Tekken 3D: Prime Edition Review
Game: Tekken 3D: Prime Edition
Developer: Arika, Namco Bandai Games
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Available on: Nintendo 3DS only
Tekken has been represented in handheld form in the past. Tekken: Dark Resurrection earned high praise and acquitted itself with distinction when it arrived on the PSP way back in the mists of time. Even lowly old Tekken Advance (bless it) was a decent effort on Nintendo’s curiously backlit-free Gameboy sequel. Namco have been active in the fighting game market recently – flexing their muscles with a dazzling new Soul Calibur, but also underwhelming the masses with their oddly thrown together Tekken Hybrid package, which we reviewed not so long ago.
There has yet to be a truly bad big-hitting fighting game for the 3DS though, for my money it is now three-and-0, to coin some American sports-speak. I am of course including Blazblue in all of this, despite our less than perfect-scoring review, it was a ruddy good effort that got pwnd by its merked controls. Namco have decided that now is the time to bring their King of Iron Fist Tournament to bleary eyed patrons of Nintendo’s 3D wonder. Is it good enough to sit shoulder to shoulder with the format’s existing trio of punch-itude, or should it be forever consigned to the bin marked “Death By Degrees”?
You expect a handheld version of a game to have to make some compromises. But as Capcom have shown us with the PlayStation Vita version of Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom, and their grand 3D Street Fighter, these compromises do not have to be massive.
Tekken 3D: Prime gives us a scaled down version of Tekken 6. All of the forty characters from that game show up here, and to the best of my knowledge each of the combatants comes fully loaded with every single move and nuance that they would have had in the original game. That is impressive. Unfortunately, everything else has been stripped away.
When you boot the game, you get a pretty picture on your top screen and after a little while the demonstration will run, and you get to see two CPU bods have an underwhelming scrap. I have said it before and I will say it again, a story is far from essential where a fighting game is concerned, however this is Tekken, for goodness sake! Since Tekken 2 I have come to expect at least two minutes of bombastic intro sequence, perhaps ending with an enigmatic shot of Kazuya, a dancing sense of danger flickering in his eyes. But nah, nothing to see here folks. Press start and you are transported straight to the mode select screen, which turns out to be as barren as the Gobi Desert.
The first thing that strikes you as odd is the lack of an “Arcade” or “Story” mode. Fair enough, Namco have made it clear that there is probably no story from the lack of pre-game glitz, but Tekken has always been about a series of arcade battles, culminating in a boss battle, right? Not here. The primary single player experience is a take on Survival mode, where you get to choose a character from the roster, and then engage in a series of gauntlet-style battles. To begin with you have to defeat five opponents in a row in single-round combat, with only a little bit of your damage being replenished between rounds. Gradually the number of opponents increases, and later on there are some additional conditions to contend with, such as enemies who you can only damage whilst airborne, or whilst they are on the deck.
Other than that, you have your standard online modes, which allow local or worldwide battles, ranked matches or friendlies. I found it easy enough to create a room, hook up with a random and have a match, and despite a tiny bit of lag, it was pretty smooth. Matchmaking with existing 3DS buddies is effortless.
There is the option to play a “Quick Battle” – which is just a basic pickup game against the CPU. There is a bog standard training arena, which lacks the challenges and fun of other genre stalwarts. You can create a meagre gamer card which shows you how you are doing, but there is bugger-all in the way of customisation. Slap on the wrist for Namco there really, when you consider that I was able to basically create – and play as – a facsimile of myself when enjoying Soul Calibur V.
Playing through this uninspiring slog that is “Special Survival” mode unlocks “Tekken Cards” which apparently you can swap and play around with on Streetpass.
That really is all she wrote. Well, almost. The excellent game engine – which means Tekken 3D: Prime plays as good a handheld game of Tekken as you will see, with great visuals that flow in silky sixty frame glory – is disrespected by the lack of options. Instead of including some extra modes that challenge the player and titillate the senses, Namco have seen fit to shoehorn into the package the misogynistic bore that is the Blood Vengeance movie onto the cartridge. That is right, a movie that nobody was interested in when it was similarly offered up as part of Tekken Hybrid, is deemed to be more important that the core game itself. It is in stereoscopic 3D, you say? Alas, there is an old phrase my nan would say to me – and that is; “You can’t polish a turd”. Dressing up this dire movie in an extra dimension proves her point.
VERDICT: With nary a Tekken Bowl in sight (hell, I would have even taken Tekken Force – anything!), this basically exists purely to allow Tekken fans who own a 3DS to play online against one another. That is how I see it, anyway. You may enjoy punishing yourself through umpteen levels of survival challenges that offer limited variation. Hell, you may even be such a fanboy that Blood Vengeance gets you hot under the collar. But sadly, this is as poor a package as I have seen on the 3DS. Tekken is a superb fighter, and this is a bit of a disservice.