When others find out I collect video games, a typical question they ask is something along the lines of “What’s your favorite game?” Having played quite a lot of games, it’s a bit difficult to answer. After all, how can I pick just one game when there are so many excellent titles and series? Typically, I’d give a “these are my favorite types of games” or “this is my favorite series”. But if I really had to drill down and pick some favorites, I think I could make a top ten (or maybe top 25 to give myself some wiggle room). On that list of all time favorites would absolutely be the Playstation classic Tekken 3.
Where to begin with this one? Let’s start with how truly excellent the fighting is. To this day, over 25 years after the first Playstation release, Tekken 3 is one of the smoothest fighting games out there. It’s so seamless: battles start quick, they end quicker, and the combat is cohesive. Each combatant plays so well; it’s both difficult and exciting to find who your new favorite may be. Linking combos is simple in Tekken 3, whereas competitors like Street Fighter III or Killer Instinct 2 made it a rather arduous task. Sure you could just mash buttons with Eddy Gordo, but you could also simply link together hit after sweet hit with Jin Kazama and decimate your opponent in style. At it’s core, Tekken 3 is a fantastic fighting game that deserves the praise its received.
But it’s also not JUST a good fighting game: it’s a great looking Playstation game. Seriously though, it might be the best looking Playstation game I’ve ever seen. Backgrounds are detailed and unique. Characters sport multiple outfits to match their eccentric styles. Even the menus and extra modes are highly detailed. Every now and then I go back to play the game, and I’m still in awe by how visually impressive it all is. I have absolutely played games released years if not decades later that don’t hold a candle to this 1998 classic.
I can recall playing Tekken 2 with my brothers back before we had a Playstation. We rented it one weekend, and with it Tekken 2. I remember thinking the game was really floaty and blocky. That was maybe in like, 1996, so a few years later when we owned a Playstation, and my brother purchased Tekken 3, I was a bit skeptical. Why play this game when 3D fighters like Killer Instinct (kind of) or Virtua Fighter 2 were around? With that setup, you can imagine my surprise when I saw how vast the improvements were from 2 to 3. Honestly looking back I don’t know if I would even consider the games related: outside of characters and general gameplay ideas, the games feel and handle so differently. I think from Tekken 3 onward, the series really came into its own and developed into what we know today.
Something else Tekken 3 brought, for better and for worse for some gamers, are the additional game modes in the home console version. Tekken 3 on the Playstation had not only the excellent 1-on-1 fighting game, but also the first version of Tekken Force, a beat’em up inspired game that went on to see a couple sequels on subsequent Tekken games proper. It also had the weird and quirky Tekken Ball, a strange volleyball combat hybrid mode that had you defeating your opponent by sending a large ball to their side of the court in hopes they can’t send it back. It was… weird, but I still somehow loved it. These games started a tradition for future games in the series to include some oddball game mode aside from the combat. Tekken 3’s direct follow-up was essentially an upgraded version of the game called Tekken Tag Tournament which not only happens to be one of the best Playstation 2 games of all time, but also has the famous Tekken Bowl bowling game. Wow, what an incredible series…
Anyway, back to Tekken 3. Looking at why I would consider the game one of my all time favorites is simple: it’s damn fun. A run to beat Heihachi and Ogre to see your characters ending is fun. Fighting a few battles with friends is fun. Playing the additional game modes is fun. When I go back and play other games from the late 90s, this isn’t always the case. Have you played some of those Playstation platformers? They aren’t great. If I had to pick a best game in the series, I might pick Tekken 5 because it released at a time when I played more fighting games. But if I had to pick a favorite game? It’s definitely Tekken 3.
No matter if you’ve played it before or are going in and playing it for the first time, I cannot recommend Tekken 3 more. It’s an incredible fighting game that is undoubtedly better than the arcade version. It is also the first game to incorporate so much the series would later go on to be known for. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to kick some ass as Forest Law and I’ll see you next time.