Tekken Arcade Cabinet

Tekken Cabinet gimpIn 1994 it had become a “kit” driven market in America. But Tekken was given its own dedicated cabinet due to it’s anticipated popularity and earning power. The design featured a large 24” monitor, oversized control panel for plenty of elbow room and splashy cabinet graphics. We used larger than life heads of game characters.

A move list card listed the core moves for each default character (missing from the photo on left…hmmm). We wanted to encourage players to practice, learn and experiment as much as possible.

More than Just a Good Start

The first arcade Tekken was successful for Namco but would be even more so in the long run. Company revenues doubled for three consecutive years and unit sales volume grew eightfold over four years. Company revenues eclipsed even the Pac-Man boom years. Tekken inspired the creation of yet another Namco fighter, Soul Edge. December 2014 marks the 20-year anniversary of Tekken’s arcade introduction.

So confident once the first Tekken shipped, work started on the list of what couldn’t get into the original. I started working on strategies that would build it into the brand. We added visual personality to the characters (e.g. Marshall Law’s head bobbing and footwork), dove deeper into the story (Mishima family twists and turns) and the main characters life away from the Iron Fist tournament (characters ending movies). The designers and engineers took the fighting engine even further with a sophisticated blocking scheme, added more moves, deep and varied combos, improved graphics and advanced the 3D nature of the game.

I departed from Namco after Tekken 3. Selfishly speaking, I feel many of the games greatest achievements occurred during my time. Many regard it as the best fighting game franchise ever. I still marvel at the talented engineers, designers, and artists that were at Namco Ltd. in Japan. Tours of R&D’s games in development were always a treat. Game music is often unrecognized or under-appreciated. To this day, Tekken 2 and 3 soundtracks are amongst my listening favorites.

In looking back, I’m amazed how a report over twenty years ago helped define Tekken. As a product manager, I’ve written plenty of other such reports, before and after this one. Similar in purpose, but this one had the most impact.

It was a rare opportunity to contribute in such degree from across the ocean. I’m grateful and better to have been a part of it.

More on Tekken…

If you’re interested in reading more about Tekken’s development, I recommend “On 20 Years of Tekken…“, an interview with Katsuhiro Harada, and “The Making of Tekken” by Retro Gamer.

The following is a YouTube video titled “Why do you play Tekken?” from tekkenchannel. It’s about 13-year-old Alexander “AK” Laverez, a young yet passionate master of Tekken from the Philippines.


Tekken 7 Update

The “real launch” of Tekken 7 is set for March 18th, as reported by avoidingthepuddle. A “soft launch” without network functionality is scheduled for February 18th, per shoryuken.com.

For more information, visit the Bandai Namco official Tekken 20th Anniversary web site.

Thanks for reading!

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3 Responses to Tekken History: The Making of Tekken

  1. Stephanie says:

    How fabulous to be integral to this successful venture with your vision. I enjoyed this story. Great product manager!

  2. Geoff Glendenning says:

    Hi Jerry, great article!!! I loved Tekken at the arcade and launched it on PS1 when I was at Sony EMEA.

    Here’s the commercial we did back in 1996:)


    When Soul Edge, although I know it as Soul Blade, was released, I thought it was, and still is arguably the best fighting game. Not simply because it had the 3D freedom of the arena (Battle Arena Toshinden, which was an early PS1 release had this), but it was more that with practice you could actually block your opponents moves, not by accident, but because of the brilliant design and control.

    I believe that this genre is ready for a new lease of life!?

    Cheers. Geoff

    • Jerry Momoda says:

      Awesome commercial Geoff! That Yoshimitsu is one bad man! Nice technical work on Yoshimitsu’s sit spins.

      I’m partial to Tekken as #1, but you can understand why. Tekken definitely is ready for a “new lease on life” as you say. Been waiting for some true innovation in the category. Soul Calibur may have missed the boat by not capitalizing on “Game of Thrones”, but that was (and still could be) a window of opportunity.

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