Monday, December 14, 2015

The Tekken 7 reveal, superb fighting game storytelling...

The Tekken 7 trailer released last year was one of the greatest video game trailers of all time. It turned out to be only half of the story that was planned for the game. There were things spoken of in the original trailer that explained a lot about the main characters, Heihachi and his son Kazuya. It also introduced us to Kazumi, the mother of Kazuya. She narrated the trailer and we could see that was leaving a message to someone. Thanks to some well placed edits the audience assumed that the mysterious person in the background was Heihachi Mishima. When he opened the door to the dojo viewers assumed that this was the night that Heihachi had had killed his wife. It was great framing, we could sense the tension as if Kazumi were trapped in some sort of domestic hell.

Through every version of Tekken the audience knew that the father and son hated each other. Heihachi was afraid that his son would turn on him and take over the family business. Heihachi had done that to his own father after all. There was reason to be afraid of Kazuya but it was more than just a jealousy that caused this. Kazuya had a "Devil Gene" which allowed him to turn into a powerful monster. Audiences assumed that this was a gene that skipped a generation. It turned out however that Kazumi was the one that passed the "Devil Gene" down to Kazuya.

Kazumi had actually planned on killing the leader of the Mishima clan herself. However she also left some specific instructions, if she could not stop Heihachi then she was leaving the task to someone else. The trailer immediately cut to Kazuya and Heihachi staring at each other from within an erupting volcano. Audiences assumed that she was leaving instructions for Kazuya. They assumed that some day he would be strong enough to avenge her death.

Father versus son, a wife betrayed, a mother assassinated. This was something right out of a Shakespeare play! Even the setting featured in the trailer was important. The volcano was used again and again throughout the history of Tekken. Both Heihachi and Kazuya had taken turns trying to kill each other over the past 20 years by throwing each other into an active volcano. I had actually talked about the volcano and the origins of the characters on an earlier blog. If this were indeed the last battle then it had to be one for the history books!

The ending of the trailer, where Kazumi revealed that despite everything she loved Heihachi and he loved her was one of the most powerful moments of any game cinema. The team at Namco wanted to make sure that audiences were paying attention. All of the loose ends created in every sequel would be tied up and they even promised that this would be the end of the Mishima Saga. Kazuya would kill Heihachi or the other way around and the story would be concluded. Those that hadn't seen trailer could watch it below.

It turned out that Tekken series producer Katsuhiro Harada had something even greater in mind for the game. The second half of the story arc was unveiled on the heels of the Capcom Cup and EVO fighting game tournaments. Tekken 7: Fated Retribution would be the name of the new expansion. The trailer for the game completely blew away everything that fans of the series thought they knew.

It began very similarly to the previous trailer and we could hear Kazumi leaving instructions. Except that this time it was obvious that she was telling someone they had to kill Heihachi, but Kazuya was only a child at this point. So she was talking to someone else.

The mysterious figure in the doorway spoke. It wasn't Heihachi as many gamers had assumed. Instead it was the person tasked to kill him. As soon as he spoke the long-time Street Fighter fans had a reason to freak out. The baddest character in all fighting game history had returned. This character was absent in all known footage of Street Fighter V. He was indebted to Kazumi, how would certainly have to be explained!

This martial arts assassin had killed his master and brother in canon. If Kazumi could not kill her husband then rest assured that the mysterious figure would. But this reveal was not enough for the producer of the series. At the end of the trailer Kazumi left a very specific instruction. After killing Heihachi he would be tasked with killing her son.

It now made sense that the Mishima Saga would really be concluded. An outside fighting game character universally recognized as powerful enough to actually be able to kill both Kazuya and Heihachi was brought in. It was possibly the only way that Tekken fans would have believed the outcome.

Katsuhiro Harada pretty much dropped the mic on the critics with this reveal. The new trailer was pretty much a knockout punch to everyone that wasn't already on board with the game. He hid in plain sight one of the greatest fighting game villains of all time and tied this character masterfully into the series. It was something that Street Fighter IV and V producer Yoshinori Ono seemed incapable of doing. It demonstrated a certain level of planning and design that required both patience and maturity. These were things that I cannot say Ono possessed. But don't take my word for it, watch the first and then second trailers and tell me what you think. Did the trailers for Street Fighter IV or V give you the same level of anticipation? Do you think that this approach is something that Capcom is lacking? Or will Street Fighter be fine without the heavy-handed drama? Let me know in the comments section.


  1. Those trailers, oh man...

    I've never been a Tekken player, but I've always been aware of the series and its characters and liked a lot of what I saw. Seeing this reveal was amazing. Akuma vs Heihachi is a true dream match of fighting games, and while it already happened in Street Fighter X Tekken, seeing it in a canonical sense is so much more impressive.

    Truthfully, I don't think SF has the cojones to pull off something like this. Not just in taking in a character from another series and perfectly fitting him into canon, but in killing off your own. Tekken/Namco has already demonstrated the willingness to do so, such as Jin's mother or King 1, and has a stronger story for it.

    Street Fighter seems happy to go the Marvel route, huge cast, all your favorites are here, nobody stays dead, here's another undefined god/doomsday device/evil clones/ect. threatening the world, blah blah blah, forever. That's certainly not bad, it makes money (a lot of money), but it will never have the personal impact Tekken 7 just might pull off.

    Hats off to the team, I may very well buy this game. Nice write-up, Mex.

    1. LaughingDragon, that was the perfect analogy for what Capcom has worked themselves in to. All the fan favorites are here and nobody really does die, even Charlie Nash, the Uncle Ben of the Guile story line. I hope Tekken 7 plays well and is balanced. For the first time in a long time I will be more eager to see it released than Street Fighter.