Negan Joins the Fight: What exactly will he bring to Tekken 7?
What could Negan’s story, fighting style, stage and more be?
Tekken’s very popular tagline tells us to ‘get ready for the next battle.’ However, we weren’t quite ready for a particular one – the one against Negan! The most famous (or infamous, I should say) villain of AMC’s The Walking Dead is coming to the roster of Tekken 7, leaving many surprised and raising some perplexing questions.
First, let’s make clear who Negan is for anyone not familiar with the genre of zombie fiction.
The Walking Dead started as comic book written by Robert Kirkman. After a while it became a TV series boasting eight seasons, recently centered about the friction between the protagonists and Negan, who is the leader of a group of survivors called ‘The Saviors,’ which he rules with merciless methods. He crosses lines that Rick Grimes, the main character, is not willing to step on, since he knows it will make him become a different individual.
There are some differences between the comic book and the TV show though. We’re focusing on the latter because Tekken Project team has pretty much let us know that they chose this version of Negan as the character they’re introducing into their game.
Negan is played by actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan. He’s a man in his late forties, wearing a leather jacket and using a baseball bat with barbwire around it as his personal weapon of choice. The importance of this is not small, since this object assumes a dual role in characterizing him. As a homage to his deceased wife, Negan has named the bat Lucille, meaning it has strong sentimental value to him. However, it’s the same weapon he uses to perform many brutal killings, even against some members of the original team of characters, making him a sort of scourge. What makes it even worse is his habit of singing lullabies, like he’s a peaceful person, while on the verge of doing something ruthless.
How does he fit?
But how is Negan linked to the rest of Tekken 7 roster? The new DLC characters – Geese and Noctis – were paired to existing members of the cast during their introduction. They didn’t have a part in the story. So, as Geese was threatening Heihachi about the Mishima Zaibatsu, or as Noctis was going fishing with Lars, will Negan challenge someone to pick a brawl with? Will he be swinging Lucille around just to be stopped by one of the good guys, which seems quite possible since there is an artwork going around the web with him and Jin Kazama opposed to one another.
How does it feels to have such character coming to Tekken? It sounds strange for sure. At least there was a common theme with guest fighters, sharing a kind of imagery with the video games’ genre, comics or mangas with Spawn (SoulCalibur 2) and Gon (Tekken 3), which were extremely rare occurrences. When exceptions were made, there was always a specific theme to justify it. For example, introducing Yoda and Darth Vader into Soul Calibur 4 because both were blade users, or horror movie characters into Mortal Kombat because there was the gore factor to make them compatible. But this time it’s really hard to find a good link for putting Negan in Tekken 7, and it all seems an even more bold marketing stunt like it was with Noctis, who was at least a video game character.
The fighting style that Negan will use to fight is a much better thread instead, since we can wonder about something that can have a real impact into the game. As our chief editor Zee the CEO said, it could be interesting to feature the brawler fighting style of Miguel with the short weapon range of Noctis, since they are both fitting the character. The baseball bat could have basically the same range as the short sword of the young prince, and the brawler techniques are fitting the theme, since Negan is not a martial artist. He’s just a normal person accustomed to violence.
I can see Negan have a fighting style that mashes Miguel (brawler) and Noctis (weapon in hand; ie, Lucille the bat) together. He’s going to be very angry and condescending with a laugh as sadistic as Bryan Fury.
— ZEE THE CEO (@ZeetheCEO) August 6, 2018
Just as other guest characters, Negan will likely have a dedicated stage, and here is where things start to get weird. Since it may be a location seen in the TV show, could there be other survivors cheering for their leader in the background, or even worse, zombies? While the first seems a quite common scenario, the latter could be a horror parenthesis as compared to usual Tekken stages.
Could it be this?
Possibly a new mode?
Some suppose that Negan was chosen to introduce a new Tekken Force mode, but using zombies as opponents instead than Mishima soldiers. Fighting games can basically feature any kind of enemy for sure, but does Tekken need a ‘zombie mode’? Over the past few years we’ve seen countless games proposing such a mode because it’s trendy, and zombies in video games are as popular as dinosaurs were during the nineties. Many shooting games like Call of Duty offer some form of zombies because it’s ‘cool,’ but this fad could start to bore if overly done and used even in fighting games. A new Tekken Force is welcome for sure, but to feature zombies even in Tekken could make it look less fresh, since we’re seeing them basically everywhere in games.
From what we’ve seen on social media, many people are perplexed by this move. Without a solid criterion to choose guests, choices may be made just to bring some spotlight to the game. Perhaps the goal is to reach outside of its original audience, bringing fans of the TV show to play the game rather than satisfying Tekken’s fanbase. Everybody knows that the players of Tekken are asking for a totally different kind of guest character – as many polls showed.
But there is a part of the fanbase already perplexed about the lore that Tekken gathers under its umbrella, since the game started to be less about martial artists and fighters when it featured dinosaurs, kangaroos, pandas, demons, robot-lolitas and all kind of strange things that very often make people to raise the eyebrow. This choice makes the games’ lore even less serious than it already is and make look the whole more like a circus, rather than a martial arts game, which was originally the main theme.