Tekken creator promising a masterpiece
Wed, 12 Sep 2012 5:07p.m.
By Daniel Rutledge
Fighting games don’t come much bigger than Tekken.
The first title of the franchise was released in 1994 and it has since sold over 40 million games worldwide.
Director of the series Katsuhiro Harada says that the latest iteration, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, has something for everyone and will go down in fighting game history as a masterpiece.
I spoke to Harada about the title, his career and what makes the Tekken games so successful.
When you were a young man, before Tekken existed, what made you want to create a Fighting Game?
I'm 40-years-old now and I've always enjoyed videogames, but when I was a teenager, fighting games didn't really exist. But I’ve always been interested in competitive sports, I competed in yacht racing and judo when I was young. I’ve always enjoyed competing with others. Shortly before I graduated from university Street Fighter came out and I got very interested in that. When I graduated university I was looking for a job and because I'd always loved videogames, always enjoyed competing against people and was inspired by Street Fighter, I thought a career in the gaming industry would be interesting. But at that time I was looking more at participating in gaming events or running them, being involved in the community that way. So that was the first thought I had regarding fighting games. I didn’t right away think to create my own.
Oh you studied judo - what belt did you get to and what was your favourite throw?
I learned not only judo, but I also did a bit of karate and taekwondo as well, but I quit each of those before reaching black belt. So I had one or two belts left before black belt for each of those. They have a saying in judo that technique and softness overcomes strength, but in reality with martial arts, it’s very advantageous to have longer reach, whether it be arms or legs. I just wasn’t born with those attributes. I decided I’d rather use my head, so I shifted into yacht racing instead and eventually fighting games too. Although the games are about fighting, it’s more about mental capacity than physical prowess, so they're very fair. I still enjoy watching real martial arts but don't practice them myself any more, so I don’t particularly have a favourite technique.
Tekken has become one of the biggest fighting games in the world. What do you think makes it different from the other games out there such as Street Fighter?
Yeah, that's right, we've sold over 40 million Tekken games, which is the biggest selling fighting game ever. Fighting game fans know best how each title is different. With Street Fighter there’s actually quite a lot of differences between the franchises, obviously it’s a 2D fighting franchise and we’re 3D, so the game systems are quite different. But Tekken is a unique fighting game even compared to other 3D fighting games. There's a very aggressive nature to the gameplay and once you’re able to attack, you can really attack your opponent powerfully. If you’re on the receiving end you’re going to take a lot of damage at once. Even if you’re much better than your opponent you still could lose to them. If you’re a novice player playing a more advanced player you know that if you do really well you might still be able to beat them, and that’s something that’s quite unique to Tekken that makes it very thrilling.
Who is your own personal favourite Tekken character?
I don’t usually like to say, because when I do so a lot of players complain that that character gets special treatment as my favourite. But so many people seem to be interested in that recently and are asking me, I’ve decided to say. The answer is Heihachi Mishima. Of course I like other characters like Jin Kazama, but Heihachi is my favourite. He’s a character that I’ve liked throughout the series and is quite different from the other characters. In Tekken you have all these all these different monsters, and the devil and spirit genes that some characters have, their abilities can’t be explained by science. Heihachi doesn't use any of this magic. He's somewhat of a bad guy, but he's the closest of all the characters to being human, and that aspect of him is something I really like. My personal way of thinking and my philosophy is heavily reflected in his character which also makes him my favourite.
What can you tell fans about the new Tekken Tag Tournament 2?
It’s got so much content in it, especially for fans who have been with us for a while. It’s pretty much got everything that was in the previous instalment on top of all the new content. There's many, many characters, and stages, so I think the fans will be extremely excited to see what’s in this package. But we're also aiming for newcomers to enjoy this game and we really have a lot of modes of other content prepared for them as well. So we hope people check on the internet about further details of the game, and that will hopefully pre-order and check it out when it comes out. This will be a masterpiece fighting game.
You’re confident that this is a masterpiece?
This really is the pinnacle of not only Tekken, but it will go down as a masterpiece in history of fighting games. It has 1v1, 2v2, tag battles, but also the unique 1v2. The game can match all of the different styles of all fighting game players, so we think it’ll appeal to a wide variety of audiences. We hope you all enjoy it!
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is released in New Zealand tomorrow on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
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