The attitude era of Tekken
Taking place several years after Tekken 2 and featured several new characters and a few from the previous instalment. Tekken 3 introduces several new gameplay mechanics that take advantage of the 3D fighting environment, with the ability to sidestep
Like earlier installments, Tekken 3 was released to arcades first in 1996, then ported to the PlayStation in 1998
The arcade version ran on an upgraded PlayStation based board, known as Namco System 12 which featured a higher clocked processor (48MHz vs 33Mhz) and slightly more VRAM (2MB vs 1MB) This game Tekken 3 had the ability to run at a higher polygon count allowing for more detailed characters, along with its background stages to me more detailed thanks to the increased VRAM. This gives a 3D-like effect to the background, and you can see them being more vibrant, especially on Howoarg’s stage. On King’s stage, there is a helicopter that does not show up in the console released, and on Xiayou’s stage, a moving carousel can be seen.
Sound is provided by the Namco C352, accompanied by the Hitachi H8 3002 processor. A unique feature of the sound is that the background music progress depending on the current round your character is on, reach round 2, and the sound changes to another verse/segment, round 3 and another segment plays before looping back to the start segment for round 4 onwards. This all depends if you have configured the game to have 3 or more rounds, by default Tekken 3 is set for two rounds (A third is possible if the opponent wins).
At the start, there are only a few characters playable, with the rest being locked/hidden. Namco implemented a time-based unlock that would unlock characters depending on the amount of time the arcade machine was left on. Thankfully there is a MAME cheat to unlock all characters instantly, so you don’t need to leave the emulator running. Also, all hidden characters share the same background music, due to how uncommon they are and the limited ROM storage, whilst the PlayStation port gives them their own unique music as part of the arranged soundtrack.
The arcade release would later be ported to the PS2, as part of a bonus feature of Tekken 5, This one retains all the graphic enhancements from the System 12 version.
The original Japanese arcade release had Jun as her own character, with her own portrait panel. But her character model uses Nina’s and has Jin’s move set. She will appear in the attract screen character usage statistics once you have completed arcade mode as her. Sake is another unused character but this one is more incomplete. Later arcade releases remove her and Sake as playable characters, and they do not appear at all in any home console release.
Compared to other Tekken arcade to console releases, Tekken 3 required some conversion time as the home console was a lot more contained compared to the arcade version. One notable difference was the change in the stage background, opting for a more flat box-like look compared to the detailed arcade background, The character models also went to a polygon diet and a minor reduction in resolution to keep the game running at 60fps.
However Namco made up for it with the added content, with a newly arranged soundtrack that remixes samples from the arcade original soundtrack, plus each unlockable character has their own background audio track.
Tekken Force is a new game mode that puts you in a beat-em-up environment. Your character has to progress through a series of stages (4 in total). Each stage has a boss character which will be one of the playable Tekken characters before they face Heiachi at the final stage.
Additional game modes include team battle mode, time attack mode, and a movie/music player that can playback ending movies for unlocked characters, and also supports Tekken 2 and the original Tekken if an unlocked save file is found.
Tekken 3 remains one of my favorite fighting games and is a joy to go back and play every now and then, for both the arcade and home versions. Whilst I still enjoy the modern Tekken games, they seem to be a bit too heavy and take a while to load and to get into a game. Tekken 6’s load times were horrible, even after installing it to an SSD.