The fighting game landscape has been quite barren of late as far as dedicated Tekken games go. With the fervour surrounding Street Fighter X Tekken and Tekken X Street Fighter memories of both titles have fallen by the wayside somewhat to make way for what will be two of the biggest crossovers in video game history.
Namco has decided to remind Tekken fans what it's really all about though with a PS3 exclusive package that they have entitled Tekken Hybrid.
There are three elements to Tekken Hybrid: a 3D-enabled Blu-ray feature film Tekken Blood Vengeance, Tekken Tag Tournament remastered in HD and Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Prologue which is essentially a short demo of Tekken Tag Tournament 2.
Tekken Blood Vengeance is a bit of a warm-up for those eager to get their hands on Tekken Tag Tournament 2. It provides a bit of the ridiculous back story to the title alongside a small taster of the action in the form of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Prologue.
The real meat of the package is the remaster of Tekken Tag Tournament exclusively for PS3. Unlike its 3D big brothers Tekken Tag Tournament adopts more of a 2D view on the action which steps away slightly from the usual allure that Tekken has and puts it more firmly in the same ring as the Marvel vs Capcom series.
Tekken Tag Tournament HD has all the colour and character of the original title with all the sharp edges refined to take advantage of the HD capabilities of the PlayStation 3. The game includes all the same game modes from the original PS2 title including the ubiquitous fighting game modes of Arcade, VS Battle and Time Attack as well as Team Battle where up to tag teams of up to eight characters can take on each other until all of one team is knocked out, Survival mode where your tag team of two takes on an endless stream of opponents until you are knocked out and the curious Tekken Bowl mode, which is tag team bowling.
The Arcade mode is the main reason to start playing Tekken Tag Tournament. Pick two characters and try and fight your way through to the finish without getting knocked out. Unlike the Marvel vs Capcom series, if one character gets knocked out the round is lost. This means that using each team member effectively is much more important in order to get through the tougher bouts later on. Fight your way to the boss, beat him and earn your place on the leaderboard.
Visually, Tekken Tag Tournament HD is very enjoyable. Gone are the crooked curves of old, replaced by the smooth lines that current HD technology gives us. The opening cutscene is a bit frustrating as it is rendered in a strange vertical letterbox view but when we reach the game it is in full 16:9 widescreen 720p HD which works very nicely indeed. The backgrounds are every bit as enjoyable as the main character models as every detail has been reworked to ensure that we're not distracted by jagged backgrounds while the beautifully rendered fighters battle away in the foreground.
The most important detail though is how the game plays. Does Tekken Tag Tournament HD lend itself well to the new DualShock 3 controllers? Do the fighters respond the way they should without too much lag?
There are a few things that have always set aside the Tekken series from its Capcom-created competitors. Most 3D fighters have been slower and more deliberate than their 2D compatriots but Tekken Tag Tournament has forsaken the classic 3D stylings preferring to adopt a 2D style of play with a pseudo-3D feel.
Having made the jump to 2D it would be expected that Tekken Tag Tournament would have adopted a faster pace. This is not the case. Tekken Tag Tournament retains the more considered and stately pace of the main 3D series and it creates a curious experience.
For someone who is used to the frantic pace of series like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat in 2D fighters, Tekken Tag Tournament is a bit of a shock to the system. The characters move quite sluggishly and they don't feel like they respond quick enough to button presses. This doesn't matter too much early on as the difficulty curve of most of the game modes is pretty shallow. As the opponents get tougher though it does become frustrating when the punch you wanted to land is fractions of a second later than you expected.
For Tekken fans this might be alright but for fighting game connoisseurs this is quite an irritation and it makes the game a bit less accessible especially for those players that like to jam the difficulty level up as high as it can go. For newcomers, it can be seen as being a bit more gentle that the likes of Street Fighter and Marvel vs Capcom but its really a matter of taste and many will probably find the slow responsiveness of the controls a bit of a turn-off.
Tekken Tag Tournament does have one real treat though and that is the Tekken Bowl mode. The bowling can be quite a fun distraction. It is an old-school style of play, testing your reflexes with spin and power meters to try and get you a strike but it is probably the most fun aspect of the game. It's also a pretty neat little mode that many players may have forgotten about since the game first appeared on PS2 that adds a nice distraction factor when the fist-fighting gets a bit too much.
This is not one of those fighting games for everyone. Nowadays fighting games are becoming a bit niche and Tekken Tag Tournament HD, even with the addition of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Prologue and the Tekken Blood Vengeance movie will really only appeal to Tekken fans with most general fighting fans opting for something newer like Marvel vs Capcom 3 for their tag team action. This may be a nice nostalgic experience for Tekken fans but you're probably better off waiting for Tekken Tag Tournament 2's arrival late next year. At least the bowling is fun.