The Tekken series of games first entered the gaming world back in 1994, and since then it has gone from strength to strength with each new release. Looking back. there are many great console arcade fighting games, Street Fighter, Virtua Fighter, BlazBlu, King Of Fighters – but the easiest to pick up and play of them all was Tekken.
There are a number of key elements that make Tekken stand out from the crowd. First of all, no matter what your experience, anyone can pick up a Tekken game and pull off some incredible and spectacular moves. Secondly, Tekken games have always looked amazing, and showcased the power of the gaming console to which it was released on. Thirdly, and most importantly, Tekken games are fun to play, with a wide variety of players to select, some great one-on-one action with another human, and some brilliant AI routines employed by the virtual fighters who you will combat in single player mode.
Unlike some other fighting games, the Tekken series gives you control over each limb with a dedicated button for each arm and leg. Used in combinations, this allows you greater control over your fighter. When you tie various combinations together, you can pull of some super moves, and depending on your character, these moves are not just be overly flamboyant, but can be quite devastating to your opponent also.
The original Tekken came to the Playstation in 1995, and was based on the 1994 arcade game. For it’s time it was not only good looking, but a brilliant distraction from the other fighting games of the era. Tekken included 18 playable characters, many of whom were unlocked as you progressed through the game. Although there was a story, based upon lead character Heihachi Mishima, and told through FMV sequences within the game, telling of how all the fighters gathered for the King Of Iron Fist Tournament, most people just appreciated the game for its damn-right butt-kicking action. Some players were better with their fists, some with their feet, some were good at martial arts and others at street fighting. The whole diversity meant each battle you fought was different, and you had to learn new tactics for new styles.
Graphically and sonically, the Tekken series pushed the limits of the gaming world. The whole series is one of the best looking games on any console, however it’s sound-tracks are just as impressive and each tune fits each playing scenario perfectly. Sound effects are also perfect for the game, and each character comes with his or her own phrase that they say when they win or lose a battle.
Tekken 2 followed in 1996 on the Playstation and increased the character count to twenty-five players, while also improving on the graphics on the original Tekken. However, it was Tekken 3 that was released in 1998 that was the game that would over-shadow both its predecessors and be classed by many as one of the great fighting games of all time, and possibly the best ever Tekken game.
Tekken 3 pushed used the Namco System 12 board in the arcades which was a marked improvement on the System 11 boards used in the first two Tekken games. It was the last Tekken game to be released on the original Playstation, and it’s graphics, sound and gameplay were pushed to a whole new level. For the first time ever, the game was more pseudo-3D, and allowed players to move into or out of the action, side-stepping oncoming moves and adding a whole new dimension to the game. Once again the playable character count was in the mid-20’s, and every character had been reworked, giving better animations and move-set than ever before.
Tekken 4 and Tekken 5 were released on the Playstation 2 in 2002 and 2004 respectively. Both games improved further on the earlier Tekken games, with players now able to move around the landscape more than ever. It also introduced hazards in the play area with which you could interact, such as smashing another player against a wall for more damage. Graphically, on the new Playstation 2 hardware the games looked better than ever and were even smoother and faster. Tekken 5 took all of its predecessors and fine tuned everything into the ultimate fighting game. Tekken 5 was also released as Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection on the Playstation 3 and added high-resolution 1080p graphics and even more fluid animation. The player selection also increased to over thirty playable characters, meaning Tekken 5 was the biggest and the best Tekken of the series to date. Indeed, Tekken 5 , next to Tekken 3 is truly a great masterpiece of coding, and a fighting game that really stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Tekken 6, the latest Tekken game, was released in arcades in 2007, and finally reached the newest generation of consoles in 2009. Everything about Tekken 6 is bigger and sexier than ever before, playing areas are bigger and more diverse, the roster of characters stands at thirty-five. Graphics in Tekken 6 have also taken a huge leap-forward, with more advanced animations and even prettier backdrops than any of the previous games.
The Tekken series has always been a remarkable combination of move-sets, graphics, sonics and solid gameplay. Other than the main series, NAMCO also introduced Tekken Tag Tournament in 1999, which played with the gameplay and introduced tag-fighting. Later this year Tekken Tag Tournament 2 will be released and is shaping up to be something very special in the Tekken universe.
For anyone who has never played a Tekken game, I suggest getting your hands on Tekken 3 or Tekken 5 . They are without doubt the high-points of the series, and by far the most accessible to new players. Although released on the original Playstation, Tekken 3 is still a masterpiece of a fighting game. What comes next to the Tekken franchise other than Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is unknown, as our love of fighting game fades and NAMCO size up their options. Whatever it brings, Tekken will always be one of the greatest fighting series ever to have been released.