Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 10/21/00 | Genre: Fighting
Jeez... talk about a strange review to write! Tekken is FAR from being a new concept in gaming. Since I first saw a Tekken machine in the arcade, I've been almost magically drawn to any game with the Tekken moniker. Tekken, Tekken 2 ...3 ...and now Tekken TAG Tournament. From the start, Tekken has had an indescribable appeal. A type of realism, but with a cartoonish quirkiness. The cartoonish part has faded along with the arcade life kids used to be a huge part of. The realism and effects in games has improved with these 128 bit consoles, and continues to crash right through our expectations with every wave of new titles being released. The "quirkiness" remains an important part of the Tekken series, though. That quirkiness is what seems to draw players to the game... something almost subconscious. Anyway, this review has the same feeling of quirkiness for me, since I've been playing Tekken, in one form or another, since 1994. I've bought every incarnation since the original's release on Playstation. I found myself, one day not too long ago, waiting in a very short line to pick up my PS2 that I had reserved nearly a year before. "Want a game with that?", the sales clerk asked. I replied, "No thanks.... already got one.". Yup.... Tekken TAG Tournament. The local Wal-Mart had sold all of their PS2's shortly after they started selling them at midnight. There wasn't, however a shortage of games. I bought Tekken before I even had my PS2. I don't want to mention the store where I had mine reserved, because, I would then admit that I don't buy most of my games there.... and I need to stay in good standing with management there. ;) (They charge 5-10 dollars more for their games than anywhere else, but shopping there regularly has it's perks.)
The control, if you've played any Tekken game is pretty much the same. If you haven't played Tekken (yeah, right), let me fill you in. Tekken's control is, and always has been, precise, simple (unless you're trying to pull off a 10-hit combo), and has been the standard for many other fighting games. You have a little bit more than just the basics when it comes to controls. Left punch, right punch, left kick, and right kick each have their own buttons, and on the Sony controller, the four shoulder buttons and the right analog stick are for tagging out. Pretty simple, huh? It takes a little experience to get the hang of pulling off some of the special moves and 10-hit combos, but it feels awesome once you get the hang of it.
Graphics, as you may have guessed, is a big selling point for this game. I doubt you'll be disappointed when you start noticing things like fire that doesn't flicker or show signs of looping, grass and trees swaying in the wind, leaves blowing around in the air, snow falling quietly to the already covered ground. There are helicopters and soldiers, spectators and environments that just strike you as awesome. There are dozens of polygonal characters on the screen at any one time, and there is NO slowdown at all. SMOOOOOTH. I don't think the appearance of this game showed the PS2's potential, but who knows just what the full potential is? I think there are many great things to come before we see the limits of this machine, and Tekken TAG Tournament is just one small step in that process. It's a pretty game, but far from mind-blowing. One thing that did bother me was the "rotating floor" appearance in all the stages. It's typical Tekken, but I think it might have been more interesting to hurl your opponent through a crowd of on-lookers, or maybe getting knocked into a brick wall, garage door, neon sign.... or SOMETHING. Well, that's another game, I guess.
Tekken TAG Tournament, in my opinion, is an awesome game. Why? Well, it's TEKKEN! The fighting is nothing but typical Tekken. Well, some of you might be saying, "Yeah, BUT... it's just the same old Tekken with new flashy stuff..." Granted, a lot of it is "same ol', same ol'...", but answer this: HOW can you improve an already awesome fighting game? The moves are already there... so maybe throw a few new characters in there, and maybe give the old timers a couple new moves. Hmmmmm.... anything else? Change the traditional Tekken a bit by adding a TAG feature! This gives quite a bit if life to the gameplay as you discover combinations of fighters, that when paired up (Heihachi & Jin, for example...) have some interesting "flashy stuff" to show off. What else? .... Let's see.... How about adding some silly hidden game like..... bowling? Yeah... Tekken bowling! You may laugh, but it's fun, and becomes a substantial part of the game once you start playing. Whether you love Tekken or hate it, you'd have to admit, this is the best Tekken yet.