This is part of our ongoing “Great Video Game” series in which readers and staffers alike are encouraged to submit articles about video games they consider great. This week’s submission is “Tekken 5.”
By Rob Bradfield
Every gamer, from the casual to the hardcore, has played some sort of fighting game. Some are unbelievably bad — “Shaq-Fu” comes to mind — but once in a while a game comes around that stands as a testament to humanity’s technological achievements.
“Tekken 5,” one of the latest installments of the “Tekken” series, is one of those games. The entire “Tekken” series has been a fixture in video arcades across the country for years.
Most people will remember such storied names as “Tekken 3” and “Tekken Tag.” While some will no doubt hold the “Mortal Kombat” or “SoulCalibur” series higher than “Tekken,” I challenge them to start playing “Tekken” and not end up playing for another three hours at least.
The secret of “Tekken” is they perfected the basic fighting game formula early on and have constantly improved since then. In “Tekken 5” the familiar four button, three-round, two-fighter format returns with new characters, stages and moves.
Instead of the annoying and nonsensical high kick/low kick button layout that “Mortal Kombat” employs or the ridiculous controls that “SoulCalibur” uses, each button controls a limb, which means your butt-kicking potential is exponentially increased.
Another thing that sets the series apart is the variety of characters.
Instead of the ninjas that have essentially all the same moves, each character features a distinct style of marital arts.
When you have a Jackie Chan character using Five Animal Kung-Fu fighting a Mexican Luchador, the possibilities for high-flying, high-action, flying-fist fun are nearly limitless.
The game also has a fair dose of nationalistic humor (most of the American characters are muscle-headed jocks or morbidly obese) that reminds you that it was designed almost exclusively for a Japanese audience.
What really sets “Tekken 5,” and the whole “Tekken” series, apart is the intangible joy that you can only experience from playing the game. There’s something magical about a man in a jaguar mask beating the tar out of a kangaroo, or an old Chinese man headbutting a robot in the groin.
The only way I can even begin to convey the way fighting in “Tekken” makes me feel is by passing the controller and saying, “You wanna take me on?”
Do you have a video game that you consider to be great? Please send us your submission at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a few hundred words on why you consider your game select to be great.