At the Tokyo Game Show this week, Heidi Kemps spent some time hanging out with Tekken series producer Katsuhiro Harada and got the inside word on upcoming arcade game Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and the state of fighting games as a whole. Check out the interview below.
G4: The arcade version of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is on the cusp of worldwide release. One area that seems to be of concern to fans of the original TTT is the inclusion of walls in the combat, which were not present in the original game.
Harada: This is actually something we put a lot of thought into from the very beginning of the project. At point we actually thought the situation with the walls might prove bad enough that a Tekken Tag sequel wouldn’t even be feasible. But, as you may have seen in footage from the game, we’ve seen that it actually works pretty well if the characters jump in and jump out over the wall. You might see some areas where you have both your characters onscreen getting smashed up near the wall, and it might look over the top, but the timing is actually quite detailed as to how long they remain there and when they can return. All that has been carefully calculated.
Also, there is a new gameplay feature that has been added to make tagging easier and more strategic – the Tag Crash. If your partner is in Tag Rage, you can press Right Punch and tag at the same time to have your partner instantly drop in at the cost of your red recovery gauge. That’s another option for people who want to tag out. So no, we don’t see the walls as an issue.
G4: I imagine that one of the biggest challenges in making fighting games nowadays – especially something as combo-heavy as Tekken – is that players tend to discover elements to the game that the programmers, designers, and testers never found: things like infinite combos and ways to exploit certain skills in an advantageous way. How do you plan to handle things if some “broken” elements are discovered in TTT2? Do you plan to frequently update the game?
Harada: It really is case by case. If it’s some unforeseen element that really breaks the game, then obviously we have to rapidly respond and fix it immediately. If it’s something we didn’t foresee but turns out to be interesting – a different way to play the game – then obviously, we leave it be. If it’s something like a character being more powerful than we expected, rather than updating frequently – which kind of destroys the game, since it becomes hard for everyone to keep track of all the constant changes – we tend to carefully evaluate it over a period of time, assess area we want to fix, and then take action. It really depends on the circumstances.
Some of the elements that you see in Tekken today actually have their roots in things we didn’t forsee: for example, even before bound was introduced and the aerial juggles got to where they are now, we noticed that a lot of players liked to do a combo and use specific moves to pick the opponent up a little bit to continue the combo. That was something they seemed to be enjoying, so we turned it into a full-fledged system.
G4: Right now, I’m seeing two distinct “camps” of fighting game fans – the people super-pumped over all the different Tekken-related releases coming out across all the different platforms, and the people who are like, “Why so much Tekken? It’s everywhere now. I’m starting to get sick of it.” Are you worried that perhaps the fact that there are so many Tekken-related releases within to next year or so might leave people feeling exhausted with the franchise?
Harada: You’re quite right, there are a lot of fans who are happy to see so much Tekken coming there way, and there will be people who might find all of the releases overwhelming. The way we look at it is that the bringing it out in so many form gives people a lot of options. Maybe some people have a PS3 but not a 3DS, or the other way around. Younger players can’t go to arcades during late hours, so they’d likely be at home playing on the TV against their friends. They probably aren’t so interested in watching the movie, they’d rather use that time to practice more. Then you have older players who have been with Tekken for many years, but they might have become older and started a family. They may not be able to use the household TV and much as they’d like. *laughs* They can watch the movie on the 3DS, or even practice if they want. We really just want to provide players with these sort of options so they can enjoy Tekken in a way they see fit.