As a fan of the series, I felt that I wanted to express some recent feelings regarding the direction of its releases/localizations both past and present, along with what we as fans can do in the meantime:
Disclaimer: I'd first like to preface this piece by stating that everything mentioned here is all based on my own opinion, and anything mentioned about Bandai Namco's future plans are based on the perspective of fan who is just making observations, nothing more.
These past ten years, I've been on top of the franchise's news and changes, and I felt that the recent silence we've been witnessing with major Tales of news in Japan was something that I wanted to comment on. It’s been odd, and quite frankly jarring. A series that I would follow a news routine with which includes (but is not limited to) checking out the official Tales of websites daily for each new game, the Japanese news websites, forums, keeping an eye at Tales Festival every year and the occasional anniversary announcement in December. To suddenly go from that frequent activity to this odd lull period where the most we got from Tales Festival this year was news on the mobile apps, is surreal.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the success and appeal of those mobile games, I was just expecting… More. Tales of has always been a home console series to me primarily, and a mobile/escort market second. To not get any announcement related to that primary market created an odd hollow feeling after the Festival was over. While I understand that it’s almost been a year since Tales of Berseria’s localization, it's already been more than a year since that game's initial release in Japan, and this is where things start to feel a bit different from the routine. Back in the day, titles would constantly be announced left and right. Whenever a new Mothership title is about to come out, another game would be announced just weeks before in order to keep the community hungry for more. It's one of the keys that helped keep the franchise (and AC, for that matter) active throughout the years. Bandai Namco’s Japan branch being this silent for this long regarding their next major title in the series has been off putting. Due to the lack of any hint for the future, I get the feeling that I may be drifting away from the series. Not only that, but other franchises that I'm interested in are also throwing in new products to get me hyped about that I almost forget about this series at times. These events made me wonder: When was the last time I felt a silence like this with this series? And it brought me to the year 2008. There is one difference however, It wasn't related to the Japanese releases at all. It was happening in an entirely different region altogether, and it was within the localization community.
In 2008 (2009 in Europe), the last localization was Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World. After a slew of consistent localizations since Tales of Symphonia in 2004, the community did not receive any new localizations since Dawn of the New World. Meanwhile, Japan continued to get new titles like Tales of Graces, Tales of Phantasia: Narikiri Dungeon X, and Tales of Xillia. This resulted in the localization community experiencing its own silence during this time until early 2011. It was then that I remembered when the internet was buzzing over this puzzle (pictured above) that Bandai Namco posted for their next game to be localized. This one was peculiar as it led to a website that very much hinted to a Tales of title. Days later, they've confirmed that it was in fact Tales of Graces f, the last game we could've got on the Wii but was recently ported on the PS3. This marked the first time that we were getting a fresh Tales of localization since 2008 and once again, the community was rejuvenated with that familiar spark of excitement and activity. This spark was nurtured and flourished within the community thanks to all of the hardworking people at Bandai Namco who proceeded to shell out multiple localizations. The localizations were focused on games that we've missed out on such as Tales of Xillia 1/2 & Tales of Hearts R, as well with new games that we got within a year of Japan's initial release like Tales of Symphonia Chronicles & Tales of Zestiria. It was the spark that marked the current boon period we’re in which is quite honestly, the largest we’ve ever experienced in the history of this series’ localization periods.
So why did I bring this up? Maybe it's because Bandai Namco’s Japan branch needs a bit of a break. After a very good track record of releases in Japan, the absorption of Tales Studio by Bandai Namco, and certain staff members leaving, this current silent period may be the cause of these factors finally catching up to them as a business. If this silence means that they’re just readjusting with these changes as they plan for the future, then I don’t mind the wait. Heck, if the localization community can go through something as long as the drought between Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World & Tales of Graces f, then I'm sure we can also practice that patience for the Japanese branch to take that much needed time to step back, breathe, and figure out what to do next with the series.
I can tell you what I will be doing during this time, I'll still be active in the series, and I hope that everyone else will too.
There's no better time to explore and express your fandom for the series than now, and there are a ton of things that you can do as a Tales of fan. Some things that I'd suggest is to try looking into other titles in the series from the past or present that you might've missed out on due to the time when you became a fan of the series, or try out the import titles if you've finished all of the localized titles--where there are some material online to help you through the games that I'll be linking to below. Look into some fan translated side materials of your favourite titles and you might surprise yourself with some of the hidden depths to world building that you might've missed in the game. If you prefer to challenge your gameplay prowess, you can try out self-imposed boss runs without items or with a single party member. Maybe even look into interacting with the growing community by attending one of the Tales of fan conventions that have started making a presence in recent years, or start an entirely new community project altogether. There are plenty of ways to express your fandom for the series besides waiting in anticipation for the latest game in the series. However you express your fandom in the community, now is the good time to explore that expression while Bandai Namco continues to prepare for the future of the franchise. Seemed to have worked for us back in 2008, and now the call has surfaced again, but with the Japanese branch this time.
Just wanted to close this post with some people/groups who have kept themselves busy with the fandom throughout the years:
Tales of Fan Translators
- Taleslations (Tumblr)
- A site that contains translations & summaries of several side materials from the main games.
- Absolute Zero
- Provided translation patches for several old Tales of games/versions that didn't receive a localization.
- Tales of Vesperia PS3 Fan Translation
- Tales of fans who have come together and released a fully translated English patch of Tales of Vesperia on the PS3. Also includes an online translation guide for those who may not be comfortable with the patching process.
- Kouli's Guides (Some featured in our Guides section)
- Kouli has created guides for several Tales of games in the past that were released in Japan fairly quick so that non-Japanese speakers can go through the game without worrying about understanding the language or plot.
- lanyn (GameFAQS Account)
- Has a ton of material such as translations/battle guides that cover Tales of Rebirth, making the game easily accessible for those who can't read Japanese.
- Uploaded videos of the skits from Tales of Eternia that were missing from the localized release. English subbed.
High Level Tales of Players/Events
- dagoldenclip2 (Old Channel)
- Very dedicated Tales of player who has covered practically every Tales of game in the series. My personal favourites so far are the Tales of Innocence R & Tales of the Abyss runs.
- Tales of Player who has shown passion for high level play with Tales of Graces f & Tales of Phantasia: Narikiri Dungeon X, among other games.
- Shows off several Party NIND (No Items, No Death) boss fights and solos primarily featuring Tales of Martial Artists & Archers.
- Magnus Blade
- Focuses on solos for various characters in the series including Jude (W/o Snap Pivoting), Guy, Rokurou and currently, Judith.
- Tales of Marathon: 2017 | 2016
- An event featuring Speedrunners from across the world who complete the games from start to finish through skillful speed & play. Hosted at RPGLimitBreak.
Tales of Fan Conventions in North America
- Aselia Con
- The first fan created Tales of conventions in North America that occurs in spring at Irving, Texas. I had the pleasure of attending and vlogging my experiences there as well.
- Radiant Northwest
- Another fan created Tales of convention in the USA that occurs in the summer. Located in Bellevue, Washington.
- Maple Gel Con
- The first fan created Tales of convention in Canada. Occurs during the early summer at Oakville, Ontario.
Other Tales of Fan Works
- Tales of Series Untold Tales: An Art Tribute
- A collaboration page with various artists who illustrated all of the major characters of the Tales of franchise during 2015.
- Tales of the World: Memoria Festi Artbook
- An artbook collaboration by fans celebrating the 20th anniversary of the series where all proceeds where donated to Red Cross Disaster Relief.
- Tales of Eternia: The Animation English Fandub - Episode 1
- An English fandub of the first episode of the anime organized by The Brotherhood of Gaming.
- Tales of Recipe
- A pair of recipes inspired from Tales of dishes in game by the European Tales of Ambassador 2015, Koyo.
- Tales OP Chorus Medley
- A medley of Tales of opening songs sung by 26 singers that I organized to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the series.
If you know of some people who would fit in this list or if you'd like to share your own works, feel free to comment below. I'm definitely interested in learning about how other people have expressed their passion for the series~
PS: I'm well aware that Tales of the Stage & the Tales of Orchestra Concert happened in Japan this year as well--which may have been where most of Bandai Namco's resources were geared toward. I just wanted to comment on a topic that primarily made me become a fan in the first place and at the end of the day, it's the games.