While some of the games in the Tekken series haven’t grabbed me, I do remember having a great experience with the original Tekken Tag Tournament in the arcade and on the PS2. While the ability to switch fighters in the middle of the match was nothing new, the mechanic where you lost the round if one of your fighters lost all of his or her health bar was. It put a new strategy into how you would switch characters. However, this game came out in 1999 in the arcades and 2000 on the PlayStation 2. Now after over a decade of hibernation, Namco has finally produced a sequel with Tekken Tag Tournament 2 on the Xbox 360 and PS3.
The Tekken series has had a long history on the Sony consoles, most likely because the Tekken games used PlayStation-based hardware. Not only were the first five Tekken games exclusive to the PS1 and PS2. That changed when Tekken 6 was released on both the Xbox 360 and PS3. While only Tekken Hybrid ended up on the PS3, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 has found its way back on both Microsoft’s and Sony’s hardware. I was able to get a look at the Xbox 360 version.
The controls for Tekken are simple, making the game accessible to newcomers. Each of the face buttons is associated with a specific limb. The X and Y buttons activate the arms, while the A and B buttons control the legs. Special moves generally involve hitting buttons in succession, occasionally with the D-pad. The bumpers tag your partner in, and if you time it right it will activate a tag team attack.
Plenty of kicks and punches are thrown in the Tekken ring. These attacks can be used for juggling to create combos. The longer you can keep your opponent in the air, the more attacks you can get, and you will prevent your opponent from tagging in their partner. This is important, since the round ends when one character runs out of health. The fights can be short, as someone who knows how to juggle an opponent can deplete their health quickly, but these combos are not easy to pull off. This makes Tekken very accessible to pick up, but those who want to dig deeper and find strategies within the characters can do that.
The Fight Lab is the most unique mode included in Tekken Tag Tournament 2. Here you not only have your tutorial on how to play the game, but it shows you which buttons to press an gives the timing for those button presses. It’s something that is truly missing from other training modes in fighters. Also, by completing missions you can gain experience and money. These can be used to upgrade the Combot by purchasing moves from other player’s arsenal. Then the Combot can be used during the regular game. It’s your own customizable character that will be different with each individual copy of the game.
The most unique offering is the World Tekken Federation. This online service is included with the purchase of the game and it includes tools to help you become a better fighter. It not only profiles your Tekken fighter preferences, but takes a look at your character usage, combos, and move sets. Your opponents’ info is available as well. Leaderboards are available as well to see how well you rank against fighters around the world. It’s almost like Call of Duty Elite, but without the price tag.
Almost everything in Tekken Tag Tournament 2 just clicks. The roster has plenty of characters, its accessible to newcomers while retains enough depth for fighting game experts, and you can get plenty of information on how to improve through the World Tekken Federation. Being able to switch characters within a round adds an extra layer of strategy. If you don’t want your fighter to take itself too seriously, but still have a great time where skill is emphasized, then Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is a great fighter to add to your collection.