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Tekken 3 – PlayStation

Tekken 3 – PlayStation

Platform: PlayStationTekken3boxart

Developer: Namco

Publisher: Namco

Release Date: April 28, 1998 (NA)

Genre: Fighting

Nerd Rating: 8/10

Reviewed by The Watchman

Tekken 3 was in many ways, a personal gateway to a whole new world of gaming. It released in early 1998, when a 17 year old Watchman was transitioning from being a shy, awkward teen into a shy, awkward 18 year old man-teen. Tekken 3 was the first 3D fighting game that really resonated with me, finally broadening my horizons beyond the Street Fighter dominated 2D landscape of the early nineties. It was also the game that made me expand my gaming palate beyond Nintendo.

Up until Tekken 3, my console gaming experience was exclusive to Nintendo. I had grown to love Tekken 3 in the arcades. There was a magical “it” factor about the game. Something that seemed so different than the SNES era fighters to which I had grown accustomed. Sure, I still loved Street Fighter (And I still love Street Fighter. I will always love Street Fighter.) but Tekken 3 just seemed more grown-up. The moves in my mind felt more technical, like it was some sort of art to master each character. My obsession with the arcade release of Tekken 3 meant that I would finally break my Nintendo fan-boy allegiance and buy a Sony PlayStation.

Tekken 3 -1

Boom! Nothing like a boot to the face to wake you up.

The Tekken series appeared on the fighting game scene during the years the gaming industry was making the leap to 3D. It was conceived as a somewhat flashier competitor to Sega’s Virtua Fighter.  Where Yu Suzuki and his AM2 team at Sega had crafted a brilliant, technical representation of real world martial art styles, (Many consider mastering Virtua Fighter to be a martial art in and of itself.) Tekken sought to be a bit less serious. Its cast of characters ranged from series patriarch Heihachi Mishima, to muscle-bound robots, and even a fighting kangaroo.

tekken 3 - 2

Jin Kazama, the grandson of Heihachi Mishima, made his debut in Tekken 3

Tekken 3 built upon the foundation laid by the previous two installments. The most dramatic improvement was in the visuals. Tekken 1 and 2 may have been revolutionary for their time, however the low polygon models that had to be used have not aged very well. Tekken 3’s graphics were light-years ahead of its predecessors. The increased polygon count meant that the cast looked like actual humans. The colors and backgrounds were vastly improved, and the entire game was bursting with exciting energy. Tekken 3 also featured arguably the best soundtrack in the series. Actually, I should say soundtracks. You could choose to beat down your adversaries to the original arcade soundtrack, or you could go with an arranged version created specifically for the PlayStation conversion.

The heart of any fighting game is its engine, and Tekken 3 made a number of improvements which have laid the foundations for the rest of the series. Although the Tekken series was always labeled as 3D, it wasn’t until Tekken 3 that fighters were able to move in and out of the extra dimension. This allowed for greater strategy between blocking or simply sidestepping incoming attacks from opponents. The series hallmark chain combo system also felt much smoother and faster in the third installment. I remember spending countless hours practicing the moves of every character in the training room, perfecting at one point Hwoarang’s 10 hit combo (I’ve long since forgotten how it’s done.) and King’s infamous multi-part throws (Some of which I still remember, and they are still awesome today!)

tekken 3 - 3

Eddy was the most memorable of the Tekken 3 Fighters. He utilized Capoeira, a Brazilian mix of dance and martial-arts that was really cool to watch.

The PlayStation version of Tekken 3 also offered a couple of unique diversions that were not really possible in the arcades. First up was a homage to classic side scrolling beat-em-ups called Tekken Force. Players could choose any combatant and fight their way through a plethora of goons in a four stage mini-game which acted as a key to unlock one of the game’s many hidden characters. The end of each stage featured a fight with a “boss” which was just one of the other fighters from the game.

The next mode was Tekken Ball, a strange but really fun version of volleyball. Two fighters would square-off and try to hit each other with a Tekken ball. You had to hit the volleyball with some powerful moves in order to charge it. If your opponent got hit by the ball, then all the damage you infused into the ball would then transfer over to them. You’d also take damage if the ball got knocked over your head and you weren’t able to recover it in time. It was a fun little extra that has left me wondering if it served as the inspiration behind a spin-off of another fighting game franchise; Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball.

The Tekken series has always had an intricate, if somewhat convoluted story involving the Mishima family, their business empire, and the King of Iron Fist Tournament. An archaeological dig has unearthed an ancient force which begins to target the greatest fighters around the world. Heihachi Mishima intends to lure this force, known as Ogre, through the Tekken Tournament, where he intends to capture Ogre and use him to further expand his power. Tekken 3 dishes out its story elements through brief CG cut scenes that are shown after Ogre is defeated. The scenes are pretty short, however in a then-recently post-Final Fantasy 7 world, they were pretty mind-blowing.

It’s hard to find any real shortcomings in Tekken 3. Gaming as a medium can sometimes judge its older titles harsher then say movies because of the technological component involved. Tekken 3 has aged quite gracefully throughout the years. It stands as one of the best titles in the series, a bedrock for ideas that are still being fleshed out, even as we approach the 2015 release of Tekken 7. It stands as the best 3D fighter on that was ever released for the original PlayStation, and one of the best fighting games on the system period.

Nerd Rating: 8/10

Written by The Watchman

The Watchman

The Watchman is a journeyman gamer who has seen and played a good chunk of gaming history.
He’s also an actor, a reporter, a pro wrestling connoisseur, and some say he’s a cat whisperer.
If you have any questions or just want to drop me a line, hit me up at
Or follow me on Twitter @DavetheWatchman
You can also game with me!
Look me up on Xbox Live @ DJKhadoken
Or on PlayStation Network @ Eaglevision_dl


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One Comment

  1. Definitely one of the best 3D fighters of all time.


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