If you’re a fan of fighting games, odds are pretty good that you’ve been counting down the days for the release of the latest addition to the Namco Bandai’s hit Tekken series. Well, the wait is over and registration has opened up for fighters around the world to compete in yet another Iron Fist Tournament. However, at a time when PSP owners have so many marquee titles slated for release, the real question is whether or not the Tekken franchise still packs enough of kick to spark their interests. After spending some time getting black and blue with Tekken 6, it looks like Namco has landed a knockout punch.
One of the first things you’ll notice about Tekken 6 is the game’s massive cast of fighters. Right off the bat, you’ve got access to 40 different fighters from throughout the history of the franchise with which to get in some head-to-head action. Series mainstays, such as Nina Williams and Yoshimitsu, join offbeat fan favorites, such as the boxing kangaroo, Roger (well, Roger, Jr. in this go ’round), and the wooden fighting dummy, Mokujin. Joining the Iron Fist Tournament for Tekken 6 are six new fighters, four of which (Bob, Leo, Miguel, and Zafina) debuted on the initial arcade version of the game, while the other two (Lars and Alisa) first appeared on the “Blood Rebellion” expansion added later to Tekken 6.
What makes the diversity in the Tekken 6 cast all the more impressive is that it isn’t just a case of tossing new models into the game with the same old moves. Instead, playing each of the game’s 40 characters genuinely feels like a unique experience—no two characters play the same. One of my personal favorites is the android Alisa. Sprouting wing-like boosters from her back and chainsaws from her wrists, Alisa is unlike just about anything that’s been in the Tekken series before. In what has to be one of the most hilarious moves in the franchise’s history, Alisa can even take off her head and give it to her opponent…before it blows up in their hands.
One of the Tekken’s biggest draws has always been that its accessibility, regardless of your skill level. Whether it was the first time you’ve ever played a fighting game or it was just another notch in your extensive fighting-game prowess, you could pick up a controller and get into the action. Things aren’t any different in Tekken 6. While the simplicity of the game’s controls will keep newcomers from getting frustrated, there’s still a surprising amount of depth in the fighting system. Punches, kicks, throws, grabs, blocks…button mashing will only get you so far in Tekken, but to really excel, you’re going to need to pick a character and learn all of the nuances of his or her fighting style. Tekken is a game in which you’ll live and die by your use of combos.
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