More fighting games are coming to portable devices these days, and generally speaking, the quality bar is getting set very high. Okay, so iOS ports of Street Fighter and the like are always going to be terrible due to, well, no physical buttons, but what we’ve been seeing on 3DS and PS Vita is pretty impressive.
So that makes Tekken 3D Prime Edition for the 3DS such a confusing, somewhat disappointing pill to swallow. Why? Read on!
First, the good news: the core fighting in Tekken 3D Prime Edition is as good as you’d hope for. So far as I can tell, the mechanics, fluidity, and responsiveness that you’d expect from this franchise make it over intact. Battles are fast-paced, sometimes over in a handful of seconds, yet you always feel like it’s your own fault if you lose. Well, okay, you really want to just blame the AI for being cheap, but let’s be honest here.
Fans of Tekken, then, don’t have to worry about the core engine making a successful transition to 3DS. The problems begin when you step beyond that core engine. You see, Tekken 3D Prime Edition effectively only has one mode. Oh sure, technically you have Survival, Versus, and Quick Battle, but they all boil down to the same one-on-one fights against random fighters. There’s no Story mode, no unlockables, no fleshed-out series of missions to pad things out, such as you might find in Soul Calibur or Mortal Kombat.
Is this a problem? It is to me: if you don’t know anyone else with a 3DS to play against, or don’t fancy online battles, then you’re left with a very limited game. Honing your art is all very well, but unless you’re a very dedicated Tekken fan, you’re going to tire of the same old battles. At least there is a staggering roster of 40 characters to choose from, keeping it on par with Tekken 6. This gives you a wide variety of fighting styles and moves to master, which could conceivably keep you occupied for a while.
Aiding newcomers is a set of four buttons on the touchscreen. These act as shortcuts to basic combos for each character, allowing you to pull off more complicated moves and throws at the touch of a button. Advanced players might cry foul, but in practice it’s an excellent tool for easing new players into the world of Tekken.
Tekken 3D Prime Edition gets things right visually. The graphics are solid, the in-game fighter models are detailed, and everything moves like buttered silk at a solid 60 frames per second. The 3D effects are done right, making the fighters really pop out against whatever environment they happen to be fighting in. Of course, you’ll stop noticing the 3D a few seconds into the fight, but it’s nice that it’s there.
And… that’s about it, really. This game is a bit of a conundrum: the fighting engine has been successfully translated, but then the developers did practically nothing with it. That’s a big disappointment, and seriously hampers the value proposition of this roughly $80 cartridge — not an insignificant amount of money, that’s for sure.
Is it worth it? Well, if you’re only a casual Tekken fan, I’d say no. You’d be much better off picking up Tekken 6 for a home console if you’re after something meaty. But if you’re a diehard fan, maybe you’d appreciate being able to hone your craft on the go. If that’s the case, then you can at least be sure that the fights themselves are well done.