Tekken 6 Character Countdown Part 5: Paul Phoenix

“I’m the King of the Universe!!!! WOOOOO!!!”

As a way of counting down the time to the release of Tekken 6 for the PS3 and Xbox360, I’ve decided to begin this weekly series of lengthy, character-specific articles, each one featuring one of the 40 or so competing warriors in the latest and greatest King of Iron Fist Tournament. Hopefully, by the time we finish and reach character number 40, we’ll have the console version of Tekken in our hands already.

Part 5 brings us to another long-standing fighter in the series… one of the original roster and another face who has been so far present in every single Tekken game. He is one of Tekken’s most recognizable and popular characters; the master of the dreaded Phoenix Smasher, the bearer of perhaps the Tekken World’s second worst hairdo and the self-described most hot-blooded fighter in the universe. He’s the brash American road warrior… the fearless Paul Phoenix.

Paul Phoenix
Distinguishing Features: Bulging muscles well worn with old wounds, scars and age. Tattered red gi with matching gauntlets and instep guards. Motorcycle leathers. Stiff, tall blonde hair that would make Streetfighter’s Guile weak in the knees.

Strengths: A master of many styles including judo, karate and various mixed techniques and groundwork, Paul is a paragon of raw aggression, brutal force and strong offense. Fast sweeps and charging blows weaken defense and intimidate opponents enough to leave them wide open for a smashing coup de grace. He possesses unyielding pride, indomitable spirit (some would say simple stubbornness) and fearlessness.

Weaknesses: As tough as a rock, and pretty much just as dense. Often overconfident and quick to celebrate, something that has cost him time and again. Tends to be very tardy.

Affiliation: Currently teamed up with longtime friend Marshall Law and boxer Steve Fox in a bid to win the considerable prize money at stake in the tournament.

Background: A simple man guided by his simple dream of becoming The Strongest Fighter in the Universe, Paul has been a fighter for most of his life, after being inspired by his childhood hero, “Bear Killer” Willy Williams. Since then, Paul has gone mostly undefeated- the only fighter to match him to a draw was none other than Kazuya Mishima, sometime before the first Tekken Tournament. Since that time, Paul has considered Kazuya his main rival, though circumstances would not allow them to meet in combat again.

Paul’s reputation grew and he established a dojo alongside his friend and fellow Tekken fighter, Marshall Law. In the next few Tekken Tournaments, Paul entered to prove his strength, and although he did make it almost to the top, something would invariably happen to prevent his total victory. A traffic jam robbed him of his ‘fated battle’ with Kazuya.

Almost two decades later, an older but still incredibly powerful Paul entered Tekken 3 during the height of the worldwide crisis caused by the monstrous Ogre. Paul went through the supernaturally-charged tournament undefeated, and eventually met and defeated the fighter-hunting beast. Unfortunately for Paul, he didn’t stay around long enough to see Ogre change into its true form (which was later defeated by Jin Kazama) and once again missed his chance for winning the tournament.

Paul found himself in a downward turn in Tekken 4, resting on his laurels of his supposed win over Ogre and letting himself grow too overconfident. As a result he was soundly defeated by Kuma. Fighting back from his depression, Paul returned to participate in the Tekken 5 Tournament with his fighting spirit renewed.

Times have not been good for Paul- his dojo is out of business and his sole possession- his bike- is in the repair shop with bills unpaid. In order to get himself out of debt, Paul teams up with a likewise poverty-stricken Law to win as much prize money as they can in the upcoming King of Iron Fist Tournament 6…

Character Analysis: If Kazuya was Tekken’s Ryu, it was obvious from the start that Paul was the equivalent to Ken. However, while he seemed to be Kazuya’s rival, his importance to the overall storyline has steadily diminished in subsequent installments. His role now seems more of comic relief or accidental hero at best.

In fact, comic relief is putting it kindly. Ever since the Tekken fighters started actually speaking (Tekken 4), Paul’s portrayal is that of a oafish muscle-head, with little sense aside from winning the next round and becoming ‘Number One’. He’s the stereotypical loud, brash and obnoxious American Bad-ass; a guy who lets his fists do the talking and has no time or patience for the big picture that’s happening all around him.

On the one hand, his strength and power are as yet unequalled and can be the potential power to right the wrongs in the tournament. Unfortunately, he has about as much awareness of this as he has good sense. If all that power was ever focused… what could be possible?

Thankfully, Paul remains a top fighter in terms of gameplay, even if he’s a lightweight in the story. Paul is a fighter, plain and simple. He’s out to be the best, and damn the rest.

What lies in the future for Paul? Clearly he’s going to be around for as long as the series goes… perhaps into when he’s as old as Heihachi is now! While the storyline seems content to cast him repeatedly as a joke character, it also tends to throw him into to fray as a possible wild card or monkey wrench. A loose cannon who can possibly become a lot more important in the future and be a pivotal part of history. THEN afterwards he’ll just bungle it all away again and stumble back into obscurity, where he’ll have to fight his way back to the top from square one.

Though a stubborn warrior like him would probably have it no other way.

Next week we’ll delve into another fighter’s story. Stay tuned!

Tekken 6 is slated for release on PS3 and Xbox360 in Fall 2009.


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