Heihachi be praised, Namco has seen the light!
There's a time-honored tradition among fighting games of forcing you to play through the arcade mode--against the boring AI, naturally--over and over ad nauseam to open up access to all the playable characters. Thankfully, it's a tradition Namco Bandai is finally casting off with Tekken 6, according to an interview on VideoGamer.com with director Katsuhiro Harada (saw this on 1UP). Good news; in my view, Tekken has generally been the most egregious offender in this category.
Why we locked the characters originally was that in the arcades, it was kind of to extend the life of the game by gradually unlocking characters. And also with the home versions as well, because you can rent games or whatever, it was to protect us against that.
That’s kind of outdated now though, especially with online play. If we were to have locked characters it would irritate a lot of people, to be playing against others online and to not have all the characters available. So I think it’s no longer useful.
'Tis music to mine ears, because, man, that is one outdated mechanic. I very grudgingly played through Street Fighter IV just enough times to get almost everyone, but I never did get around to unlocking Seth. There's no bigger bummer than getting a new fighting game and hopping online only to face characters you can't choose yourself, and I'm glad Namco's come around to that fact.
Gut check time: Who's still a Tekken fan around here? It's a big year for fighting games; is this your game? Here's a reminder of how it's shaping up.