|Tekken has always represented the high water mark of fighting
games. Great graphics, superb control, cool characters, and a deep fighting system combine
to create the standard by which all other games are judged. Tekken was the first game I
bought for my PlayStation and I was amazed. The two subsequent additions to the Tekken
franchise continued to amaze by providing significant increases in both graphics and
gameplay. The latest installment delivers what Tekken fans have grown to love, and it does
it with that unrivaled Namco flare for giving gamers what they want.
Namcos Soul Calibur, its premier fighter on the Dreamcast, set a new standard for fighting game graphics by improving on the already beautiful arcade version of the game. The trend continues with Tekken Tag, as a supercharged version with crisper graphics and better backgrounds makes its way into your living room and leaves the arcade far behind.
Tekken Tag isnt so much a new Tekken game as it is Tekken 3 on steroids. All the characters have returned from the last installment, and all the characters from the first two Tekkens that didnt make it into the third one have been added as well. The grand total is thirty four characters, an impressive lineup, but not as impressive as it sounds at first. Many of the characters that didnt make it out of Tekken 2 were already cloned, given a new look and a slightly modified move list, and put into Tekken 3. For example, Bruce the kickboxer became Brian the undead warrior, and Jack the robo warrior has had three different incarnations throughout the series. All three forms are now available, but there is minimal difference between them. On the other hand, the truly cool characters like Jun and Kazuya who were absent from Tekken 3 have made their triumphant return to the Tekken Franchise and their inclusion in Tekken Tag is a major boon. Both were sorely missed in Tekken 3.
Tekken Tag follows the trend in fighting games by allowing for tag team matches, much like the Marvel vs Capcom series and DoA2. Unlike those two games, however, the matches in Tekken Tag are over when only one of the partners is knocked out. This prevents great come from behind victories, as one character bravely rages against two opponents, trying desperately for the impossible win. Fortunately this drawback is alleviated by the fact that Tekken Tag has multiple round settings allowing you to look for a comeback of a different sort.
The Team Battle mode has always been a cool part of Tekken games, and theyve gotten even cooler. The traditional team battles allowed players to select up to eight characters and fight until one side is completely knocked out. The new system allows you to choose up to eight characters, but you can also tag characters in and out. This makes the team battles even more dynamic and adds a new element of strategy in deciding who to put on your team, and what order you put them in.
Tekken Tag features up to four-player action. Players form two teams of two and tag one another in and out during the course of the battle much like the system in DoA2. Let me say that I absolutely love my PlayStation2, but Id like to take this opportunity to call for the public flogging of whichever non game-playing corporate dweeb decided two controller ports were enough for a game system. Two controller ports are not enough for a game system, to say nothing of how nice it would be to be able to use one controller slot for a DVD remote. The fact that I cant play Tekken Tag with four people unless I stand in line to pay thirty bucks for some add-on hardware really irks me. In any event, the game supports up to four players.
Tekken Tag is essentially a mid step between Tekken 3 and Tekken 4. There are some new things and some different cool characters, but ultimately it has the same flavor as Tekken 3. I dont have a problem with this. Tekken is the greatest series of fighting games ever made and Tekken Tag is the greatest Tekken game ever made. The equation is that simple. Namcos real test will come when we see how they deliver on a fighting game developed originally for the PS2. Soon theyll be pitted against other franchises and other big names whove had time to play with the hardware and they will be looking to usurp the title of greatest fighting game ever. Either way, we the fighting game fans, are in for one hell of a ride. Until then, the king of fighters still reigns supreme. Long live the king.