I rediscovered Tekken 2 on PlayStation Plus and now I feel older | Review

In the late 90s, the video game was certainly not what we are used to seeing now. The arcades (yes, the ones with the old cabinets) were still alive and the concept of home console was taking hold inexorably, thanks also and above all to the arrival on the market of the first Play station 32-bit, a platform that would change the market from the ground up.

Tekken 2

Platform: PS5 Developer: Namco Distributor: Sony Italia

I fighting game at meetings, a genre that found its real raison d’etre in arcades, was at the peak of popularity, with the saga of Tekken of the then Namco who – thanks to 3D – managed to keep the bench from SEGA’s “rival” Virtua Fighter.

Released in 1995 in theaters and just a year later on PlayStation, Tekken 2 therefore represents the great consecration of one-on-one beat ’em up, a game that – alone – was able to maximize the popularity of the franchise born in ’94, becoming over the years a point of reference for both pro player and causal players.

Now, after Tekken 2 has emerged among the first names of the great classics included in the collection PlayStation classics offer to subscribers a PlayStation Plus Premium (which on Amazon is present on offer at a very interesting price), it is the right time to rediscover this small, great pearl of the past.

What’s it like to play again today?

“Just like in the arcade”

Let’s start by saying one fundamental thing: if you were born after 2000, and you started playing Tekken maybe after the fourth or fifth chapter, this game it will be prehistory for you. Not from the point of view of playability in the strict sense (the fighting game Bandai Namco still manages to be pleased, pad in hand), but from a purely graphic point of view.

In fact, we are not talking about a two-dimensional classic to the Street Fighter II, for example, able – thanks to the charm of 2D – to resist the passage of time in a more significant way. No, Tekken 2, as soon as you decide to start playing it, it will be like literally going back in time over twenty years, to the stone age of the three-dimensional video game. Twenty years before the technological progress that brought the saga to absolute graphic perfection and that in 1996 could only be a distant mirage.

Viewed from a point of view closely related to gameplay, In fact, Tekken 2 is still a mister fighting game today: although it does not differ much from its predecessor, the combat system based on the use of the four limbs is still very functional today, thanks also to a park of moves made up of holds and counter moves, thus avoiding all that series of special shots or balls of energy that was the basis of the success of the beat ’em up in two dimensions.

The visual realism of the individual movements of the fighters is spectacular but also extremely avant-garde, giving the various clashes a physicality that was believed unthinkable at the time. In this sense, the DualSense it helps, restoring an immediacy still today easily accessible to most.

Another feature that today seems obvious but which, if you think about it, is not at all, is when it comes to number of fighters available: the initial characters are in fact added a host of other fifteen unlockables, for a total of twenty-five fighters. Consequently, this makes the game extremely varied and long-lived than the first Tekken, rather archaic from this point of view as well.

It is then impossible to remain impassive before the charisma of some fighters, many of whom have entered the collective imagination by right (so much so that they return to a permanent basis even in the following chapters of the series, up to the present day).

From Kazuya Mishima, passing to Lee Chaolan, Heihachi Mishima, Kuma, Yoshimitsu, King, Armor King, Nina Williams, Marshall Law and many others, including the secretive Alex and Roger (that is, respectively, a velociraptor and a kangaroo equipped with boxing gloves) . Considering that many modern day fighting games are released on the market with a very poor character roster, with many fighters added over the months – and paid – it makes one think that an “old” game like Tekken 2 is actually much richer and more complete from this point of view than some illustrious successors released in more recent times.

The PlayStation version of Bandai Namco’s beat ’em up is also remembered for some very important additions in terms of game modes, which if today they can leave: to the classic arcade and versus options, they also add up to Survival and Team Battle modeswhich if at the time they were little stuff today are the demonstration that a home conversion tried in every way to go beyond the arcade edition (succeeding), not to mention the presence of the Tekken Theater and the Super Deformed mode.

As mentioned at the beginning, the only drawback of Tekken 2 is to be found in the graphics sector: the System 11 motherboard on which the arcade version was based was the same one supplied with the first PlayStation, which is why the home conversion was and it’s practically perfect.

It is also true that, to limit the computational load, Namco had opted for angular and “blocky” characters, as well as pre-rendered environments often victim of an overly pronounced “postcard” effect, which today – year 2022 – really makes you shiver .

The real step forward from a technical point of view was in fact only a few years later, with the majestic Tekken 3, which is why Tekken 2 is still victim of that technical uncertainty that characterized the first three-dimensional titles of the time. Despite that, and in view of the upcoming Tekken 8, this PlayStation Classic still represents a piece of history difficult to forget.

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