Tekken 6 (Review)

“Despite a few minor shortcomings, this is the best Tekken to date.”

So it has taken me half a year to finally cave and review Tekken 6. This is odd considering I picked this game up on launch and that I like it very much. This may be a good thing however, as I am reviewing Tekken 6 after clocking dozens of hours in it.

First off, what is Tekken? It is a fighting game series by Namco that has enjoyed considerable success and is, without a doubt, the most respected 3D fighter. Tekken may not be able to garner as much respect as Street Fighter, but it isn’t far off.

The Tekken games all revolve around the King of Iron Fist Tournament and the Mishima family members behind it. Originally started by Heihachi Mishima, control over the tournament and the Mishima Zaibatsu (the “family business” of sorts) has bounced around between himself, his son Kazuya Mishima, and his grandson Jin Kazama throughout the course of the series.

In Tekken 6, it is Jin Kazama who controls the Mishima Zaibatsu and is the one behind the King of Iron Fist Tournament 6. Typically the one behind the tournament is usually a bad guy, and given how Jin was the series protagonist from Tekken 3 onward, some may be confused as to why Jin is hosting the tournament in Tekken 6. Jin has his reasons for doing so, and I won’t get into them since they are quite spoiler heavy.

To find out what’s going on with Jin, players will have to play through the Scenario Campaign mode. This is a beat ’em up sort of game mode and plays like a heavily upgraded Tekken Force. In Scenario Campaign, players will play through a few dozen stages, fighting notable Tekken characters at the end of each stage as bosses and uncovering more about the game’s story after beating each stage boss.

Scenario Campaign primarily follows the adventure of two new characters, Alisa Bosconovitch and Lars Alexandersson. The game will encourage the player to use Lars as their character, though once you beat a stage boss they will become playable in Scenario Campaign. Lars then becomes sort of “optional” for Scenario Campaign, but all cutscenes will still feature him as well as Alisa.

I found Scenario Campaign to be very tedious. It wasn’t overly difficult (except for the optional secret stages) and I never died too many times. What made Scenario Campaign tedious was the fact that, overall, it wasn’t really a lot of fun. It didn’t do anything very interesting and the gameplay was mediocre at best. Despite the fact that your character controls exactly as they do in the standard fighting game modes, camera issues and hordes of AI enemies will make pulling off certain moves difficult. The only incentive to playing through Scenario Campaign, besides uncovering the story, is item collecting. At random, fallen foes will drop treasure chests which contain items for character customization. Beating stages will also grant you bonus currency that you an use to unlock new items.

Scenario Campaign really throws a lot of these items and coins at you, making it the best way to unlock items. While you may receive nearly 200,000 coins for beating a two or three minute stage in Scenario Campaign, a fight of any length outside of this game mode will regularly only net you between 2000 and 5000 coins. This makes fighting, the main focus of the Tekken games, become an unviable way to unlock game content.

Speaking of the actual fighting, I think that I should move on and talk about that. Simply put, it’s great. Tekken 6 has the best fighting mechanics in the entire series. Juggles have become more lethal, health bars have been extended, and “rage” power-up has been introduced when players are almost defeated. The changes to the juggle system, as well as bouncing becoming more prominent, has led to many people criticizing Tekken 6 and saying that all players have to do to win is juggle the opponent, since they last longer and inflict more damage now. This is just nonsense spouted by people who took the game’s features out of context. You will so rarely have trouble avoiding being juggled or beaten senseless that it isn’t an issue. I’ve had a few rounds with friends that have been a little unexplainably one sided, but this happens so rarely that it just doesn’t impact the enjoyment that we get out of this game.

Before I forget, Tekken 6 introduces an impressive six new characters to the roster, bringing the total number of selectable characters in Tekken 6 to an amazing forty characters, a huge number for a fighting game.

The new characters are probably the best crew of newcomers since Tekken 3, which was notable for introducing Jin Kazama, Ling Xiaoyu, Hwoarang, and Eddy Gordo to the series. Tekken 6 does an equally impressive job with it’s cast of fighting misfits. Alisa, Bob, Lars, Leo, Miguel, and Zafina make up the cast of newcomers.

Alisa, mentioned earlier, is a cyborg creation made by Doctor Bosconvitch and created in the image of his daughter. Alisa is a very speedy character with several bizarre attacks which make her very unpredictable to fight against.

Bob is an overweight American who likes to fight. He is essentially a fat version of Paul in that regard, though he plays entirely different from his fellow countryman. Bob is surprisingly fast and graceful, and is sure to beat down players who underestimate him simply because of his appearance.

Lars is apparently the new poster boy for Tekken, acting as the main protagonist in this game. Lars is Heihachi’s illegitimate son who rebels against the Mishima family, intending to bring it down. He plays like a standard Mishima, but with much more flair.

Leo looks like a gender confused Rock Howard from King of Fighters. Leo is called both female and male ingame, so this can make things a little confusing. However, after using Leo once, you will be able to draw your own conclusions as to which gender this character is. Fortunately, Leo is quite beginner friendly and can kick quite a bit of ass.

Miguel is a Spanish brawler with no defined fighting style, instead opting to just beat his opponents until they can’t move any longer. Miguel is probably my favourite new character. He has a very badass look and his moves look just plain painful as he smashes opponents in really brutal ways. Stick with Miguel and learn his moves, and you will be rewarded greatly.

Zafina is weird. I could just leave it at that, but I’ll explain a little. Zafina is Tekken’s new sex appeal icon, quickly (and thankfully) demoting Lili who was introduced in Dark Resurrection. She is a Middle Eastern (or perhaps North African) assassin who fights using animal themed stances such as Mantis and Tarantula, as well as a third stance called Scarecrow. In these stances, particularly Tarantula, Zafina will bend her body in very peculiar ways and become incredibly unpredictable. I haven’t been so confused by a character since Eddy Gordo’s floppy introduction in Tekken 3.

So Tekken 6 is a great game, but what are it’s flaws? There are four, and I’m going to go over them.

Flaw #1. Character rankings work the same in Tekken 6 as they did in the previous game, meaning you will start at beginner before progressing through the kyu ranks until you hit 1st dan. Unlike Tekken 5, this is the highest rank you can reach offline. If you want to progress through the rest of the dan ranks and go even higher, you will have to play online.

Flaw #2. The second player cannot use custom costumes made in the character customization. In offline versus and team match, this can be a little annoying and, when player two selects and uses a default costumed character only to face off against player one’s Eddy Gordo with an afro and pink clothes, they just might feel a little left out. I count this as a very significant flaw because it only favours the first player and shows that Namco neglected putting much effort into local multiplayer, instead opting to make online fighting the main draw.

Flaw #3. The final boss, Azazel, is borderline ridiculous. I really enjoy difficult bosses, but only when they are legitimately difficult. Azazel’s abilities and tactics are questionable at best, and if you fight the beast without using boring and cheap tactics, then you’ll likely find yourself becoming frustrated.

Flaw #4. The graphics. Tekken 6 was originally released in arcades a whooping two years before seeing a console release. In this time span, Tekken 6 went from being a visually amazing fighter to, well, a mediocre looking one. To Tekken 6’s credit, the game does look great in motion due to the animations and stage lighting being absolutely fantastic, but the graphics are overall on the dated side.

These four flaws are actually fairly small. Character rankings really don’t even matter, the lack of 2P customization is nearly forgotten after extensive play sessions, Azazel is rarely fought, and the graphics never dip below average.

Overall, it’s an incredibly solid package and definitely my favourite fighter this generation. There’s lots to do and plenty of unlockables, and the fighting is so intense and rewarding that it never gets old. Tekken 6 is as good as the series gets, making other noteworthy entries in the franchise appear average. Tekken 6 is a Tekken like no other. If you have any interest in Tekken, then this game is a must purchase.

Final Score

9.4/10

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Mega Man Maverick Hunter X (Review)

“A remake that takes the original and stomps it into the ground.”

I’m a fickle Mega Man fan. I was a huge fan of Mega Man and Mega Man 2, but then never truly enjoyed another until Mega Man X4. I greatly loved X5 and X6 as well, but these five are, for the most part, the only Mega Man games that I will lovingly play. Mega Man 9 and 10 were released recently, and I will admit that they come close to being loved as well, but they just narrowly miss out.

I decided, on a whim of course, to download Mega Man Maverick Hunter X off of the Playstation Store. I was never too fond of the original Mega Man X, believing it to be a very mediocre attempt to redefine Mega Man. I found the original on the SNES to be, dare I say it, boring. This is why I was very surprised to find that Maverick Hunter X was quite fun!

Perhaps there was just something fun about playing an upgraded version of an old game, but I really enjoyed myself. The atmosphere was the same as it had been on the SNES, complete with remastered music and glorious 3D robots. For a PSP platformer, it looks and sounds quite nice. In fact, it looks so nice that I wouldn’t be upset if it found it’s way onto the Playstation 3’s store. Since I play my PSP games on a TV, I am able to see many more fine details, and this game is certainly pretty enough to be a console platformer.

The gameplay feels like it may be easier as a whole. With the exception of only a few spots, I found Maverick Hunter X to be a breeze. I remember being challenged quite a lot by the original SNES version years ago, and even recently when I replayed it.

There’s not a lot to say about this game because it is, literally, the same old Mega Man X only with a few revisions. It’s worth noting that there are some goodies available for you after you complete the game, which adds a bit of life to an already fantastic PSP game.

If you like Mega Man or even just platformers in general, this one is worth your attention.

Final Score

7.5/10

F1 2009 (Review)

“A completely average and unremarkable F1 game.”

I’d like to take a moment to talk about Codemasters’ F1 2009 on the Sony PSP, was was released in November 2009. While I have heard good things about the Wii incarnation of the game (which I’m unable to play due to not owning a Wii), I feel that the PSP version must be inferior due to the fact that I’m unable to find much that is “good” about it. Words I would use in place of “good” to describe this game are bland, average, and uninspiring. Read on and I’ll tell you why.

Due to the imited distribution of F1 2009, this game can be hard to find in physical form. I did not even bother trying my luck and just shelled out roughly $40 CDN for a digital copy over Sony’s online Playstation Store. This is, more often than not, the approximate asking price for a brand new game on the Playstation Store. Fortunately, most games that wind up available in digital download form turn out to be quite good, which I discovered when I had bought a few games for about the same price. They were quality games, so I expected the price to reflect the quality of F1 2009 when I decided to take the plunge. Unfortunately, it didn’t.

Upon booting up the game, you are treated to an opening cinematic that is fairly uninspiring and boring. It didn’t capture the excitement and speed of Formula One, and I felt myself feeling underwhelmed after watching it. However, the main menu was very pleasant on the eyes, as was the background music. Unfortunately, the menus do not function as well as they look. Take for example the driver selection screen. In most cases, Formula One racers treat us with onscreen options to change between teams and drivers. However, in F1 2009 on the PSP, you can only scroll through drivers. To add insult to injury, information onscreen during this process is kept to a bare minimum. Beyond the driver name, portrait, and 3D rendition of their car, little else is given to you. Those who do not follow Formula One may not even know what they are selecting. There were a few statistics submenus for the drivers, but they didn’t really give many statistics at all. World championships and highest finishing position, I believe. What, no wins, poles, points? Odd.

Choosing a circuit to race on is visually satisfying, but the fact that you have to watch the globe spin around to various countries before really even committing to whatever track you want to race on hampers any enjoyment I had gotten out of this submenu.

After I chose the time trial mode and selected Rubens Barrichello and Singapore on my very first sitting with F1 2009, I had to sit through a loading screen which, fortunately, was not that long.

Once the track loaded, I quickly got to the point of the game, the driving. Did I like it? No. The handling of the Brawn was an absolute joke as I found myself wondering if I had mistakenly purchased a Need for Speed game with a Formula One license. For those unfamiliar with Need for Speed, all of them minus the latest in the series, are arcade racers with extremely loose handling. I found myself making my way around Singapore with little to no effort, underwhelmed by how easy the game felt.

The graphics weren’t too bad though, so this was a plus. They reminded me of a late Playstation 1 Formula One game. Actually to be fair, the graphics are a little better than any PS1 Formula One game for sure. There’s still a lot of room for improvement, though. The sound is in a similar boat to this, with passable sound effects which do the job considering this is a PSP game. You can only do so much with a little handheld console with tiny speakers. This does not excuse the KERS sound, which sounds very strange and out of place.

By lap three or four, a very serious problem reared its ugly head. I really have to address the controls in this game, and I have to really stress that they are very, very uncomfortable. Square is brake, X is accelerate, and Circle is KERS. Given how small the PSP is, I found myself twisting my hand in awkward ways, and having to shift between braking, accelerating, and using KERS really started to take its toll as I felt my entire hand getting sore, especially my in palm. I found myself aborting the time trial to give my hand a break and I tried to understand how anyone would be able to complete a full distance race in this game.

Now, I’m 24 and I love gaming. I can sit down with a keyboard and mouse, or a Playstation 3 Sixaxis controller for hours and never develop sore hands unless I’m playing something that involves a lot of quick finger motions (fighting games and action-filled side scrollers do the trick), and this takes at least an hour to occur. The fact that some little PSP racer was able to accomplish this same feat in a matter of minutes said something. This game has a very terrible button layout! To make it even worse, I spent five minutes trying to find a way to reconfigure the button mapping, but it appeared to be completely absent from the game.

I attempted an actual race later on though, five laps around Interlagos as Kimi Raikkonen. I started 20th and finished in 6th,and overall I found the actual racing to be fairly decent. It won’t win any awards and the AI did not really do anything to wow me, but it was pleasurable. My only problem was that the controls made my hand sore about four laps into the race. I should mention KERS as well. I found that it was difficult for me to concentrate on the actual racing and where my car was going whenever I would use KERS, because I would shift my thumb so that it would cover both X and Circle. This left the Square button far, far away from my thumb. As a result, if I made even the slightest mistake, I couldn’t brake in time and I would always go off track because of this. If the button mapping wasn’t so terrible and could be reconfigured, then this would not be a problem. Ideally, L1 should be brake, R1 should be accelerate, and X should be KERS. Having all three lumped together made focusing on the race difficult, and I spent about half of my time staring at where my thumb was.

But let me end things right here. I’d like to say that this is a pretty decent F1 game, as it looks and plays just fine. However, it cannot even compare to the more popular ones out there. F1 ‘97 on the Sony Playstation remains my favourite F1 game of all time and, from a gameplay standpoint, that game did more impressive things than F1 2009 on the PSP.

However, if you are both a Formula One and gaming enthusiast and own a PSP, then I would recommend this game and you should find at least get some enjoyment out of it.

Final Score

5/10