Tekken Hybrid


Written by Chris Price
12 Monday 12th December 2011

Or (the cynic within in me might say) just in time to remind people of its existence, before the onslaught of the Tekken x Street Fighter and vice-versa combo release. Though Street Fighter 4 has seen two solus releases (and two outings for the Capcom heroes bundled with Marvel ones) all has been quiet on the Tekken front. While the original was an integer between the numerical releases of 3 and 4, travelling off at a tangent allowing to play teams of characters, rather than one at a time, the more casual players will likely be left scratching their heads.

Tekken 4 and 5 endorsed the franchise's high general level of quality, with 6 smoothing characters and a 60FPS motion blur that is continued into the demo of Tekken Tag 2. Additionally, Tag 2 keeps the ability to bounce opponents off the ground. plus the ability to facilitate a double team attack on an unfortunate opponent from the original. Characters on offer are certainly not what I would call my favourites (King, Hwoarang or Dragunov): long time rivals Jin Kazama and Kazuya Mishima (both in full on devil-powered variation) and two ladies - plucky Chinese student Ling Xiaoyu, humanoid hostess Alisa Bosconovitch (I sense a certain degree of excitement in certain male circles of Japanese society about technological advancements of this kind).

The Devil characters I’ve never really liked, just due to Tekken’s increased interest in attaching too much dangly shit to their player models – yet Alisa’s speed and juggling combos work well against Xiaoyu’s driving strikes. Both Kazama and Kazuya prove slightly cumbersome, yet familiar. As a whole Tekken Tag 2 is shaping up nicely.

This seems odd as it’s a third of a retail package, which one could argue would be quite happy sitting on the PSN alongside PSP downloads of Dark Resurrection. The next tranche of the package is riding the crest of the wave for recent successful HD upgrades for PS2-era games. But Tekken Tag is really looking its age – even in taking the PS2 version rather than the 32-bit coded arcade version (which now looks positively archaic) as its blueprint, no amount of spit and polish can stop the game from playing – and feeling – like old Tekken. Tekken Tag shows little of the speed and flexibility displayed within releases from 2004 onwards and shows how far the franchise has tweaked the original formula away from similar genre property like Dead Or Alive, Soul Calibur and Virtua Fighter. It’s stiffer, reminiscent of the likes of AM2 games like Last Bronx, and will suit many, but for me the play feels heavier – but still with that crunching Tekken impact.

The tag element seems like a fluffy aside to crowbar in a element of strategy, with one team-mate recovering energy when tagged out and energy bursts when tagged in at the correct moment – plus the impact of a tag-team manoeuvre on the unfortunate recipient. But I’ve always admonished this – the fighter is the realm of mastery of the individual, going toe-to-toe with another master. While the Marvel vs. Capcom series has seen this embedded at the very core of its dynamic, it still turns a fight into a scuffle – changing the timing and grace of movement and input into a frantic button-mashing scramble against inertia.

Perhaps this is a personal criticism, but Tekken Tag no longer has the freedom of personalisation of the fighting game – perhaps we’ve been gifted way too much in the recent years, but having piled many, many hours into 5, 6 and Dark Resurrection, I can’t help but sense the casual gamer will come away feeling short-changed. Talking of which, more bizarre is the inclusion of the abhorrent Tekken: Blood Vengeance movie, which would’ve felt better value if it hadn’t been included. Essentially, an elongated introduction sequence, relying heavily on your knowledge of the series to elicit any person investment in the characters. It’s an indulgence on behalf of the animators of the kinetic fight scenes – it’s just a shame they had to bulk it out with an hour of ‘story’.

So yes, Tekken Hybrid – in summary – is going to be an acquired taste. For some, it’ll be a nostalgic love-in, recreating symbolic muscle-memory inputs. For others, it’ll be a required purchase if providing nothing more than completion to what is (probably) already a weighty Tekken collection. But on the flipside, it could be wonky meal – a promising yet expensive h’ors d’oeuvre demo, a reheated high-def main, and a shitty film as dessert. Chances are you’ll already know if you require Tekken Hybrid – if you’re unsure, it’d be a good a idea re-acquaint yourself with early PS2 era-graphics – and check that rose-tinted memories of gaming past don’t deliver an unexpected shock.


Tekken Hybrid is out now on Playstation 3

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