Over it’s 15 or so years of existence, the Tekken franchise has seen many traditions that fans have come to depend on. One of those cherished traditions is the Awesome CG Intro. Every home version of the Tekken series has always had an exciting opening cinematic whose quality pretty much shows the state of CG quality at the time. Here’s a look back at the many Tekken intros that have graced our screens and consoles over the years.
Tekken Intro on the PSX.
Okay, let’s just be frank. Even back then… Tekken wasn’t the prettiest of games. The art style was offbeat but it had its appeal. The PSX version got a new CG intro that showed off the main roster of fighters in various situations, with nothing much about any storyline. It hasn’t aged well but I have to say there’s a nice nostalgic feeling whenever I see it.
Tekken 2 Intro on the PSX.
Things got cooler in Tekken 2’s pretty slick PSX Intro. It was a step up from the previous game, with the art style becoming more comely and softer, characters and backgrounds getting a lot more detail and personality.
The most striking part for me, of course, was the start of the intro, with the familiar yet a lot more detailed figure of Heihachi Mishima clawing his way up the cliff he had been dropped from at the end of the previous game… like a horn-haired Sadako climbing out of the well. After that, the usual montage of character moments would roll, set to some pretty awesome techno music. One gripe of mine is Nina’s bit- from an assassin under fire in the first game suddenly she’s lounging around in some parlor and stroking her (really badly-done, even then) hair… couldn’t they have given her something more exciting to do? Anyway, surely the best bit was the Sub-boss roll call towards the end, culminating with a creepy Kaz posing with Angel. Though the visuals and animation are again pretty dated, this is still a pretty cool intro by any standard.
Tekken 3 Intro on the PSX.
When I first saw Tekken 3’s intro, my eyes popped out of their sockets. The CG quality of the intro (and the many character endings) was a huge leap from the previous game, incorporating highly-detailed character models, dynamic camera angles, moody effects and lighting with lots of action. The Tekken 3 intro probably made a lot of fans think that a Tekken CG movie would be a good idea. Even today it looks impressive.
The music was catchy and cool, the overall mood dark, with lots of shadows and gritty imagery, book-ended by the emerging threat of Ogre and Jin Kazama being scarred with his trademark tattoos. Tekken 3 introduced a whole new cast of fighters who would become more or less the mainstays of the saga today, and laid the foundations of the plotlines that still rage at present.
Tekken Tag Tournament’s Intro on the PS2.
Ah, Tekken Tag Tournament… the ‘lost’, non-canon just-for-fun chapter with all characters Tekken. As the first PS2 Tekken, this martial arts mash-up came with a pretty awesome, if brief, intro, the graphical quality looking worlds above the previous game thanks to the PS2’s power. The CG was more realistic than ever and showed off several characters; once again Nina is relegated to a silly nose-powdering segment while Bryan guns down some goons and Lei Wulong engages in a high speed police chase. The two missing majors from Tekken 3, Kazuya and Jun, show up here, each looking quite great despite their respective apparent demises.
Tekken 4 Intro on the PS2.
Once again boasting some impressive-looking CG, the Tekken 4 intro was a big leap from previous intros, now boasting even more detailed and advanced character models and animations than ever, plus with actual speech and dialogue. It was shorter than usual (the smaller roster probably contributed to this), focusing mainly on the main storyline while introducing the new challengers. Overall, this felt more personal and a smaller story than the usual big tournament type of feel.
Tekken 5 Intro on the PS2.
As the intro to the series’ return to form, Tekken 5‘s Opening had a lot riding on it… and thankfully, it delivered. No other Tekken intro before or since had so much crammed into Tekken 5’s cinematic prologues. We get Heihachi and Kazuya vs an Army of Jacks in a pretty awesome battle, the seeming death of a series’ mainstay, and a rockin’ parade of action vignettes showing pretty much every fighter having his or her time in the limelight, all set to the entertainingly crass ‘Sparking’ song. Best of all, Nina is in action and not powdering her nose or adjusting her bra this time. Yeah, Asuka’s riding around on a bicycle instead of kicking butt as she should, but man, she rode it off the Tokyo Tower. Fun, fun and more fun from beginning to end.
Tekken 5 Dark Resurrection Intro on the PSP/PS3.
The pseudo sequel/arcade upgrade Tekken Dark Resurrection eventually made it’s way to consumer versions (PS3/PSP), and as such demanded a new CG intro. The DR Intro was pretty slick, boasting slightly better CG quality than Tekken 5 (it had been a while since Tekken 5’s PS2 release, after all). The stars of the show were easily the debuting Lili Rochefort and Sergei Dragunov, though a few choice fighters also made appearances. The best thing about this intro for me though is seeing Asuka Kazama in her P1 outfit in a prerendered cinematic.
The Tekken 6 intro.
We’ve all seen the Tekken 6 intro by now, I think. Presented in state of the art pre-rendered CG, the T6 intro is more dramatic and somber to reflect the current storyline of world-strife and chaos. Not everyone is shown again, focusing more on the newcomers and some select fighters. The lavish, life-like detail of the characters plus the impressive production values of the scenes shown has a grand, big budget feel that will surely interest gamers into the story even if it doesn’t quite get the blood pumping.
So what’s the Best Intro in the series so far? I’d have to go with… the Tekken 5 Intro. If we could only choose one opening to represent the series as a whole, T5’s rousing and slickly-animated montage of action and character coolness, plus the amazing Mishima-Jack battle encapsulate pretty much all the fun and over-the-top style of the franchise; from cool poses and hard-hitting punches to rocket launchers blazing away and supernatural heavies awaiting in the wings- this had it all. Yeah, the song was cheezy, but it was fun as heck regardless.
I really don’t see the series ending anytime soon… surely more Tekkens and more intro movies will be coming in the years ahead, so perhaps someday we’ll have another retropsective. Till then, enjoy the intros and get ready for the next battle!