In much the same way that buying a remastered record is essentially exchanging money for old rope, Tekken Hybrid combines a redux version of a classic game with a couple of low-rent bonuses tacked on.
While that might sound overly cynical for the introduction to a review, it's the reality of what players are forking out for.
When the almighty PlayStation 2 made its début in 1999, Tekken Tag Tournament was a launch title. This put the game in front of millions of gamers with very little effort, cementing its status as one of the more memorable titles of its generation.
Not only did the game have the advantage of a foot in the door, it was actually quite good. The simple, effective tag system breathed some new life into the old Tekken formula, which had really done nothing to improve since it popped up in 1994 as an arcade port for the original PlayStation. Existing outside of the Tekken timeline, Tag gave players a novel take on the 3D beat ‘em up, adding an extra layer of strategy to a genre stifled for innovation.
Now, some years into the PlayStation 3’s reign of terror, the new high definition remake of Tekken Tag allows players to re-live the fluid and dynamic battles of old. The game is still just as much fun as it was way back when, even without some of the graphical flair that titles like Street Fighter IV brought to the current generation of fighters.
The gameplay is simple and easy to control, as per Tekken tradition. Each button controls a limb, the shoulder buttons are used for tagging in and out, and a variety of combos (both regular and tag) are available to pull off. All 30 characters are available to pick from at the outset, which cuts down on the tedium level. After all, most have probably paid for and played this game before. The textures and character models look marvellous in HD, but compared to a newer fighter the locations, backgrounds and special effects are all lacking. This is a nostalgia trip tidied up for fan-service, so don’t expect anything more.
In addition to the standard arcade, survival and training modes, Namco has also included their pièce de résistance, the highly re-playable Tekken Bowling. Fans of the original Tekken Tag Tournament will be pleased to hit the lanes once more in this challenging and fun mini-game. This is the closest the serious world of Tekken gets to letting its hair down, which is a nice inclusion to the otherwise stuffy and melodramatic tone of the game. This is far from the best bowling mini-game in console-dom however – that honour goes to Monkey Bowl, from Super Monkey Ball 1 on the Gamecube.
To really make this bundle deserving of the name ‘Hybrid’, Namco has also included the full Blu-ray copy of Tekken: Blood Vengeance, as well as a glorified demo for the upcoming PlayStation 3 title Tekken Tag Tournament 2. Only the truly hardcore would buy this title to gain access to either of these additions. As a film, Blood Vengeance is about as overwrought and contrived as is currently available. What it lacks in voice acting, dialogue and script however, it makes up for in cool action sequences, fights and something for the mild perverts of the world to screen capture. It’s probably best to watch this as source material for a drinking game – be creative.
The final component of the package offers a whirlwind look at the upcoming ‘proper’ new Tekken game. All four characters in Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Prologue (Devil Jin, Kazuya, Xiaoyu and Alisa) feature heavily in the movie, or at least the parts of it anyone will be conscious enough to absorb. There isn’t a lot of content to go on here, but the game really shows the leaps and bounds the developers have made since Tekken 6. The new engine looks gorgeous, with character modelling that must be employing some kind of black hoodoo to run as smoothly as it does on the five-year-old PlayStation 3.
As well as the new graphics, Namco have packed a few other neat flourishes into Tekken Tag Tournament 2, including characters speaking their own native tongues and an increased amount of gnarly tag-team combos.
Tekken Hybrid is a pretty reasonable bundle for the hardcore Tekken fan. The price isn’t too bad for a faithful upgrade of a 12 year old game, a schmaltzy movie and a nice taste of what 2012 has to offer.