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Tekken Trilogy (PS1) Retro Game Reviewby@stefanopavone
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Tekken Trilogy (PS1) Retro Game Review

by Stefano PavoneFebruary 17th, 2022
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The original ***Tekken*** trilogy is considered to be some of the most iconic fighting games of their eras as well as the most popular. Each game involves a senior member of the **Mishima Family** staging a martial arts tournament known as the **King of Iron Fist**. The prize is generally a large sum of money along with command of a megacorporation with its fingers in every pie imaginable. The games would be ported to the most successful home consoles of their era, but its most memorable entries would be on the Sony PlayStation 1.

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The year is 1993. 3D graphics are starting to become commonplace and arcade giant Sega have just unleashed their revolutionary fighting game Virtua Fighter, which brings the tournament fighter genre kicking, punching and screaming into the 3rd dimension, running on their Model 1 arcade hardware. While technically impressive, its gameplay left a lot to be desired in addition to its insipid and nonexistent story.


A year later, in 1994, Namco, best known for their arcade classics Bosconian and Galaga (both from 1981), decided to cut themselves a slice of the 3D-gaming pie with their own entry into the fighting game market. The result? Tekken. A game built on accessibility and challenge while integrating the 3D environments and semi-realistic gameplay of its Sega-made rival (and including a story, predictable, though, it is). Like its main adversary, it spawns a franchise, and the games would be ported to the most successful home consoles of their era, but its most memorable entries would be on the Sony PlayStation 1, and that’s what I’m taking a look at in this article - the original Tekken trilogy, which are considered to be some of the most iconic fighting games of their eras as well as the most popular, and they still retain their legendary status even today.

Series Overview

The Tekken games consist of 1-on-1 duels between two (2) generally unarmed combatants, a standard trope in fighting games going back to Konami’s arcade hit Yie Ar Kung Fu from 1984. The premise of each game involves a senior member of the Mishima Family (usually patriarch and recurring character - and unofficial protagonist/antagonist Heihachi Mishima) staging a martial arts tournament known as the King of Iron Fist (translated from Japanese 鉄拳 - “Tetsu-ken”, meaning “Iron fist”).


The prize is generally a large sum of money along with command of the Mishima Zaibatsu, a megacorporation with its fingers in every pie imaginable. Enter a handful of fighters from all over the world to fight for the much-coveted reward, although many of them do so for their own personal benefit or ulterior motives. In fact, there are few altruistic and genuinely decent characters in the series. The tournaments gradually become phased out as the series progresses (Tekken 5 is the last game to actually feature such a tournament) and depending on how you look at it, develops, mutates or degenerates into stereotypical anime tropes and memes.

Main Characters

While the series is known for its loads and loads of characters, there are a handful who do play key roles in the overall story, and usually appear in multiple games (generally those related to the Mishima Family):


  • Heihachi Mishima - both protagonist and antagonist, he is the longest-running owner and CEO of the Mishima Zaibatsu, although he has been deposed at least twice.
  • Kazuya Mishima - Heihachi’s sole son, initially starting out as an antihero before descending into full-on villainy from Tekken 2 onwards.
  • Jun Kazama - Kazuya’s temporary lover during the 2nd tournament and mother of future protagonist/antagonist Jin.
  • Jin Kazama - the de-facto lead from Tekken 3 onwards, his goal is to wipe out the Mishima bloodline to prevent their evil from spreading over the world due to the presence of a “Devil Gene” in Kazuya’s DNA, which Jin seems to have inherited - this gene unleashes one’s inner evil in a physically monstrous form.
  • Nina Williams - hitwoman for hire, she becomes embroiled with the Mishima Family’s struggles in later games but generally has a fierce sibling rivalry with her younger sister Anna - beautiful but deadly (and the games’ prerequisite blonde-in-a-tight-catsuit fighter), she has no family, nor does she have any friends… and she doesn’t want any.
  • Anna Williams - Nina’s younger and slightly more humane sister, she, too, becomes caught up in the Mishima soap opera (albeit willingly), but is always distracted by her extreme rivalry with Nina, to whom she almost invariably loses.
  • Yoshimitsu - the closest thing the series has to a genuinely heroic character, he is the Robin Hood-like leader of the Manji Clan, a modern Band of Merry Men fighting against any injustice they come across (and usually entering the tournaments to use the Mishima Zaibatsu to do good).
  • Paul Phoenix - initially introduced as Kazuya’s equal and rival, he devolves into a joke character starting from Tekken 5 onwards - his sole goal is to become the toughest fighter in the universe, using the tournaments as his platform to fame, fortune and glory.

Combat Mechanics

Each game in the series (up until Tekken 6) uses four (4) action buttons. Each button is assigned to a different limb on each character’s body - Left Punch, Right Punch, Left Kick and Right Kick. Pressing both buttons on one side of each fighter’s body simultaneously (either LP+LK or RP+RK) will execute a basic throw, which can be useful to counter spamming opponents or an overzealous computer-controlled adversary. Blocking is accomplished automatically by simply backing away from your opponent like in Street Fighter 2 and the superb PC-exclusive One Must Fall: 2097, which I reviewed last year as an unofficial Christmas present to my readers. Generally, each fighter only has 2 outfits, determined by whether the player selects them by pressing a Punch or a Kick button. Pressing both Start and Select buttons together during gameplay quick-quits back to the main menu (most PS1 games have this shortcut).

Tekken 1 (Arcade - 1994, PlayStation - 1995)

The year is 1994... one small step for technology, but one giant leap for gaming.


This is the one that started the franchise, but it hasn’t aged very well, largely due to its minimalist cast of characters (who were considered cheap Virtua Fighter clones), barebones gameplay and slow pace. One of the PS1’s launch titles alongside the original Rayman, Ridge Racer and Battle Arena Toshinden, it is also one of the few games for the console to be released in a rare, collectible cardboard box with an inner sleeve, known as a digipak (I am the proud owner of one of these hard-to-find first edition copies).


OK, it's not Invade-a-Load, but it's a nice distraction while the game loads.


When the game boots up, you will be greeted by an arcade-perfect recreation of the original Galaga game, which you can play while Tekken loads in the background. This is nothing new, the technology goes back to 1987 with the Invade-a-Load minigame built within games coded with special turbo loaders (known then as fast loaders) for the Commodore 64 computers. However, Namco decided to trademark and patent this technology, depriving other companies of such a sweet pastime, but their usage was limited, making the trademark a bit of a waste of time. During this minigame, you can steer the ship by pressing Left and Right on the PS1 controller’s D-Pad (early PlayStation games were digital-only until the DualShock controller introduced the now-standard dual analog sticks, after which analog support became widely implemented). Pressing the Cross (X) button fires a single shot, while the Triangle button fires a 2-round burst. If you can complete this minigame by clearing all eight (8) stages and defeating all enemies, then you will unlock a special costume for Kazuya accessible by pressing Start when highlighting him on the character selection screen.


Wow, look at those realistic graphics (!)


After a brief but intriguing (if not exactly exciting) intro (which, unlike most cutscenes from today’s games, can be skipped if you wish), you are brought to the main menu.


This is all you get - no fancy modes, nothing exciting, 1 player, 2 players or tweak the game to your liking.


It’s not exactly enticing for the eyes but for a PS1 launch title, it does the job fairly well. Arcade Mode is self-explanatory; it lets you play through the arcade game, fighting off your opponents in order to reach the final boss (in this game, Heihachi Mishima) and become the King of Iron Fist. A brief FMV (Full Motion Video) cutscene will play upon your ultimate victory. 2P Play Mode allows you to play against a human opponent, while Test Mode (likely a holdover from its arcade genesis) allows you to tweak the game’s options to suit your tastes, view records and configure controls.


Fruit? What the hell? How am I supposed to know which fruit represents how many wins?


For the purpose of this game (and its two PS1 sequels), I will be playing with infinite time, a single round per fight and on the easiest difficulty setting (the computer-controlled AI is infamous in this game, although it does get toned back slightly in the sequels). You can choose whether to listen to the original arcade soundtrack or the newly-arranged and remixed score made specially for the PS1 release, which I prefer, and you can choose whether or not you can choose a different character if you are defeated and wish to continue (arcade mode only). Default options are highlighted in green. My character of choice in all three (3) games is Yoshimitsu.


HOLY FUCKING SHIT, THOSE FACES ARE PURE NIGHTMARE FUEL!!

Yes, believe it or not, this is what passed for state-of-the-art-cutting-edge 3D computer graphics back in 1995. The original arcade version actually animated the characters’ portraits along with the announcer stating their names when they were selected (and the question mark representing an unknown opponent was animated). The PS1 port is, sadly (or maybe thankfully), lacking these animations, instead opting for a flash of light when your character is chosen, and the question mark remains static.


Nota Bene: The initial characters seen here are the only ones who have FMV ending sequences, and the endings all have the same duration (approximately half a minute, so 30 seconds) and are all set to the exact same musical composition. If you play and complete the game with an unlockable character (I’ll explain later), then the game will skip straight to the closing credits - no ending. This phenomenon is unique to the first game, and in future chapters of the series, each character gets their own ending and/or unique music, all of varying length.


Pretty dull versus screen, especially when compared to Street Fighter 2 or Mortal Kombat.

5 seconds in and Yoshimitsu's already getting beaten... we're off to a rip-roaring start, aren't we (?)

Game Structure

The game is composed of nine (9) stages. Each stage involves a 1-on-1 duel with an opponent (the characters you didn’t choose). Upon reaching the penultimate (second-to-last) stage (Stage 8), the player will be pitted against a miniboss or a sub-boss, essentially that character’s main rival or adversary in the game’s story (see the table below).

Character

Miniboss/Sub-Boss

Yoshimitsu

Ganryu

Nina Williams

Anna Williams

Marshall Law

Wang Jinrei

Kazuya Mishima

Lee Chaolan

Paul Phoenix

Kuma

Jack

Prototype Jack

King

Armour King

Michelle Chang

Kunimitsu


Upon completing the game with the character in question, their rival will be unlocked as a playable character (playing as a sub-boss or miniboss will result in you fighting the other sub-bosses/minibosses and your Stage 8 rival will be one of the initial main characters, reversing the roles). Reaching the last stage (Stage 9), you will face off against the final boss, Heihachi Mishima (he can be unlocked by completing the game in under 5 1/2 minutes - 5:30:00 - in game time, without continuing, and his final boss is Kazuya). The game has a few annoying quirks, most notably is the fact that you can’t immediately get back up after being knocked down - you are forced to lie on the floor for a few seconds, making you vulnerable to attack (this also applies to your opponent), and every time a character jumps, the atmosphere seems to take an instantaneous reduction in gravity, as if the fighters are on the Moon.

Locations

Each fight takes place in a different real-world location, with its name visible in the lower right-hand corner of the screen (see the screenshot below). Each location also has its own unique theme tune, all but one (1) of which return for the sequel (the excluded location’s music actually exists in the game code and is on the soundtrack, implying it was meant to be used at some point during the second game’s development).


A brief tour of all the world locations in the game - the Stadium is based on the Chiba Marine Stadium in Chiba City, Japan.


This is excised from the second game onwards, which instead opt for nameless semi-generic and/or semi-sci-fi locations. Also unique to this first game is the ability to switch between 4 different camera angles when the fight begins. In the arcade version, this is accomplished by pressing the Start button, while in the PS1 port, the player presses the Select button on the controller. After five (5) seconds, the camera angle will be locked for the remainder of the bout. A nice feature, but ultimately useless, as its removal in the sequel shows.


That’s all there is for Tekken 1 - a decent start, but not where newcomers should begin - for collectors only.

Tekken 2 (Arcade - 1995, PlayStation - 1996)

Bigger, badder and better - the first real game in the series after a glorified tech demo.


With the success of the original game in both the arcade and console markets, a sequel was inevitable. Tekken 2 hit the arcades in June 1995 and was ported to the PS1 a year later in March 1996. It was everything the first game was and more - all characters now had their own unique moves instead of the sub-bosses/minibosses being palette swaps of the initial roster, and it began the trend of having additional gameplay modes to extend replay value and humorous joke characters to set it apart from its contemporaries.


This game is set 2 years after the first game, and Kazuya is now the chairman of the Mishima Zaibatsu, having beaten his father Heihachi in a bloody battle at the first tournament’s finale. His premiership is much more ruthless and cold-blooded compared to that of his father’s as he ventures into illegal animal experimentation, attracting the attention of animal rights activist Jun Kazama. One day, he receives word that Heihachi is still alive, and as such, declares the King of Iron Fist Tournament 2 in order to lure him out. The prize is an even larger sum of money than that of the first tournament, as well as command of the Mishima Zaibatsu. Heihachi takes the bait, and the die is cast…


A step up from the previous game's graphics - at least Yoshimitsu looks slightly less scary in this FMV intro.


The intro for this game is much more energetic and memorable than that of its predecessor, sporting an iconic theme tune that is fondly remembered among fans of the franchise. Again, this is skippable.


Much better-looking than the one for the first game - the bullshit "Test Mode" option is gone, for a start.


The main menu for this game actually employs a semi-3D “wraparound” effect, where it loops back to the first option seamlessly after scrolling through to the last one. The menu is normally a blank, black screen, but since I have unlocked everything (more on that later), I am rewarded with a blue and white light accompanied by a pair of glaring eyes belonging to the game’s new villain, Kazuya Mishima. The following options are available:


  • Arcade Mode - this is the standard mode of the game, where the player fights through the tournament in order to reach and defeat the final boss, and an FMV ending is your reward.

  • Versus Mode - 2-player 1-on-1 action, using the currently available characters.

  • Team Battle Mode - players can compete in teams of up to 8 characters each in an improvised mini-tournament - you can choose your team manually or press the Start button to have the computer choose random characters automatically.

  • Time Attack Mode - complete the game as fast as possible using the standard arcade criteria (best 2 out of 3 fights, medium/normal difficulty and 40 seconds per round).

  • Survival Mode - defeat as many opponents as you can with just one life.

  • Practice Mode - train and hone your fighting skills with a character of your choice.

  • Option Mode - customise the game’s options to your liking, save data (autosave becomes a standard feature from this game onwards), view records and configure controls.


Easy, Medium (or Normal) and Hard difficulty - just the way I like it. None of that "Very Hard" or "Ultra Hard" bullshit.


New to the series and introduced in this game is the concept of Guard Damage - this means that your character will take damage when guarding (or blocking) their opponent’s moves. Another new concept introduced here is Quick Select - this means that the character selection screen will be reduced to simply displaying the fighters’ mugshots instead of displaying their complete portraits. The gameplay modes in the upper right-hand corner indicate that the conditions set for the currently highlighted option only apply to the modes which are coloured in - it will not apply to those greyed out (for example: the difficulty level only applies to Arcade and Team Battle Modes - it does not apply for Versus, Time Attack, Survival or Practice Modes).


Much better-looking portraits - dare I say, attractive, even.


As with the first game, some sacrifices had to be made for the PS1 port, but the only compromise made for this screen was the exclusion of the announcer stating the selected character’s name, and the question mark representing an unknown opponent is now silver instead of golden.


Heh, heh, heh... fire, fire, fire!

That's a low blow, Yoshimitsu, especially when fighting against a holy man like King!

Game Structure

This game is now composed of ten (10) levels, and the sub-boss/miniboss “rival” fight occurs on the 8th level, while the last 2 levels consist of a fight against Kazuya and his Devil form respectively. The controls feel a million times smoother and the gameplay is faster-paced, although the lunar-jumping bullshit is still in effect. Thankfully, you can get back up much faster when knocked down, so that’s a plus. See the table below for sub-bosses/minibosses.

Character

Miniboss/Sub-Boss

Jun Kazama

Wang Jinrei

Yoshimitsu

Kunimitsu

Nina Williams

Anna Williams

Marshall Law

Baek Doo San

Heihachi Mishima

Lee Chaolan

Paul Phoenix

Kuma

Jack-2

Prototype Jack

King

Armour King

Michelle Chang

Ganryu

Lei Wulong

Bruce Irvin

Hidden Character

How to Unlock

Kazuya Mishima

Complete the game with a sub-boss/miniboss

Devil/Angel

Complete the game with Kazuya

Roger/Alex

Complete Stage 3 with less than 1/10 health left (the announcer will call out “Great!”) and then defeat Roger (or Alex) on Stage 4

Bloody hell, those eyes are actually quite scary.

You think it’s all done and dusted after Kazuya’s down? Think again…

Stop it, OK!? Are you trying to give me permanent nightmares?!


Nota Bene: Devil and Angel share the same character slot, as do Roger and Alex. To select Devil or Roger, press the Punch button, while pushing the Kick button will choose Angel or Alex - these characters, however, are mainly palette swaps, although they do serve a role in the game’s story, and they all have their own separate ending sequences.


Fun trivia: In this game (and its successors up until Tekken 4), you can hold down a different action button on the controller during the replay sequence at the end of a fight in order to get a different victory animation.


A brief tour of Yoshimitsu's rise to victory in not-real-world-locations.

Tekken 2 marks a turning point in the series, as this would be the last game to feature most of the original fighters, although a few would return in later games - the semi-realistic atmosphere would also begin to take a back seat starting from the next game onwards before turning into a poorly executed anime from the 5th game onwards (the last good game in the series in my humble opinion). The game’s additional modes and smoother control scheme made it a far superior experience and a surprisingly improved sequel over its predecessor, which was little more than a playable technical demonstration.

Tekken 3 (Arcade - 1996, PlayStation - 1997/98)

Oh. Fuck. Yes. The ultimate King of Iron Fist Tournament experience.


There was no doubt by this point that Tekken was a massive success, and Namco’s future in the fighting game community was secured. However, not content to rest on their laurels, they pulled out all the stops for what would be the most widely anticipated 3D arcade fighter in the world - the phenomenally iconic and often-imitated-but-never-surpassed Tekken 3, which hit the arcades in 1996 and blew everyone away with its even smoother controls and slicker graphics before getting a PS1 port in Japan a year later in 1997, with a Western release a few months later in 1998. Tekken 3 was THE definitive game in the series and a must-own for any PS1 owner alongside Final Fantasy 7, Soul Blade (or Soul Edge in Japan), Spyro the Dragon and Metal Gear Solid.


Yoshimitsu the Jedi Master - wow, Namco really like making him look less human with each new game, don't they?


The intro for this one is possibly the coolest one yet and gets the adrenaline surging pretty damn quickly and effectively. In terms of plot, this game takes place 20 years after the events of Tekken 2, and most of the original fighters have been replaced by a new crew of combatants, as if it were meant to be Tekken: The Next Generation. As with the previous game, this intro is skippable if you wish.


Once again, fate brings together those who heed the call…


Much better-looking menu, complete with new, cool sound effects.

The main menu for this game is improved over the previous one - it actually scrolls through each option seamlessly with a clear highlighter, and the logo is evocative of the typical mid-to-late 1990s mentality of “extreme” sports. This truly is a Sequel with a Capital S. All the gameplay modes from Tekken 2 return, with some new additions:


  • Tekken Ball Mode - play volleyball with your fighter’s moves (I’ll explain later).
  • Tekken Force Mode - a single-player 4-part beat-em-up minigame inspired by games such as Streets of Rage and Final Fight (I’ll explain later).
  • Theatre Mode - view the intro and ending cutscenes as well as listen to the in-game music.


To begin with, Tekken Ball and Theatre Modes are unavailable and must be unlocked (again, I’ll explain later), but Tekken Force Mode is playable from the start, which we’ll get into once I’ve covered the main game.


New game, new modes, new features!


This game introduces a useful feature that would become standard in all future chapters of the series - Select Cursor Hold. This means that the cursor will remain on the last chosen character instead of resetting to its default position upon starting a new game. This can be useful when practicing with a certain character, or if you’re lazy and just want to use the same fighter over and over again. Gone is the 2-player victory counter mechanic (number or fruit) as it was deemed pointless - instead, all victories in Versus Mode are recorded as numbers (makes it easier to read). The music has had a slight renaming - previously known as Original and Arranged, you can now choose between the Arcade and Remixed soundtrack respectively. This would be the last game in the series to offer the option between the original arcade score and the console-exclusive remixed editions, as all future titles would only have a single soundtrack for both arcade and console releases alike.


This took a long time to obtain and unlock - a VERY long time. Portraits and mugshots are a step down, though.


You know the routine by now - choose a character with either a Punch or Kick button to determine their outfit and get stuck in (some characters have an unlockable third outfit, accessible by pressing the Triangle button once it’s been unlocked - namely Gun Jack, Forest Law, Jin Kazama, Ling Xiaoyu and Anna Williams). Kuma and Panda share the same slot - pressing a Punch button will select Kuma, while a Kick button will choose Panda - they both share the same ending sequence, although Panda’s is slightly longer (Yoshimitsu and Doctor Bosconovitch also share the same ending sequence, while Gun Jack has to have his “good” ending unlocked). The countdown timer is normally yellow, but here it’s red to indicate everything has been successfully unlocked.


Jesus, Yoshimitsu, why so pissed? Did someone steal your cans of Sakuma drops?


Aha - I suspected as much! Now Paul's going to pay for stealing my hard candy!

Game Structure and Changes

Starting with this game, the idea of subbosses and minibosses have been dropped, meaning that additional characters are no longer unlocked depending on which character is used to complete the game. Instead, characters are unlocked (for the most part) depending on how many times the player completes Arcade Mode - this method would be carried over into the series’ successors on the PS2 - Tekken Tag Tournament, Tekken 4 and Tekken 5. One major improvement is that the jump physics have now been corrected to act more realistically - no more moon jumps. Like its predecessor, the player has 10 matches to win before receiving their reward in the form of an FMV cutscene (the final boss must be defeated twice, a holdover from the original arcade version). See the table below on which characters can be unlocked in this way (I recommend using a different character for each playthrough until this is accomplished - this will also unlock Theatre Mode):

Character

Complete Arcade Mode This Many Times

Kuma/Panda

1

Julia Chang

2

Gun Jack

3

Mokujin (Wooden Man)

4

Anna Williams

5

Bryan Fury

6

Heihachi Mishima

7

Ogre

8

True Ogre

9

Tiger Jackson (Eddy Gordo palette swap)

16

The table below also shows you how to unlock certain characters’ hidden third outfits.

Character

3rd Outfit (Press Triangle to Select)

Consecutive Versus Mode Victories With This Character

Gun Jack

Tank top and combat pants (Tekken 2 outfit)

10

Anna Williams

Black and white zebra fur outfit

25

Jin Kazama

High school uniform

50

Ling Xiaoyu

Same as Jin’s

50


Gun Jack’s “good” ending needs to be unlocked by beating Arcade Mode with him twice in a row. Unlocking Jin and Xiaoyu’s third costumes also unlocks a hidden high school stage. Forest Law’s hidden third outfit resembles Bruce Lee’s iconic costume in his unfinished 1973 film Game of Death, and can be unlocked by completing Arcade Mode with him followed by clearing the game again with Paul Phoenix.


Yoshimitsu's revenge - nobody steals his hard candy... and lives.

Tekken Ball Mode

The fun’s not over yet - Tekken Ball Mode is as fun as it sounds, consisting of a 1-on-1 game of volleyball where the players use their fighting moves to propel the ball into their opponent’s end of the court, set on a seemingly endless beach. Select from one of three different types of ball - Beach Ball (soft and playful), Gum Ball (medium strength and cruelty) and Iron Ball (hard as diamond designed to cause maximum injury) - and have fun!


Three levels of pain: "Ow!", "OW!!" and "OW, YOU BROKE MY NOSE, YOU FUCKING NUTCASE!!"


Looks like "playing nice" isn't in these fighters' vocabularies.


The numbers represent damage dealt as a percentage (each character starts out with 100% health), while the indicators at the bottom of the screen are the players’ “damage amplifiers”. These bars can be filled up by striking the ball (the bar will flash when doing so and the ball will be on fire and/or electrical). If your opponent blocks a potentially painful move, then your “damage charge” will be retained and stored until a successful contact is made. The greater the charge, the greater the damage dealt on your opponent.


This mode can be unlocked by completing Arcade Mode 9 times and unlocking True Ogre as a playable character.

Tekken Force Mode

This is a fun mode where the players select a character of their choice and go through 4 levels of beat-em-up fun, taking on the eponymous Tekken Force (the Mishima Zaibatsu’s private military company or PMC). Each level culminates in a boss fight depending on the character chosen with the final boss being Heihachi Mishima. All bosses (except Heihachi) have a countdown timer above their heads - if you can defeat them before that timer expires, then you will be awarded extra bonus time to carry over into the next level (it will be added to your current time limit). This mode would reappear in the PS2 port of Tekken 4 and ultimately develop into a full-3D action-adventure minigame entitled Devil Within for the PS2 release of Tekken 5 (which also includes the arcade versions of the original trilogy, in addition to an unlockable version of Namco’s arcade FPS/rail shooter Starblade).

The Backstreets, the Badlands, Darkness and finally, the Mishima Fortress.

As you can see, all the regular nonboss enemies are named after birds, and defeating them gives the player a few seconds of extra time, depending on the enemy type (weaker enemies give only 2 seconds, while stronger ones give up to 8 seconds of additional time). A progress indicator is visible at the bottom, divided into quarters (one for each stage) - however, because this mode is so short (it can be completed in under 5 minutes if you’re skilled enough), it does feel slightly futile, but it’s still nice to have. Health can be replenished by eating roast chicken, which is randomly scattered around each stage. This mode is where Doctor Bosconovitch (Yoshimitsu’s friend since Tekken 2) can be unlocked. To do so, you must complete this mode 3 times to get 3 keys (bronze, silver and gold). Upon completing this mode for the 4th time, the player will face off against the good doctor in a dark lab-like arena - defeat him to unlock him along with his underground laboratory stage.


Once you’ve rescued the doctor, there is one last, final character left to unlock in the form of a guest character called Gon, a dwarf dinosaur approximately 20 cm (8”) tall and the star of a popular manga series in Japan, created by Mashashi Tanaka. To unlock Gon, you must beat him in either Arcade or Tekken Ball Mode (he will appear as your first opponent in the latter mode when playing it for the very first time). Alternatively, get a high enough score in Survival Mode and enter your name as GON. Gon is fireproof, acts like a miniature dragon and communicates in primal grunts and shrieks, and his ending sequence loops infinitely until a button is pressed to terminate it. Gon’s inclusion is largely the main reason why Tekken 3 has not been rereleased or reissued, as the legal rights to the character are not owned by Namco.

Review of the Trilogy

This review is going to be slightly different, as I cannot compare the various aspects (graphics, sound, controls, gameplay) of 3D games in the same way as 2D ones, particularly when I am dealing with three games in the same franchise which all build upon each other. Instead, I will give each element a score out of 5 stars and calculate the average based on the overall score for each game, before declaring one game the ultimate victor.

Presentation

Tekken 1: 3/5 (barebones content and ugly color palette - little to unlock and no extra endings)

Tekken 2: 4/5 (slight improvement, plus more to unlock)

Tekken 3: 5/5 (chock-full of features and eye candy)

Graphics

Tekken 1: 2.5/5 (scaled down arcade graphics, and it shows)

Tekken 2: 3.5/5 (arcade perfect)

Tekken 3: 4/5 (PS1 version is missing the arcade version’s 3D backgrounds)

Sound (SFX & Music)

Tekken 1: 4/5 (memorable music and decent sound effects)

Tekken 2: 4/5 (same as the first game with some improvements in sound design and new music)

Tekken 3: 3/5 (sound design takes a big hit in quality here and the music isn’t as memorable)

Controls

Tekken 1: 2.5/5 (sluggish and barely responsive unlike the arcade version’s silky smooth inputs)

Tekken 2: 4/5 (faster but still not instantaneous)

Tekken 3: 5/5 (just right - arcade perfect)

Gameplay

Tekken 1: 3/5 (basic moves, throws, blocks - nothing fancy)

Tekken 2: 4/5 (some new moves are added and unlockable characters are no longer palette swaps)

Tekken 3: 4/5 (characters can sidestep and roll on the Z-axis now - only useful for some moves)

Final Score

Tekken 1: 3/5 (avoid unless you’re a collector or diehard fan)

Tekken 2: 3.9/5 (pick up this one if you don’t know where to start)

Tekken 3: 4.2/5 (once you play this one, you’ll likely never go back to the other games again)

Overall

The original Tekken trilogy for the PS1 is not without merit. It has its many fans, mainly those who grew up with these games, but also those who have a fondness for fighting games and may be interested in how the genre evolved from its arcade coin-operated genesis from simple 2D sprites to fully 3D polygons and near-lifelike animations. If I have to pick just one single game, then the winner is clearly Tekken 3. It takes the elements from the first two games and polishes them while adding in some new features of its own and including a whole plethora of unlockable extras, and the additional gameplay modes really increase the longevity and replay value. As a bonus, when everything is unlocked (the save file will contain the text “New battles await!!” and the countdown timer on the character selection screen will be red instead of yellow to confirm this), you will be able to listen to the music and view the FMV cutscenes from the earlier games - in a pre-YouTube world, this was a Godsend, and the Theatre Mode has been a standard feature in the series from this game onwards. Tekken 3 is a must-own and a classic for all players.