Earlier this week, on our YouTube channel, I posted the last in my first series of fighting game videos titled “Not Zangief.” I had such a blast with it, and I’ll certainly be returning with more classic fighting game action in the future. In honor of all that, I though I’d share this post I wrote awhile ago for my own blog about a game that wasn’t (and likely won’t be, but you never know) featured in the “Not Zangief” series: Tekken Tag Tournament.
The following post original appeared on Recollections of Play, May 10, 2013.
Despite my love of fighting games, there are plenty of series that I’ve never touched. Fatal Fury and Bushido Blade come to mind. I’ve dabble a little in Super Smash Bros. territory but, much to my shame, not enough to really enjoy the games. We recently got World Heroes through the Wii Shop, and it’s…okay…for a 90s fighting game. And if it weren’t for a single game, I would have been able to count Tekken among these. Actually, no…two games. I remember playing a Tekken game on the original Xbox years ago, but I don’t recall which one. In any event, the game I have in mind, one of the few PS2 games and the only Tekken game we still have, is Tekken Tag Tournament (2000).
So yes. Fighting games. I enjoy them immensely despite the fact that I’m not very good at them. But with most fighting games, I feel like I’m able to get into something of a groove after playing for a little while. I’m able to find the characters that fit my play style. I’m able to learn the controls without too much button mashing.
But Tekken…man, oh man.
Tekken is a the fighting man’s fighting game series as much as it’s the thinking man’s fighting game series. The games are hard and intimidating…for me, anyway. And Tekken Tag Tournament repeatedly, repeatedly, kicked my butt like no other fighting game before (or since). It deliberately commanded my attention and had no qualms about kicking me in the face when I was down.
On the exterior, Tekken Tag Tournament was visual playground that fully displayed the PS2’s graphical capabilities. The backgrounds were very dimensional and dynamic, and the character renderings were quite detailed (though I’m pretty sure all the men had the same evil-eye and frowny-face look). And once you opened up all the characters in the game, it was a generous smorgasbord of all the goodness the series had to offer up to that point. I don’t recall there being any story to the game; you just picked characters and fought until your thumbs were raw.
At this point, you’re probably expecting some sort of rundown about the characters I enjoyed, or maybe my thoughts about the controls. Or maybe some sort of comparison to other fighting games. But…
I got zilch.
Call me an insincere gamer, but I never once sat down to play Tekken by myself (mistake #1). I always played it in the company of others, and always in the company of other Tekken players (mistake #2). Because I never took time to get to know the game on my own, I never fully embraced the controls or the willful gameplay. Other games, Street Fighter, Marvel vs. Capcom, though they weren’t easy, were a little more forgiving for the novice player. Sure, defeat (and the occasional win) came fast and furious, but the process was not as ponderous as in Tekken. In Tekken Tag Tournament, the matches felt almost torturous as it was so easy for the computer or other players to slowly mash my character into pulp. And each time I got back up, I was quickly bashed down again. (However, the slower-paced Tekken games are very enjoyable to watch, when played well, because they aren’t as frenetic as other fighting games.)
So no, I don’t remember any characters except King and Nina and that one samurai-robot guy-thing with a sword — he was alright. I don’t remember the controls, except that they were very tap-heavy like with Mortal Kombat. And I couldn’t even compare the experience to any other fighting games, except to say that Tekken Tag Tournament was just not my game. I mean, I’ll give it a go these days for the nostalgia factor, and because Tekken is worth it. Tekken games make you want to win, even if you know there’s no chance in hades that you’ll live through most of any given round. If I had the time and patience to really get into Tekken Tag Tournament, or any Tekken game, I know the things that I’d learn would help me in just about any fighting game. But, for now, I’d rather drop into a few ridiculous rounds of Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Not much thinking required there. Just go, go, GO…as Sonia Blade would (maybe) say.