Let's pair up!
Despite being released more than ten years ago on PlayStation 2, Tekken Tag Tournament remains as one of my favorite fighting games merely on the basis of fun. Perhaps that's shallow of me as a critic, but I don't really care. I have too many fond memories of my friend Shannon and I playing Lei and King and kicking the crap out of Unknown. Whenever Lei would get hit, Shannon would gasp and yell “Bitch!” at the television. I lived for those moments.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 rekindles all those fond memories, in most part because it's essentially the same game but with shinier graphics and a fuller roster. Just as a sequel should, I suppose. Except for the new luchadora Jaycee, forty-four characters leading up to and including Tekken 6 will be in the arcade version of TTT2, with an unannounced number of characters coming exclusively to the console versions. Lead Designer Katsuhiro Harada said on stage at the Namco Bandai Global Gamers Day 2012 that one of the designers for Virtua Fighter remarked that there were too many characters on the selection screen. Harada-san replied that he should worry about his own franchise.
Of course, this sequel plays exactly as you think you would. Players pick a team of two Tekken characters, fighting against another tag team until only one member is knocked out. All of the four-button inputs for combos and juggles remain intact, with the added dimension of tag switching at the press of a shoulder button. As long as your active character isn't getting his or her ass kicked, you can switch out at pretty much any time, which is particularly useful if your character is on the ground against the wall. This time around, animations for tag team throws and combos involving both characters, which effectively deteriorate recoverable health, are more abundant.
In addition to the standard tag team battles and the option for solo 1-on-1 battles, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 adds the ability for a handicapped 1-on-2 match. Similar to the same match type in Mortal Kombat reboot, the solo character has extra offensive and defensive power as well as more health (though not exactly twice the amount of health) so the fight isn't absolutely one-sided. Of course, the odds are still stacked against the solo character since any recoverable red health can't be, well, recovered. That's an advantage exclusive to tag teams.
Thankfully, Namco has added one mode beyond the expected: Fight Club. It would be deficient to describe it as a guided tutorial, since Harada-san has made it a point to make the mode something that veterans should play. Though it's primarily a mode where players can learn the finer details of Tekken, like juggles and air combos, through the eyes of a fighting robot (made by Lee), it's also where they can customize the robot to their specifications.
As you complete mini-games that test how fast you can perform specific maneuvers, your robot can add moves to its repetoire from a randomized list. It's uncertain whether you can use this robot online against other players, but it would at least seem that you can create one machine with Paul's hammer punches, Hwoarang's kicks, and King's throws… complete badass.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 will return September 2012 for PS3 and Xbox 360.