The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely the author’s and do not represent Shoryuken as a whole.[hr]
This past weekend, Bandai Namco Games celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the Tekken franchise with a handful of gameplay exhibitions and some new details on the series’ upcoming seventh installment, the aptly named Tekken 7. During these festivities, Katsuhiro Harada took center stage to reveal a character who will be making her debut in the arcade title: Lucky Chloe.
As you can see from the image above, she’s a bit different than what fans have come to expect from the fighter. Sporting cat ears, paws, and a tail, she embodies a cosplayer or idol aesthetic that’s been more than a little underrepresented in the franchise up until now. Harada would later confirm that she was designed by Yusuke Kozaki, an artist who has previously lent his talents to games like No More Heroes and Fire Emblem: Awakening, both of which (in my opinion) receive a ton of support from the unique characters he’s produced.
While Harada was pumped after the reveal, speaking favorably of the overall event to Mad Catz’ Mark “Markman” Julio, individuals on the internet couldn’t wait to bring him down.
The first sign of trouble came when the longtime director was linked to NeoGAF’s official thread on the topic. Among scant messages of approval, some of the gems produced by the denizens of that community have been collected below.
- “Did Harada have a seizure or something”
- “absolute trash.”
- “what is this piece of shit supposed to be”
- “Hopefully they will do reverse DLC and add an option to remove characters from the game”
Those are, of course, some of the more extreme sentiments expressed there, but the general disapproval came from Tekken’s turn for the moe, a term loosely used to describe anything that fits the cutesy character trope generally used in manga and anime. Others also made rather lazy comparisons between Chloe and Dead or Alive’s Marie Rose.
Although all of the complaints linked to Harada came from NeoGAF, it would be unfair of me to act as if they were the only source of the over-the-top hostility. The comment section of our own article was filled with similar negative attitudes, with some even making exaggerated claims of no longer being interested in Tekken 7 just because of this one character.
Faced with these opinions, Harada went on the offensive, mentioning that his games are made for much wider audiences and not created with only North America in mind. “That’s why Tekken sold [43 million copies],” he stated. “Worldwide is key.”
One particular comment, however, seemed to be the last straw. Upon being asked if the developers would include an option to delete characters you don’t want to face from the game, Harada went on the offensive, stating that Chloe would be limited to the East Asia and Europe versions of the game. North America, he continued, would instead receive a muscular, bald fighter with strong attacks. It’s hard to look at these statements as anything but sarcasm, but they do reveal the state of mind Harada was put in thanks to a subset of very vocal detractors.
Unfortunately, what no one seemed to bring up in their criticism of Lucky Chloe is perhaps the most important aspect of her debut in the series: how she plays. While we can’t infer much from the short gameplay demonstration, her acrobatic fighting style appears to be both unique and familiar with regards to other characters in Tekken, incorporating the tendencies of fellow fighters like Lili, Eddy, and Christie as she flips and dances her way through the footage.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and act like Chloe is the best fighting game character to hit the scene since BlazBlue’s Amane (who is, indeed, the best, so don’t argue with me), but the idea that Tekken is somehow ruined by her inclusion is beyond idiotic. Over the years, the franchise’s cast has been expanded with all kinds of fighters, from mundane characters like Baek Doo San and Forest Law to more exotic fare like kangaroo combatant Roger and Mokujin, the wooden training dummy turned playable cast member.
And if you brush up on further fighting game history, these are far from new developments. The very first installment in the series featured a jaguar-masked luchador who was capable of making convincing, guttural growls during matches, a gasoline-powered fighting robot, and a bear that was taught martial arts by the main antagonist.
In the fighting game genre, characters can make or break a title. Outside of their strength in their respective series, cast members are routinely chosen by players because they like their design, gameplay, back story, what have you. This can sometimes lead to a “raising of the stakes,” for lack of a better term, where outlandish characters are designed for the sake of drawing the eyes of certain demographics (I’m looking at you, Dead or Alive.)
Lucky Chloe can easily be placed in that category, and it would definitely be a bit odd to see her join a game that was previously inhabited only by straight men and women, designed to reflect the most banal aspects of the real world. But this is a fighting game and, to be more specific, this is freaking Tekken, a series that has always prided itself on providing players an incredibly diverse cast of characters to choose from.
As I’ve mentioned in articles before, Harada and his team at Bandai appear to be very committed to the idea of expanding the reach of their games. The introduction of the series very first Italian fighter in newcomer Claudio, the possibility of a new Arab character joining the mix, and, yes, Lucky Chloe show that he understands the global reach of the franchise he’s spent two decades developing.
If you don’t like Chloe, hey, that’s fine. Different opinions are natural. But don’t prop her up as the antithesis of Tekken as an intellectual property, the polar opposite of what the series stands for, because history disagrees with you.