It’s hard to keep a good game down, especially when it is a perennial favorite such as Tekken Tag Tournament. The game, which was one of the launch-window titles for the PlayStation 2, is still heralded as one of the best fighting games ever released on the home consoles and still remains reasonably popular with fighting game fans today. The idea of coating the game with a fresh coat of paint for a re-release on the current PlayStation platform was a no brainer, I just wonder if they could have put a little more into the package to bring it up to date for the modern generation.
Tekken Hybrid for the PlayStation 3 is actually a 3-piece package. There are 3 different, distinct parts to the title: Tekken Tag Tournament HD, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Prologue, and Tekken: Blood Vengeance. There is enjoyment to be had with each piece and as a result, we are going to discuss them individually for a majority of this review.
Tekken Tag Tournament HD
If you ever played the original PlayStation 2 release of Tekken Tag Tournament then you know exactly what to expect with this updated edition. The game plays and sounds exactly the same as it did a decade ago, it just happens to look a bit nicer. Plus, now you have the benefit of full PlayStation Network Trophy support.
As good as it looks and holds up, Namco has done fans a serious disservice and removed any and all incentive to replay the game by unlocking everything in the package from the start. A big part of the magic of the classic title was working through to unlock the countless hidden characters, video sequences (intros and endings), and hidden modes such as the highly revered Tekken Bowl. That doesn’t need to be done in this installment as it is all readily available from the start the first moment that you fire up the game.
Aside from unlocking the new trophies in the game, there isn’t any reason to spend countless hours learning the various characters and taking them all through the adventure. Perhaps it is just me, but I feel seriously cheated out of the experience by having this done. Aside from battling it out with my friends, there is really no reason to play this game. There is a novelty aspect of taking a trip down memory lane with a round or two of Tekken Bowl but even that wear’s thin on your own.
Another astounding decision that Namco made was to not include any sort of online element in the game. This should have been priority number one when preparing this remake but it hasn’t been added. At this point, there is really no reason to recommend the purchase of this new version if you happen to own the original; you won’t be getting anything new aside from a slight upgrade in visual resolution.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Prologue
The most entertaining part of this entire package also happens to be its smallest, the demo version of the upcoming Tekken Tag Tournament 2. Granted, the build included in Tekken Hybrid is a little more than a standard demo as it features a multi-stage arcade ladder and its own set of trophies. I have honestly spent more time with this part than any of the others, and that includes two viewings of the Blood Vengeance movie.
The Prologue features 4 playable characters from the upcoming game’s 40+ character roster, which just happen to be 4 of the prominent cast members from the included movie: Xiaoyu, Alisa, Devil Jin, and Kazuya. The game builds heavily on both the previous Tag Tournament game and Tekken 6, combining gameplay elements from the two into an entirely new experience.
The basic tag mechanics of the original game are present and have been expanded upon greatly in the new one. Now players will have the ability to learn a variety of tag throws, “tag assaults”, and interactive environments to take into consideration. Perhaps interactive isn’t the correct wording, but there are areas in the new stages (well, one of those included in the demo, more in the final game) which can be broken through to change the scenery of the battle.
The visuals of Prologue are leaps and bounds above its precursor and slightly better than the last console installment, Tekken 6. The characters feature a ton of details both in their apparel and their animations, which serves to heighten the overall experience. Having been developed 10 years later than the original, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 feels a lot tighter and more polished than part one. Character transitions don’t fear nearly as awkward and the new elements really push the focus to controlling your characters as an actual team rather than just two separate characters.
The inclusion of Prologue in the package is definitely a welcome addition and arguably the biggest selling point of the package. However, that also means that you are paying $39.99 for a demo of a game that is due out next Holiday season, and a limited demo at that. Diehard fans of the series will be excited to get their hands on the early build, but I cannot imagine it appealing to anyone else.
Tekken Blood Vengeance
Much like the extended demo for Tekken Tag Tournament 2, the CGI film of Blood Vengeance is truly for the hardcore only. While the film may be 90+ minutes of gorgeous visual eye-candy, nearly every other aspect of it is laughable filler that lacks any amount of substance.
The storyline is practically non-existent. While I won’t spoil anything for those who may be interested in seeing the film, just know that you will spend the first 10 or so minutes of the film learning about one set of characters (Nina and Anna), spend the next 75 following the adventures of the robotic Alisa and the overzealous Xaioyu in a story that leads absolutely nowhere, and end up watching an epic battle between 3 different characters who you have heard mentioned by name in the film previously. It is as if there are 3 different plots happening at once and you see the beginning of one, the middle of another, and the finale of yet a third.
The movie really comes across as an act of fan-service, giving die-hard fans a taste of extended exploits with some of their favorite characters. Anyone else who happens to watch the movie will probably be lost in who these people are and what all of their conflict is about; there is little to no background information given anywhere in the film. Fans will recognize a variety of familiar faces, even if they only serve as brief cameos at times including Panda, Lee Chaolan, and Ganryu.
As great as the movie is visually, the voice acting lands on the other end of the spectrum and is laughable at best. That is, at least for the English voice track. Thankfully, Namco has included the original Japanese tracks and the option to enable captions, which is truly the best way to enjoy the film. Even in this setting, the film is hard to enjoy and stomach for more than one sitting; I watched it twice just to see if the Japanese track could improve the experience and it did slightly. I would imagine that long-time fans of the series might take more from the experience, but there isn’t “that” much more to be had.
One of the problems that I have with the Tekken Hybrid package, and this refers to the entire thing as a whole, is that it requires a mandatory install to the hard drive for each game in the package. This isn’t done in the standard, game data section either; the games end up showing up in the digital games portion of the cross media bar. Even with the installs, none of the games can be launched there without having the disc in the drive. I know that I am nit-picking on this matter, but I hate having two items on my bar that I cannot use.
One of my other concerns regarding the package as a whole applies to pretty much all of the HD-compilations being offered today: why do you have to launch each game individually? Part of the benefit of having a variety of games on a single disc is that they should all be able to be launched with ease; yet if I want to access another title on the disc, I have to back all of the way out to the cross media bar and begin the boot sequence for the disc all over again. Surely these developers, not just Namco, can come up with some sort of way to reduce this added step for the sake of improving the convenience factor of these compilations. If we are going to have to back out and start everything from scratch, we might as well be throwing the original discs into the system for play where applicable.
The fighting fan in me is moderately happy with the package but every other part of me has been left desiring more. Tekken Hybrid is a decent package but I can’t help but only recommend it to die-hard fans of the Tekken series. Every aspect of this package has been designed simply as a service to those loyal to those who have been following the series for years. Unfortunately, if you don’t fall into that category, all of its benefits will be lost on you.