I can definitively say it was the PS1’s Tekken 3 that got me into the series. Well, that’s only after a friend recommended I try Eddy Gordo on the arcade version of Tekken 3, and after that I started on the PS1. Eventually I moved onto the insanely awesome Tekken Tag Tournament on the PS2, and then the so-so Tekken 4. It wasn’t until the PS2 graced us with Tekken 5 that I really got into the series hardcore. Mastering combos, learning opponent movesets and advantages, all with the goal of being able to throwdown at the arcade. And then, wouldn’t you know it… arcades kinda died.
Even with the fall of arcades, you’d still find some here or there, and as the years went on you’d likely find some Tekken’s amongst the Mortal Kombat’s and Street Fighter’s these arcades would offer. Though Tekken 3 might be the most popular, I think I tend to see a lot of Tekken 5’s floating around. Case in point, Cidercade in Austin, TX had one and I knew I had to throw down.
Unlike Street Fighter, Tekken is a 2.5D fighting game, featuring only 4 attacks, at one point meant to represent the left and right hand and food respectively. By Tekken 5’s appearance, the series had cemented itself in the fighting game hall of fame, and anyone worth their salt in the community knew of Tekken. Though the series can be super complicated and technical, I think the franchise is very approachable and kind of easy to pick up and play. Case in point, the aforementioned Eddy can easily be button-mashed to success.
The Tekken 5 arcade cabinet is easy to pick out in a crowd thanks to it’s odd screen bezel, controller deck shape, and speakers. Also, the bright red lightning running across the cabinet screams edgy cool gamers only need apply. I also like how this game, as well as a lot of fighters in the arcade, include this sort of “Character Move List”, like you’re going to try to learn them in the arcade for the first time. Do you hit the red buttons or the white buttons? And that’s assuming the game is running on original cabinet hardware, and doesn’t have incorrect button layouts. Thankfully, this version is an original, and handled well!
Tekken 5 is meant to be played competitively with another combatant at your side (or across from you if you’re on a Japanese cabinet!). If playing solo, it’s all about how fast you can take down the boss. I always liked this about the game, even the arcade version: it felt approachable and easy enough to spend a few minutes with, beat the game, feel accomplished, and then move on. Mortal Kombat II and it’s cheating CPU be damned.
Seeing as this might well be the very last version of Tekken we routinely see in arcades going forward, I’m glad it’s one of the best in the series. If I see this one somewhere, I’ve got 50 cents in my pocket, and a few minutes time, I’m throwing down.
Played at Cidercade in Austin, TX, 2021