Review by Steve6432

"The Best Video Game Ever Made?"

I was never a big fan of 3-D Fighting games, for instance I can’t stand Soul Blade and Dead or Alive. Those games are just no fun for me. Other fighting games, such as Capcom’s numerous fighting games just seem like a bunch of blisters and sore palms to me. Finally there is Mortal Kombat and Thrill Kill, which I don’t even consider games at all. So what puts Tekken 3 and Tag above the rest? Let’s see:

We all know that we don’t play fighting games for the story. They are all usually the same, something about a fighting tournament or an evil force that needs to be fought. Tekken’s isn’t really different; it mixes both of those together, into a slightly interesting story. I give it a fairly high score because it does try to take a little step ahead of other games in the genre. The story is continuous starting with Tekken 1 and 2 (wretched abominations of which I care not to speak) and following into Tekken 3. Along the way several characters die and many new ones take their place. The characters are very interesting and many of their background stories intertwine quite nicely. My favorite character, King the Second, is a Mexican Wrestler who owns an orphanage (interesting, indeed!). Tekken TAG takes every single characters from the previous three games (barring a few oddballs) and brings them back from the dead, or wherever they went, to fight in a whole new tournament. Tag is sort of a time warp that doesn’t follow any particular storyline. Characters now fight in pairs, so father and son (Jin and Kazuya), wrestling partners (King and Armor King), sisters (Anna and Nina), or whatever (Kuma and Mokujin) can fight together in player’s dream teams.

I could care less about graphics in a game, and I know that hundreds of others could agree with me. Unless the visuals take away from a game, I’ll take them or leave them. In Tekken TAG, I’ll take them. The first time I played the game, it took me a while to stop playing Tekken and start looking at it. I noticed all of the characters are so fresh and so clean. I love the costumes, many of which are new, that are given to the fighters. King dons a fine looking Orange T-Shirt and a Jaguar Mask. Kazuya has a purple tux that, with the game’s great lighting, looks plastic (don’t get me wrong, this is a good thing). The backgrounds are, well, just amazing. In one stage, the grass on the ground falls flat when a fighter is down. In another stage, there is snow falling. Everything has such a clean look to it so that you can stop worrying about polygons and have a nice game. Instead of the Full Motion Videos (FMVs) that gloss the completion of the game for all characters in the previous Tekken games, small in game type movies are shown. The introduction’s FMV more than makes up for anything lost elsewhere.

It’s a fighting game. You are going to hear kung-fu style smacks and yelps from those who are subjected to them. All the sound effects are perfect, but I would love the game even with the sound off so it makes no difference to me. The music is another story. There is a lot off odd techno music that caught me off guard. One song in particular has actual words repeated by a robotic voice. The voice speaks about body parts that you don’t have (no eyes, no mouth, etc.). It’s all very strange and I’m going to have to give the sound a little lower than perfect for that one, but it does not take away from the game’s final score in any way.

Here’s the big one. The game’s control is the same as Tekken 3, so fans of Tekken 3 won’t have to learn anything new to get the same experience they did with the old game. I can’t say that all the characters are evenly matched, but anyone who takes the time can beat any one character with another. Technically there are 32 completely different characters. Mokujin, Tetsujin, and Unknown, are like “random select” characters that randomly take on the techniques of one other character from the game, but beyond that everyone has their own personality. And what a personality everyone has. Each character has a broad variety of abilities; most characters averaging around thirty different specials arts, six different throws, two different combination arts, and many characters have special stances and movements to be exploited as well. All of the fighters retain their previous abilities, and nearly every character gains a number of new special techniques, averaging from around four for Tekken 3 characters, and ten to fifteen for the older Tekken characters. Most of the Tekken 2 characters have been re-done to make them a prominent force in this game, and not just given the shaft like in Tekken 1 and 2. Every character gets many new sets of four to five hit combination moves to keep things interesting. For those who don’t know much about Tekken’s gameplay, it is very interesting. There are around 10 different styles of fighting offered in the game, and each character uses one or two of these along with their personalized style to make a unique character. Most notable are the many styles of wrestling (Sumo, Lucha Libre, etc.), Kung-Fu (straight out of the movies), and “Mishima”, a style that is sort of a thug-street fighting style mixed with martial arts. Special stances and movements such as back-flips and crouching dashes as well as moves that everyone can do (such as springboard kicks, and diving rolls) make this game one of the deepest ever. To top off the craziness, add in throws, multiple-throws, counters, blocks, and reversals, and you have one heck of a fighting tournament. You are going to have to think (don’t worry, it’s normal) if you want to get the most out of this masterpiece.

Tag In, Tag Out
If you look at the official packaging, the word tag in Tekken TAG Tournament is always all in capital letters. Say it, Tekken TAG Tournament, emphasis on the tag. The game is deep enough, what with all I mentioned, but there is a whole new aspect, a whole new level of strategy that makes this game one of the best ever. You choose two fighters for each match, no more, no less. During the course of one game, you can freely switch back and forth between these two characters. The object of the game is to completely defeat one of your opponent’s two characters. Seeing that your opponent’s goal is the same, you may find it helpful to “tag out” your character is they have suffered damage and bring in a fresh new character. This may seem very gimmicky, and is by no means revolutionary (Capcom did it a while back), so why does it bring the game to a new level? First off, when you switch a character out, he will slowly regain health while his partner takes on his opponent. You cannot regain all of your health this way, but keeping a good balance between characters is a must if you are going to master this monster. A nice little feature is that some characters will “get angry” at their opponent for beating on their partner and their life bar will flash. During this time, if you tag the angry character in, he will be a little stronger and ready for revenge. Each character (and human player) has a different way of playing, so every time you play you will need to adjust to both the character’s style and the human’s (or computer’s) skill in the game. Let’s say you are doing very well against your opponent and feel comfortable that you will win. The second that your opponent decides to switch his character, you will have to adapt to a whole new style, and you may not be able to. The great thing is that you can switch at any time so you never know when you’ll have a whole new challenge presented to you. The tag system adds a couple nice things to the control as well. There are tag throws, where one character will throw the opponent into his partner doing some damage and giving control to the partner. There are tag juggles, where one player will perform an action that lifts the opponent high into the air and the partner will “tag in” to attack the character before he hits the ground. Finally there are some special tag arts that let a special combination of two characters (they usually have some sort of connection in the Tekken storyline) perform a new move on their opponent, tagging at the same time. Tag is no gimmick.

I will say few things about presentation and try to explain the drop in this score. I found it a little confusing to play the game with a partner against the computer. First you have to select pair play at the title screen, then you have to have the second player press start at the character selection screen, then that player has to press left and start to play on the same side as the first player. That could have been made easier, but nothing is perfect. The game does an amazing thing, it gives you a complete list of every special technique your character has, and you can pull it up at any time. The list looks kind of ugly with a strange font that it uses and less than eye-catching colors, but it’s nothing to worry about. My favorite little thing about the game is the “Let’s fight” type of pose your character makes when they are selected. Armor King shrugs as if to say, “I don’t know what I’m doing here”. It’s all very nice.

This game could last forever. I’ve played it for about a year on end and I never tire of it. You may hear people say “Those games are just the same thing over and over again. Technically, they are right, but also, this game can be seen as the Chess of videogames. By this I mean that there are hundreds of possibilities, techniques, and playing styles that can be implemented, researched, and so on. It would take a very long time to master everything in Tekken, and unless you have some sort of Tekken-related job where you are playing the game all day, I don’t think you are going to come close. Playing against the computer does get old, but fine-tuning your skills in the wonderful practice mode is always nice. As long as you have a friend to play against, this game won’t see the dark of a closet for many moons.

This game is definitely the best game ever, save maybe Final Fantasy VII. They are, in my mind, equal. My view could change, as Tekken may get boring, or Final Fantasy may get boring, but for now, it’s all well and good for me. I score not an average, but rather on a grading curve (look it up in a statistical math book). Tekken TAG Tournament is at the top, a perfect ten.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 04/07/01, Updated 04/07/01

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