High-detail character models and backgrounds; most fluid gameplay on 3DS
Lack of an actual arcade mode; online play feels stripped-down
Tekken 3D Prime Edition follows a short, but pretty fantastic line of former console fighters that have made their way to Nintendo 3DS. Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition continues to be one of my favorite games to play on the bus or when I’m too lazy to turn on the PC; Dead or Alive Dimensions wasn’t so bad either, with a fantastic story mode that brought unsuspecting DOA novices into the fold. The only problems with 3DS fighters thus far have really been chalked up to the Circle Pad, which is something that we can get used to. (That or we switch to the directional pad, SNES-style.) So how does Tekken 3D Prime Edition stack up?
Well, for starters, it’s fairly straightforward, which is both surprising and sensible at the same time. In fact, other than the packaged film (Tekken: Blood Vengeance— a halfway decent film, for a video game adaptation), Tekken 3D Prime Edition only features four modes: Quick Battle (a series of ten battles– no cutscenes), Versus, Practice, and Special Survival (fighting enemies endlessly on one health bar). Where’s the arcade/story mode? Well, Namco Bandai seems to have thought that anyone owning a Nintendo 3DS would already be familiar with Tekken, thus precluding the need for one– and besides, Blood Vengeance provides enough story, right? Of course, there’s a problem with this line of thinking, mainly that it’s hard to justify spending time playing arcade mode by your lonesome when there isn’t any background story to whet your appetite. Capcom and Team Ninja understood this– Namco Bandai doesn’t seem to.
But let’s be frank. The main draw of any fighting game is going to be how playable and easily controllable it is. And in the latter regard, Tekken 3D Prime Edition does just fine. The Circle Pad is decent, though mercurial as always when it comes to diagonal input, and the face buttons are fine, with certain customizable inputs available on the touch screen. (Purists: sorry, you can’t disable them online, but at least they’re somewhat hard to hit.) Practice mode, of course, helps players get used to playing Tekken on a portable system, and, as in Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition, there’s no character-unlocking necessary either, with all fortyish characters available right at the outset. It’s Tekken 6 all over again, except with superfluous 3D visuals– though neither are necessarily bad things.
Meanwhile, though, the versus mode is a bit of a downer. There’s online play, certainly, but it’s almost unplayable due to the lag; further research indicated that this could either be due to the developers or due to lag-manipulating trolls, but either will ruin your appetite. Furthermore, for some reason, players cannot change characters or stages during online play, and have to disconnect and reconnect just to do so. Offline play, meanwhile, necessitates multiple cards– annoying when Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition, a launch title for 3DS, supported even limited Download Play. Character customization, which has been in Tekken at least since Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection, is way out; in its place for replay value are hundreds of StreetPass-unlockable collectible cards that are literally just that– collectible.
On the bright side, the game does run extremely smoothly at 60 frames per second, and character models and backgrounds are far more detailed than any fighting game before it on 3DS. And the controls certainly are fluid. It’s just a shame that Tekken 3D Prime Edition is so lacking in features, both in terms of single player and multiplayer. For an entry from a heralded fighting series almost unheard of on Nintendo platforms (remember Tekken Advance?), this one seems to be half-hearted at best.
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.