After having been a lurker on this lovely site for so long, I decided to finally start attempting to contribute some of my thoughts here. Hopefully these thoughts humor or entertain someone in some way. So, what better thing for my first blog post here to be about than one of my personal favorite genres. It's no secret that Street Fighter 4 gave a kick start to this niche genre that it hasn't had since the "death" of arcades in America in the late 90s. 2011 seems to be a turning point in where Capcom leads the charge in (arguably) burying the genre a second time. Luckily though, there's fighting games from other companies that aren't named Capcom that are worth a damn. I'm going to talk about the ones I have spent the most time on, and what the future may hold for this crazy little genre that could. And my first entry for this little series I'm doing will be for my favorite fighting game series.
Tekken 6/ Tekken Tag 2
I feel that 2011 was a very bad year for Tekken in America. EVO 2011 was watched by more eyes than ever before and Tekken clearly had the poorest showing out of all the games in the finals. The final 8 consisted of 4 Bob players and 2 Law players. Bob has been one of the more controversial characters in Tekken 6. He was incredibly strong in the original arcade version of Tekken 6. They toned him down for the Bloodline Rebellion patch (Tekken 6 console), but after people started to figure out the game, he still turned out to be a very strong character. He has easy access to brainless mix ups, very high damage output both with and without juggles, incredibly scary at the wall, a throw that launches, one of the most annoying pokes in the game in d1 (The chop), and the longest jab range in the game. Sure, he's not without weaknesses, but the way that this game is being played, those weaknesses don't mean very much. With a character this strong, it's no surprise that a lot of top American players have jumped on board the bandwagon. I don't necessarily think there's anything wrong with that. I'm a strong believer in people picking whatever character they want for whatever reason. I don't have as much of a problem with the 2 Laws since those players have been using him the whole time and he's way more entertaining to watch. Either way, if you saw EVO finals, it's no secret that the Tekken finals bombed hard. This doesn't help the fact that they followed up with the great Tekken Tag 2 showcase. The gameplay was fun to watch, but the reception was cold due to what just transpired. A final 8 where 90% of the matches had a fat blond dude jumping, flipping, and chopping all over the place.
Having said all of that, Tekken Tag 2 is going to be a very important game for Namco Bandai and the future of the Tekken series in America. Watching several gameplay videos and exhibitions shows that this game just might end up being the kick in the ass this series needs after the Bob years. The way the tag system works makes team synergy more important than it was in Tag 1. This should lead to much more variety in character choices. The damage is higher than ever, but there's red life that you can recover with some solid turtle play. There has been some controversy though. Between sandwich juggles, and the more recent nonsense with Hwoarrang's unblockable leading to messed up setups/juggles when used in a tag assault:
people are finding some crazy ways to abuse the system. I see this as a good thing though. One of the best reasons for arcades and location tests for fighting games to exist is players finding all this insanity before a proper console release. Having top level competitive players pick apart and try to break your game is probably the best way to beta test your competitive game. It has worked for Magic the Gathering, and has worked for fighting games a majority of the time too. Harada, the director of the Tekken games, has already spoken up about this issue and says it will be patched, but I look forward to other crazy stuff being found.
Tekken Tag 2 is supposed to be hitting consoles by the end of 2012, so it's going to miss EVO 2012. Tekken 6 has been removed from the main EVO 2012 lineup also. I'm pretty optimistic about Tekken Tag 2 being the hype game that it deserves to be for EVO 2013 though. It all hinges on how that console release turns out, and how the game will show at EVO 2013.