Review by Stejpan

"System 12 arcade game + Emotion Engine = a visually stunning arcade fighter!"

Tekken Tag Tournament is a Tag-team variation of Tekken 3. The game is a dream match fight featuring the entire cast of playable characters in the series up to Tekken 3.

The game was released in the Arcades in 1999 on Namco's PlayStation based System 12 arcade hardware, and was pretty much pushing the system's capabilities to the max. While the game looked like a standard PlayStation fighter, it would have never been possible to port it to the original PlayStation console as it didn't have enough RAM to be able to store the data for four fighting characters on-screen at once. Enter Sony's next generation console - PlayStation2! Featuring 32mb of ram, DVD media and an advanced graphics synthesizer dubbed the Emotion Engine.

The arcade game was ported and updated to take advantage of the PlayStation2's improved specifications, and shipped as a launch title when the system launched in 2000.

Story - 7/10
While the Tekken series has always been of arcade origin, there is a fairly detailed background story surrounding the games. The main plot revolves around Kazuya Mishima gaining revenge on his father Heihachi, and the events which happen 20 years afterwards, as seen through the eyes of Kazuya's son Jin Kazama. Tekken Tag Tournament, however, does not fall within the storyline - it's a 'dream match' fighter with no storyline, and it features many of the older characters from the first 2 games including Jin's mother Jun Kazama, who was killed by Ogre in the events leading to Tekken 3.

Graphics/Presentation - 9/10
I can honestly say that this game has an excellent presentation. A high quality rendered video sequence showcasing the characters with who you start with, as well as the original arcade version movie. The embu fight demonstration shows the great amount of detail and facial animation added to the PS2 version.

While the original game was standard PlayStation quality, everything here has been improved graphicswise - the characters have a higher polygon count and higher detail textures for smoother appearance, the backgrounds are now real-time 3D with people watching the fight from the sidelines, foliage and bumped mapped textures have been added to the environment, and a basic physics engine has been implemented for fluid movement. All running at a rock-steady 60 frames-per-second!

Tekken Tag's graphics still overshadows many other PlayStation2 titles that have been released over the years. The detail of Heihachi Mishima and the rest of the cast is an excellent demonstration of the Emotion Engine. The only problem the game faces is that the background and playfield don't mesh together very well, and it can appear that you are fighting on a treadmill, but this was also present in the original arcade version, and changing it would have greatly altered the gameplay.

Gameplay - 8/10
Underneath the pretty skin of the game is the same Tekken fighting engine that's been around since the original from 1994. Two punch and Kick attacks, and auto blocking from neutral position. The game features a 'Tag' element - 2 teams of 2 face off to KO eachother. You can switch between characters with the Tag button, and even chain together tag attacks. The first team to have a player fall is the loser.

Like Virtua Fighter, a certain amount of skill must be developed to be able to enjoy the game to its fullest. Each fighter has their own set of moves, although some follow the styles of their relatives/teachers such as Heihachi/Kazuya Mishima and Baek/Hworang. Some characters have easier to use moves than others, and some require alot of practice to pull off.

The game features Arcade and several other modes of play to keep gamers entertained beyond the arcade experience. Each player has their own ending sequence although they are short rendered scenes that are sometimes funny to watch. The more you play, you will unlock more fighters to battle with.

A bowling game is also unlockable to keep you entertained. It isn't fighting, but you get to choose your favourite fighters for a game of Ten-pin bowling thats almost as addictive as the fighting, very entertaining.

Multiplayer - 8/10
Players can battle eachother in Vs and a few other modes, and also compete against eachother in bowling! You'll have a blast beating your friends at ten-pin and fighting.

Control - 9/10
The games controls are responsive for most of the part. The shoulder buttons are for tag, and face buttons for attacks. For the real experience try an arcade joystick like the Hori fighting stick.

Soundtrack/Audio - 8/10
The music will either captivate you or drive you nuts. It's a mix of industrial techno with some robotic voice samples strung in. Personally I love it, the tunes get you into the tense mood for fighting, especially Nina's stage bgm. Most of the tunes have had a slight remix and sound less synthesized than the arcade version.

The sound effects are ok, they sound the same as in the previous Tekken games. The voice acting is also recycled from the previous games - some of the Tekken 2 characters seem to have less voices samples than the Tekken 3 cast which can seem repetitive when using characters like Kazuya and Lee.

Replayability - 9/10
While you'll enjoy finishing the game as each character to unlock their own endings, you also have some fun with the built in bowling game. There are plenty of teams to mix, and you'll enjoy the results such as Heihachi/pet bear Kuma, and Wang/Xiaoyu. It has more redeeming features than it's successor, Tekken 4.

Overall - 9/10
The game exceeds what is already a cutting edge fighting game (for its time anyway, it's been superseded by newer sequels). If you are a fighting game/Tekken fan you should not be without this game. I still play it more than Tekken 4, simply due to the Tag team feature which is only in this game.

A perfect showcase of the PlayStation2's power, it's visuals beat out even games like Grand Theft Auto San Andreas.


Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 07/15/05

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