Enter The Tekken! My Journey As A Tekken Player!
|Not a very loving family....|
Tekken, a fighting game franchise that pretty much fills the thought of what may be the biggest hit or the King of Fighting games right? Tekken in English means "Iron Fist" and the Tekken tournament is called the "King of Iron Fist" based on the meaning of Tekken alone. The whole game earned a huge popularity with a lot of fans. Now I will share my experience with Tekken itself. Just a bit... I only played the console versions as I am not much of an arcade player myself. Now it's time to enter the Tekken!
For the very first Tekken game, I wasn't exactly a huge fan of the game at first due to its "irregularity". The whole control scheme was that it was you pressed one button to activate each limb namely Left Punch, Right Punch, Left Kick and Right Kick. It gives a more intuitive learning process where you controlled each fighter like a puppet. It was also a game that didn't feature the use of projectiles in the style of other popular games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. Unlike Virtua Fighter, I found this game more interesting graphics-wise (even they knew how to do better with old school graphics, avoiding overly blocky images like the old Virtua Fighter games), gameplay-wise and storywise. What was not surprising, it was said that the very first Tekken game was the first Playstation One game to sell over one million units.
My memory of this game was how I actually made Kazuya Mishima my favorite character. Back then, it was only eight characters who would face a different sub-boss, before facing the biggest challenge namely Heihachi who was very imbalanced final boss. Oh the memories I actually spent time screaming every time Heihachi defeated me. What was interesting was that after you defeated Heihachi, each of the eight main characters would get an animated ending. Tekken kept getting rewards for best ending from EGM as far as I can remember. Too bad though, the unlockable bosses didn't get endings during the first game.
Tekken 2 was created in response of the first Tekken game's success. The story reveals something different about the Mishimas with a plot twist where Kazuya the supposed hero of the first Tekken game had a pact with the Devil (the final boss) effectively making him the main antagonist. Heihachi who was assumed dead returns from the very cliff where he threw Kazuya down from. The cycle of revenge shows itself as the Mishimas are not really your loving family. Heihachi becomes the "main protagonist" of the second game as he wants to regain control of the Mishima Zaibatsu from his wayward son in a never ending cycle of revenge. The Mishima Zaibatsu had gotten worse than it once was with smuggling of endangered species, genetic manipulation and the like call the attention of Lei Wulong (A Jackie Chan tribute) and Jun Kazama whom Kazuya was fated to meet.
Unlike the first game, Tekken 2 featured the badly needed endings for the unlockable hidden characters. It also featured more supernatural elements than just the science fiction elements. In the first game, Jack and P-Jack are robots. In Tekken 2, we are also featured to the supernatural characters of Angel and Devil who both fight for Kazuya's soul. The game even gained a much better reception than the first game. It really looks like Namco had really taken care of the Tekken franchise for years.
Tekken 3 was the final Tekken game for the Playstation One. It was a huge jump from Tekken 2 with better graphics, even more fluid controls and semi-3D gameplay. This was the first Tekken game to introduce a rough version of sidestepping. While I personally prefer a 2D plane over a 3D plane but it works well with Tekken games because most of Tekken's moves are based on real life martial arts. We had a much better select screen (the first two select screens weren't that good) which slowly filled up. What made Tekken 3 interesting was all the mini-games it also had. For example, you had Tekken Ball and Tekken Force. Speaking of huge jump, Tekken 3 takes place 19 years after Tekken 2. The new protagonist is the son of Kazuya and Jun namely Jin Kazama. The curse of the Mishima Bloodline has continued in the person of Jin Kazama who is destined to fight his grandfather, Heihachi Mishima.
Tekken Tag Tournament
It was time to say goodbye to the Playstation One and it was time to get a Playstation 2. Tekken Tag Tournament was a game that took place out of the Tekken continuity and instead, crammed as many characters as possible from the first three games. It was a pretty nice game that featured tagging in and tagging out. But unlike the Marvel vs. Capcom series, the tag team system works differently as one character's defeat from the two members is all it takes to either win or to lose a round. Let's say if I defeat one character from the opponent, I win. When the opposite happens, I lose. I was also glad to have my favorite player Kazuya Mishima back together with Devil.
Now let's talk about continuity. Why is the game out of Tekken's continuity? Some characters like Michelle Chang and Jun Kazama are either dead or missing. Some characters who weren't placed under suspended animation should appear as older characters than they were like for example, Jun Kazama and Michelle Chang look as young as they first entered while characters like Paul and Law appear in their rightful age. Also, Kazuya was supposedly killed in Tekken 2 and Jin Kazama killed True Ogre in Tekken 3. In spite of the game not fitting into Tekken's actual continuity, it was a pretty badass game as it re-changed the way tag team system works since you had to rethink your strategies while playing the game.
The long awaited Tekken 4 arrived and I was pretty excited to play as my favorite character Kazuya Mishima yet again. It was also interesting to see Jin Kazama become his very own character, not just a Kazuya clone that he was in Tekken 3 and Tekken Tag Tournament. Jin now unlearns the Mishima fighting style and uses his very own style of karate. The storyline was getting intense but I felt this game was pretty weak. I would explain why I thought this game is my least favorite in the next paragraph.
The game's unleveled playing field and overly easy sidestepping can get very annoying. The worst part in the gameplay as far as my opinion goes; had to be the presence of higher and lower planes. At first, it does sound nice in theory but the game gets really annoying in that respect. For me, the whole overly easy sidestepping can get very annoying compared to pressing up twice to sidestep. It actually loses focus on the whole fight and it really was a poor level for the playing field. For those reasons, I thought this game was the weakest even if it is still worth a play but it's not that great overall.
One huge improvement to Tekken 4 would be the endings. In the past, vocals were not included but now you actually hear the characters speak with better CGI graphics. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 lacked real CGI endings perhaps in the name of conserving memory. Tekken 4 had one way or another created better endings that gave the characters more personality than the previous games had to offer. So even with all the irritations I mentioned above, unlocking the endings was still good. We also fought Heihachi as the final boss for most characters but I found him not to be that hard.
The whole story of Tekken 5 reveals more about the Mishima Family especially with the curse, the return of a centenarian character named Jinpachi Mishima. Jinpachi is featured as Heihachi's father making him Kazuya's grandfather and Jin's great-grandfather proving how the family had fallen apart as the hatred goes from father to son. The game also featured cooler new characters, smoother gameplay and I'm glad that sidestepping in this game isn't too easy. I prefer using the sidestepping command of having to press up twice instead of Tekken 4's sidestepping mechanics. Tekken 5 for me would be the best Tekken game for the Playstation 2 line.
For gameplay, the game mixes a lot of old school and new school elements rather well. Old school because it's back to same leveled playing field and new school since sidestepping can actually be continued if you press up and hold up. I know it can troll others but it's better than the easy sidestepping of Tekken 4. I always felt this game tried to maximize the potential of the Playstation 2 before it would be time to move to the Playstation 3. What was also interesting was the Devil Within minigame for me is much better than the Tekken Force game. You could also play arcade versions of the old Tekken games but there were no endings once you beat the old-school final bosses. The game also added what I thought was the badly needed Endless Mode which was called "Arcade Mode" instead. The game allows you to earn currency to unlock alternate costumes and item modifications, something I believe Mortal Kombat (2011) should have added.
What was interesting with Tekken 5 was that Jinpachi Mishima is the first Tekken boss that was completely unplayable outside a cheat device a la Mortal Kombat boss style. Jinpachi was a cheesy boss who did really huge damage and if he fired that deadly fireball, better sidestep away or you might even lose the whole round though due to its speed, you could throw in an attack while he's charging but it's risky. I always felt Jinpachi gave me a challenge that was reasonable - the game had easier controls and it was balanced out by a real painfully hard to defeat final boss that forces you to actually play cheap if you have to. In my case, it took me TEN TRIES to defeat him the very first time I played the game as Jin Kazama!
Well I didn't immediately buy a Playstation 3 until it was discounted, quite a bad habit of mine to wait until the cool stuff gets a discount because I believe that a cool game will never easily lose its coolness. The game featured where Jin goes berserk after he takes over the Mishima Zaibatsu outdoing his father's evil. I mean, you don't remember Kazuya declaring war on the world back in Tekken 2 right? I was pretty mixed on the story as Jin has gone really berserk? I thought it was too predictable then he literally declares war on the world? Wow, he's become more evil than his predecessors. The internal feud of the Mishima family releases the great evil known as Azazel who I will discuss later.
I could talk first about the game mechanics. It does have Tekken 5's strengths while featuring the multi-tiered stages similar to Mortal Kombat Trilogy, Mortal Kombat Deception and Mortal Kombat Armageddon. I just loved beating up people in Ghost Mode which is the endless mode of the game. My problem was this - why on Earth do I have to play Scenario Campaign just to get the freaking endings? Why can't I just play through arcade mode, beat Azazel and get the ending? Instead, I had to play through that painful Scenario Campaign and play through its Arena Mode. I thought the Scenario Campaign was really not my cup of tea. Only if Namco actually learned something from Mortal Kombat, that is to switch to fighting your opponents like you would fight them in Arcade Mode instead of fighting them the same way you would deal with the thugs.
As for the final boss Azazel, he is literally the biggest boss of the Tekken franchise. He's the second unplayable character considering how he does not balance himself out. His story was that he was unleashed because the two evil stars namely Kazuya and Jin awakened him from his sleep. He may have been the source of the curse of the Devil or he is viewed as the "ultimate evil" that must be destroyed. As a boss, you had to use cheesy combos and break away his barrier. When he's near defeat, well he gets even more violent giving you a harder challenge. I felt he's Tekken's most unusual boss but it was fun going against him even if it took me another ten tries to win.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2
The latest Tekken game I played would be Tekken Tag Tournament 2 which I view as a huge improvement for the first Tekken Tag Tournament game like you have FMV endings for every every character except one. The game itself also featured new Tag Team mechanics like Tag Team Combo, Tag Team Assault and Tag Team Throw. The new tag team mechanics for me added a new flavor to the franchise, maximizing the potential of the Playstation 3 before the game system will go obsolete.
Ed Boon and Tekken
I also thought why Edward "Ed" J. Boon of Mortal Kombat fame is also a Tekken fan. I remembered an old interview from Playstation Magazine that had an interview with Ed Boon way back in November 2002. Back then, he was still developing Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance, on page 67 of the same issue he also said that he was a fan of both Tekken and Virtua Fighter. He also mentioned that Tekken's accessibility made it super popular to the public. I agree with him.
His actions as the director of the Mortal Kombat franchise proves he gets some degree of inspiration from Tekken. Mortal Kombat Deception's final boss Onaga was pretty much a shout out to True Ogre. In Mortal Kombat vs. DC as well as Mortal Kombat (2011) which returned to a 2D fighting plane, the control scheme involves assigning one button per limb (like the Tekken franchise) making the newer Mortal Kombat games more accessible than the more complicated ones namely Deadly Alliance, Deception and Armageddon. In Mortal Kombat (2011) one may notice Sonya Blade looks more like Nina Williams. In Mortal Kombat X, the game itself also features the Endless Tower (which I thought Ed Boon should have added in the Mortal Kombat reboot), the game has a huge jump of 25 years (similar to how Tekken 2 and 3 are 19 years apart) and the new character Kotal Kahn looks like Ogre in Tekken 3.
Tekken for me is a game that really knew how to innovate overtime and keeping players busy with more than just the bare minimum. It didn't just go and say, "Well that will do." but instead, it sought to differentiate per game, taking certain risks and learning from past mistakes. The innovation and taking advantage of the current generation system while also trying to do their best for last generation systems have given it a reputation of a really cool fighting game franchise. All the kudos to Namco Bandai for having kept Tekken as one of the best fighting game franchises in history.
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