Justifying Tales of Symphonia HD Remaster Collection
Tales of Symphonia is a beloved JRPG of sorts in the west. It was one of the first major JRPGs for the Nintendo Gamecube and it did extremely well in sales. It also popularized the Tales franchise in the west but most importantly, it heralded the continued support of the franchise. This year marks the title’s 10th anniversary in Japan. The game was originally released for the Gamecube but later released a director’s cut of the game on the PlayStation 2. It was so popular that it eventually received a sequel subtitled Dawn of the New World featuring two new characters as well as the return of the old cast.
There are rumors going around that Tales of Symphonia will be receiving a HD remaster treatment. More interesting, there is the rumor that it will also include a remastered version of Dawn of the New World, originally a Nintendo Wii title. Rumors of the game first surfaced when an interview with Hideo Baba at Expomanga discussed the game. While Baba remained very vague on the subject, he said it would be "a representation of the dreams and hopes of the fans, who have long been wanting it." What followed this interview was a subject of insanity. Publications such as GameSpot and Polygon began to circulate this rumor and the news caught more fire.
Some fans assumed the rumor as fact while others simply regarded them as rumors. Later on JPGAMES.DE conducted an interview with Baba in Munich asking for a clarification about the rumor and the status of the HD Remaster. In the interview he said that the 10th anniversary celebration will be more "like a 'Tales of Café' or an event at NamcoCon" however there were no concrete plans yet. Oddly, instead of ending his answer there, Baba went on to explain of how he "can’t really say anything before announcements are made." It's curious that he said that. While what he says is true, it hints at the possibility that the HD Remaster isn't simply smoke and mirrors. So... what if it isn't an empty rumor?
Earlier this year Baba made a post on Sony posted on their blog about how he's going to "[make] this a Tales of filled year." It made in tandem with tha announcement for Tales of Graces f's availability on PSN. The target audience for the message wasn't the Japanese market, rather it was for the Western audience. By this point Tales of Xillia was already slated to launch in 2013 and Namco Bandai has been working hard to promote the game heavily. However, why would a single game make the year a "Tales of filled year"? It's hardly one. What if this meaning meant something more?
It's important to note that the message was for the English speaking audience, not the Japanese one. This assumption needs to be made for the rest of the argument to be true. In addition, we need to assume that a minimum of two games or more is required for the year to be "Tales of filled." Otherwise, a single game is enough to be "filled" in Baba's eyes. With these two assumptions grounded in our minds let's move on. In an interview posted on Kotaku, Baba stated that Namco Bandai "doesn't have any plans to release any of the Vita titles" for the west. His reasoning behind it was how the "PlayStation Vita is doing relatively poorly in North America" at the moment. He noted of how these plans might change in the future if the Vita does well, but until then the Vita games are Japanese exclusive. If the Vita games aren't coming over then what is?
There are no viable titles right now that Namco Bandai could release this year that would make it a timely one. After all, the PSP is long dead and since Xillia is set to release this year Xillia 2 is obviously not coming out this year. No way is Namco Bandai going to release two mothership titles in the same year. If it's not a title already released in Japan then there's only one possible conclusion, a title that has yet to be announced. When Baba made the comment about the "Tales of filled year" the date for the 2013 Tales Festival was already finalized, June 1 - 2. If there's any time for a Tales game announcement it's at Tales Festival. Whatever is announced at Tales Festival 2013 in Japan, it would certaintly fit the bill for "Tales of filled year" assuming it comes to the west. Of course, why would Baba make such a comment if it's not coming to the west?
There is the possibility that a release is not what would make a "Tales of filled year." For all we know, to Baba just announcing titles and having a surprising news is good enough. Let's say that there's an announcement made at Tales Festival 2013 for something in relation to the west. Or perhaps Baba is planning to make another announcement after the release of Tales of Xillia. These possibilities could very well be true but it's unlikely. A news simply wouldn't make the year "filled" and by the time Xillia rolls around it'd be tough to announce a game and release it. That leaves the conclusion that whatever is announced at the Tales Festival is indeed a game that would release this year and it would be coming to the west.
Let's take a step back first, however. I made a point early on about how Baba's message was clearly targeted at the West. He hasn't said anything to Japan, or at least to my knowledge, about the year. Tales is an established franchise in Japan and there's a dedicated, loyal following. However, in the west it isn't as strong and judging by Baba's recent travel arrangements he's been trying to build a stronger Tales community. The message for a "Tales of filled year" isn't needed to make Japan happy. It's already assumed that Japan is going to be Tales filled every year. There is a need to say it in the west. This means that Baba's words weren't simply empty words. Rather, they had deep meaning and it was something that was meant to be important. In a situation where Baba wants fans new and old to be excited he can't be liberal with his words and have people lash out at him. We can then assume that the statement "Tales of filled year" isn't an empty one but with something deeper behind it. if this is the case then the above argument stands even stronger as news simply wouldn't be enough to make it a filled year. Only another game would.
If it's a game, why a remastered version of Tales of Symphonia HD? In addition, why would it include Dawn of the New World especially considering it's a Wii title? I've already stated that this year marks the 10th anniversary for Tales of Symphonia. It's the perfect time and way for Namco Bandai to celebrate one of its beloved titles in the franchise, for both the west and in Japan. The Tales of Symphonia OVAs created by Ufotable also ended recently making it the perfect time for something Symphonia related to pop up. Due to its immense popularity, it's reasonable enough to assume that Namco Bandai would want to release more Symphonia related products. An HD remaster would fit the bill perfectly. How does Dawn of the New World fit into the mix? Most of the HD remaster titles released are bundled as a collection. It's rare that a title would get a remaster treatment and released stand alone. As a result it's likely that Dawn of the New World would be packaged in alongside Symphonia as a Symphonia HD Remaster Collection, or something to that effect.
To further support this idea, in the upcoming issue of Viva Tales, a Tales magazine, the cover will feature Lloyd and Emil. The two are the protagonists of the game. Lloyd being on the front cover for Tales is understandable but why Emil? Dawn of the New World came out in 2008. Perhaps they included him because they consider it an anniversary of the entire Symphonia universe and as a result Emil is on there. If that's the case then you could make the argument that Namco Bandai can celebrate Symphonia by releasing the two games together. *insert laugh* Of course, there exists the possibility that the two are featured together because the two games are receiving the remaster treatment.
Is there anything else supporting the HD remaster theory? It's my prediction that there won't be a mothership title release at this year's Tales Festival. Tales of Xillia 2 was their last mothership title and the one previous to it, Xillia, released the year before it. I'm sure that the team will not be able to churn out another mothership title within a year unless it's another Xillia sequel. If it was indeed another Xillia sequel then we would've seen a teaser or an annoucement of announcement by now. Xillia 2's tease began in early May and considering it's almost June, that boat has sailed. What if it was a new mothership title and not a sequel mothership title? Namco Bandai usually trademarks new titles rather that reusing already existing ones. Considering they haven't made any new trademarks recently a new mothership title is out of the question as well. If it's not a mothership title then it has to be something else such as spin-off title. While the remastered title is not exactly a spin-off it would fit under the category "something else."
I think there are a couple of changes that we can expect in the remastered title if it's announced. The biggest change would be the actual title. Rather than using the original Gamecube version I believe that Namco Bandai will use the PlayStation 2 version of the game. Although this version never left Japanese shores, it would be the easiest version for the company to utilize in terms of remastering and it would be the most feature filled of the two versions. I also believe that the voices in the original game will be changed. Dawn of the New World had a different voice cast from the original game despite having the same characters. For continuity's sake and the use of certain voice actor studios the company is familiar with this is highly likely. This would also mean that voiced skits in the original game is also likely. The original GameCube title never had voiced skits and Tales of Vesperia was the first to introduce it in the west. If they're going to change out the voice cast, it's best to add these voiced skits. Lastly, I believe the remastered package will be available for the PlayStation 3.
It's highly likely that the HD remastered editions of Tales of Symphonia and Dawn of the New World will be announced at Tales Festival this weekend in Japan. However, I don't think it's going to be announced in the west right then and there. First off, Tales Festival is Japanese exclusive and while I think it'd be unprecedented to announce something for the west at the festival I think they'll hold out. Secondly, E3 is just around the corner and my bet is that Namco Bandai is going to seize this opportunity to announce the title there. After all, it's only a few days later.
The 2013 Tales Festival is just around the bend and you can bet that RPG Site will report on any major news and announcements. Stay tuned this weekend as the festival kicks off.