We're not saying Tekken has a daunting amount of plot but if Tolstoy were alive and working today, War and Peace would probably have been titled An Incomplete List of Unfortunate Things That Have Happened to Jin Kazama. What we mean is the Tekken games have a lot of backstory--doubly so when all the characters are gathered together for one title, such as this month's console release of Tekken Tag Tournament 2.
Tekken's various installments draw in a cast of fighters whose lengthy chain of lineages, rivalries and alliances provide a high bar for entry into the qualified to talk about Tekken club. Luckily, we're here to show you every combatant in the upcoming sequel--and help you figure out, should you be unsure, whether they're for you or not. And before you ask, yes, there'll be a test...
So here we are at the alphabetical start, and right off the bat we're dealing with a genetically engineered Velociraptor who escaped Zaibatsu captivity to become a Commando Wrestler. Originally a skin-swap for series regular Roger the Boxing Kangaroo, Alex's Armor King-derived moveset has taken on some unique moves in TTT2 to allow the character his own slot on the roster.
Choose this character if: Your prerequisites for adopting a fighting favorite include a seldom-exercised predilection for disembowelment, the ability to open doors, and being a clever girl.
Alisa was created by Tekken's mad scientist in residence, Dr. Geppetto Boskonovitch, in the image of his daughter. Then someone pointed out that poignant scientific gestures of paternal love don't win Iron Fist Tournaments, so he implanted chainsaws in her arms, made all her limbs detachable, and turned her head into a bomb. According to some sources, she apparently speaks in a very polite manner.
Choose this character if: You relish the abilities of flight, limb regeneration and computer-assisted combat skills; and want to see how these can all be defeated by a well-timed punch to the throat.
Ancient Ogre/True Ogre
Worshipped in olden times as the Aztec God of Fighting, Ogre's powers are reawakened after Heihachi Mishima infiltrates his temple at the outset of Tekken 3. Ogre's lack of a sombrero, a penchant for Salsa dancing, or any known connection to drug crime marks him as one of the more progressive Latino videogame characters in recent years. His humanoid Ancient form incorporates moves from other characters in the series, while True Ogre gains the powers of flight and fire.
Choose this character if: You've downloaded him. While True Ogre appears as a boss, a playable Ancient Ogre will be available as DLC.
Originally a skin-swap for the series' longer-running Devil character, Angel represents the good side in the perpetual war for the soul of the Mishima family. Onscreen, this is represented by the character's wings, perpetual righteously-indignant grimace, and ability to kick people in the face. With holiness. Angel is another DLC addition to the console versions of the title, having sat out the arcade edition in favor of... harp practice, or showing people the true meaning of Christmas, or whatever it is angels do on their time off.
Choose this character if: You want to know nothing whatsoever about a character beyond the fact that they are spiritually good. Angel doesn't talk or display any backstory to speak of, so you're free to improvise.
Like any good entertainment medium, videogames like to dramatize real-life issues with a heightened emphasis on physical action. So Tekken has a couple of long-running sibling rivalry storylines; but in this case, instead of competing to get the nicest Fathers' Day present, Anna Williams and her better-known sister Nina meet up every few years to punch each other at length. It's all part of an ongoing effort to avenge their dad, who taught them to kill before vividly demonstrating the inadequacies of his own training by himself being assassinated.
Choose this character if: You bought and played through 2005's PS2 spinoff, Nina Williams: Death By Degrees; and this experience, rather than weakening your will to live as it did most players', gave you a hunger for more insight into the game's final boss, who was Spoiler?! Anna herself.
Armor King 2
A long-standing foil to fellow jaguar-masked luchadore King, Armor King was injured in an early battle with the young wrestler and disappeared for years. When King descended into alcoholism and substance abuse (all this happens so far off-the-page it's virtually its own book), Armor King persuaded his rival to
go into rehab redeem himself through face-punching. And then both characters were killed and replaced by younger iterations, who are functionally indistinguishable from their forebears.
Choose this character if: You believe that it's not the man behind the mask that's important, but the fact that he could be any one of you. Or at least, any one of you who's been trained in a generations-old form of lethally powerful Mexican wrestling.
Jin Kazama's cousin (with all the creepy fanfiction implications this implies) was born with a strong sense of justice, so we're told in the character's official bio. Trained by Jin's uncle, a character Namco has yet to add to the series, Asuka gained local renown as a pacifist, always ready to step in and break up a brawl. She would go on to parlay this recognition into international fame as a pugilist, always ready to step in and escalate a brawl. That's called character development!
Choose this character if: You liked Jun Kazama in the earlier games. After Kazuya's baby-mama was written out of the canonical storyline, Asuka was brought in as a replacement with near-identical moves. Of course, this being a non-canon installment, you have the choice of either.
If you're talking about the character as it exists within Tekken, very little is known besides the fact that Azazel is an ancient evil which attempted to use Jin Kazama as a means of blanketing the world in evil during the events of Tekken 6, of which it was the primary antagonist. Whereas if you're talking about the character as a whole, it's a centuries-old Judeo-Christian demon which has popped up in movies, comics, TV series and any other story which needs a freaky antagonist with an evil-sounding name. One time it possessed Denzel Washington!
Choose this character if: You want to impress people who've only played the arcade version, from which the character was absent.
[EDIT]: Azazel hasn't been confirmed as a playable character.
Baek Doo San
South Korean Baek Doo San was introduced in Tekken 2, where the character's hilariously tragic backstory unfolds in prologue. Sparring with his father and Tae Kwon Do tutor, Baek accidentally killed the older man. This led to an understandable period of soul-searching, culminating in a less-understandable cross-continental rampage in which Baek travelled far and wide, smashing dojos wherever he found them. You know, to show that he obviously had that excessive-force problem under control.
Choose this character if: You dig the distinctive fighting style of Baek and/or pupil Hwoarang, who often appears as a stand-in. With both characters present in TTT2, you've the option to just never bother with anyone else, should you crave a skillset as unbalanced as possible.
Okay, look, come on. You can claim a poor metabolism, or a genetic predisposition toward weight-gain, or you can invent yourself a crippling gastric complication; all of these are perfectly reasonable reasons for a man to become a huge great big tub o' lard. But telling people I'd be cut as hell, but I want to defeat larger opponents so I've intentionally eaten all the pies and become freaking gigantic? One has to admit, freestyle karate champ Bob is testing all of our credibility here.
Choose this character if: You enjoy devastating opponents with the surprisingly sprightly Mr. Richards, punctuated by regular reminders of how lucky it is that Tekken isn't presented in smell-o-vision.
In a cast of characters this large, there's bound to be at least one amnesiac, because approximately one in every seven videogame characters couldn't tell you where they were last week. But with Bruce Irvin, you don't just get the requisite Memento references; you also get the tortured character-politics of Bruce, his boss Kazuya, and Lei Wulong, who used to be Bruce's police partner but is now bent on taking the both of them down. You will be surprised to learn that this twisted triangle of bromantic rivalry, despite inspiring no end of fist-fights, continues to go unresolved.
Choose this character if: You're a fan of Muy-Thai kickboxing, but don't go in for all that restraint and self-control that the discipline sometimes emphasizes.
Silver-fox Bryan should technically be the Internet's favorite character ever, just waiting to be discovered what with his being a cross between a robot, a zombie, and a perpetually-sullen jackass. The reanimated kickboxer, killed in action sometime before his debut in Tekken 3 and converted to a partially-human cyborg, has spent subsequent games staving off death through plot developments as unlikely as they are distractingly violent.
Choose this character if: Every time you watch Blade Runner, you secretly wish Rutger Hauer (whose character heavily influenced Bryan's design) would just drop Harrison Ford off that damn building and start WINNING already.
During the development of Tekken 3, Katsuhiro Harada and his team originally intended Capoeira master Eddy Gordo as a female fighter; when the character evolved into more of a brawler, she became a he and the more graceful aspects of the character's style were shelved. For Tekken 4, Christie was reintroduced, serving as a lighter-footed version of Eddy.
Choose this character if: You really enjoy playing as Eddy Gordo, but don't like to go more than a few minutes without seeing a scantily-clad lady onscreen. Both of which, it must be said, are things from which you may move on once you hit puberty.
As a randomly-cycling clone of the game's other fighters, Combot originally served the same function as wooden training-dummy Mokujin; however, when that character proved far more popular, the move-copying robot was sidelined. It returns in TTT2's new Fight Lab mode, another add-on for console players.
Choose this character if: You're looking forward to customizing your Combot with moves from across the game's roster, and you don't mind doing it for a creature that looks like a rejected Transformer whose alternate form is some sort of industrial lathe.
Australian-American Craig Marduk's backstory is confusing only inasmuch as within the context of Tekken, it's almost disarmingly straightforward. Craig was an MMA champion - then he got into a scandal, left the circuit, and killed a guy in a bar brawl. Now he fights, because he's a fan of fighting, as evidenced by all of the above.
Choose this character if: You like the way Craig's storyline has been woven into those of the King characters (Marduk's bar-fight victim turned out to be the first Armor King), but not so much that you have any ambition to see this saga resolved anytime soon.
According to series director Katsuhiro Harada, Jin Kazama was created with a view toward a series-spanning arc that would see the character go from troubled innocent to ultimate villain. Devil Jin represents the end-point of this evolution, presented as a mix of the human Jin and Tekken's Devil character.
Choose this character if: You want to break continuity, as destructively as possible. It's hinted that Jin lost his Devil powers at the end of Tekken 6, but seeings as this is a non-canonical side-installment, every hour of the day is wings-and-horns-o'clock.
Eddy Gordo burst onto the scene strong in Tekken 3, wowing players with his distinctive Capoeira fighting style and flowing attack chains. Then the world's little brothers got a hold of the character, started spamming his low kicks and sticky grabs, and turned Eddy Gordo into a synonym for button-mashing noob-play.
Choose this character if: You have no skill, no shame, or no doubt that you're good enough to wrap things up before your opponent has a chance to mock your choice of character. Alternatively, if you want to play as a character whose only real flaw is that he's just too damn much fun.
Like Baek Doo San, Feng Wei's story begins with the killing of his master and tutor. Unlike the Korean fighter, however, Feng's murder is intentional, beginning his quest to become the most powerful fighter the world has ever, you know, whatever, and sorry, drifted off for a second there. Anyway, yes, Feng Wei is a pretty stock character as far as backstories go, but in the world of Tekken, that's frankly not such a terrible thing.
Choose this character if: You want, just like Jimi Hendrix, to stand up next to a mountain and chop it down with the edge of your hand. Because Feng can do that!
Console-exclusive castmember Forest Law has a lot going for him. He looks and sounds just like Bruce Lee and his father is an international martial-arts superstar; Forest himself is a Jeet Kune Do master in his own right, and best friends with type A go-getter Paul Phoenix. Which is lucky, because Forest also has an accidentally silly name and once suffered a perfect defeat at the hands (hooves) of someone called Lovely the Cow.
Choose this character if: You also have been given an inadvertently funny name, were subsequently beaten up by a cow, and you need to prove to the world (but ultimately yourself) that It Gets Better.
We used up all our that dude sure is fat jokes on Bob Richards, so what's to say about Ganryu? He's a sumo wrestler who wants to prove his strength to the world, but also a compulsive gambler and dirty fighter. He wants superhuman strength and the love of Michelle and/or Julia Chang. Sadly, none of those things will ultimately be his because, the game suggests, that dude sure is fat.
Choose this character if: You think you want to learn more about the ancient and venerable art of sumo wrestling, but really you just like the idea of playing Tekken with a tubbier character than usual. Naturally he'll tell you it's all muscle. (It's not.)
Outside of Tekken, Namco exhibits a Mario-like drive to put villainous Mishima patriarch Heihachi in as many non-canon games as possible, with the character having made appearances in the likes of Soul Calibur II, Tales of the Abyss and Anna Kournikova's Smash Court Tennis. That would imply that Heihachi ought to be extra-beloved within his native franchise; instead, earlier installments focus on the challenge of reaching and trouncing Mishima the Elder, and later titles see an ever-increasing cast of enemies gunning for the one-time Zaibatsu kingpin. However, he kind of asked for it by throwing his young son off of a mountain.
Choose this character if: You want to know what it's like to be aware that deep down, It's All Your Fault.
The devoted pupil of Baek Doo San, Tae Kwon Do fighter Hwoarang was introduced in Tekken 3, where he temporarily replaced Baek for reasons that boil down to Hwoarang needs to kick some people. His long-standing complaints include a frankly quite petty rivalry with Jin, a frankly stupidly mismatched beef with Ogre, and the South Korean Goverment's insistence that it doesn't care how many mid-air kicks you can chain together, mandatory military service is still mandatory.
Choose this character if: You'd rather be playing Final Fantasy, but this is where Tekken keeps all the buckles and angst.
Obviously, the Soviet Union has long ago perfected the art of manufacturing superhuman cyborgs, and, obviously, the only use for such a technology is in the winning of obscure bare-knuckle fighting championships. And, even more obviously, they all look like a cross between Guile and the guy from Two Crude Dudes. Who else would you make a lethal fighting robot look like?
Choose this character if: You want a massive advantage on paper. Jack-6 is the Mishima-led G-Corporation's first attempt at a variation on the Jack blueprint, and allegedly ten times more powerful than anything that's gone before. And yet in practice, he's merely pretty good. Maybe it's just us. And you. And everyone else who picks the character.
Julia Chang is a Native American warrior--which is to say she's fighting for the fate of her tribe's ancestral lands, because that's what Native American characters do in video games. She's also an archeologist and eco-crusader, and her inclusion within Tekken has taught us that archeology and ecology both involve a lot more body-slamming than you may have been led to believe.
Choose this character if: You used to like playing as Michelle Chang (because the two characters are alt-costume versions of each other) but you now prefer the masked-wrestler look (because luchadore Jaycee is just Julia with her mask on).
Tekken's tragic antihero, Jin debuted in Tekken 3 after the disappearance of his mother Jun. One of the series' signature characters, Jin is demonically possessed on the genetic level by the so-called Devil Gene just like his father Kazuya. Of course, if you chose this character over his openly Devil-influenced counterpart, none of that matters all that much to you outside of the cutscenes.
Choose this character if: You've never played a Tekken game and in fact have no idea what Tekken is (but apparently are playing the latest game in the series nonetheless). In this case, Jin's a fine all-round fighter with which to ease into the series.
The 108-year-old founder of the Mishima Zaibatsu, which was taken over by Jinpachi's son Heihachi in a hostile coup that saw the organization's patriarch imprisoned beneath the compound. He later allied with a malevolent force and escaped his captivity, then hopefully got together with his grandson, granddaughter-in-law and great-grandson to form a support group for people who've been screwed over by Heihachi and subsequently demonically possessed.
Choose this character if: You're fond of saying things like It's not the years, it's the mileage, or just because there's snow on the roof, doesn't mean there ain't fire in the furnace.
Sent to arrest Kazuya Mishima during Tekken 2, Jun instead discovers that her quarry is (1) the carrier of a powerful evil that threatens life as we know it, and (2) quite the charmer. So instead of arresting him, she has his baby--presumably without asking the advice of pretty much anyone else in the game, because everyone knows getting mixed up with those Mishimas is bound to end in tears. Or, in Jun's case, abduction and forcible ejection from the series.
Choose this character if: You liked playing as her in Tekken 2, her only canonical appearance; but you really like distracting opponents with a detailed recitation of all the ways in which Jun, despite a relatively minor role, is kind of the linchpin for the whole series' continued plot.
As a child, Kazuya was thrown off a cliff and left to die by his father Heihachi as a somewhat extreme means of character-building. In fairness to Heihachi, this appears to have worked quite well, though it unfortunately involved Kazuya selling his soul to the Devil Gene and spending subsequent episodes becoming more and more of a tool toward everyone else in the game.
Choose this character if: You suspect the ability to morph into a Devil during fights might be useful. Well, if the Iron Fist organizers didn't want that happening, they should have hired a referee.
Fun(?) fact: the original King was based on the same rasslin' holy-man who inspired the aggressively okay Jack Black movie, Nacho Libre. Just as in the movie (and in real life), the character's a Catholic priest who gets into wrestling to raise funds for a local orphanage. Though King was killed and replaced by King 2 from Tekkens 3 onward, functionally the characters are pretty much one and the same.
Choose this character if: You know what it means to watch a lucha de apuesta taken away by the tcnico fighter through skilful deployment of a well-placed huracn rana against the rudo. That's all of you, right?
Remember when ninja were regarded not as nimble shadow-dancing warriors, but skulking dishonorable wretches? Of course you don't, because you weren't alive during the Sengoku period when they were a real thing. But nevermind! Kunimitsu is a throwback to the notion of ninja as conniving thieves and assassins, and her fleeing-and-hiding skill in particular is so finely honed that she hasn't actually appeared in a canonical game since Tekken 2.
Choose this character if: Yoshimitsu almost does it for you, but not quite. Kunimitsu was originally a skin-swap for the series' better-known ninja, before gaining her own moveset in Tekken Tag; for her console-exclusive appearance in the sequel, this has been augmented with further character-specific attacks and poses.
When Heihachi Mishima found an abandoned bear cub in the forests on his estate, he took the poor creature in and taught it sign-language (!) and martial arts (sure, fine). Despite being highly intelligent, the bear never mastered the hand-gestures to point out to Heihachi that this was pretty ironic, the old man having just abandoned his own son to the wilderness and all. Probably this is why they got on so well that when Kuma died, Heihachi raised his son Kuma 2 to be an even better fighter.
Choose this character if: Well, obviously, if you want to play as a man-eating bear who is also a champion martial artist. You shouldn't need a focus group to see why that's appealing.
Introduced in Tekken 6: Bloodline Rebellion, Lars was intended as a new character to excite fans weary of the games' increasingly self-referential politics of stern fathers, rebellious sons, scorned siblings and general-purpose inter-generational angst. He turns out to be the illegitimate son of Heihachi Mishima and self-designated rival of nephew Jin Kazama, so that's how far that effort got. On the plus side, he's also a formidable fighter, with a moveset designed to appeal to series veterans.
Choose this character if: You'd rather be playing Final Fantasy, but someone else has already taken the Hwoarang costume you had your eye on.
Lee is a street urchin, adopted by Heihachi Mishima and raised as a fighter and potential heir to the Mishima Zaibatsu. Tekken lore has it that Heihachi never actually cared for Lee, taking on the protege as further motivation for Kazuya to strive for self-betterment. One suspects that the entire storyline of Tekken would be rendered void if anyone had just given the young Heihachi some decent parenting literature.
Choose this character if: You want to go incognito as Lee's alter-ego Violet, who's the exact same character with sunglasses and differently-colored hair.
When Lei Wulong makes his appearance in Tekken 2, the character's renowned as China's greatest cop and the logical choice to take down the increasingly murderous Mishima Zaibatsu. Being based on Jackie Chan, though, he mainly pursues this goal through comic relief and drunken-boxing.
Choose this character if: You're stone-cold sober. Otherwise, good luck trying to win a fight using Drunken Fist without losing all coordination and/or your last few drinks.
The staunchly androgynous Leo has a man's name but a woman's face, uses a mix of male and female fighting techniques, and managed to go almost four years before Katsuhiro Harada finally admitted the character's gender. At which point it took about half an hour before the character's newly-announced femaleness became readily apparent on dodgy fan-art sites all over the Internet.
Choose this character if: Anyone tries to tell you that videogames are all about enforcing restrictive gender binaries. Of course, heaven only knows how such a pill gets to be joining you for a game of Tekken, but nevermind.
Lili de Rochefort
A wholly new character introduced in Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection, Lili has almost zero relation to any of the series' established characters besides her wealthy family having beef with the Mishima Zaibatsu (which is hardly a claim to fame in this context). She fights despite the pacifist urgings of her father, and it's nice to see that someone finally found a way to work a character with daddy issues into the Tekken series.
Choose this character if: You're sick of female fighters always being the fast and agile ones. Lili is one of the series' less fleet-footed characters, with a gymnastic-influenced style that favors precision over quickness.
Fan favorite Xiaoyu first appeared in Tekken 3, where she fought to make enough money for the world's greatest amusement park. Unable to take part in the King of Iron Fist tournament without being exposed to the litany of woe and betrayal that is the Mishima family history, Ling Xiaoyu makes it her mission to redeem the clan's troubled lineage. It's lucky her best friend is an adorable panda, because otherwise that might be a pretty depressing and thankless quest.
Choose this character if: You've been enjoying her inclusion in last year's Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Prologue, for which she was one of the fighters previewed.
The father of Forest Law is one of the series' most benevolent dads, encouraging his son's thrillseeking wherever it takes him--and later competing himself, to raise money for Forest's medical care after all that thrillseeking sent Marshall's son to the ER. In fact, if it weren't for his bestowing such a punny moniker on the boy (despite knowing full well how it is to grow up with people smirking at your name), he'd probably qualify for some sort of Tekken's Greatest Dad award.
Choose this character if: You like the idea of playing as a martial-arts legend whose defining secondary characteristic is this guy is awful with money. And why wouldn't he be? You don't see Warren Buffett winning many Kumite tournaments, after all.
The series' original Native American representative, Michelle fought in the first two games before disappearing in the events leading up to Tekken 3. Fortunately, by this point she'd had the forethought to adopt a daughter and teach her all her moves, so players perhaps weren't as moved by her disappearance as they could have been.
Choose this character if: You know you could just pick Julia or Jaycee, but want to make the most of Michelle's reinstatement for TTT2's console iterations. While her fate's never been canonically resolved within the games, it's implied that she died sometime after Tekken 3 in the series' official timeline.
Miguel Caballero Rojo
Miguel is a big guy and he likes to fight. That's pretty much it. He doesn't have any martial-arts training, isn't aligned with any of the game's families or factions, and seems motivated primarily by his enjoyment of punching people. Sure, at some point Jin Kazama tried to kill his sister for no discernible reason, but within the world of Tekken, finding a reason to be grumpy at the Mishima family is a bit like shooting devil-fish in a fragmentary techno-militarist barrel.
Choose this character if: You want the potential to defeat your opponent in one hit. Protip: in cases like this, potential and ability can be very different things.
Much like Combot, Mokujin isn't a character in its own right so much as a randomly cycling set of the other characters' movelists. The only substantial difference is that Combot changes movelists every fight (because he's technology, and has a small memory bank) whereas Mokujin changes every round (because it's magic, and can do whatever it likes).
Choose this character if: You fancy a stint as one of the only playable entries on our list of 28 of the most favorite videogame trees ever.
A colossal fighting robot with ten times the health of anyone else in the game. Technologically speaking, the console-exclusive NANCY-MI847J makes Jack, Combot, Alisa, and all the rest of Tekken's cybernetically-enhanced fighters look like one of those bins of loose power adapters and iPhone 3 covers that you'd find in the corner at Radio Shack. Practically speaking, don't expect to chuck out all your practice with the game's other characters just yet.
Choose this character if: You want to fight enemies, like a boss, and perform special moves, like a boss, and probably get beaten before too long, like a boss.
[EDIT]: This character hasn't been confirmed as playable.
Brainwashed assassin and sometime CIA stooge, Nina's appearance dates back to the original Tekken. The only female character to appear in every game of the series, Nina commands a strong fandom who cite the characters's speed, intricate combos and intriguing backstory as key to her appeal. And yet, every game, less and less of the budget apparently goes toward poor Nina's costume, which by now is just purple paint and a few scraps of fabric.
Choose this character if: You think a woman who's pushing 50 should be able to dress and act how she damn well pleases. Surely the fact that the cryogenically-thawed Nina looks thirtysomething at best has nothing to do with your decision.
Linguists are unsure on the origin of the word Panda, meaning we can't tell you conclusively why Ling Xiaoyu chose to bestow this name upon her pet, best friend and bodyguard. The best guess we can come up with is that Panda, as you may have noticed, is indeed a panda. Apparently Kuma is in love with her, but we don't know enough about ursine crossbreeding to tell you whether that's sweet or gross.
Choose this character if: You want, for the very first time in your young and doubtless eventful life, to play Tekken as a Panda with their very own character slot, instead of just serving as a palette-swap for the longer-standing Kuma.
The American Jujitsu fighter was originally positioned as a rival to Kazuya Mishima, which is appropriate enough as Kazuya was often compared to Street Fighter's Ryu and Paul Phoenix looks like if Street Fighter's Ken stuck his finger in an electrical socket. As the series evolved, though, Paul became less and less of a serious contender, now marked by never having managed to win a tournament.
Choose this character if: You're fighting Kuma and want to be as canonical as possible. According to series continuity, while Paul continues to pursue a fight with Kazuya, his only serious rival is now Old Man Mishima's pet bear.
Technically a less advanced fighting robot than Jack-6, Prototype Jack (P-Jack to his friends) nonetheless presents a formidable challenge with gasoline for blood, explosive leg-mounted rocket boosters, and apparently no idea where this combination could lead in the wrong circumstances. His appearance dates back to the first two Tekken games, though only console players get to select him in TTT2.
Choose this character if: You like a man with strong arms. Look at those pythons. You could build yourself a Winnebago out of those things.
Little is known about Raven, which is great if you're trying to introduce an enigmatic character whose origins are shrouded in mystery or if it's Friday afternoon at Namco HQ and you can't be bothered writing a character bio. It's less useful if, say, you're trying to find anything to say about a character besides he looks a bit like that guy from that movie Rambo was in twenty years ago.
Choose this character if: You think ninja automatically means small and nimble. The plus-sized Raven's skill in Ninjutsu not only acquits the character well in-game, it sets the stage for several fairly bizarre exchanges with fellow shinobi Yoshimitsu.
Among the ways Namco has chosen to depict the Mishima Zaibatsu's descent into amoral corporate greed, one of the more colorful is the revelation that the company has been experimenting on genetically-enhanced animal fighters. Roger Jr, who originally rode within his father's pouch (see above: genetic enhancement), is now not only a viable Iron Fist contender, he's also apparently capable of resolving domestic disputes and making a living for himself and his family. It should be mentioned that real-life vivisection almost never works out so well.
Choose this character if: You're looking forward to finally pitting Roger Jr against Alex and actually having the characters play differently.
Introduced in Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection, the uber-Russian Dragunov is a member of the Spetsnaz whose storyline is, again, clouded in ambiguity. In this case, though, it seems to be more of a deliberate tease on Namco's part, with cutscenes not only hinting at further series developments but implying a backstory between Sergei and the tres-enigmatic Raven.
Choose this character if: You always, always equip the Sniper Rifle when playing an FPS, and have been waiting for the chance to do the same thing in a fighting game.
A British boxing champion who was asked to throw a fight by the mafia and, realizing that refusing such an order almost always sees the boxer in question catapulted into a life of whirlwind adventure, elected to just keep on winning. Catapulted into a life of whirlwind adventure, his paths cross with Nina Williams, who's been assigned to assassinate him despite being (are you sitting down?) Steve's long-lost mother.
Choose this character if: You always choose the character who comes to a mixed-discipline fighting game with nothing but a boxing pedigree. And if that's you, please tell us how you ever win a watch ever.
Tiger Jackson loves all things '70s: Disco, big hair, garish colors, gritty social-realist cinema and cocaine. We're presuming on a couple of those. Anyway, beginning life as a potential alternative character design for Eddy Gordo, Tiger appeared in T3 as a palette-swap for the Capoeira fighter. While his moveset remains similar, he's since been granted his own character slot.
Choose this character if: You want to play as Eddy Gordo, but can't bear the stigma of choosing such a notoriously entry-level character and you somehow think a dude with rainbow suspenders and light-up trousers is more dignified.
Will it surprise you immensely to learn that not much is known about Unknown? Originally intended as a sister to Jun Kazama, the character lost this association when it was decided that Tekken Tag Tournament would take place outside the series' canonical continuity. In the first game, Unknown fought with a glowing werewolf-like familiar, but now uses spectral attacks and moves similar to those of her one-time sibling.
Choose this character if: You've fought her in the arcade version and looked forward to the console game, in which Unknown is playable with her own moveset for the first time (previously, she copied other fighters' moves a la Mokujin and Combot).
[EDIT]: This character hasn't been confirmed as playable.
Wang Jinrei has been a lifelong family friend of the Mishimas, which must be a bit like having grown up borrowing the odd cup of sugar from those nice Hitlers next door. Once BFFs with Jinpachi Mishima, Wang continued to watch over Heihachi after the latter's disappearance; sitting out Tekkens 3 and 4, he returned when Jinpachi requested his help in defeating the Devil Gene.
Choose this character if: You want to know where Ling Xiaoyu's moves originated. Wang is Xiaoyu's grandfather and tutor, and was replaced by her in Tekken 3.
Having appeared in every Tekken game and never actually shown his face, it's about time someone got to casting some wild unfounded speculations as to Yoshimitsu's true identity. In the meantime, though, the character's a fan favorite for his ninjutsu-based fighting style, samurai-influenced swordplay, and increasingly outlandishly fight garb.
Choose this character if: You're willing to learn, employ, and justify notoriously tricksy tactics such as his teleportation and Flea Stance.
Trained as an assassin (in the true, those-guys-from-Assassin's-Creed sense of the word) and charged with protecting an ancient tomb, Zafina lives in the Middle East as an astrologist until an ancient prophecy signals she may have to employ her talents elsewhere. Elsewhere, obviously, being another way of saying beating up people whose last name is Mishima.
Choose this character if: You always check your horoscope in the paper, but would trust it more if you knew the author won fights by crawling on her belly like a snake or scorpion. That's still pretty gullible of you.
Ready to play?
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 releases next week: the US version will hit stores on the 11th of September, with European players joining the fray three days later. Now you've met all 55 characters, do you feel ready to start playing? While you wait for the title, try your hand at our quiz: How's your Tekken knowledge? Test your skills with these trivia questions. Told you there'd be a test.