Platform(s): Arcade, PlayStation
For those who don't know I love Tekken... in fact, it's my favorite fighting game franchise of all-time and in anticipation of Tekken 7: Fated Retribution coming on home consoles/PC, I've decided to look back on the whole series beginning with the very game that started it all.
In the 90's, arcades were sweeping the nation with fighting games being one of the most predominant genres. 3D graphics were also starting to emerge at that point so naturally fighting games followed suite and while Virtua Fighter was the one that pioneered 3D fighting games, Tekken was certain the one that put it on the map. The one thing that really matters here is does the first game still hold up in spite of it's legacy.
Tekken plays similar to any other traditional fighting game. You have your crouches and jumps (which are done at ridiculous heights in the game for some reason), high/low blocking zones, and intricate button inputs for special moves but there quite a few diversions as well. One is instead of having your basic attacks determined by strength of the attack your attack buttons in Tekken are assigned to each limb allowing for greater combo intuition. Another is there's no special gauge meter of any sort so any super powerful attack can be pulled off at any time but there is no projectiles in Tekken which limits your ability of keeping opponents at bay. Lastly, there's a lot of combo moves and strings to memorize for each character which you would need to know in order to make the most of the game's combat... in fact, the series as a whole is very well known for it's huge library of complex button combinations notably the chain throws and 10-hit combos making it an extremely hard (yet satisfying) fighter to truly master (which is made even harder with no command list to look at) but there aren't as many to master with the first game as later on (naturally). Special moves are also done differently from tradition. In Street Fighter, the inputs for special moves reward accuracy and speed but in Tekken, it slows down the action for greater strategic play.
However, there are a few notable problems with the combat. For one the controls feel somewhat heavy especially when you're trying to run towards the opponent (run is useless btw) and another is the hidden characters play too similar to the starting characters. Granted the starting characters themselves are completely diverse and the Playstation version does remedy this issue by giving them some individual moves from Tekken 2 but this point still stands. You can say I'm spoiled by the later games which refined the formula but age certainly revealed a few flaws with this one in the gameplay department.
This is a mid 90's fighting game so don't expect much in terms of game modes. You have an arcade mode where you select a character and fight 7 of the starting characters plus a sub-boss (who is one of the hidden characters) and the final boss who is the root of all evil, Heihachi Mishima. Another player can intercept at any point to take over and you can earn a new record based on how fast you complete it along with being treated with a character's ideal ending (starting characters only). Arcade mode is also where you unlock the hidden characters although the one you unlock depends on which character you complete it with except for the big bad Heihachi Mishima who is unlocked by playing through Arcade mode without any continues and Devil Kazuya who is unlocked by beating all 4 levels of the Galaga game which happens before the actual game boots up... but is it worth it?
There's also a 2 player mode which is the standard versus mode where you play against another player. You both select a character and set each other's handicaps before fighting on a random stage.
Tekken is one of the first 3D fighting games and it really shows. The character models are very blocky and pixelated with the floor being done on 3D while the rest of the environments are clearly done with static 2D images giving it a rather ugly look even for it's time. However, it's not all bad... the characters are animated realistically in a way that makes you feel the attacks being landed and they all have animation that's actually representative to their unique fighting styles. The environments are also familiar as they're based on real-life locations... but you don't really get to choose any of them.
Aside from the (kickass) announcer, there isn't much voice acting in Tekken aside from the battle grunts characters make and I can't really knock that either (except a few voice clips are just plain bizarre notably with Marshall Law) but one thing that to complain about is that aside from Wang Jineri, all of the hidden characters' voice clips are blatantly recycled from the starting characters. The sound effects is great stuff though as it helps make you feel the pain of the attacks and the soundtrack is great stuff which can be said for the whole series... even though the music for this game is rather subdue in comparison, there's a lot of memorial tracks especially for those who enjoy 90's synthesized arcade music and they're quite fitting to the environments they represent.
Even though there's technically no story mode in Tekken, the story it has is surprisingly involved for a fighting game. You have the basic international fighting tournament plot but Tekken has characters all with their own reasons for participating that you would actually care about. Kazuya MIshima wants revenge against his father Heihachi, Yoshimitsu wants to provide for the poor, Nina Williams sent to assassinate Heihachi Mishima, and Paul Phoenix wants to prove he's the strongest. Of course, you won't get all the details in-game but you'll get a gist of it from the endings... that is if the uncanny FMV facial animations don't haunt your dreams first.
Just like I said earlier the environments in Tekken are based on real-life ones and the same be applied to each character's fighting styles. Unlike something like Street Fighter which does base each character's fighting style on real-life martial arts but makes it super flashy and sorta does it's own, you'd notice the parallelism to real-life martial arts with Tekken almost instantly even if it's still exaggerated due to almost all of the characters actually being superhuman.
With all this does Tekken hold up by today's standards? No really... don't get me wrong, I won't deny Tekken is a very revolutionary and innovative game... in fact, it was noted as the "First Fighting Game to Feature Simulated 3D" but there's practically no reason to go back to this game after playing the others unless it's for nostalgia.
Overall, I give this game a 7 out of 10.