Should Tekken Keep Its Ridiculous Joke Characters?

Illustration for article titled Should Tekken Keep Its Ridiculous Joke Characters?

Kuma is a veteran fighter in the King of the Iron Fist Tournament. For six official tournaments, two non-canon tag tournaments, and one crossover tournament, he’s been an aggressive force. But now, it seems that Tekken producer Katsuhiro Harada is hesitant to let the bear compete in Tekken 7.

In an interview with Siliconera that was published this past Friday, Harada fielded questions about microtransactions, Lucky Chloe, and the roster for Tekken 7 on consoles. Harada confirmed that they would be adding additional characters beyond the ones in Tekken 7: Fated Retribution. When the interviewer asked whether Roger or Kuma would be amongst them, however, here’s what Harada had to say.

“It’s very difficult. They were part of Tekken and we’ve seen when they’re not there we have a lot of fans who say those characters are what made Tekken interesting we want to see them again. But, if we do introduce them, we get another side of the community who says, “What’s your problem? Why are you putting animals into my proper fighting game?” Then the people who got the animal characters are happy and they become quiet, but then the voices saying, “What’s your problem why are these crazy characters in the game?” are left. It’s very hard and it’s something we would like to think in depth about.”


That doesn’t sound good.

The animal characters have been in Tekken since the beginning. The crazy, if crass sense of humor has always been there as well. I guess there’s something immersion breaking about having a grizzly bear, a boxing kangaroo, or any non-human fighter competing in the greatest martial arts tournament in the world. But then again, throughout its bizarre history, Tekken has also had:

A decrepit, old man who fights on his stomach.

A schoolgirl who takes selfies with her opponents.

A sentient training dummy with a complex backstory.

Whatever... this is.

I guess everyone has a line, and for some people, fighting furry animals is it.

I say keep the joke characters. The goofiness in the Tekken franchise is an inevitable byproduct of its large rosters. The original console version of Tekken had 20 characters. Tekken 7 has 29 characters and counting. The extreme, weird fighters and left-field moments lighten the mood, add some needed levity, and keep things varied and interesting. If it was all Mishimas and Devil Genes, the storylines would get really monotonous and tedious, really quickly.

If Kuma and Roger suddenly have ridiculous frame advantages and start popping up in Evo tournaments, then we might need to have a serious talk. But they’ve always been side characters, and they fill that role just fine. Anyone who gets that upset over a bear fart to the face is exactly the type of person who needs to have Kuma in the game; critics need to lighten up a little.

Well, maybe that went a little too far. How about some dancing?

Ah, that’s better.


Kevin is an English teacher and freelance writer from Queens, NY. You can email him at, and follow him on Twitter.

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From my perspective (and I only play fighting games casually these days; I was much more into them around the time of Tekken/Tekken 2, which dropped in the latter half of my high school days), characters like Kuma/Jack absolutely belong in each and every Tekken title.

Part of what distinguishes one, “press down, down toward, toward, and punch” game from another is the individual spirit of those games. Street Fighter wouldn’t be the same without Ryu’s ridiculously oversized biceps, or M. Bison’s lantern jaw—or, hell, Blanka’s butt-scratching animation.

Similarly, a Tekken game loses something without a farting bear, Russian cyborg, or a ninja from space with the ability to put The Exorcist to shame in terms of torso-to-head rotation ability.

Again, I stress that I’m a “casual” in my old age, so my stake in this fight is relatively minimal—but anyone calling Tekken a “proper fighting game” when Kuma et. al. are removed hasn’t been paying attention to the “serious” characters. I mean, god, Jin turns into a goddamned demon, for fuck’s sake. How is that “proper?”