Back at EVO 2023, Bandai Namco delighted Tekken 8 fans by revealing the brand new character Azucena, and some may wonder why she was chosen to fill that slot.
Today I asked Bandai Namco's own Michael Murray during a preview event in Tokyo, and he explained that when the team has a new character slot to fill, they may look at different elements.
At times, they may want to include a specific martial art, like Lidia's Okinawan Karate, while at times, the goal may be to include a certain area as it happened with Shaheen.
In Azucena's case, the primary factor was Peru. The Latin American country has a vibrant Tekken scene, a very big tournament every year, and now it's part of the World Tour.
Due to that, the developers wanted to acknowledge these fans and give them a character to identify with.
At the same time, there is also a gameplay reason. The developers wanted to create a tricky character, in fact, Aucena is also nicknamed "Trickster" due to her ability to dodge when she is in a certain stance.
On top of that, the Tekken series did not have anyone who fights like a typical modern MMA fighter, and Azucena fits the role of an MMA striker.
Her concept started as an homage to the fans in Peru and then evolved thanks to the input of the battle and design teams, marrying these elements together.
Murray added that he has traveled to Peru multiple times with director Katsuhiro Harada, and they had the chance to talk with the fans and hear from them what they want. So far it appears that people from Latin America really like Azucena.
Incidentally, Murray explained that all the characters included in the game had their assets completely remade as opposed to recycled from the previous game.
The number of 32 characters included at launch was decided early on in development because that's what Tekken fans expect.
This meant that the choices of which characters would make the cut had to be locked in early as well to give the development team time to create them.
That number was a big challenge to achieve for the studio in time for release, but they still managed to fulfill the fan's expectations. Other games may get a pass with fewer characters, but according to Murray, Tekken fans expect at least that many.
Tekken 8 releases for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X|S on January 26. Just today, Bandai Namco announced the closed beta, alongside the return of Feng Wei.
You can take a look at our hands-on preview, in which our very own Robert Scarpinito mentioned that the game is "shaping up to be another exciting, adrenaline-fueled entry in the series."