New twist to a family feud

New twist to a family feud

Tekken's latest addition came about after its director listened to fans

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Screenshot from the new Tekken Tag Tournament 2
Screenshot from the new Tekken Tag Tournament 2
Photos: Xbox 360
The Mishima family feud has lasted for 20 years. It all began when the father tossed his five-year-old son off a cliff, believing the boy was too weak to take over his empire. However, the son survived and came back to defeat his father in a fight with the help of a supernatural evil being who ended up "consuming" him.

Fast forward to today, and it now involves a fight tournament, battles by later generations of the family, an extensive and eccentric cast of characters (including a bear, panda, kangaroo and raptor) and a quest for world domination. If this is starting to get confusing, don't worry. The feud is the main storyline in Tekken, one of the most popular game franchises in the world today.

The mastermind responsible for the game, Katsuhiro Harada, recently visited Hong Kong with Xbox 360 to give a sneak peek to the newest addition to the family.

Harada has been the game director of Tekken for 16 years. He joined the company as a salesman before switching to his current role. But Harada explains that his job sounds more glamorous than it really is.

"In Japan, a game director has to do everything. From planning, to graphics, programming, writing the script, giving directions to the designers, checking their designs, managing the entire team and even testing the game," he says. "In our company, a game director does the tasks of the lowest employee to the highest."

Maybe this hands-on approach is why the Tekken game series has become so well-received worldwide. Under Harada's guidance, the six instalments of the game, starting with Tekken in 1994, have sold more than 40 million copies. In addition, there have been comics, movies and spinoff games, including the brand-new Tekken Tag Tournament 2.

The game is similar to the regular Tekken games but doesn't follow the same storyline, and you're allowed to use more than one character in a fight. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 features 54 playable characters and allows four to appear on the screen at a time. And for the first time, there's a training module called Fight Lab for new players.

"Tekken is a very attack-driven video game that requires strategy," Harada says. "But we purposely designed our games that when the player is attacking, they don't need that much knowledge or strategy to win the fight. A new player can use a few moves to defeat an experienced player."

He hopes innovations such as Fight Lab will improve the experiences of gamers and non-gamers, and create a new breed of players. He also says fighting games will still be relevant five years from now.

As for his own future, he plans to continue creating video games that everyone will enjoy.

"To create a good fighting game, you must listen to what players liked or didn't and understand why. People are selfish. They always want to win and hate it when they don't. We need to find that balance among all the suggestions from our fans to be able to create a good game."

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