Namco-Bandai has at least three Tekken releases planned within the next year. Ushering us into this largesse of Tekken bliss is Tekken Hybrid, a cute compilation of a movie, a demo and an HD re-master, all offered at a nice low price. Surely this appeals to hardcore Tekken fans, but does this package offer enough value for the purchase price?
The only full game here is Tekken Tag Tournament HD. This is a revamped port of Tekken Tag Tournament, which was first released as a PlayStation 2 launch title in October of the year 2000. Also in this bundle is Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Prologue, which is demo of the long awaited forthcoming sequel. Prologue is closely tied to Tekken: Blood Vengeance, the movie that is also included in the bundle. It kind of makes you feel like this release is more promotion for TTT2 than it is fan service.
Tekken Tag Tournament HD is a pretty good fighter. The new HD paint is shiny, but it doesn’t do much to hide the game’s age. Everything looks a lot cleaner and crisper, but there is no questioning the fact that this is merely a remake of an eleven year old title. Fortunately, the game is so fun that the graphics do little to hamper your experience. The gameplay is tight and solid, which you may not have expected because of how old it is. Each character as a gigantic list of commands and combos at their disposal, and the tag system allows for numerous offensive options. Speaking of characters, there are plenty of them to choose from and each character plays differently. After just a few minutes in the training mode, you’ll be confused about why it took Namco so long to begin work on Tekken Tag Tournament 2.
There are ten-hit combos, combination grabs, reversals, tag team attacks, insanely long juggles and plenty more to learn. However, the lack of online functionality quickly turns what could have been a worldwide spectacle into a house party. It saddens me that no one but my family and friends will ever see my brilliant Jun/Jin team in action. Regardless, it is still a good use of time.
While the upgraded visuals seem like the most obvious improvement over the PS2 version of this game, it is actually the sound which seems to have been enriched the most. I never thought I would need to bring this up again, but I go into a lot of detail about this game’s soundtrack in this article. That said, everything sounds so much brighter and cleaner. I wish they’d re-release the soundtrack because it has never sounded this good. I’ve had the Tekken Tag Tournament OST on my iPod for years now, and there are details in the songs that can’t be heard in the old soundtrack. And for the record, the soundtrack is an effortless fusion of techno, electro, ambient, fusion, dance, and industrial, with a few more things sprinkled in for good measure. It’s fantastic and the perfect example of what a fighting game soundtrack should sound like. Up tempo and exciting, while at the same time listenable.
The Tekken Bowl mode has returned to the game and is a passable way to cool down between fights with lots of friends playing. There is also a gallery packed with dozens of ending videos and music. None of this stuff needs to be unlocked though, which I didn’t love. I like unlocking things, but I suppose the addition of trophies is satiating enough. The roster is also complete from the very beginning, which may be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you feel. All things considered, Tekken Tag Tournament HD is pretty fun, although the lack of online functionality may prove to be a deal breaker for anyone who isn’t a total Tekken fan girl, despite the fact that the game is still fun without it. Besides, there’s more here than just this game.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Prologue comes off a bit disappointing. I understand that this is supposed to be a demo of a game, but I’d be shocked if this wasn’t at some point released for free (without trophies of course) for everyone. First of all, it contains only four characters. All four of these characters have key roles in the accompanying movie, but they aren’t the only characters in the movie. In addition to Xiayou, Alisa, and Devil Jin and Kazuya, other fighters like Nina, Anna, Lee and Ganryu appear in the movie. A few more characters would not have hurt considering how many characters the final version of the game will contain. Not to mention you are paying money for this.
In terms of gameplay, Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Prologue gives you high hopes for the full game. The tag mechanics and combo system are very impressive and the visuals are wonderful. Unfortunately, it is extremely low on content. You face the same characters in different orders repeatedly throughout the arcade mode, which is just ridiculous. There’s a model viewer here as well, although you’ll be finished examining all four figures in about two minutes. There’s also a lack of online here, although I you don’t exactly expect to see this in a demo. The demo does give you a chance to check the gorgeous graphics of TTT2 and some of the new mechanics. Players can knock their opponents through walls now, expanding on the destructible environments in found in Tekken 6. It feels a tad bit similar to the Dead or Alive series in this regard.
Also, there are remixes of music from the original game. I thought this was an awesome bit of fan service, although remixes are usually inferior to the original. The main theme would be a big exception though, because that sounds awesome. There are trophies in this demo as well, which is kind of confusing. The trophies only encourage you to constantly replay the arcade mode, which is simply not fun or exciting at all. The matches are two-on-two, which means that you’ll see all the characters in just one match. It struggles to remain relevant after the very first match. I guess the trophies make it better. I guess.
The last part of this bundle is Tekken: Blood Vengeance, the newest Tekken movie which saw very limited release in theaters earlier this year. Most folks didn’t get a chance to see the movie when it was in theaters, so this makes it a great deal more accessible. The film itself is probably the most entertaining Tekken movie released yet, though only fans of the series know how little that is saying. The ongoing rivalry between Jin, his father Kazuya and his father Heihachi heats up when an immortal gene is successfully created and they each want if for themselves. Xiayou is the main character and becomes good frenemies with the android Alisa Bosconovich. Xiayou is also the love interest of Jin, although the movie doesn’t seem to care at all about this. But you didn’t expect to understand anything here without having played the Tekken games, right? The story of Tekken can be difficult to follow for even the most tried Tekken aficionado.
Lots of big names in animation worked on the movie, and the CG is absolutely beautiful. There is also 3D, if you have the necessary hardware to experience that. There are a plenty of action scenes and I think your run of the mill anime fan can enjoy the two hours they’ll spend watching this. The inclusion of original Japanese voicing and subtitles is a big bonus considering how awkward the English lip syncing is. Basically, if you own a PS3 and you’ve been meaning to see this movie, then this is probably a better value than buying the movie alone.
In conclusion, Tekken fans have a few reasons to check out this little compilation. Tekken Tag HD is loads of fun with friends, but everyone won’t be as excited about it as longtime fans. Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Prologue sucks as a paid demo, but does give you a glimpse at the upcoming fighter. Oh and don’t forget that it has trophies as well. Tekken: Blood Vengeance is worth seeing it if you’re a fan of Tekken or anime in general, and the graphics look great. This is the best a Tekken movie as ever been, to be honest. The tight gameplay of TTT shines brighter than ever in HD. However, nobody is going to pick Tekken Hybrid over any of the other phenomenal up to date fighting games that came out this year. Personally, I feel that this release is just a sort of pacifier until next year when tons of other, completely new Tekken games come out. That said, taken for what it is, Tekken Hybrid is pretty cool.