During a quick Tekken 8 hands-on session, producer Michael Murray and director Kohei Ikeda sat down for a chat where they dropped more interesting details and trivia that fans can sink their teeth into as they eagerly wait. As the much-awaited launch for Tekken 8 draws near, Bandai Namco have been dropping several reveals of their own that further hype the newest installment to the longest-running fighting game story in history.
After an hour of gameplay both on a fight stick and a PS5 controller, everything became clear–Tekken 8 will most definitely draw in some new blood to the community. From the epic, picturesque story mode to the dynamic arcade quest, it was, indeed, an hour well spent. The aforementioned features such as Special Style and Ghost Data provide both a great orientation to newcomers and a ton of replayability for those who wish to hone their skills. With the return of Tekken Ball and My Replay and Tips being a mainstay, players can do so much more than any of the franchise’s previous iterations.
Of course, we can’ t divulge too much–and we wouldn’t dare, for the players’ sake. It was quite the experience, and those who’ve enjoyed the closed beta test or had a go at any of the recent major conventions will have much more to unpack once they get their hands on the full game. As for the characters, you can expect a familiar, yet “punchier” experience with each battle. Having rebuilt each fan favorite from the ground up with Unreal Engine 5, the character aesthetics, in-game cut scenes, and kicks to the face are just picture-perfect.
As we wrapped up the hands-on, we then got ready to talk to producer Murray-san and for the first time, Tekken game director Kohei Ikeda–both of whom have been tirelessly working on making sure that Tekken 8 gets the polish and badassery that the fans deserve.
Getting down to brass tacks, we wasted no time in asking about newcomer Reina Mishima’s character design. Brought to life by the legendary Mari Shimazaki, who also designed Tekken 7’s Josie Rizal and Kazumi Mishima, we were interested in knowing the history behind the collaboration, and why they chose the particular stylings of Shimazaki for these characters.
According to Murray and Ikeda, ever since Tekken 7, Mari Shimazaki has done a superb job at taking the development team’s key concepts and fleshing them out into the Josie and Kazumi we all know today–two characters with a very loyal fanbase. Because of this, she was welcomed with open arms for Tekken 8 where she crafted the lovely, boyish, and surprisingly brutal Reina Mishima. With the key concept being a young woman with the aura of a troublemaker, it’s safe to say that Shimazaki went above and beyond.
Another reason was Shimazaki’s video game design background. As someone who’s designed some of the most gorgeous characters this side of gaming, it was easy to come up with a fashionable and trendy look for Reina. There was much thought put into her design which was already evident in early sketches.
Now, Reina might be one of the highlights when it comes to youngblood in the franchise, and Azucena comes in at a close second. But lest we forget about those who desire more mature, manly characters–silver foxes, if you will. Victor Chevalier was quite the pleasant surprise among the new characters, sporting a well-kept beard, spiffy sunglasses, a tailored suit–and an arsenal of techno-ninja weaponry. Definitely a man of culture.
Character design aside, we were more intrigued his top-tier voice acting specifically the fact that they were able to cast the one and only Vincent Cassel to portray Raven’s mysterious sensei boss. Just for context, Vincent Cassel, as we describe it, is like the Brad Pitt of France. He’s a critically acclaimed actor who’s starred in masterpieces such as La Haine, Black Swan, and Shrek.
So, we were definitely curious as to how they managed collaborate with Monsieur Cassel.
It was surprising to realize that in spite of Tekken’s popularity in France, and having a European branch stationed in Lyon, there hasn’t been a single full-blooded French character in the series. There have been plans in the pipeline, though. According to Murray, our Tekken uncle Katsuhiro Harada did want a French character for Tekken–and he wanted it to be based on Vincent Cassel. Yes, he was a top draft pick for the franchise from the get-go. Luckily, the French office was able to contact him for the job, and the rest is history.
Victor is a living legend in the French military who wears elegant suits that cover up a living weapon of a body. Armed with a katana, a pistol, optical camouflage, and an array of CQB fighting moves, he’s arguably the most dashing man on the battlefield who’d gladly kick anyone’s posterior. As for his backstory and relationship with Raven, we’ll just have to play through the story to find out more.
We definitely had a great time playing some sweet Tekken 8 and learning more about the game’s features and new characters. Talking with Michael Murray and Kohei Ikeda was an absolute pleasure, and it was nice to see and hear just how excited they are about the upcoming launch. Now, if you’re just as hyped as we are, you’ll be thrilled to know that the playable demo for Tekken 8 will be available on December 14 for the PlayStation 5, and December 21 for the Xbox Series X|S and Steam. Tekken 8 will get its official release on January 26, 2024.