All Akuma, All the Time.
Akuma is part of the Street Fighter family, and while i know he has appeared in Street Fighter x Tekken games, I was still completely shocked to see such a large emphasis on Akuma in Bandai Namco's E3 presentation as well as the hands-on booth for Tekken 7. Sure, Akuma is wildly popular, but pushing the presence of a crossover character over other classic or new Tekken characters strikes me as odd. But, here we are, and it appears Akuma will have a massive impact upon the overall story mode of Tekken 7 as well.
Akuma is in this world o' Tekken because he has a debt to repay to Kazumi Mishima, and she has asked him to do so by killing her estranged husband, Heihachi, and her son, Kazuya. Well, it's not like he could be here for an uplifting reason, now could he?
After Bandai Namco showed us their Akuma presentation, they had two of their developers battle it out for a little bit, and fortunately, neither of them chose Akuma or Heihachi. Instead, they picked two of the new characters for Tekken 7, Shaheen and Lucky Chloe.
Shaheen was made possible due to community feedback in social media, where Bandai Namco reached out to fans to help them create a new character from a region they've never employed before, and the Saudi Arabian community banded together to produce Shaheen. Lucky Chloe, on the other hand, is a stereotypical otaku teenage girl who might have gotten lost in Harajuku. She even wears kitty ears on her head and pink kitty paws on her fists. It's honestly hard to take her seriously, but in the following battle that ensued, the developers showed that Lucky Chloe is a force to be reckoned with.
Once the developers were finished pummeling one another, we were able to take a crack at it. In the interest of pure honesty, I have never really been a fan of Tekken. I've played plenty of Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, and Marvel v. Capcom 2, but Tekken never really hit my radar. I knew very little about the series before sitting down, and I must have had a look on my face that said as much, because my opponent smiled and said he would take it easy on me.
Oh, will you now?
He chose Marshall Law and I picked Asuka. In the additional interest of full disclosure, I picked her for aesthetic reasons. We went four rounds instead of three, because in the first round, we double KO'd one another, which was as hilarious as it was unexpected. I'm not sure I've ever done that before in any fighting game I've ever played. It did take a couple of rounds to get comfortable with the controls and fighting mechanics, especially since the Tekken characters move far more slowly than I'm used to.
They felt as if they were wearing mech armor and moving in molasses. The characters could dash forward and back, but as a whole, it wasn't the rapid movement I'm used to with other fighting games. The button inputs also felt lagging, but I'm not sure if that was true button lag or the fact that the fights move more slowly than I am used to.
The good news is that the combos were far easier to replicate once triggered than in any other fighting game I've ever played. By the second or third round with Asuka, I discovered two of her combos, and it didn't take long to recreate what I had pressed (I wholeheartedly admit to button-mashing at this point in the attempt to find combos) and turn the tide of battle. Likewise, once I adapted to the speed differences in Tekken, blocking and jumping over attacks also became fluid.
For someone who hasn't really played a game in this series, I have to say this is a far easier fighting game to jump in and learn over either Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat. I wish I could have spent more time with the game to learn more of its tips and tricks, especially with the combos and the Rage Arts (a series of unblockable attacks when you're in dire straits), but there was only time for one one-on-one match at Bandai Namco's E3 booth. The game has been out in Japan arcades since early 2015, but we're going to have to wait for early 2017 to get Akuma's adventures with Heihachi on console.
For the record, I did end up winning the match. I'm glad he took it easy on me.