The people who make Tekken are extremely busy. They have Tekken Tag Tournament 2 for arcades (and consoles!), Tekken for Nintendo 3DS, Tekken for Wii U and Tekken X Street Fighter on their plate. But the developers running the 16-year-old fighting game franchise aren't stopping there, believe it or not.
Katsuhiro Harada, overseer of all things Tekken — including games just on the horizon, like Tekken Tag Tournament HD, part of Tekken Hybrid — says the future of the Iron Fist fighting game tournament may one day come to the PlayStation Vita, may extend to your mobile phone (if you live outside of Asia, that is), and may have a roster that continues to expand with downloadable characters.
Harada attended last week's San Diego Comic-Con to talk about one of the projects he's helping to create, Capcom's Street Fighter X Tekken, and to reveal some all-new products, like the free Tekken Bowl mini-game for iPhone and iPad. With so many Iron Fists in the fire, I had to ask "Well, what else you got?"
On the possibility of a Tekken game for Sony's new PlayStation Vita, which will receive a version of Street Fighter X Tekken, Harada said he'd like to see that happen.
"At this stage, we don't really have any plans," Harada said via his translator. "I can't say this as an official company standpoint, but personally, I'd really like to do a Vita version of Tekken. I'd like to try to get it on as many platforms as possible so that anyone can pick up Tekken and enjoy it."
"In the meantime, [Street Fighter producer Yoshinori]Ono-san has already announced Street Fighter X Tekken for Vita. We'll be helping to push that game as much as possible."
If Vita, why not Facebook or iPhone, I asked (mind you, before the announcement of Tekken Bowl, a game perhaps telling of Harada's plans). Harada pointed to one Tekken product with ties to mobile, a product that hasn't made its way stateside.
"In Japan, there's Tekken-Net, a network links arcade machines to a central server as well as a lot of monitors," Harada said. "But also, the way that people customise their characters and such is on a cell phone." Japanese mobile phone company Docomo offered that service, which hooks into the arcade version of Tekken 6: Bloodline Rebellion.
"There's also a game called Tekken Team Battle, a turn-based game where you face off and fight against real people," he continued. "At one point that was so popular, that people who stopped playing Tekken [in arcades]still were on the service to play that game. I think if maybe there was some way to bring that over to the US it might be quite interesting, that people would get into it."
Asked if Harada had pursued the Tekken network with console manufacturers to bolster home versions of those games, he said "Not so much in the States, yet. Tekken-Net has been expanded to more areas of Asia recently." Just don't rule out the possibility.
"There are times where you're going to be intensely fighting against other people in the arcade, but there are others where you'll be relaxing at home or travelling, when you can play on your phone," he said. "It keeps people in the Tekken universe that much more, so it's definitely something we're looking to explore."
Harada also sees a future of Tekken with other network-based extensions. He said of the newest Mortal Kombat that "some of the things they did with online modes was quite interesting." And, he says, he's come around to the concept of downloadable characters in Tekken games, a concept he initially rejected.
"Tekken naturally has the biggest line-up from the start," Harada said, likely referencing the 40-plus fighters in Tekken 6: Bloodline Rebellion and the 45 of Tekken Tag Tournament 2. "But after Tekken 6, one of the biggest requests that we got was, one or two years after the game was released, was for more characters. 'We've played the game so much. Now we want something new.'"
"I was originally opposed, but I think we do need to take that into consideration," he explained. "We just received so much feedback from people. I guess it just really is important from the start to have a package people were happy with."
Perhaps the next big package from Harada and team, the all-new, universe blending Tekken X Street Fighter, is also perhaps the team's biggest risk. It's a game still very early in development, Harada says, a game that will largely be made without the involvement of his Street Fighter-developing collaborators and his comedic Capcom rival, Yoshinori Ono.
"From the beginning, we didn't want to hamper each others creative teams by doing extensive overseeing of how are IPs are implemented," Harada said.
"If you've seen Street Fighter X Tekken, you can see how... no one really feels that the Tekken characters are out of place. It's almost an extension of the Street Fighter IV gameplay. Whereas, on our side, it's going to be a drastically different game. It's not even going to be Tekken, really, when we include the Street Fighter characters and gameplay mechanics. In that regard, we'll probably wind up talking to Ono-san about the gameplay mechanics. As far as how the characters are portrayed, how they look, it shouldn't be much of a problem."
"But since this is going to be a new title in itself, obviously we'll be consulting with Ono-san about what he thinks and with Street Fighter fans as well to understand what they want to see," he added.
"This will probably take place in the initial phases of when we're prototyping the game."