Few fighting game series have managed to keep their shine for multiple installments, let alone 25 years, but that speaks to just how impressive the Tekken franchise has been over the years. While there have been some missteps, like the beat ’em up spin-off Death By Degrees, all of the mainline titles have been pretty great. Ranking Tekken games is essentially a fool’s errand because of this, but it can still be done. In order to celebrate the Tekken 25th anniversary, we’ve ranked the Tekken games from best to worst. Just know that the series has been incredibly consistent over the years, so ranking on the lower half of the list isn’t some indictment on the game’s quality.
Ranking Tekken Games | 10. Tekken Revolution
One of the more obscure entries in the series, Tekken Revolution, was a free-to-play version of Tekken that was released for PlayStation 3 in June of 2013. It had a solid core as it used a modified version of Tekken Tag Tournament 2‘s fighting engine (all the bouts were one-on-one), but it was rotten with pay-to-win mechanics. The idea is probably worth revisiting in the future, as the Killer Instinct reboot proved that free-to-play can work for a fighting game, but it would need to be implemented in a different manner.
Ranking Tekken Games | 9. Tekken
The original Tekken was incredible when it released on the original PlayStation as it managed to almost perfectly match its arcade version. However, time hasn’t been all that kind to the fighter as it was quickly outdone by subsequent iterations on the PS1. Despite featuring an impressive cast of 17 fighters, there isn’t much reason to go back to the original beyond a history lesson.
Ranking Tekken Games | 8. Tekken 6
One of the most forgettable entries in the series, Tekken 6 didn’t have much to offer veterans of the fighting franchise. The combat was largely left unchanged, although it did introduce the Rage System that was further fleshed out in Tekken 7. Too much of the game revolved around a terrible campaign mode that tried to blend Tekken combat with a beat ’em up, which wound up being miserable to play. The online, which eventually got patched, was also broken upon release.
Ranking Tekken Games | 7. Tekken Tag Tournament
Before Tekken made its canonical debut on the PlayStation 2, fans were treated to Tekken Tag Tournament. A launch title for the system, it wound up being a celebration of the series up to that point as it featured a large roster of 35 fighters and looked great. The big gimmick was that the game focused on two-on-two matches, which let players tag out at at almost any time. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 may have outclassed it in every way but this debut was still a refreshing change of pace for a series that tends to take incremental steps forward rather than big leaps.
Ranking Tekken Games | 6. Tekken 4
Tekken 4 was the first numbered PS2 installment. It didn’t change much in terms of core gameplay, but the fighting in Tekken 3 was so great that it didn’t need to. Tekken 4 had tight stage design, too, as some of its more cramped arenas forced players to fight aggressively and bring out the best of the game’s core mechanics. A story mode that unlocked player endings and the ability to move prior to the start of the round were also two noteworthy additions that this oft-forgotten sequel brought to the franchise.
Ranking Tekken Games | 5. Tekken 5
It took four years to get another Tekken title but the wait was worth it. Tekken 5 wound up increasing the overall speed of combat and added the Crush System, a type of attack that would also dodge a specific class of attack, (high, mid, or low). It played an important role is it made the gameplay more fluid and natural, which carried over to future installments. The game also received an excellent PlayStation Portable port called Dark Resurrection (pictured above), which added in a slew of customization options, new stages, and three additional characters including the Russian Spetsnaz soldier Sergei Dragunov.
Ranking Tekken Games | 4. Tekken Tag Tournament 2
The second Tekken Tag title came more than a decade after the first and is quite the enhancement as a result. It once again features a huge cast of characters (over 60), and added in some new wrinkles to the tag mechanics like tag throws that featured both characters attacking at once. Aside from some Nintendo-themed skins, the excellent Wii U port even had some exclusive hilarious party modes, such as the ability to fight while Super Mario Bros.-esque mushrooms were randomly thrown into the stage.
Ranking Tekken Games | 3. Tekken 2
Tekken 2 took everything that was great about the original and added to it. It brought over 16 characters from Tekken and added eight more including a boxing kangaroo and dinosaur. Beyond that, the overall gameplay was improved with the additions of tackles and chain throws. The biggest addition, though, was the inclusion of more modes such as survival, team battle, and time attack. These are all staples of the series now, and we have Tekken 2 to thank.
Ranking Tekken Games | 2. Tekken 7
The most recent entry in the series is easily one of the best ones. Not only did it add a much-needed cinematic story mode to the series (replacing the awful beat ’em ups), but it embraced the wackiness of its narrative too. It made Street Fighter‘s Akuma a central part of Tekken lore, and has added a number of hilarious DLC characters such as Negan from The Walking Dead and Noctis from Final Fantasy 15. Beyond the ridiculousness, it also continued fleshing out the fighting system by adding new Rage mechanics, which helped make it one of the most beginner-friendly entries in the series.
Ranking Tekken Games | 1. Tekken 3
Tekken 3 literally gave the series a ton of depth as players could now sidestep in and out of the background to avoid moves. Beyond that, Bandai Namco added a beat ’em up called Tekken Force and featured a cast of characters that was largely new rather than old returning ones. Only six characters returned from the previous games, joining would-be iconic fighters like Jin Kazama, Bryan Fury, Eddy Gordo, and Julia Chang. It’s Tekken at its most pure, and that’s why it gets the top spot on this list.