Hey, so Tekken is crossing Street Fighter! Street Fighter is crossing Tekken! Have you heard this? Have you heard about this? It’s pretty big news! You got your Ryu in my peanut butter! You got your peanut butter in my Kazuya Mishima! Two fighting franchises that have only ever been marginally compared and contrasted due to their wildly varying gameplay engines and combat mechanics will finally go toe-to-toe and duke it out in an awkward release of simultaneously-yet-independently developed fraternal twin games to inarguably prove which franchise is more popular and beloved!*
That is way better than a new Darkstalkers game, Capcom! Well done! Good job!
REALLY good job for Namco, though, seriously. No joking there, grabbing onto the gilded coattails of the unstoppable Street Fighter franchise is a brilliant move on their part. Because no one really cares about Tekken.
I mean, I’m not exactly a superfan of this series, so perhaps I’m being unfair, but Tekken has always seemed largely terrible in terms of characters and narrative. You can shove in all the playable kangaroos and panda bears you want, but that won’t ever change the fact that 3/4ths of the initial roster were uninspired knock-offs of characters or archetypes established by existing (and dauntingly popular) fighting games.** Do we have a dark-haired “karate dude” main character? Get a plucky and sympathetic asian girl in the mix, too! Also, blondes of both the bitchy lady and cocky male variety. OH, and Bruce Lee! Just straight-up Bruce Lee. Everyone does that, let’s get him in there. Alright, that’s lunch. Good work everyone!
As a result, this first game had very little work to do from a narrative standpoint. If your imagination stops short at making a copy of a copy, odds are good that you’re going to have an equally hard time crafting a compelling backstory. Fighting games aren’t supposed to have good stories, seemingly as a rule, but the least they can do is try to present their obligatory fiction with a high degree of polish. Unfortunately, in Tekken’s first installment, it’s pretty clear that the real battles took place against the challenges of 3D character animation.
Context: Each character in Tekken’s initial roster of fighters wins the King of the Iron Fist Tournament and achieves their destiny I guess?
Somehow, the production team managed to cobble together a series of ending animations so terrible that they broke through the wall and became amazing. Still terrible, but enjoyably terrible. Maybe it’s the lack of any sort of detailed explanations as to what is going on or why. Maybe it’s the singular music track that is trying to serve as appropriate narration for eight different endings with wildly varying tones. Maybe it’s the walk cycles that look like the awkward marching of a marionette sporting a butt plug.
Just kidding, it is all of those things.
Part of the fun here is watching these cold, and this is only heightened by a distinct lack of knowledge regarding Tekken’s characters and backstories. I’ll play along and attempt to interpret each ending based solely on its base presentation:
Kazuya Mishima wins the tournament and… accepts a job as Senior Body-Disposal Specialist at Ridiculous Cliffs National Park. He dictates his own hours, and doesn’t have to wear a shirt! This is a happy ending and we are happy for him. Wink!
King wins the tournament and… accidentally tears open a portal to the real world, unleashing a mob of savage, japanese game developers who rush to devour him. Cursing God and the heavens, King swears that he will have his revenge in the next life. The bells are the last sound he will ever hear. Sad ending.
Nina Williams wins the tournament and… is a horrible c—.
Paul Phoenix wins the tournament and… immediately sets out on his new quest to destroy every fucking thing, starting with all the glass in this room and also that wall because fuck that wall.
Michelle Chang wins the tournament and… returns home at the exact moment that her mother is summoning the courage to hang herself, apparently! Whoa! Thank goodness, Michelle thinks as she rushes to watch. Soon the shack will be hers, and she will burn it to the ground. She hates the desert.
Marshall Law wins the tournament and… now sets his sights on removing the curse that has transformed his face into that of a six-year-old boy. The cure: executing the Forbidden Backflip before the Wall of Sorrows. With the assistance of Mr. Starr’s fourth grade Tae Kwon Do class, he manages to overcome this final challenge and restore his face to maturity. Despite this victory, he is still confused as to why he and Paul Phoenix were not assigned each others’ names by the development team.
Yoshimitsu wins the tournament and… dumps millions of dollars in cash upon the humble villagers of a small, feudal shanty town that somehow exists in direct proximity to downtown New York or Tokyo or whatever, I don’t even know. Also that one guy totally filled his pants, just look at him. Hilarious!
Jack wins the tournament and… is boring. Something something robots something something other robots, metal doors the end.
* Street Fighter, duh.
** This excludes, of course, Yoshimitsu, a fine addition to any fighting game, and King, who was apparently supposed to be a luchador. Japan doesn’t know what that is, so we got some sort of jaguar-faced clown professor instead. This was not so much inspired or clever as it was bizarre. And that certainly counts for something.
Has a game scarred your visual memory with a scene that can never be unseen? Sharing might help the healing process. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to submit/suggest a terrible cutscene for a future installment!