Publisher: Namco Bandai
Remember the days when demos releases were eagerly awaited entries in the calendar, when print magazines offered up precious samples of upcoming titles to fuel the flames and fan the hype? Of course, these days the digital distribution platforms offer up plenty of opportunities to try before you buy, from hand crafted samples to simple, free half-hour trials. But I'm not sure if anyone told Namco that.
Tekken Hybrid is essentially made up of three components: Tekken Tag Tournament HD (a shinier reskinned version of the PS2 launch title); a demo for its upcoming sequel, titled Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Prologue; and a 90-minute CG feature called Tekken: Blood Vengeance that takes a long, hard look at the Devil gene and, of course, centres around a Mishima family squabble.
First up, the PS2 classic. It's all pretty much business as usual here, and a fairly serviceable, but relatively uninspiring, upgrade. There's nothing much that's changed, the backgrounds look a little shinier, but the character models belie the original game's age. Everything's brighter and a little sharper, though, and we finally get the 60FPS we were promised.
Of course, Tekken Tag was a huge step for the series, finally introducing the titular feature that Capcom had been flaunting for a little while. Nudge the bumper and your characters swap places, offering up opportunities for double team combos, and giving your early punchbag a chance to regain some strength. Unlike some fighters, though, if one character loses all of their health (rather than both), it's all over. Face buttons, as with all Tekken titles, separate themselves out from other fighters by correlating each of the four buttons to a different limb, and it's a cracking game for series virgins to get stuck into.
There's no doubt, it's good to see the game back, packed full of characters - the roster list reads like an early who's who of Tekken - content and game modes. Tekken Bowl makes a welcome return, injecting a little left-field humour into the proceedings. Watching Heihachi attempt to curl in a strike never gets particularly dull. As a multiplayer title, it excels, with Team Battle offering up some cracking fights as you pit a team of up to eight fighters against your opponent.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Prologue, though, is a pretty meagre offering. Forget that 'Prologue' suffix, the last time we saw that, Polyphony gave us a whole game. This is a short, four character demo that sort of ties in with the CG film on offer (more on that in a bit). The playables on offer include Devil Jin, Devil Kazuya, Xiaoyu and Alisa, all impressively rendered in costumes and appearances you'll see in Blood Vengeance.
It does feel far slicker than its slightly creaking progenitor, a lot like Tekken 6 in a number of ways, and judicious button mashing (there are no move lists), revealed some lengthier combos - particularly those involving tags - that should make for some happily brag-worthy encounters. There's a gallery so you can look longingly at the impressive character models and attempt to beat Devil Jin at a staring contest, but that's about it. TTT2 Prologue is a taster, nothing less, nothing more.
Tekken: Blood Vengeance, though, is exactly what you want from a bundled CG movie, and probably the most satisfying part of the bundle, particularly if you already own Tekken Tag Tournament. It's completely incomprehensible, the story has more plot-holes than Swiss cheese, the melodrama is off the charts and the acting and lip-synching is unintentionally hilarious. But it's also utterly gorgeous, fantastically choreographed, and provides 90 minutes of thrills so overblown and cheesy that it's impossible not to smile.
It's even better when enjoyed with friends and beer, and there are enough gratuitous shots of miniscule skirts, huge monologues of expositions, Panda slapstick cuteness, repeated uses of the line 'Why are they fighting?!' and exceptionally bizarre Alisa quotes to make for a fine drinking game. Instead of sketching out a backstory, we jump straight into the action, with the film sorting out narrative shortcomings by dumping a whole bunch of clunky exposition on us at regular intervals. It should ruin everything, but instead it does a good job of making sure each of these story unloads are followed by some very pretty action
It is a visually stunning piece of animated drama, although perhaps not quite as impressive as Advent Children. The 3D is pretty cool, but doesn't really add anything to proceedings. It's not a film where you find yourself bowled over by the extra dimension. On a top of the range setup it might be worth it, but frankly I imagine most will ignore it and opt for 2D alternative.
There are one or two things to note: don't go in expecting a huge range of characters to appear. There's a cracking comedic cameo from Lee Chaolan, but this is a fairly small roster. Frustratingly, Nina and Anna Williams keep popping up but, aside from a couple of minutes at the start, we never get to see the massive showdown that we all want. It happens in the movie, but we only get to see the aftermath. The film's biggest crime is setting the stage for a huge battle between Zaibatsu forces, enormous mechs, Nina and Anna, and not letting us see any of it. For shame.
Tekken Hybrid, then, is a difficult package to really pass verdict upon. If you're a massive Tekken fan, well you've probably got this pre-ordered anyway, but with a price point of somewhere between £25-30, there's a bit of cheek going on here. TTTHD is a welcome remaster, but does it deserve it's own boxed release? Probably not. If you're dying to check out Tekken Tag Tournament 2, then the snifter here will probably be the main draw, but at this price, if you've already got TTT, it seems a bit steep. Ultimately Tekken Hybrid is seen best as an ultimate package for a beer and pizza night. Get some mates round and the retro fighter stylings and terrifically cheesy film will entertain for an excellent weekend. But then, that really makes this rental fodder material more than anything else.
- Tekken Tag Tournament is still a blast even after 10 years
- Blood Vengeance is great fun
- Great little package for series fans
- But is there enough there to warrant a full purchase?
- TTT2 Prologue really quite meagre
- Could have added online play
The Short Version: Tekken Hybrid s a lovely little remastered package that will no doubt appeal to hardcore series fans. But with the visuals providing the only real upgrade, it's difficult to recommend to anyone who's already got the original. Then again, Blood Vengeance is arguably the real star here - being a delightful injection of barmy CG silliness. Excellent rental material as a whole, but difficult to recommend until the price drops a few weeks after launch.