Feature: Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Interview with Katsuhiro Harada

July 25, 2012

The Tekken series has been around for almost twenty years now, and throughout this time has gathered a reputation as one of the most popular fighting game series in the world, beloved by fans for its mix of characters while also gaining critical and commercial success. One of the most popular entries in the series, Tekken Tag Tournament has finally received a sequel after ten years of waiting by keen fighting game fans. Tekken Tag Tournament II aims to gather as many of the franchise’s characters as possible within the one game, spanning generations of titles. Rocket Chainsaw had the immense pleasure of speaking with none other than Katsuhiro Harada, the director of the Tekken series, at Namco-Bandai’s Sydney HQ. What does he hope people will get out of Tekken Tag Tournament? Which characters would he love to see in the Tekken series? Read on and find out!

Rocket Chainsaw: A lot of people were surprised to find out that the Tekken series has decided to move to Nintendo consoles. What do you feel has been unique about seeing Tekken on the Wii U?

Katsuhiro Harada: The Wii U controller is quite unique for the platform. The contorller allows things to be more convenient and allow us to have shortcuts. Also, since it’s on Nintendo, there are a lot of cool things we can only do because it’s Nintendo. One of these things we showed at E3, where a mushroom dropped down and Heihachi ate it and got bigger. So that’s just one example of something that we can do because we’re collaborating with Nintendo, and we might get to see more of that.

RC: The original Tekken Tag was really well-loved by the fans and critics. Why do you think it’s taken nearly ten years to have a sequel for it?

KH: The original Tekken Tag Tournament wasn’t really in the original plans for us. We were working on Tekken 4 at the time when the sales team came to us and said they wanted a new Tekken right away, and Tekken Tag was thought up in about five minutes. It wasn’t in the original plan obviously, and I was quite surprised that it was so popular with the fans. Right away we were thinking of a sequel to that, but the tag system is quite difficult to develop, because it requires twice as much memory to do a proper tag-team and have four characters onscreen at once. You’d have to get twice the performance out of the graphic engine as well. Just doing all that you can with two characters and the staff you have doesn’t always leave room for a lot of new gameplay. We really wanted to evolve the game system, which was why it was necessary to do (Tekken) 4 and 5 and 6 before coming back to to tag, and it just turned out that ten year had passed, and now we’re ready to do it.

RC: The Tekken characters have shown up in a few different franchises, such as a few cameo appearances in Soul Calibur and the Street Fighter vs Tekken game coming up. Is there any other characters that you’d love to see put into the Tekken universe?

KH: I guess if we were going to add some guest characters to Tekken I’d personally love to see Captain Price from Call of Duty. From movies, my favourite is Bruce Campbell.

RC: Good choice!

KH: Yeah! I’ve wanted to do it so long but couldn’t. We actually saw him at Comic-Con last year and I approached him to ask him if he could be in the game, but he looked so busy at the signing section that we weren’t able to.

RC: Please, you’ve got to make it happen! Back in April it was announced that there would be some DLC, with some characters for free when people preorder the game. Are there any other characters that you can tease which may make an appearance as DLC?

KH: There were four characters that you mentioned that were announced as DLC, like Angel and Michelle. We also announced an additional four that aren’t DLC, like Tiger Jackson and Prototype Jack and Marshall. There are still some that we haven’t announced yet as DLC which will be free as well. We can’t say who, but there are two types: one that people have been asking for for ages. The request have been great and they’re going to be in there…maybe. When people hear about the additional characters eventually, there will be one character that people have been asking for for so long that it’s not going to be a surprise, and there’s going to be another group of characters they had no idea about, and they’ll be quite surprised when they find out who those characters are.

RC: Tekken is pretty well-known for having some crazy and off-the-wall characters like Roger and Panda and Orge. Are there any other ideas that you’d love to try and some day put in there? I personally think you need to put something in there like a giant squid or a whale!

KH: It’s funny that you mention that, because one time it was quite popular on forums to hear that someone had cracked Tekken 3, and there were some character names that came out. One of them was ‘Insect.’ They had this bug where the character appeared very skinny and the joints were messed up, so it looked kind of like we could mould the character into a praying mantis. There was also a salamander character that came up in Tekken Arcade, and it didn’t matter which button you’d press, it’d just kinda flop there to attack, and if we were charging people a dollar per play and they picked that character I think they’d get kind of angry at us.

RC: Is there anything else that you might like to say for our readers at all when it comes to Tekken Tag 2? 

KH: Tag 2 is really kind of the ultimate Tekken, because not only can you play one-on-one or two-on-two, you can also play one-on-two, and have two different play styles combined into the one match. Any of the fans of the past can play this Tekken. There’s also some interesting modes as well. Fight Lab is all-new for Tag 2. It’s cool for beginner players as you can play through and enjoy the mode itself, but it’s good for other players too. More advanced players will be able to play it. There’s also the combot, which you can customise its moves with all of these different techniques from different characters. You could take moves from Heihachi or Paul, and have all of these different character’s moves in one person, which is something that has never been done before for Tekken. You can also take that combot online, which is something that’s really cool about Tag 2.