Tekken has long been a series at which Nintendo fans have glared enviously. Since its debut on the PlayStation in 1995 they have had to sit back and watch as a multitude of games have passed them by, with only a mediocre Game Boy Advance version tossed their way a decade ago. This all changed earlier this year when the first 'proper' game, Tekken 3D, arrived on the 3DS, but Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition is a far more important release. After 17 years of waiting, we finally have a Tekken game on a Nintendo home console and it's a beauty.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 boasts the biggest character roster of any game in the series. As well as all 41 characters from Tekken 6, a bunch of scrappers from previous games return, too, bringing the total number of fighters to an enormous 59. Tekken fans will be delighted to see long-forgotten faces such as Alex the dinosaur from Tekken 2 and Native American fighter, Michelle Chang, from the original game.
As a game with a fighting system that has evolved over the course of nearly two decades, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is both simple to get to grips with and ridiculously deep. With four buttons, each assigned to attacks with a specific limb, it's easy enough to pick up and start fighting with little or no previous experience. Once you get into the intricacies of the fighting system, however and start learning the strengths, weaknesses and combos of all 59 fighters, you could be improving for years.
It Teks Two, Baby
As the game's name suggests, tag battling is the big feature here. At any point during a scrap you can hit L or R to switch fighters and give your current bruiser a rest to regain some energy. There are also special moves that enable you to hit an opponent, tag out and continue a combo without your foe getting a look in. This level of strategy can be intimidating for beginners, so the new Fight Lab mode is a useful addition. It's essentially an extended tutorial - cleverly disguised as a short Story mode - in which you're taught basic and advanced moves using a Combot, a robot being trained how to fight. Starting with the basic attacks you're soon taught how to use launchers, juggles, tag combos and the like. Fight Lab isn't a mode you'll forget about once the tutorial's over, mind - finish the lessons and you'll unlock the Combot in the main game as a fighter you can customise with moves learned from fighting others.
This is all well and good, but everything we've told you so far features in the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 as well. What sets the Wii U version apart are the various Nintendo-only extras that have been slipped in to make things (a lot) sillier. Foremost is the new Nintendo-themed costumes that enable you to dress characters up as Mario, Luigi, Samus, Bowser, Fox McCloud and friends. While these don't have any impact on the gameplay, the sight of, say, a huge bear fighting in a little Mario cap and oversized dungarees is hilarious.
Tekken It Further
There are also some Wii U-only gameplay modes designed for party situations. As its name suggests, Mushroom mode generates Super, Mega and Poison mushrooms from the Mario games that appear on the stage. As you fight you'll need to try to reach these (or avoid them) to get their powers and grow to ridiculous sizes. Then there's Tekken Ball, a volleyball game last seen in Tekken 3, returning as a Wii U exclusive. Purists might balk at the fanciful extras, but with the serious stuff to keep them happy does it really hurt to include fun extras to appeal to newbies? Ultimately, more players mean a more vibrant online scene - and that's a good thing.