Review: Tekken Hybrid

TekkenHybrid

It’s not uncommon for Sony to hype a game, a system, or some form of new technology and then proceed to not support it very well, but the way the expansive storage capacity of the Blu-ray medium has gone largely untapped has been particularly perplexing. Sure, some PS3 games come with additional bonus content like HD behind-the-scenes videos and XMB themes and demos that likely wouldn’t fit on a single DVD on other platforms, but where have the crossovers been with Blu-ray movies and games? (Disney did a nice combo deal with Phineas and Ferb, but I can’t think of any others.) Sony and third-party publishers have really missed an opportunity to promote the two in unison and further demonstrate the Blu-ray advantage.

Tekken Hybrid, a three-in-one Blu-ray bundle containing a movie, a game, and a demo, all on a single disc, is a rare example of the potential there is for developers to compile unique home entertainment experiences only possible on the PS3. Fortunately, it’s a pretty decent collection of content too, albeit one only Tekken diehards will be able to fully appreciate.

The main attraction in the Tekken Hybrid set is Tekken: Blood Vengeance 3D, a full-length CGI film overflowing with unfathomably cool fight scenes and stomach-turning anime melodrama that will have many a viewer cringing in agony. There’s some kind of a story going on here — mostly a buddy chick drama between pigtailed martial artist school girl Ling Xiaoyu and Alisa Bosconovitch, the android killing machine introduced in Tekken 6’s campaign mode — but the dialogue is so wonky and stiffly delivered it becomes too much of an effort to pay attention to what any of the characters are saying. Switching to the Japanese language track at least makes the experience bearable, but then you still have to read the subtitles, which, again, requires more viewer effort than the convoluted story deserves.

Blood Vengeance isn’t completely without merit, though. Like Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, the detail and quality of the animation, produced by Digital Frontier, is impeccable, and the outlandish fight scenes prevent the 90-minute flick from falling flat on its face. The movie certainly opens and closes with a bang, the mostly dull minutes in between book-ended by a rousing nighttime street duel between sister rivals Nina and Anna and an epic three-way bout between Jin, Kazuya and Heihachi. Xiaoyu’s fight with Alisa – before they become BFFs – is quite the spectacle too. Other than those three sequences, though, this flick is a snoozer. But that’s what scene selection (or the fast-forward button) is for!

Once the credits have rolled on Blood Vengeance, the included prologue sampler for Tekken Tag Tournament 2 pulls Xiaoyu, Alisa, Devil Jin and Devil Kazuya away from the theatrical drama and pairs them up for a quick and dirty slugfest. Fightin’ is what they do best, after all.

Disregard the whole ‘Prologue’ thing, because this bite-sized preview of TTT2 isn’t nearly on the scale of the prologue Gran Turismo 5 Sony released years back. The four playable characters can be taken through an arcade mode of four fights, and, surprisingly for a demo, there is an actual trophy list on par with the average PSN title. Toss in a simple 3D character model viewer, and TTT2 Prologue is what you get.

Barebones as it may be, it is nice being able to look ahead to what’s next in the Tekken franchise. From the prologue, you’re at least able to get a feel for the refined and expanded tag-team mechanics and the layered maps with destructible barriers — padding your trophy level in the process. I’m just not sure it adds much value to a retail product.

After providing a fleeting glimpse into Tekken’s console future, Namco Bandai lands a Lightning Screw Uppercut of nostalgia with its HD remastered version of fighting classic Tekken Tag Tournament. 12 years have passed since Tekken Tag graced the PS2 with its tag-team brawling, and remarkably the gameplay and gussied-up graphics hold up pretty darn well against modern rivals. The fighting is fast, the frame rate is smooth, and picking up on the classic move sets, no matter how many years you’ve been away, is like slipping back into a favorite pair of raggedy jeans. Tekken has become outclassed by other fighters in recent years, but there’s something about its characters and gameplay feel that never goes out of style.

Namco didn’t fuss with adding online multiplayer, which is a definite bummer. However, the remainder of Tag’s content suite still is deeper than many modern fighting games. Everything is unlocked from the moment you pop in the disc, too, so you can view movies and ending scenes, choose from all fighters, and play the excellent ‘Tekken Bowl’ mini-game (bowling with Tekken characters, go figure) without ever having to throw a punch. When you are ready to throw down, the game covers the bases with arcade, vs. battle, team battle, time attack, survival, and practice modes. Not to mention a full trophy list, Platinum included.

The one thing that really bugs me about the package as a whole is its lack of unity. When you put the Blu-ray into your PS3, the movie shows up in the video section of the XMB (or begins to play if auto-start is active) and both Tekken Tag and TTT2 Prologue require individual installs onto the hard drive like titles downloaded from the PSN (though the disc is still required when it comes time to play). I’m sure there’s probably a technical reason behind this setup, but it feels disjointed and eats up a good chunk of HD space (both are over 1GB in size).

In the end, Tekken Hybrid is neither a great movie nor a great game. So what it is? Well, it’s a collection of Tekken stuff dedicated to true Tekken enthusiasts. If you love you some Tekken, dive in head first without regret. $40 (some places already have it discounted to $30) isn’t unreasonable for what Namco Bandai burned onto this hybrid Blu-ray. But for most of us, the only worthwhile piece of this compilation – Tekken Tag Tournament HD – isn’t quite strong enough on its own to carry the dead weight around it and instead deserves to be a standalone PSN game. This time with online multiplayer. Make it happen, Namco.

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Pros:
+ Tekken Tag Tournament HD can stand toe-to-toe with many modern fighters
+ A few spectacular fight scenes and gorgeous visuals make Blood Vengeance worth the watch
+ Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Prologue shows just enough to build excitement for the full game
+ Two words: Tekken Bowl!

Cons:
- Blood Vengeance’s story and dialogue is tough to stomach
- No added online multiplayer in Tekken Tag Tournament HD
- Tekken Tag Tournament 2 demo doesn’t add much value overall
- No unified menu structure; seperate installs chew up prime HD space

Affiliate Links:
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Game Info:
Platform: PS3 / Blu-ray
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: Namco Bandai
Release Date: 11/22/2011
Genre: Animated Movie / Fighting Game
ESRB Rating: Teen
Players: 1-4
Source: Review copy provided by publisher

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!