Still no Tekken Bowl.
Despite the resurgence of Tekken's "Tag" branding this year, one feature was missing from the original's goofy line-up of distractions: Tekken Bowl. Maybe the beloved oddball would return for an outing on Nintendo's next-generation lineup! Maybe it'd be best to wait for Tekken Tag Tournament 2 until you could pay full-price for it with the privilege of a tablet controller and a non-existent online community.
Wait, those don't sound like great things? That's because they're not. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 has proven itself a worthy successor and a ton of fun in its own right, leaving the additions on hand in the Wii U Edition to feel tacked on an unnecessary to the experience.
First up is Mushroom Mode, a game type that furthers the stereotype that you have to pander to Nintendo gamers to succeed on the platform as a third-party. Playing on your love of Mario and company and offering speed boosts or damage penalties to the frantic Tekken Tag action seems like an awesome idea, but players will find that it gets a little too chaotic for serious fighting fans.
What's more, there's little depth to speak of in the mode and a lack of customization options means you'll have brief, shallow fun while it lasts. What's more, Mushroom Mode can't be played online, so spending an extensive amount of time in the mode cooperatively will require another player on your couch.
The second mode added exclusively for the Wii U version is Tekken Ball (not Tekken Bowl, mind you). You remember Tekken Ball from Tekken 3, right? Good, because I don't. My Tekken 3 experience was primarily based on laying quarters down at my local pizza joint. That said, whether you have prior knowledge of this mode or not won't matter as Tekken 3 didn't allow for tag battles with the ball.
Again, despite the frantic fun of hitting a ball back and forth, there's neither depth nor hours of entertainment here. You're better off moving back to the primary experience on offer in Tekken Tag Tournament 2's standard modes.
Why? Because this game was awesome when it was released on Xbox 360 and PS3. There's a heart of gold waiting to be punched in TTT2 and if you haven't had a chance to dive in with Heihachi and the gang, the Wii U Edition is just another opportunity for late comers.
There are a cadre of Nintendo-themed goodies, like Link and Peach character costumes, that add to the first-party flavoring on hand, but some additions actually detract from the gameplay. My favorite part of playing a fighter is learning and getting better with a particular fighter I like. Touchscreen combos and super moves detract heavily from that, despite lowering the bar for other gamers in your house.
Stacked against the rest of the Wii U's launch lineup, you might not find TTT2 all that appealing, especially when you can get the core game for cheaper on another platform. There, you'll have to work harder to catch up with the online community, but if you don't mind the uphill battle, it might be better to save a little scratch.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Wii U Edition is worth it for anyone looking to build out their launch library on Nintendo's new console. It's got everything Namco packed in earlier this year, and that's about all you need to know. Tekken Ball and Mushroom Battle, while briefly entertaining, don't add much. Still, TTT2 is strong enough in its own right that we don't need to tag out just yet.