We posed a bunch of the IGN community’s questions to the Tekken team’s Katsuhiro Harada.
By Cam Shea
A week and a half ago I put out a call for Tekken questions for Katsuhiro Harada – the iconic face of the Tekken team (alongside Michael Murray), and an integral part of the series since its inception. The community responded and I collated a bunch of the best questions, then posed as many as I could when I caught up with Harada-san during his Australian visit.
Please bear in mind I’ve paraphrased many of these questions for the sake of brevity, and each question is attributed to one person, even though several people may have asked similar things. You should also check out some of the embedded clips, because we have gameplay of brand new stages, and of Eddy and Kuma in action! Enjoy!
TEKKENFORCE: Is Tekken Force in the game? Or mini games in general?
Katsuhiro Harada: Well, if you look back at the series, Tekken Force made its appearance – I think it was [Tekken] 3, and I was trying to recreate the feeling of the kind of games that were popular in the ‘80s. So that was the original intent. It was quite popular, so it saw another iteration in Tekken 4, and then it kind of evolved into the scenario campaign; the story-based mode in Tekken 6. So I guess you could say that, rather than that, people should focus more on the story mode for Tekken 7, because it’s kind of an extension [of that idea], just with a stronger storytelling aspect. It still contains a lot of mini game-type elements that people might expect of a Tekken game. We hope that they’ll check that out, because it’s more fun. So the short answer is – no, Tekken Force is not in it at the moment.
Khaleesisdad: Will Jaycee or Julia or any characters with similar move lists be available? Some of us who have been playing these characters since the Michelle days feel a little forgotten.
Katsuhiro Harada: It’s very difficult to answer this type of question, because Tekken is a long-running franchise and we always have a turnover of the audience, where some of the older players graduate to something else, or life and you get an influx of newer players for each instalment, so it’s always difficult to balance the game – including the roster – between the content from the past that people expect to return and new content that makes the game feel fresh, and also appeals to this younger audience that is newly attracted to the latest instalment.
We realise that not everyone’s favourite character is in the game at the moment, and we hope that they’ll give some of the new characters a try, because… you might find one that you like even better.
So it’s always difficult because we can’t just go and include every character that we’ve ever put in the game, because there’s way too many characters to do that and the game balance would suffer, in other areas of the game as well. And at the same time, we have a lot of very cool new characters that we introduce each time. And even a larger amount of characters that we’ve done this time. And there’s a lot of effort in making these characters appeal to a new audience as well as returning Tekken players. We realise that not everyone’s favourite character is in the game at the moment, and we hope that they’ll give some of the new characters a try, because they are pretty cool and you might find one that you like even better.
That said, it’s kind of tough, because, like – Eddy, who was revealed for the game recently – before we revealed him, everyone was complaining about ‘where’s Eddy? He’s missing!’ but up until then, when he is in the game, people are complaining ‘Capos are dirty, we hate them!’ We don’t hear the people saying ‘I love this character, he’s cool and I like to play him’, there’s just the negativity. ‘Oh, he sucks, I hate Capos.’ It would be – it might even influence the roster decision choices if we hear more about the people who enjoy playing these characters. Instead of waiting until they don’t show up and then complain then.
RobGrizzly: Tekken is such a martial arts-focused series, and now 7 main games deep, you have a vast variety of styles. I’m curious when creating fighters, do you pick a style first and design around that, or do you concept characters and then see what style matches them? What styles do you still want to explore?
Katsuhiro Harada: The way characters are designed changes depending on the times. For example, Tekken 3 was one of the big instalments that focused on real martial arts, and something new, in the form of Capoeira, for example. 4 and 5 were also heavily focused on a certain martial art, I guess you could say. And this was around the time before mixed martial arts really took off, but there was a lot of interest around matches between different martial arts. So it was a good environment to try out the different martial arts that we hadn’t included yet.
But then, after that, it was kind of hard to find a new martial art that people have heard of and have some kind of rough idea of what it is, so that there was enough interest and understanding there to include it in the game. So that’s why 6 and 7 and later on, it’s more focused on the character concept, and that kind of thing. There are still martial arts out there, it’s just that – y’know, many people mention Krav Maga or Silat or something like that – but it’s not major enough that people would have an idea what the movement looks like, so it is kind of tough to place that same emphasis on the martial arts and recreating them in the game.
IGN: How about the last part of Rob’s question – is there one style that you’d really like to see in the game?
Katsuhiro Harada: As far as martial arts we haven’t done, Michael [Murray] always asks for Muay Thai. Bruce might have seemed like Muay Thai but his official setting was ‘Kickboxing’ and the reason for that was that at the time he was introduced, the American segment of our arcade division said ‘most Westerners don’t know what Muay Thai is, you can’t call it Muay Thai, just say it’s Kickboxing’, so that’s why the setting for Bruce is Kickboxing and not Muay Thai.
Slambros: On the older hardware iterations of Tekken were relatively close together, but now it’s been roughly five or six years since Tekken Tag Tournament 2. There are certainly many factors to this, but to you, what is the greatest factor to the lengthening of development time over the period that the Tekken franchise has been developed?
Katsuhiro Harada: It’s a variety of different things. One is just that the things that the consumer expects from a game [have changed]. Before, as long as it had a solid fighting game system and you had a certain number of characters it was good, but now you have all these bonus modes and the addition of online play where you have to have online connectivity and the online modes that surround that. The leap in the hardware requires more fine-detailed graphics and environments. These kind of things take more time and more people and more money to develop.
And also, the separate business side of that is that back in the day no one really knew which game would turn out to be a hit or not, so these kind of things were left to the team, so once the Tekken team finished up on one game you could just say ‘hey, we made this cool prototype, so I think it’ll be good – go out and sell it.’ Where now it’s a big business, because the cost of a game is a lot more than it used to be there’s a lot more time and preparation that goes into pitching this concept, even if it’s Tekken, to the company, shareholders, board etcetera. A lot more time goes into the position of the game, timing and schedule etcetera. That, also, is another thing that’s added to the span in between the instalments.
Bashamu23: Will ghost battles be back in Tekken 7?
Katsuhiro Harada: That’s actually a good question because one of the new modes that we haven’t really talked about a lot yet is a thing called Treasure Battle. It’s not exactly the Ghost player mode, but what it is is, there’s so many customisation items that you can gain in the game this time so we were thinking if there was an interesting way to be able to obtain these, rather than just purchase them all with fight money, so the Treasure Battle is a series of CPU opponents that you face, but it’s not just your standard costumed Kazuya or whoever that you face, like in the arcade, they’re actually customised and they have interesting looking player names and some of the aspects of the Ghost battles that we had in past instalments have been incorporated into this, but at the same time it gives you a way to gain these customisation items, or sometimes a special CPU opponent will appear and you can maybe receive one of the items that they hold by defeating them, so this has kind of been wrapped into that mode.
Spider-Matt1987: Will Tekken ever offer players the opportunity to create their own characters like in the Soul Calibur Series?
Katsuhiro Harada: The direction of the games are different – they’re both fighting games, but the fans that are attracted to Soul Calibur are kind of a special group that maybe might not play other fighting games. They like the customisation, or the creation, or the story background etcetera, but they spend a huge amount of time creating a character from scratch, whether it’s to create someone cool or whether it’s to, like, make it look like something that everyone knows and make your friends laugh or whatever, but there’s a lot of time spent by that audience on that particular element, where [in] Tekken that’s not the main feature that we’re going after. The main feature itself is actually the strategy in the game or the story-based elements in the story mode, and things like this, so with all the work that goes into creating that mode – the programming, creating the assets and such, we think it would be a smarter decision for Tekken to create new characters; increase the roster, because that’s just a better match for the direction of the series.
zen_hydra: Why is Tag Tournament a separate title and not a mode within the main Tekken games?
Katsuhiro Harada: Well, there are many reasons for that. The most obvious is the structure of the program – Tekken 7 is designed around one versus one, so where if you have tag you have at the most four characters on screen at once, so that’s a much larger load on the CPU and the graphics engine, so the game currently isn’t really designed for that. And it’s not just the spec of the game itself, it’s the way the game is played, the way we balance and the way we tune the gameplay mechanics of just a one on one game is very different to what we do in a tag game, so we can’t really just tack it on. There’s a lot more work that goes into it than maybe some people realise. That’s why it is its own separate game.
Kosmodiar: Please give a hint as to what the promised PSVR content is going to be like?!? I wanna punch Heihachi in the face in first person!!!!
Katsuhiro Harada: So, that’s probably the thing a lot of people assume it would be, the PSVR, it would be in first person, but I actually tried this many years ago when first looking into VR and it’s not as exciting as many people would think. If you could imagine that you have some kind of a martial artist or pro boxer or something come and do shadowboxing right in front of your face, you can then probably begin to see how that’s not [a] very entertaining or enjoyable experience. Added to that, you’d be knocked into the air for, like, an aerial juggle or whatever – it’s really jarring and not very fun.
We ended up focusing more on the character elements of it, where you can customise your character and look at it from various angles…
So, I knew this many years ago when I tried it, so that’s why the experience is more tailored to Tekken. If someone were to create a VR game from scratch for fighting that was in first person maybe you could do it a little bit better, but just taking Tekken as it is and adapting it to first person VR is not the best way to do it. So, that’s why we ended up focusing more on the character elements of it, where you can customise your character and look at it from various angles, or with a fight against a CPU opponent slow down the match, and change the camera angles so you can see the game like you’ve never seen it before. These are the kind of things that make Tekken a more enjoyable experience in VR.
K-otic2000: Will the health handicap increase meter return?
Katsuhiro Harada: The life gauge handicap you were mentioning was in earlier instalments of the game, but when we looked into [it] and did surveys and such to see what elements of Tekken people like and what they don’t, one of the things that came up regarding that was that, many people complained that – if you’re familiar with it, you select a character and then before the battle begins you do the handicap – but if you accidentally hit the button, a lot of times people would start the match with a friend and what they were looking for was starting without a handicap, but they ended up hitting a button and it was 99 versus 100 percent or something like that. And so, a lot of people, rather than seeing it as a merit, saw it as kind of a demerit, because they didn’t want to do that setting but they did it accidentally or something.
And also, we didn’t see a whole lot of people who were making good use of it. There was also the problem that – okay, so, how much is fair? Is it 80%? Is it 70%? We didn’t really see many effective cases of people using it. It was more of an obstacle to a lot of people, so if there is that much of an audience that really wishes to see that feature, we’d like to hear what you liked about it and how you used it and what you thought.
Vici0us76: Will the game support cross-platform play?
Katsuhiro Harada: That’s a question that’s often asked, but if you look at the fighting games that do currently have that feature you can see there’s Killer Instinct, which is only on Xbox One and then there’s Street Fighter V which is only on PS4, so you don’t have a game that’s doing three platforms and connected to all of them. If it was like Rocket League or a game where you have a game server, maybe there’s a little bit more that you can do, but since Tekken is peer to peer, you’re connecting directly between two opponents, so rather than a technological hurdle, it’s more about being able to find a security protocol that Xbox Live and PSN would both find suitable, because you’d have to connect between those users, or for the PC, how do you have one game connect to at the same time PSN, but then for a different opponent Xbox Live?
The ones we just mentioned, you only have to worry about between the Xbox One and PC or only between PS4 and PC, so it’s a lot more easy. So, just the hurdle between the regulations of the first parties and trying to do that on all three platforms is just too big. Many people probably don’t realise what this entails, because they only see those two examples of Street Fighter or Killer Instinct.
PhoenixPerson: Will the New Japan Pro Wrestling downloadable content be made available to those of us in UK/Europe?
Katsuhiro Harada: It’s kind of surprising. We didn’t expect that there would be so much demand outside of Japan for this additional content that’s currently in the arcade… but we’ve noticed a lot of feedback from fans abroad that they want to see that kind of content. We can’t give a definitive answer at the moment, but we hope to be able to answer these requests.
Lordd_G: Will each version of Tekken 7 have console-exclusive guest characters, ala Soul Calibur 2?
Katsuhiro Harada: No. (Laughs.)
XxSPADEZxX: Will there be PS4 Pro and Project Scorpio support? If yes, can you provide details?
Katsuhiro Harada: Microsoft hasn’t really announced many details about Scorpio yet, so there isn’t a whole lot we can say about that, and then, for the PS4 Pro, the only thing we can say is there is a noticeable difference in the graphical quality, so for those people who have a PS4 Pro, we hope that you’ll play the game on that platform.
CrimsonAvenger: Chance of a Nintendo Switch port?
Katsuhiro Harada: That’s hard to discuss because of several reasons. One is that official company policy is that we don’t comment on titles that we’re going to do or not for Switch yet, but more on a basic level, we don’t know a whole lot about the hardware yet because the Switch is quite popular and sold out, so neither myself or Michael [Murray] has been able to get our hands on the platform yet.
round1fight: Is Tekken x Street Fighter still in the works or will Tekken 7 take its place by gradually adding more Street Fighter characters over time?
Katsuhiro Harada: This has been said before, but Tekken x Street Fighter, the current timing is just that Capcom is putting a lot of effort into building up Street Fighter V, for us, we’re looking straight towards the release of Tekken 7, and we just decided that it wasn’t a very good idea to split both of those groups by adding a third title that covers both and to the same timing, so it’s more about the timing and waiting for the right chance for that.
Whether Tekken 7 will include more Street Fighter characters is kind of tough to answer because Akuma was just the right choice because we wanted to include him in some way into the story, in a certain episode, and that idea was there for years before now. So a lot of effort went into building him into the game, but it’d be quite difficult to increase with a few more Street Fighter characters. It’s not like we couldn’t come up with an idea to do so, but at the moment there’s not really any plans to do that.
StickmanDX: Back in late PS2 days, there was an amazing beat-em-up game called Urban Reign from the Tekken and Soul Calibur teams, any chance of a new entry with online multiplayer? That had the most fluid fight system in a brawler, the levels just need to scroll and progress, instead of being fight arenas. So much possibility on these newer consoles and PC!
Katsuhiro Harada: That game was quite an interesting concept, the way that you were able to fight multiple opponents, the way the battle system flowed, there was even kind of a tag element to it as well. It was really well done at the time… but the major problem with the game was just that, even though it was well done it’s not that well known. Maybe 99% of the people you ask wouldn’t even know what it is, because there just wasn’t enough marketing put into the game to spread it out there, so I would be interested in releasing a game – maybe change the name – along the same vein as that, but using the Tekken team, or perhaps, you know, the Smash Bros is actually developed by Bandai Namco, and a lot of the Tekken staff are on that as well. So to get these people who are really good at action games and gather them together to make a spiritual successor, I guess you could say, to that game, is something I wouldn’t mind trying.
Cam Shea is senior editor in IGN’s Sydney office, and recently sat down for an hour-long chat with Michael Murray from the Tekken team.