Inside Pulse 12

Review: Tekken 6 (Sony PSP)

tekken6coverTekken 6
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: Namco Bandai
Genre: Fighting
Release Date: 11/24/2009

If you’ve ever read a review for a portable fighting game I’ve written, then you’ve seen me mention Tekken Dark Resurrection. There’s a reason for that. TDR is the standard for portable fighters in terms of content, playability, and presentation. It was one of the first games I purchased for my PSP and it hasn’t left my travel case sense. Basically, if I want to play a fighting game when I’m out on the road, I break out Tekken.

You can imagine how stoked I was when they announced that Tekken 6 was getting a release on the PSP as well as on the PS3 and Xbox 360. A followup to one of my favorite PSP games? Sign me up!

Then I had to wait an extra month or so for the PSP version to come out. That was an entire month of hearing how awesome Tekken 6 was and not being able to play it.

Finally, my time has come. Can Tekken 6 on the PSP possibly live up to the standards set by its predecessor, or is this another disaster for Namco akin to that of Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny?

Modes

Things are a little different this time around, both in what’s offered and how things are structured.

First up is Arcade Battle. Unlike the last installment, this has nothing to do with the story battles. Instead, you’ll fight through a predetermined course of fighters and bosses, including the bonus fight against the giant robot NANCY and a bout against the end boss Azazel. These fights will affect your win-loss records for whatever character you use. While this is fine for battles against the regular Tekken cast, but when you get a loss for fighting NANCY (who I’m convinced can’t be beaten), things are a little messed up. This is essentially a challenge mode and what Story Battle should have been.

Story Battle is also changed. You only have to fight four different opponents to unlock each character’s endings. You usually get two opponents that mean something to the character you’ve chose to start off with. For instance, you’ll need to fight Bryan if you use Yoshimitsu. In previous Tekken games, there’d at least be some dialogue in these sections pertaining to the plot, but not this time. After those battles, you’ll fight Jin, who is properly titled as the King of Iron Fist. If you can beat him, its off to fight the ridiculously powerful Azazel. Defeating him unlocks both the prologue and ending for whichever character you used. The endings range from action packed sequences detailing how cool the character is to outright slapstick comedy. Most of them are just too cool. I couldn’t stop laughing after beating the mode with Ganryu. Overall, its nice that the road to the endings isn’t so long, but the lack of any plot in between the prologue and epilogue is a bit disheartening. The characters aren’t given as much room to shine as they usually are.

tekken61Ghost Battle is the game’s best mode by far. It is essentially what Arcade Mode was in TDR. You pick a fighter and battle ranked opponents in order to improve your rank. You get to chose between three different opponent’s between rounds, and unlike in Soul Calibur, you can see what fighter is going to be used. The mode tailors itself to your choices. If you chose to fight strong opponents, then you’ll be given stronger choices next time around. If you chose a weakling, the playing field gets a bit more manageable. The game keeps track of your wins and losses with each character, as well what rank they are. You can save a ghost of yourself to share with a friend, as well as fight against their ghosts. Sadly, this mode is strictly offline this time around.

Challenge Battle is where you’ll find Time Attack and Survival. Time Attack gives you the same battles you fought in Arcade Battle, but now your goal is to have the best time. For some reason, this also affects your win/loss ratio as well, which is just confusing to me. Survival doesn’t affect this ratio, but instead sets you up against and endless number of opponents with only one life bar to use. You recover a small amount of life between each round, but once you’ve lost, it’s over. Challenge Battle also has the amusing Gold Rush mode. Here, all you need to do is used varied attacks and take as little damage as possible in order to beat gold out of an opponent. The gold is used to customize your characters with new clothing and accessory items. There is a decent amount of stuff to buy, but it isn’t quite as good as one would hope. Still, you can make an interesting looking outfit for just about any character.

Beyond that, there’s a well designed practice mode that allows you to set up the parameters to your liking. You can select what the enemy does, how strong he is, and even designate specific combos to use. Basically, if you’re getting rocked by Jin on a regular basis, this is a great place to learn how to counter his best moves. Much like in SC, this is one of the game’s best features. You also have Network Battle, which is where you can fight friends over an Ad-Hoc connection. Sadly, there’s no online functionality to speak of this time. Nor is there an option for game sharing, a feature that was included in TDR. Even still, if you have a buddy to play with, this is essential.

Overall, the modes are a solid bunch that should give players plenty to do. There are several modes that didn’t make the cut from TDR, but I’ll cover those later. This would be a pretty darn good selection if not for the fact that you have to fight Azazel in all but Survival, Gold Rush, and Ghost Battle. I’ll get to him later as well, but suffice it to say it will greatly affect what modes you end up playing the most.

Graphics

As always, these guys know how to get the most out of the PSP hardware. The graphics are downright beautiful.

For one, the character models move and interact with a fluidity of motion practically unseen on the PSP. Only Broken Destiny has better models as far as I’m concerned, at that’s only because that’s where all of the focus went. Despite that, I’d call the models in Tekken 6 more impressive because there are forty of them and they all look fantastic.

tekken62The backgrounds are practically a piece of art. Though there’s the odd level that doesn’t look right, (There’s one where what appear to be cardboard cut outs of sheep are being rotated in the background.) most of the them are gorgeous. In particular, my favorite level has to be the one where you’re fighting in a plaza with fountains going off around you. To further add to the effect, they’re the kind of fountains that are lit up from below. Its almost as much fun to watch as it is to play.

Basically, this is one of the best looking games on the system, bar none.

Audio

By now everyone is used to the vibing techno beats of the Tekken series. While there are plenty of new tracks, they definitely have a familiar feel to them. That’s not a bad thing though. The music somehow fits the action on screen perfectly. In effect, it supplements the experience to make it that much more engrossing. You’d even find yourself bopping along to it if you weren’t too busy trying to land that ten hit combo.

I really appreciate the authenticity the game delivers with its voice acting. American characters such as Paul or Bob speak English. The Mishima family all speaks Japanese. Even the bear makes the appropriate sounds. One of the nicest touches is that Miguel, who technically speaks English, is given subtitles due to his heavy accent. More than just authentic, the voice acting is of a high degree of quality as well, making it enjoyable to listen to.

One thing that series veterans will notice is that there is a new announcer this year. They also added a bit of reverb to the proceedings to make it have just a tad more “oomph”. Oddly enough though, they kept the original guy’s voice for when he says “fight.”

Much akin to the visual side of the presentation, the sound design is simply top notch. From the crunching of bones to the roar of King as he charges forward, this is one game where the sound is essential to you getting the most out of the game.

Gameplay

The Tekken formula really hasn’t seen all that much change since the series started more than a decade ago. Two fighters square off until one wins a set number of rounds. Each of the face buttons corresponds to a limb, and different moves will be performed depending on which direction you push as well. Attacks can be strung together in combos and each character has special moves or attack stances unique to them. As always, throwing your opponents is an option. All told, each of the forty plus characters has a full list of moves and combos representing a great number of fighting styles. From Tae Kwon Do to Luchadore wrestling, chances are you’ll find someone to suit you’re style.

The name of the game is avoiding your opponent’s attacks so you can land combos of your own. With the new bound system, you can juggle opponents and then smash them into the ground to continue the hurt. Follow through is important. If you blow an opponent away with an attack and then let them get up, they might just turn the tides in their favor.

The controls are noticeably tighter then they were before. There is still some lag when using the PSP’s less than ideal D-Pad, but it isn’t nearly as bad as before.

There are a couple of new additions worth mentioning as well. First, Tekken has borrowed a popular idea from games like Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe. In some levels, you can send an opponent through the floor with a well timed attack. Also, when a fighter’s life bar gets low enough, they will enter “rage mode”. While raged, attacks do more damage, so comebacks are much more possible now. This adds a new layer of strategy into the game in that you’ll need to figure out how to finish off an opponent before they can take advantage of this boost.

One thing that has to be mentioned is the game’s boss, Azazel. He is truly one of the most disgusting final bosses I’ve ever seen in any game. Not only is he taller than the screen, but he seems to be immune to the basic rules of the game. He can block while in the middle of an attack. He can teleport instantly from a prone position into one his stronger attacks. Almost all of his attacks throw you across the screen, and almost all of his attacks hit all of the way across the screen. Basically, you have to unlearn everything you’ve learned about how to play the game. Charging forward always gets you hit. Combos don’t work because he can land attacks even when you’re in the middle of a successful combo. God help you if you try and press the advantage if you manage to knock him down. He’ll just teleport and knock you out. The only way to beat him is to exploit AI problems and spam certain attacks with each character. He essentially kills your interest in the game for every mode he’s in. Story Battle, which should take no longer than a few minutes because there are only four battles, can be doubled in length because of how many times this son of a bitch will cheat you out of victory. I’ve had everyone who’s tried the game get pissed because of him. Jinpanchi from Tekken 5 had some cheap attacks, but he was beatable. Azazel, on the other hand, will tick you off on even the easiest difficulty levels.

Beyond that unsightly bit, the gameplay is pretty fantastic. There are just enough changes in terms of new content and tweaks to the character’s move lists (not to mention the six new characters.) that it manages to feel fresh. The great thing about Tekken is that it is accessible to newcomers and deep for veterans. That holds true.

Replaybility

There are two sides to this coin.

First, there is technically a ton of content on the disc. With all of the game modes to play, you’ll always have something to do. There are just a hair over forty characters to use as well, so you always have someone new to master. Earning ranks in Ghost Battle can suck hours and hours out of your time, as well as learning the nuances of each character in practice mode. The endings are simply a joy to watch and easily worth the frustration of fighting Azazel a good forty times to watch. (Oddly enough, you can’t buy endings like you could in previous installments, and like in the console versions of Tekken 6 if I remember correctly.)

tekken63And that’s the thing right there. Azazel simply makes a good number of modes undesirable when you’re looking for something fun to play. Time Attack and Arcade Battle affect your rank, so losing to the big boss over and over again is a good way to sink your percentages. That’s no good. Playing through the stories a second time is simply not worth it. When you look at things, you’re main options are Ghost Battle, practice, Survival, Gold Rush, and the multiplayer if you can find someone to fight against.

Despite that, there are at least plenty of options to chose from. Look at Soul Calibur. There were only two viable modes, and at least here you have a handful. Also, there are more than twice the number of playable characters in this game.

In the end, the amount of playable content isn’t quite going to stack up compared to TDR, but there’s still a decent amount for this game to keep it in your PSP for quite a while. I’ve already surpassed the total amount of hours I spent on Broken Destiny.

Balance

If you’re not counting Azazel and NANCY, this game is quite balanced. You can tweak the difficulty, number of rounds, and time limit to your liking, as well as assign button combinations to the shoulder buttons. Basically, anyone can find a setting and customize the game to their liking. There are certain characters that are easier to pull off combos with, but they’re no stronger as long as you know what you’re doing. That being said, fighting against any of the Capoeira fighters still feel annoying

I hate to be a broken record about this, but Azazel really tips the scales as far as balance. You will suffer some cheap losses no matter how good you are at the game. I’ve mastered characters such as Bob and Bryan, but I still can’t get a win half of the time. It’s a huge blight on an otherwise exceptionally polished game.

Originality

The bound system, rage, and destructible levels are all new to the Tekken series, but they aren’t really new to fighting games as a whole. This is especially true if you’re counting wrestling and MMA games. Still, it’s nice to see they’re trying a few new things with the formula to try and keep it fresh and modern.

The PSP version doesn’t have the well received 3D brawler mode that the console versions do, so it definitely misses out in that department. In fact, I’d say in terms of modes, this is a bit of a step back for the series on the PSP.

Basically, if the six in the game’s title didn’t clue you in. This ain’t exactly a new thing.

Addictiveness

I will give the game credit here. Its just too much fun to play. It’s the kind of game where you can play for hours and not realize it. I would fight dozens of battles in a row before my thumbs started to get tired. I’d also pop this bad boy out during lulls in conversations. Each individual fight is short enough that you can get away with this kind of thing.

Basically, when there are so many characters and the gameplay is so good, it’s hard to come up with a good reason to not be playing Tekken 6.

Appeal Factor

Tekken: Dark Resurrection was one of the biggest hits on the PSP. I’ve long be lauding it as the greatest fighting game you can get on a hand held that was no hard sell. It was the honest truth. No doubt there are plenty of people who feel the same way and couldn’t wait for this game.

tekken64There have been a good number of fighting games release earlier this year. Tekken 6 is the last of a group that includes Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny and Dissidia: Final Fantasy. This does hurt the game’s appeal a bit, especially for those like me who already have those two games. It doesn’t have the sheer amount of content of the latter and it isn’t quite as pretty as the former. The main thing it has going for it is that the fighting is superior. So if that’s the primary factor for you, then this is the game you should grab.

The big kicker is that those who have a console version of Tekken 6 won’t find anything here to entice them to buy this in addition. There’s no online functionality and you can’t use an arcade pad. If you already have TDR, you’ll need to think long and hard before you spend the forty bucks to grab this. (Although Bob, Zafina, and Lisa are awesome new characters.) If you don’t already have TDR, you should probably go buy it as you can get it for under twenty bucks.

Miscellaneous

Overall, I’d call this game a disappointment, but it’s far from a bad game. It’s disappointing because there is no Tekken Dojo, no online ghost sharing, no Tekken Bowling, and even no Team Battle. Most damning of all is the lack of game sharing, a viable PSP function that people have long associated with TDR. In fact, the reason my friend bought that game was because he and I were battling via this function. I can only imagine that the reason developers aren’t using this feature any more is because they think it will hurt sales. Clearly, that isn’t the case. I pretty much grab any game I find with game sharing.

Also, Azazel is by far the most annoying boss I’ve ever fought. You can forget foes like Gruntilda and that bastard from Megaman Legends. I just hate fighting this guy.

If they had bothered to put in those modes I just mentioned, this would have been the best game on the PSP this year and one of the best of all time. The presentation is awesome and the gameplay is better than ever. It’s just sad that a game from a series revered for the amount of content on the disc falls so short compared to its brethren.

The Scores

Modes: Enjoyable
Graphics: Amazing
Audio: Great
Gameplay: Incredible
Replayability: Enjoyable
Balance: Good
Originality: Poor
Addictiveness: Good
Appeal Factor: Above Average
Miscellaneous: Below Average
Final Score: Enjoyable Game!

Short Attention Span Summary

diehardjackIf you’re looking for a good fighting game for the PSP, you certainly can’t go wrong with Tekken 6. It look, sounds, and plays great and has a couple of killer modes that will keep you coming back for more. Still, it’s worth noting that the game would have been better without Azazel and with a few less subtractions from the previous installment. So be warned. Its not going to be as good as TDR, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get your monies worth. Tekken 6 is a worthy purchase for any PSP owner.

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  • Omar

    nice review!, a must buy for me!

  • Thank you kindly. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

  • tekken master

    yea, its pretty cool and i bought it. i love it except for no team battle. and unfortunately it seems like the only way to beat NANCY is to land on him/her over and over with jack. but u forgont to add to the addiction factor that u can buy, then use weapons. like… if uu buy a basuka wit nina, u can actually take it off of her back and blast somebody in the face. its not just decoration like TDR. but unfortunnately since u fightin the computer, it always seems as if ur opponent knows exactly how to dodge it.