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Game Profile
FINAL SCORES
8.4
Visuals
8.5
Audio
9.0
Gameplay
9.0
Features
7.5
Replay
8.0
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
Game Boy
PUBLISHER:
Namco
DEVELOPER:
Namco
GENRE: Fighting
PLAYERS:   1-2
RELEASE DATE:
January 29, 2002
ESRB RATING:
Teen
IN THE SERIES
Tekken 6

Tekken 6

Tekken 6

Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection

Tekken 2

More in this Series
 Written by Matt Swider  on April 30, 2002

Review: Tekken it to the Streets!


While unsuccessful fighting titles come and go each year becoming nothing more than one play wonders, there are those rare occurrences when a fighter distinguishes itself from the competition and develops into a thriving series. Midway has proven it with Mortal Kombat, Sega with Virtua Fighter, and Capcom has done the same over and over with its Street Fighter and Marvel fighting games. For Namco, it has been basically the same story. When Tekken arrived on the scene premiering in the Arcades and on Playstation during the 90s, it became an instant hit. Later, the series went on to push the next-generation brand of fighting with Tekken Tag Tournament and now Namco has developed its first handheld version of Tekken on Game Boy Advance.

The typical problem that plagues just about every failed console fighter is faulty control. Sometimes it is due to the system's poor control pad design while other times it is due to a poorly thought out button scheme. This one dilemma usually renders fighting titles undesirable to say the least, which makes it the most prominent reason why there are so few glorified fighting games out there. This is where Tekken enters. The entire series has had a somewhat unique style to it, focusing on performing and executing moves, rather than pulling off ridiculous combos to win a fight. A lot like wrestling games, it has veered from the button-mashing and senseless combo filled combat and has conveyed a distinctive form of console fighting.

Seeing how there have been such grave problems with the controls found in a large percentage of fighting titles and that a great deal of stress is placed on that one gameplay aspect, you would expect that a Game Boy Advance fighting game would fail. Past experience and knowledge of other fighting games like Mortal Kombat Advance proves this theory true. There is only so much a developer can do with the two trigger and two shoulder buttons. Despite the hardware setbacks, Namco has been able overcome and deliver the rarest gem of them all, a portable fighter. The company has proven that Tekken can endure the small walls of Game Boy with more than a fighting chance.

One of the keys to Tekken Advance's successful control scheme is that it remains limited. It takes a bit of time to become accustomed to but once you learn how to perform any characters basic movements, you're set. A and B enable a kick and punch attack, while the only other functioning offensive button happens to be the Right shoulder, which allows players to do various throws or specials. The Left shoulder button is ineffective outside of the tag mode where players are able to enter a challenge involving a little 3 versus 3 action. Like in past versions of Tekken, we see the focus land on close combat fighting with numerous moves available for each character. To learn how to perform each move, Tekken Advance includes a practice segment that allows players to complete the long list of available combos. Although I was curios to see how Namco would incorporate the crazy leg styling of Eddy Gordo, I soon found out that he and Lei Wulong were the pair of missing cast members from the Tekken Advance roster. However, the game did contain plenty of other familiar faces like Xiaoyu, Yoshimitsu, Nina, Law, Gunjack, Hwoarang, Paul, King, and as featured on the box cover, Jin. The list mounts to ten playable fighters and you'll be able to unlock Heihachi who you must battle as the final boss. Here, we see one of Tekken Advance's downsides. With a lack of space on the Game Boy Advance cart, we're forced to deal with limited characters and specials to unlock. This isn't something we have had to deal with from the Tekken series in the past. With no Tekken Ball, special ending, or a load of secret characters, it's just straightforward fighting gameplay, with a variety of fighting modes.

Besides the standard arcade portion, Tekken Advance also gives the single player access to a time attack, survival, tag battle, and as previously mentioned, a practice area. This puts a slight diversity into Tekken Advance, offering suitable variations for those unable to link up. Players who can benefit from being able to utilize this title's multiplayer capabilities better have both required copies of the game to play. However, I must say, whatever trouble it takes to link-up and play against someone other than the cpu is worth the experience. In taking advantage of two player support, gamers can access the versus mode and versus tag battle.

Instead of a polygonal engine, this version of Tekken features prerendered characters filled with plenty of animation. While this causes the motions to not be as smooth as console versions, everything still remains fluid enough to stay almost unnoticeable. Although Tekken Advance remains 2D, it does an excellent job at pulling off a 3-Dimensional feel. When players need to dodge an attack, they are free to rotate around the floor laterally, causing players to think the stage is full of open space. Also the camera movement zooms in and out at points, showing off that same effect. Of course, backdrops range from snow-covered forests to various temples. Most of them look familiar as we have seen many of them in previous Tekken titles. Having limited space for graphics, using rendered characters and cutting other corners without much notice leaves us satisfied here. Coming to the audio end of it all, Namco once again doesn't disappoint. It stays true to the past version of the Tekken series, using similar techno rhythms and sound effects that have been made clear as day on the Game Boy Advance.

Bottom Line
Considering the fact that there's barely any competition for a fighter on Game Boy Advance, Tekken takes the crown for now, offering great gameplay and a decent number of modes to fight through. Additionally, we're treated to battery save, allowing all our scores and survival record to remain intact. Though we would have liked to see others modes offering a diversion from the fighting aspect and some unlockable characters, endings, or extra goodies, what Tekken has we'll Tekken any day.


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