OF THE MONTH COLLECTION!
(Namco, September 9, 1995)
In the new 32-bit wars of 1995, the Sony Playstation had their new age 3D arcade fighter; Tekken, while the rival Sega Saturn had their Virtua Fighter as their arcade 3D fighter to help sell their respective systems. Being a fan of both fighting games it's hard to choose a favorite, but Namco's Tekken just slightly edges out its competition in my opinion......... well sometimes.
Tekken is Japanese for 'Iron Fist' and this fictional Tekken fighting tournament is the stepping stone for many of the world's top fighters and the winner not only gets the title of king of the Iron Fist but they also get full control of the powerful Mishima corporation. The game features 8 selectable default fighters on the quest to win the Iron Fist Tournament, each character has their own fighting styles and reasons for entering the contest like for example:
Kazuya Mishima enters the brutal contest for one reason; get revenge on his father Heihachi Mishima (the head of the tournament). When Kazuya was only 5 years old, he was left for dead as a child after being toss off a cliff by his own father. Kazuya is willing to do anything to finally get even with his power hungry dad.... anything! Kazuya has some great punches in his move list and he's sure a force to be reckoned with once learned but be careful cause a lot of his kicks leave him open. His sub boss is Heihachi's head henchman Lee.
Paul Phoenix is a tough bike riding American trying to fight Kazuya again after their previous fight ends in a draw before the big tournament, which is not too different than the 'Ken and Ryu' storyline of Street Fighter (he even wears an red ki and has blonde hair like Ken). Paul is still one of the better fighters in the game with a great deal power moves and speedy techniques. His flame punch can eat away over 50% of a opponent's life if done in a combo. Paul's sub boss the very cool Kuma, an giant 500 pound bear.
Marshall Law is a highly skilled fighter looking for money so he could open up his own dojo. Surprisingly, Law doesn't look like anybody from Virtua Fighter. Not even does Law look like the legendary Bruce Lee but he even sounds like him. Very cool character! Law's claim to fame is his awesome speed and quick combos. Law's sub boss is the crafty Wang, a old man who won't go down easy.
Jack is a huge and powerful 6ft robot from Russia. Jack is trying to prove itself in the tournament so Jack can finally get the order for mass production. Jack is a big slow heavy hitter who's better with his punches than his kicks. His sub boss is the Prototype Jack, a newer model sent in to replace the older Jack.
Sarah Byrant is a sexy blond who is also a trained assassin.................... oops! I mean Nina Williams! "Man, who really cares, uh?" I hate copy cat characters and Nina Williams is one of biggest rip off fighters in any game and Tekken loses some serious points because of this. Her sub boss is her own sister, Anna Williams.
Yoshimitsu is a mysterious leader of a gang of thieves and till this day we still haven't seen his real face yet. Yoshimitsu is also the only character of the original to have a weapon: a 3ft long steel katana. The masked one is quick and has tons of silly but effective moves but he lacks range. His sub boss is the Sumo Wrestler Ganryu.
King is the Pro Wrestler in the game from Mexico. Like most wrestlers from Mexico, King wears a mask when he fights and he uses many high flying maneuvers like the Franken Steiner and Drop Kick to gain a advantage. A fun guy to use because he can really mix it up but he still looks and even has the same moves as Wolf from Virtua Fighter. King's sub boss is his former friend only known as Armor King.
Michelle Chang is a beautiful young Native American women with a Chinese father who was killed by the Mishima corporation. Michelle wants revenge and her land is in trouble if she fails as well. Her style isn't too exciting but at least she's fast. Her sub boss is Kumimitsu, Yoshi's sister who also carries weapons to her fights.
OK, I know I'm a little hard on Namco for copying Sega's Virtua Fighter but Tekken does do some things different then Sega's 3D brawler. For example; Namco made it much easier to block a attack, because you can simply press back like in Street Fighter II. Tekken also features a Right and Left button for both the kicks and punches instead of a single button for a strike. The controls to need to be mastered first because each fighter as over 20 moves and certain techniques have awkwardly long motions like King's Giant Swing and Kazuya's delayed uppercut. Perhaps the greatest reason why Tekken may over shadow Virtua Fighter in the game play department is the many unlockable secret characters around, who could forget about fighting as the bear for the first time?
Although Tekken is in many ways better than Virtua Fighter on the Saturn, Tekken still seems a little too unoriginal because it copies far too much from that Sega game. For example; Nina Williams looks just like Sarah Byrant (a sexy but tough blonde in a skin tight body suit), King the mask wearing wrestler acts like Wolf the Canadian wrestler.......... well, you get the idea. I remember Virtua Fighter also has those cool looking enclosed ring to help make their game feel more 3D where as Tekken has flat and boring ground design that never ends, its only recently that the Tekken series (Tekken 4) started having interactive scenery for the one on one fights. "Namco seriously needs to be more creative!"
Some may be surprised that the first Tekken is actually better looking then the super blocky Tekken 2, Namco wanted to focus on the speed of the series so they weaken the looks a little with some sequels. Despite that the first Tekken still runs slightly faster then VF yet the animation is still smooth, that has always been one the game's strongest points. Although Tekken feature some Computer Generated cinemas, you have to remember that these CG movies were made in anicent 1995 era. The Computer Generated movies don't hold up quite as well thanks to the awful looking hair samples and over done faces plus some of the CG movies here do not make much scent.
Tekken is packed with over 10 sound tracks across many locations, some of the tracks are too happy go lucky to part of a serious life or death fighting game but some of them are intense enough to fit here so it's not all bad. Each one of the 8characters have there own grunts and limited voices but most of the sercet fighters just copy their sounds from the others. The sounds are just slightly above average.
Bottomline: The reason I liked this better than Virtua Fighter is because Namco actually included several cool extras exclusively to you lucky the Playstation owners like playable boss characters, new CG cinemas and actual endings for the eight regular fighters plus you can even play a mini Galaga game (a fun shooter from 1981) during the opening loading screen if you like or you can just skip it when ready. Namco did almost everything humanly possible to make the Playstation game better than it's arcade counterpart while Sega's Virtua Fighter for the Saturn was just a basic port but it should be noted that Sega was first to bring out a real 3D polygon fighter and not Nacmo (this is known as being a 'Jackals' in the game business). Virtua Fighter is also more of a pure fighter then this and not everyone with go for the odd robots, weapons, and weirdos found here. Namco still really pulled out all the stops with their first PS fighter and this game is still remains a great two player game and the replay value is good decent as well. What Tekken lacks in originality, it makes up in pure fighting fun.