Tekken 3 was easily one of my favourite games of my youth and it was the first game I ever bought on release day. But more than that it was the only fighting game that me and my mates had where our interest in playing the game lasted more than a few weeks (or months) together. Mortal Kombat kept our interest for a while by virtue of a frequent release schedule and expanding gore. Tekkenwas a game that to us, had depth and that depth is what kept us interested. More to this however, Tekken is one of those games I return to and revisit over and over. The only other Fighting game that gets this much of my attention over the years would be Street Fighter 2, but even then, that is a few bouts with each characters a couple of times a year. Whereas I tend to 100% Tekken 3 once every year or so.
Tekken 3 is obviously a Tournament Fighter, and if you have played any entry in the series then you will know the buttons are associated with a limb. 4 buttons, 4 limbs, it means you can tactically jab to hold people off, stronger/weaker feet, and almost complete control over how you attack. Subtle nuances such as a right handed player versus a south paw (leftie) having disadvantages which can change a game. But also certain characters can stance switch during a game meaning you can jump around like a speed demon and you’re opponent won’t know what is coming next.
Further depth comes from the introduction of the Z axis, or moving in an out of vertical plane. A well time dodge will allow you to unleash your own attacks and quickly turn the tide of battle. It allows you to dodge spam kicks such as a newb Hwoarang, but a douche like Eddy is too quick with good tracking so becomes harder to dodge away from. It adds skill and depth to a genre that requires both to be successful, but Tekken 3 successfully lowers the bar to entry on these things.
Easily the worst part in any Tournament Fighter is the story I never know why they bother to shoehorn some of this in, but on the whole the main story avoids some of these issues that afflict the genre.
15 years pass from Tekken 2 and Mishima Zaibatsu still led by Heihachi, has set up the Tekken Force a paramilitary organisation to help “keep the peace”. Tekken Force are sent to investigate a temple deep in Mexico’s jungle where they awaken a massive fucking Ogre,an Aztec god and the final boss. Things go to pot and Ogre kills the Tekken Force team and escapes into the night.
Ogre patiently waits a further 3-4 years before going about killing martial arts experts which inevitably leads him to killing main characters family members keeping a nice and convenient plot device to round up the usual suspects of pre-existing Tekken characters. One of these unlucky (presumed) dead chaps and chapettes killed by Ogreare Jun Kazama and Kazuya Mishima who in the intervening 15 years have passed they have birthed Jin. Ogre whomps Jun and Kazuya, and Jin shakes his fist shouting “CURSES!” towards the then joins up with Heihachi to learn fighting skills.
Everyone else turns up for money and or revenge and off we go punching and kicking for world peace. FYI, I totally bagged on Tuff E Nuff for having a similar utterly terrible story but nobody plays fighters for the story or even pays attention… Or do they?
Since Tekken 3 is set 20 years after Tekken 2 it has the awkward task of fitting in the characters we know and love while trying to move the story forward. In practice this means most of the roster is “different” but fundamentally the same. You see, only 6 of the original characters remain Anna Williams, Heihachi Mishima, Lei Wulong, Nina Williams, Paul Phoenix and Yoshimitsu. But others such as Law, or Julia Chang or Kuma ii are all the same character as the previous game just with a different name or slight reskin. An example of this would be that Law is now Forest Law, instead of Marshall. He is Marshall’s son you so he looks exactly like Marshall, and for a newb like me, plays exactly the same. Jack is now Gun Jack which is still a lumbering mountain of pain but is the 3rd Jack model. Julia is Michelle but with her Indian head dress on the other side of her head.
After this there are 13 or so more new characters:
Eddy Gordo is the Oddjob of the Tekken universe. he is the cheat character that if your mate picks you are automatically entitled to punch them as hard as you can in their genitals. Tiger Jackson is the 70s Disco pallette swap. They both breakdance fight. Picking Tiger vs Eddy is allowed, but you are both due a genital punch.
Bryan Fury is a human/cybord robocop. *I* think he is a bad guy, but apparently isn’t. He was always my least favourite character in the series and was always a personality sponge to me.
Gon is a gimmick character, he is a small knee height dinosaur. He was exclusive to this game and came out of the Anime. He is also a fucking cheap ass cheat character, who is usually house ruled out.
Hwoarang. Come to think of it, Hwoarang is usually house ruled out due to his impressive kick juggling from spamming both kick buttons. He is easily counter-able as a newb, but if you want to beat the arcade mode or Tekken Force without looking at the screen then Hwoarang is your go to pick. He can switch stances to give access to some blistering kick combos if you’re super competent.
Ling Xiaoyu is a tough one for me. She is a 16 year old girl so I immediately find her skeevy. But she has the potential to be a devastating character. I can’t play her for toffees because I am terrible. But like Hwoarang she has a tonne of stances that can be combined together to create a flurry of death. She also has a pet Panda who doesn’t fight by her side except in cutscenes.
The rest of the cast are further gimmicks such as Panda/Kuma (variations of bear), Roger/Alex (Kangaroo/Raptor) the wood robot thing Mokujin who is effectively a random character selector. As it will pick a different character to borrow moves from each match and it is pretty fun to use in arcade mode if you want an increased challenge. Or Dr Bosconovitch, who makes Eddy look like a fair character. This decrepit geezer lies on his back and flops around the screen mullering you. He is the final unlock, and is a bit of a pain to get so most people probably didn’t get him. But he is also house ruled out.
It’s odd as breaking down the roster this way as it shows a lot of characters that are not fun to play against, but the roster is actually balanced. It certainly passes my key test of can you and a mate pick up and play and have fun. There are a few pubs near me that has b so I actually play it a lot with random people. And between 3 or 4 of me and my mates (all pretty poor at the game) we can pick random characters are all matches be relatively competitive. Bar when I use Xiaoyu.
The key thing with any Tournament Fighter is the moveset, and boy is Tekken 3 a nice game for teaching you the moves as it actually has a movelist in the game menu which shows you the moves. For starters, each character has what feels like 30 or 40 moves. This means most moves are tied to a simple button combination of buttons with harder moves/combos requiring split second timing and hummingbird reflexes. It means a child could figure out moves and have fun. It means a douche will spam Hwoarang’s kick, but any sensible person will figure out you can simple dodge it and whomp him in the face chaining moves together without ever having to go to the extent that Killer Instinct does with insane combos.
For me, Tekken 3 is the perfect Tournament Fighter. Others will argue Street Fighter 2, and those people are almost wrong. As both of those games nail their respective rosters. Both of those games perfected their series format, both of those had depth, an interesting/fair learning curve, and both allowed for balanced competitive play that was easy to pick up and added in depth for those who possess skill and a desire for competitive play. What sets Tekken 3 apart from Street Fighter 2 is the depth on offer outside of the main arcade mode and two-player fun. Over 20 characters which isn’t bogged down in the endless pallate swapped Ninjas/Cyborgs to pad the roster or different colour Gis. Each main character has a purpose, each novelty character is at least given the respect of a joke epilogue. On top of this there are additional game modes to keep things interesting.
Beach Ball mode is a fun distraction, but Tekken Force while rudimentary, is probably the best Beat ’em Up of the 5th Generation console.
Pros: Easy to pick up and play, decent depth, fun characters
Cons: Animations are a bit shonkey, some characters are a bit cheesey.
Back in the Day:
Jesus fuck did Tekken 3 win a lot of awards Game of Years, best fighting games as well as scoring high 90s and 10 out of 10 scores. It even holds a score of 96% on Metacritic and is often listed as one of the best PS1 games.
Also Available on: Arcade and PlayStation Classic