When Tekken 6 was finally announced for release outside of the arcades, it came with a few curious choices for the available systems. The PlayStation 3 was already a given, considering a Tekken CG demo was shown when the system was first announced. The Xbox 360 was significant because it marked the first time the fighting franchise would appear on a non-Sony console since Tekken Advance on the GBA. The announcement of the game's release on the PSP, however, made people scratch their heads. The arcade game was based on PS3 hardware specs, so people wondered how much of a hit the PSP version would take and whether it would be worth it. The PSP version is certainly a stripped-down version of the home console versions, but it still manages to retain the fun factor of the home and arcade versions.
Like the home console versions, the game released for the PSP is really Tekken 6: Bloodline Rebellion. This small bit of information may not mean much at first, but, like Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection, the subtitle addition means more than just a new CG movie to watch. Two new characters enter the fray, bringing the total number of fighters to 40, a roster that's just as big as Tekken Tag Tournament but a bit more diverse since almost all of the characters don't share the same move sets. The fighting system has also received two major tweaks. First, all players have at least one power move that can cause the opponent to bounce when landing on the ground, giving the player the chance to perform juggle combos. Second, the Rage system kicks in when the player is at very low health, temporarily increasing the damage dealt by the player against the opponent. Both abilities give the fighting a little more depth and, in the case of Rage mode, help the novice come to terms with how the game works if he plays against a veteran fighter. While there's no way to turn off these new features, series veterans won't find that their games changed too drastically with these additions.
There are several game modes available for Tekken 6. Arcade mode is exactly the same game as you would find on the upright machine. You battle through eight waves of fighters until you meet the final encounter with the boss. Story mode is similar to Arcade mode, except for the fact that there are only four fights instead of eight, and each character has prologues and epilogues to round out his or her fighting journey. Survival mode lets you take one fighter in a test of endurance to see how many people you can beat with just one life bar. Ghost mode lets you fight against both downloaded and pre-built fighter data, sort of like an enhanced Practice mode, which is also included. Time Attack has you going through a set number of fighters as quickly as possible. New to the portable version is Gold Rush mode, where the amount of damage you inflict on opponents gives you more cash to buy stuff.
Finally, there's Customization mode, where you can spend the money you earn in every other game mode, both offline and online, and dress up your character as you see fit. None of the equipped items change anything about the characters aside from their appearance, but the option to personalize your favorite fighter has been something that the community has enjoyed for quite some time. Those players will be happy to know that the number of items for customization has grown since Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection but be disappointed by the fact that, unlike the home versions, you can only customize general areas of a fighter, like the head and torso, instead of individual pieces, like the left and/or right arms and hands. Notably missing is the home console game's Story mode, which followed Lars and Alisia in their struggle against the Mishima Zaibatsu. With the reception for that mode lukewarm at best, it's a good thing that this mode was omitted from the PSP iteration.
One of the game's issues has to do specifically with Ghost mode. While you can download someone's ghost data online, there's no way you can specifically fight that particular ghost data. You just have to go through the mode and hope that it shows up when you play. Another issue is that the end boss in Arcade mode is probably one of the cheapest bosses in recent fighting game history. Forgetting the massive structure of the boss for a minute, it follows in the tradition of other fighting game bosses as having too many powerful attacks in his arsenal. Not only are they unblockable, but he seems to be able to block any attack without any animation to tell the player that he's in blocking mode. Fortunately, the hit and block particle effects are present in this fight, and that helps things out a bit. Couple all of that with the fact that he can also take advantage of Rage mode despite his powerful arsenal, and you have a boss that ranks up there with numerous SNK fighting game bosses and Seth from Street Fighter IV as being too frustrating to play against, even when the difficulty of the game is set to easy. Interestingly enough, load times aren't as much of an issue here is it is with the home console version. The load screens are still present, but they are bearable.
Multiplayer is limited. In fact, all you have at your disposal is Versus mode. You can send in default or customized fighters into the fray, and you can modify options like the number of rounds and round fight time. The multiplayer game is still set to ad-hoc multiplayer only, but there is hardly any lag present during any of the fights tested. It is a bit sad to see the lack of online multiplayer here, especially since the lobby is set up like an online lobby, but considering the issues present in the home console version, this may be a blessing in disguise.
As far as controls are concerned, the series has never strayed away from being simple to understand. There are two punch buttons and two kick buttons, each one corresponding to the left and right limb of the fighter. This is where the pick-up-and-play aspect comes in, since players can figure out simple combos based on which limb they want to attack with, as opposed to being at the mercy of what a strong or weak attack would perform. The d-pad is my method of choice for character movement, though analog stick movement is there if you prefer that instead. Anyone who's ever played a fighting game will instant know that blocking is done by moving backward, and jumping is hitting the up direction, but 3-D sidestep movement is also possible by double-tapping up or down. Newcomers will feel fine with this control scheme, while veterans will instantly pick up right where they left off. Overall, there's nothing really to complain about as far as controls are concerned.
Tekken has always had the power to be visually impressive, and this entry is no different. All character models, from the fighters to the spectators, are beautifully rendered with some nice attention to detail in the clothing. Environments are also well done, with some nice particle effects happening in a few areas. What really impresses, though, are the lighting effects. Some of the environments, like the temple with the quick sundown and the fountain, show off great lighting effects that shine on the characters well; meanwhile, the effects coming from characters like the final boss provide the same amount of shine and equally impress. What makes this more remarkable is the fact that this is all being done on the PSP. A few sacrifices had to be made with the costumes, where logos are a bit blurry and not as much detail is seen, but what you see here is impressive for the handheld. The same goes for the environments. Trash isn't flying, not as many animals are seen on-screen, and certain animations — like the truck crashing in the village and the tomatoes being thrown in the festival — are missing, but what is present works well for the system. It almost makes you wonder if the team could produce one final, impressive PS2 port after all.
Sound has been a strong point for the series from day one, and that tradition continues in this game. The effects hit just as hard as ever. Every punch, kick and slam on the ground come through the speakers with the same clarity as before, though some of the effects certainly sound better coming through headphones as opposed to the system speakers. The music isn't stuck to one genre anymore; this time around, you get a nice mix of techno, hard rock and remixed folk music to which you can fight. Admittedly, some of the musical selections sound a bit strange, but it's not enough of a reason to turn down the speakers, especially since the music doesn't last long enough to become annoying. As for the voices, they aren't terrible but aren't instantly impressive. You'll hear the fighters make their quips before and after the fight, and they don't sound too bad, though some of those voices can be drowned out by the music.
Tekken 6 for the PSP isn't as hampered as one would have thought. The fighting engine remains solid, the graphics look awesome for the system, and the sound and controls are excellent. It isn't as bare-bones as one would expect, either. While an online mode and home console story mode are missing, everything else is here, making it a fully fleshed-out game for the portable console. In short, Tekken 6 for the PSP is great and makes a good addition to a fighting gamer's portable library.
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