by Tarique Ejaz
Tekken is one of the pioneers of one-to-one combat gaming, along with Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. However, over the years it has slowly and steadily consolidated its franchise with an ever growing fan base who find the allure of diverse fighting styles, taken mostly from those that are in action at present in the various parts of the world, seemingly irresistible. The thing about Tekken is that it is more than just a fighting game with a background story encompassing a set of central characters. It denotes a game that provides its other characters (supporting would be an unfair justification) the opportunity and space to contribute to the main theme of disputed bloodline but also add to the existing continuity of the series.
My relationship with Tekken goes way back to the late 1990s and early 2000s. I first came across it in a small gaming parlor near my place where you got to play a single game at ten rupees an hour. The first ever edition of Tekken I got my hands on was Tekken 3 and till this date I consider it to be the most popular game of the franchise, not only in terms of the sales it brought in but also in terms of the improvement that it underwent from its earlier versions. The ones that came out later were more-or-less based upon the 3D rendering that was first visible in Tekken 3. I played it for the first time way back then, sucked at it big time but had found a game that would eventually stay with me for all years to come. Through this article I wish to share some of the love and nostalgia that I share with this game and as I grew up, I became more acquainted with the different aspects of it and the transition has only added to the experience. (Like I stopped calling Jin’s Roundhouse Triple Spin Kick “The Chakra Shot” for once) Having said that, let’s have a look at the elements that make Tekken, TEKKEN.
I. THE CURSE OF THE MISHIMA BLOOD
The main story revolves around Heihachi Mishima and the Mishima Bloodline. Heihachi is the only son of Jinpachi Mishima who is a world renowned martial artist and the one who created the company Mishima Zaibatsu along with its various subsidiaries. (To this date, there has been no definition as to what exactly Zaibatsu does except for the occasional reference to its extensive R and D and financial work) Mishima Zaibatsu also functions as the primary sponsor of the King of the Iron Fist Tournament, where the actual rounds of the game takes place, with the prize being the control of the Zaibatsu in its entirety.
After the first tournament, Heihachi claims the Zaibatsu for himself and locks Jinpachi underneath the family monastery Hon-Maru where he starves to death. Following this act of downright cruelty, the power-hungry Heihachi being downright annoyed at the continuous weakness shown by his 5-year old son Kazuya decides to throw him into a deep ravine with the proclamation that if Kazuya was indeed his son he would find a way back to him. And Kazuya does so but in doing so he makes a deal with the Devil (Yes, literally) and in exchange inherits the Devil Gene, thereby, cursing the already accursed Mishima Bloodline for good. This gene eventually passes onto Kazuya's son Jin when Kazuya is killed by Heihachi at the end of Tekken 2 by being thrown into a volcano.
When the Fighting God - Ogre resurfaces and kills Jun Kazama, Jin's mother, some 15 years after Tekken 2 Jin goes to Heihachi as per his mother's instructions and trains under him to sought revenge against the entity Ogre unaware that the ruthless Heihachi has his own agenda to fulfill. So when Jin finally defeats Ogre, he is mortally wounded by Heihachi only for the Devil Gene to take over and save his life. Realizing that he requires the Devil Gene as well in order to splice Ogre's DNA into his for immortality, Heihachi strengthens his search for Jin.
With time, it is discovered that Kazuya is actually alive and well. He had been resurrected by G-Corporation, a biotech firm and immediate rival of the Zaibatsu. Heihachi throws the next Iron Fist tournament to lure Kazuya back where Kazuya comes face to face with his son, Jin, for the first time. Jin, in his Devil elements, has been chained in Hon-Maru by Heihachi before the final round kicks off and the fight brings out the full power of the Devil Jin which when on the verge of killing Heihachi decides against it as a promise he made to his mother and abandons the monastery. The scene where he flys away into the moonlight and the feathers from his wings fall down from the sky is so beautiful to behold that the fanboy heart of mine just leaps around in joy.
It is at the precise moment that the just-stirring Heihachi and Kazuya are attacked by a set of Jacks, mechanical humanoids capable of relentless destruction, where Kazuya betrays Heihachi after fighting alongside him initially before one of the Jack self-explodes. It is assumed Heihachi is dead but just then a King of the Iron Fist Tournament is announced by the Zaibatsu and it is discovered that Jinpachi Mishima, the father of Heihachi, had taken up the mantle of the Zaibatsu leadership. But he is no more human. It seems that an entity signifying the Devil Gene had been the cause behind his return from the dead. (Talk about messed up family melodrama)
Jin manages to beat Jinpachi in the tournament and takes over Zaibatsu. He has become much more ruthless than Heihachi had ever been. Heihachi had always strived to obtain world peace through his Tekken Force (a mercenary outfit of the Zaibatsu) but Jin on the other hand had declared outright war against the nations of the world. It is later discovered that Jin had been spreading chaos to bring in an entity called Azazel who he believes was the reason behind the very existence of the Devil Jin and it was it that had bestowed the corrupted gene upon Kazuya first. However, his theory turned out to be false and Jin ended up losing the tournament and control of Zaibatsu. But no one was declared the winner and Heihachi eventually resurfaces to take over the declining power of the Zaibatsu as the curse of the Mishima bloodline still lingered.
II. UNDERLYING RIVALRIES
Apart from the main storyline, Tekken has given us many memorable rivalries with a different motive existing behind each one of them. From parent-child to sibling-sibling to teachermaster to friend-friend, the rivalries highlighted in Tekken have been both carried out in a friendly or serious tone. I will enlist two rivalries among many that definitely stand out. You can feel free to add onto it.
1. Jin Kazama v Hwoarang
This rivalry came into being ever since the third King of the Iron Fist tournament. Just days before the tournament kicked off, Hwoarang - a veteran of street fights and having never lost one was for the first time forced to a draw. The opponent was Jin Kazama. This felt like an insult to Hwoarang and his ego was hurt, evidently. This gave birth to a prolonged animosity that still exists, with Hwoarang always carrying the edge against Jin having beaten him twice in the King of the Iron Fist tournament 3 and 5. However, the Devil form of Jin almost killed Hwoarang at the end of the fifth edition and ever since then Hwoarang has made it his obsession to defeat this paranormal form of Jin.
The fighting styles contrast in nature majorly as Hwoarang practices a more conventional Taekwondo style against Jin's initial Mishima style Karate to a cleaner form of Karate mixed with Aikido.
2. Anna Williams v Nina Williams
Anna is two years younger to Nina and they are sisters. Let me add more to it, they are both well-established assassins and absolutely loathe each other. The actual reason behind the hatred that exists has not yet been disclosed but it is believed that it has to primarily do with something concerning their father and after his death, the relationship between the two became more volatile. They have over the years tried to kill each other on numerous occasions. Despite all this a certain flash of warmth does seem to surface every now and then.
Both are trained in the same fighting style combination of Koppo and assassin based Aikido and their nature tend to complement each other. For example, Nina is cold-blooded out and out and bears a deep disgust for all men. Anna on the other hand is more flirtatious and prefers to be seen as a 'femme-fatale.' It is the nature of their relationship that makes their rivalry all that much intriguing
III. FIGHTING STYLES TO KICKASS BOSSES
Tekken has a more grounded approach to combat but it in no way means it tries to lower the tempo or hesitate to introduce supernatural elements to the table. It houses a catalog of fighting styles which has only been increasing with each new edition of the franchise. From the more traditional fighting styles like Zui Quan (Lei Wulong), Martial Arts (Marshall Law), Judo (Paul Phoenix), Ninjutsu (Yoshimitsu) to the ones developed from the elementary fighting techniques like Capoiera (Eddie Gordo), Koppo (Nina/Anna Williams), Professional Wrestling (King) and Taekwondo (Hwoarang), to name a few, we are familiarized with so much on the same platform at the same time.
Coming to the various bosses over the editions, Tekken had more or less restricted itself to the main storyline thereby introducing bosses connected to it until Tekken 3 where they brought in the Fighting God Ogre who was a deity discovered in the ruins of a prehistoric excavation in Mexico. This entity transformed into a fire breathing dragon-sort of a being called True Ogre after consuming the sub-boss concerned. We then had the same Mishima clan based elemental fighters as bosses for Tekken 4 but it was Tekken 5 and Tekken 6 that decided to up the ante. Jinpachi Mishima, imbued with the Devil Gene, became a difficult boss to get past in Tekken 5; not to mention equally cringe-worthy to behold. He was followed up by Azazel - a mystic creature lying in the crypts of Egypt and created by the collision of stars, only brought forward by the allure of chaos and strength and is supposedly believed to be one who initiated the Devil Gene.
Having put forward the basic essentials one thing that needs to be looked into is the fact that the free flowing hand to hand combat in line with varying styles and characters has given Tekken its own stature to stand upon and it is a game very close to my heart and despite the less than clarified motives for each character, once you start playing it you would likely be one of the many who would be glued to it for hours.
Best of luck with that.
P.S. The Panda and Bear characters do appear out of place but your opinion will definitely shift once you experience their moves. (In the right way that is.)