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First, there was Tekken Bowling. Then, there was Mushroom Battle. Namco Bandai’s latest 3D fighter hits the Wii U with a few new features, which make the most of the console’s GamePad and Nintendo affiliation in some inventive--if not flat-out wacky--ways.
First thing’s first: If you choose to ignore the additional elements in the Wii U Edition, this is essentially the same rock-solid brawler that hit the Xbox 360 and PS3 in September of this year. Reading our full Tekken Tag Tournament 2 review will bring you up to speed on the game’s two-on-two beatdowns, bolstered by an utterly gigantic roster and some heavy-hitting music. It might not be the most methodical 3D fighter of all time, but its easily one of the most fun.
The Wii U has no problems processing TTT2’s flashy graphics: There’s nary a hint of slowdown or downgraded textures, and everything still moves with a violent dynamism. Competitive-minded gamers will be happy to know that the online play is as smooth as its ever been, but it’s unclear if the Wii U will get the same World Tekken Federation support as the 360 and PS3. Though the DLC characters were free to begin with, it’s nice to have all of them right there on the disc at start-up.
So what else do Wii U owners get for the slightly longer wait? Mushroom Battle might take the cake for “most ridiculous fighting game mode,” where mano-a-mano fights (no tag teams here, sadly) unfold on a stage littered with iconic Mario mushrooms. To accentuate the absurdity of these bouts, you’ll want to don the new Nintendo-themed costumes granted to every character. Tiger as Toad and Ganryu as Bowser are hilarious stand-outs, though sadly, the same costumes get recycled over and over due to the overwhelming size of the game’s roster.
In theory, Mushroom Mode would add a layer of strategy to the matches, where you have to be mindful of side-stepping in the wrong direction lest you gobble up a Poison Mushroom. In practice, it morphs the combat into a clownish tussle of gigantic combatants getting beaten up by pipsqueak pugilists, all to the sounds of some techno-fied Mario music. Focusing the fights on randomized power-ups makes a mockery of the classic Tekken gameplay, even if it is self-aware of its own silliness. If that’s not goofy enough for you, you can dip into the Tekken Ball mode refurbished from Tekken 3, where the fighters bat a beachball back and forth with their limbs. It’s goofy fun for the first half-hour, but don’t expect to invest serious time into either of these modes.
The GamePad also presents an interesting opportunity: busting out combos via the touchscreen. Finding some inputs too taxing on your fingers? Simply add them to one of the four on-screen moves, and you’ll execute them with a tap of your finger. It’s an interesting set of training wheels for players who are new to the series, though it’s a bit unfortunate that, since the Wii U currently only supports a single GamePad, only one player can reap the benefits in versus mode. When used like a traditional controller, the GamePad feels just fine, though it can't approach the responsive of a proper arcade stick.
The Wii U Edition’s new modes are more “goofy entertainment” than “substantial content.” But without them, the game’s still great--so you should look at these rowdy wranglings as icing on the Tekken cake. If you skipped TTT2 on other consoles and enjoy 3D arcade punch-ups, this is currently your best Wii U bet.