I’ve always enjoyed Tekken (the games at least, the film I can give or take…), but it’s always been secondary to the 2D fighters I’ve loved from the likes of CAPCOM and SNK. Still, I have fond memories of being round a friend’s house and him showing me the game and how you can unlock certain characters, and I remember renting it out for a long weekend. How does it hold up now, after many… many sequels and spin-offs? Let’s find out!
I thought since I did a character select screen for the Street Fighter II games I’d do it here… now I regret everything.
Tekken first came to Arcades in December 1994, being created by the same mind that innovated Virtua Fighter a short time before. Thanks to being made using Playstation hardware it was swiftly ported to the PS1 in March 1995 in Japan, and November 95 in the US and Europe.
The Arcade version had eight playable characters in Kazuya, Nina, Paul, King, Marshall Law, Jack, Michelle and Yoshimitsu, but during each character’s arcade route they faced a new opponent with pretty much the same moveset as another character in the game. They are Lee (Kazuya’s opponent, Law’s moves), Anna (Nina’s boss with Nina’s moves), Kuma (Paul’s opponent with Jack’s moves), Armour King (King’s opponent with his own moveset), Wang (Law’s opponent, Michelle’s moves), Prototype Jack (Jack’s opponent, Jack’s moves!), Kunimitsu (Michelle’s opponent, Yoshimitsu’s moves) and Ganryu (Yoshimitsu’s opponent, once again, Jack’s moves). These sub-bosses weren’t selectable in the Arcade mode, but were playable in the PS1 version, unlocking every time you beat one of them.
Likewise the final boss of the game, Heihachi, wasn’t selectable in the arcades, but was available to play as at home after you beat Arcade mode without using a continue. There was also a special costume for Kazuya called “Devil” that was playable as well, though to unlock it you had to beat 8 levels of a Galaga-inspired game during the loading screen…
Heihachi shows his amazing ability… to wear only a Gi in the middle of an icy wasteland.
The gameplay for Tekken was very unique for the time (as was 3D fighting games in general, to be fair). Rather than have light and strong punches and kicks and doing quarter turns on the stick / d-pad you instead have a button for the left arm, right arm, left leg, right leg, and you do combinations by switching between them (with some directional inputs and holding two buttons together thrown in, but nothing as complex as Street Fighter et al). You can also do throws, jumping strikes, crouching strikes and running strikes as well, meaning the combat is varied.
The action takes place across an infinitely large stage so you can’t win (or lose, obviously) by ring out like fellow popular early 3D fighters like Virtua Fighter and Battle Arena Toshinden. It does still conform to the best of three rounds format as well as a timer where if it runs out the fighter with the most health is declared the winner. The modes on offer are rather barebones, with only Arcade Mode, a Versus mode, and Options (not including the aforementioned Galaga mini-game during the loading screen), which when you factor in that only the original eight have ending movies to unlock and view, it’s pretty bare.
Graphics and Sound:
Ah yes, back when Yoshimitsu actually looked a bit like a Samurai…
It’s safe to say that most early 3D polygon games were… rough to look at, but Tekken somehow seems worse still. I think it’s the extra chunkiness of the character models and the 2D backgrounds with no stage edge to distract your attention. Either way, it’s not a looker, that’s for sure, especially in 2020!
Sound is fine. Decent if unmemorable background music, a few grunts and groans and a stage announcer who sounds really into it. It does its job.
Hmmm… Early CGI cutscenes just make me wonder why they didn’t just hire a 2D animation team, frankly…
As with so many of these fighting games it starts with a rich man announcing a fighting tournament, in this case Heihachi Mishima announces the King of Iron Fist Tournament. He expects his son Kazuya to reach the finals and face him, the same son who he had previously tossed off a cliff aged 5 and left to either die or become strong enough to climb back up (after having killed his mother).
Heihachi’s prediction turns out to be true and he faces his son in the final round, but loses, partially because of something known as the “Devil Gene” giving his son extra strength. In a final act of revenge, Kazuya throws Heihachi off of the same cliff he was thrown down and then proceeds to take over his father’s company…
As with a lot of these on-going franchises, a lot has been added as to why some of these events happened, but in terms of Tekken 1 as it is, that’s the story and cannon ending!
Kazuya reduces Paul’s legs to green mush.
I really enjoyed my time with Tekken, both round my friend’s house and that weekend I rented it out, but I never brought it. In fact those two scenarios are also how I experienced Tekken 2 as well, Tekken 3 was the first game I brought and owned in the series. Still, I did enjoy the first, I was just more into sprite-based 2D fighters.
The only time you’ll see these two fight in a game! (Hehe, it’s funny because its not!)
While I had more fun playing around on this than I thought I would, it goes without saying that it’s slow and ugly as sin, not to mention doesn’t offer many modes for replay value. Best either left to nostalgic memories or if you must a quick go, nothing more…