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Nintendo 3DS Review: Tekken 3DS Prime

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Tekken 3D Prime is a bit of mixed bag. On one hand, it’s loaded with fan service to Tekken fans worldwide: 40 different characters, online multi-player battles, series art galore, and a 3D movie to boot. But that’s where the positives end. Tekken 3D Prime brings so little else to the table that playing it felt more like an elaborate tech demo rather than an actual game. The end result is a technically proficient fighter that should only be enjoyed by fans of the series.

The story of Tekken 3D Prime revolves around — well, actually, there is no story. This poses the game’s largest issue. The series’ first attempt on the 3DS is absolutely devoid of any sort of plot. While one could argue that the fighting genre has never been one to weave the industry’s best tales, at least games like Soul Calibur and Street Fighter make some attempt to engage the player. Tekken 3D Prime has you playing match after match with no real reward other then unlocking “Tekken Cards,” which are nothing more than images of characters and art you can share with friends via the Nintendo 3DS SpotPass system. While these unlockables are great for die-hard fans, the rest of us won’t find the ambition to fisticuff until all 765 images are unlocked.

But that’s not to say it’s a bad game. Technically, it’s hard to find a better showcase for the 3DS. The game runs at 60 FPS even when the 3D mode is turned all the way up. The fighting mechanics are on-point and do a great job of adjusting to the limitations that come along with playing a fighter on the 3DS. Much like Street Fighter on the 3DS, Tekken encompass four bottom-screen buttons that you can press to perform some of the tougher moves in a character’s arsenal. Along with the gameplay the graphics are sharp, detailed and the character models look great.

Playing online provides enough thrills and the layout of the 3DS control scheme helps to even matches against tougher opponents. Virtually lag-free, there was little to complain about when beating up friends from across the globe.

As mentioned before, unlocking “Tekken Cards” are the only real “achievements” or bonuses that drive you to keep playing. The 765 different cards are composed of character images, 3D stills and level art throughout the series’ history. The crux of the situation is that only the staunchest Tekken fan will care about the majority of these images. The rest will simply feel underwhelmed with the “rewards” that the game throws at you. For me, the real draw of the game wasn’t the game at all, but the full-length 3D movie Tekken: Blood Vengeance that comes as part of the package.

Tekken 3D Prime may very well be one of the greatest tech demos ever made, but nothing more. In fact, the whole time I played it, I couldn’t help but feel as if Namco Bandai took some of its greatest talent, threw them in a room and said “Make us a Tekken game — you have one month.” There’s just too much left out to recommend this be a part of your library. This is a fighting game in the most literal sense, in that it offers fighting and little else. The Tekken series has always been one that takes place in the not-so-distant future. Unfortunately, Tekken 3D Prime is better left in the past.

Tekken 3D Prime is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence.

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About Nathaniel Nehrbass

I've been covering the gaming industry for over 5 years, blogging for various sites and covering gaming tournaments nationwide. I am more excited than ever to be a part of the industry and am looking forward to the next gen of consoles and the possibilities they hold. You'll find me on the PSN most of my days under the moniker of NatX7. Drop me a line and let's conquer the world!