Review: Tekken Hybrid

Platform: PlayStation 3

Developer: Namco

Publisher: Namco Bandai

# of Players: 1 – 4

ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

Official Site

Score: B+ (80%)

 

One of the most underutilized features of the PS3 has been the ability to play Blu-Ray and game hybrid discs, which is quite strange in my opinion. Considering how licensed movie games could have a second life if bundled with the films they’re based on at a reasonable price point, it’s a no-brainer to me that MORE game/movie discs haven’t been produced. Tekken Hybrid manages to do a pretty decent job as a package, although a few more bonuses would have been cool to beef up the replay value somewhat. For $40, you’re getting the CG movie Tekken: Blood Vengeance, an HD version of Tekken Tag Tournament and a brief demo of the Japanese arcade version of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 (all with optional 3DTV support), plus a few interviews with a few folks behind the games and film. While this package is geared more towards hardcore Tekken fans, those new to the long running fighting franchise can pick it up and have a blast, provided they’re not looking for online play or tons of bonus content (other than the newly added Trophies).

Tekken Blood Vengeance is a great-looking CG movie that’s actually a LOT more enjoyable if you don’t take it seriously, sit back and enjoy the crazy ride. While favorite characters pop in and out of the loopy narrative, the story is all about Lin Xiaoyu and her initial meeting and eventual friendship with cosplay-costumed cyborg Alisa. Trying to make more sense of the plot or worse, complaining that it’s not as “serious” as some of the overall Tekken time line is quite ridiculous in the grand scheme of things anyway. Remember, this is a franchise that has a boxing kangaroo, dinosaur, panda bear and a sentient wooden man as playable characters, not to mention Yoshimitsu and his rather unorthodox fighting style (among other things). Yes, it’s silly to the point of your eyeballs rolling into the back of your head to hide when there’s not one of those great action set pieces happening. But the animation is fantastic and hell, if you saw the live action Tekken film and wanted to leap from a chandelier or worse, this would at least get you down from that high perch for a spell.

As for Tekken Tag Tournament HD, it’s  a solid, but no-frills up-scaled conversion with everything unlocked from the beginning, meaning you can plop down in front of the TV with a few friends and controllers to enjoy the game before or after watching the movie. Still running at 60 frames per second and as fun as it ever was, TTT’s easy to play, tough to master moves along with the different fighting styles make the game addictive and appealing. Sure, the lack of an online mode hurts if you stack it up to other current fighters. But adding it would have meant a total reworking of many elements that probably would have pushed this disc into a 2012 release. Heck, I’m sure Namco could have redone the game completely using the engine from Tekken Tag Tournament 2 if they wanted. But they didn’t and that’s fine with me because the original still holds up as a stellar fighter that will eat chunks of your time in single and team battle modes.

The coolest thing on the disc for you non-fighting game fans out there (or those of you ho want to introduce the world of Tekken to your friends or whomever without the whole fist to the face parts) is Tekken Bowl, a mini-game that features characters from the series bowling. Addictive and goofy fun is the order of the day here and despite the slightly weird look the HD upgrade gives the backgrounds, don’t be surprised if you end up spending as much or more time playing this mode than you do the main game. As for the TTT 2 demo, it’s only a teaser of what’s to come, but it’s pretty solid, changing up the gameplay with a different tag system (similar to the Dead or Alive games), adding the ability to chain attacks as your AI or live partner leaps in to finish that combo you started. There are only four characters in the demo and yes, Lin and Alisa are two of them. I liked the character model viewer, as it allows for a super close look at the detailed fighters and some of their moves, but a few more characters to play as would have been nicer..

While both games (well, one complete game and the brief demo taste) are great fun, to those gamers who want these collections to be packed with tons of content, Hybrid might seem more than a little shallow. However, you can always spend an extra $20 and get the Limited Edition version of the game which features two soundtrack CD’s, an art book and an exclusive PlayStation Home theme complete with costumes for your avatar. Personally, I really wish Namco Bandai would have gone all out and added arcade and/or PlayStation versions of the first three Tekken games just to show the evolution of the series from the first game up until now. Granted, to some gamers, the original Tekken hasn’t aged well (especially if you’re a graphics hound), but it was a fantastic game back in the day that amazed players with its realistic animation, high resolution graphics and collection of unique characters. A more complete Tekken collection would have been worth close to full price even without the bonus goodies in the LE box.

So, “Should you buy this or not?” seems to be the BIG question here. I say yes, particularly if you’re a huge fan of the franchise who might not own the game (or a PS2) any longer and happen to miss the days of beating down (or getting beaten down by) friends in person. At the end of the day, your total enjoyment of Tekken Hybrid will revolve around how many friends you have that haven’t played the series before, live within visiting distance and maybe own their own PS3’s so they can tote over their controllers. If you’ve got that part all set, ring up those buddies, go throw some popcorn on the stove or in the microwave and get set for a movie and some quality arcade fighting.  Maybe not necessarily in that order, but that’s all up to you….

 

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