July 21, 2014

Of elusive renders and broken dreams - Tekken 4's Nina Williams

Tekken 4 press kit collector
Throughout the years Namco have sent out some of the industry's nicest press kits for its Tekken series, each of them designed beautifully, usually packing some cool and creative memorabilia. When I got my hands on the Tekken 4 press kit I couldn't help but ignore all this and instead tear open carefully unwrap the box to find the holy grail each of these press-exclusive sets comes with: the press disc. Would I finally solve the mystery of Nina's official Tekken 4 CG artwork? Was the beautiful headshot we got when the game released back in 2002 indeed just a close-up, cut from a full-body render, the ones Namco has created for every single one of the Tekken games. Where else, apart from Namco's servers or Harada's personal HDD, would I possibly be able to find this elusive artwork if not on Tekken 4's official and extremely rare press disc?

Tekken press kit collection
Tekken PlayStation 2 Press Kit
Tekken collectors item press kit
Tekken collection rare press kit
Obviously, it wasn't on there, otherwise you would have already seen it plastered all over this blog. Nina's T4 profile picture is by far my favourite of them all, and even tops Tekken 3's and Death by Degrees' CG renders in my book. It's Nina in a nutshell. She looks beautiful and deadly. Her eyes and expression are dripping with (ice cold) personality. Her hair is the most unique shade of blonde, almost gold-like, and a lot darker than the haute blonde she's sporting nowadays. It was also a bit shorter back then, which I like. From the small bit we see of it, the body looks toned and muscular, befitting a trained assassin. Also, purple! - her trademark colour. If Namco decided to go back to this model and never use another one, I certainly wouldn't complain. It would also help ease my mind because with each announcement of a new Tekken game comes the fear they might ruin her. (I should mention that while I think Tekken 4 had Nina's best CG model, her in-game character model was arguably the worst ever. Tekken 4 was a strange horse for me)
I still remember when many many years ago Tekken Zaibatsu uploaded Tekken 4's full-body CG renders for the 10 default characters and pointed out they'd be updating the gallery with full-body pictures for the rest of the cast (the time release characters) when they'd get them. (Check Tekken Zaibatsu's gallery, the comment is still there). I've been looking for this mythical picture ever since. And not until I've been given access to Namco's archives and a personal audience with Tekken 4's lead character modeler will I accept that Nina's lower body was never rendered, or might have never existed to begin with. Hopes die last in this case.
While the kit is lovely, and I'm glad I finally found one in pristine condition, the press disc is a huge disappointment. There's no trace of Nina anywhere on it, not even the close up that was officially released. While there are big psd files for some rare character art that lets you click through each of the many layers the images are composed of individually, which provides a neat look into how the artists at Namco compile their CG artworks and use effects, there's no hint of any of the time release characters, which is a damn shame.
In the meantime, until I'm given the keys to the Namco vault and/or get to interrogate Team Tekken's art department I have something else to tirelessly search the internet for: Tekken Tag Tournament's official press kit, a thing just as mythical. But that's a story for another blog entry.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. (screwed up my tags & couldn't edit)

      Urrrrggghhh. I guess I saw this coming - if there was a full render on the press disc, and it wasn't somehow so awful it made viewers bleed from their eyeballs, it would've actually shown up in the press somewhere. I was far more into reading gaming magazines in the T4 days than I am now, and it never showed up. Even so: bah. The simple fact that there were almost as many time-release characters in T4 as there were starting-up-roster types, and none of them barring posterchild Jin got a proper render is almost unforgivably lazy on Namco's part. That this would occur on the game where the promotional folks got Nina so right (at least facially) makes me want to throw things.

      Still, it's a nice find. Are those meditation balls? What the hell?

    2. Let's throw things together then. I knew you'd feel the same.
      Just look at her, up there, .. so perfect. I will even admit that I've always preferred T4's "space suit" to the current one from Tekken 5, and I'm glad they went with it for the render instead of the much loved pink Barbie get up. Ugghh, those sunglasses.
      Haha, I love how I can totally nerd out over the smallest of details/most irrelevant stuff with you. No one should ever read this :-)
      Yes, they are medition balls, I guess. They are heavy and make nice sounds.

    3. See, I don't actually like the T4 spacesuit very much...I mean, most of the elements to it are fine (as they should be, since the subsequent spacesuit is more or less a remix of them) but they just don't connect well. A catsuit leaving bare shoulders I can accept, but here there's so much skin showing it just looks like a very odd vest. Plus the pants are very lacking in detail compared to the top, and there's sculpted metal boob armour, which is a personal pet peeve of mine when it comes to female warrior designs (that new female Thor that's due to appear in Marvel comics has the same problem).

      By comparison, I loved the pink suit, just for how unashamedly '60s the colours and styling was (especially the big ring on the zipper). Makes almost zero sense as something Nina would choose to wear, but it's the kind of thing I'd want to make as a custom if it wasn't there. Just a shame it wasn't an option for a better-looking Nina model. You can kinda simulate it in T6 with the motorcycle pants and ultra-sexy top but it doesn't have the same latex shine. :(

      Also, unrelated sidenote: Harada's taken some pics from the Kotobukiya display at SDCC; they've got a Nina model in their case but it's still the unpainted one for some reason. They've also shown the new artwork they're using for the assumedly-next-in-line Anna statue and...oh dear.

    4. Haha Oh dear indeed! Anna will sell like hot cakes to the bishoujo crowd. The eyes they gave her lol Suits her though.
      No clue why they bother showing the unpainted prototype when they already have Nina painted. Maybe it got stuck in customs on the way from Japan or sth.
      You just reminded me of how much stuff I miss when I don't regularly check my twitter. :-(

      I've seen it mentioned as one of Nina's best outfits by a lot of people. Everybody loves the pink suit, and I can honestly see why. Also, everybody either hates or completely forgot about her T4 spacesuit. I guess it's not a very memorable thing, I really love it though. I should mention that ever since Xena I have a thing for metal boob armor, so that's a plus in my book haha
      I feel ashamed and humiliated that I never really linked the pink suit to 60s design, because it totally is so very 60s. How did I not see that, it's so very obvious?

      Thanks for the heads up, Craig!

    5. I wish I could buy that prototype, I have a thing for unpainted models.