With all the games appearing on the Wii U, both original and re-releases, one of the more noticeable absences has been in the fighting game genre. When the Vita and the 3DS recently debuted, both systems had plenty of fighting game options, and many more have been released since. Oddly, the Wii U is a different story.
Surprisingly, there are no signs of any of Capcom’s fighting games, no Mortal Kombat, and not even a more obscure fighting game like the recent Persona 4 Arena. No, only one fighting franchise answered the Wii U’s call for content. Thankfully, it just happens to be the biggest fighting franchise of all time.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 arrived on the Wii U with a few new features and game modes, as well as all the content that was packed into the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions. When we originally reviewed it, our own de facto fighting game expert, Earnest Cavalli, loved it, and named it one of the best games of the year. While I agree that it is a great game, there are a few things that rubbed me the wrong way. I mark some of these down to personal preferences though.
The Wii U version of TTT2 contains all the content you may have seen before, along with two new game modes: Mushroom Battle, and the return of the long absent fan favorite, Tekken Ball. Both modes are minor additions, but they are welcome ones.
Longtime fans of the series will likely remember Tekken Ball from years back, and although it hasn’t been included in a Tekken game since 1997, fans should have no trouble picking it up in stride. For those that aren’t familiar, it pits two players against each other, separated by a line that neither can cross. A beach ball is then dropped, and it becomes active when one player hits it. The other player needs to hit it back or risk it connecting and causing damage. The more the players volley it back and forth, the more powerful it becomes. It’s just as you remember it, right down to the often frustrating hit detection on the ball, and the annoying frequency in which the ball is lobbed behind you, leaving you to slowly and awkwardly shuffle backwards to feebly attempt to get it.
Mushroom Battle is the better new addition, but it is also a very shallow one. As you and another fighter square off, occasionally mushrooms will be released into the arena. Whoever can grab them will grow in size or increase their speed, while the occasional poison object will shrink players. Adding more options would have helped really flesh this mode out, but as it is, it’s a gimmick, but a fun one.
The Wii U version also features Nintendo themed costumes for every character. Some fighters may wear the familiar plumber garb, while others will don a green Link-like cap. It is purely aesthetic, but cool.
The real difference is found in the GamePad itself. The game features Remote Play, allowing you to play the full game on the GamePad itself. If all Wii U games don’t soon feature this, it will be a crime. But when playing on the TV, the GamePad offers four preset combos that you can trigger with the touch of a button. This isn’t anything new for fighter that feature the option of touchscreen controls, but the four choices are rudimentary, and anyone playing against you on a non-GamePad controller will be at a huge disadvantage. It is a nice option for beginners, but it also feels a bit cheap. this also highlights something inherently wrong with games like this on the Wii U. If you and a friend want to play on the TV, one will have the GamePad, while the other will have a nunchuck or the Pro Controller. whichever you prefer, it is an uneven experience, and limits the versus options.
During menus, the GamePad offers bios on each of the characters, which is a nice touch. Strangely though, the game has a bizarre issue that stops you from opening the Wii U’s menus or exiting the game during certain sections.
But where the GamePad is more keenly felt is the gameplay itself. For some perplexing and almost inexcusable reason, you cannot use the left analog stick to move your player, forcing you to use only the D-pad. Taking away that option is pointlessly prohibitive. It also makes it harder to try to pretend that the GamePad is an arcade controller, which makes the placement of your right hand on the buttons awkward. The Pro Controller is the better choice, but if a game’s design is such that the primary controller (not to mention selling point of a new system) is not the best choice, there is something wrong.
In all other regards, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is an identical port of the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions, just with a few new game modes, and – sadly – a much smaller online community that will hopefully expand.
While I did not enjoy the core game quite as much as Earnest, I can understand his passion for it. It’s packed with enough competitors, game modes, and moves that fight fans should happily embrace the Wii U version. Just be prepared to learn how to move all over again via the GamePad.
Score 9 out of 10
(this game was reviewed on the Wii U thanks to a copy provided by the publisher)