Tekken the Unsung Hero of Arcade Fighters

Arguably the first games to make a successful transition from arcade to console Tekken (Namco 1994) has an important place in video game history. Originally the game was originally developed by Namco as a “test case”, meaning to say that it was meant to test software and not be a marketable product. The game tested newly developed 3D graphics for characters and textures that where intended for incorporation in more established titles like Ridge Racer (Namco 1993) but, due to the acquisition of the Sega developers who created the first 3D fighting game Virtua Fighter (Sega 1993), Tekken could blossom into its own brand. These developers helped create one of the most successful and innovative fighting games to have ever hit arcades.

The game itself was immediately a big hit in Japan and got amazing reviews because its intuitive and unique control system. It was designed to compete with the emerging market for fighting games that Virtua Fighter created but with a different approach. The control scheme of the game assigned a single button to each of the four limbs and provided a joystick for directing the limbs. It was very easy to pick up and thus made it a huge hit as fighting games were still new. Along with easy controls people praised Tekken for its diverse characters “The game featured many different characters and fighting styles from various parts of the world (an aspect that has since become a series staple). Fighters from Japan, Ireland, Mexico, America and more clashed to decide the victor.” (Richardson Then and Now: The history of Tekken) This made it possible to show off textures and the 3D capabilities of Namco’s system. The game also had a compelling story with each character having a backstory as well as a rival that would serve as a mini boss mid game. Once the game was moved to the PlayStation characters that were once not playable became unlockable adding to the appeal of the game.

Although the graphics were great for the time the Namco’s System 11 arcade board could not compete with Sega’s Model 2 in graphics which made Tekken much less visually striking than Virtua Fighter but Namco’s hardware was much less expensive and thus easier to market to smaller arcades. Along with the cheaper cost, the System 11 was also the basis for the original PlayStation (Sony 1994) which made it easy to “port” or transfer arcade games over to the PlayStation system once it was released in 1994. Once Tekken was transferred to the PlayStation it was the first PlayStation game to reach a million sales. It was first a huge hit in Japan but once it hit the American and British markets in 1995 people ate it up. It has since become a staple of the fighting game world with competitions going around worldwide and the 7th instalment coming out in June 2017. The game has kept its intuitive nature and still seeks to make a wide range of characters who remain unique. They have even had crossovers with Streetfighter as well as a “Tag” series which allows for you to play in a tag team fashion changing the tried and true one v one fighting game into a four-player brawl. Tekken has succeeded for many reasons but innovation and accessibility is what allowed it to grow into the franchise it is today.


Works Cited

RichardsonDu, Kenneth. “Then and Now: The History of Tekken.” DualShockers. DualShockers, 15 Mar. 2012. Web. 27 Feb. 2017.


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