Tekken 3 was another one of those video games I played with my brothers, and like many of them, kicked their asses. Notoriously, I used randomly selected special moves in combination, getting Perfects quite frequently, which instigated the received complaints that it “wasn’t fair,” because I wouldn’t let them hit me. My mother, and father, both took the sides of my brothers in this asking me: “Why don’t you let them hit you?” In the game, however, you aren’t suppose to let your opponent hit you.
The game is the third installment in the popular Tekken fighting game series, released for arcades in March 1997, and for the PlayStation in 1998. Unlike previous games released on Namco System 11 hardware, this is the first of the game series to be released on System 12. It was also the last installment of the series to be released on PlayStation.
The game has sold approximately 83 million copies (ca. 2013), becoming the second best-selling fighting game of all time. It also continues to rank high on many gaming lists:
- #9 on Complex Magazine‘s “The 30 Best Arcade Video Games of the 1990s“;
- #8 on Complex Magazine‘s “The 25 Best PlayStation 1 Video Games“;
- #1 on What Culture‘s “25 Best Video Games Of The 90s“;
- #8 on Heavy‘s “The Top 20 Best Fighting Games: The Heavy Power List“;
- #16 on What Culture‘s “20 Years Of PlayStation: 20 Best Video Games So Far“;
- #1 on What Culture‘s “12 Greatest Beat ‘Em Up Video Games Of All Time“;
- #8 on What Culture‘s “20 PlayStation Games You Must Play Before You Die“;
- #2 on What Culture‘ s “10 Greatest Fighting Game Rosters Of All Time“;
- #4 on Readers Top Ten Console Games via Game Informer‘s “GI Top Ten List“; and,
- #17 on ArcadeSushi‘s “25 Best Fighting Games.”
According to the GameSpot review:
Some of the PlayStation’s biggest moments have centered around a Tekken game. Tekken 1 was released a few months after the PlayStation hit shelves and propelled the system to stardom. Tekken 2 came along, and was another “better-than-perfect” translation of the arcade version, adding modes and what were some of the most amazing FMV sequences available at the time. Tekken 3 has caused much debate prior to its release, as it was slated to be the first Tekken game that wouldn’t be a perfect translation. While the backgrounds aren’t quite as sharp (they’re 2D) as the arcade version, the PlayStation version of Tekken 3 more than makes up for this with additional modes, state-of-the-art FMV, and some of the best fighting to be found anywhere.
Mode-wise, Tekken 3 contains all the modes from Tekken 2. Time attack, team battle, practice mode, and survival mode are all there, and haven’t changed a bit. Tekken Force mode is a four-level side-scrolling mode that pits players against tons of ninjas. While it seems like a really neat idea, in practice Tekken Force mode isn’t all that great. You can waltz right through the four levels very easily using only the right kick button. Beat Force mode four times, and you’ll unlock Dr. Boskonovitch, one of the game’s two PlayStation-only characters. Tekken Ball mode draws a few lines in the sand and turns the fighting game into a crazy version of volleyball. Players bat a beach ball back and forth with attacks. Hitting the ball with a special attack transfers the energy of that attack into the ball, giving it an eerie glow. If the opposing player gets hit with the ball, he takes damage. If a player lets the ball drop, he takes damage there as well. Theater mode lets you watch all the Tekken 3 FMV sequences that you’ve unlocked so far. It also lets you pop in Tekken 2 and check out all the FMV in there, too.
The gameplay is identical to the arcade. Every move, combo, and character has been transferred over, and a couple of new characters have been added in as well. The aforementioned Dr. Boskonovitch is the scientist that appears in Yoshimitsu’s Tekken 2 ending. Unfortunately, the good doctor has suffered some pretty bad spinal injuries and is unable to stand up for more than a few seconds. So you must fight from the ground with all sorts of strange kicking attacks. Gon is a tiny dinosaur from a Japanese comic. He breathes fire, electrifies his body, and passes gas. Gon’s limbs are so short, you’re never quite sure where his attacks are coming from. Both PlayStation exclusive characters are a waste of space. Dr. B is slightly interesting, but Gon simply has no place in the game at all. Whenever someone picks Gon, it not only makes me want to not play that match, but it also makes me want to just shut the entire game off.
Tekken 3 presents itself incredibly well. The sound effects are terrific, and the music is nothing short of amazing. From a graphical standpoint, Tekken 3 can’t be beat. While the polygon count may have been slightly reduced and the backgrounds made 2D, it still looks absolutely incredible. It is definitely the high water mark for graphics on the PlayStation.
Not much stands between Tekken 3 and a perfect 10 score. If the PlayStation exclusive characters were better and Force mode a bit more enthralling, it could have come closer to a perfect score. Needless to say, Tekken 3 is the best PlayStation game to come along in a long time, and this one won’t be topped anytime soon.