The History Of Tekken
With the imminent release of Tekken 6 we thought it was time to take a look back at the series that has so often set the gold standard for fighting games.
Trying to chart the long and complex history of fighting games is like attempting to plot the trajectory of a drunken spider wearing four pairs of ill-fitting stiletto shoes. Fortunately, the Tekken series has followed a purer, more sober course over its 15-year life cycle, so let's take a look at what makes Namco's premier combat franchise so enduringly popular.
Let the Games Begin
Tekken is primarily an arcade game that has been developed for play on various home consoles over the years. The appearance of the first coin-op cabinet bearing the Tekken name was in 1994, followed by Tekken 2 (1995), Tekken 3 (1997), Tekken Tag Tournament (1999), Tekken 4 (2001), Tekken 5 (2004), Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection (2005), Tekken 6 (2007) and Tekken 6: Bloodline Rebellion (2008).
With each iteration came console conversions and minor handheld detours with versions of the great game appearing on all PlayStation platforms, Xbox 360, WonderSwan and Game Boy Advance.
What's it all About?
For those new to fighting games, the idea is, essentially, to engage another person in hand-to-hand combat using on-screen characters endowed with heightened martial arts skills and abilities. Some of these fighting games are more bizarre and fantastical than others (the Mortal Kombat series goes for gore, for example) and while Tekken has its fair share of special moves and elaborate combos, martial arts fans like it because the charactersabilities tend to mirror those of real martial arts, albeit with important differences such as fusing a Judo style with full contact punching and kicking. So what you get in a Tekken game is a combination of fantasy fighting laced with real-world combat styles.
The Art of Fighting
Playing the game at a basic level is simply a case of moving a character around the screen with a control stick and using buttons to punch and kick. In Tekken there are two buttons for a character arms (left and right) and two buttons for legs (left and right). However, it gets a lot more complex than just bashing at buttons thanks to each character's extensive moves list. Different moves can be accessed by performing different button combinations and various moves can be strung together to devastating effect. This is called a combo. Add blocking, counterattacks and Tekken 6's new Rage meter feature (allowing weakened characters to access last ditch reserves of power), and you have a combat system that's fairly complex and, because each character has a different set of moves, features some interesting variations in fighting style.
The World of Tekken
We could fill up the whole internet (yes, all of it) with the Tekken series' storylines and various character rosters. Storywise, all you need to know is that each game is based on the fictional martial arts tournament The King of Iron Fist. The tournament is organised and funded by a corporation called the Mishima Zaibatsu and whoever wins tends to gain ownership of the organisation and goes on to host the following tournament. In the current iteration of the game, Tekken 6, it is Jin Kazama's turn to hold The King of Iron Fist Tournament.
Tekken has, over the years, introduced us to a startling range of different characters, some of whom make brief appearances and others who come and go throughout the series. A few key characters (like Heihachi Mishima, Paul Phoenix and Yoshimitsu) have appeared in every single Tekken game. The characters come from all over the globe and bring a variety of fighting styles to the tournament. Also, as well as the more serious characters and their relatively authentic fighting styles, there are others such as Ogre and Devil who have a supernatural aspect to their character, and there are more lighthearted moments thanks to comedy characters like Kuma. Part of what makes the Tekken series such a joy to follow is that every character has his or her own backstory and their own special reasons for entering the tournament.
Tekken Breaks Out
So popular is the Tekken series that its influence has spilled out into other games and media. Yoshimitsu also appears in Namco's weapons-based fighting game Soul Calibur, Heihachi has been seen in Namco's party game Pac Man Fever and, bizarrely, Yoshimitsu, Eddy and Heihachi all made an appearance in Anna Kournikova's Smash Court Tennis. Appearances in other media include a DC Comics Tekken series called Tekken Forever, Tekken: The Motion Picture, and countless mentions and appearances in TV shows and movies including Eastenders, Spaced, Shaun of the Dead and Dude, Where's My Car?
Tekken has been the fighting fan choice since it debuted in 1994 and has remained at the top of its game throughout its many iterations. Hopefully our brief look at the game's history will bring back some fond memories for fans, and, more importantly, persuade non-players to sign up because with Tekken 6 just around the corner you need to get into shape if you fancy becoming The King of Iron Fist.
The History of Tekken