In our Final Round series, we take a look an in-depth look at as many fighting games as we possibly can. This week, Shaun Eddleston takes a look at 1995’s Tekken 2…
Tekken wasn’t the first 3D fighting game (that credit goes to Sega’s Virtua Fighter, beating Tekken by over a year), but it undeniably set the standard for polygonal fighting games and became the first game on the PlayStation to sell over a million units. It began a franchise that has outsold every other fighting game on the platform, and one that is beloved by millions of people worldwide.
There was never not going to be a sequel to Tekken, but Namco had set themselves up with a pretty monumental task considering the enormous success of the original game. Could Tekken 2 outdo its older sibling, or would the follow-up be a disastrous sophomore slump?
Luckily, what we got was simply phenomenal.
Released in arcades less than a year after its predecessor, Tekken 2 improved on the features that were introduced in the first game. It continued to use 2D backgrounds in its stages, an infinite arena for players to fight on and the intuitive button configuration that tied each button to specific limbs of fighters, while it also brought in attack reversals, back-throws and chain combos.
Not only were fans treated to these new mechanics, but the graphics were given a considerable polish and several new game modes were introduced as well; Survival mode (defeat as many opponents as you can without being defeated yourself), Team Battle mode (a multiplayer mode where players can choose up to 8 fighters each) and Time Attack mode (similar to Arcade mode, but with more of a focus on how fast players can complete matches). Practice mode was also present, so players can properly spend time memorising the command lists for every character.
Promotional Material & Box Art
Tekken 2‘s arcade promo flyers focused on many of the game’s new features, such as the shinier graphics, new characters and the fact that new characters would be time released to ensure that players would keep coming back to the game (for ten weeks, at least!). Also worth noting is the “edgy” tagline on the front, with a massive Phteven-esque picture of Yoshimitsu.
The only home console release was on PlayStation, so there’s just the one version of the box art for Tekken 2, which gives us a look at some returning favourites from the first game, and an introduction to two new characters, Jun and Lei.
Tekken 2 includes ten playable characters in the arcade version, and up to 25 characters in the PlayStation release. Many are returning fighters from the first Tekken, with a handful of brand new additions to the series.
The game is set two years after the end of the first King Of Iron Fist Tournament, and Kazuya Mishima is now in charge of the Mishima Zaibatsu. Sensing that his father survived after he threw him off a cliff, Kazuya announces a new Tekken tournament…
After being defeated in the first Tekken tournament, Heihachi was thrown from the same clifftop that he had dumped his son down many years ago. As Kazuya has since taken over the Mishima conglomerate, Heihachi has been training to regain what was once his. After he defeats his son and watches the death of Kazuya, Heihachi aims to regain control of the Mishima Financial Empire.
Taking Kazuya’s place as the main character of the game, Heihachi’s moveset remains as powerful as ever. Though he utilises powerbombs, neckbreakers and powerful kicks, he is a tough character to master. Players who are willing to put the time in and practice as Heihachi will be able to decimate an opponent’s energy bar in mere seconds.
An officer of a wildlife protection organization, Jun is highly spiritual and can sense a mysterious power surrounding Kazuya. Besides her duty to arrest him (as his corporation actively smuggles protected animals), she wants to free him of his evil power during the tournament.
In terms of statistics, Jun is a fairly average fighter. She has a decent speed and some fairly damaging moves, but she has limited attacks in general. While her offense is lacking somewhat, she is a great defensive character, and her “Infinite String” attack is one of the most frustrating moves to try to avoid in the whole game.
While King (canonically) obtained third place in the first Tekken tournament, an orphan died within his care. This made him depressed and angry, so he discarded his iconic jaguar mask and ran away. After being discovered in a drunken state in a back alley by his rival Armor King, he is convinced to return to the orphanage and train for the next King of Iron Fist tournament.
Highly compatible with players who prefer to go all out on their attacks, King’s moveset is absolutely loaded with throws, lariats and dropkicks. While he lacks a decent uppercut, King’s collection of juggle combos more than makes up for it.
Bested by Kazuya in the first Tekken tournament, Paul Phoenix found work as a bouncer in New York’s south Bronx. His arrogance and hot-headed nature constantly led him into numerous confrontations with the Big Apple’s undesirables of the criminal underworld, though they were never able to overcome Paul’s fighting technique. Entering into the second Tekken tournament with a new-found confidence, Paul is convinced that he will emerge victorious.
Many consider Paul to be the best fighter in Tekken 2, and it’s difficult to argue against that notion. In addition to being one of the few characters in the game to recieve a counter move, Paul’s low-hit/high-damage juggle combos are virtually unstoppable.
Drawing against Wang Jinrei in the first Tekken tournament, Marshall Law returned home, feeling disappointed and hopeless about his inability to win. The leader of the Manji clan, Yoshimitsu, suddenly came storming through Law’s poor neigbourhood, handing out money that he’d stolen from the Mishima Zaibatsu in the first game, and Law would use some of this money to open a dojo. After a Tae Kwon Do teacher attacked his students, Law decided to enter the latest King Of Iron Fist tournament to get revenge, and restore the reputation of his dojo.
Law is one of the easiest characters to play as in Tekken 2, with an arsenal of lightning-fast flips and kicks. While his moves are simple to learn and do a decent amount of damage, those same moves can become predictable after a while, so players must employ a more tactical approach if they want to be successful.
Michelle Chang is still in possession of a mysterious amulet that carries the secret to a mysterious treasure. Kazuya Mishima is determined to get this amulet from Michelle, so he ordered his men to kidnap Michelle’s mother. Michelle enters the tournament and vows to rescue her mother at all costs.
Michelle is another character that is ideal for players who favour a more offense-based approach to their fighting. She lacks in defensive maneuvers, but her repertoire of different move variations can go a long way in confusing opponents, and keeping them in the air, unable to defend themselves.
During his career as a well-respected police detective, Lei Wulong has developed his own unique style of kung fu that he uses to take down criminals. After discovering that a number of killings lead to the investigation of Kazuya Mishima, who is known for his connections to several Triad and Mafia groups across the globe. To futher his efforts into the investigation, Lei enters the Tekken tournament.
Lei is one of the more deceptive characters in the game. His variations on the “Rushing Punches” move and his turn around attacks can easily confuse opponents and make him seem unblockable, which more than makes up for the fact that he doesn’t have any high-damage moves to his name.
In a similar fashion to her story in the very first Tekken game, Nina’s mission is to assassinate Kazuya Mishima, but she also has a personal agenda to see to; settling the long battle between her and her sister Anna.
A fantastic mix of speed and power, Nina can end many matchups in next to no time by simply linking together attacks and making good use of juggling combos, multi-throws and reversals.
An upgrade of the first Tekken‘s Jack, Jack-2 makes his only canonical appearance in Tekken 2. Once again, he is rivals with Prototype Jack, and he enters the tournament in an attempt to rescue his creator from Kazuya, as she has the ability to make him more human.
Jack-2’s fighting style hasn’t changed much at all from his appearance in the original Tekken game, boasting insanely powerful moves that come at the cost of a hugely reduced speed and recovery time.
Upon learning that the man who once saved his life, Dr. Bosconovitch, has been kidnapped by Kazuya, Yoshimitsu enters the tournament in an effort to rescue him.
Famous for his bizarre moveset, Yoshimitsu now has the ability to regain health during a fight. While this is a welcome addition into his command list, there are also moves that require him to sacrifice some of his health too. Throw in some ridiculous teleportation skills and a great variety of 10-move combos, it makes Yoshimitsu not only a worthwhile challenge to learn how to use properly, but an incredibly formidable opponent too.
Now the main antagonist of the game, Kazuya’s takeover of the Mishima Zaibatsu has resulted in the company’s actions being way more evil than they were when Heihachi was still in charge. Upon hearing about his father’s return, Kazuya sets up the second tournament in order to lure him out into the open.
Kazuya is much more powerful than he was in the first Tekken game, which means that you’re going to have a hard time beating him unless you’ve put some practice in. For players who have unlocked him, Kazuya has an almost 50/50 balance between offensive and defensive maneuvers, so he’s ideal for pretty much any player.
Forced to serve Kazuya as his underling after the events of the first Tekken game, Lee now begrudgingly heads up the Tekken Force division. He was later approached by Wang Jinrei, who warned him about Kazuya, and asked for his help in restoring honour to the Mishima Zaibatsu. Lee instead chooses to help his boss by delaying Heihachi long enough for Jun Kazama to defeat the Devil that was possessing Kazuya.
Much like in the first game, there’s really nothing too remarkable about Lee Chaolan. His fighting style is similar to Law’s, but he lacks the flips and kicks that make it such an unstoppable force.
After the events of The King of Iron Fist Tournament, Armor King disappeared from the professional fighting world. However, he would have his limelight in the underground rings. After some time, Armor King heard news from the orphanage that King had gone missing because of financial difficulties and a child’s death in his care. Worried about his old friend, he went out in search of him.
Armor King is a slightly more powerful version of King, but lacks the Multi-Part Link Throws that his rival has. When used effectively, Armor King can keep an opponent blocking for an entire match, not letting them get any offense in whatsoever.
Feeling humiliated after her loss in the first Tekken tournament, Kunimitsu sought solace with her grandfather. He informed her that the sword used by Yoshimitsu was a relic of unimaginable value that had the power to sever an enemy both spiritually and mentally. The sword exchanges hands when a new leader is elected. The old leader is ritually sacrificed, and the sword’s power is transferred to its new owner. Her grandfather has spent his entire existence trying to forge a copy of the sword. Kunimitsu enters the tournament to face Yoshimitsu, thus claiming his sword so that her grandfather could make a copy before his death.
Kunimitsu was a relatively weak character in the first Tekken, and this still remains in the second game too. She does have a decent handful of unblockable moves though that will chip away at an opponent’s health though, which is always a positive.
Since her sister Nina was hired to assassinate Kazuya, Anna became the leader of the Mishima Zaibatsu’s personal bodyguard, although it is unclear whether this was at the Kazuya’s request or by Anna’s own volition.
Anna combines Nina’s moveset with flips similar to Law’s, which makes her one of the best juggling characters in the game. Her Unblockable moves are deadly, and is a great character to go on the offense with.
Despite Kuma’s unflinching loyalty to his master, Kuma liked to leave the side of Heihachi to sleep, even during the summer. This lazy approach means that Kuma’s fighting style has never really matured and is very disjointed. This was demonstrated in the previous King of Iron Fist Tournament, where Kuma was easily defeated by Paul Phoenix. Kuma was very impressed with Paul’s fighting prowess, as he thought that the only strong human was Heihachi. So, the two retreated into a mountain dojo to re-train. Kuma traveled to the second tournament with his master, vowing to destroy Paul Phoenix this time. If anyone gets in his way, he would eat them.
Kuma is arguably the worst character to play as in the game. With very few moves of his own, and many of them just clones of the Jack movesets, there’s no real reason to play as him unless you want to embarrass an opponent.
Bruce is an undisputed heavyweight kickboxing champion who has learned to inflict great pain on his victims. He accumulated a small amount of money competing in pit fights and brawls. He lives for the fight! He entered a Muay Thai tournament in Thailand, where he was paid to rig a fight and lose. Bruce decided otherwise and beat his opponent to death. The bookie of the Muay Thai gym, enraged at his loss of revenue, sent a hired killer after Bruce.
He fled the country by plane, only to meet a Hong Kong detective and the hired killer. Within minutes, the three confronted each other and developed into a full-blown battle, which then caused the plane to crash. The detective (who was Lei Wulong’s partner) and the killer were killed on impact, but Bruce was thrown free and survived. Wandering in a remote region, Kazuya’s men picked him up, and he was given a new job as one of his bodyguards
Bruce has the ability to fake out on opponents, tricking them into blocking incorrectly and unleashing a flurry of elbows, knees and kicks.
Baek Doo San
Baek Doo San, a master of Taekwondo, is the son of a former Taekwondo champion. During his childhood, his father received a career-ending injury. Devastated, his father became a heavy drinker, which ultimately led to him landing in prison. Plunged into a life of poverty, Baek’s family was forced to deal with hard times, and his mother disappeared, leaving him and his siblings alone.
His father escaped from prison to assist the family, but due to the deprivation of proper nourishment, Baek mistakenly killed his father. Traumatized, this drove him crazy every time he saw blood. Years later, a person knowing the truth about his father’s death threatened to go public with the truth of his past if he didn’t destroy his blackmailer’s competition.
Baek is a tricky character to learn how to use properly, with many beginners often resorting to button mashing whatever kicks that they can launch at an opponent.
After the first Tekken tournament, the remains of the first Prototype Jack unit (a first-stage model of the final Jack model) were repaired after almost being destroyed by Jack’s rampaging combat abilities. Upon reactivation, P. Jack complained that his alter-ego had received a refit, and he repeated his complaint until his fuel ran out. Now resting in the Mishima laboratories, P. Jack was left untouched for months before a back-up fuel supply reactivated him, and once again he began his constant pleas for a new look. To silence him, Kazuya gave his captured scientist, Dr. Bosconovitch, the task of remodeling the robot. With a clever memory change, the doctor managed to convince P. Jack that his new body afforded him superior protection to Jack’s, despite it being only a hat and sunglasses.
Besides a different look, Prototype Jack is almost identical to Jack-2 in terms of power, special moves and combos.
Noticing his skills in the first Tekken tournament, Kazuya hired Ganryu once the he retook the Mishima Zaibatsu, paying the sumo wrestler more than enough to feed his gambling addiction. Ganryu participates in the second tournament mainly as Kazuya’s bodyguard, but he also has another motive; he hopes to build and own a sumo ring to impress his secret crush, Michelle Chang (whom he fell in love with after seeing her movements and physique), while gaining the title of Yokozuna.
Apart from his ability to juggle opponents from a sweeping position by ducking under high attacks, there’s nothing majorly fantastic about Ganryu in Tekken 2.
An old friend of Jinpachi Mishima (the father of Heihachi and the grandfather of Kazuya), Wang had seen the way the Mishimas had abused and corrupted the Mishima Zaibatsu. Wang later becomes Lee Chaolan’s instructor and convinces him to help him bring honor back to the Empire.
Wang’s ability to juggle for more than 100 points of damage in a single combo is simultaneously amazing to look at, and immensely frustrating to be on the receiving end of.
Roger & Alex
Both Roger and Alex are the result of a military experiment. Dr. Bosconovitch wanted to combine the genes from a martial artist and cross it with a wild animal. Alex is a hybrid of a prehistoric dinosaur and a lizard, and he is also the result of splicing Roger’s genes.
Roger and Alex both have a cloned moveset from King, but with several moves missing. Fun to look at in action? Sure. Fun to play as? Not really.
They are also the trickiest unlockable to achieve in the game. Players must win their third match in arcade mode with 5% or less health remaining, then they’ll go up against the boxing glove-clad kangaroo/dinosaur.
Devil & Angel
Representing both the good and evil in Kazuya Mishima, Angel/Devil are the final boss of Tekken 2. Their moveset is the same as Kazuya’s, but with the added ability of FIRING LAZERS!. I mean, yeah, this makes them more predictable when going up against them in a fight, but LAZERS!
Tekken 2 includes a wide variety of levels, many of which are slight updates from the first Tekken game. Each character has their own stage (for the most part), and they range from serene forests, desolate deserts and a Japanese sunset to a solemn church, the New York Cityscape and “Eternal Darkness”.
The 3D arena floor placed up against a clearly 2D backdrop is still a bit janky to look at sometimes, but there’s more than enough to like about the game’s setting (especially when paired up with the awesome music).
As has become tradition with fighting games, completing Arcade mode with each fighter gives you a look at a unique ending.
In Tekken 2, these range from the expected (Heihachi dumping Kazuya into a volcano, Michelle throwing her amulet into a lake, Yoshimitsu saving Dr. Bosconovitch etc.), to the fun (Law making Paul look like an idiot, the showcase of P. Jack’s shoddy machinery, Lei spelling out “THE END” with his shots at the firing range) to the sad/bittersweet (Armor King struggling with his ailing health, Jack-2 getting absolutely merked by a space lazer as he plays with a child, King not thinking he is welcome at the orphanage for Christmas), there’s a wide variety of stuff to discover here.
Building on what was already one of the best 3D fighters of the era, Tekken 2 saw improvements across the board. With more impressive graphics, better fighting mechanics and more ways to fight with friends, the game properly laid the foundations for the many sequels that followed it.
Tekken 2 is absolutely essential for every fighting game fan, and still holds up incredibly well to this day.
Are you a fan of the second Tekken game? Who is your favourite character? Let us know in the comments below, or send a tweet our way!