Real Talk By: Cmack The Don
Tekken 3 (PS1, Arcade) was my personal introduction to the series back in 1998 on the original PlayStation. I think for many gamers that was the case as well, as it sold 8.5 million copies worldwide and was the 5th best-selling Playstation game of all time. After having gone back and played Tekken 1 and 2, I can definitely say that the third entry in the series is where the franchise hit its stride, and is responsible for the type of gameplay we now enjoy in every version since its release.
Tekken 3 made use of technology at the time of the game’s release that was fairly revolutionary. The key difference myself and I think many other gamers noticed was the fluid quality of animation part 3 has compared to many other fighting games, especially 3D ones. Virtua Fighter started the 3D sub-genre with its first release, and Tekken was Namco’s response. It’s clear that the first versions of Tekken were inspired by VF, complete with similar character designs and floating jump physics.
Tekken 3 was the version of the game that decided to throw all that out, and include a much more complex movement system, more balanced juggling and combos, and the inclusion of more realistic martial arts movements, many of them motion captured by talented real life martial artists, such as Mestre Marcelo Pereira, a well-known Capoeira master from Brazil who was hired especially to do the movements of Eddy Gordo. Also helping out with motion capture was Hwang Su Il, an International Tae Kwon Do Federation black belt of Japan, who provdied movements for Hwoarang.
Aside from including the presence of real world movements to give it a dose of authenticity almost no other fighting game had at the time, and introduce gamers to new martial arts styles that many of us had never seen in action before (I remember being exposed to what Capoeira was completely from this game alone), Tekken 3 also made daring changes to the storyline, setting it 19 years after the second game. Many of the cast from the old game is absent, and the developers implemented the great idea of having much of the fighting styles from the last game return, but in the form of either the students or children of many of the old cast, with only some of the previous cast returning. A great example of this was the (at the time) new lead character Jin Kazama, who is a combination of Kazuya Mishima and Jun Kazama, both literally as he is their son, but also in terms of his fighting style. It took a lot of guts and faith in their product that the two popular lead characters of the first 2 games would be missing from the third version completely, with the series gambling on a new character instead.
It’s moves like this that sets Tekken 3 apart from many of the problems (in my opinion) with the fighting game industry. Most games will use the same characters year after year, version after version, with no changes, improvements, updates, or addressing that characters would have to age at some point, even in the world of the story. The willingness to introduce a brand new set of fighters and bank the advertising, showed a lot of guts and creativity to me. This is something I feel the fighting genre could use more of in modern times.
Added to the story updates, Tekken 3 features a variety of gameplay modes not seen in the two previous editions, or in many other fighting games at the time. Not only is there the standard arcade where you can unlock extra fighters, but practice, time attack, survival, and most especially Tekken Force Mode, which is what really sets it apart. Operating as a side scrolling brawler but with T3 graphics, Force is an entire mini-game you’re able to unlock while playing the main game, giving players something to strive for. Beating Force (which is not easy) gives players the chance to unlock even more characters and modes, so the game has a lot to offer in terms of replay value and unlockable content. An example of this is the Beach Volleyball mode, which is a unique and fun mini-game that makes for an entertaining bonus to the main game. There are also a good number of hidden costumes and stages that flesh out the game as well.
Overall, I consider Tekken 3 the greatest of the series for revitalizing, and creating enough popularity and recognition with the brand to keep it surviving to the present day. For a fighting game, it doesn’t have many flaws, however I can criticize it on the re-use of many of the stages for unlockable characters, and sound effects and movements that are recycled for some of the later characters as well. The main cast is solid, but almost none of the characters you unlock get you a new stage, and some of the extra characters are almost palette swaps of existing ones, or a mish-mash of moves from others. This suggests they were thrown in to beef up the roster so they could advertise a huge cast.
Otherwise, the graphics, gameplay, and overall concept of what they were trying to do has endured for 17 years and is a classic of the fighting game genre.
Tekken 3 Gets
4.5 out of 5
+Awesome New Characters
+Lots of Modes
-Bonus Characters Borrow Moves
Look out for Ogre’s cheesy and cheap tail sweep in his second form!