Game: Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition
Developer: Namco Bandai
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Available on: Wii U Only
Much like Tecmo Koei’s Dynasty Warriors series, Tekken is a gaming concern that has never been done justice on a Nintendo console. Cripes, when I think about it, there has never actually been a Tekken game on a Nintendo home console, just the handhelds.
Tekken Advance was a Gameboy Advance title which valiantly struggled to emulate the 3D fighting of the core game series, and retains a soft spot in my heart for that, goddamnit. Prime Edition, the recent 3DS game was a missed opportunity which provided a surprisingly solid game of Tekken, with a set of game modes and options more akin to an Atari 2600 game than an all singing stereoscopic 3D fighting game from the future. Warriors Orochi 3 stumbles a bit but has still given us a decent enough port that allows Wii U owners to satisfy their need to cleave through legions of enemies. Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii Edition seeks to furnish the Wii U launch lineup with a version of one of 2012’s most impressive fighters, promising some new bells and whistles and a dash of special Nintendo magic added along the way.
STORY: Tag Tournament 2 has a plot running through it, including the addition of Violet and his crazy robot factory in the training mode. As ever, the whole Mishima related goings on are entertaining in a confusing kind of way, and I particularly loved the way that this time around, formerly grey, partially bald Heichachi sports a cracking head of Just For Men jet black hair, courtesy of a regenerative serum he has been playing around with. But enough of that, there is an Iron Fist tournament to attend to.
GRAPHICS: The Wii U copes absolutely fine with the rigours of Tekken, and indeed I was unable to distinguish this version from the 360 copy I already own. This is no mean feat when you consider that the game originated on arcade hardware that is comparable with the PlayStation 3. The backgrounds, and the way your characters interact with them are absolutely first rate. And what characters! They are absolutely huge, packed full of detail and animated beautifully. All of the sparkle, the motion blur, the way your environments physically alter your characters, it is all there. Best of all, is the way the game has been sprinkled with that aforementioned Nintendo fairy dust, to hilarious effect – more of which later.
SOUND: Again, the Wii U comes correct with a rollicking soundtrack which features some ace re-workings of long-time theme tunes, a stack of multilingual speech, crunching sound effects and the inclusion of the ace Tekken Tunes option, which allows you to select your own soundtrack based upon whatever music you have on your hard drive.
GAMEPLAY: Tag Tournament 2 is a fine game, with the time honoured limb-based attacks, juggle combos and a vast array of characters, most of whom are markedly different, with unique movesets and individual feel. All of the modes present from the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions survive intact, including your standard story mode, the versus and online battles, the ghost mode and the absolutely first-rate training mode starring the endearingly hatstand lothario, Violet.
What gamers are going to want to know though, is what whizzy new stuff the Wii U Edition provides. The most obvious difference at play here is the ways you can employ the Wii U Gamepad. You can play on the smaller screen, which has its benefits as well as providing a flawless version of the action on your big screen. The Wii analogue stick is no arcade stick, sure, but it plays out as perhaps the ultimate “handheld” Tekken. If you prefer to view your fighting action on the telly, then like many other handheld fighters, you can use the touchscreen to activate special moves, something which could be viewed as a nice helping hand to the uninitiated, however, there is really no excuse given that you have a comprehensive training mode included with the game, that should be effective in teaching even the most green-assed Tekken noob how to throw it down like a veteran. The Gamepad also has the benefit of adding some additional craziness to the character customisation mode; meaning you can actually use the stylus to colour in, write or draw on your creations. With this in mind, I fully expect to encounter specially customised foes online emblazoned with sexual swear words, and crudely drawn male genitalia. I do not endorse this sort of behaviour, I might add.
So, the gamepad does innovate, not going to huge lengths, but providing a solid interface and some nicely ergonomic ways to play. But the good stuff doesn’t end there. Mushroom Mode is a hilarious new way of playing Tekken, which imports the mushrooms from Mario folklore and makes them game-changers in the Tekken-verse. Yes, you can grow to a huge size, or shrink just as easily. There are poison mushrooms which sap your vitality. I love fighters with modifiers like this if the core game mechanic remains sound. Marvel Super Heroes is a great example and this is just as fun. Once criticism is that there are just three different status affecting items available, and I would have liked to have seen a few more included, in line with a Mario Kart arsenal, perhaps?
LONGEVITY: Another new, yet strangely familiar inclusion is the fun Tekken Ball minigame, which makes a welcome return after a hiatus stretching back to the days of the humble PlayStation. Effectively a stylised game of volleyball during which you use attacks to hit the ball over the net, with the aim of hitting your opponent dodgeball-style, or making the ball touch the ground, both of which result in your foe taking damage. It is riotous fun. Namco have always had an uncanny knack at shoehorning crazy sports side concerns into their Tekkens and this is a blast from the past that goes down an absolute treat.
You want more? Remember when Namco put Link into Soul Calibur II? Well that doesn’t quite happen here, but there are a selection of Nintendo-themed cosplay suits assigned to each character. Ever wanted to see your Tekken favourites dressed up as Mario and Luigi, complete with ridiculous fake noses and taches? You got it. I won’t give too much away as it is a joy to discover the number of callbacks to Ninty’s past, but the likes of Starfox, Metroid and many more are invoked. It may seem gimmicky but it gives the Wii U Edition a sense of crazy individuality, and makes a refreshing change from the misogynous skimpy costumes that seem de-rigeur these days. Last but not least, is the fact that Namco ship the game with all of the previous DLC, including a stupendous cameo from Snoop Dogg, or whatever he is calling himself these days, the new characters like Dr B et al, creating the largest Tekken roster ever seen.
VERDICT: With support promised for the Tekken World Federation online player hub, this is far from the launch line-up shoddy port disappointment that it could have been. It will keep you going for absolutely ages, there is just so much to see and do, so many modes and a great opportunity to use Violet to enhance your skills. It is a superb way for the Wii U to open its fighting game account.