Crispy Gamer

Games for Lunch: Tekken 6

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Developer: Namco Bandai
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Release Date: Oct. 27, 2009
Systems: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, Arcade, PSP
ESRB Rating: T
Official Web site

0:00 I was a huge fan of Tekken 2, 3 and Tag Tournament back in my school days, when I played regularly against a bunch of high-school buddies. My interest has kind of fallen off since then, but I'm hoping it won't be too hard to hop back on the Tekken train.

0:01 "An update for this game is available from Xbox Live." OK, let's download that aaaaand ... done.

0:02 A black bird sits on top of what looks like an aircraft-carrier radar dish. He flies off over a snowy military training field with rows and rows of red-eyed, identical soldiers in full body armor. Did I accidentally put in a Metal Gear Solid game? Anyway, tanks roll out of a cargo plane. Kazuya is on the phone. Or is it Jin? Man, it's been too long. Whoever it is gets on a pedestal and salutes the soldiers, who salute back. Cut to a blonde guy toasting a wedding from a nearby table. Three jet fighters bomb the church for some reason, and blonde guy cradles the bride's dead body in his arms, screaming at the sky as he does. Cut to a purple-haired beauty guiding a horse through a desert valley. Cut to another blonde boy laying flowers at Emma's grave. Cut to a fat guy reading the paper during a bank hold-up, getting up, and kicking the robbers' butts. Cut to Jun (I think that was her name) fighting a stunning blonde. Cut to big-haired Paul fighting some vaguely familiar grey-haired old guy -- when their fists meet it causes earthquake-like destruction. Cut to helicopters dropping shock troops, including Jin, who has one red eye and no parachute I can see. Cut back to the purple-haired girl who puts two sai in a stone door, opening it to reveal a huge, crystalline dragon beast. Aaaaand ... title. Man, I've been away too long, because I didn't know a bunch of those guys.

0:05 "Select Battle Position Preference (left or right)." Do people really choose right? I guess if you're prepping for a tournament...

0:06 In the options, the difficulties are Easy, Medium, Hard, Super Hard and Ultra Hard. No Very Easy here, only ULTRA HARD! Medium is probably enough for my rusty ass.

0:08 In the background of the menus is some blond-haired guy, with slicked-up hair and red battle armor, bobbing in a fighting stance. Papers blow as tanks roll behind him. From my speakers, super-cheesy hair-metal guitar.

0:09 I'm intrigued by "Scenario Campaign: The story mode not found in the arcade version," but I think I'll warm up with old-school, single-player Arcade Battle. I know fighting games like this are meant to be multiplayer, but I don't think I'm ready for online play yet, and there are no real human opponents around (as usual).

Tekken 6

0:10 Holy crap ... the character-select screen has 40 characters. Not a single one needs to be unlocked, it seems. I'm a fan! I recognize quite a few of them, including some old favorites: Kuma the bear, Ganryu the sumo wrestler, and Heihachi the bad-ass. Plus Roger Jr. the boxing kangaroo! But where's Eddy? I miss that fool. I decide to go with big-haired Paul. I was always pretty good with him.

0:13 My first fight is against fellow blonde guy Steve. It's like riding a bike ... I pull off a quick one-two elbow drop and dashing punch combo like I've been doing it regularly for the past decade. Of course, it's a little different on an Xbox pad instead of a PlayStation controller, but the timing and configuration are exactly like I remember. From there, it's an easy three-round win. Wait, three rounds? Isn't this supposed to be best two out of three? Guess it's not, anymore. I like the fancy lighting and water effects in the ornate fountain in the background. I don't like the awful background music.

0:14 There's Eddy! He's my second opponent. How did I miss him in that character-selection screen? There were too many choices, I guess. Anyway, we're fighting in some sort of car park that filling with rushing water falling from above. Someone at Namco really likes these water effects, huh? Anyway, Eddy barely gets a single attack as I spam the same few moves over and over for another easy win. Maybe I should have chosen Ultra Hard...

0:16 A "promotion match" gives me a "promotion chance" against an unfamiliar (to me) character named Asuka. "Let's get this over with," she says in translated Japanese before the fight. The HUD tells me this is "Michig@n Asuka" who's "9th kyu." I have no idea what either of those means, but neither seems to make her very good. She doesn't really block as I pummel her easily with the same old moves. For my trouble, I'm promoted to 9th kyu myself. Nice!

0:19 Michig@n Next up is Safina, a 6th kyu "Berry Smith," according to the HUD. Is that supposed to be a person's Xbox Live name? Is this computer opponent based on some real person? Well, real or not, she actually puts up a good fight. She's very flexible, and has a way of standing on one foot with the other leg at the ready to do quick, devastating kicks. I pull off a solid win in Round 3 after figuring out her patterns a bit. But she juggles me to an easy victory in Round 4. Ouch!

0:24 A quick continue and it's over to Eddy this time. I remember the strategy for him, of course: Spam the kick buttons! It works perfectly ... she barely has time to compose herself as I pummel her in three straight rounds. Maybe she was going easy on Eddy, because he's not even "9th kyu" but just "Beginner." Or maybe I should just spam the attacks more!

0:28 Next up is Lei, who's ranked 7th kyu and sub-named ">:-) I guess." OK, that has to be an Xbox Live name ... Namco would never put an emoticon in its official AI names. He has eight wins and 10 losses for a 44.4-percent average. Oh, and we're fighting in a cavern with even more watery effects in the background and foreground, of course. Anyway, I win the first round with nonstop kicks, but lose the second when I stop kicking for some reason. By the third round he's learned to counter my slow but powerful kick combos with quick little punches. In Round 4, I get a few big kicks in, but he finishes me off when I miss a throw attempt.

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0:31 One more try... Over to you, Ganryu. In Round 1, he traps me against a tree wall and absolutely PUMMELS me. I can't get out or do anything until I'm almost dead. In Round 2 the same thing happens, only I don't even get a single hit in. I try playing more defensively in Round 3, but it doesn't matter ... he finds a way through my defenses and beats me handily. OK, Ganryu, I've decided you suck now. Moving on...

0:35 Heihachi will show him! I chip away enough health to pull off a cheap, low-kick-based win in Round 1, but in Round 2 he breaks out some killer juggling combos that I'm too aggressive to block. In Round 3 I play more conservatively, waiting for his attacks and countering with a quick, effective one-two uppercut I remember from years ago. In Round 4 he plays much more defensively, deflecting my approaches and pummeling me easily. Round 5 is a back-and-forth contest that ends when I finally manage to grab him in a throw and perform Heihachi's patented Electric Noogie hold to finish him off. Well, that's not the official name, but that's what I always call it. Anyway, who cares, I WIN! This is getting thrilling!

0:40 "Don't think you can escape," says Lee, who's a 9th kyu, 1-12 AI named "Fury." During Round 1 we somehow fall through the ground into a basement filled with ... you guess it ... ankle-deep water! I'm sloppy in Round 2, letting him get a cheap win, but I mix it up in Rounds 3 and 4, finishing him off with an extremely satisfying pile-driver throw.

0:41 Time for the "Extra Stage" against a giant robot named "Nancy MI847J." Looks like it came straight out of Michael Bay's Transformers movie ... just a mess of actuators and black steel. It can take quite a beating, too ... my attacks seem to do barely any damage. Oh, and it can jump incredibly high, break my blocks, and shoot me with guns. I get "No Bonus" even though I took away half its energy before dying. LAME!

Tekken 6

0:45 "The King of the Iron Fist: Jin Kazama" is a "Ranking Match." The "xXx Devil xXx" version I'm fighting is rather experienced, at 116 and 120. He's ranked "2nd dan," which sounds high to me. Doesn't seem to matter, though, as I have no problem beating him in three straight rounds. I played a little more focused, I guess, staying on my feet and using quick, safe attacks rather than big, flashy moves. I guess I play up to the competition a bit...

0:46 "Final Stage: Azazel." It's the big crystal dragon-thing from the intro. He stands twice as tall and probably three times as wide as Heihachi. Also, he seems to take no damage from any of my attacks. Is he blocking? He's so big, it's hard to tell. He barrels me down in three ridiculously quick rounds, with a rolling attack, a tail swipe with ridiculous, screen-clearing reach, and an attack that makes crystal spikes rise up from the ground. Looks like we've got a cheap boss to rival Street Fighter IV's Seth here...

0:48 Back at the menu, I get a report. "Heihachi and Paul were promoted to 9th kyu." Let's go online, see who else is playing around the world. It auto-uploads my ghost data, for others to beat, I guess. I grab alien, sword-wielding Yoshimitsu and look for a quick player match. After a few seconds of syncing and searching and I'm set up against NeroRevolver, who's playing Miguel. "Have you been reading your last rights," he asks ungramattically in the intro.

0:50 Wow, this is incredibly laggy. The game is running half as fast as the single-player mode. That said, it's still relatively responsive to my input. It's like playing a training mode where I can see every move. I pull off a last second win with a spinning fist in Round 1, but he pummels me against the wall in Rounds 2 and 3. I block strategically and counter with jump kicks to win Round 4, but fall apart in a sloppy Round 5 loss.

0:52 Back to the character select. I go with Yoshi again and search and synch with Lord Razell, playing as Christie. The lag is totally gone this time, somehow. Christie is an obvious Eddy wannabe, which he plays admirably, juggling me with an array of acrobatic kicks that I'm ill-equipped to counter. It's no contest. I wish I could challenge him to a rematch, but my only choice seems to be heading back to the character-select screen. Hrmm...

0:55 I take a cue from the last match and choose Eddy next. I'm going against a guy named "Fivestar Barber" playing as martial artist Law. He seems unable to counter my flurry of kicks, especially when I go low. He just keeps attacking and ignores blocking, so I get a lot of easy counterattacks in and win in three quick rounds. I get 30 Achievement points for "winning a Player Match in Online Mode" and "playing 3 matches in Online Mode."

0:58 Back to Paul for my final online match of the hour. I'm against a guy named "L D Oblowe," also playing Law. The lag is back as I spam the low-kick/high-punch combo to do a lot of damage in Round 1, but he pulls it out in the end. I get some juggle kicks in for a win in Round 2, and a few accidental throws to pull it out in Round 3. He's getting predictable by Round 4, to the point that I can anticipate the few combos he seems to know and counter them easily.

Would I play this game for more than an hour? Yes.
Why? It's all coming back to me. The fluid animation, the fast action, the variety of fighting styles, the thrill of competition. Why did I ever stop enjoying this series?

This column is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 game provided by the publisher.

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