Solid fighting mechanics; two-on-two battles create a unique sense of tension; a slew of new modes; packed full of content; Nintendo exclusive features are a riot; solid online play; Off-TV play the GamePad looks and runs great; expansive roster clocking in at 59 fighters.
Lack of an online community; frustratingly cheap AI at times; long load times, especially upon first start up; Nintendo content may not cater to everyone.
One thing you can expect from Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition is fighting – lots and lots of fighting. Tag Tournament graces Nintendo’s latest box just a few short months after its initial release on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and comes packed with all the same goodness as those other versions, along some extra Big N exclusive content that’s sure to delight fans. Let it be known, though, Tekken Tag 2 isn’t the greatest fighting game around, but it’s hardly the worst. In fact, what’s more impressive– and something I hope other developers take note of– is how solid a port it is. This makes the Wii U version quite the complete package, and one that should be picked up if you’re looking to indulge your competitive fighter side.
For starters, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 plays very much like your average fighter, but instead of promoting one-on-one battles, it ratchets things up into a higher gear by giving players a team of two to control. This mechanic isn’t all that new to the world of fighting games, but it lets players swap out characters on the fly to juggle and lengthen combos, retreat and regenerate health, as well as mix up fighting styles in order to keep their opponent on-edge. It’s a nice system that can help reduce the entire concept of counter-picking, but more importantly, encourages dynamic matches; something that feels lacking in today’s fighting scene.
Better yet is how the system is actually implemented, which only adds to the tension of each battle. Unlike other fighters of its kind, TTT2 isn’t built so that you eliminate one character from your opponent’s team, and then have to fight the other. Instead, if one character goes down from the duo, that’s it. Game over. It’s a unique spin on the two-versus-two concept which, if nothing else, should be revered for how enthralling each fight becomes as a result of it.
It wouldn’t be as nail-biting if the core combat mechanics weren’t sound, though, but thankfully the developers have given us a fighting system that’s as tight and responsive as it’s ever been. Not only that, but Tekken’s fundamental mechanics and control setup make it one of the more accessible fighters on the market. Each face button is mapped to a specific strike, and for the most part you’ll be concerning yourself with striking-combos than complex joystick rolls a la Street Fighter. Even if you’re a hardcore fan, though, there are still a slew of nuances to really delve into in order to elevate your game.
There’s a training mode to address this issue of subtle complexities, which allows you to practice combos and get acquainted with each character’s move list. Seeing as this is the franchise’s first appearance on a Nintendo console, this is a great way to attract newcomers without throwing them straight into the lion’s den. Namco has also integrated the story into the training mode, so if you typically shy away from training options for fear of the mundane, just know that learning the ropes will be supplemented with a narrative. The narrative feels unnecessary, and I’ve never found the Tekken lore all that compelling, especially in contrast to Street Fighter or BlazBlue, but its mere existence is admirable.
In truth, there are a lot of modes that exist within Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition. To say this version is chock full of features would be an understatement. If the Training and Story modes aren’t enough, you’ll also have access to Arcade, Survival, and Time Attack, along with local and online multiplayer. Online was silky smooth with no hints of lag, making it feel just as fast and rewarding as on-the-couch battles. Regrettably, and like so many other Wii U titles currently, finding games can become a war of attrition, as certain periods of the day are seemingly dead. Playing at night on the weekends did seem to remedy this to an extent. Needless to say, if you’re trying to get competitive, though, then this lack of an established online community may send you looking to one of the other versions of the game in order to meet your needs.
If it’s any consolation, the beloved Tekken Ball mode from Tekken 3 makes a homecoming here. This interesting take on the battling replaces exchanging fisticuffs with punching and kicking a blow-up ball at your opponent sort of like volley ball. In this case, if the ball hits the ground on your opponent’s side of the court, they take damage. It’s a bit extraneous, but also a hilarious good time. Other than all those modes, there’s also a handful of other Wii U exclusive content that does a great job of bringing in Nintendo’s own, unique universe to captivate the hearts of Big N loyalists.
For starters, there’s the Mushroom Battle, which is a first for the series and arguably the most rewarding of the new additions. Here, stages are crop-dusted with iconic Mario mushrooms, complete with varying kinds (such as Golden, Mega, Poison, and Super) whose purposes are the exact same as in the Mario titles. Meaning to say, if you make contact with a super mushroom during a match, your character grows to enormous heights. Picking up a mega mushroom, on the other hand, allows you to dish out more damage per blow. It’s wild, zany fun that will make Nintendo fans feel right at home, as this whole system feels very much akin to the Super Smash Bros. series, and is nearly just as fun. There are even costumes from your favorite Big N franchises that the Tekken fighters can don, such as turning Ganryu into Bowser or Kazuya into Link. Again, it’s a great Nintendo touch that makes this feel like a sincere effort to make the port feel special and purposeful, and if hilarity does not ensue when you play this game with a few friends, then maybe you aren’t cut out to have fun in life– it can be that good a time.
Amid all of this content, there’s also an expansive roster that offers up variety and personality like only a true fighting game can. All of your favorites like Heihachi and Yoshimitsu are back in full force along with some other new and long-forgotten faces, giving both veterans and newbies something familiar and original at the same time. As much as I’ve never been a fan of Tekken’s library of warriors, it definitely wasn’t difficult to find at least one fighter out of nearly sixty characters that fit my fighting style!
Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition also features off-TV play, which means the whole thing can be played on your GamePad. The game runs and looks just as good in the palm of your hands as it does your television, though, you do run the risk of breaking the GamePad over your knee in a vengeful wrath once encountering some of the cheap AI you’ll face during arcade mode.
But while Tekken Tag Tournament 2 certainly throws a lot of good punches, the Wii U verison does carry some setbacks with it. For starters, long and irritating load times will constantly hold you back from navigating through the menus and modes quickly, and despite the refined mechanics and options available, this is still Tekken. It may be a matter of taste, but I don’t find Tekken’s characters, backdrop, and fighting itself all that interesting or original. As the first 3D polygonal fighting, it paved the way for other, more intricate fighters, but hasn’t managed to evolve itself much to the rising genre standards along the way. As a result, Tekken sometimes feels dated in its design and bland in its delivery. One could also argue that the added Nintendo content may not be entirely fulfilling either, as much of it relies on Big N, nostalgic charm. Even if you dig the Nintendo flare, you’ll probably forget about its appeal when you’re caught in the clutches of full-on rage thanks to the frustratingly cheap AI (here’s looking at you, arcade bosses).
All of that aside, Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition is the system’s first fighting game, and one that is bursting with content. It has a little something for everyone, but at the end of the day, fighting games are only as good as their longevity, which usually equates to a thriving online component. Fortunately, Tekken Tag Tournament for Wii U doesn’t have many technical online hang-ups like lag or any other annoyances, but its (current) distinct lack of an online community is far worse. This may change with time, of course, and if you’re just looking to enjoy a solid fighter with some friends locally, then this is certainly a very worthwhile game for your Wii U library. It’s far from a simple rehash of its ported cousins, and it manages to successfully carve out its own unique and compelling features that you won’t find on the other iterations. If you like fighting games, you owe it to yourself to give this one a shot. The very worst case scenario is you’ll have some fun, because that’s what this fighter is all about: beating up on fools, dressed as Peach, with a smile on your face.
Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.