VideoGamer.com: What do you look for when deciding on a character to include in the game?
YO: Going back to the chess analogy once again, the arcade characters, 16 of them, I just thought we had all the chess pieces we needed. However for the console version, we wanted to include a wider audience. In order to attract those people, the character doesn't have to be new, but someone who is familiar from the past iterations, gives you a familiar control feel, or a brand new character that could be an introduction for new people.
VideoGamer.com: Will there be any console exclusive characters, like in Soul Calibur IV?
YO: Well this is just my policy, but I don't want to give an exclusive character for any particular console. And that applies to downloadable characters as well. Because it's not very fair, when you think about this as a board game or a tool. Hidden characters? If we're going to talk about hidden characters they won't be hidden any more!
VideoGamer.com: Will you release patches for the console version to help balance post-release?
YO: Well I suppose in the olden days we didn't have a word like patch. These days anything can be fixed with a patch. We used to release an updated version of Street Fighter, Super or that sort of iteration. We still don't know. We have feedback from the Asian territory where we already released the arcade version. Having said that, that's only part of the community we're talking about. We can't just hastily apply that to the market. We have to monitor the reaction from the community. As a result we may have to release a patch or we may have to release Street Fighter V! We don't know.
VideoGamer.com: Tournament players sort the characters into tiers. What tiers do the new Street Fighter IV characters fit into in your opinion?
YO: We still don't know which characters will be too strong. We really have to monitor the community for a year before we know. We've just started to hear a lot of people saying Blanka may be too strong. We're picking that up from blogs. If you remember Blanka was never in the spotlight in Street Fighter II. Now we're reading from the blogs they're saying 'our time has come!'. You can't really take them seriously, but...
Having said that we had an event in Tokyo and the first and second one were using Blanka, so probably their time has come.
VideoGamer.com: What are your favourite characters?
YO: I think I've mastered Ryu and Ken. But at the moment I like the speed of El Fuerte. A lot of people say Abel is a formidable character so I'm thinking about moving on to Abel. Abel is quite interesting. I've seen within the company a lot of people playing Abel. I've started to realise how to use Abel to beat up other characters. So if I can master it in the early stages I can put my hat on and go down to the arcade and beat everyone up. But after a couple of weeks I'm going to get beaten!
VideoGamer.com: Do you think the future of fighting games is on console and not arcade, given the rise of online play?
YO: Yeah, I do think that online will be increasingly important, especially in comparison to the arcade. A fighting game is essentially a fight between two people. You can stick two pads in front of one screen. But, if you get better infrastructure, especially in Europe, you know there are still some European countries that still haven't got that infrastructure in place yet, you can start to play with an opponent far away from yourself. Online will definitely be the future of the fighting game.
Having said that I don't think the arcade will die down either. You can see a good player on YouTube but at the end of the day you really have to see how the experts control it, so I always go down to the arcade and to the people and see how they play. So those people who are serious about fighting games will still go down to the arcade. Unless we're going to have an optical fibre and an additional camera on top of your head or whatever so you can see their hands moving, it's going to another decade or so!
VideoGamer.com: What is the story behind Seth and will he be a playable character?
YO: Do you want to play him?
VideoGamer.com: Er... yeah. I think so.
YO: You don't sound very interested!
VideoGamer.com: It's because I don't know much about him.
YO: Ah! I'm going to tell my team that we found one person who may be interested in playing as Seth, and probably we can tell you more about it at Tokyo Game Show. If I can recruit another four who wants to play that could be more persuasive, probably.