TEKKEN / Namco / Arcade

The first entries of popular fighting game series generally don't hold up well to the test of time. Take Street Fighter - iffy gameplay even at the time it was released, and by current standards it's absolute garbage. If you want to discount that one, even the venerable Street Fighter 2 seems pretty slow, stiff and clunky if you go back to it now. Mortal Kombat is alright, but the following two games took the same engine and added a pile of new stuff to it, rendering the original obsolete. See also Soul Edge/Soul Calibur, Virtua Fighter, etc.

So it goes with Tekken, which was actually kind of late to the 3D fighter party, coming out nearly two years after Virtua Fighter. Despite the long delay it doesn't really add anything to the mix other than more impressive-looking throw moves, better textures, and slightly smoother animation. The gameplay at this point, however, is like Virtua Fighter's clumsier and more button-mashy sibling.

Now I'm not one of those "lol Tekken iz 4 mashers" people, I like a lot of the later entries in the series and I respect the depth that your pro tournament fighters bring out of the games. But with this first release it kinda was true, lacking the refinements that would go into later games in the series.

The one change-up to the Virtua Fighter formula here is a 4-button system with each button representing a limb, rather than having various general punch and kick attacks. Each button busts out one particular forward-facing move, however, so the end result isn't really all that different. I don't see the 4-button system here as particularly good or bad. What really hangs this one up, to me, is the absolute lack of any sort of low game or jumping whatsoever. I mean, you can jump, but it's a huge floaty affair meant only to deliver a gravity-assisted pounding to a downed opponent. There's just less flow to the action in general - it's more of a robotic exchange of standing and blocking auto-combo attacks, until someone can sneak in a throw or manages to get a lucky hit. Thus you might as well just pick characters that either rattle off big combos with an easy tap of the button (Yoshimitsu and Law) or someone who has a massively powerful throw (Paul).

The game is pretty nice-looking for 1994 standards and the sound work is above average, but like VF it's stripped down entirely to fighting with only rudimentary endings for each character, so unless you really get into the fighting engine there's nothing to keep you here beyond a few curiosity matches. It's certainly not bad, but leaves you with very little reason to play it when stacked up next to the later games in the series.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video
* Some of the endings are goofy fun tho