It’s been three years since we last saw a Tekken game, but almost 12 years since the last Tag installment. The series itself has been considered one of the best 3D fighters available on the market. With the critical acclaim of the last two games in the series and the overall hype of the game surrounding the release of Tag Tournament 2, would this game live up to the expectations that everyone had for it?
Ever since I started playing this series, I’ve found that the Tekken series has always been an accessible series to beginners and veterans alike. With each limb of the player attached to a button on the controller, it’s easy to figure out how to do simple combos and discover new ways to keep your opponent at bay. Oddly enough, the game has never had much of a tutorial mode to help newer players get into the game.
New Wii U modes
There are two new fight modes on the Wii U: Mushroom Battle and Tekken Ball. Mushroom battle is business as usual, except that you now have to contend with free-flying Mario mushrooms and stars. Normal mushrooms will make a character larger, thus stronger, and poison ones will shrink you, thus making you weaker. You can attack them too, to send them toward your opponent if you want. It’s not enough to change the outcome of a vastly unbalanced matchup, but between two competitive players, these can swing the balance very quickly.
Tekken Ball, however, is a forgettable mode that there’s no reason for anyone to play. It’s like dodgeball meets volleyball, and you win by smacking your opponent in the face with the ball enough times. There’s not really any strategy involved in it since only the ball can do damage and I spent just enough time in it to decide I’d rather be playing the rest of the game instead. - Shawn Vermette
One of the more outstanding features of this game would be the Fight Lab. It’s an incredibly detailed tutorial mode featuring Combot (Tekken 4’s Mokujin/Random Character) and Violet (Lee Chaolin’s alter ego). After Violet accidentally deletes all the programming for a perfect Combot to use in battle, you, as the next Combot, have to relearn everything the last one knew. The game covers everything from how to move with your character, attacking, the game’s air combo system, advanced tactics and the Tag mechanics exclusive to this game.
Going into the game, I brought over a lot of what I knew from the last Tag series, as well as the previous Tekken games. Even as someone who knows a decent amount about the series, this mode helped an incredible amount on how the game works. Added for the Wii U’s release is the ability to map four of a character’s moves onto the Game Pad’s screen for quick usage. Just tap on the move and it will be used. Of course, this isn’t a shortcut to success. You still need to know what you’re doing, or all this will do is postpone your inevitable defeat.
A nice addition to the game’s depth is the customization of Combot itself. No longer is he the random character of the game (since Mokujin is in the game anyway), but with the development points you earn from Fight Lab, you can customize the move set for Combot to your own personal tastes combining moves from different characters in the series.
As you would expect when a game has heavy customization and is paired with Nintendo, there are plenty of iconic Nintendo costumes to be had for characters. Among the women’s choices are Zelda and Peach’s dresses and Samus’ Zero Suit. For the men, there’s a number of both heroes and villains, ranging from Captain Falcon, Sheik and Star Fox to Bowser and Ganon. - Shawn Vermette
As far as the other modes go, you have your typical Arcade mode, which helps unlock specific character endings, and Ghost Mode, which allows you to rank your character and earn customization items. There’s also Survival, Time Attack and Online modes, the latter of which plays incredibly well. While there’s not any lag to speak of, and there does seem to be plenty of action somewhere, it took forever to be matched with anyone every time we went to play online in ranked or friendly matches.
Another nice thing about this game is the Pair Play mode, available both online and off. This allows you to team up with another player locally and face one another on a singular team with each player playing as one character.
The Wii U difference
I have to admit that, before playing this, I hadn’t really noted a vast improvement in the Wii U’s graphical prowess. Tekken Tag Tournament 2, for that reason, blew my mind when it first started up. If not for the fact that I was holding the GamePad, I would have sworn I was playing on the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360. It absolutely takes advantage of the Wii U’s higher horsepower, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that it looks better than its previously-released counterparts. - Shawn Vermette
While not necessary for gameplay, one of the most praised (and most entertaining) things from the previous games is the Customization Mode for each character. Here, you can customize outfits for each character and dress them up as classily, or as ridiculous, as you want. Sadly, certain elements couldn’t be separated, unlike the previous versions. Specifically, hands don’t have a separate option from the upper body, and feet don’t have a separate option from the lower body.
If you’re a fan of the series, this isn’t one you should miss. The gameplay mechanics are still incredibly deep and the game is as gorgeous as ever.
News Editor Shawn Vermette contributed to this review.
Pros: Gorgeous visuals, easy to pick up for beginners (thanks to Fight Lab), ability to map any combo for a character onto the GamePad for fast execution
Cons: Customization could’ve been deeper, Tekken Ball, difficult to find online matches with similarly-ranked players