Oh no. Not again. We just went through this.
This'll be short, ladies and gents. There's simply not much to talk about here. Tekken 3D Prime Edition, at its core, is Tekken 6 for your Nintendo 3DS. As far as fighting cores go, that's a pretty good one on which to build a robust product. Unfortunately, said core is where Arika and Namco Bandai stopped.
So what made the cut? There's Survival mode, which allows you to fight a set number of opponents in succession until you run out of health. Every time you beat it, the number of opponents you can fight goes up. However, there's no actual endless mode, which appears to nullify the point of a Survival mode in the first place. There's Quick Battle, where you fight an unlimited amount of opponents in succession and rank up as you do so. You can only fight 10 opponents at a time here as well. It's reminiscent of Virtua Fighter's Arcade Tour modes, but extremely stripped down. There's your standard Training mode, and there's Versus Battle, which can be played locally or over the Internet with netcode that's middling in performance on its best day. The game also features several collectible "Tekken Cards" that you can gain via playtime and StreetPass. Sadly, these cards serve no actual gameplay function, but at least most of them sport good art.
Finally, included on the cartridge is a 3-D presentation of the Tekken: Blood Vengeance movie, and we use the term "3-D presentation" very lightly. Crank the 3-D slider all the way up, and you'll still only barely notice a difference. The movie is some pretty cheesy fun, but once it's over, it's over, and you're still left with a bunch of dolls to move around without purpose when you're back in the main game. This is seriously all you get. There's no arcade mode, no character endings, no fun diversions or minigames like Tekken Force or Tekken Ball, and no character profiles. Zip. Barring the movie, you can see everything this cartridge has to offer in the space of 15 minutes — and not in the good, infinitely replayable sort of way.
While it's not Namco's fault, the 3DS' Circle Pad and directional pads both have their ... quirks when trying to use either one to control characters. The Circle Pad makes it tough to judge diagonal inputs, while the directional pad is just too small to handle Tekken's combined speed and accuracy requirements. It's the GameCube controller all over again. In other words, there is absolutely no reason to play this game if you do not have another person with a copy of the game near you, or if you want to practice/play online with suboptimal control schemes. It's almost as if Namco engineered this title as a preview demo for its console Tekken releases.
Once again, in the end, we have nothing but a bare-bones fighting tool. Even the original Street Fighter II had a proper arcade mode and character endings. Tekken 3D has a huge roster to go through, and it would have been nice to se them in contexts other than repeated, monotonous fights. You know you're in trouble when the Virtua Fighter series — well known at this point for its lean, non-versus pickings — manages to surpass you in content. Credit where credit is due: controls aside, this port is fantastic. The game is absolutely gorgeous visually and sounds great. Crank up the headphones, and you're pretty much in the game room, and unlike in Blood Vengeance, turning on the 3-D here actually makes the game look better without much noticeable frame rate loss. Purists will want to leave it off, however.
Tekken 3D Prime Edition gets its points from its well-done console-to-handheld translation and its absolutely gorgeous visuals. However, with half of the game missing in action, I just can't recommend this in good conscience. If you really need some current-edition Tekken on the go, then at least wait for a price drop.
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