“The Father of PlayStation” Ken Kutaragi is back for episode 3 of Harada’s Bar, which is a web talk show hosted by Katsuhiro Harada. Joining Kutaragi are “Genya” (eSports commentator), “Itabashi Zangief” Hiromiki Kumada (pro gamer), and Akira Ohsu (eSports photographer). This week, they discuss Tekken‘s early days, tricks that the PlayStation was capable of, and the work culture of video game companies at the time.
Tekken‘s First Name
Originally, Tekken was announced under the name “Kamui,” which means “the power of God.” However, they weren’t able to get a trademark. So they rebranded the property as “TEKKEN.” Not only is it easier to pronounce for international fans, but it also looks cooler when written out in English. Harada shared a fun anecdote regarding Tekken‘s main programmer Masanori Yamada. Yamada ran to the announcement venue after staying up all night to burn the ROM. His sweat was dripping all over the platform to the point that for a moment, the game couldn’t run because the system shorted out.
The PlayStation and Memory
Tekken was the first game to come out on the PlayStation chip, with a size of 1 MB. Even at the time, 1 MB was quite a small piece of data to read, so there was a neat trick that you could do. After the PlayStation loaded up the assets needed, players could remove the game disc, put in a music CD, and play games like Ridge Racer while listening to their favorite songs. Ridge Racer was also the first game to implement a secondary game during the loading screen. Because the PlayStation, unlike a PC, could load without using CP, the CP was free. Namco decided to put in Galaxian and allow players to play it while the game was loading. This lead to the irony of players actually getting annoyed when Ridge Racer finished loading, because they were so close to beating Galaxian. Galaxian was playable in Ridge Racer and Galaga was playable in Tekken.
Work Culture Then Versus Now
Nowadays, the idea of living at your workspace sounds like an infringement of worker’s rights. But back then, the company was like an amusement park for video game developers. Most Namco, Sony, and Square workers basically lived at the office. The employees from all the different companies would drink and talk with each other deep into the night, and then return to their offices to rest. Because of how new all the technology was, a lot of the workers thought of themselves as adventurers, exploring new and uncharted territory. Many preferred life at the office. The Internet was faster, and the televisions were larger. Back then, most people didn’t have proper Internet or computers at home, but they had a lot of toys at the office. They didn’t consider it work at all.
This is the episode 3 of Harada’s Bar, which updates weekly on YouTube. Last week, he discussed topics such as free publicity and working with Nintendo. At the end of this episode, Harada talked a little about the show. He wants to focus on something “maniac”—something more niche and not something that would be talked about on mainstream television. Instead of covering a broad range of topics shallowly, Harada wants to cover a very particular topic in great and deep detail. Next week, Harada and his guests will discuss the eSports world—how it differs in Japan, and where it’s heading in the future.
Katsuhiro Harada is a video game developer known for the Tekken series by Bandai Namco. His YouTube talk show, Harada’s Bar, releases episodes weekly.