Thanks to the resurgence in popularity of the one-on-one beat-‘em-up genre caused by Capcom’s return to form with Street Fighter IV, there are many franchises which have been given a new lease of life. Tekken is arguably one which was strong enough to stand on its own two feet regardless of the boost in consumer confidence, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t aiming to take advantage of this new opportunity.
Making its play for this wider market is the new training mode included in Tekken Tag Tournament 2, known as Fight Lab. Adding a story to the proceedings, Fight Lab allows players to customise their training robot to push it in the direction they desire, whether that be to teach them new tricks or reinforce the lessons already learned and enhance their juggle abilities. After all, this is still what Tekken is all about: there is no immediacy in Tekken Tag Tournament 2, the fighting system remains all about build-up and execution.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 also disposes of many of the additional gameplay modes the series has become famous for. There’s no bowling, no scrolling brawling and no adventure mode to speak of whatsoever. While the core audience will recognise this as an effort to concentrate on perfecting the fighting system, exactly how the casual audience will react to a product which looks set to feel less than half the weight of its predecessor, Tekken 6, remains to be seen.
The biggest problem Tekken Tag Tournament 2 faces is that of Team NINJA. Tecmo Koei Europe are gearing up for a launch within weeks of Namco Bandai Games’ latest, and while some may feel that the name alone will be enough to push Tekken Tag Tournament 2 deeper into the collective consciousness of the videogaming industry, any gamer who truly knows what beat-‘em-ups aspire to be will be looking towards Dead or Alive 5 for the future of what 3D beat-‘em-up design is capable of.