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King of the Iron Flush: Namco Bandai announces Tekken Card Tournament

Tekken Card Tournament
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Namco Bandai’s public relations team is having a very productive day. This morning, they offered word that the Namco Bandai/Sega/Capcom crossover roleplaying game Project X Zone will receive a welcome, if unexpected, release here in America. Then, a short time later, they made another announcement: The first public revelation of Tekken Card Tournament.

As the name might suggest, Tekken Card Tournament is a title focused on turn-based virtual card games. The Tekken element, though not explicitly stated, is expected to mirror the gameplay seen in games like SNK Vs Capcom: Card Fighter’s Clash. If that doesn’t ring a bell, basically it boils down to characters and situations commonly seen in a fighting franchise being transformed into cards of varying power levels that then serve to effectively simulate the action of a fighting match. Think: Magic the Gathering, only in place of creatures blatantly swiped from Gygax and Tolkien, your card-based forces consist of sixteen members of the extended Mishima family.

Those who’ve played the aforementioned SNK Vs Capcom: Card Fighter’s Clash are no doubt aware of how addictive this formula can prove to be, but the selling points preferred by Namco Bandai all revolve around the modern gimmicks the company has added to this recipe. Unfortunately, these modern gimmicks also include a rather insidious revenue scheme. Courtesy today’s official announcement:

The physical game booster packs available at retailers later this year can be played as a standalone card game, or added in players’ virtual game card deck by unique QR Code scanning. Scanning the game cards will give upgrades to online game characters or add a new character to the roster. In addition, an Augmented Reality feature lets TEKKEN characters populate the real world simply by pointing a smartphone or tablet camera at the game cards.

The digital game can also be played as a standalone, allowing players to enter the King of Iron Fist tournament by competing in this unique free-to-play game set in the TEKKEN universe. The digital game will offer a unique gameplay experience but also amazing visuals on all devices. Strategically prepare your card deck and compete against players across all platforms anytime and everywhere.

While we appreciate that the game is scheduled to launch on “mobile, tablet, and web browsers” at some point this Spring, and that the game itself is technically “free to play,” we’re unsure about the rest of the feature set listed above. Yes, Tekken Card Tournament itself won’t cost you any money to download and fire up, but a card game quickly becomes useless without any cards. This would seemingly necessitate the purchase of those “physical game booster packs.” We don’t expect these to be expensive, but we’re sure Namco Bandai has a plan that pushes players toward buying as many packs as they can afford/justify to their significant others.

Further, while augmented reality sounds neat, we’ve been burned by such promises so many times in the past that AR as a concept is a warning flag. Do we want to fill our meatspace reality with fictional martial artists? Sure, who wouldn’t? But that said, we have little faith in Namco Bandai’s (or anyone’s) ability to make Tekken Card Tournament AR features anything more than a useless extra that players glance at for a few moments before forgetting they exist.

Expect more information to emerge from Namco Bandai on Tekken Card Tournament very soon.

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Earnest Cavalli
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Earnest Cavalli has been writing about games, tech and digital culture since 2005 for outlets including Wired, Joystiq…
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