I didn’t give Tekken Tag Tournament a good look in during its original release, mostly due to the fact that it was little more than a tag mechanic patch for Tekken 3 and didn’t represent an actual step forward for the series. Plus I hate tagging in fighting games, while if often allows for some visually exciting and fun team moves like in Marvel Vs Capcom, juggling multiple characters annoys me.
Even with my bias I can’t deny Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is the best iteration of the series so far.
While the plot of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is not canon to the long, involved and really quite bizarre Tekken ‘story line’, unlike the previous game there actually is a plot behind the fighting. The developers describe it as a ‘dream match’ storyline; an excuse to put almost every single character from Tekken history in one game. The story focuses on Violet, the adopted and universally loathed member of the Mishima family tree, building a new version Combot to enter in the King of Ironfist tournament. Much zaniness and situational comedy wholly based on people looking surprised follows. Look, the plot is total crap and makes up the trainer portion of the game so you’re welcome to skip it and do what you’re supposed to do with Tekken games, get your mates over and spend all night playing Vs mode and ragging on the guy who always plays as Hwoarang.
The best feature of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is undoubtedly the roster, allowing players to use almost every character in Tekken’s long history. Over 59 characters are playable, a big step up from the arcade version of the game which ‘only’ had 41 characters. Returning characters from previous games who haven’t been seen in a while include the floor bound Dr Boskonovitch, Kunimitsu, Prototype Jack, Michelle Chang, the Angel and Alex the boxing dinosaur. A few boss characters also make an appearance including Jinpachi, the sight of which is enough to make me bite me thumbs off, and both forms of the Ogre character. There’s also individual character slots for characters that were previously just alternate appearances for existing characters; Panda, Kuma’s adorable counterpart is her own character and Eddy Gordo’s afroed, platform show wearing counterpart Tiger Jackson is not his own character as well.
The game is by far the best looking and sounding of any previous Tekken game, with its international cast now all actually speaking their native languages in pre game smack talk and cut scenes, which is a first for the title. But at the core of the experience is everything that makes Tekken great, namely a simple and easy to grasp control system, with the four face buttons each counting for a limb, and a deeper complexity for the hardcore.
Tekken has always been that great party fighter by virtue of its diverse roster and engaging gameplay; anyone can pick up a controller and in a short time learn a few flashy and exciting moves to make them feel empowered. On the flip side the game is also ridiculously deep and involved with a complexity to its combo system and block/evade dynamics that is unrivalled by any other game. Tekken’s versatility continues to make it a great family game night game, alongside being a true fighter’s fighter game.
For the hardcore Tekken Tag Tournament 2 carries over mechanics from Tekken 6 including the capacity to smack juggled opponents back into the ground with a ‘bound’ strike and continue a combo. Tag Assaults allow the tag mechanic to put both team mates into a combo move for massive damage returns and team mates can now execute Tag throws, although these aren’t too difficult to break away from if your timing is good (or so I’ve read, my timing is terrible).
Unfortunately, if you were hoping for the next big iteration of the franchise where things really stepped forward it’s not this game (and to be honest I think Tekken will just end before it evolves). While at its core the game is everything that’s ever made the series great it’s still nothing more than just that. Move lists and characters have remained the same, and other than the tag throw mechanic there’s nothing starkly new to point out as being notably sequel worthy. The best argument you could make is this is the nicest package you’ve can get of everything you’ve seen and enjoyed before, like some boxed special edition of a bands albums.
Admittedly that’s a glass half full approach. If you haven’t picked up a Tekken game in a while, or were looking for a good entry game to the series, or your fan, which admittedly sounds like every possible demographic for this game, this is the copy you want to pick up. It’s the best Tekken you’re going to get right now, Tekken 6 with all the characters, mechanics and modes you could ask for looking as good as it’s going to get. It’s a gorgeous game and likely the best fighting game release of the year. If your familiar with Tekken just don’t expect anything more than exactly what you’re going to get.