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Home > The Evolution of ‘Tekken’: The World’s Longest-Running Video Game Storyline

The Evolution of ‘Tekken’: The World’s Longest-Running Video Game Storyline

29 Years and Counting!

The fighting game genre is different from other game genres, and titles like Street Fighter, Soulcalibur, and Mortal Kombat resonate with people in some way, shape, or form. However, there is one series that captures the minds and hearts of gamers around the world. That game is Tekken. The Tekken games have been around since 1995 and only evolved since then. The latest installment of the Tekken franchise, Tekken 8, will be released soon, so let’s look at how Tekken has evolved over the years at the top of the fighting video game genre.

Real Style

One thing that made Tekken so different from other fighting games is that the developers and writers use real-world fighting styles with their characters. Of course, there are some characters who have a fighting style that comes out of nowhere and would never be viable in the real world. For the most part, though, Tekken has slowly stepped away from much of their character having some special powers unless having insane strength is a power. Tekken leans towards their fighters incorporating realistic fighting styles, sometimes from famous fighters. This idea is something no other fighting game has done, or at least to the degree that Tekken has accomplished.

For example, there is Nina Williams, who uses a fighting style called Koppojutsu. Her style is a Japanese fighting system included in the Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu organization. The idea of this style is for the user to attack the skeletal system. Its nickname is bone method. Weak points of the bones are targeted by using thumbs and fingers. Then, Koppojutsu users manipulate the limbs of their opponents in a state of weakness.

Another character who adopted their style from real life is Josie Rizal, who uses weapon-based combat techniques. This technique is originally from the Philippines, and vicious strikes are what this style is all about. Military in the Philippines started practicing this martial art because of its simplicity and effectiveness. Looking at it will remind most of Hollywood movies with its broad movements. The style waits for the opponents to strike first and then counter.

There is also Jin Kazama himself. Jin changes his technique as the games progress, mimicking how a person in real life would evolve their fighting style. Jin’s style revolves around traditional Japanese Jujutsu, like Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu, which contains throwing and defensive techniques.

Animation & Gameplay 

When talking about the evolution of the Tekken franchise, it’s hard not to bring up the animation and gameplay of the game itself. As time went on, Tekken’s graphic capabilities grew. After all, the first Tekken game was released around 1994 on the original PlayStation. Since then, however, the Tekken franchise has released games on the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series S & X, Microsoft Windows, and the PlayStation 5 soon. Each of these devices offered better graphics with each iteration. Namco utilized the technology of the time and continued to innovate within the realm of Tekken.

Image courtesy of Namco.

For example, Tekken originally began with gameplay that included limited move sets. Characters had blocks, escapes, ground fighting, and strikes. In the early days of fighting games, this gameplay style was common. As time passed and the technology improved, Namco did something that no other fighting game at the time thought of. They innovated character combos and special moves. They even made it possible for characters to stage break in certain areas. Tekken became one of the first fighting games to use 3D animation. Yet another way that Namco innovated and evolved so that Tekken could continue to thrive in a space that was becoming more crowded. Movement and other game mechanics have always been part of the Tekken formula. Even from the previous Tekken game, Tekken 7, developers continued to push the envelope. Some changes may anger the fanbase, but developers must know what doesn’t work. That is the road to evolution. 

Story Evolution & Variety  

The story in Tekken is one of the most unique stories to come out of a fighting game. In most cases, the story is always the backdrop of the overall game in the fighting genre. Most players want to get in a match to prove they are the best. Yet, there are some games where the story is a crucial part of the overall experience. Tekken is one of those games. Another could be Mortal Kombat. What separates Tekken from other games whose stories are important is that players are not a hero in the story. The main character is a bad guy trying to kill an even worse bad guy and take his company. No savior is coming. Players aren’t the chosen ones who are coming to save the world.  

There is a wide variety of ways to play Tekken as well. The developers never stayed with the generic format of playing. After a few games were released, Tekken and Namco created a tag tournament. Players could fight each other 2v2 instead of 1v1. Fans can even play Tekken games on their mobile devices today. Spinoff and crossover games became popular in the mid-2000s, and Namco capitalized on that trend, too. When it comes to thinking ahead and riding trends but still doing things a little differently, Tekken is the king. There are now even worldwide competitions where players from all over the globe come together and test their skills with each other.

New Challenger Incoming 

Tekken has steadily evolved over time. Something exciting is the upcoming release of Tekken 8. It will be the first main Tekken game in close to 9 years. Namco has slowly released videos of characters and their move sets for several months. Hardcore fans have already begun picking out their main fighters and readying themselves for the next wave of Tekken. Tekken 8 will launch on January 26 of this year for PlayStation, Xbox, and PC.

Image courtesy of Namco.

Tekken 8 (2024) Official Story Trailer by Namco Entertainment. 

Source: Dead Talk Live

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I am an aspiring author living and working out of Honolulu, Hawaii. I received my bachelor's degree in Art History at Westmont College and then pursued a master's in Museum Studies at the University of Hawaii. I am currently working on a few novels, and am thankful for the opportunity to expand my creative writing voice at Dead Talk Live.