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Yoshinori Ono Interview

Yoshinori Ono Interview

As the producer of Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition and Street Fighter x Tekken, Yoshinori Ono is arguably the most influential man in the fighting games genre right now. Play grabbed a quick chat with him at Capcom’s Captivate event to hear what he had to say on Twitter, balance changes and Tekken characters not having projectiles…

Silly question to kick things off – who’s your favourite Tekken character?

As a fan of the ladyfolk, I’d have to say I would let Nina stop me anytime! And also not Jun Kazama, not Asuka, but the other Kazama girl, I’m quite interested in her as well [laughs]

On Twitter, have you had any strange requests from the Tekken fans for Street Fighter x Tekken?

The only kind of odd messages from Tekken fans on Twitter would be thinly veiled threats that they don’t want to buy my version of the game but they will wait for Harada’s Tekken x Street Fighter instead [laughs]

When making Street Fighter x Tekken, were you concerned with how Tekken fans would see the game or did you focus on pleasing Street Fighter fans?

The answer is a little from column A, a little from column B. We don’t want to shut out fans from either side. I think the key here is going to be instead of shoehorning Tekken characters into a Street Fighter game or vice versa, we really take a best of both worlds approach. So Street Fighter here, Tekken here, what we’re going to do is take a new stage for these characters to play on. This entirely new Street Fighter x Tekken arena and pull them in there.

Basically if we take cooking as an example, there’s Capcom making a game so if you ask an Italian chef to make sushi, it would probably come out weird or kind of Italian. And that’s fine. There’s going to be some amount of bias leaking in there, so it’s probably going to lean more in a Street Fighter direction if we’re going to look at it from a realistic standpoint. But at the same time, we are trying to make something very new. A new kind of fusion cuisine, so to speak. Distinct from Street Fighter and distinct from Tekken as well.

Is it harder to choose Tekken characters given none of them have projectiles?

Interestingly enough, the projectile thing seems on the surface like it might be a big issue but it really isn’t that big an issue. If you really look at the Street Fighter line-up, probably less than half of them have projectiles to begin with and many of them are used primarily for zoning and don’t do a whole lot of damage anyway. The bulk of most people’s fights will boil down to close in combat. It won’t be that strange to have Tekken characters fight against these guys.

The basis, the things we use to decide which Tekken characters to put in there are the characters that are the least Street Fighter-y. Characters that would never show up in a Street Fighter game otherwise unless we pulled them from that universe. So we make a concerted effort to find the Tekken characters that would be least at home in this game and try to make it work and feel really compelling and fun as a result.

Does Harada-san have much input with Street Fighter x Tekken?

He’s actually got no input into this game at all. In fact, you probably know more about this game than he does [laughs]. When he sees the trailer, he’ll see them after the embargo lifts like a regular person off the street. So he’ll be as surprised as anyone by the characters involved.

Why did you decide to put the tag mechanic in the game?

A couple of reasons for that. One being that, once again, that we’re trying to create a new stage and we wanted to make something completely different. As for why it boiled down to the tag mechanic, I’ve played all the Tekken games up until now and the one I’ve found the most fun is Tekken Tag Tournament. Of course, 2 is coming up and it looks fantastic, but I’m a really big fan of the first one.

Talking to Harada-san about Tekken Tag Tournament, he told me, shockingly enough, that they had almost no budget or time for that game. They throw it together randomly and coincidentally it turned out really well, it was a big hit. It was kind of sad to hear that, as his rival so to speak, it felt like he had out done me. I certainly want to show him that I can do it better so if I can take a similar tag mechanic and give it the appropriate amount of time and appropriate budget, that I can outdo him in the tag regard. So that was the motivation for that.

I know it’s slightly different but did you look at the tag mechanic for Marvel vs Capcom 3 and what worked or didn’t work for that?

No, we didn’t, and there are a couple of good reasons for that. One is the same reason we’re calling this Street Fighter x Tekken rather than Street Fighter vs Tekken. The versus series have become almost an entire genre onto themselves. They play completely different – much more chaotic, much more fast-paced.

We wanted to do something this time a little closer to the Street Fighter DNA. A little more focused on a more deliberate pace and gauging the distance from your opponent and guessing what they’re going to do next. The versus series doesn’t have that sort of gameplay element, so kind of made a deliberate effort not to look too closely to the versus stuff and try to make something more unique and a little closer to the way Street Fighter would normally feel.

With Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition’s balance tweaks, where do you look for the changes needed?

It’s a combination of a lot of different factors. What happened Super Street Fighter IV, it’s very well balanced. To get a little abstract here, if it were a shape, it would be almost a perfect sphere. It’s very round, it’s very well balanced, there’s nothing sticking out… it’s rather flat, so to speak. Our fear is if something is too well balanced and too flat like that, people will continue playing it for a long time and it will lose its aura and mystique after a while.

So we had a goal early on with Arcade Edition where we wanted a ball with a few spikes sticking out of it here and there. A few thorns. A few bumpy parts and craters as well, to make it a little rougher. That was a deliberate move. Once we had that general direction decided upon, we listened to users through message boards and that sort of thing.

One really advantageous thing we have at Capcom is we have a really good Q&A department that knows a heck of a lot about fighting games and knows how to give advice on tuning. So once they knew what goal we had in mind and what kind of data we had, they were essential in helping us balance it the way we wanted to for AE.

Last question – as the public face of Street Fighter, after Arcade Edition hit the arcades, you received a lot of pressure from fans via Twitter to release it on console as well. As the producer, just how much input and influence did you have in how Capcom release Arcade Edition?

So basically, we first decided to do this game it initially was planned as an arcade only project. That’s what the company were after and interested in for this. What the Twitter comments did and what the user feedback did was gave us a really clear indication that yes, they do want this in the home.

That’s also led us to our current business plan, which is to offer the game as a disc with everything on it for people who didn’t buy the game and are looking forward to it, as well as DLC for Super. It was clear there was a market for each and it was clear enough, again, that there were comments for each.

You know, when it comes to taking it out of arcade and into the home, I always regard fighting games as a little less on the entertainment side of things like your Resident Evils and other games like that, but a little more as a tool. And there’s no reason to give someone a tool if they’re not going to use it.

So we didn’t know, for sure, that people were necessarily going to want this in the home version. Clearly they did, so we’re happy to give that to them and I think the Twitter users made that really clear to us.

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