When it comes to console ports of games designed for arcades Namco Bandai has always been top of the pack. Older titles such as Tekken 3 on the Playstation 1 and Soul Calibur on the Dreamcast were jaw dropping at the time for their near
perfect conversions to the home console. Now a year after its arcade release in Japan we have Tekken Tag Tournament 2. It’s “Tekken” because it involves a bunch of martial artist experts beating the stuffing out of each other as well as the occasional robot or dinosaur or panda sometimes. It’s a “Tag Tournament” because now it’s 2 on 2 and teamwork is involved and apparently someone organises the seemingly random brawls that take place in tulip fields and cargo ships or whatever. And it’s “2” because there was another one.
One thing that Tekken has always been good at basically when compared to a lot of 2D anime/cartoon based fighting games is offering instant satisfaction. Rather than light, medium and heavy attacks you have a button for each limb so the right punch button ploughs your right digits into some chumps face, simple. Even in its early stages where everyone coming round to play and strategies past “violently smashing the button with your palm” are yet to evolve there’s an inherent good feel that comes with playing a Tekken game. The only negative aspect of this is that Tekken as a series is getting on a bit, and even with all the changes between the games the feel is starting to get a bit familiar even for casual followers of the King of the Iron Fist tournament.
Obviously the main difference between this game and say Tekken 6 is the inclusion of the tagging system for 2 on 2 battles (or 2 on 1 super powered character is also possible, as well as traditional one on one Tekken matches) which is surprisingly easy to get into. A quick tap of the R1 button or a wiggle of the right analog stick brings in your partner, which brings in extra mechanics such as tag combos and tag throws which add to extended combo potential but can add new risks if executed incorrectly. Tekken Tag 2 has a huge roster straight out of the gate too with 50 characters ready to go with free and paid DLC extra characters planned for the future as well. The sheer size of the roster offers a lot of potential combinations and possibilities that hardcore players will love diving into and exploring. This reviewer didn’t have enough time with the game to really dive into this aspect of the game, but when the roster contains robots, bikini models, Mexican wrestlers and dinosaurs you can’t really complain about lack of variety on the casual front either.
In Tekken tradition Tag Tournament is packing the extra modes, the quirky and surprisingly fun Fight Lab mode is a great way to pick up basic movement, strategy or combo tips and train you to learn the game properly. There’s extra old school arcade modes such as Survival or Team Battle, as well as a customization option so you can buy and create outfits for any character in the game so there’s actually a point to running through the Arcade mode again and again to get money if you like that sort of thing. Online features make an appearance too and are far superior to say recent Capcom efforts as it lets you discriminate from people with terrible connections if you so wish as well as generally giving you more options over what kind of match you get into. You even pick your team before you find an opponent and can practice with them against a Combot while the game looks one which is certainly more interesting than staring at a blank screen that says “Searching” for 10 minutes.
Tekken Tag 2 has a few irritations around the edges though, the soundtrack is keeping that annoying trend that a lot of fighting games are keeping up by making every track a lot of techno and dubstep WAB WAB WAB. There’s still a few good tracks mind but generally speaking it’s pretty forgettable and stock for a soundtrack. Replays have also been cut and shortened to the point where there seems to be no point of it at all, part of the fun of Tekken back in the day was lucking into a ridiculous comeback against a friend and both gasping at the slow motion replay as it comes, Tekken Tag 2 is too good for that sort of activity apparently. There’s also something up with the stages, as nice as most of them look Tekken action takes place on a revolving 2D plain and sometimes it feels like you’re on a rotating dancefloor as the background graphics flies around and it messes with your brain.
Overall, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is another strong entry into the consistently good Tekken franchise, the only thing that’s likely to hold off fighting game fans from it is it is a bit similar to the also very good Tekken 6 even with the inclusion of the tag mechanics. If you’ve gone without Tekken for a few years however, this is the perfect entry to jump back in. As ever though, make sure you have friends and an internet connection to get the most of it.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.