Interview: Katsuhiro Harada talks Tekken

Series overlord opens up on backlashes, button mashing, and bears in bikinis

Katsuhiro Harada, director and chief producer of Tekken, has been talking about Tekken Tag Tournament 2 non-stop since E3. Lucky for us we were able to catch up with Mr. Tekken himself to talk about it some more.

It has been thirteen years since Tekken Tag Tournament. What challenges did you encounter in adapting the TTT2 system to today's online multiplayer?

From Tekken 6, we had to do four characters on screen at once. Something a lot of people don’t notice is even in Tag 1 they weren’t all on screen at one time, so this is something that was new to Tag 2. We had to rework the character models and that requires twice as much memory to do. We had to actually rebuild a lot of the elements of the game because of that. Then when you have to take that online, obviously it is more difficult. SoulCalibur 5 was very popular with the fans and had a very good response, so we had to take that as a base, but also adjust it so that you can have the tag work smoothly, because you have four characters on screen at once and you also have them tagging in and out very frequently for combos. So to have that running smoothly is something that was very difficult, even more so for online play. It was probably two times as much work as it normally is.

Was a lot of the process of getting it to console occupied with the online element, or were there other difficulties?

Going to console, we only had the arcade mode, but there are all these other modes to add on - creating [them] on top of the multiplayer was very difficult.

It has been announced that pre-orders will get 100 pieces of swimwear DLC. Do you think it will be successful? What’s the rationale behind offering this as a pre-order incentive?

With the Tekken franchise, a lot of people have already decided that they’re going to buy it, and not just this time but in general, but they don’t know when the release date is, or it’s out and they forgot about it. We wanted to avoid that, so we tried to add several different kinds of hooks. One of them was Snoop Dogg, to appeal to people who wouldn’t normally play Tekken - a more casual audience - and we got the desired affect with that. The swimsuits were just another hook to appeal to a different crowd. From the Japanese standpoint, it’s an interesting costume that a lot of people would be interested in. We didn’t know about the Western market that much.

(Harada’s translator adds how their American offices were a bit confused with the swimsuit DLC, but after seeing the trailer at Comic-Con, he was satisfied to see that the Westerners were pretty interested in it.)

It’s not that people will buy the game just for the swimsuits. People are already going to buy the game, but they’ll do it later, or they might forget. We want them to do it now, so we try to prepare several hooks, and that’s one of them.

"People are already going to buy the game, but they’ll do it later, or they might forget. We want them to do it now."

Why do you think fighting games can have characters in swimsuits and not be criticised for objectifying women, yet games like Lollipop Chainsaw do?

They do get that sometimes. Dead or Alive, for example – I don’t want to single them out, but people have sometimes said the women’s breasts are too large, or they move around a lot, and it’s being used as a way of selling the game. Maybe you’re right that they don’t get as much criticism. Perhaps maybe it’s because with other games it’s more story based and it’s about the atmosphere and environment. For fighting games it’s all about the opponent. The character and the way they’re dressed isn’t as important because they are just a tool. You are more focused on the opponent and what they’re doing and what their characteristics are. Maybe people aren’t as focused on the characters as much as they are in other types of games.

Can the bears wear bikinis?

We do have swimsuits for the bears actually. Even True Ogre has a swimsuit.

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