What kind of videogame characters would SHO & YOH of Roppongi 3K become? Capcom producer Daizou Nonaka feels he knows.
Hello again everyone! Capcom producer Daizou Nonaka with you once more.
King of Pro Wrestling was a heck of a show! In the end, Kazuchika Okada busted out a new move on his way to victory over SANADA. After the G1, with that Pop-Up TKO as a base, SANADA had the momentum and the pace, but Okada added something new to the equation. What he was thinking when he put that new move out there is something we can speculate on, and it reaffirms Okada vs SANADA as a rivalry with more unseen possibilities to come.
So, we’re finally leaving the long lingering summer behind, but the action is still hot as we move through autumn and to winter. This time of the year means we get to focus on tag teams, and this time I want to focus on the Super Junior Tag League.
Just like last year, 2019’s league sees eight teams, a total of 16 wrestlers from Japan and overseas in one round robin block. There are a lot of interesting faces in the tournament, but the team I’m most interested in, and the team I think are the favourites to take the whole thing, are SHO & YOH, Roppongi 3K!
RPG3K are looking for their third straight Tag League victory in their third entry. When you talk about ‘in it to win it’, Roppongi 3K have only ever won it when they’ve been in it! A victory in this year’s league will cement their place as franchise players in the junior heavyweight tag division.
The key for RPG3K is that despite some changes in character and personality over the years, these two have been teaming throughout:
Young Lion Era: Yohei Komatsu & Sho Tanaka (ahh, nostalgia…)
CMLL Era: Fuujin & Raijin
ROH Era: Tempura Boyz
Modern Era: Roppongi 3K
They’ve changed up their characters and presentation on each excursion, and on their return to compete on the big stage: maybe you could say that Yohei Komatsu ‘evolved’ into his present incarnation as YOH, and Sho Tanaka evolved into SHO.
Character evolution is a common concept in videogame franchises, and it’s through that process that I want to examine SHO & YOH.
As game franchises continue and sequels are made, players pay closest attention to how characters have evolved from one installment to the next. If characters evolve in a captivating way, then you’ll have the players absorbed for the long haul. Character evolution tends to come in one of two ways.
One is with more special moves. That’s an easy evolution to understand. If you look at the ‘Street Fighter’ franchise, everyone knows the iconic Hadoken fireball, right? That move’s always been there, but as the series has progressed, it’s been joined by the Shinku (vacuum) Hadoken and Denjin (electric blade) Hadoken. The move has been joined by more evolved versions.
How about ‘Pokemon’? Pikachu’s Thunderbolt attack has been joined joined by Iron Tail and Volt Tackle. In the new games he can do a 10,000,000 Volt Thunderbolt. In both games, the character moves that players are familiar with and carry an attachment to are given extra twists to make the player feel as if their favourite characters have gotten stronger. It’s an established tactic in game design.
Another way of evolving characters is in developing their base skills. Combat evolves in the likes of the ‘Legend of Zelda’ franchise to give Link more freedom in his sword swipes. Mario might gain a new backflip, or the butt slam. These are moves that let the player explore the game world in new ways, and give the impression that they’re capable of doing much more within the world. In terms of the ‘Mega Man’ games that I’ve directed, the series started out with Mega Man only able to jump and shoot, but the slide and charge shot increased the player’s verb set, giving them more freedom in later games.
Does that apply in pro wrestling?
If you look at new moves, you can see Kota Ibushi gaining the Kamigoye, Hirooki Goto adding the GTR and lately the GTW to his arsenal, or Zack Sabre Junior taking the Michinoku Driver and making it his own Zack Driver. These wrestlers keep their famkiliar background and add new moves on top. As for changing base skills, you can see that in the cases when Liger started using koppo in the ring, or Makabe took on karate. El Phantasmo and KENTA have recently changed things up as they’ve turned heel and taken on a more rough and ready approach.
In the examples I’ve outlined above, there’s one thing that’s extremely important when it comes to evolution: the balance of how much to change versus what stays the same. Change is good, but change too much and you forget where you’ve come from. At that point you’re not evolving, but creating something entirely different. Change a character too much between games, and you lose the following of players, and lose a sense of fun.
That’s the same in pro wrestling. Even when someone returns from a long excursion, if they’re having a match where everything about them is completely different, then there’s a gap created between audience expectations and what they’re seeing. Emotional investment gets lost. far better to maintain your base, but change some things and add others. Maintain that balance between changing and staying the same.
Two years ago, Roppongi 3K returned with different characteristics and a different in ring style. Since then, they’ve built up an impressive resume, and they’re the team that all the others are gunning for during this tour. If they want to persist and win their third consecutive trophy, they’ll have to change things up, while maintaining what brought them to the dance.
YOH has garnered success with a classical approach and technical holds. He’s been able to beat both members of GoD with rollups, and flash pins that can make him successful as a singles and tag wrestler. If he can add another pin to that Five Star Clutch, he might surprise his opponents and the fans.
SHO has established himself as a power fighter. Combining the strength of the Shock Arrow to his jiu-jitsu training, he’s been impressive indeed, with big wins in Best of the Super Junior and the Super J-Cup. If he can add a new variation to the Shock Arrow… that’s exciting just to imagine.
As for both of them together, I’m expecting a few new double teams, and maybe a new finish to join the 3K that’s gotten them success in the past. The possibilities are endless for this team.
So, to my predictions for the Super Junior Tag League. You might have guessed by now; I’m going with Roppongi 3K. This time, I think we’ll see a continuation of that competitive free-for-all we had in last year’s league. I can see RPG3K, Ishimori and ELP, El Desperado and Kanemaru, and Birds of Prey all tied at the top of the table, leading to a four way final, with Roppongi 3K coming out on top with their third trophy. It’ll be exciting to see them break new ground!
Daizou Nonaka is a 35 year veteran of the videogame industry and wrestling fandom. Working at Capcom he has produced games in the Mega Man series among many others.
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