Tekken is one of the great fighting game franchises, and as such, it has its share of spin-offs. More recent ones like Tekken 3D: Prime Edition and Street Fighter X Tekken have been sort of hit-or-miss, but Tekken TAG Tournament 2 could be the one that brings it all home.

Despite not being a core, numbered Tekken title, TAG Tournament 2 certainly feels like one. With a huge roster of characters and several innovative new features, it could be the Tekken game that hardcore fighting fans have been waiting for.

Tekken TAG Tournament 2is already out in arcades, but this fall it's hitting home consoles for the first time, and we had the chance to sit down with some experts at Namco Bandai on the official Tekken bus in LA and check out what it has to offer.

 

Fight lab

Fighting games can have a pretty intimidating learning curve, and for many it's a barrier to entry for the whole genre. After all, button mashing will only get you so far against someone who knows what they're doing, and it's not fun anymore when you're getting your ass handed to you and you don't even understand why.

That's where Tekken TAG Tournament 2's Fight Lab comes in. It gives noobs a place to learn the ropes, while at the same time providing hardened vets with a place to hone their skills and practice.

You see, Fight Lab isn't just a tutorial; it teaches you "the rhythm of the combos" as well as what buttons to press and in what order to press them, Namco Bandai's peeps assured us. You'll be able to equip "Combot" (a clever portmanteau) with multiple characters' move sets and have at it.

 

50+ characters

With a magnificent cast of over 50 characters, Namco Bandai's adamant that Tekken TAG Tournament 2 on consoles will have the largest roster of any Tekken game ever.

There are plenty of fan favorites in attendance—like Jin, Heihachi and Anna and Nina—including the full roster from Tekken 6. We pressed the Namco Bandai reps about how many characters the game will ultimately host, but they kept their lips zipped, saying only that there'd be plenty of free DLC characters unleashed after the game's release.

And they assured us that some of those in the DLC will be "characters that Tekken fans have been clamoring for." Tantalizing!

 

Pair play

When we asked them what the main difference is in this iteration of Tekken TAG Tournament, Namco Bandai's on-hand experts said simply, "It's more about the multiplayer." That was definitely evident in two of the new modes we got to play on the Tekken bus: Pair Play and online ranked matches.

For the first time in Tekken, Pair Play allows up to four players to compete at once, where previously the limit was two. Each player controls one character in the game's tag-team battles, with two characters battling on-screen at any given time. It's going to be harder to coordinate attacks with a teammate, since you're not controlling both characters, but with a little communication it can be just as fun.

We played through several matches with Namco Bandai and some other reporter types, and our button mashing paid off occasionally, even resulting in some slick tag-team combo moves that dealt massive damage and temporarily put three characters on the screen at once.

But the button-mashing wasn't so successful when they set us up against a pro player back at their offices in an online ranked match. Our performance may have faltered, but at least the connection stayed consistent and there was no button lag. And on a bus, too.

 

Tekken channel

Once the matches are over, the competition doesn't stop. In the Tekken channel mode, you can re-watch any of your last 100 matches with all kinds of metadata and controls at your fingertips. The videos themselves give a detailed report of all the damage you deal and receive during fights, including how effective your combos are.

You can even save your favorites—your best matches, or your worst ones, if you're into self-improvement—to watch later and study how your technique has evolved. But when it comes to self-analyzing, Tekken channel is only the beginning…

 

World Tekken Federation

World Tekken Federation is going to be the ultimate tool for all Tekken players, whether they're grizzled veterans or completely new to fighting games. It tracks every move you make during every match you play, and online, it lays everything bare: where your punches land, what characters you use most, how much damage you do, and a hundred other statistics. It's all on a detailed player card, and it's updated in real time—every single online match is recorded while it's happening, and the site is updated after every fight. It even serves as a portal for Tekken "teams," the game's version of what other genres call "clans."

As Namco Bandai's Carlson Choi put it, World Tekken Federation is recording your every move, tracking your progress and laying it out in an accessible format so that pros can get better, and amateurs can learn to become pros. He compared it to other services like Halo Waypoint, Battlefield Premium and Call of Duty Elite, which provide features to shooters that until now have been missing from fighting games.

"What can we do to really change the world of fighting games?" the team at Namco Bandai asked themselves, according to Choi. "What is missing in fighting games?" World Tekken Federation is what they came up with.

It'll enhance Tekken TAG Tournament 2's eSports presence, as pro players will be using it to better understand their game—and they'll be able to study one another's player cards before tournaments and big matches.

And best of all, it's free to anyone with a copy of Tekken TAG Tournament 2 and access to the game's online features (i.e., an online pass).

So what do you think? Will Tekken TAG Tournament 2 on consoles be the ultimate Tekken game?