From Goku to Spider-Man, guest characters have become a mainstay in modern online games. Nevertheless, the addition of characters such as The Walking Dead's Negan raised more than a few eyebrows among fans, not the least because it relies so heavily on its rich storyline for its appeal.
But looking back on the move during an exclusive first interview with IGN following the reveal of Tekken 8, chief producer Katsuhiro Harada says that he's glad he brought Noctis, Akuma, and company into the series.
"We were quite happy with the results," Harada says. "When we first announced guest characters, the fans were just so shocked, both good and bad. But just that reaction that they got from first seeing it was really satisfying. It was ultimately a win for us because they did quite well. It was a win for the fans because they got something brand new and different for the series, and it was a win for the IP owners because they saw what we made and they saw the reactions from the fans and they were really happy about the results of it. So I think everyone in general, all around, was quite happy with the guest characters and how they turned out for Tekken 7."
Unfortunately for Harada, the decision to add guest characters led to him being temporarily supplanted by his counterpart at SNK, Yasuyuki Oda.
"The president of our company, [Yasuo Miyakawa]… it was his first time ever going to EVO in Las Vegas. He had one of those box areas, the VIP seating, and we were watching the first match of the game. Normally I would sit next to him and explain the players, the characters they were using, the strategy, et cetera," Harada remembers."
"But it was funny because at that same time, just out of the blue, [Yasuyuki Oda], who used to work at Capcom…he was at our VIP area and he sat down with the president and said, 'Hey, I'm Oda, nice to meet you.' And then he sat down and instead of me explaining what's going on, he was pointing out Akuma from Street Fighter, Geese from the SNK series, etc. So he was quite entertained to see that, but it was like, wow, that's one of the things you have to watch out for with guest characters I suppose."
Despite Oda's sneaky attempt to temporarily replace him, Harada is willing to consider bringing back guest characters for Tekken 8.
"We're not talking about wanting the guest characters to hang around for Tekken 8, but in general – not even just for Tekken, but in general – it is something that we are really happy we did because it's good to get that kind of motivation from working with some new material and also just the connections that you make with other people in doing so," Harada says.
"I brought up that working with Oda-san from SNK and how we had him on our panel at Comic-Con one year and that building those relationships is also a really cool part of working with other companies. It's obviously something that we enjoy doing, and if the fans enjoy it, it's something that we would consider again. That's as far as we can go."
Seems like Harada can look forward to more unexpected appearances from Oda in the future. In the meantime, guest characters continue to thrive in online games, with Destiny and many other games following Fortnite's lead in that area.
Harada's comments were part of a wide-ranging interview with IGN in which he shared fresh details about Tekken 8 as well as his thoughts on the fighting game genre as a whole. He also talks about topics like the Rage system, whether or not he has an end in mind for the series, and lots more.
Tekken 8 is coming to the 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.