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Retronomicon 03.21.12: Tekken
Posted by Lee Price on 03.21.2012



Hello one and all and welcome to the only games column that starts with the letter ‘R' and ends with ‘etronomicon', the Retronomicon. As ever I am your stunningly handsome and not at all disingenuous host Lee Price and this is your one-stop shop for all of the great games of the years gone by. I have had a fairly eventful week this week. High points have included seeing Black Stone Cherry live for the sixth time. Those in the know will know that they have a song called Things My Father Said. It's an amazing song and the Birmingham Academy obviously thought so too. This video shows the treatment it was given by the audience and I have to say that it was one of the most beautiful moments I have ever been involved in;



Other than that I had a great Friday night with a friend of mine, though this was tempered somewhat by a bust-up that we had the following night. That is all water under the bridge though now. After all, what point is there in having a friendship if you aren't willing to forgive and forget after disagreements? I also finally got around to spreading my dog's ashes on one of her favorite walking routes, as it has taken me quite a while to bring myself to do it. All in all a pretty eventful week and I have still managed to find time to play a good chunk of Mass Effect 2 as well. We are surely past the banner by now though so what say we get to the…



Comments

Kid Icarus received a decent bit of much-deserved love from the Retronomicon faithful (Hey! I have like six fans and I am sure as hell claiming them as my faithful). Let's kick things off with 411's Jimmy Chavez;

I never knew about this game until I watched Captain N: The Game Master. Then I had my parents take me to my local Toys R Us to see if I could get them to get it for me.

I never got to see Captain N: The Game Master when I was a nipper. I doubt it was even brought over to the UK in all fairness, though the name of the show cropped up in my research for last week's column. Did you manage to get your parents to buy the game for you?

APrince66 follows up;

I freaking loved this game. Took months and months to beat it back in the day. Totally innovative too. Side scrolling, but it had vertical levels, a maze/dungeon levels, then a flying level. Not to mention shops and a credit card. The grim reapers and their music used to freak me out too. Awesome Awesome AWESOME!

I think that pretty much sums up all that was great about Kid Icarus in one ecstatic rant! Lanoit loses points for saying "Cool story bro," but we will forgive him anyway;

I love this game a million.

Cool story, bro: This is the game that killed our Nintendo. My brother and I would take turns after each death trying to beat this. After a death, he refused to relinquish the controller. When I tried to pull the controller away, the NES came crashing down. I carried the trauma of not beating Icarus for years, until I finally got the job done on my VC version. Finally getting past World 2 was my proudest moment- until I actually beat the whole thing. Bought my 3DS specifically for Uprising, so I'm stoked.

Yes, and a huge dork.


You know what shocked me most about this? That a Nintendo product actually broke after taking a tumble. I've lost count of the amount of times I dropped my Gameboy and it kept plugging away. My Gamecube even managed to make its way to the floor on one occasion and all that happened was the memory card inserted in the front got a bit mashed and that probably only happened because it was third party.

Comment Board Poster is feeling his age;

"1986 was truly a glorious year. I was born in this year..."

You were born in 86? Man, I'm surrounded by children. Not to be insulting or anything. I feel so old.


Don't say that, I'm feeling old enough already. I've gone from the 21-24 age bracket to the 25-40 one now. It is depressing.

Jeff Modzelewski is commenting on the wrong game, but it's all good;

I missed last week's article, which of course was on one of my Top 5 games of all time (along with OoT, of course). I'm not a huge gamer, but the video game accomplishment that I'm most proud of was beating this game without dying. Such a perfect Zelda game.

Add that to the unanimous praise that A Link to the Past got last week.

AG Awesome needs to get some Kid Icarus in his life;

I just don't want to play this game, the legendary difficulty level has completely turned me off. Plus I find that playing old school NES games leaves me confused, disgruntled, and alone.

I may get the 3ds Eshop version if it has nice save states. They help me beat a lot of these old games I either avoided or never finished.


I reckon you should definitely pick it up. It was way ahead of its time and should still be experienced despite the difficulty level.

We round things off with Guest#5723;

love Kid Icarus. It is one of my all time favorite games. I'm glad Nintendo is finally reviving the series with Kid Icarus: Uprising.

That sums things up nicely I think so it's about time that we strap on those rose-tinted specs and take a look at Tekken.

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Music to Read Your Retro to

A top ten Tekken music video? Go on then;



Fun Facts


  • The PS1 version of Tekken includes a version of Namco's Galaga to play as a diversion to the main game.

  • Tekken, when literally translated, means ‘Iron Fist'. Hence the King of Iron Fist tournament.

  • Defeating the aforementioned version of Galaga by shooting all of the ships before they exit the screen unlocks a ‘Devil' version of Kazuya.

  • Tekken was the first game on the PlayStation to sell over a million copies. It was awarded a Guinness World Record for the feat.



The Background

Namco and SEGA have always had absolutely stellar reputations in the arcade industry. Both companies have produced a litany of absolutely amazing titles that entertained millions of gamers the world over and both became bywords for innovation and quality within the arcades. In truth the only other company that could really stand up to them in these stakes would be Capcom, who of course have their own little fighting game that has received attention in these pages before.

By the time 1993 had rolled around, gamers were just starting to be given a taste of the potential that 3D gaming had to offer. SEGA had released the seminal Virtua Fighter at the tail end of the year, inventing a sub-genre in the process and establishing the foundations that every 3D fighting game that followed would look to build upon.

Namco were obviously impressed with what they saw. The company had never really made a name for itself in the fighting genre, with Capcom, Midway and SNK dominating the 2D era with a host of top quality titles. However the advent of 3D provided them with the opportunity to establish themselves as a player in the genre.

The company looked at what Virtua Fighter had to offer and, most importantly, looked at where they could improve things. Before long Namco had a cast of characters and a fighting system that differed from the one that SEGA had created, thus enabling them to establish the new game as an entirely unique entity. Come the end of 1994, almost a year to day after the debut of Virtua Fighter, the new game was introduced to Japanese gamers. In May 1995 Tekken was released to the rest of the world.

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The Game

You can't really speak about Tekken without also bringing up SEGA's Virtua Fighter. The two games are intrinsically linked through their arcade and console rivalries, but they were also the first big games in the 3D fighting genre. As such the release of Tekken established a friendly competition with the Virtua Fighter series that endures to this day but, in truth, they are actually very different games. While VF, especially in the later iterations, was more concerned with the technical side of things, Tekken was always the game that was a bit more arcadey and, dare I say it, a little bit more fun. That isn't to say that Tekken had less depth, or that VF isn't fun for that matter, however it made it much easier to choose a side between the two based on your own individual preferences and also helped to separate the game from the VF series so that nobody could accuse it of being a clone.

The story of Tekken centers around the Mishima family, as it has continued to do so ever since. Specifically, Heihachi Mishima, who is the owner of the Mishima Zaibatsu corporation, has announced a tournament to crown the best fighter in the world. Did I mention that the Mishima's are a family full of world class martial artists? I didn't? Well they are.

A number of competitors show up for the tournament to prove that they are the best around but the one who is most central to the story is Kazuya Mishima. For those who have yet to connect the dots, he is Heihachi's son and he just happens to be holding a grudge against the old man for throwing him off a cliff in an effort to prove that he was strong enough to have the Mishima name.

He is pretty pissed about this, as you can imagine, however the neat little twist to this particular tale is that the only reason that Kazuya survived at all was because he made a deal with the devil. Those who took the time to complete the Galaga side-game may have noticed this already, however at the beginning of things Namco aren't exactly forthcoming with the details. This sets the player up for one of the best bait-and-switch moves in video gaming history as Kazuya is established as the hero of the series only for Namco to completely turn the tables during the conclusion of the game.

Of course, whilst the Mishima family dominates the main story, Namco had to create a cast of characters that would be engaging to really do a fighting game justice and they managed to do just that. Whether it's the tales of perennial runner-up Paul and his efforts to win the tournament, the story of the wrestler King or the travails of Nina the assassin, Namco created a group of fighters that all had a set of very individual traits and fighting styles that allowed gamers to find a favorite that they could stick to if they weren't really into the Mishima lore.

As for the game itself, on the surface it doesn't do anything particularly new. The fighting game tropes that had been established by Capcom, such as: best of three rounds, health bars, one-on-on fighting and time limits, are all correct and present, even if they are dressed up in a fancy 3D packaging. This had been true of Virtua Fighter as well so Tekken really needed to do something to differentiate itself from what came before.

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It did this with the fighting system. Like Virtua Fighter, each style is mapped fairly strongly to an existing martial art in the real world. However the way the player controls their fighter differs greatly in Tekken. Instead of assigning buttons that corresponded to the strength of an attack, such as Street Fighter's system of having three punch and three kick buttons of varying power, each button in Tekken is assigned to a different limb. This means that attack combinations are judged as much on positioning of the character's body as the potential for damage and offers the game an entirely different dimension to other fighters of the period whilst also fully taking advantage of the shift into 3D.

Of course this wouldn't mean a whole lot if the system itself didn't work but Namco had obviously been working diligently to ensure that it would. Tekken feels intuitive from the moment you boot it up and it is this that helped the game really get a foothold in the arcades as it combines masses of depth with a pick up and play quality that many fighters, Virtua Fighter especially, lacked. Attaining expertise will still see you trounce the button mashers of course, but the game allows for people who aren't looking to become fighting game gods to have a great laugh as well and it is as much down to the control system as anything else.

Graphically the game was also an enormous step up from others of the era. There is no denying that Virtua Fighter was a phenomenal technical achievement, however Tekken made it look ancient barely a year after it was released. Such was the speed that 3D was developing during the period and such was the skill of the developers at Namco.

Stages are unique and interesting, being based on a number of different locations across the world, and character models are extremely smooth and much nicer to look at than the ones in VF. The game is also technically superior in this department, with the Guinness Book of Records also awarding it an honor for being the first fighting game to feature simulated 3D. Personally I'm not exactly sure how this really differs to the 3D on offer in Virtua Fighter but it won an award for it nonetheless.

Musically the game is good as well. Granted the series would go on to develop far more in this area as time went on but, for a first effort, the game is quite musically accomplished. I suppose you could lambast it a little bit for having some of the characters reuse sound effects but, in reality, it's a fighting game and you're going to be too busy gloating to care about that when you have just knocked somebody out.

Tekken managed to firmly establish itself as a worthy rival to the Virtua Fighter series right out of the gate and ensured that SEGA wouldn't be able to establish a monopoly on the 3D fighter genre. The fact that it offered a very different gameplay experience while still being engaging and enjoyable also went to show that the genre had the potential to be taken in many different directions and provided gamers with the foundations for a pair of series that would both go on to sate the appetites of fighting game fans for years to come.

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The Aftermath

Tekken was met with pretty much widespread praise upon its release. The superior graphics and solid fighting system did a great job of showcasing just how far the 3D fighter genre had come in the space of a year and the series quickly built up a solid fanbase that, of course, led to arguments over which was the better series between Tekken and VF fans.

Regardless Tekken had managed to establish itself as a force to be reckoned with in addition to providing a base from which the entire series could be built. The rivalry between Tekken and VF continued through to consoles as well as the game received a superb conversion on the PlayStation that allowed it to go heads-to-head with SEGA's behemoth on all fronts. The game went on to be the first million-selling title on the PlayStation.

Of course there have also been a ton of sequels. Every PlayStation console has had some form of Tekken game on it, with the PS1 itself playing host to the second and third in the series. It is currently on its sixth iteration in terms of main games, however there have also been a bunch of spin-off titles and even a movie based on the Tekken universe.

The series has also established itself amongst many real martial artists, with favorable opinions on the more realistic aspects of the series fairly widespread throughout the martial arts community. Of course the series will go on and remain strong for many a year to come and gamers have recently been treated to a true collision of the best that the fighting genre has to offer with the recent release of Street Fighter x Tekken. Hopefully its sister game, Tekken vs Street Fighter, will be just as well received.

Conversion Corner

Tekken, of course, found its way onto the PlayStation soon after that console's release and, it could be argued, found a higher degree of fame on that console than it managed in the arcades. The port itself was extremely faithful to the original and also allowed for the inclusion of a host of the mid-boss characters as playable fighters.

In short it demonstrated that the latest generation of consoles were truly capable of pulling off conversions that were nigh-indistinguishable from their arcade counterparts to the untrained eye and this conversion really marked the start for one of the most successful series to ever call the PlayStation home.

There have been a few other versions of the game since, though they have all been emulations of either the arcade or PlayStation adaptation of the game rather than true conversions to another console. The PlayStation version of Tekken still stands, though, as one of the best arcade to console conversions of all time.

The Guy Who Can do it Better Than You

Here's a compilation of all of the character endings from Tekken;



Enjoy and see you next week!





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