Namco programmer: Staff could not go home ‘without authorization’ while making classic Tekken

Tekken Namco programmer Masanori Yamada can't leave without authorization

Not being allowed to leave work to go home and sleep could probably inspire some lawsuits in the U.S. But despite that, Namco (and still current Bandai Namco) programmer Masanori Yamada discusses the extreme conditions of creating the original Tekken games for arcade and PlayStation 1 with great fondness. In a Polygon feature, Yamada — whom Tekken producer Katsuhiro Yamada describes as “a true genius” — recounts some of the wildest details of creating the original Tekken games.

Notably, when crunch time came for the Namco team to shrink arcade Tekken to fit on PlayStation 1, Yamada said it was “pretty fun” but that he also “literally lived in the office.” It isn’t quite clear if Yamada is talking about his time during the first Tekken or a sequel, but he said, “At that point, we were all told not to go home without authorization, even on weekends. When going home, I would say that I needed to go pick up new clothes, to which I would be asked if it wasn’t just to go sleep.”

Another amusing anecdote from those early days involved delivering the final build of either Tekken 2 or 3 (Yamada doesn’t remember which.) to a factory for production. The game was finished around 3 or 4 a.m., and they were asked to deliver the game personally by car (after drinking some whisky, apparently). They had one too many people to fit in the car, so one person got in the trunk. Hilarious!

If Masanori Yamada didn’t talk about all of this in such a nostalgic light, it would probably be horrifying. So, suffice to say, I’m glad he’s jolly about it and still working at Bandai Namco. For more insights, including some bits about Sony’s Ken Kutaragi, check out the full story.

Tekken hasn’t had a dramatic presence on Nintendo consoles, but it has appeared on Game Boy Advance, Nintendo 3DS, and most notably on Wii U. Here’s to hoping the Bandai Namco series finds its way to Nintendo Switch sooner or later. In the meantime, they did give us Pokkén Tournament.


John Friscia
Head Copy Editor for Enthusiast Gaming, Managing Editor at The Escapist. I'm a writer who loves Super Nintendo and Japanese role-playing games to an impractical degree. I really miss living in South Korea. And I'm developing the game Boss Saga!