My favourite game in the Tekken series, behind Tag 2 and Tekken 3. It was one of the first games I played when the Playstation 2 was bought. I remember renting it on a Friday and unlocking all 32 characters over the weekend.
But I first came across it in an Arcade when I was on holiday, and seeing a new Tekken game for the first time, there was no other choice but to spend many an afternoon on this machine.
But in a time when you didn’t have access to Wikipedia and the wider internet as we do today, the final boss was, unknown to me.
The arcade version is based off the Tekken 3 engine, so think of this as Tekken 3.5; same graphics but same fast gameplay, just with tag. There’s also updated models for characters long gone in the canon, such as Kunimitsu and Devil Kazuya.
When you’re playing the arcade version, you can only play with two characters, not just one unlike previous Tekken games. You put your 50p in and play away.
After the sub-boss which is your characters’ nemesis, you face Unknown, and only her.
She has a wolf in the background controlling her like a puppet, and she can imitate different characters at random times. Unlike Mokujin or Tekken 4’s Combot, she doesn’t copy just one character. Throughout the match, she will change to another dependant on the CPU, and you will have to quickly adjust to avoiding the combos of who Unknown imitates next.
If you’ve played Tekken before, you’ll know that there’s always one stage where you will be stuck on it for longer than the others. Because of being increasingly frustrated after five or (most probably) more losses in the same round, you can adapt and find a weak point.
But with Unknown, you’re essentially fighting the whole character roster in the game, every ten seconds, so each round is unpredictable.
You’ll be seeing this screen a lot, but if you’re paying for it fifty pence at a time, you’ll be trying to focus even more and learning about two specific characters, for their best moves and combos.
After paying in for what would essentially be a plane ticket in the arcade, you will have beaten Unknown, and your initials will be placed (hopefully) to the top of the leaderboard.
Unknown came back to the series in Tekken Tag 2 thirteen years later. But admittedly, arcades are more rare to find as they were in 2000, then when it was released to consoles, it was just a matter of trying again with unlimited continues until you eventually won.
For now, with its great soundtrack and all the characters from the PSX era before they got remade for the PlayStation 2 and beyond, it’s the best greatest hits of Tekken of the first three games.
If you can find it for your old PS2 or even its HD remaster, you’ll have a great weekend to spend, even more with a second player.