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 (opens in new tab).
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 (opens in new tab). 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 (opens in new tab); 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 (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab)!
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 (opens in new tab), 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.