JRPG fans cheered in unison when Namco Bandai earlier this month confirmed that Tales of Xillia would come to the West in 2013, more than a year after its Japanese debut. Of course, the delay just might be worth it - an interview with series producer Hideo Baba over on the official PlayStation Blog highlights what sets the game apart from the competition.
According to Baba, the difference (with regard to other franchises and other games in the Tales lineup) lies with its maturity. "I believe the game was acclaimed because of its maturity as the 15th anniversary title in Japan," he said. "The main audience in Japan remains [sic] continues to be the core . . . However, we know we need to acquire new fans while also keeping returning fans of the series invested in our new titles. The new character design is a big change for the series . . ."
Baba cites Milla, a female and one of two main protagonists, as evidence of this new direction. "I think you may recognize Milla as a mature character in terms of her portrayal in the game. Our intentions with Milla, for example, is to create a woman with strong convictions that female players can aspire to be like when they grow up. Of course she is also portrayed to be adored by young men like Jude."
Pleasing young female and young male audiences seems contradictory, but at least Milla is being bestowed with independence and moral strength. In a genre that's repeatedly blamed for perpetuating gender stereotypes, the change might be refreshing.
Stay tuned to PSU.com for more on Tales of Xillia, including its official North American and European release dates. In the meantime, hit the comments and let us know what you think of these gorgeous screenshots.