December 5, 2000
Ever since the first Playstation hit the market almost 6 years ago now many people wondered if Sony would ever get a fighting game to compete with Sega's Virtua Fighter series on the Saturn. However, it didn't take too long for a contender to appear and Namco's Tekken series was born. Namco have released two sequels on the Playstation and have improved the series with every new game. It was only natural that Sony's new system would be the host to a new Tekken game and Tekken Tag Tournament is the result.
Tekken Tag Tournament is a fighting game at it's core. If you've ever played a Tekken game in the past you will know exactly what the gameplay is like. It's fast, requires some pretty quick thinking and to learn all the moves will take a hell of a long time. Returning to the game are all your favorite Tekken characters including Paul Phoenix, Forest Law, King and Yoshimitsu who are among the 20 initially selectable characters. As you complete the game more fighters become unlocked including new fighters not seen in previous games. The biggest change to the game however is the inclusion of a 2 on 2 battle mode. To play TTT you now select 2 fighters to take on 2 opponents. While you only control one character at a time during the fights you can switch between fighters with the press of a button, hence the "tag" component of the title. Changing fighters allows you to keep the fighter with the most energy in the ring while the weaker fighter is slowly restoring his/her energy on the sideline.
Playing TTT is pretty good in single player mode but it's the 2-4 player modes which really stand out. You won't find a more exciting and fun game when you defeat your friends with the smallest amount of energy remaining. This really is one of those games that is instantly playable to most gamers but will take months to fully master. Each fighter has a wide range of moves, and with new characters to be unlocked by completing the game in different scenarios, there is certainly some longevity.
Graphics in TTT are both the games strongest and weakest points. How can that be you ask? Well there can be no denying that the game is the most gorgeous fighter ever. The game, with anti-aliasing to remove the jaggy edges from the Japanese version is simply stunning. Each fighting arena is very different from the others and are often populated by spectators and other moving objects. The fighters are superbly detailed and the animation is the best yet seen in a video game. Five years ago these fighters would have been amazing in a FMV clip let along real-time gameplay. But why are the graphics also the games biggest problem? Well it's the frame rate. Because of the PAL conversion the game seems horribly slow. No, I'm not comparing it to the NTSC version of TTT but after playing Dead Or Alive 2 with the 60Hz option going back to 50Hz TTT is like playing the game in slow-mo. At least Namco have seen fit to remove any black borders for the PAL game.
I must comment on the sound in this game. Previous Tekken games have been bit of a mixed bag in the music department but Tekken Tag Tournament is awesome. The music, which is often quite upbeat and lively, suits the game perfectly and has a very fresh sound to it. The sound effects are exactly what you would expect in a fighting game with bone crunching noises when a punch or kick connects with the opponent.
I can't lie to you. As much as I love the Tekken series of games this version is a little bit of a let down. The slow pace of the game and the lack of new features from previous versions (apart from the 2 on 2 battles of course) means that this is really the old game with pretty graphics. Still the old games were among the best fighters ever so your not going to be buying a dud. Unfortunately if you own previous versions of the game it may seem all too familiar.