I remember it being hyped for most of 1998. As I had the subscription to ‘GamesMaster’ magazine during this time, they would give guides to the arcade version, while eventually previewing the Playstation port, of which would eventually release in September of that year.
It was unique in the fact that it had it’s own playable demo on its own from another publication, ‘Official Playstation Magazine’, which devoted most of an issue to the game. The demo allowed the player to control two characters, ‘Jin’ and ‘Xiaoyu’, similar to the demo of Tekken 2 I had, but with the music intact this time.
The story picked up 20 years after its predecessor, with characters having a change of appearance due to their age, or completely new ones taking part in the tournament. This story involves an ‘Ogre’ being drawn out for its blood to be used, and the visibly aged Heihachi, calls another ‘Iron Fist Tournament’ to see if this Ogre will appear.
New characters such as ‘Hwoarang’ with his over-powerful combination of moves, while another is ‘Eddy Gordo’ with his capoeira fighting style which could result in unpredictable moves with a few button mashes.
The main improvements here had built upon what made Tekken its own series, while increasing the speed, combos alongside the new characters. Instead of a devil as an end boss, it would be a fire breathing ‘Ogre’ mentioned above. There would also be a tie in with a japanese manga comic which had one of their dinosaur characters called ‘Gon’ feature to replace the random character of a Kangaroo from Tekken 2.
Two new modes were also introduced alongside the standard ‘Team Battle’ and ‘Versus’ modes.
‘Tekken Force’ was a mode heavily influenced by ‘Streets of Rage’, ‘Final Fight’, and the other side scrolling beat-em-ups, where you had to run from one point to another, obtaining ’Chicken!’ to recover any health lost. You would finish the stage fighting against a character, and if you lost, it was an automatic game over, no continues. Completing this mode four times would unlock another character, who was different from any others, mainly due to being drunk.
‘Tekken Ball’ is a, unique twist on Volleyball. A type of beach-ball would be placed in the centre of the stage, and any hits would be fed into the ball, being built up, until a block would be missed, and the character would be dealt with all of the damage stored. There wasn’t a progressive number of stages in this mode, just two rounds and then you could select another character, but fun all the same.
The game is also unique in not being released for the Playstation Network as a PSOne Classic to be played on your Playstation device of choice. This is because of ‘Gon’. As the rights to him belong to a new company, he would either have to be removed from the game as the rights have expired, or for them to be renewed. Unfortunately, a solution to this is yet to arise, and the only way to play Tekken 3 is either from Tekken 5 in its arcade form, or dust your old copy from the attic to play on your system.
I remember playing this non-stop once again in September of ’98, spending a time with a friend just going though every character, to see if there were any other hidden characters. This was back when a play through on Twitch or Youtube would have been thought of as as ‘Jetsons’ dream. A fighting game such as this could still surprise and be fun without going to an online guide. Even reviews of Tekken 3 would speak of hidden characters, but would hold back from taking back the veil of who they would be.
Everything was improved upon, the graphics, the music, and the speed. Even a ‘Theatre’ mode to watch the end cutscenes of the characters you’d play through with.
In only three years of Tekken being released for a home console, this third entry would solidify its place as a classic, and would easily stand alongside ‘Tomb Raider’, ‘Crash Bandicoot’ and ‘Metal Gear Solid’ as a successful franchise, which, bar one of these, are still standing successfully today.
The series would be at its peak with the release of ‘Tekken Tag Tournament’, released to coincide with the Playstation 2, a game which, in my opinion, still holds up today. The graphics still impress, and with over 30 characters from the trilogy before it, and a new mode of ‘Tekken Bowl’, it remains the favourite of the series for me.
Tekken 4 was released in 2002 for the Playstation 2, and it was a departure for me. It was a free moving environment with uneven terrain, so being able to perform a special move was difficult to say the least. Combined with so few characters to pick and a lacklustre ‘Tekken Force’ mode, it was a disappointing sequel.
Subsequent games since Tekken 5 have tried to recover the formula of its past glory, with only the latest release, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 released in 2012, only bringing the series back to its former glory in my opinion.
When there’s a retrospective about a game in the fighting genre, it can be challenging to write more than a few paragraphs. But since its debut in the arcades in 1994, Tekken has known to be a popular fighting game that few can measure up against. It can stand aside other successful fighting series’ such as Dead or Alive and the retired Virtua Fighter. Once the inevitable seventh in the Tekken series is announced, few will hardly turn away from its appeal.
If you want to have a simple, addictive, fun game for an evening, then Tekken 3 is the game to pick.
Welcome to the King of Iron Fist Tournament.