RELEASE DATE: 03/30/2000 (JP), 10/25/00 (US), 11/24/00 (EU)
In the late 90s, Tekken was the signature fighting game franchise for the Playstation, so it only makes sense that the PS2 launched with Tekken Tag Tournament. The game is less a sequel to the famed Tekken 3 than a celebration of the entire series up until that point. Almost all of the characters from the previous three games are included, save for oddities like Gon and Dr. Bosconovitch. Nearly any mode you could want is here, including the beloved Tekken Bowl. And, for the first time ever, two characters could fight alongside each other in tag-team combat.
The sun also sets.
The “Tag” portion is where Tekken Tag differs from the previous entries. Rather than selecting one character and riding with them through good times and bad, you choose two characters and alternate between them during the battle. When your first character’s health gets low, “tag” them out and the second character steps in to show your opponent what it’s like.
He’s an old man, Baek…
The majority of Tekken Tag‘s cast are fairly easy to control, which makes experimentation with the characters enjoyable rather than frustrating. Pair the spunky school girl Xiaoyu with the grumpy, enormous True Ogre. Why not! Sure, taking the time to learn each character’s move set will result in sustained success, but some of us just want to pick up the game and play. Like the best fighting games, Tekken Tag forgives newcomers who only want to fight a couple rounds and rewards those who invest hours into its intricacies.
King always wins.
Like other Tekken home ports, Tekken Tag Tournament is stuffed with content. It takes hours to unlock every character in Arcade Mode, and once you’ve done that, you’ll still need to play through every character to collect each Ending for Theater Mode. There’s the requisite Vs. Mode, Team Battle, Time Attack, Survival, 1-on-1. Great if you like slight variations on your brawls. For those who want a break from the violence, there’s Tekken Bowl.
Y2K is here!
Tekken Bowl is bowling with Tekken characters, and it remains one of the greatest pieces of unlockable content ever. Seeing behemoths like Kuma and Armor King hold bowling balls is both ridiculous and amazing. The Heihachi-head pins are sublime. The cheering monks in the crowd warm the heart. What’s more, the bowling feels fantastic. Line up your shot, watch your power meter fill, then let ‘er rip. Once you find a character combo that works for you (not all characters can throw the ball with appropriate gusto), Tekken Bowl is hard to put down. Whoever created this at Namco deserves a golden Heihachi-head pin of their own. Without question, one of the best bowling games of all time.
Joy has come.
Forget the fighting. Forget the bowling. As great as those are, Tekken Tag Tournament represents something far greater: the promise of the PS2 fulfilled. The game is a beauty, a joy to play, and with its success, there’s no going back. The PS1’s days are numbered. Like the electric blue logo etched into the PS2’s matte black finish, Tekken Tag is a bold proclamation of things to come. A launch title it may be, but the game carries the spirit of The Future where Anything’s Possible. Long live Tekken Tag and long live the PS2.
What are your memories with Tekken Tag Tournament? Is Tekken Tag your favorite launch day fighting game or do you prefer DOA 2: Hardcore? Or, Lord help us, Street Fighter EX3?