In December 1994, the original Tekken popped up in arcades across the country, forever transforming the fighting game genre.
Since its inception, the series has experienced a handful of highs and lows, but it still remains one of the most unique fighting series around. Its popularity has undoubtedly waned in the wake of vast open-world games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Grand Theft Auto, so much so that Tekken 8’s future remains unclear.
To relive the nostalgia, here are the best and worst Tekken entries from over the years as we pay homage to a legendary fighting series that we hope can make a comeback.
10. Tekken Revolution
Constructed on the foundations of Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Tekken Revolution significantly curbed the more tactical and challenging aspects of its gameplay to cater more to the casual gamer. Offering solely two game modes, the command lists were simpler than in past Tekken titles, and bound maneuvers and chain attacks weren’t nearly as common or debilitating in their execution.
Tekken Revolution is a game that veteran fans would love to forget, as it was created more to rejuvenate a waning interest in the fighter series than it was to explore new creative territory.
9. Tekken Tag Tournament 2
Another entry with simplistic gameplay that made veteran players stir with vexation, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 was bloated with useless game modes and two-dimensional characters mostly aimed at luring in new rookies to the franchise.
The game is stuffed with useless customization options and training features, like the “Combot” chapters, where players take a digitally constructed robot through five wacky fight sessions in order to learn the game’s basic mechanics. The boss of that game mode is literally a fat Ryu from Street Fighter, but the game offers no context as to why he’s even there. Throw in a handful of messy combos and poorly constructed tag-team fight mechanics, and you have one of the series’ most disappointing entries.
8. Tekken Tag Tournament
Upon the game’s release in 1999, Tekken was at the height of its popularity. Fans greatly favored the series over other signature fighting games like Street Fighter and Virtua Fighter. So when Tag Tournament was released, its new tag-team fight mechanics were groundbreaking. Players could choose to play as multiple Tekken favorites at once, but the problem is that this gameplay mechanic just hasn’t aged well.
While Tag Tournament offered significantly smoother graphics and better gameplay mechanics than Tekken 3, the game feels more like a Tekken 3 DLC than a stand-alone game.
Additionally, the mid-game character switches should happen at the click of a button; but the switch-up is stalled by a brief second or two. To criticize this might feel nitpicky, but at a fight’s tensest moments, those few seconds can determine whether your character lives or dies.
Sure, Tekken‘s original arcade edition is absolutely dated, but it represented a groundbreaking moment in the world of fighter games. Quick characters like Kazuya and Paul are still fun as hell to play with, and the game’s music – which soon took on a legacy and reputation all its own – is sweet nostalgia.
While significantly bare bones in terms of game modes and characters when compared to other entries, Tekken‘s vintage essence of “cool” is still very much alive, not to mention the stripped-down character choices makes it easier to deeply connect with your favorite characters and their signature combos.
6. Tekken 6
While it offered a good balance of game modes and complex game mechanics that appealed to both newcomers and die-hard Tekken-fanatics, Tekken 6 faltered merely in terms of matching the hype set out by its predecessor. As an introduction to the seventh generation of consoles, it’s not that Tekken 6 was a bad fighting game; it just wasn’t quite as fun or as memorable as the entries that came before.
It had some flashy new characters, but the character of Azazel was just too powerful, and the game’s overarching single-player campaign mode is as indulgent as burnt toast, with the campaign’s overarching stories and awkward gameplay mechanics feeling hollowed out.
5. Tekken 7
Another entry that was excessively overhyped, Tekken 7 made some improvements over Tekken 6 in terms of story, but it offered relatively few new features or characters from previous series entries, instead merely repackaging them in a release filled with upgraded graphics and flashy (but repetitive) “super moves” more than concrete gameplay improvements.
Additionally, Tekken 7 offered hundreds of different combos for each character and little to no guidance on how to utilize each one, making newcomers feel severely unwelcomed. Characters like Akuma and Kazuya were so much more powerful than other characters that it didn’t even feel fair.
4. Tekken 2
The first Tekken game to come to consoles, Tekken 2 was an explosive entry in the series. Offering a vastly improved character roster and groundbreaking story modes, Tekken 2 kicked off the now-legendary feud between Heihachi and Kazuya.
Its immense success also proved that Namco was a force to be reckoned with in the fighting game world. With that said, its gameplay wasn’t quite as fluid as we’ve now come to expect from the series, but it was an impressive entry nonetheless.
3. Tekken 4
With vastly improved graphics, amazing music, and much more responsive controls, Tekken 4 added several new characters and gameplay twists that made it a really great fighting game. The single-player story mode is lush and really expands on the Tekken world and its characters’ roles within it.
The combos were challenging and satisfying, and the characters had signature taunts and stylish outfits that gave them each individual flair. Nothing about this entry was revolutionary, but it built upon the great parts of an already established series.
2. Tekken 5
Hailed as one of the series finest entries, Tekken 5 was a near-perfect game in the series. Focused more on offense than any game prior, deadly long-string combos and bounding maneuvers were the bread and butter of this 2004 entry and made for some truly memorable gameplay moments as a result.
Tekken 5 is one of the most balanced offerings in the series. The newbie button-masher characters of Tekken 3 weren’t nearly as easy to use, and the best characters weren’t nearly as overwhelming in their power. The result was a great looking game that felt both challenging for newcomers but not impossible, as well as satisfying for long-time players.
1. Tekken 3
Tekken 3 is regularly cited as one of the best fighting games of all time, if not one of the best PlayStation games of all time, and for good reason. The game’s third entry placed the series alongside other legendary fighting games like Soul Caliber and Street Fighter with its unique character roster, actually well-done story mode, and seamless gameplay mechanics.
The game’s sounds and music are crisp and clear, the gameplay fun and varied, and the graphics, for its time, were some of the best around. Needless to say, it still holds up very well and is still a blast to play.