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Interview: Katsuhiro Harada talks Tekken Tag Tournament 2

Just minutes ago, immediately following the Tougeki fighting game championship finals held during the Tokyo Game Show, Namco Bandai game director Katsuhiro Harada announced Tekken Tag Tournament 2, the first iteration in the Tekken Tag series since the 1999 debut over a decade ago. We had a chance to speak with Mr. Harada following this unveiling, and learned more about the long delay, the game's arcade destination, the current state of fighting games and what's going on with Tekken X Street Fighter.

Joystiq: How long have you been working on Tekken Tag Tournament 2?

Katsuhiro Harada: Actually there was some talk at first of doing this before Tekken 6 came out, but when we discussed it amongst ourselves and the team we felt like we first wanted to make a proper sequel to 6 to see how far we could push the limits of our graphics engine on that hardware before going to Tag.

As you've seen for yourself in the trailer, we have three or four characters on the screen at once so that's simply twice as much power needed than previously for example in Tekken 6. So obviously trying to do that right off the bat earlier on would be much more difficult.

If it's running on the same technology as 6, which came not only to arcades but to consoles, what are your console plans for Tag 2?

As we announced, it will see an arcade release first. That's where most of our efforts are focused on at the moment. But that being said, we do want to provide a chance for all of our fans abroad to be able to enjoy the game. That's about all I can say at this point.

The first Tekken Tag Tournament came out in 1999. Why did it take 12 years to go back to a tag-based fighter?

As I said on stage, it was pretty much the result of many years of the fans giving us feedback that they wanted tag. At first, for the development team when we started out we had [Tekken] 3 and we thought the natural progression would be to go to 4 and 5 and such as a proper roadmap. Tag came about, first of, as an idea that I had after about five minutes of thinking. We were all really quite surprised when that took off and gained the popularity that it did. So we had to rethink the roadmap again once more. After working on the proper sequels and still considering all the fan feedback and how much that has just gradually increased over the years and gotten to the point where we just really had to seriously consider it.

Tekken x Street Fighter was announced recently, and today you announced this. Both are high-profile games. How are you resourcing both of these projects? Are there multiple teams?

Actually, before Street Fighter x Tekken and that whole announcement came about, Tag 2 was already in the works, so that's something that we've already originally planned for. Really the question is now "so what do we want to do with Tekken x Street Fighter?" It's getting a lot more people, and assigning them and such, as well as making game ideas on where to take that.

What do you think about the recent resurgence of fighting games, with titles like BlazBlue, Street Fighter and such?

Well, this is something that I've said before continuously. The Tekken series, if you look at it alone, each installment in the console versions sell about five million copies lifetime, and has continued for about fifteen years now. Plus the income from the arcades haven't really dropped off at all for the Tekken series in general. From our standpoint, it's not like anything has really changed much. The one thing that is noticeable perhaps is that other series, like Street Fighter IV coming back after a blank of about ten years or so, Mortal Kombat is starting to come back. I think that's where some of the changes are occurring, rather than us. We've been rather constant.

Thanks for your time!

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