By Spencer . February 14, 2012 . 4:13pm
Prior to Tekken 3D Prime Edition, the only Tekken title for a Nintendo system was Tekken Advance. So, instead of making a Tekken side story about an underground tournament never mentioned in the storyline or a 3D enhanced port, Namco Bandai opted to make a Tekken 6 remix.
Tekken 3D Prime Edition squeezes the entire roster from Tekken 6 onto a 3DS cart. You can choose anyone of the 41 fighters to play right after you unwrap the game since everyone is unlocked by default. While Tekken 3D Prime Edition sports a sizable number of characters, there aren’t any surprises unless you count Young Heihachi from Tekken Tag Tournament 2. The game uses the established limb system where each arm and leg is mapped to a different face button. Just like Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition, Tekken 3D Prime Edition has four customizable buttons on the touch screen. Each character has his or her own custom button set so you can set button #1 as Slap U Silly for Yoshimitsu and Sliding Hook for Roger. The extra buttons make Tekken 3D Prime Edition easier and I suppose new players can create a dial-a-combo using all four buttons.
Street Fighter EX developer Arika gave Tekken 3D Prime Edition a smooth transition to the 3DS. The game runs at 60 frames per second even when the 3D slider is turned on. The 3D effect mainly adds depth so stage backgrounds appear further away. Compared to other Tekken games with objects moving in the background or columns in the middle to avoid like in Tekken 4 the arenas in Tekken 3D Prime Edition feel empty. There are some stage effects like you can knock an opponent into another area, but you just move from one bare arena to the next.
Tekken 3D Prime Edition’s main single player mode is Special Survival Battle, which gives you one life bar to fight 5, 10, 20 or even 40 opponents with. Win and you’ll unlock a few of the game’s 700+ Tekken cards. These stills have character art or scenes from other Tekken titles converted into 3D. Players can select three Tekken cards to trade with other fighters via Streetpass mode. Quick Battle mode pits you against ten enemies. Battles here count towards a character’s rank, so if you want to preserve your win/loss ratio practice in practice mode first. Win and… you can watch the credits. (There’s a menu option for this too.) Tekken 3D Prime Edition doesn’t have ending scenes like Tekken Tag Tournament or a story mode to follow.
If you want to see a story exit the game and turn on Tekken Blood Vengeance. Namco Bandai added the CGI film on the cart, which follows Xiaoyu and chainsaw-arm android Alisa as they investigate Mishima’s genetic experiments. Tekken Blood Vengeance was also released with Tekken Hybrid and as you would expect the film is sharper on Blu-ray. The 3DS conversion also only has English voice acting.
OK, the single player experience is barebones, but the soul of any fighting game is multiplayer. Unfortunately, Tekken 3D Prime Edition does not support download play. You’ll need two carts to challenge another player even with an ad-hoc connection. Namco Bandai also added an online mode and I was able to fight five opponents over the weekend. One of the fights was unplayable. My connection was so choppy I couldn’t input moves and Alisa appeared to "teleport" while running. Another match was marred by lag, but I could still control my character (with delays). The other three matches were fluid. It’s a small sample mainly because Tekken 3D Prime Edition just came out today. Tekken 3D Prime Edition automatically turns off the 3D effect when playing online so everyone should be fighting with the same frame rate.
Tekken 3D Prime Edition is essentially Tekken Hybrid for the 3DS. However, you get a scaled down version of Tekken 6 without story mode or wacky mini-games instead of a Tekken Tag Tournament HD port. Having Tekken on the go is always nice, but Prime Edition is a rather limited game. If Namco Bandai wanted to target people who never played Tekken before a mission mode explaining how to use each fighter would have been nice. Alternatively, if they wanted to hit hardcore fans adding something new (maybe special characters?) or enhanced multiplayer options like replay videos or at the very least download play would have fit the bill. Tekken 3D Prime Edition lies somewhere in the middle between a game designed to introduce the series, but lacks the features fighting game fans expect in a release.