Since 1994, the Tekken series has been revolutionizing the gaming world with its innovations in combat gaming. It didn’t take long for the game to become a smash hit in console gaming and arcades around the world. Even after two decades, Tekken is still considered as one of the top franchises in fighting games globally.
Over the past few years, Tekken game developers have been trying to introduce more new characters in every new game that they release. Because of this, Tekken has become known to have a wide variety of characters that come from different backgrounds, races, and fighting styles.
The latest buzz was on the release of their latest game, Tekken 7, which was released in Japan last February. In this game, a number of new characters were introduced and among the shortlist was the controversial Filipino character, Josie Rizal. Game producer Katsuhiro Harada created Rizal to give tribute to the many Filipino gamers that supported the Tekken games throughout the years. Her name was patterned after the name of the national hero of the Philippines, Jose Rizal. She possesses both kickboxing and Eskrima, which is the national martial art of the Philippines, as her fighting style. But due to disputes by the National Commission of Culture and the Arts (NCCA), Harada chose to instead add a new character, which was inspired by DLSU Green Jin Raphael Mella.
After taking notice of the growth in the popularity of Taekwondo in the Philippines, Harada decided to turn his attention towards the Taekwondo scene in the country. He also took it as an opportunity to immerse in the Filipino culture so that he may be able to create a character who really exemplifies the culture of the country. In his visit to the Philippines, he attended several taekwondo tournaments to look for a fighter who encapsulates his concept of a homegrown Filipino fighter.
After months of searching, he attended the UAAP Poomsae tournament where he discovered Mella. According to Harada, it was the determination of Mella that convinced him to pattern his new Tekken character after the Green Jin. By being able to land second in the mixed pair’s match and grabbing gold in the men’s team meet, Mella truly impressed Harada.
After being approached by Harada about the opportunity to star in the new Tekken game, Mella was very thrilled with the proposal and was more than willing to agree. “I did not seethat coming… nung bata pa ako nilalaro ko na yung Tekken at ngayon gagawa sila ng sariling character ko? Grabe iba talaga,” Mella says as he shares his thoughts on the proposal.
In spite of the amazing opportunity that was presented to him, he expresses that he still has concerns. Some of the things he mentioned were his academics and training schedule with the Green Jins. He shares that it will be tough for him to balance his responsibilities especially now with this offer to work with Namco Bandai for the new game.
Although, Harada shares that he understands the situation of Mella, he is trying find ways to make sure that his participation with the game will not conflict with his other responsibilities as a student-athlete. Harada shares that he really struck gold in this trip to the Philippines and is excited to work with Mella to create his character. “I have really high hopes for Raphael and for his character in the new Tekken game,” says Harada. “I’m sure his character will receive a really good reception and will make a good rival for fellow Taekwondo character Hwoarang.