Tekken Hybrid – Preview

I love fighters. As far as I’m concerned, fighters account for some of the best games that have graced console gamers over the years. From the retrofied goodness of the Street Fighter series to the innovative (and predictably mental) hand-drawn sprites of the BlazBlue series, every fighter I’ve played has stuck in my head for some reason or another, and they’re mostly positive.  One of the most memorable games for me is Tekken Tag Tournament. It was the very first game I got for my PS2 (oh so many years ago) and I have very fond memories of sitting there with my cousin, slowly embedding all the characters movesets into my increasingly wonderstruck brain.

I had played Tekken 3 before this, and it had a similar effect on me. (NB: My parents, sensibly, had given me an hour time limit per play on Tekken 3, because as an impressionable young whelp, I often thought I was King and would try to DDT my sister.) A similar embargo was enacted upon me for Tekken Tag Tournament – I was allowed only an hour at a time. Hence, I became very adept at maximising this timeframe – I could roll through the Arcade mode in minutes, unlock a character, then move onto the Team Battles or the controversial Tekken Bowl (not the silly iPad version that tarnishes the name.)

Being a retrospective fanboy, when I clocked the Tekken Hybrid stand at the Eurogamer Expo in Earl’s Court, three things happened to me: firstly, I was overcome with a childish sense of utter joy, secondly, I almost wet myself – and, thirdly – I felt fear. Vast, hungry fear. “What if this ruins Tekken for me?” I asked fellow GL writer Ed Price, before realising he had wondered off to the Saints Row The Third booth. Again.

I was on my own, left only with my original impressions of the game and a queue full of hustling challengers. A place opened up at one of the booths, and I sat down, pad in hand, playing by the ad-hoc winner stays on rules. The very first thing I noticed about Tekken Tag Tournament HD was the roster. It was there, in all its original glory. For fanboys like me, this is such a big issue – being able to play as Kunimitsu after about eight years? Perfection. Then there were all the old favourites – Ogre, True Ogre, Jin (with his old moveset), Jun and Gun Jack/P. Jack. This alone was worth remaking the game for.  Nine out of ten people playing the game instantly selected these characters from the roster – that is a testament to how popular these shelved characters are. Currently, Kunimitsu hasn’t been announced for TTT2, but Ogre and True Ogre have (and will feature as sub-bosses). Here’s hoping that, when the full game comes out, Kunimitsu will be announced either as a downloadable pre-order bonus or as DLC – I imagine the thought of her rubbing shoulders with the likes of Dragunov, Leo and Alisa will get many Tekken fans rather excited.

Technically, the game is exactly as I remember it and this is no bad thing. The graphics don’t actually seem any different to me – this is a HD port, and that’s all it is. It is the same game, with the same mechanics, the same soundtrack and the same amazing gameplay. If you’re new to the franchise, this will be a nice place to go back to and see the game before it evolved into what it is now – with all its customization and its fancy (read: silly) gimmicks.

The other side of the Tekken booth was a demo build of the new Tekken Tag Tournament. Amongst the people bumbling about the booth, there was confusion as to what the game was actually called – Tekken Hybrid was above the booth, which is the collective name the Tag Tournament games (they’re being released in a pair). This build was dubbed Tekken Tag Tournament Prologue, but whatever the final name will be when it’s released, it looks utterly stunning.

The demo build only let you play as Xiaoyu, Alisa, Devil Jin and Kazuya/Devil. I had two bouts on the game (so, six rounds) and played with each of the characters in a tag team. Their move lists seem very similar to what they had in Tekken 6 – I could tell almost no difference in the way they played. What is different is the sprites – the physical avatars of the characters. Devil Jin and Devil Kazuya have been reimagined (probably evolved or something, because the canon of the story seems to be maturing rather rapidly) and they now resemble something that looks like Asura’s Wrath met some silly boss demon from Bayonetta. Think typical Japanese demon boss battle, infused with each character’s trademark physical appearance (Jin’s demon avatar has red gauntlets meshed into his flesh, running up his arms). They are stunningly brought to life with a new graphics engine that makes Tekken looks as good as it deserves to be. I played one of my bouts in the Schoolyard level which, coincidentally, was playing alongside the Schoolyard level from the original game.

Using this side-by-side screen comparison opportunity, it was clear to see that Tekken has come a long way in ten years. Even the non-explicit items and characters in the background are rendered in fantastic detail – the cheering and dancing schoolgirls (what did you expect?) looked as well-done as the central characters. Alisa and Xiaoyu were…. erm… jiggly, as you’d expect, and I think Namco have devoted an entire engine to making sure you get an upskirt shot of their panties at every opportunity. Regardless of this softcore voyeurism, the girls looked good.  The old Tekken graphics made everything look a bit too shiny, but now they’ve got the textures right – the cotton on Alisa’s petticoat actually looked like cotton, rather than some bastardized mix of latex and silk.

There has been a precious lack of Tekken coverage of late, and there were no reps around the booth to talk to about the games. As there is no new information regarding the Tekken X Street Fighter game forthcoming, this is the closest we’re going to get to a new Tekken release for a long time (Street Fighter X Tekken doesn’t count – it uses the Street Fighter engine and just has Tekken pinned on).  After having some hands-on time with both TTTs, I have been reminded of how much I love this series. We are still waiting for confirmation on console release dates for the Hybrid game, but estimates reckon it’ll come out Spring 2012, and it will contain the original TTT in HD, the demo version of TTT2 and a new Tekken CG 3D movie, and will be a PS3 exclusive.

I for one can’t wait – it’s nice to see Namco (finally) indulging in some positive fan service.

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  1. Richie richie says:

    Glad you liked it but Tekken and I are done for the foreseeable. I was surprised at how bad the graphics were on this. They seemed too flat, too smooth. I honestly thought the ‘Hybrid’ name must have meant some sort of crossover playability with the PSP because of the plain graphics. They even kept the dodgy parallax from the original TTT.

    Tons of characters though. Then again, Tekken 6 had all the characters you can eat and I always prefer 1v1 rather than tag battles.

    Not a must buy for me.

    Then again, I don’t own a PS3 so shut the fuck up Richie.

  2. Ben Ben says:

    Memories of: “Yoshmitsu – round house kick – sword stab – KO”.

    That’s the last time I really played Tekken, fighting games just haven’t evolved enough over time to keep me interested sadly.

  3. Edward Edward says:

    I think it’s Hybrid because it’s also being packed in with a CG Movie, but I can’t remember if that’s the case or not. Otherwise, my favourite part was this one:

    “What if this ruins Tekken for me?” I asked fellow GL writer Ed Price, before realising he had wondered off to the Saints Row The Third booth. Again.

    Story of my Eurogamer. Especially if you add in all the times I ran off to go play Hard Lines, too.

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