The Nintendo 3DS is already seeing a lot of attention from developers this year. CAPCOM set the standards high with the excellent Resident Evil: Revelations last month and with plenty more potential winners like Kid Icarus, Metal Gear Solid and Rhythm Thief due next month it doesn’t look like the fun will soon be over. But we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves as we still have to get through February and with it comes Tekken 3D Prime Edition, a game that hopes to take on both Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition and Dead or Alive Dimensions to claim best fighter on 3DS. But has it got what it takes to battle it out with these two smashing beat em ups?
Opening impressions are good when you first load up the game and continue to excel from there. Over forty characters have made the final roster and with each feeling unique and offering differing fighting styles there’s reason to try them all. Veterans like Paul Pheonix and Nina Williams make a return as well as some fresher faces too all of which feel and look as they did on the home console version of Tekken 6. Even more impressive than the massive cast is that not only does the game run at a silky smooth sixty frames per second when in 2D but also when playing in 3D. While Dead or Alive and Street Fighter could only muster half that when playing with the extra dimension, Tekken maintains it with ease and it really shows.
The combat itself also feels satisfying with a control system that offers enough fun for button bashers but plenty of potential for those who want to memorise and master the almost endless list of moves for each character. The usual assortment of kicks, blocks, punches and grabs make an appearance with combos being the main focus as you try to string together ever increasing jumbles of manoeuvres to inflict damage. It’s truly pleasing to witness your opponent being bounced off the floor and juggled in the air like a beach ball as you hit a devastating ten hit combo.
So while it looks fantastic, offers a great fighting system and runs like a greased ferret, when it comes to the features, sadly this is where Tekken falls flat on its face. If you’re on your own then options are limited to practice, tackling a series of opponents with a single health bar in Special Survival mode or your standard slim lined arcade style affair with the Quick Match option. There’s no ability to create your own fighter, no other modes, not even any memorable unlockables to find. Even when it looks like Namco are going to include something interesting like some requirements that need to be met during fights they’re never really expanded nor frequent enough. As for customisations, rankings are about as deep as they go with winning battles rewarding each fighter with better ranks and eventually a change in colours for their costumes. If you happen to have the luck of knowing others who have a copy of the game then you can battle each other wirelessly. Again options are scarce and the same goes for online multiplayer. For a series that has prided itself on including unique options like Tekken Ball or Tekken Force in the past, it’s a real shame nothing like that makes it in here. Even compared to the original Playstation titles this is ridiculously bare bones.
Something that really bugged me whilst playing when playing Tekken 3DS was the lack of any real help or notification when starting off or something new would occur, instead relying on you to simply figure it all out for yourself. Sure it’s a fighting game so it’s obvious you need to beat the opponent to a bloody pulp, but when the game throws the odd match with a win requirement and no hint or clue whatsoever, it can potentially ruin your chances and therefore ruin your fun. Tutorials are never to been seen either so it’s jump in and get the gist or go home. It’s just bad design.
It seems NAMCO have tried to bulk the package somewhat with a copy of the movie Tekken: Blood Vengeance. Delivered in some pretty underwhelming 3D it seems only very big fans of the series will take joy from this. Given the choice between Blood Vengeance or getting some extra content thrown into the actual game the winner is clear. NAMCO just backed the wrong one.
Tekken cards (which are basically trading cards) try to offer some form of collectible aspect to the proceedings but sadly it all feels a bit pointless. If the cards actually did something or could be retrieved in more ways, then this could have been an okay feature, but since your only means of nabbing these collectibles is limited to a single repetitive mode and StreetPass it feels like too much effort to even get ten let alone the seven hundred or so on offer.
Visually Tekken 3D looks great with little being sacrificed from its bigger brother Tekken 6 on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The 3D is impressive but unfortunately absent when playing multiplayer. This may disappoint some but when the game moves so smooth and fluidly, you’ll eventually learn to forget about it. Sound too is decent enough with the usual grunts and moans of fighters getting smashed about the environment as well as a pretty good soundtrack to compliment the fights. Overall the production values are impressive. But it’s not enough…
Tekken 3D Prime Edition is an enjoyable fighter that unfortunately suffers from a lack of modes and some poorly executed ideas. Had there been more to do then this could have probably been the fighter to beat on the handheld. Sadly though what you’re left with is a great technical showpiece for the Nintendo 3DS and not much more. Shame.