Tekken Tag Tournament 2 review – The Iron Fist strikes back

As anyone who’s spent an entire round being juggled by Kuma before falling lifeless below to his stupid bear face will testify, Tekken is a uniquely challenging fighter. The input window between nailing and failing a move can be infinitesimal, and leaving yourself vulnerable to one attack leads to a heartbreaking period of helplessness, being tossed around while your health bar vanishes.

But it’s also an incredibly accomplished, fast-paced fighter with huge play-style variation that imbues animals, space-ninjas and doe-eyed girls with a combination of martial arts mastery and superhuman agility. High-level play requires infinite practice, but experimental button-bashing rewards newcomers with quick fire combos and a fascinating array of fighting stances.

Tekken Tag Tournament 2 review

Lately we’ve all been having so much fun admiring Street Fighter IV and Street Fighter X Tekken’s poise and polish that the likes of Yoshimitsu and Hwoarang exist to us only that ‘X Tekken’ sense, coated in that trademark SF visual filter, busting out quarter-circle moves against Dhalsim and co. But there was a time before Tekken’s vaguely underwhelming last iterations when each release was an exciting event. And that time just got easier to remember, because in combining the fan-favourite elements of the original Tag Tournament and refining the new additions in Tekken 6, director Katsuhiro Harada’s latest hits a sweet spot.

There’s no combat system overhaul here – it’s the same juggle-heavy Tekken that delighted and frustrated back on PS1, now enjoying the benefits of fluid, easy-to-read animation, high frame rates and expanded move lists that remain true to the founding Tekken maxim of countering an opponent when they attempt a slower launcher move, then juggling them until they cry. Stages are multi-tied as in Tekken 6, and dotted with environmental damage opportunities like breakable walls and floors.

The last game’s customisation options have been expanded, meaning it’s now possible to make series icons utterly unrecognizable. Jun as a disco-gimp wearing a head-mounted hamster wheel? Sure, why not. The rage mechanic, a last-gasp damage boost when you’re low on health returns, and does so with more balance, and Ghost Mode, in which you fight downloaded player profiles – a kind of pseudo-recording of human’s fighting styles based on their recorded matches – is back too. A welcome oddity.