By Keith Harris (ShinobiGatana), Guest Writer
Bandai-Namco’s Tekken is a fighting game franchise born in 1994 in Japan. Throughout the years it has become a powerhouse in the gaming industry, especially among fighting game fans. It has had to compete with such monoliths as the Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat franchises. One new title against two already pre-established behemoths in an established arena was ballsy to say the least. Tekken did well in the arcades as well as on home consoles. It was a different type of game, where energy projectiles were not thrown from hands and movements could not be considered reality-defying.
The franchise began to do so well, in fact, that multiple sequels were made. While Tekken 1 and 2 did well, it was not until the third game in the franchise that Tekken proved it could and would take over as the number one fighting game franchise in the world. Drastic improvements were made in the movements and the removal of the Moon physics created a more grounded and realistic feel to the game. Combinations became far more important and timing became paramount if you were to master the new mechanics. Juggling became key; striking one hit after another while not allowing an opponent the room to counter, get up off the ground, or even keeping them in the air with multiple moves in succession. While Tekken 3 brought a lot to the table, it also had a few potential downfalls. Fans complained at the loss of fan favorite characters such as Jun Kazama and Martial Law, but a few new faces provided a touch of comfort for that loss. We saw the creation of the new leading man of Tekken, Jin Kazama, son to Kazuya Mishima and Jun Kazama. His fighting style brought together a touch of Jun’s more combo-like movements, and the brutality of Kazuya and Heihachi Mishima. Jin was a force to be reckoned with.
Others praised the increase in speed, the better flow of movements, easier side steps, and overall replayability. Tekken 3 also introduced a built in 3D action game called Tekken Force. Its controls were clunky, but it was the first time one could use their favorite Tekken character to take on multiple opponents in a sequential format, and do so in an old school ‘beat’em up’ eight or sixteen bit kind of way, using 3D models. For a while Tekken 3 was the definitive in 3D fighters, despite others series such as Soul Blade (or Soul Edge as it was known as in the arcade), Bloody Roar, and Battle Arena Toshinden doing relatively well in their own right, none could stand before the newly christened monolith that was.
Tekken 3 also introduced bowling to fighting games. Although I don’t think we see it too often, it is there… Like in Tekken 7 as DLC. Wait, oops. Sorry all. I forgot, we aren’t there yet. So let’s stick with what we have. Tekken 3’s bowling feature allowed up to 2 people to play in a local co-op format. There were traditional items such as “chicken” or “turkey,” called out when a certain number of strikes were made. It even allowed someone who wasn’t careful to have their character get dragged down the lane along with the bowling ball. Tekken 3 allowed for competitive action, and hours of mind boggling fun.
Tekken 4 brought things back down a bit by trying to simplify things while not losing what made Tekken a great franchise. It was also the first numbered Tekken on the PlayStation 2. It was a story heavy game compared to its predecessors. Jin Kazama’s moveset was completely redesigned to all but remove the Mishima style from his repertoire and focus more on a more formal style of Karate in order to distance himself from the ‘evil’ image of his father and grandfather. While an interesting twist, it tried to fix something that was not necessarily broken. However, that isn’t to say that the visual overhaul wasn’t a beautiful upgrade; far more details were added where clothes and facial features were concerned. To avoid too many spoilers for those who haven’t played through it, I won’t divulge much story wise. As far as gameplay goes, there were some big changes: the ability to walk backwards and forwards before a battle technically began; walled stages where before, every stage was out in the open; the sentient wooden creature Mokujin replaced by a robot called Combot, created by the company owned by Tekken veteran Lee; the inclusion of a new capoeira practitioner Christi; and more. Tekken 4 also had the return of Tekken Force, but with a few revamps that made it a great deal easier to control and maneuver, though it still had flaws.
Overall, Tekken 4 did what it was meant to do, and that was add characters and bring in new players. This story focused on the return of the prodigal son, Kazuya Mishima, who was thought dead due to events in Tekken 2. It allowed for some interesting additional characters in the franchise to resurface, such as the genetically mutated Devil character. That story unfolds completely in Tekken 7, so I will leave that for a future installment in the King of The Iron Fist chronicles.
Tekken had a few games outside of the mainstay such as Tekken Tag Tournament 1 and 2, which took on most of the characters from previous games including those killed off, and brought them back in a non-canonical free-for-all, new moves and all. But we won’t go into that arena ‘this time’ as it is could very well be an article in and of itself. This here was just to give you a tease friends, as to what Tekken was all about. I believe next time a slightly deeper delve into Tekken 5 and 6 might be in order. So for now, ‘Keep on rockin’ gamers, and remember, keep the fighting in game.’