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A.P.I Review: TEKKEN 3
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: NAMCO 1-2 Player
Game Type: Beat-em-up Memory Card
Review Date: September 1998 Dual Shock Controller

Setting the Scene

In what is undeniably the most anticipated fighting game release in 
console history, Namco's Tekken 3 is finally on its way to store 
shelves across Europe.

Yes sir ree, the King of the Iron Fist Tournament is about to begin 
again!  Some of the original combatants are returning and there are 
also some new faces as well.  Some have grown a bit older, one has not 
aged a bit, some have changed their appearance and some remain the 
same, but rest assured that they are all more than qualified and ready 
to kick some serious ass!

So, without further delay...on with the show!


Tekken 3 is a quasi 3D fighting game beast that comes with some 
heavy-duty credentials.


For those of you that are familiar with the Tekken series, I will make 
this one simple.  Remember how much better looking T2 was over T1? 
Well, T3 is leaps and bounds over T2 in graphical brilliance.

For the few that have no idea what I am talking about, I will go into 
a bit more detail.  This is the best looking fighting game ever 
released on a home console.  Not enough?  Okay, the specifics.

The polygon count is way up in T3.  Characters have a nice smooth 
appearance to them and the level of costume detail is intricately 
depicted.   The fighters are also quite large, especially some of the 
heavy hitters like King, Kuma and Ogre.  The costume detail is 
incredible as well.  The outfits seem to wrinkle and flow as real 
articles of clothing would and Lei Wu-Long's ponytail flaps around 
quite convincingly.  Character scaling is also implemented quite well 
here.  Characters grow and shrink in size, depending on their location 
in relation to battlefield.

Polygon clipping is almost non-existent in the game and the collision 
detection is great.  The only time that I really noticed any flaws was 
when I was using Gon.  When you use his tailspin attack, he will 
occasionally melt right into the opposing fighter's polygons.  That 
was the only serious glitch that I could pick up though.

The game appears to be cruising along at 60fps in the Playstation 
Hi-Res mode and even with all of the character detail, movement is 
smooth as silk.  There is a great deal more character animation than 
the previous Tekken games, but unfortunately a bit of the ending poses 
have been cut from the arcade version.  Oh well.

The backgrounds have also taken a hit from its arcade counterpart. 
Gone are the fully 3-D polygonal environments.  They have been 
replaced by pre-rendered drawings very similar to those found in 
Tekken 2.   Personally, I rather like the backgrounds in T3.  They are 
very detailed and contain some nice parallax scrolling and warping 
effects to mimic depth.  To get a game that looks this sweet I'll 
trade off the poly backgrounds any me, the scenery still 
looks gorgeous.

Oh, and before I forget...what Namco game would be complete without 
some awesome Full Motion Video.  Well, as with the previous Tekken 
games, this one has some awesome FMV / CG graphics.  The opening scene 
is enticing and has a nice high-energy feel to it.  It's also worth 
noting that each and every character has their own FMV ending 
sequence.  Tasty indeed!

It's worth mentioning that the PAL version suffers from a couple of 
distractions.  The first is the return of those horrendous borders.  
Not massive... but noticeable.  The second is a little more concerning.  
The difference in game speed between NTSC and PAL is very noticeable, 
with the latter seeming to move at about 20% reduction.  Saying that... 
if you have never played the Import version then you'll probably 
never know!

Sounds and Effects

The music in Tekken 3 is outstanding for a fighting game.  A very 
complex and engaging Techno-rock score has been developed that really 
does the job in getting your adrenaline pumping and fingers moving 
over the control pad.

The sound effects are very much reminiscent to the previous Tekken 
games.  You have nice bone-crunching effects for limb breaking, super 
impact effects when a kick of punch lands and plenty of grunts and 
groans from the combatants.  The sounds for the special effects are 
also sweet.  When your characters starts to vibrate with energy, a 
nice swirling electrical sound ensues.

This is one fighter that I don't recommend turning the sound down on. 


As incredible as it may seem, Namco seems to reach a new zenith with 
each Tekken release.  T2 firmed up the control system and response 
over T1 and now T3 has taken it a step further and perfected it.  Not 
only that, but the Tekken series is also famous for adding a bunch of 
stuff in the home versions that were not present in the arcade game. 
T3 doesn't disappoint in this category either...but I am jumping 
ahead of myself here.

When Tekken 3 was originally released in the arcades, it was thought a 
home conversion would be out of the question without some type of 
memory upgrade or expansion module to the existing PSX unit.  The 
arcade game was developed on a Namco System 12 board.  The board is 
basically a souped up version of the System 11 board (which is 
actually a Playstation), with a bunch of memory added and a tweaked up 
CPU.  It was met with amazement and more than a bit of skepticism 
when Namco announced that the home translation would require no 
upgrades whatsoever.  So here we have the final product and while 
edges have certainly been cut, the overall gameplay and character 
mechanics have been left intact.  The end result is an amazing 
programming achievement that must use almost every last drop of 
Playstation processing power available.  I hate saying that though, 
because somehow coders always seem to squeeze another pint of blood 
from this system.

For your home consumption, T3 comes with a few extras not found in the 
arcade version.  We are given a new character, a cute little dino 
names "Gon".  While he is far from my favorite character in the game, 
once learned, his attacks are quite devastating.

Another "benie" is the Force Mode.  This is a side scrolling game 
thrown in which has your selected character moving left to right 
fighting all sorts of nasties albeit a watered-down version of Final 
Fight.  I actually liked this's damn hard to reach the end 
but it has its rewards.  The only downside is that up and down 
character movement is a real chore until you get used to "tapping" the 
up and down direction buttons just so.  Once you get this little quirk 
mastered, the game is quite fun.

Another mode, that needs to get unlocked, is the Beach Ball game. 
This has got to be one of the strangest concepts that I have ever 
seen for a game.   You select your character and are then placed on a 
volley ball court in a nice scenic tropical setting.  The object is to 
"knockout" your opponent by either dropping the ball on their side of 
the court or beating the crap out of them with the ball itself.   You 
are able to bully your opponent while the ball is in the air in an 
effort to prevent them from hitting the ball back to you or use a 
series of combos on the ball to energize its attack on your foe. 
Mastering this little sidebar of a game takes a whole lot of time and 

Rounding out the "specials" is a FMV editor or sorts.  After beating 
the game with all of the characters you are given a mode in which you 
can select and watch the FMV endings for each and every character, 
whenever you want.  You can also use the editor to view the endings of 
Tekken 2 and 1.  Yeah it's not a really big deal, but some people may 
enjoy it and what the hell it's a "freebie".

Okay enough talk about the "little" stuff, let's get to the reason you 
will buy this game in the first place...the actual fighting modes!

Jumping into the options menu, you can configure the sound to mono or 
stereo, set up the difficulty, battle length and stuff.  You can also 
configure you controller buttons to whatever you like.  I suggest 
visiting this menu option, as the default setting does not make use of 
the shoulder buttons.  Some of the most devastating moves and combos 
can be done from these buttons.  You also have the option of setting 
auto-save on...which is also highly recommended, as this game will 
automatically save your victories and progress to a memory card in 
case you forget.  The last selection of note is the Vibrate On/Off 
option...Yep, T3 is compatible with the new, soon to be released Sony 
dual analog dual shock controller.  This new controller actually has 
two vibrating solenoids built into it that vibrate at different 
intensities as well as independently.

In Arcade Mode you initially start out with ten fighters to choose 
from, a new character is unlocked each time you beat the game with a 
selected character.  The total headcount rounds out to 21 
fighters...down a bit from the 23 of T2.  Sheese...whatta rip! 
(Hehehe).  Without getting into a bunch of boring history here, I'll 
just say that this Tournament is taking place a few decades later than 
the previous game.  It seems that Paul has grown a beard, Marshall Law 
has been replaced by his son, Michelle Chang by her daughter and 
Jack-2 by Gun Jack.  Yoshimitshu is more evil looking than ever, Jun 
and Bruce are dead and Nina Williams has been in a cryogenic freeze so 
she comes out of all of this looking as radiant as ever.

The characters you have become familiar with in the previous Tekken 
games still have many of their old moves and signature styles as well 
as some new moves that they must have picked up along the way.  At any 
rate, if you have played either of the previous Tekken games 
(especially T2) you will feel right at home on this one.

I had thought that Namco had perfected the controller to character 
response in T2, but I was wrong.  T3 is the current pinnacle of 
dead-on control response.  There is absolutely no delay from the time 
you press the button on your controller to the time the character 
executes the move.   It's a nice feeling to know that if you get your 
butt pummeled, it's not because the character wasn't responsive 
enough.  To up the ante a bit you now have some great reversals and 
double-reversals as well!  Pulling off one of these babies is pure 
poetry in motion and when done properly, elicits a good amount of 
damage.  All of the 3, 4, 6, 10 hit combos are available to master as 
well.  Of course you can also juggle the heck out of the opponent just 
to rub their noses in it.

Contact animation is also excellent.  You can almost feel the pain and 
impact when you snap an opponents limb or knock them senseless with a 
string of hits and as with T2, head tracking is used in this game. 
Knock someone down or move around them and your character will move 
their head accordingly to maintain eye contact with the opponent.

To become victorious, you have to plow through 10 battles of 
increasing difficulty.  Win all ten and you get treated to the winning 
character FMV ending.   Which brings me to one of the few criticisms 
that I have of this's easy.   In the arcade mode on the hard 
setting, it took me little more than two sessions (each session being 
around 2 hours or so) to beat the game and unlock all of the 
characters that are available in the Arcade mode.  I was a little 
surprised that I could repeatedly use a successful move or two over 
and over again to win each game.  Still, it was fun as hell while I 
was doing it.

The other "normal" modes are Practice, Time Attack, Survival, Team 
Battle and Vs.  All are good challenging modes full of fun and action 
as in the last Tekken game, which brings me to my next point...The 
best part of the Tekken series has always been and remains in this 
game, two-player action.  You can easily spend the better part of a 
day battling it out against another human opponent...this is truly 
where the game shines.  Discovering all of the moves available for 
each character can become another time consuming goal.  Just when you 
though you've seen it all, you press a few buttons in a different 
order by mistake and out comes another awesome move.  It's stuff like 
this that will have you pulling this title off your shelf first 
whenever a friend is over.

Overall, I think that Namco has delivered yet another excellent 
fighting game in Tekken 3.  It's just enough of a jump over T2 that it 
feels fresh all over again, yet retains that nice familiar feel to 
it...a nice balancing act indeed.  The new modes that are thrown in 
are like icing on the cake.  They certainly didn't have to be 
included, but they add a delightful touch and round out the overall 
game nicely.

Value for Money

In the one-player mode I would have to question the "lastabilty" of 
this title.  You could certainly spend days, even weeks working on 
perfecting all of the characters moves, but the game is so easy to 
beat all of the cool combo's and killer attacks are not really 
necessary to win.   If you like the Ball or Force Modes though, you 
can certainly extend the life of the game playing all of the 
characters through these.

Where T3 really more than holds its own is in the two-player 
department and hell, that's what fighting games are really all about 
anyway...grab a friend, impress them with all of the fancy moves 
you've learned and pummel them into submission.
GRAPHICS: 20/20 Tekken 3 is currently the pinnacle of console fighting games and the one that all others are going to be measured against. The graphics set a new high-water mark as does the game control and playability. Most of your favorite characters are back and ready for action. The game retains a nice familiar feel to it, but is just fresh enough to make it exciting and new.

The new game modes that have been included are like icing on the cake and are actually quite hard and fun to play.

It's kinda strange but for the first time in fighting games, Namco has not delivered an "arcade perfect" port. Instead what they have done was deliver a "better than arcade" overall game translation here that will truly stand the test of time and perhaps be the best fighter we will ever see released on the Playstation.
SOUND: 9/10
VALUE: 19/20


GRAPHICS: 18/20 It may not seem like a big deal to all you NTSC gamers out there but this is a massive week across Europe. The reason being is that Tekken 3 finally arrives on PAL format (Don't laugh, they had HoD, TOCA and Micro V3 many moons before arriving in the States). That's right! Apart from those who were prepared to pay a little more for an Import copy of Namco's wondrous fighting title, many gamers are about to wake up to a truly bone crunching experience.

Personally I think that the third instalment of Tekken is the greatest beat-em-up I have played on any system... but it's still not 'PERFECT'. There is still room for improvement.

I have ever so slightly marked down the graphics because, although they are awesome, I thought that the rich coloring gives the characters more of a 'cartoony' appearance. Tekken 2 was sooo close to 'looking realistic' whereas Tekken 3 leans more towards 'moving realistically'. This is not a problem... more of a personal preference.

Finally, it's probably worth mentioning that the PAL version suffers from a couple of distractions. The first is the return of those horrendous borders. Not massive... but noticeable. The second is a little more concerning. The difference in game speed between NTSC and PAL is very noticeable, with the latter seeming to move at about 20% reduction. Saying that... if you have never played the Import version then you'll probably never know!
SOUND: 9/10
VALUE: 20/20

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