Retro Coin Op Synopsis
Two years after the groundbreaking Virtua Fighter, Namco’s one-on-one fighter Tekken continued the migration from 2-D to polygon-based 3-D graphics. This 1995 game kicked off the King of the Iron Fist tournament, hosted by the highly-skilled warrior Heihachi Mishima. The winner got a hefty financial reward (the character, not the players, sorry), but these eight combatants—Nina, Paul, King, Yoshimitsu, Kazuya, Jack, Michelle and Law—each had their own reasons for joining the fight.
Like most one-on-one fighting games, this one involved a best-of-three contest, with the match going to the player who had best mastered the characters’ unique fighting styles, complete with special moves and multi-hit combos. In addition to the regular characters and Heihachi Mishima, players had to contend with sub-bosses, some of which could only be unlocked with secret codes (another fighting game tradition).
Tekken’s catchy look brought curious gamers over from all corners of the arcade, and its fighting style kept them coming back for more. The game sparked a renaissance for Namco, a company that had once given the world Pac-Man, Dig Dug and Pole Position, but had been suffering without a breakthrough hit in the 1990’s. Tekken turned that around in a hurry, and the company continued its newfound success with games like Alpine Racer and Time Crisis.
Namco thanked its fans by cranking out more graphically-elaborate Tekken sequels over the next few years. Tekken 2 and Tekken 3 added more characters, new moves and much improved graphics, while 1999’s Tekken Tag Tournament brought back 34 characters from the previous games, along with the ability to choose two-character tag teams. Each game in the series has been another fighting winner, and with Tekken 4 on the way, the King of the Iron Fist Tournament should keep drawing crowds well into the 00’s.
Arcade Machine Release History1995 - Tekken
1996 - Tekken 2
1997 - Tekken 3
1999 - Tekken Tag Tournament