Whither Tekken?

Ah, Tekken. Beautifully in between absurd and serious, mashy and technical, revered and reviled. It would seem this series has lost a lot of momentum in the PS2 age, both attention and sales wise, though I must note saying that of a game series that still manages sell well over a million every installment is a bit like saying you only afford to drive a Lexus. Can Namco do anything to save this series from going down the Street Fighter route or is it doomed to become more of the domain of the hardcore?

Me, I’m one of the few who really really liked Tekken 4.

Firstibly, the movement scheme felt like a brilliant reworking of all things Tekken, especially since the game felt more VF-esque.

Secondally, those wide open arenas were really something, especially the crowded Shinjuku, the mall and the rooftop with the statues.

Thirdibibble, Steve was an incredibly well conceived new character.

Fourthly, I just liked the calmer, less spastic and far out mood of the game.

Fifthely, the story mode had cool art and a great narrator.

SiXxXholicly, it had some of the series’ best designs like Xiaoyu’s friend, Hwoarang’s military costume, Jin’s super bad-ass trainer/hoody outfit, Kazuya’s scarred businessman attire and butterfly Yoshimitsu.

Seventhly, I really liked how differently some of the characters played and felt, it was a real eye opening, actual change rather than a tweak. Despite the fact that its endings were weaker graphically, they still had the Tekken magic.

A lot of people agree that Tekken 5 is a great game. Surely, it has some of the PS2’s sharpest, most vivid and stunning arenas and the game actually looks better than DOA3, because DOA3 has shitty character design. It actually reforms series mistakes Christie, Eddie and Marduk into better versions of themselves. The Jack robot this time around actually looks kind of cool. Paul’s hair is even more ridiculous than ever. Asuka is an excellent new character. Devil Within is the least obnoxious add-on beat em up yet. And the plethora of extras in the PS2 version is mindblowing.

Yet for me, while Tekken 5 is good stuff, I miss the free movement of 4, so it and 2 remain my favorites. (2 just because of the memories and the feel. I’m one of those people who thinks Street Fighter Alpha 2 is better than Alpha 3.)

For all of Namco’s trying, it seems like 5 couldn’t quite revive the ridiculous hype and adoration the series provoked before, perhaps because better than arcade perfect ports are such not a hot thing anymore.

Or it might be because Tekken used to be so much better than other 3D fighting game alternative on the PlayStation save Tobal and Soul Blade and now it has to compete with not only Soul Calibur, but the grand king in Virtua Fighter and it becomes all the more blatant when you have VF4 on the same system and the upcoming 5’s trailblazing that Tekken was always more of a follower than a pioneer.

Still, there’s nothing quite like Tekken. The Mishima Corporation storyline and the weird things they do (like setting 3 so far in the future) actually sets it a little apart from other fighting games. Nina, King, Marshall Law, Jin, Kuma/Panda, Mokujin, Brian Fury, Paul, Heihachi, Kazuya, like Street Fighter and King of Fighters, the list of highly personable characters goes on and on. The secret characters and goodies in true kitchen sink style will always endear me to the series.

And of course, the endings. Who could forget the Tekken endings? Best out of all fighting games ever? I think so! A lesson to developers who like to skimp on uninteresting, unrewarding endings? I think so. Memorable even many, many years after you’ve seen them (Ah! King saved the orphanage!) I think so!

Here’s hoping Namco can revive the energy and electricity around every Tekken release with this upcoming generation. Though personally I’d like to see them do it by going so far out of our expectation that the reinvent the series completely, though I realize that’s probably way too much to expect.

At least VF will always be there to turn all of Japan into crazed joystick monkeys, but I’d like a series that can have that enthusiasm reciprocated worldwide.

Ah, how do I delete the other thread? Don’t reply there, I don’t think you can delete if you reply…Sorry! :(

-Kitsune

I don’t really follow fighting games, but whatever happened to Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter, etc.? Did they just get surpassed and marginalized by the Tekken, Soul Calibur and Virtu Fighter series?

Is there a Tekken coming to the PSP?

Mortal Kombat faded away because everyone realized it sucked. There were several attempts to revive it, but those sucked. Since Mortal Kombat is just one huge vortex of suckage, nobody should care.

Street Fighter hasn’t had a sequel in years, since Capcom vs. Street Fighter 2 in 2001. Its still well thought regarded though and still continues to get gazillions of ports. (Next up, a Street Fighter Alpha collection and Street Fighter II for Xbox Arcade or whatever its called.) Street Fighter III: Third Strike is still usually regarded as the best 2D fighter of all time, right next to Mark of the Wolves.

People would probably a welcome a new Street Fighter game, as long as its not an EX title, which are not well regarded.

There is a Tekken coming to the PSP, though its looking a bit different than the upgraded arcade version of Tekken 5 its named after (Dark Resurrection).

These days the most popular fighters are Soul Calibur and Smash Bros. around the world and VF in Japan.

-Kitsune

It’s all been downhill since Way of the Exploding Fist, dammit.

I agree, Kitsune. Like you, I’ve always been worried about the fate of the Tekken series, because I, as I think you do, see that if they’d only fix a few tiny little problems, they’d have the most popular fighting game in history. Chief among those problems is that Tekken has always been utter crap. Like, worse than Starblade. Man, if only they could fix that one, tiny little problem, it would utterly rule.

All fighting games are pretty much shit, except for maybe Marvel vs Capcom 2 which has Juggernaut, purple octopus man and the cactus guy. I keep hearing it’s unbalanced or whatever, but complaining about that is like people complaining that there’s nothing to do at level 60 in WoW - if you’ve sunk enough of your life into the game to discover that, it’s time to stop playing stupid shit and go play something awesome like Toki or Snow Bros Nick and Tom.

Tekken 2 was awesome. If only for that one dude who had the move where he sat on the other guy’s chest and pummelled him in the face. Guaranteed to reduce my mate to a spitting ball of controller throwing fury surpassed only by being repeatedly kneed in the goolies by Sophitia in Soul Blade.

Happy days. Shame Tekken tag was utter shit though.

While I am willing to admit that the Tekken series stands alone with VF at the top of the gaming heap, for entirely subjective reasons Soul Calibur has always been vastly superior to Tekken in my mind (although not in the minds of most Japanese and hardcore American fight fans.)

A few of the reasons I prefer it…

  • I hate the limited movement in Tekken. Once I got used to 8-way run in SC, I despise not being able to move freely around the ring.

  • I hate games that are simply launch -> air juggle -> stomp. And to me, Tekken is the great offender in this regard, far worse than even DoA. With no Air Control (again, a feature SC has that Tekken does not), high-level players simply remember a few set of long combo strings and wait until the opportunities arrive to break out the canned combos. With SC, there’s more read 'n react IMO.

  • SC has a deeper parry/block system

  • I don’t like Tekken’s Okizeme game, which I perfectly willing to admit I probably don’t understand. But it seems too often that there is a unblockable attack that can’t be tech rolled away from. Probably just me, though.

  • SC’s all seem to be from the same universe, if not necessarily the same era. Samurai with ancient greek warriors? A stretch, but still everything hangs together conceptually. But Tekken has always struck me as an ugly mish-mash of character ideas simply thrown together. From the relatively realistic Nina, we move to the curious Bryan before moving to the outright stupidity of Paul Phoenix’s hair, and then going from there to Armored King and the Roger Jr., a character that should either be in Bloody Roar or High School Rivals or not exist at all. In sum, it is a total mess of characters with little art direction or unifying theme.

  • Fighting game’s really shouldn’t be judged on their story, so I’m not going to single out Tekken’s uniquely incoherent ramblings.

Again, I’m willing to admit that I don’t get the depths of Tekken, and the reason why is that as a long-time SC player, there is too much for me to get past. We even have a Tekken 5 arcade downstairs at work (which some people use the PS2 Dual Shock to move with while fighting with the buttons, if you can believe it) and I don’t lack for quality opponents. I just can’t past the stiff, junkiness of the Tekken universe.

Anyone who doesn’t like Mortal Kombat doesn’t have a sense of humor. Makes sense though.

I don’t hate MK, necessarily, but for pure gameplay I don’t think it offers anything near as rewarding an experience as my favs, Virtua Fighter 4, Soul Calibur 3 and Guilty Gear X2.

I’m a big fan of Tekken’s generally insane attitude (Yoshimitsu + kung-fu pandas + robots = YES), but the controls just don’t feel “right” to me. I’ve never been able to pin down why I think that way. I want to say they’re not responsive enough, but it could just be that my timing sucks. I just have to chalk it up as one of those things.

What’s a Shinjuku?

Its Asian for handjob.

I think Tekken is always going to be my favorite because it continually develops its characters in a very classic Japanese way. Which is to say completely random storylines, relationships, and new characters get tacked onto them just for fun. It’s the most “Final Fight” of the fighters, I’d say. Or Guilty Gear.

I don’t really get into the technical aspects of a fighting game because it’s too fiddly for me, so that’s all I have to go on really. Tekken has appeal to me that Soul Calibur or Virtua Fighter don’t quite measure up to.

I used to play the crap out of Tekken and Tekken 2, until I got a Dreamcast and discovered Soul Calibur. Tekken just doesn’t feel right to me anymore.

Kitsune, you’re probably the only guy who liked 4. It was totally different than Tekken 3, and honestly, people expect a sequel to be a similiar game not totally different.

Tekken 5 in my opinion is an excellent fighting game, and a fantastic sequel, since I can’t imagine too many people keep playing older versions. Most people kept playing Tekken Tag while 4 was out. Nowadays, it’s mostly pointless.

But the best thing going for Tekken I think (Where I live defintely) is it’s wide popularity, no matter who, even the hardest anti-gamers I know still tend to have favorite characters in Tekken, and honestly no matter what story mode they put, fighting games are meant to played when you can laugh and tease your opponent in real time.
Otherwise, it’s just pointless.

-Shiroko

Oh, I think not my friend. Nothing tops the one ending from GGXX where Chipp decided to run for President of the United States.

Nothing tops the Guilty Gear series for sheer weirdness in pretty much everything. Probably why I love that damned series. Rock ‘n’ Roll witches FTW!

Is that the C64 game where the guy’s pants fall down and humiliate him?

Following quotes are not brought to you by Gordon Cameron.

What’s a Shinjuku?

A juku that is shin.

No really, I thought it was well known. I guess its not. The easiest to describe is that Shinjuku and Shibuya together form the infamous “Blade Runner” myth of what Tokyo is like.

The reality is that Shinjuku is a nice district of Tokyo, housing an absolutely huge train station/mall that well over 2 million people cross over in a single day. I don’t like Tokyo much (indeed it could be said that most Japanese have an allergic reaction to the name), but Shinjuku has a thriving atmosphere and many small stores with good stuff going on (see also Ueno and Ikebukuro). Shibuya gives me hives though.

Tekken 4 has this great, great Shinjuku stage where you hit the other character into passersby, and they’d all dodge out of your way as you tumbled around across the street. It was all to the back drop of a very strong techno-ish jazzy song. (Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah-na-na, dah-na-na-na na-na na-NANA.)

I love putting Hwoarang and Jin to work in that place and filming replays.

It was totally different than Tekken 3, and honestly, people expect a sequel to be a similiar game not totally different.

I’m a pretty sure I’m a people too. :P And I like it when my sequels are as different as they can be while maintaining the same spirit. I’m a big proponent for sequels like Yoshi’s Island, Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter or Wild Arms the 4th Detonator.

Which is to say completely random storylines, relationships, and new characters get tacked onto them just for fun. It’s the most “Final Fight” of the fighters, I’d say.

Yes, yes, yes. I was actually going to write this in my reply, but you got there first! It is funny, isn’t it? How stuff like this endears the game to people like me, you, curst and Aunt Barbara, the Cigar Queen, but turns off people like Jim Preston, speaking of Jim…

I hate the limited movement in Tekken. Once I got used to 8-way run in SC, I despise not being able to move freely around the ring.

Yeah, I don’t like it much either, but I deal. You should, however, try Tekken 4. It has very free movement, much more so than any other Tekken and feels much more Virtua-y. Its modeled loosely on the VF3 style of having stages with varied elevation and walls for juggling.

Speaking of juggling, yeah, its an important part of Tekken, but I don’t think you representing all the manners of high level play. That’s simply not all that goes on. We could get in one of those fighting game fights about which game is more advanced, but I’ll just take the mature way out and say that Itagaki is a scarred pizza-faced manwhore. :P

Also, all fighting game have highly incoherent storylines, no game is exempt. At least Tekken has the sense to be flashy and self-conscious about it.

-Kitsune

What rules is that I-No comprises maybe 5% of the sheer overwhelming absurd insanity in that game. Maybe. I think I permanently fell in love with Guilty Gear when I first ran into the gender-confused child who kicks ass using his (her?) magic yo-yo.

It took a few minutes - okay, a few hours - for me to quit constantly asking “WTF WTF WTF”, but once I did it became one of my favorite games ever.

As always, the exception is the Gear. The storyline is both coherent and actually good, but only if you follow it through every iteration of the game as well as the supplemental material. But the backstories for the characters are actually quite cool.