Developer: Namco Bandai
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Tekken 3D is up against it a little bit. Super Street Fighter IV 3D was probably the standout title for the 3DS at launch. An excellently render, fine-tuned fighter that took full advantage of the portable console's social and multiplayer features, it was something of a no-brainer when stacked up against its Day One peers. Dead or Alive: Dimensions took that a step further with tons of unlockables, plenty of game modes to sink your teeth into, even if the Chronicle mode was a bit of a jumbled mess.
But it's not like Namco Bandai haven't proven they can make relevant portable fighters. Tekken: Dark Resurrection is the perfect example of this: the PSP title made a game that provided a staggeringly well-crafted and responsive title that made good use of the PSP's analogue slider and offered plenty of depth thanks to Tekken Dojo.
It's a little disappointing, therefore, to find that Tekken 3D Prime Edition is pretty anaemic.
To start with the good news, though, is to celebrate the excellent use that Namco have made of the technology. The game is a technical tour-de-force (offline, anyway), with matches running at a smooth 60 frames per second, even with the 3D slider turned up to the max offering pinpoint accuracy and no lag to speak of.
In delivering the Tekken 6 experience to a new audience, Namco Bandai have brought back the full 41-character roster, replete with golden oldies and series debutants alike, and because of the silky smooth framerate, these characters all feel just like they do on the larger platforms. The face buttons of the 3DS, in emulating those of the DualShock controller, offer a perfect substitute for Sony's tech, with customisable touch buttons allowing players to assign certain moves to the lower screen.
Tekken 6's RAGE fuction makes a return, too, with characters powering up as their health bar dips perilously close to empty, and the combos, juggles and special moves are all fairly easy to pull off. If there is a criticism, though, it's that the size and shape of the 3DS and its buttons doesn't really feel quite as fitting as the PSP, with longer combos proving slightly fiddly. This won't trouble everyone, but perhaps worth pointing out if you already own Dark Resurrection.
So it is that Tekken 3D, just as Tekken 6 does, serves up a range of playable styles from which to choose, with something in there for everyone. The huge selection of characters means that everyone's tastes are catered for. Sadly, though, there's just not very much for them to do.
Fighting games don't need a story, that much is certain, but there's simply no excuse for the paucity of game modes on offer here, particularly for a portable game. Offline, there are two modes to entertain: Quick Battle and Special Survival. The former is a simple 10-battle sprint to a credits screen, no frills, no framing, no fuss. The latter sees you taking on a series of increasingly tricky opponents, with only a small amount of regenerating health per round.
There are no customisation options, no currency or in-game unlockables, rather playing through these modes repeatedly earns you cards and card points that can be traded with other players via StreetPass. But it's really not much of an incentive if we're honest. 700 cards don't quite offer the same amount of satisfaction and personal involvement that the options from previous series instalments have given us in the past.
Online, there's a similar scarcity of options, but at least it works pretty well. There are Ranked and Friendly matches and a Versus Battle mode, and that's pretty much it, but we found we were able to get fights going without much hassle. The game nerfs the 3D effect completely online, sacrificing the extra dimension to keep the smooth framerate, but there's still the occasional smattering of ruinous lag.
So there you have it: a tech demo and a standard online component. Almost as if realising that they'd undercooked things a little bit, Namco Bandai have packaged Tekken: Blood Vengeance on the little cartridge too (you can read my appraisal of that in our Tekken Hybrid review). It's a pleasant enough film, is completely over the top, will delight Panda fans and looks great in 3D, but it's a huge cop-out.
Tekken 3D gets the most important thing right: the central mechanics. It is a smooth and precisely realised experience, and one that provides a great mobile training tool. But that's the least we should ask of our fighting titles and sadly Tekken 3D provides little incentive to keep playing when there are numerous, more fully featured alternatives on the market.
- 60 FPS points towards excellent use of the 3DS' power
- Huge roster of characters
- Emulates Tekken gameplay perfectly
- Woeful lack of meaningful content
- Occasional lag online
- Offers significantly less than PSP alternatives and platform peers
The Short Version: A bundled CG movie (which we've seen before) cannot fill the content gap in a game that is big on technical prowess but sorely lacking in content. Tekken 3D distills the series' gameplay perfectly onto the 3DS, but doesn't know where to go from there. Inconsistent online play and a crippling lack of offline options make this a difficult title to recommend.