Harada Explains: Why Tekken Is Different From Other Fighting Games

It may be at the top of the fighting game genre now, but the Tekken series wasn’t always popular. Katsuhiro Harada (aka Mr. Tekken) explains how Tekken fought its way to the top, and what makes it unique.

Harada-san was in Sydney last week for the worldwide launch of Tekken 6 on PS3 and XBox 360. Armed with your questions, I had a one-on-one chat with him about the past, present and future of Tekken, and more specifically, how it compares to a competing game he contributed towards: Soulcalibur.

He says that Soulcalibur’s animation was based on the code used for Tekken, but players will note that the games’ mechanics are “radically different” from each other. In fact, the two teams had completely different philosophies on what a fighting game should look like.

“[The team behind]Soulcalibur especially had this thing where they wanted to develop the fighting game that they’re working on in a totally different way that Tekken has been created,” says Harada. “So the two cultures of the teams involved, the way that they think about fighting games and what fighting games should be, and how they should be made is quite different … the whole thought process was so radically different from Tekken.”

Harada stresses the different ways of thinking between the two teams, rather than anything from a technological standpoint. But he does add that interaction between the two teams has started to increase recently...

We move on to marketability and how Tekken differentiates itself from Soulcalibur and other 3D fighting games like Virtua Fighter. Harada doesn’t hesitate in pointing out that the Tekken series had a shaky start. “Tekken 1 and 2 weren’t really popular in the arcades when they first came out,” he says. “We were nowhere near Virtua Fighter in terms of popularity. It's only recently that everyone’s said Tekken is probably at the top of the fighting game franchise.”

Gaining and maintaining competitive advantage all comes down to Tekken’s unique gameplay, and Harada says that it’s precisely this that makes Tekken so popular:

If you compare Tekken to Virtual Fighter, the direction each game takes is quite different. Virtua Fighter is based on rock-paper-scissors — if your opponent does this and you do that, 100 per cent of the outcome will always be the same. It’s pretty easy to understand and it's constant. Tekken isn’t so constant — if you do this and your opponent does that, the outcome will vary. There are factors like the distancing, the angle of your characters and such. When the team looked further into why it makes the game so interesting and satisfying to the player, we thought more about the offensive, the attack. For example, if you launch your opponent into the air by doing the aerial juggle — something that most people think of when they think of Tekken gameplay — it's so satisfying because getting your opponent into that position, and being able to damage them and decrease their health bar so rapidly just felt really good.

Improving on that experience was — and continues to be — a critical factor in Tekken’s development, and it spawned the bounce combo system in Tekken 6.

“The bounce combo system,” Harada explains, “increases the variety of moves you have available, and if you carry your opponent to the wall you can attack them even more. So just the sheer satisfaction of damaging your opponent so one-sidedly is something that feels really good about Tekken.”

“Just trying to hone that aspect of the game really led to Tekken being unique. It clicked with the users.”

Tekken 6 hits shelves this Thursday, November 5. Will you be picking up the game?


Comments

    I take my fighting games kinda seriously so I certainly won't be picking up Tekken 6, for the exact reasons the developer listed here.

    Already have a copy.

    Already got it :) Thanks Dungeon Crawl in Melb!

    Been playing tekken series since tekken 3 came out on playstation with the same 5 mates since.. well, since tekken 3 came out.

    Game's good. Alisa seems a bit OP, but i'm sure as me and my mates' skill improves, her super-powered moves will be less of a hassle.

    "For example, if you launch your opponent into the air by doing the aerial juggle — something that most people think of when they think of Tekken gameplay — it’s so satisfying because getting your opponent into that position, and being able to damage them and decrease their health bar so rapidly just felt really good."

    Why do I think I'll be on the receiving end of this more often than not? That's not going to feel good

    Saying Virtua Fighter is rock paper scissor is an insult. Virtua Fighter has more depth than Tekken. It may only have 1 kick and 1 punch button (plus 1 block), but with the right combination of joystick, you can attack/defend/reversal at different angle. Virtua Fighter is easy to learn, but very hard to master. Tekken is only harder to learn until you get the hang of the 10 hit combo.

    On the other hand, Soul Calibur is more rock paper scissor, as it may have similar button style as virtual fighter, but it lacks the depth.... If I were to rank 3D fighting games it will be in this order

    1) Virtua Fighter
    2) Tekken
    3) Soul Calibur
    4) Dead or Alive
    5) Other 3D fighting games

    Side note: I wish Sega would release a Virtua Fighter for PSP, so that I can play it on the go...

      bigkid, in the same way you think Harada lacks knowledge in Virtua Fighter, you also lack knowledge in Tekken. Learning a 10 hit combo means nothing on the pro-level. This always happens between fighting game comparisons...

      Luckily, I won't start insulting Virtua Fighter like the other fanboys because I'm a fighting game enthusiast and respect all of them.

      Anyway, I know the exact feeling that Harada is talking about when you land a launcher and how good it feels to land a deadly aerial combo. I'm impressed that he understands this. The bound system is actually refreshing in my mind.

      I'll be getting Tekken 6 because its one of the best fighting games out. PSN: HybridGB - Aussies only, can't play with lag. I also play SF4.

      I would actually say that Soul Calibur still has more randomness than Tekken.
      Tekken is the most static of all fighters out there because there is no combo breaker. If you fight Paul or King and they get the first punch off, you might as well drop the controller--you're already dead.
      Soul Calibur at least doesn't deal such extreme damage, so you do have a chance to fight back.

      Virtua Fighter, like many said, is the most complex of all. It has more timing and positioning than any of the other game--to a fault, in my opinion. The game is just too damn hard.

      I missed Bloody Roar.

      What are you talking about "Tekken is only harder to learn until you get the hang of the 10 hit combo." 10hit combos are useless in competive play bro, they can all be blocked excluding part of yoshimitsus which has alot of openings to stop it before reaching the unblockable section. Juggling is the main part of the game aswell as positioning to be able to start a juggle without being blocked and left wide open for a counter attack

    I've ordered it from play-asia for a low $62!!! Beat that Australian rip-off prices!

    On another note David, when are you going to publish the Q&As with Harada-san?

      Yeah I was wondering what happened to all the questions on the series you asked for??

        There'll be more posts drawn from our Harada interview coming this week. Unfortunately we didn't have time to ask him all your questions.

    How humble, Tekken has always been one of the greatest fighting games.

    Tekken is a joke of a series. It's popular because even the simplist move is given a fancy, elaborate animation, which takes forever to execute. It makes the game look nice, and no doubt Tekken is the best looking game series. But it makes the controls slow and unresponsive. Add in their obsession with unbreakable combos and ridiculous, counter-intuitive juggling moves (a low, downward punches air juggles??), and stupidly high damage per attack, and you get a fighting game that looks nice, attracts and keeps novices, but has very little depth to it.

    Does anyone know if it’s possible to record my custom tekken 6 character, complete with costume and win/loss record onto a Memory Stick, and take it with me to a mate’s place and upload??

    every fighting game is different from each other, tekken has always been one of my favs :), picked up a copy with 2 wireless horis, cant wait to ladder it up with my mates on our drinking sessions. At least this beats the hell out of a long trek to the city and 2 bucks each game.

    Hehe, yeah. I picked up a copy of Tekken 6 last Friday from Shin Tokyo in Adelaide for $79. I'm loving the Versus and Online Versus. The Scenario Mode is pretty whack though...

    I love the tekken series. Such a good classic! Even the new ones are good!

    Nice to see Tekken can still provoke tremendous butthurt among folks who take their fighting game preference way too seriously.

    I'll be over here playing Tekken Bowl while you finish your combo folks...

    Personal belief: Most people who hate Tekken hate the button scheme, prevents easy combos...

    (unless ur eddie (mash kicks), which is for some *sarcasm* strange reason, everyones favorite character)

    I may be wrong on this, iunno.. not saying u cant "master" a one punch one kick game, not saying its all mash.. but you have to admit, its alot easier to mash up a combo on THOSE games than Tekken.. (again unless ur eddie.. that asshole). Rebuttals?

    p.s. anyone who thinks tekken's pretty slow paced, it is pretty slow compared to other games, but its a mind game most of the time, Lol i remember making my brother flinch when ever id step forward just to step back .. =P

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