A Chat With Tekken Series Director Katsuhiro Harada: Part 2

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In case you’ve been living under a rock or if you simply missed it, last week we had the chance to sit down with Mr Katsuhiro Harada, Director of the Tekken series. Today in Part 2 we finish off our chat and discuss working with the Wii U, Namco Bandai on the next Smash Bros. and why you shouldn’t skip Tekken Tag Tournament 2 this September.

Tag 2 is also coming to Wii U later this year, will the Wii U edition take advantage or use the Wii U GamePad in any interesting ways and will there be any console exclusives?

Regarding the controller for the Wii U, obviously we do have some things planned. Some examples would be like what we did with the 3DS, where you use the touch screen for shortcuts for the commands and what not. Also perhaps being able to use the controller to view the move list and to have the character on screen to perform it so you know what kind of move it is. But most of the features we’re planning for the controller are not the main game mechanics but features that enhance gameplay or make it more convenient. As far as the console exclusives go, there are some things that I am thinking about, one of which was shown at E3 where Heihachi eats a mushroom and becomes big. Those are some of the things that we can only do because we’re collaborating with Nintendo. That’s something people seem to be excited about so I have more of those kinds of ideas planned.

Speaking about the Wii U, many people are worried that it isn’t a next generation console, mainly saying that the graphical horse power of the Wii U is comparable to the consoles of this generation. What are your thoughts on people saying that the Wii U isn’t really a ‘next-generation’ console?

I’m a bit reluctant to talk about the Wii U specs, when I mentioned something earlier it got totally blown out of proportion and twisted. However while developing Tag 2, since it’s very graphic intensive because of the multiple characters on screen, there was still some power left over for graphic capabilities so the graphics chips seems to be pretty decent. But to be honest, that’s not really even relevant because people seem to be focusing too much comparing the raw specs to other hardware. You really have to be looking at the capabilities and what features it has. For example, if you’re playing Tag 2 on the Wii U at home and your parents get mad at you for taking up the TV too much, you can just take it to your bed and start playing there. Being able to take a high end game and play it in your bed is something that’s really unique so that’s the thing people are kind of missing.

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Chad beats Mark #57

Late last month, fans on Twitter were quite fired up about the voice actors from previous titles being replaced in Tag 2. Has it been tough to keep up with fan demands while still meeting what’s realistic within the game development process?

It’s not that we try not to fulfil fan requests on purpose, we try to fulfil as much as possible, sometimes it’s just whether they’re reasonable or not. As far as the change of voice actors go, one very easy reason to understand but maybe not a very good example would be the character Heihachi. The voice actor passed away so we had to use a different one. When I explain it like that, of course, maybe 99% of the people would understand. But even so there are still a small percentage of people who say “Well why don’t you just use his past voices and pay the fees involved, just keep using it.” I find that it’s not very thought through because it might be the case that his family wouldn’t want us to use it, or maybe the case is that the agency will say “We want you to use a new voice actor.” There are all these things you can think of and I won’t say to the fans “please understand this and that.” At least try on your part to think that maybe there are some circumstances behind the reason why and then to think about it at all and not just say “Do this and do that, do it the way it used to be because that’s the best.”

Nintendo revealed last month that Namco Bandai will be handling the next Super Smash Bros. to a somewhat mixed reception. Have you been heavily involved with that? Can we expect Heihachi or other Tekken characters rubbing shoulders with Mario?

Obviously people are saying many things since we are developing the next Smash Bros. We’re very excited that Nintendo chose us, and most they likely did because Namco Bandai has a very good track record with fighting games such as the Tekken series. We have a lot of experience and knowledge regarding this particular genre, that’s probably one of the factors in their decision. That being said, although we’ll help provide support on technology and other things involved creating the game, I’m currently very focused on the Tekken series. Some people might say online that I’m going to be involved in the development process or not but that shouldn’t really be an issue because the game design is going to be handled by Masahiro Sakurai. So I don’t understand why there would be any worries there.

I mentioned in a past interview recently that the Tekken characters are something that maybe long time fans of the Smash Bros. series don’t really expect, so maybe they won’t be in there. The feedback was very mixed, there were 2 camps, one said “Harada, you’re very right, we don’t need the Tekken characters in Smash Bros, good job.” It’s nice that they agree with me but on the other hand, they themselves don’t exactly need Tekken characters in Smash Bros. so it’s kind of complex. Then there’s the other half were people saying “No you’re totally wrong, we want Tekken and Soul Calibur characters in the game otherwise why does it need to be developed be Namco Bandai” so there’s really two different sides and it’s difficult to choose one. Obviously I’m not going to say to Sakurai, “We want Tekken characters, please put it in” that’s not the case so people don’t have to worry about that. The sole decision will probably be made in a way that if more people want Tekken characters in it then Sakurai might choose to do so, if not then so be it.

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The famous Mishima family beat-down.

Bit of a fan related question I’d like to sneak in, will Tag 2 provide some answers onto why Heihachi is looking exceptionally young as of late?

The story background behind that is Heihachi has been researching the devil gene and he’s always been trying to find a power equal or even greater. So he’s been doing all this research and as a result of this, he’s found a medicine that helps rejuvenate his hair as well as making him younger – that’s the story setting.

In reality there are also the circumstances that the voice actor passed away and since we were going to choose a new one we wanted to kind of also rejuvenate the character as well. It’s been explained a little bit in the game so there’s some interesting story elements if you follow that.

The final question is a bit of a tricky one, in one sentence why should people go out and buy Tekken Tag Tournament 2 this September?

It has everything that people like from the past installments regarding the game system, characters, mechanics, one on one, two on two, two on one all of that, so it’s the ultimate Tekken package. There’s also Fight Lab which will of course help teach new comers to series as it’s a great introduction into the series itself. There’s no reason not to buy it, so please pre-order now (laughs). Of course that’s also all supposed to be in one sentence.

Many thanks to Shadowloo for the awesome photos of the event!

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