Developer: Namco Bandai Games / Pubisher: Namco Bandai Games / Played on: Nintendo 3DS / Price: $39.99 / ESRB: Teen [Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence]
The King of Iron Fist Tournament has returned to a Nintendo console after a decade long absence in the form of Tekken 3D Prime Edition for the 3DS. The entire ensemble of characters from Tekken 6 is playable and the game is a visual feast of gorgeous graphics that can fit in your pocket. Local and online multiplayer, as well as the inclusion of the feature film Tekken: Blood Vengeance, round out the package. Few gameplay options and rough controls, however, make what could have been a flawless portable fighter another title that loses much of its quality in the console-to-handheld transition.
Tekken 3D Prime Edition is essentially a port of the PSP version of Tekken 6. Matches take place in a 3D plane, allowing characters to move freely in any direction. Just like previous entries in the series, the game’s all about timing, combos, and juggling your foe on your way to victory. The same lineup of characters from that game, including series newcomers like Dragunov and the obese Bob, as well as series veterans Law, Jin, and Kazuya, appear in the 3DS version, making for an impressive cast of characters. Each character plays different from one another, and if you’ve played any recent Tekken game you’ll see that your favorite character handles just as they would on the consoles. The fighting system is the core of Tekken, and this game does a fantastic job of bringing the action from the PS3/Xbox 360 game and translating it to the small 3DS handheld. So that’s good…
But in nearly every other aspect the game cuts corners. For starters there aren’t many gameplay modes to choose from. Quick Battle is essentially Arcade mode, and has you going through a ladder of 10 opponents, with each being a bit harder than the last. There isn’t any story mode and thus there aren’t any character specific endings. Special Survival mode has you taking on a series of enemies with only one health bar. Playing these modes unlocks artwork cards that can be viewed in 3D if you choose. There are over 700 of these cards to collect, and they are completely useless. The cards don’t give any incentive to play and aren’t even fun to collect. Training mode and multiplayer mode are the only other options on the cartridge. Outside of this, the crazy customization options of the past few Tekken games have also been eliminated. Though it was entirely unnecessary, being able to give characters afros, sunglasses, huge bows, and chef’s hat gave the game some charm that is absent from this version.
Two different costumes are all we get for each character, with an option to change their colors. The inclusion of the movie Tekken: Blood Vengeance (which looks good on the handheld, by the way) makes me wish it wasn’t there so the developers could have used that space to include some of these omitted features. After playing the game for an hour you’ve already seen all it has to offer, and that’s a shame because other games in the series (even other fighters on the system) give much more reason to keep playing single player modes.
Fighting between another human is the best challenge in the game, but doing so is a challenge in and of itself. Local wireless multiplayer is fine, but playing online can be difficult. I only found a few joinable matches online and nearly all of them were rendered unplayable due to lag. Slow motion Tekken is not the way the game should be played. Strangely, when you first boot up the game you choose a main character to play as, and this character is who you automatically use when playing online. If you want to rematch an opponent as someone different you have to back all the way out to the main menu and change your character. This is very annoying and makes playing online more of a chore than it has to be. Nearly unplayable online multiplayer is a huge letdown for the title.
The biggest highlight to the game has to be its visuals. Character models are big, detailed, and look fantastic. Everything runs at a smooth frame rate and looks crisp. Watching fighters like Eddy Gordo dance around the stage and remembering that what you’re seeing is on a handheld showcases the power of the 3DS nicely. Playing in 3D can actually be detrimental to gameplay though, as sometimes you can’t time your blocks appropriately, so I found it easiest to play with the 3D off. The only hiccups to the visuals are the backgrounds. While there are a good variety of stages to battle on, they look flat and boring. Notably, the stages that had moving background pieces on the console versions (like the grassy plains with all the sheep) do not have mobile objects in them at all, and instead just rotate around with the action. It’s not really a big complaint, but fans of the series will notice the difference.
Tekken 3D Prime Edition is Tekken without any frills. The core fighting system has been ported perfectly to the 3DS and the animation is very well done, but everything else has been stripped down to the bare essentials. Substantial lag makes most online matches unplayable, and just two single player modes doesn’t give too many options for replayability. Though it isn’t as robust as other entries in the series, Tekken 3D Prime Edition does offer up a good portable version of the fighter, albeit with a few concessions.
6 / 10