The release of Tekken Hybrid is a step forward for an interesting marketing proposition, one that many similar franchises have failed to conceive. Coupling the motion-picture with a videogame experience on a single Blu-ray was a notion first championed by The Watchmen, but which so few have since capitalised upon. Properties such as Wanted or Terminator Salvation could surely have extended their life by re-releasing as a budget package with both videogame and film included, with fans likely to forgive the shortcomings of either. With Tekken however, it’s a more cut-and-dry situation, given that the franchise first and foremost resides in the interactive entertainment industry.
The Tekken Hybrid retail package is divided at the point of loading the disc: Tekken Blood Vengeance appears under the ‘video’ section on the PlayStation 3’s Cross Media Bar (XMB), while Tekken Tag Tournament HD and Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Prologue are listed as two separate entries on the same Blu-ray disc under the ‘game’ heading. Both of the included videogames require their own installation and save data; just as with the repackaging of PopCap Games’ Xbox LIVE Arcade titles on a single Xbox 360 retail disc, Tekken Hybrid is simply the vehicle for three separate Tekken experiences on PlayStation 3. However, despite the fact that once installed the two sit alongside your videogames downloaded from the PlayStation Network, the original Tekken Hybrid disc is still required to play either title.
The main stock of Tekken Hybrid, Tekken Tag Tournament HD, is actually rather disappointing. Literally just a high-definition (HD) rewrite of the orginial release, Tekken Tag Tournament HD does not offer a widescreen display and presents no visual improvement whatsoever. Just like the GameCube’s versions of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, Tekken Tag Tournament HD is the exact same PlayStation 2 videogame given slightly quicker loading times thanks to the improvement in data streaming in modern consoles.
Tekken has always been a beat-‘em-up that’s more concerned with knowing moves and move combinations than pacing, distancing or counter-attacks. It’s a technical system, but not in the same way as Street Fighter, Dead or Alive or even Soul Calibur, and experiencing this decade old version after newer, more technically accomplished releases demonstrates this more than you might expect. Thankfully, the included early build of Tekken Tag Tournament 2, known as Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Prologue, offers a much smoother fighting experience.
Essentially a demo of the forthcoming Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Prologue offers four playable characters based on those which appear in the accompanying Tekken Blood Vengeance motion-picture. It must be said however, that it’s a shame Namco Bandai didn’t go the whole hog and add the further two characters that constitute the lead cast of the film. Featuring a pseudo campaign mode and its own selection of Trophies, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Prologue is a comprehensive demo version in the same vein as the GameCube’s Soul Calibur II demo, which featured hidden modes and other interesting assets.
The final piece of the puzzle, Tekken Blood Vengeance, is a visual delight. Of course, as a publication that specialises in videogames, it’s not necessarily Electronic Theatre’s place to cast judgement on Tekken Blood Vengeance in terms of its theatricality. As a piece of the Tekken cannon it is easy to state that Tekken Blood Vengeance is right on cue, but just where it’s quality stands in the spectrum of screen adaptations will be more readily judged by film critics and the core fans of the Tekken franchise. The digital motion-picture release is presented as part of Tekken Hybrid in both 2D and stereoscopic 3D, and is to be considered the premier version of the film currently available in the UK.
As an exercise in marketing techniques, Tekken Hybrid is spot on. Its presentation is near flawless and it’s placement at retail – price, packaging and release date – have all been calculated perfectly. Unfortunately, the biggest issue with the product is that it’s simply lacking in playability. The HD rendition of Tekken Tag Tournament works simply to demonstrate how poorly the original videogame has aged, and the potentially absorbing Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Prologue is a mild distraction at best. The core Tekken fans will undoubtedly have already adopted Tekken Hybrid, and those who remain intrigued have a wealth of beat-‘em-up videogames to choose from on the current-generation. Pick any other title in the genre and odds are that you’ll have found something with a deeper fighting system and healthier quantity of content than Tekken Hybrid.