Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Tekken Advance

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

Electronic Theatre Image             One-on-one Beat-‘em-Up’s have become incredibly popular on the Game Boy Advance. With the industry trend of looking towards the device as a portable SNES, it comes as no surprise that Mortal Kombat has put in an appearance, alongside countless Street Fighter conversions and a whole host of “me-too” newbies. However, back in 2001, shortly after the console’s original release, Namco revealed a fighter which looked like it had the strength to reach the dizzy heights of being a “stand-out” Game Boy Advance game amongst all the over-lookable half-baked fodder. By now you may have realised that Tekken Advance is no ordinary Game Boy Advance Beat-‘em-Up, and you’d be right.

            As you plug-in the cartridge and turn on you are immediately flung into the Tekken world, with even the Menu Screen reflecting on previous efforts, as the game bases itself on Tekken 3. The variety of gameplay modes on offer is astounding for a release such as this, with not only the usual handheld Arcade and Vs. Battle, but in true Tekken tradition the title features Survival, Time Attack, Tag Battle and Vs. Tag Battle modes also. While these additions are pleasing, they may seem like an afterthought when compared with the completeness of the Arcade mode, with – for example – the Tag Battles often ending well before a player is downed due to the default time being only 60 seconds and the AI having a way with constantly changing their character.

            The bouts resemble the PlayStation efforts very closely. The basic kick and punch are available using B an A respectively, with R used for grabs and L used to “tag” your character during Tag Battles. Although this may seem rather limited, the vast majority of each character’s distinguishing moves have been translated perfectly and the combat feels very satisfyingly balanced. The biggest surprise in the title is that, although the basic presentation appears 2D, the game does actually work in 3D, allowing you to circle your opponent and move in, out and around in the way Tekken has always prompted you to. The characters roster is also fairly impressive, with a starting selection of nine available, including many favourites; Hwoarang, Law, Jin, Nina, Gunjack, Xiaoyu and Yoshimitsu are all represented in stunning form, and a further character is unlockable – although I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

            The titles graphics are well above standard. Each of the characters is instantly recognisable and although the backgrounds seem limited, especially the immediate combat areas (mainly due to the title’s 3D nature), the far distance is pleasingly detailed. The technique used in developing the titles’ graphics seems similar to that used in Donkey Kong Country and Killer Instinct on the SNES and has since clearly became a Game Boy Advance favourite, with titles such as Banjo-Kazooie and the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater franchise seemingly using similar techniques. The special effects are very limited, but remain a reflection of those synonymous with Tekken, while the frame-rate and camera never become an issue.

While you may think I’m doing little else but complementing the title, it is more than justified. They say beauty is only skin-deep and, whilst Tekken Advance still sports some of the best presentation seen on the Game Boy Advance over three years after release, it holds it’s head up high, screaming that magic word at the hardcore gamers – “gameplay”. Mistaking this release for a quick cash-in would just be foolish and disrespectful to a title that may be limited due to the system it runs on, but pushes the limits of what we expect from that system far greater than any Game Boy Advance Beat-‘Em-Up I’ve played before or since has dared to.










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