¿How has the Tekken saga changed since the first arcade game in 1994? I review the evolution of this emblematic fighting game from Bandai Namco that was so associated with the first PlayStation, and which has had numerous deliveries and sequels since then. The last one, released last year, is Tekken 7. In this post I review how the series has evolved since its creation by Katsuhiro Harada until now, marking several milestones in computer graphics and fighting games.
TEKKEN: THE KING OF IRON FIST - 1994
Sega paved the way for 3D wrestling with VIRTUA FIGHTER in 1993 and in 1994 Namco launched his particular vision of polygonal wrestling with TEKKEN - 鉄 拳, literally iron fist -, for the Namco System 11 board. Although the game featured wrestlers modeled on 3D, the game itself was not, since the scenarios presented neither real limits, nor outside the ring.
The story centered on the Mishima family moved us into an environment full of family hatred and cainism pushed to the limit, with several family members (Kazuya and Lee) trying to unseat their father (Heihachi) from the control of Mishima Zaibatsu. Unlike the Sega AM2 game, Namco opted for a game system based on four buttons, each one assigned to one of the fighter limbs. Thus a more realistic system was achieved on paper.
Characters were able to execute 10-hit combos, juggles, keys, unstoppable attacks, and multiparts (chained keys). This first installment had a staff of up to 17 fighters, although it is true that this figure was misleading, since the deputy bosses assigned to each character hardly showed substantial differences in their movements with respect to the original characters. The game would be published for PlayStation in 1995 becoming a success, but it would soon be surpassed by its sequel.
TEKKEN 2: THE RETURN OF HEIHACHI - 1995
TEKKEN 2 would be released for the arcades in 1995 with several revisions subtitled A and B, reaching PSX in 1997. This time it was Heihachi who was seeking revenge against his children, especially against Kazuya, who had seized the power of the business conglomerate Mishima.
This sequel keeps all the characters present in the first installment -maintaining the deputy boss system- adding some new ones: Jun Kazama-a pure-hearted ecologist who tries to save Kazuya-, Lei Wulong-a Hong Kong detective specialist in martial arts Chinese-, Bruce Irvin -an amnesic kickboxer now Kazuya's bodyguard along with Ganryu-, Angel -an entity that tries to save Kazuya from the devil gene- and Roger/Alex, two creations of Dr. Boskonovitch.
In the playable aspect, the reversals are added, plus 10-stroke combos, movements, hits and multiparts (King and Nina as big hitters). Graphically the game offers a less smooth aspect than the first installment (with a more polygonal aspect), but the modeling of the characters is improved in most cases and the light effects. Tekken 2 would have several game modes on PSX, survival, time trial, training, team and Vs., which would become classics in the saga.
TEKKEN 3: A NEW GENERATION - 1997
In 1997 TEKKEN 3 made its way in the arcades (this time on the Namco System 12 plate) and a year later it would be published on PSX being one of the bombings of the time. This sequel abandoned the deputy boss system and featured a new generation of fighters led by Jin Kazama (son of Kazuya Mishima), who was accompanied by Ling Xiaoyu, Eddy Gordo, Hwoarang, Forest Law, and Julia Chang, and others not as young as Bryan Fury, Dr. Boskonovitch, in addition to adding a guest character, Gon, the big-headed dinosaur.
The story centered on Heihachi Mishima, who sought to attract the fighting God Ogre for his perfidious plans, using his grandson as a wild card (who had inherited the devil gene for ignorance
from his grandfather) if necessary. The main changes in this installment are at the graphic level, with a renewed 3D engine that allowed incredible animations, smoother modeling and more vivid colors.
The gameplay also featured changes, much faster, with more movements, the inclusion of stops and the novelty of a system of lateral steps (already present in some characters in previous games) that allowed access to spectacular new keys. Tekken 3 included two memorable game modes: the Tekken Force (an "me against the neighborhood") and the Tekken Ball, in which we had to defeat our rival by carrying a beach ball with attacks. Another interesting addition was the Tekken Theater, from which we could access the endings of the characters, the BSO and even access the multimedia content of previous Tekkens if we had a copy of the game. GBA had its own edition called TEKKEN ADVANCE.
TEKKEN TAG TOURNAMENT - 1999
Two years after the arcade launch of Tekken 3, Namco published a title "Dream Match" (non-canonical events) that collected all the characters in the saga facing each other in tag team matches (TAG). Its launch on PS2
occurred in the year 2000, being one of the promotional titles that accompanied the new SONY console at its launch, also seeing its graphic appearance altered for the better, since the game came from the Namco System 12 board. Tekken Tag did not add any playable novelty except for those of the tag mode, such as combos, netsu or combination keys between characters. The PAL version of the game suffered considerable speed cuts, being slower compared to Tekken 3. This installment added Unknown as the final boss, capable of altering his fighting style at any time and a new game mode, the Tekken Bowl.
TEKKEN 4 - 2001
A new sequel would be released under the Namco 246 arcade board in 2001, doing so a year later on PS2. The main change of TEKKEN 4 was in the now fully 3D graphic aspect, with limits / obstacles and non-uniform surfaces that influenced the fight, although there were the occasional unlimited scenario. The playable section did not undergo major changes, except for a (minor) updating of the movements and the position change, a new mechanic that intended to take advantage of the use of 3D allowing the opponent to move. Tekken 4 also meant the return of Kazuya Mishima, who claimed revenge against his father Heichachi, and a major modification of the movements of Jin, who was saying goodbye to his Mishima style and seeking to settle accounts with his grandfather, who had called the 4th Tournament of the King of the Iron Fist to end family disputes.
From previous Tekken some characters such as Anna or Jack are removed, and four new fighters are presented: Christie, Combot, Marduk, and Steve, but only these last two were new. Marshall Law and Lee also return, this one twice with his alter ego Violet. The game disappointed the fans, especially because of the high bar that had left the previous two installments. This installment kept the Tekken Force renewed thanks to the 3D environment.
TEKKEN 5: THE RETURN OF THE KING - 2004
In 2004 he would make it to the TEKKEN 5 arcades (on the Namco 256 board) which was intended to return the game to its former glory. A year later it came to PS2 and became a complete success, forgetting the previous slump. Tekken 5 recovered previous characters (such as Ganryu, Anna or Bruce) and presented four new ones: Asuka, Feng Wei, Raven and Jinpachi (only playable in some versions). At the playable level, the speed of the game increased, the juggle system was established and improved, and the size of the scenarios was changed, smaller than in Tekken 4, which played in favor of more dynamic combats. As for game modes, the character editor, the ghost combat and the Devil Within debut in the saga. The arcades versions of Tekken, Tekken 2 and Tekken 3 are also included as an extra. At the plot level, it continues with the family disputes Mishima, with the alleged death of Heihachi and the convocation of a new tournament by Jinpachi.
A year later, Namco would release the Dark Resurrection review, which rounded out the gameplay and added / modified settings, melodies, and characters. Lili and Dragunov debuted, and Armor King returned. The game was released on PSP (Tekken Bowl Retrieval Edition) and on PSN with two editions, one of which included online play.
TEKKEN 6 - 2007
TEKKEN 6 would be developed for the Namco 357 board with expectations for the new generation of consoles and after its launch in the arcades in 2007, with an update a year later called Bloodline Rebellion, the game would reach PS3, PSP and Xbox 360, being the first cross-platform title. This sequel includes six new characters: Alisa, Bob, Lars, Leo, Miguel, Zafina and two uncontrollable characters, a robot who plays the role of extra boss, NANCY-MI847J and the new final boss, Azazel. At the playable level, a bounce system is added (bound) that allows prolonging the juggles and another of fury (similar to netsu) that is available when health drops to a certain level, increasing attack strength. New game modes are also included, such as online play or the so-called Campaign Mode, straddling the Tekken Force and the Devil Within.
TEKKEN TAG TOURNAMENT 2 - 2011
In 2011 and under the Namco 369 plate, TEKKEN TAG TOURNAMENT 2 reached the arcades, receiving an update called Unlimited in 2012 and being published that same year for PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii U. This new Dream Match represented a great improvement over the first Tag game, impressively improving the combos system thanks to new playable mechanics such as tag assist, auto assist or tag crash. Another novelty was the possibility of playing with a single member and facing a team of 2 characters. As usual, fighters from previous games are present (Alex, Ogre, Angel, Michelle, Tiger, Unknown), although there is also a "new" one, Jaycee, who is actually Julia Chang. A free TTT2-based version would be available on PSN under the name TEKKEN REVOLUTION, while the Wii U version featured a new Tekken Ball, Mushroom Battle, and other details inspired by Nintendo games.
TEKKEN 7 - 2017
The seventh installment of Tekken has recently arrived in the arcades (March 2015), with the launch confirmed for the moment for PS4, waiting for it to be announced for other platforms. TEKKEN 7 will use Unreal Engine 4, adding playable innovations such as rage arts, power crusers and greater
spectacularity in shots thanks to slow motion. Among the new characters we find Catalina Alves, Lucky Chloe, Claudio, Shaheen, Gigas, Josie Rizal and Kazumi (Heihachi's wife) as the final boss waiting for more to arrive and confirm old characters. As a climax, Tekken 7 will end the plot of the Mishima, so we may be facing a revolutionary title... if Bandai Namco does his homework. In December 2015, TEKKEN 7: FATED RETRIBUTION is announced for the arcades, an improvement of the original title that will add to the Street Fighter Akuma character, which, as if that were not enough, will be key in the plot of the game.
The Tekken saga has been one of the most regular in terms of quality, and much of its success is due to the charisma of the characters and the diversity of styles/movements, although it has also been unable to escape the casual market in recent years.