Looking Back: Tekken 6.0 AKA ‘Vanilla’
With the release of Tekken 6’s console version imminent, I find myself thinking back to the game that started it off… Tekken 6. Well, to be more exact, Tekken 6.0, or ‘Tekken 6 Vanilla’, as it has come to be known among fans. Relatively unknown to the rest of the world outside of Japan and some lucky arcade-heavy zones like the Philippines, the original T6.0 was noted for introducing the then-controversial Bound and Rage systems, as well as four new challengers to the Iron Fist Tournament. I was lucky enough to play the original Vanilla, and it was pretty good at the time.
I remember the visuals were sharp as heck, with the character models blowing me away the first time I saw them. The game moved like no other Tekken- not only because of the slippery-smooth 60 frames per second animation, but for the simple fact that the devs re-did most, if not all, of the animation frames for every fighter. Classic moves looked the same but not- they looked or felt new. Everyone moved a lot more naturally, more fleshed-out. You just had to see it to know something- or everything- had changed.
The best new additions though for me were the tons of new hit reactions, new crumples, new stuns, and particularly the new Knockout animations. I don’t exaggerate- really, ever since Tekken Tag Tournament the series has been reusing the same animations over and over since until Tekken 5 DR- everyone always did that irritating ‘Brokeback’ spasm on the ground as they got KO’ed… and it was tiresome as HELL. Tekken 6 introduced at least two new KO sequences to end a match- now, taking out an opponent with certain mid or low attacks will result in a cool-looking, satisfying knockout. Mid-KO’ed fighters grasp at their gut and fall over backwards, their legs steepled as they sprawl on the ground. Low-KO’ed opponents fall to their knees before slowly keeling over on their backs. It was cool, sexy and best of all… NEW.
The New Challengers introduced in Vanilla were an exotic lot, but I have to admit- with the exception of Zafina the flexible femme fatale, the newbies didn’t sing to me. Leo’s style was far too reminiscent of Julia Chang, and his androgynous nature repelled me. I found Bob utterly ridiculous- a freak of nature and an affront to natural physics; someone that large simply could not move that fast, unless he was a balloon. Finally, Miguel– his non-style was ugly and, at the time, unimpressive and boring to watch. It didn’t help either that these newcomers all were grossly overpowered- vids on Youtube showed matches against Leo lasting no more than a minute. Their moves were far to effective, far too damaging. Looking back now, while the T6.0 newcomers eventually would find their own niches, none of them seemed to have that headliner quality that makes for good cover models- something Namco-Bandai would remedy eventually.
Another big problem in Vanilla was balance. Rage Death Combos could drain away life bars in one swoop, and particularly thorough players online found these game-breaking sequences with disturbing regularity. Sure, they really weren’t practical or that easy to do, but it still was something that had to be fixed.
Then there was the Customization feature. This was indeed awesome- it was a step up from the ‘Paste Something on your Fighter’ feature in DR. You could actually change outfits, switch tops and bottoms, make cool modifications. The problem was the amount of stuff available. Really, aside from the default P1 and P2 costume pieces and color variants, fighters only had about two sets of alternate outfits, and many of which were pretty crappy, such as Nina’s notorious sets of ‘granny’ flat shoes. Players wanted more and better after having a taste of what could be done.
And so, after months of playtesting and several patches that added more stuff, Vanilla got better as the kinks were ironed out. However, it would eventually be known that the game would give way to Tekken 6: Bloodline Rebellion. Aside from all the improvements made since the initial release, BR would add two new fighters, tons more customizations, and more animation tweaks (like the much-touted full-body variable motion blur) that would improve the game by a very large degree. It was this version that would be the basis of what would eventually make its way to consoles.
I find myself looking back and thinking, what if Namco-Bandai released a Tekken 6.0 home version waaay back in 2008. No Lars or Alisa, no Scenario Campaign, Tekken Vanilla play mechanics and animations, with only about a third of the customizations that would make it into the BR-based console versions. Yeah, we would have been happy for a while with it, I guess, mostly since we didn’t know what we were missing. But now, knowing how awesome BR and all it’s additions were/are, I am glad that Harada-san and company held off and took their time. Yeah, maybe BR stuff would have arrived eventually as DLC, but who knows what may have been lost.
Tekken 6 Vanilla is a lost relic now, perhaps now only found in the most outdated and remote arcades; a footnote in the development of what I see to be the biggest, most beautiful and best Tekken ever. To be fair, it was a flawed and rough draft, but it was fun while it was there, and I count myself lucky I was able to experience it. It is this experience that I can say that we are truly fortunate for the game we are receiving next week on our consoles… it’s been a long time coming to this point, but man, the wait is gonna be worth it.
This entry was posted on October 19, 2009 at 3:21 am and is filed under Arcade, Fan Service, Fighting Games, Game-related Events, Gaming, My Stuff, Tekken, Tekken 6. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.