When Street Fighter II was released, the popularity of the game helped to revive arcades for a while. At the time there where a lot of games where you walk to the right and beat up the guys on the screen, like Final Fight and Double Dragon. For the most part the one-on-one fighting genre hadn’t been explored except for a few games like Karate Champ. Eventually other 2D fighters came out trying to best what SFII had done. After a while fighting games needed a new twist, and Virtua Fighter introduced that when it gave 3D graphics. One of the first fighting series to jump onto the 3D bandwagon was Tekken.
Tekken has had a series of titles in the arcades and they have been well known for their ports to the PlayStation consoles as well. Tekken Tag Tournament was one of the launch titles for the PS2. Now Tekken 6 has been released for both the PS3 and Xbox 360, a shift in direction from console exclusivity. However, those who have an Xbox 360 will appreciate the effort.
Tekken 6 follows the familiar format of fighting games where two characters beat up on each other using kicks, punches, and special moves. The story in these games is both familiar and expendable. The King of the Iron Fist Tournament 6 has begun. Fighters have come for fame, fortune, and revenge. Two enter the fight, and one comes out victorious.
When you first start Tekken 6, the first mode than shows up on the menu screen is the Scenario Campaign. When I started playing I thought that Tekken 6 had taken the series in an entirely new direction because it plays more like a Final Fight game. You initially start playing as Lars with Alisa as your partner. You advance through an area, enemies literally drop from the sky, beat them up, move to the next area, rinse, lather, and repeat. Eventually a world map shows different areas you can fight through to advance the storyline. You gain gold by beating up the enemies and acquiring money bags and treasure chests hidden throughout the area. These allow you to buy customizations for the characters.
Unfortunately this portion of the game is incredibly boring and the controls are clunky. Also, if you die during any part of the level including the end boss, you have to start the entire portion of the level over again. If you have to have that special jacket for that one character in the game then you will put a lot of extra time into this title, but it is a personal choice if it will be worth it.
Fortunately the main focus of Tekken 6 is the one-on-one fighting. Tekken 6 features 40 characters to test your fighting skill. Most of the fighters look very unique compared to other fighting games. How many games out there have a figure made completely out of tree stumps, men wearing a jaguar mask, or a kangaroo wearing boxing gloves with a joey in the pouch wearing boxing gloves? It will take a while to master each character, but it should be easy for newcomers to find someone with a style to their liking.
The controls haven’t changed since the days of the original arcade game. The directional buttons or left stick controls movement, while the face buttons control the attacks. The left punch, right punch, left kick, and right kick system is still intact. It is an intuitive system that gives a wide range of attacks that allow you to combo attacks and juggle your opponents.
Tekken 6 features many of the same modes that most other fighting games have. The typical arcade mode has you battling the CPU AI through nine stages. The ghost battle is similar, but it is similar to an arcade mode with CPU-controlled AIs instead of real people. Each ghost has an individual style and difficulty level. The vs mode sets up fights against a friend and allows you to set a handicap. The time attack challenges you to defeat all the opponents as quickly as you can. The team battle lets you set up teams of up to eight characters and see which team is left standing. Survival mode throws enemies at you until your health is completely depleted, only replenishing a fraction of your health between rounds. There is also a practice mode where you can learn and perform moves without getting punched back in the face.
The online mode lets you play either ranked matches, which affect your online ranking, and player matches that allow you to customize settings but won’t affect your ranking. You can also upload your ghost data and download ghost data from other players. The online mode isn’t robust, but to gain ranks above 1st Dan you have to go online.
When first starting Tekken, it does have a bit of “button-masher” friendliness to it. You can get through a couple of rounds without knowing any of the special moves or having perfect timing against your opponent. As you get more familiar with the characters, the strategies for each one become more apparent. The timing will get tighter and you can perform the perfect 10-hit combo for each character. The number of characters can make this feel overwhelming, so sticking to a couple of characters when first starting the game might be beneficial.
While you eventually adjust to the character, I felt that in the offline mode there would be a specific plateau for each character where I would get stuck at. Sometimes I would even switch characters to try a different strategy and still not be able to get any further. It also didn’t help that I would have to reselect my character after each fight instead of having the option to get a rematch with the same character or choose a different one. The load times for Tekken 6 didn’t help either, as they are excruciatingly long. It takes a while to load the characters, then load the fight screen, then the environment for the actual fight. Sometimes I felt like I was waiting longer for the fighting area than the time I was actually fighting.
Tekken 6 does include some fighting mechanics that aren’t new to the fighting genre. The environments are varied. Some of them are surrounded by walls that you can trap opponents against, while others include destructible walls that you can send your opponent through. Hitting an opponent with a counter move deals extra damage. If your health bar gets under a specific point you go into a rage mode that increases your attack power. All of your attacks have a nice red particle effect to them as well. There aren’t any real surprises in Tekken 6 if you have played other fighting games.