Tekken's Evolution As A Fighting Game Franchise!

Tekken itself is one of the games that underwent a lot of innovations. While Virtua Fighter was the first fighting game with 3D graphics, Tekken revolutionized the fighting game arena starting with 2.5 Dimesional gameplay (3D graphics with 2D gameplay) and later in 3 Dimensional gameplay.

At first, the game felt like a hodge podge of ideas coming together because until now I can't stop comparing Kazuya's appearance to Vegeta, Nina Williams' appearance to Sarah Bryant, King to some Japanese wrestlers, Marshall Law was definitely another Bruce Lee inspired character and Heihachi looks like Dr. Wily on steroids. In fact, I joked that maybe Heihachi is Dr. Wily even if they are two separate characters or that I even thought maybe Heihachi would be cowardly enough to drive a skull tank against everyone. However the so-called hodge podge was really beautifully done. Tekken introduced a whole lot of delicious chopsuey in the world of fighting games.

I personally feel fighting game series should take note of how Tekken itself has evolved overtime so they will know how to dominate the next generation arena.

Fight system

Tekken's fighting system was one that evolved overtime. At first, I thought the idea of a game where four buttons were assigned to a different limb was too basic so I didn't immediately warm up to the franchise and the idea would persist even up to the latest Tekken game. The idea of one button assigned per limb sounded that the game would be too accessible or characters would have no individual differences. But picking the game up, I really thought woah the game is really indeed cool but back then, most fighting games suffered a drawback of special moves and custom combos were too hard to master. But it was definitely easier than Virtua Fighter which made it more accessible and popular.

Tekken 2 was for me a more modest upgrade in spite of the first game's success which included two types of throw and modified tackles. Tekken 3 however was a huge leap (which the game's timeline was also a HUGE leap of 19 years) focusing on the next generation of Tekken characters. Combos and moves became much more fluid along with the gameplay but there was crude sidestepping process and a more realistic jump for all characters. The basic fight system was somewhat implemented into the first Tekken Tag Tournament game with the exception of the tag team system. Tekken Tag Tournament introduced tag team play a concept that didn't reappear until Tekken Tag Tournament 2.

Tekken 4 introduced sidestepping but the process was too loose and there were uneven playing fields. While it sounded to make the game deeper but it just made it too deep. Fortunately Tekken 5 was able to fix the sidestepping process to prevent it from becoming too easy. So there was a balance of the use of a 3D fighting plane and having some 2D gameplay which would still be used in later Tekken games.

Tekken 6 introduced the whole "Rage System" that would activate if the player is in danger. I don't exactly know how to react to that considering I'm not a fan of Neo Geo games, where some of them allowed characters to do damage when they were in danger. I always thought the whole Rage System added some competitive edge. I always want to call this "Rage System" as "Johnny Cage/Cassie Cage power" where they get temporarily beefed up after they're pissed off really hard. The rage system was modified in Tekken Tag Tournament 2 which happens after your partner receives a certain amount of damage done to them giving you a temporary boost so use it well.

What I also enjoyed with Tekken was that after you defeated the final boss, you are treated to an animated short. Now I personally didn't like Tekken Tag Tournament's rather dull endings but good thing Tekken Tag Tournament 2 patched them up. It was good thing Tekken 4 and onwards stared to add speech into their endings as the first three games didn't add them. But yeah, cool CGI after you won are definitely worth your time. Now only if Ed Boon added them into Mortal Kombat (2011)'s endings rather than do an innovation of Killer Instinct style of ending.

Extra modes

Tekken is a game franchise that just doesn't give you the bare minimum. Overtime, Tekken ended up adding more modes.

Tekken 2 added the Survival Mode, Team Battle Mode and Time Attack Mode. Survival Mode was one mode that really tested the skill of players to beat as many fighters as they could without any refills. Time Attack Mode was where you try to beat the game as fast as possible at default options. Team Battle Mode was where you formed a team vs. team battle where it was a semi-tournament format. Although it was a modest upgrade but Tekken 2 managed to really try something new.

Tekken 3 would have the beat-them-up minigame called Tekken Force, something I considered to be very annoying. However I did have fun with Tekken Ball but not for long. I was happy to have Tekken 3's other modes like survival, time attack or team battle. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 had Tekken Bowl and Online Gameplay, something that was really kept for later Tekken games. Tekken 4 had Tekken Force mode but it again something I really didn't really mind too much about.

Tekken 5 for me added the best addition yet. Not only was there the Devil Within game (which was way better than Tekken Force) but I also enjoyed having the Endless Mode (which was erroneously labeled as "Arcade Mode") while the "Arcade Mode" was called Story Mode. Endless Mode allowed you to endlessly fight against several characters either to hone your skills or just to kill time, a gameplay mode that I was glad it was added. Later it was called "Ghost Mode" which allowed you to play as long as you wanted until you got bored. I hope the Ghost Mode will still be added in future Tekken titles.

Tekken 6 had the Scenario Campaign. For me, as much as I enjoyed playing Tekken 6's other modes, I definitely call the Scenario Campaign as B.S. and the game's biggest drawback. I had to play through that stupid Arena Mode just to get the endings? As good as Tekken 6 is overall, but the game's Scenario Campaign for me is the biggest drawback ever. I wish it had the coolness of Mortal Kombat Armageddon's Konquest Mode like boss fights would take place in one on one Tekken style fights than fighting the same way. Ugh... but still Tekken 6 is a great game.

If there's any new mode that really keeps you interested it's Combot Mode. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 takes Mortal Kombat's tutorial mode to a whole new level of fun. As much as I like Mortal Kombat's reincarnation back in 2011, I personally feel Combot filled the game with a deeper, more powerful tutorial mode to the basics of Tekken Tag Tournament 2's accessible to deep gameplay.

Tons of secrets

Tekken is no anemic game if you ask me as the game progressed. Now the first game was pretty modest since everything has to start small. However Tekken 2 started to add endings for unlockable fighters. Tekken 3 had more unlockables such as Dr. Boskonovitch, some alternate costumes and it was trying to maximize the potential of the Playstation One before moving forward to the Playstation 2 and beyond.

For Tekken 5, I would say that was the first Tekken game to really have tons of secrets in the form of customization items. By earning fight money, you buy stuff that you modify your selected character with available options. Tekken 6 allowed you to unlock them through Scenario Campaign which for me was a cool concept but suffered some drawbacks I mentioned earlier. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 itself has full of customization items you can start to unlock more outfit options giving you more cool options on how your characters can look like together with more item-based moves than Tekken 6 had to offer.

Final thoughts

Tekken's innovative way of thinking has brought the game to new heights. It's not afraid to try something new and learn from past mistakes. Overtime, it became my favorite fighting game franchise as the years went by.


  1. I did not know that Tekken evolved so much as the years went by. However, I see that this is sometimes necessary to maintain its customers. Overall, its a pretty smart move to constantly evolve in a fighting game even it does not always work out.


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