Developer(s) – Namco
Publisher(s) – Namco & Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Director(s) – Seiichi Ishii
Producer(s) – Hajime Nakatani
PEGI – 12
Beginning as an internal experiment at Namco for modeling 3D characters, and later going on to become an early break-out hit on the original PlayStation as well as tearing up arcades everywhere, Tekken was Namco’s answer to the greatest fighting game series at the time such as Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and Virtua Fighter (indeed, with many of the original Virtua Fighter team going to design This game). I wrote a more in-depth article going into the facts about the development of the original game, as well as the Tekken series in general for ActionAGoGo a while back in my 10-Hit Combo series:
But as far as I’m concerned, although the best of the original Tekken trilogy would be yet to come, the first game in the series remains a favorite among fans of the original PlayStation, and for good reason.
Graphics – 7/10
For what started out as a simple experiment, It’s amazing to see what the game would later go on to be in every aspect. In terms of the visuals, it features a memorable cast of characters with stages set in real-life places, such as Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the countryside of Windemere, England, and the landscape of Athens complete with the backdrop of the Acropolis. The scenery would go on to become more diverse with later installments, but each area is represented well for the time on a system with limited graphics by today’s standards.
Gameplay – 7/10
The game centers around the player characters competing in the King of the Iron Fist tournament for global supremacy in the field of martial arts. Playing out much differently from a traditional fighting game, and not making as much prevalent use of combos as many other fighting games at the time, it provided players with a very different experience to what they would have been used to at the time. The style of play has gone on to be modified and perfected throughout the rest of the series, but for the starting point, it plays out much more fluently than Virtua Fighter. There is also a host of unlockable characters to acquire in the home console version, giving it that much replay value.
Controls – 10/10
Again, for what was to become the introduction to a beloved series, it’s surprising how well the controls were handled considering the fact that the same developers had previously worked on a fighting game that had arguably worse controls on a system that was comparable in power to the original PlayStation in the Sega Saturn. The fact that it runs on 80 frames per second really helped to achieve the desired effect, but although it may have seemed, even at the time, a step back where fighting games were concerned due to the lack of a defined combo system, the developers handled the control scheme as well as what could have been expected within its confines.
Originality – 7/10
The aspect in which this game stands out above all else is in its unique cast of characters compared to most other fighting games. Compared to Virtua Fighter, introducing fantasy and science fiction elements also helped to distinguish it from the former in infinitely significant ways. Characters from the Tekken series have gone on to become iconic video game characters, such as Yoshimitsu, Heihachi, and King; and this is where it all started.
Overall, the original Tekken, whilst not being my personal favorite from the first three games (my favorite being Tekken 2), was nevertheless the ideal starting point and a gaming experience that still very much holds up. Its quirky characters, excellent game design, and somewhat stern level of challenge have had fighting game fans revisiting it for over 20 years, and will also do well to entertain players for generations to come.