Tekken 3 maintains the same core fighting system and concept as its predecessors, but brings many improvements, such as significantly more detailed graphics and animations, 15 new characters added to the game's roster, more modern music and faster and more fluid gameplay.
Perhaps the most noticeable change from Tekken 2's fighting system is movement reform - whereas the element of depth had been largely insignificant in previous Tekken games (aside from some characters having unique sidesteps and dodging maneuvers), Tekken 3 added emphasis on the third axis, allowing all characters to sidestep in or out of the background by lightly pressing the arcade stick (or tapping the controller button in the console version) towards the corresponding direction. Another big change in movement was that jumping was toned down, no longer allowing fighters to jump to extreme heights (as was present in previous games), but keeping leaps to reasonable, more realistic heights. It made air combat more controllable, and put more use to sidestep dodges, as jumping no longer became a universal dodge move that was flying above all of the ground moves. Other than that, the improved engine allowed for quick recoveries from knock-downs, more escapes from tackles and stuns, better juggling (as many old moves had changed parameters, allowing them to connect in combo-situations, where they wouldn't connect in previous games) and extra newly-created combo throws.
Tekken 3 was the first Tekken to feature a beat 'em up minigame called Tekken Force. Tekken Force pitted the player in various stages against enemies in a side-scrolling fashion. If the player succeeds in beating the minigame four times, Dr. Boskonovitch would be a playable character (granted that the player defeats him first). This was continued in Tekken 4 and succeeded by the Devil Within minigame in Tekken 5 - but Boskonovitch was dropped as a playable character after Tekken 3. There is also a minigame called Tekken Ball, similar to beach volleyball, where one has to either "charge" a ball (hit the ball with a powerful attack - note: the attacks powerful enough to charge a ball were not always more damaging in a regular fight than the non-charging ones) to hurt the opponent, or just send it behind the second player's middle-line. Also in Tekken 3 they were supposed to add Christie instead of Eddy but Namco decided to put a male figure.
Set fifteen years after the King of the Iron Fist Tournament 2, the story starts with Jun Kazama, who has been living a quiet life in Yakushima with her young son, Jin, who is the son of Kazuya Mishima. Heihachi Mishima, meanwhile, has established the Tekken Force, an organization dedicated to the protection of the Mishima Zaibatsu. Using the company's influence, Heihachi is responsible for many events that have ultimately led to world peace. However, while on an excavation in Mexico, a squadron of Heihachi's Tekken Force is attacked and vanquished by a mysterious being. The only surviving soldier manages to relay a brief message to Heihachi, describing the perpetrator as an "Ogre" or a "Fighting God".
Heihachi and a team of soldiers investigate, with Heihachi managing to catch a glimpse of the culprit. After seeing the Ogre character, Heihachi's long dormant dream of world domination is reawakened. He seeks to capture Ogre to use him for this goal. Soon after, various martial arts masters begin disappearing from all over the world, and Heihachi is convinced that this is Ogre's doing. In Yakushima, Jun starts to feel the presence of Ogre approaching her and Jin. Knowing that she has become a target, Jun tells Jin about Ogre, and instructs him to go straight to Heihachi should anything happen. Sometime after Jin's fifteenth birthday, Ogre does indeed attack. Against Jun's wishes, Jin valiantly tries to fight Ogre off, but Ogre brushes him aside and knocks him unconscious.
When Jin reawakens, he finds that the house has been burned to the ground, and that his mother is missing and most likely dead. Driven by revenge, Jin goes to Heihachi and tells him everything. Jin begs Heihachi to train him to become strong enough to face Ogre again. Heihachi accepts. Four years later, Jin grows into an impressive fighter and master of Mishima Style Karate. On Jin's nineteenth birthday, the King of the Iron Fist Tournament 3 is announced, and Jin prepares for his upcoming battle against Ogre. He is unaware, however, that Heihachi is merely using him and the rest of the competitors as bait to lure Ogre out in order to capture him.
Eventually, the tournament leads to the final confrontation between Jin and Ogre. After being beaten in the first round, Ogre turns into a much more powerful "true" from, known to players as True Ogre. The battle rages for hours, until Jin finally emerges the victor and Ogre completely dissolves. Moments later, Jin is gunned down by a squadron of the Tekken Force led by Heihachi, who, no longer needing Jin, finishes the job personally by firing a final shot into his grandson's head. However, Jin, revived by the Devil Gene within him (which he inherited from Kazuya), reawakens and makes quick work of the soldiers, turning his attention to Heihachi and literally smashing him through the wall of the temple. Heihachi survives the long fall, but Jin, in mid-air, sprouts black, feathery wings and strikes Heihachi one last time. He then flies off into the night, leaving his bewildered grandfather staring after him.
Bonus Characters (PlayStation version)
- Tiger Dojo Tokyo
- Taekwondo Dojo
- Martial Arts Dojo
- Grassy Land
- Laboratory Courtyard
- Hong Kong Street
- Mexican Temple
- Junky Mansion
- Beach Island
Tekken 3 was originally ported to the PlayStation with two new characters - Gon and Dr. Boskonovich. Anna Williams was reworked for the home version, giving her a custom character select spot with unique portrait, voice, stance, a few new moves (as well as her moves from Tekken 1 and 2, some of which were given to Ogre) and custom ending - compared of her being a model-swap of Nina in the Arcade version. The PlayStation version features new Tekken Force and Tekken Ball modes, as well as all modes present in Tekken 2. Due to PSX hardware limitations, in order for the game to run, the backgrounds needed to be transferred into 2d, the character poly-count was reduced, as well as the texture resolution. Also many animation frames were cut and the game ran at lower overall resolution. The PlayStation version of Tekken 3 was later emulated for the Sega Dreamcast with improved graphics via Bleemcast. However, the game came out at the end of the Dreamcast's lifespan and due to lawsuits, very few stores sold the game, making the Dreamcast version rare. The PlayStation 2 release of Tekken 5 features the Arcade version of Tekken 3.
Tekken 3 is considered by many to be the pinnacle of the series as well as the best fighting game for the PlayStation. It became the first game in three years to receive a 10 from a reviewer from Electronic Gaming Monthly with three of the four reviewers giving it the highest possible score (Tekken 3 was the first game to score a 10 under EGM's revised review scale in that a game no longer needed to be "perfect" to receive a 10; the last game to receive a 10 from the magazine was Sonic & Knuckles). The only holdout was the magazine's enigmatic fighting game review guru, Sushi-X, who said that "no game that rewards newbies for button-mashing will ever be tops in my book", giving the game 9 out of 10. Jeff Gerstmann of GameSpot gave Tekken 3 a very high ranking of 9.9 out of 10. In December 2006 it was ranked tenth on GameSpot's top ten list. In September 2004 it ranked #10 on PSM's "Final PlayStation Top 10" in honor of the PlayStation selling 100 million units. As of February 2008, the game is listed as the eighth-highest-rated game of all time on the review compiling site Game Rankings.
The official Tekken 3 soundtrack list:
- Track 1 Attract Movie 0:23
- Track 2 Attract EMBU 1:02
- Track 3 Character Select 0:47
- Track 4 Paul Phoenix 3:45
- Track 5 Forest Law 3:48
- Track 6 Lei Wulong 3:45
- Track 7 King 2:43
- Track 8 Yoshimitsu 4:04
- Track 9 Nina Williams 3:33
- Track 10 Hwoarang 3:10
- Track 11 Ling Xiaoyu 3:41
- Track 12 Eddy Gordo 3:27
- Track 13 Jin Kazama 4:02
- Track 14 Hidden Characters 3:19
- Track 15 Heihachi Mishima 3:39
- Track 16 Ogre 3:23
- Track 17 Continue? 0:36
- Track 18 Game Over 0:06
- Track 19 Staff Roll 1:16
- If players put the Tekken 3 disc into a CD player (or activate the "CD player" function on the game console), the 2nd track will play. The 2:37 song is called "The King Of Iron Fist Tournament 3: Enter The Tekken."
- "Theater mode" is available after beating the game with all starting characters.
- This is the only Tekken featuring two minigames.
- Out of all the Tekken games featuring a Jack model, this is the only one where no Jack is a starting character.
- If players have any saved data from Tekken or Tekken 2 on their memory card, they can view any unlocked FMVs from the games while in Theater mode.
- This is the first game to have a "theater mode" outside Japan.
- Tekken 3 is mentioned in the Eiffel 65 song, "My Console".
- Some fans believed that the severed head held by Ogre in the Tekken 3 Intro was Jun Kazama's, though this has never been confirmed by Namco.
- In Paul and Bryan's stage, on the wall, a certain piece of graffiti says "Soul Edge", in reference to the Namco's "Soul" series (and possibly the fictional sword itself).
- In Lei's stage, players can see at one point in the background what looks like a transparent Triforce from the Legend of Zelda on a red sign.
- Crow, Falcon, Hawk and Owl, members of the Tekken Force and appearing in the eponymous minigame in this installment, are playable through the use of a cheat device such as Action Replay/GameShark.
- Jun Kazama and Sake (pronounced Sha-kay) are irregular characters to play as in Tekken 3, Jun Kazama is Nina Williams' body, but Jin Kazama's moves, Sake also complies to Jin Kazama's moves but has Yoshimitsu's body, as shown in Jun Kazama's profile.
- This is the only Tekken game not to feature Lee Chaolan and Kazuya Mishima.