With entries ranging from Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition, Dead or Alive 3D and BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II, the fighting genre is certainly well represented on the 3DS. Hoping to perpetuate the trend of portable pugnaciousness, Namco-Bandai’s recent release of Tekken 3D Prime Edition does an admirable job of bringing its famous franchise onto the stereoscopic screen. Elevated by a painstakingly polished game engine and a substantial roster of familiar combatants, even a handful of niggling issues won’t prohibit series aficionados from enjoying the game’s eclectic collection of offerings.
Discarding series tradition, Tekken 3D forgoes the obligatory story mode. While some players might be disappointed by the lack of any post- King of Iron Fist tournament cinematics, the title’s undiluted succession of ten opponents in Quick Battle is ideal for portable owners seeking a commute-sized challenge. Additionally, the elimination of a treacherous, juggle-happy final boss should reduce the chances for an embarrassing rage-quit tantrum on public transportation. Special Survivor allows players to select the number of opponents they must vanquish using a single health bar, giving bonus vitality based on the performance of each match.
Often, 3DS screenshot quality doesn’t accurately reflect the visual quality viewed by players. With Tekken 3D Prime Edition this schism is particularly conspicuous. Unlike the pixelated, inspiring pictures accompanying this review, the title is an impressive visual powerhouse. Each of the game’s forty-one fighters are sufficiently sized, spectacularly animated and adorned with nicely textured muscle and convincingly flowing fabric. Most remarkable is the title’s refresh rate, which is locked onto a sixty frames per second delivery, even when the 3D slider is cranked to capacity. To achieve this level of precision, a few sacrifices had to be made. Gratifyingly, these are limited to the amount of detail articulated by the game’s backdrops, which eliminate some of the animations found in the game’s well-known locales.
To maintain the game’s rock-solid framerate in online and local multiplayer, Tekken 3D is forced to eliminate three-dimensional output. Essentially, the trade-off is prudent, as it allows for the type of fluidity favored by fighting game enthusiasts. Local matches proved to the lag free, but online competitions were a different story, with specific games sullied by chronic slowdown. Without the assistance of any kind meter to gauge connection quality, it’s difficult to pinpoint to the source of the problem. Those considering the purchase of Tekken 3D Prime Edition primarily for online play may want to hold tight, as see if the situation improves.
Beyond tense battles, the title also has a number of extras to maintain the interest of players. Success in single player matches rewards gamers with dividends culled a compendium of 765 different cards. With each collectible exhibiting a fragment of Tekken lore, there’s the possibility for Pokémon-esque obsession, as players strive to achieve a complete collection. Fortunately, the title’s StreetPass functionality means that gamers won’t have to earn every card themselves. Players choose three collectables to share with their Tekken 3D-owning compatriots. Ideally, players would have the ability to wager or trade cards with the online rivals. The cartridge’s other trimming is the inclusion of the CGI film, Tekken: Blood Vengeance. Although artifacting was visible during some of the dark scenes, it’s quite an impressive achievement to fit a 92 minute, 3D movie alongside a full-fledged Tekken game.
Tekken’s 3D’s other drawback doesn’t stem from software, but rather the limitations of Nintendo’s hardware. Executing dialogs with the portable’s direction pad can be tricky. While the circle pad is a bit more precise, the longer throw of the analog controller reduces the speed of issuing commands. To compensate for this setback, players are given four assignable hotkeys which are mapped to the touchscreen. Those worried about exploitation during competitive matches can rest easy- veteran Tekken devotees will be able to devastate players who depend on a quartet of commands.
For series enthusiasts who can overlook the 3DS’s control methods, Tekken 3D Prime Edition will make a welcome addition to their library. Not only does the game’s look stunning on the portable screen, but this version retains all of the responsiveness and character command sets of its console brethren. If Namco-Bandai can remedy its issues with the online servers, the cartridge could easily stand alongside Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition as the system’s most recommended fighting game.