The Tekken franchise is unknown to practically nobody familiar with gaming. Known for being one of the more hardcore fighting games out there, it can be a little intimidating to walk into your average Tekken game and try to get a feel for the combat style and study-heavy combos. Those facets made me a little wary about checking out Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition; I’ve only played Tekken here and there and know little about its history, but I’ve gotta say that this is the first Tekken game I’d ever powered down and said, “I’m actually looking forward to playing this tomorrow.” A great tutorial mode, gigantic roster, and tons of Nintendo-themed costumes let TTT2 open the Tekken franchise to newcomers, but the Wii U-specific functionality and multiplayer issues leave a bit to be desired overall.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition is a solid port of the 360/PS3 versions of the game, with gorgeous, zero-slowdown graphics to almost make you forget you’re using a Nintendo console. But the costumes, ranging from Mario and Luigi-themed clothing to a full-on representation of Captain Falcon, bring you back to the “let’s have fun” mentality that Nintendo offers. The Tag Tournament series of games lives outside of traditional Tekken canon, offering tons of fighters from all over the series to kick, punch, and decimate with. Wii U Edition also offers a couple gameplay modes unavailable in the 360 or PS3 versions: Mushroom Battle, which allows you to grow/shrink your fighter in battle by picking up mushrooms, and Tekken Ball, a sort of fighting/volleyball fusion that originated back in Tekken 3. To be honest, playing Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is just plain fun; even the tutorial does a great job of acclimating you to the fighting engine while having fun with itself and keeping the atmosphere light.
That being said though, no punches are pulled in Wii U Edition; every fighter and all the difficulty of your normal Tekken fighting game can be found here. All the intense customizations in practice and training are still present, and you’ll need the practice if you expect to hold your own in the online gameplay. Online matches will place you with another competitor near your experience, giving you decent odds to have a solid, enjoyable match. But outside of matches plenty of factors drag gameplay down: no lobbies, no ability to watch matches in progress, and no efficient way to play against friends. You’ll have to sit and wait on the game’s matchmaking system to throw you into a fight, meanwhile pounding on a training dummy for who-knows-how-long. There’s no option to offer a rematch to opponents, and the only way you can catch a friend for a fight is for you both to use the game’s keyword matching system, which lets you play other users who have the same keyword. It’s a cumbersome way to find fights, and it would have been great to see some Miiverse-centric matching to find friends.
As far as the Wii U functionality itself is concerned, most of it is half-hearted. The game displays rather crisply on the Wii U Gamepad, but for some reason the game’s sound can’t be heard through the pad, which makes playing with the TV off almost unreasonable. Also, switching between controllers without turning off the system is impossible; if you start with the game up with the Gamepad, then sync your Pro Controller or Wii Remote up, you’ll be unable to use either of those controllers as the first player without shutting the game down first. As someone who wanted to try different control schemes, that flaw was an exceptional hassle. Also, the home menu is inaccessible during most of the game, making controller synching and manual references rough. These problems won’t bother seasoned players but could be substantial hang-ups come Christmas morning for newcomers.
Regardless of its issues, Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition is a lot of fun to play, with plenty of fan-service for Nintendo fans and Tekken fans alike. If you’ve got another system in the house or are a hardcore player you’ll probably want to pick it up for the 360 or PS3, but TTT2’s still a great addition to the library of any Wii U owner.