Ono-San is probably just as known for his enthusiastic attitude toward his company as he is for playing a part in reinvigorating the fighting genre with Street Fighter IV. And as the creative drive behind Street Fighter X Tekken, he provides that same enthusiasm for this new project as he did with his last. Listen up, y’all. Ono-San is about to speak.
How has it been trying to get these Tekken characters to work in the Street Fighter universe?
I think the key to getting this game to its current state and getting it up and running was to not try and force the Tekken characters into the pre-existing Street Fighter mold. If you were to use a sports analogy, you know these games are quite different. They’re as different as football and soccer. And you can’t really just force football and soccer into one sport.
So what we did is we looked at the similarities first and what both games have in common, and you know, at the end of the day, even though Tekken is polygonal game for intents and purposes, visually, it’s three dimensional, it does play on a 2-D plane. So right out of the gate, we have that similarity to work with. When it came down to put this game together, going back to the football and soccer analogy, rather than forcing them together, we said, you know what, let’s make something entirely new and take portions of each of these and make Baseball out of it. So essentially, we look at Street Fighter X Tekken as being neither Tekken nor Street Fighter, but a new kind of fighting game, and I think if we just tried to force one into the other, it just wouldn’t have turned out very well. So the only reason we got as far as we have and it’s a fun and functional and playable game is because of this philosophy of making something entirely new.
And the cool thing about this new game is that it kind of takes on the aspects of a Rorschach test. A Street Fighter player will play and say, “Wow, this feels like Street Fighter,” and a Tekken player can play and say, “Wow, this feels like a Tekken game.” So I think we have enough of the aspects of both sides to really satisfy fans on both sides of the fence.
Tekken X Street Fighter really hasn’t been started yet, but will there be similarities with this game, or will it be totally like Tekken?
I think it is going to be a Namco developed game, so if I was going to take a guess, it’s going to lean more in the Tekken end of the spectrum, I would presume. I think they’re probably going to focus a lot on taking Street Fighter characters in a more three dimensional space and see what they can do with that. But time will tell. I’m certainly interested in seeing what they’ll come up with.
One thing I’m interested in is that the PS3 seems to be getting a lot of exclusives. For example, will Toro and Kuro be in the American version of the game?
We are definitely leaning in that direction right now. Toro and Kuro are characters that are very familiar to a more eastern audience, but to the west, they’re probably completely and utterly unknown, so there’s a hurdle there and we’re working with Sony on ways to introduce America to who are these characters, what are they all about? And if we can overcome that hurdle, then yeah, we don’t want to take characters away from you guys.
What about Cole McGrath? Did Sony come to you guys, or did you guys go to Sony and say, “Hey, we want this character”?
Interestingly enough, it was a little from column A, a little from column B. There was some serendipity there. I approached them simultaneously at the same time they were approaching me. I had been joking about Cole being a Blanka rip-off because of electrical powers, and right at the same time I had the opportunity to meet with the guys at Sucker Punch, and we were talking about how cool it would be if Cole could show up in a Capcom universe game.
There was some talk about doing a Final Fight kind of thing with it. Eventually, we settled with Capcom right there in the room. We did it because it’s a festival sort of game. It’s about being out there and being kind of different and it’s not about being canonical. So it fit really well. And the guys at Sucker Punch were nice enough to let me do pretty much whatever I wanted with Cole, so it was a really easy process. There wasn’t a lot of checking and revising going on so we were able to pull it off rather quickly.
With the Vita, will the game be almost exactly the same as the PS3 version or will it be getting special features that make it different?
I’ve been pretty open with Sony as well. And it’s going to sound negative and perhaps shocking at first, but I’m going to explain what I mean. I don’t think it’s possible to completely replicate and give you the full arcade experience in the palm of your hand. You sort of need joysticks and a big screen and that sort of thing. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do something really fun and compelling with the Vita and with this particular title.
So I’ve been working a lot with Sony from the very early stages before the Vita was even announced. We had early versions of their APIs, [so it’s going to be] less what can we do with the hardware and more what can we do with the software. So I think although the content of the games will be quite similar to what you see with on the PS3. I think you’re going find that there are things you can only do with the Vita.
Will the 360 be getting any exclusives?
Can’t really talk about that.
Can you tell me about Pandora mode?
Pandora mode, what its inspiration was, if you look at the characters on the Tekken side, they’ve never had, like you see on the Street Fighter side, super moves, ultra combos or things like that one step above the standard kind of move set. It’s always much more physical on the Tekken side.
So we wanted something to kind of even the scales a bit and give the Tekken side something really cool, outrageous, flashy moves to do. And one way we thought we’d be able to do that is to do something like this. When we look back at the old Tekken games, we see things like the devil transformation. We wanted to do something similar to that but not the whole devil transformation.
We honed in on the idea of transformation almost like a Dragonball style like Super Saiyan Ken thing, like what if. We thought about what if you were able to sacrifice your partner in exchange for the chance for the ultimate comeback to give yourself a limited time to do some crazy, cool stuff. I would liken it to almost reminiscent to something like Ultraman. So you have a limited time, but you can do something really powerful in that time. So you can stage an impressive comeback, so yeah, it gives the Tekken guys to transform into something cool and it gives the limited time chance for a comeback.
And it’s something you don’t see often in other fighting games. You can have one sliver of health left and you can still stage a comeback and that’s what the Pandora mode allows.
Will there be any DLC we can discuss?
There’s a lot to talk about with online. As far as DLC is concerned, right now to be honest, the team has their hands full with getting everything onto a disc. That said, the game is structured in such a way so that it can accept DLC at a later date, so if we were to do updates, it would be entirely dependent upon if the fans want it, we can do something like what we did with Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, where we can deliver extra content through DLC.
It could be paid, it could be free, but it’s definitely possible. I don’t think we’ll see a series of disc releases, I think we’ll go straight with DLC at this time. At the same time, there are other online aspects to talk about as well. Since we’re going for a party type atmosphere, we really want it to feel like a party.
So we have some four player modes in store. This could be four people in the same room, four people in New York, San Francisco, and London, and Tokyo, participating, but we have a couple modes we can use for there. We have “Scramble mode,” which literally allows four players to play at the same time, which is a Smash Bros. kind of thing. Since it’s a tag game, we also have it where you can have it set up so that each one of these characters is physically a different person, so there’s a lot of features to bring people together into this all inclusive party and the online is a part of this.
I saw that you can use six or four buttons in this game. Can you switch how you want to play on the fly?
We talked about the ability to use four vs. six layout. This is not something in the options, something that you can switch back and forth. It’s something that the player can switch on their own.
If you’re a Tekken player and you’re more accustomed to the four button style, you can still do a lot of combos and moves just using that four button style. But the six are always turned on so to speak. So when you’re ready, you can move to the other two. So it’s not an option you can turn on or off, but it is an option that’s there for your own personal taste.
Were there any characters that wouldn’t fit in the game?
There weren’t really characters like that since we built this from the ground up and we were looking for sort of characters in a party atmosphere, so it’s really a sky’s the limit kind of game. There’s really no one that doesn’t fit.
We took out cues from the fans and seeing who they wanted, so we had an idea of who fans wanted. Now there were characters who the team said, “Well, it would be easier if we didn’t have to put this character in,” there were plenty of those, ones I can’t necessarily talk about today. But nothing from a gameplay perspective or design perspective that doesn’t fit, per se.
One character in particular, Poison, was that fans or did Capcom decide that?
I would put the credit for that with the fans themselves. I think from the Japanese dev point of view, Poison was just a minor character in Final Fight in 1989 and not a big deal or an important character in the Street Fighter universe necessarily.
That said, even in the days of Street Fighter IV, the fans were very vocal about wanting to see Poison in a game, so we always knew that was something we wanted to visit someday because it was something that people wanted because Street Fighter X Tekken is a party, we thought it would be interesting to bring in a more unorthodox character that we hadn’t seen before.
And I think a lot of Japanese users are just confused by this character, like why her? That’s a weird character.
Okay, last question. SNK vs. Capcom 3. When’s it happening?
I hear requests for that all the time. In fact literally, every day on Twitter, literally several times a day, so I know it’s something on the fan’s minds.
Honestly, from my point of view, but the time we got to Capcom vs. SNK 2, they did pretty much everything they could do with that game That’s a really well polished game. I don’t think that we could top it. I think if we were to do a three, we would have to do something different and take it in a new direction because I wouldn’t want to compete with two since it was so darn good.
But a lot has changed with SNK side as well. It’s a different company now than it was then. We had a lot of connections back then, we were really friendly with one another. But frankly, I don’t know a lot of people there right now.
Things have changed so much, so there could be a bit of a hurdle getting something down there, just making these business connections again first. But you know, who knows. I can’t say one way or another whether something like that can be done.
But I can say that it would probably be different, and it would start with a lot of negotiations and just getting to know these guys again because it’s a lot of people we’re not familiar with.