"He's single," Harada-san delights in telling the small audience of journalists and local PRs, pointing out the developer at the front of the compact cinema, just sitting down after his own presentation.
"He likes both boys and girls," he continues, going on to explain his clearly flustered companion's like and dislikes. Five minutes later, he'll be making another barb at the expense of the Tales team as he outlines Tekken Tag 2's DLC plans ("unlike Tales, our DLC will be free").
It might seem odds with the comments, but Harada-san comes off as quiet, almost reserved on seeing him. But that's due to his juxtaposition to either overly-enthusiatic Capcom producer
Yoshinori Ono, who Harada has played straight man to for Street Fighter X Tekken promotional duties, or as today, when he stand next to a colourfully-dressed man with a huge tank strapped to his head (who is promoting Wii U title Tanks! Tanks! Tanks!).
Dressed smart casual and rarely seen without a pair of sunglasses adorning his face, the long-term Tekken producer is still enthusiastic in discussing the series, and peppers his responses to questions with dry chuckles and lightning quick exchanges with translator and right hand man Michael Murray.
We sit down with the two late in the afternoon of what turns out to be the first event of a five-day whistle-stop tour through five countries. With presentation duties done - announcing new fighters, modes and more for the game - and interviews winding down, the duo are look relatively unfazed after a day's work.
I understand you're off to Germany next.
Yea, one country a day.
You guys always look cool: relaxed, well groomed. Like the travelling doesn't effect you at all.
Maybe it's the first day? [laughs]
I see you next week and you'll be dishevelled messes.
Exactly. We've got UK, Germany, Spain, France, Italy. Five this time.
I'm glad I've got you now then so the questions haven't ground you down already.
You understand a great deal. [laughs]
You've rammed this game full of modes. Is this just the logical step for the Tekken series, or to reaffirm that Tekken Tag is as an important entry into the series as the numbered versions?
Although story wise its not like 5 and 6 with that progression, gameplay wise there's a lot of new play mechanics that we're adding and challenges we've done there in the content. It's like we've taken everything that's ever been in a Tekken and put it in here. It's the ultimate Tekken.
Although it doesn't have as fleshed out a story as other installments, even so, it still has the character ending movies - one for each character. And they're longer than they previously were, almost the length of a movie, around ninety minutes in total.
I would have thought after the release of the Tekken movie you guys would have favoured shorter sequences.
We did include quite a bit with the movies, but not just that, but the approach we took. Up until now its just been CG, but now we have an anime taste or CG, or almost real, puppet-looking - children's storybook style. The different approaches we've taken to the movies is something new as well.
Doing that for over fifty characters is mind-boggling, and these are characters you've been with throughout the series. Are you sick of any them, and think to yourself "there's got to be a way out of doing movies for these fighters"?
[Huge laughs] (Harada-san in english) YES! Yes. That's right. [more laughter]. There are some characters that we are pretty...tired of.
But Tekken's still...the last installment sold almost four million worldwide. So even the characters who aren't used very much, like the usage that we get from the arcade data and such - when we say they're not popular, that's what we mean. But even then, when its four million in total, that's still several thousand for any particular character, fans who are going to be angry if we get rid of the character. So we do have to continue to work on that.
But in that vein, there's an interesting movie in the game that centres on these unpopular characters, so that's something to look forward to in the game.
You mentioned during the presentation that the new characters announced were based on fan feedback; how do you balance between what you and the fans want, in light of your recent Twitter updates?
I guess it's the responsibility of being part of such a long-running series - it's been going on for seventeen years now - and [I've] been on it for most of that. You naturally have all these different expectations from fans. If it were some kind of new series, perhaps we could do more that we wanted to, without listening too much about feedback. But since its continued so long, there is the responsibility involved.
For example, Tekken 3 - sixty percent was development team driven. We didn't really listen to too much: we wanted to do this, so we did it. For Tag 2 it's pretty much eighty percent that's based on feedback of what everyone wants, whether it be character choices or gameplay mechanics, content that should be suited towards advanced players, or content for novice players.
All of these things were taken into account when creating it. The extra twenty percent on top of all that were ideas that we had for shocking or surprising the fans - in pleasant ways. The focus is quite different depending on the game.
That begs the question then: How shocking do you feel Tekken Tag 2 will be?
I guess rather than shocking them it's about surprising them. They have something they expect from the game they can't even put into words, and part of our job is to take that into fine details and a particular spec, so people see it and say "that's what I wanted".
But we do have characters and stages that haven't been announced yet, some particular stages in general are geared towards different countries and such so people will really be happy with some of the choices we've made there. Fight Lab has some interesting things implemented there. But there's some things we haven't showed yet.
The fighting genre's as healthy as its ever been: has Fight Lab been included with the main objective to draw in new audiences that are put off by the inaccessibility of the franchise's long history?
It's exactly as you said. Since the series has been around for so long it's hard to get into it now with all these other people being involved for so long. A lot of the initiatives we've taken with Tag 2, be it Snoop Dogg or some of these other things, is to get new people involved. Also Blood Vengeance attracted a new player group. All of these things we're doing to draw new people to the series. You need something to introduce them.
If [Fight Lab] is called a tutorial a lot of people won't give it a look because they may not think it's necessary for them, or people returning to the series might go online and get beaten up pretty badly and not know why. So we want to provide a mode that's not called a tutorial and not just performing these various tasks.
To have a mode that's very entertaining, all these different mini-games you're playing, and while you do that you realise you're becoming better at Tekken. So this is the mode we wanted to introduce people to the gameplay. Not only that, but people who are more advanced players are still going to enjoy the mini-games because they're quite entertaining, they're story-based. There's also the customisation, you gain all these different techniques from different characters, movements - and you can pick and choose, create your own character. You can take that online and fight against your friends.
All of this is in this one mode. It's a new challenge - nothing like this has been done and this is the first step in that direction. We'd like to continue with that.
How do you see yourselves in comparison to other fighting series? I noticed that Dead or Alive 5's marketing is currently "I am a Fighter" - emphasis on the individual, whereas your campaign is "We are Tekken". Is it a case that the sense of community is vital to the series?
(When the comparison's translated, Harada-san grabs his face and exclaims in surprise). [I've] just realised [that comparison]. Dead or Alive is on a different spectrum than us because of "I am A Fighter" - a person - and then "We are Tekken" - a group. We didn't really think about that when we came up with our campaign.
It's more all the different things that we're trying to include. For Tekken 6, it was "This is Your Fight". This time, it's like a festival.
With all the different characters returning, the game modes we have included - 2 on 2, 1 on 1, 2 on 1 - all these are based on trying to get everyone involved. Add all these different elements people can enjoy. Also the online side...all these, all these things people expect from the game. There's got to be something for everyone there. The community's going to be included into it and that makes it more enjoyable, because fighting games, the more people you have, it makes the experience that much better, as you see with Evo or some of these other events. So we wanted to put the spotlight on that.