Namco’s epic Tekken series has won many fans over the years. But which of the series outings (and spin-offs) impressed ScreenCritics the most?
Tekken is a storied series in the fighting genre. From it’s humble beginnings on the PlayStation 1, the series has amassed a huge fan base that enjoys each and every outing. Yet for all the praise, not every game has been equal. some have let fans down, while some have been hugely bizarre. I decided to take a look back across the series and rate the outings based on my enjoyment of the games I’ve played. Tell me what you think and if you disagree!
12. Tekken Revolution (PS3, 2013) – Namco’s experimentation with the free-to-play model awkwardly takes out too much. If the idea of paying for individual characters is something that appeals to you then this game maybe for you. However for me it was simply too much focus on microtransactions, one that became hugely detrimental to the experience. The core game play is solid making good use of the existing Tekken engine although most of the characters are locked away behind a paywall. The game requires you to buy in-game currency in order to advance to these characters. This can be earned with real money or game victories – which are limited by a bizarre time limiting feature. The game was quietly shuttered in early 2016 to very little fanfare; a sign that the experiments hasn’t achieved results Capcom expected. Just play Tekken 6 instead.
11. Death by Degrees (PS2, PS3, 2005) – “What is this?” I hear you cry? Well my dear friends, back in 2005 Namco unleashed this abomination on an unsuspecting video game industry. The game is a spin-off of Nina Williams, one of the original characters of the series. The game expands on the previous side game in Tekken’s where you fight off against waves of generic enemies in order to score points. Sadly here the concept is stretched wafer thin to fit a game that quite frankly isn’t able to support it. The results are an awkwardly jerky abd cunky third person mashup that neither appeals to Tekken fans nor delivers the kind of game play that was worth experiencing. It wasn’t well received back in 2005 and was forgotten by the franchise, which has moved onto bigger and better things. It’s hard to understand who this was aimed at, in particular given that it doesn’t even feel like a Tekken game. One for the hardcore fans only I think.
10. Tekken 3D: Prime Edition (3DS, 2012) – Appearing very early in the Nintendo 3DS’s life, this was an admirable attempt to bring the franchise to the portable marketplace; in a version of the game which was almost graphically identical to the console outing. The problem however is that while the game play was solid, the game offered very little in the way of options for the gamer. The consequence of this is a package that was priced for full retail value but delivered a fairly shallow experience. If this is the only fighting game you play on the 3DS, you won’t be disappointed by the game play which excels. However you may find better options on the platform.
9. Tekken (PS1, 1994) – What can we say about the original Tekken that hasn’t been written a thousand times already. Legendary in its own right the game struggles to stand up to modern standards with an almost all could lack of options and game play variety. In the games defence however – it was 1994 and 3D fighting games hasn’t yet found the sweet spot in terms of contents. It means only Arcade mode and versus on offer, plus a fairly shallow pool of fighters to choose from. The only reason to go back and play this is for nostalgia purposes; I’d argue very strongly that the following years Tekken 2 improved on pretty much every aspect of the game.
8. Tekken Advance (GBA, 2001) – arriving at a time went and held Fighters with very much an afterthought Tekken on the Gameboy Advance makes a decent start at trying to replicate be popular experience. The limitations here come largely from the Gameboy which forces things to chug along like an awkwardly slow parody. It’s clear the team behind this tried and were willing to give it a go, but it rarely shines as the core gameplay is hampered by muddy graphics and tedious controls.
7. Tekken 4 (PS2, 2001) – It’s fair to say Tekken 4 was a brave addition to the series. 3D fighters were innovating and trying their hand at new things by this point, the fourth main game was no exception. The introduction of fully 3D Arenas was a complete overhaul in the way of the series operated. It was a bold change for the series and one that many fans was very critical of at the time. It didn’t help that the game play have been slowed down significantly to accommodate a more slow tempo. Looking back it’s clear that the series was trying its hand at new ideas and for that it should be applauded. The reality however is that this entry in the Tekken series is widely considered the worst and is often cited as the point at which the series golden streak ended. Perhaps it’s telling that the best thing about this entry is the included copies of the previous three Tekken games that can be played from the one disc.
6. Tekken 6 (PS3, 360, 2007) – After the huge success of Tekken 5 many fans were expecting a hugely improved offering for the series next proper outing. If there are any major issues with Tekken 6 it’s that it doesn’t really try to innovate. The roster of characters is one of the series biggest but it all feels a little bit like “been there done that”. Graphically though the game is amazing, easily the high point of the series and thanks to the introduction of easy to configure online game play, there’s a heap of replayability.
5. Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection (PSP/PS3, 2005) – The PSP outing for the series was surprisingly robust. The game takes advantage of the PSP’s strong specs, which in turn delivers a quality experience. Given that this is an expansion of Tekken 5 – theres very little that the game doesn’t offer in terms of features. Easily the best portable fighting game on PSP and arguably the best on any platform. So popular did this game prove that it found at way onto the PlayStation 3.
4. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 (360, PS3, Wii U, 2011) – Taking what made the original Tag Tournament so popular and marrying it to the Tekken 6 engine was a stroke of genius. Thanks to a hugely bolstered roster of characters, including the return of some long-time old favorites, the game was about having fun and indulged in everything Tekken related. For my money this is the most solid of te recent Tekken games and easily one of the best ways to experience the Tekken name.
3. Tekken 2 (PS2, 1995) – If the original game was the series planting its flag, Tekken 2 was the series forum establishing its dominance. The roster is bolstered greatly as the series adds in a greatly improved number of modes, moves and improved graphics. What were once basic backdrops were now vivid backdrops, as the soundtrack and overall presentation take a huge leap forward. This was also the game which really homed in on the central story – one which became a staple of the series moving forward.
2. Tekken Tag Tournament (PS1, 2000) – The first major attempt to shake up the traditional Tekken mold hits the mark hard. The introduction of team play adds a new level of tactical approach to fights, which now can be as intense and focused as anything before. The roster of characters is hugely expanded to incorporate all that came before while bringing back fan favorites that missed out on in the previous outings. The only reason this missed top spot was because it removed several modes that made other Tekken games such a joy.
1. Tekken 3 (PS1, 1998) – Not just the best Tekken games ever, but arguably one of the greatest PlayStation One titles period. Graphically it pushes the system hard but the results are some of the best graphics on the system. It runs like a dream and thanks to tweaks in the game play, feels tighter than the second outing. Yet it’s beyond this which is why the game is so well-loved. It’s the avalanche of modes, the cheeky introduction of fun game modes (Beach ball anyone) and the decision to include Gonna, a character fans have been begging to back side this game touched down. Make no mistake, Tekken 3 is a lean beast that plays well, experiments hard and delivers strong. In my eyes, it still hasn’t been topped by anything that followed it.