Tekken’s Katsuhiro Harada is no stranger to Super Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai. After all, Sakurai was a regular sight at Bandai Namco, which played a large role in developing Super Smash Bros.
Towards the end of Smash Bros’ development, Harada and Sakurai worked together on adding Kazuya Mishima as a Smash Bros. DLC character. Asked whether he gained any insight from the experience for Tekken 8, Harada used the opportunity to praise Sakurai, calling it “quite a shock.”
“We knew quite well what to expect and his personality,” Harada told IGN in the first exclusive interview for Tekken 8. “And even that said, we were also surprised when it came time to make Kazuya for Smash Brothers, because we thought since we’re the experts at Tekken, maybe he was going to ask about the points he needed to definitely get right to make it feel like Tekken, but actually that wasn’t the case. He already had his own thoughts about what makes ‘Tekken Tekken.’
So it was surprising but also refreshing to see that he came in and didn’t ask questions, but said, ‘I’ve played a lot of Tekken and studied it, and this is what I feel is important for the game,’ right off the bat. So that was quite a shock, I mean in a positive way.”
Harada says that the experience left him feeling as if Sakurai was the only one qualified to make Super Smash Bros. — a sentiment that Sakurai himself has shared at points despite concerns for his health amid a grueling schedule.
“It made us think that he has all these characters from other different franchises and games in Smash Brothers, so to know so much to a deep extent about all of these different IPs to be able to do that… he’s probably the only one that could properly make that game,” Harada says. “In creating Tekken series we always look at various different fighting games or other games outside the genre and think about what to maybe draw from that experience. But he just went so much deeper on all of them, we thought there’s still a lot we can learn ourselves from different products outside of Tekken by looking at his example.”
Kazuya was ultimately released in Smash Bros. on June 29, where he quickly became a popular fighter. Elsewhere, Harada has been steadily working on Tekken 8, which was announced earlier this week during Sony’s State of Play stream.
Sony State of Play: Tekken 8
Tekken 8 is ultimately a very different game from Super Smash Bros., but the two do share at least one major similarity: an embrace of guest characters, which Harada has characterized as a positive experience. Harada also talks about the shift to Unreal Engine 5, the state of fighting games as a whole, and more in the wide-ranging interview.
Tekken 8 is currently under development for Xbox Series X|S, PC, and PS5. It does not yet have a release date.
Kat Bailey is a Senior News Editor at IGN as well as co-host of Nintendo Voice Chat. Have a tip? Send her a DM at @the_katbot.