggest challenges that occurred when developing and localizing the game?
NH: One of the biggest challenges for Tales of Symphonia was the voiceover recording. It was one of the biggest recordings we've done at Namco. The most difficult aspect of the recording was finding the right voice for Zelos. He's got a very particular style and attitude and his lines were hard to convey properly in English. I wanted him to sound egotistical but not annoying, crass without sounding too comical, and youthful without sounding like a surfer boy. We went through numerous actors before I found a Zelos that I was happy with.
ND: What aspects of the game are you most proud of?
NH: The most challenging thing usually ends up being the thing you are most proud of--for Tales of Symphonia, it's the voiceovers. We used a lot of great VO talents and I think it paid off.
ND: Please describe why you are bringing Tales of Symphonia to the GameCube, as opposed to any other platform.
NH: The #1 reason why we're bringing Tales of Symphonia to the GameCube is that the system does not currently have very many RPGs. I hope Tales of Symphonia will satisfy the hunger of GameCube owners who want to play solid RPGs.
ND: Please describe the new battle system in the game. How does the four player "in-line" system work exactly?
NH: The new battle system incorporates 3D into the traditional Tales action battle system. In previous Tales games, the characters always fought on a 2D plane, but in Tales of Symphonia, the characters run around on a 3D field, which opens up a whole new dimension of strategy.
The one thing the team made sure, however, is to make the battle system easy to grasp and play. Therefore, instead of having the characters run around freely, making it difficult to line up with the enemies, the developers designed it so that the characters run in a direct line with the enemy they are targeting. But by changing the character you target, you can change your direction and attack the other enemies on the screen. This allows the battle system to take advantage of the 3D graphics while maintaining the easy to play 2D style fighting.
ND: Tell us a bit more about the aforementioned voice acting in the game.
NH: Here's a list of the main characters and their respective voice actors.
Unfortunately, due to the limited disc capacity, we could not put in an option to switch between English and Japanese voices, but I think people will be pleased with the U.S. voices.
ND: Please give us a general idea of how the game is actually localized.
NH: See above
ND: A big part of TOS is the new multiplayer mode. How does this aspect of the game work?
NH: The multiplayer in this game is limited to the battle system. The rest of the game is controlled by player 1. The multiplayer aspect of Tales of Symphonia allows up to four players to control your characters during the battles and they can play cooperatively to defeat a really tough boss, or time their attacks together to deliver a massive combo, etc.
ND: Are there any suggestions you have for individuals who are thinking about a career in game development/localization?
NH: (Nao decided not to answer this one)
ND: Is there anything else you think people should know about Tales of Symphonia before we wrap up?
NH: Buy it July 13th! Thanks!