One of the biggest challenges for franchise gamemakers is to keep gamers coming back for more. (And more and more.) Each new sequel needs something that promises a new level of button-punching fun. And that’s not always an easy task. Especially when you’re making a fighting game.
The developers behind Tekken, though, are pretty good at hitting (or kicking) that eye-dazzling mark. In fact, it was the glitz of a Tekken game demo that grabbed my Christmas shopping attention some years back and inspired me to purchase my first PlayStation 2 console.
I quickly realized, though, that games in this series can concealed some unsavory elements once you actually dig into them. And since Tekken 6 is now the latest to be on the prowl for gamers’ (and their moms’) shopping attention—be it for Christmas, birthday or as a reward for getting really good semester grades—it’s time to do a little digging again.
Realistic Moves …
First of all, it should be noted that Tekken 6 is packed to the brim with glamorous gameplay. There are 40 fighters on the roster. Their ranks are fleshed out by the likes of heavily muscled martial artists, kangaroos, schoolgirls, men with tiger heads and robot girls with exploding heads. Yep, you read that right—robot girls with exploding heads. Or was it kangaroos with tiger heads?
(My favorite is a tubby karate artist named … Bob. Call it a feeling of kinship.)
As bizarre as this cast of characters sounds, it’s their inventory of unique and flashy moves that’s one of the most appealing parts of the game. Karate, judo, Sumo, boxing, capoeira, Lucha Libre and many other fighting techniques are stylishly represented. And some of them are pretty accurate, too. My son, who has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, was very impressed with how precisely one of the battlers maneuvered.
What all that translates to is an incredible variety of kicks, punches, tumbles and throws. The four main controller buttons each operate a different arm or leg. So a Tekken novice can just start mashing away and join the smackdown quickly. But he’ll soon want to start practicing his button jabs and stringing moves to create foe-incapacitating combos.
I’ll note here that there’s no blood in these battles. But some martial arts holds or smashing blows generate bone-snapping sounds.
… And Lots of ’Em
To help give first-timers needed practice and old-timers new slick moves, Tekken 6 offers an abundance of ways to join in and play. Practice Mode walks you through more than 100 bashing moves. Arcade Mode throws you into traditional one-on-one brawls with increasingly difficult opponents. Team Battle Mode lets you and a pal test your skills against each other. Time Attack Mode challenges you to best an onslaught of 10 opponents as rapidly as possible. Feeling a bit weary yet? Better huddle up with your cut man, because the list of modes goes on.
The biggest chunk of play is in Campaign Mode. This lengthy story-game not only takes you on an excursion through the full history of the Tekken Iron Fist, it also gives you a new chapter to play through in RPG-brawler style. As you work out your defending and attacking skills you make your way to the Iron Fist Tournament 6. And, if your fingers haven’t cramped up and given out by then, you’re ready to claw your way to victory with your chosen title-holder.
Not Always a Clean Fight
OK, so if you’ve been paying even a little bit of attention, you’ve surely caught that this title is chock-full of, um, iron-fisted beat-’em-ups. There’s no gore, as I mentioned, but there are lots of painful crunches. Some of the brawlers have groin-punching or kicking moves. A battling panda bear can bend over and expel deadly gas. And one guy employs a drunken stance that has him weaving around as if inebriated.
Tekken 6 also contains some pact-with-the-devil spirituality. (One of the characters, Devil Jin, claims to be a god and sports horns and wings.) And customizable costumes range from a dark priest’s clothes to tiny miniskirts and cleavage-baring tops. One female fighter, for example, wears a deeply V-cut outfit that exposes the sides of her breasts. From time to time, “h‑‑‑” and “d‑‑n” slip out in the dialogue.
Now, that isn’t the worst list of game detractors to ever hit the PlayStation or Xbox. But it’s still evidence of a fistful of junk that makes this game (and its predecessors) a little less savory for the discerning pugilist. And I’m not so sure I would have jumped into the ring quite so quickly that one Christmas several Tekkens ago had I known about it.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.