Review by Shirow

"TNT"

Namco guy #1 : ''Our revolutionary fighter is doing fine now, how about we jump on the bandwagon and release a special story-less title to make even more money ?''

Namco guy #2 : ''Fine with me. I mean, they're all going to buy it anyways.''

Namco guy #3 : ''I propose we make Nina's boobs bigger and add a 'bounce' feature to everybody to show those idiots at whoever-makes-Dead or Alive how it should be done. Hehehe, I'm so smart.''

Namco guy #2 : ''What for? People do play our games for what they are.''


Hence begins Tekken Tag Tournament, Namco's own slugfest. To make thing sweeter, everybody returns, be it the ever-popular Devil or lesser sidekicks like Jun. However, credit must be given to Namco for coming up with a bunch of new characters, among them the boss, Unknown, who nonetheless suffers from the Yoshimitsu-syndrome whereby she borrows any other character's moves whenever it suits her.

Tekken Tag Tournament, most commonly referred to as TTT --not to be confused with TNT, although that would be the tagline of this review now that I think of it--, is one of those fighters that have endless replay value. There is a reason to that. Although merely a 'filler' title, TTT is different from any of its prequels in a very obvious way. Take the second word in the title, look up its meaning somewhere or watch wrasslin'.

Namco have just done what Capcom have strived to achieve throughout the years but never succeeded because they were too lazy, a game that involves you switching between a couple of characters in each fight. But they didn't just stop at copying Crapcom's lousy tries and added new ideas, looking for the perfect fighting game. One of these involve the fact that your characters share throws and the second fighter can even combo onto the first one's initial juggling attack.

Watching Armor King kick the opponent after Jin has sent him up is just one of the countless possibilities TTT has in store. And this is also an opportunity for you to realize the depth of this title, the striking visuals and the stunning effort Namco put in their game. Armor King will not just come running in and kick, Armor King will be looking up to where the opponent is floating. Talking about realism ? As your fighter and the opponent moves in any stage, footprints are left in the snow and the grass will be shuffled in accordance to where poor Kunimitsu has stepped.

Alongside the other innovations, let us never forget that it's a lost round as soon as one of the fighters is dead which makes the tag feature extremely strategic. The partner will recover some health as he waits for his cue and this makes switching between the fighters the key to victory. And even if you take some time to comprehend that, the computer will be more than glad to make you grasp this very simple concept. As a matter of fact, TTT at the ''Ultra Hard'' difficulty level is TNT.

Similar to any Tekken title, TTT comes with a multitude of playing modes and of course, the essential mini-game which, this time, is a bowling game. And following the tradition, it is very fun and a great alternative should you ever get fed up of performing ten-strings on Slow-Jack. Endings, once unlocked, can be viewed whenever you want and you'll welcome this not-so-new idea when you see for yourself how wonderfully-done these small movies are done.

Characters can have up to 5 outfits and each one of them is simply superb. The animation is fast-paced and always crisp. Backgrounds bring forward the power of the PS2 with realistic, varied surroundings and amazing light effects. The fact that all the fighting styles in the game are based on existing ones gives it a unique, realistic touch and an eerie atmosphere which prevails until you are worthy enough to meet Unknown, only to be sent back to the blazes of Hell !

Even more so, Namco took this opportunity to get rid of one of the flaws of the first Tekken titles. Bashing will work at Easy, forget about it afterwards ! Skill is what you need here, complete mastership and knowledge of your characters are required if you want to be an acknowledged player. If your usual fighting games can be resumed to PPPPP or KKKKK --maybe PKPKPKPK ?--, forget about this title because it will just leave you frustrated with its high learning curve.

The audio is quite good although it seems to have been rushed in certain parts. Some of the themes are very nice, specially the ones that play during the endings, but I really didn't notice the rest. As a matter of fact, that's also part of the charm that resides in this title. The music may actually stop during the fight and this adds to the tension as you keep looking for that instant where you'll be able to counter your opponent's moves.

Replay value is almost infinite with such a fine cast and the several modes ensure that you have no excuses to get away from TTT. But then, why get away from this game ? To play Dead or Alive ? This game is, hands-down, the best fighter on the PS2 so far. And, seeing as how competition is virtually ...uh, virtual, ''so far'' even seems obsolete.

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If fighting games are your cup of tea, grab this !


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 04/11/02, Updated 11/09/02


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