Last night, I switched on my DownloadStation 3 to see what I should grab next and add to my growing digital collection of games that I worry I’ll never get time to actually play. Yes, first-world pains and all that, but really now, the amount of free games being tossed into my face on a weekly basis is staggeringly frustrating. And now the Xbox 360 is getting in on the action with Fable III and more to come. Please pray for my well-being. Anyways, upon seeing that Uncharted 3 is a…40 gig download, which would probably take me an entire weekend to download and then install, I scanned the store for something smaller. First I grabbed Machinarium for free thanks to my PlayStation Plus subscription, and then noticed that there’s a new Tekken game available for all to enjoy. Me like Tekken. Of all the fighting franchises, it’s the one I feel most in sync with, and I think it has to do with the throws.
So, what exactly is Tekken Revolution? Well, in short, it’s a very simplified, non-serious version of the age-old Tekken utilizing a “free-to-play” business model. This mostly involves avatar leveling mechanics in order to lure new players to the franchise, as well as a regenerating token system to limit just how many online fights one can participate in over a given period of time. Currently, there are only three modes: arcade, online player match, and online ranked match. That’s it. No training mode, no silly bowling mode, no local competitive “vs. player 2″ mode. You either fight a random roster of opponents up to the boss Ogre or you test your luck against online combatants.
Again, since this is not a full Tekken game in all senses of the phrase, the roster is quite small. You begin with eight default characters, plus four more which you unlock in a random order by earning gift points at specific amounts. In short, here’s who you can use: Kazuya, King, Paul, Law, Asuka, Lili, Lars, Jack, Leo, Steve, Alisa, and Bryan.
I played through the arcade mode twice and found the experience to be just fine. It’s the same ol’ fighting you know from previous Tekken editions, and it feels good. I played as Asuka and watched as she earned experience points by defeating enemies, eventually leveling up to LV 3. This meant I now had some skill points to assign, boosting her health total, the damage she deals, and her chance of nailing a critical hit. This felt beyond foreign and tacked on, and I have to wonder what the whole point of it is. Probably to make actual money, in that maybe players can purchase more skill points to be one step ahead of the curve, and then their Asuka will always be a slightly bit more powerful than mine. I don’t know. Again, it feels unnecessary. Oh, and once you assign points, there’s no going back.
After that, I was able to log on once to play an online match against someone using Law. The fight was very close, each of use winning two rounds, but I was defeated in round 5. I did not try to play any further rounds after that, but it seems like you have tokens that regenerate slowly over time that allow you to play arcade or online matches. If you run out, you have to wait to play more. Or you can bypass this roadblock by purchasing gold tokens via real money. In the short time I played Tekken Revolution, nothing got in my way of fun, but I suspect if I tried to play a few more rounds I would have hit a wall.
Probably the biggest bummer is the lack of story here. There are no intro videos for characters and, more depressing, no end videos after you take down Ogre in the last fight. These zany pieces of cinema were always a treat and made trudging through the arcade mode over and over worth it. Now it feels kind of pointless, and earning experience points is not enough to satisfy. I want to see Paul and Kuma hanging out and doing flips or something. I want Jack to blow up a planet. I want people tossed into volcanoes.
It’s certainly not a revolution, but it is something to play now and then if you like Tekken and, for some reason, don’t have a copy of Tekken II or Tekken Tag to enjoy. Well, you know.